Some days I sit down to write a short story and then I blink and I have an intro chapter for a novel. That’s what happened on Monday. I looked and I had 300 words around 2pm and then suddenly I noticed it was 4pm and I had 2000. I love those kinds of days.
The idea came to me while watching The Quest. What if the contestants in a fantasy reality show discover they’ve actually been transported to another world? I’m fascinated by the little scenes that would lead to them realizing what’s going on. The end of the second act would either have a death or a serious injury to make them understand they’re playing for real.
The world’s most popular video game, based off a fantasy book series, is being turned into a reality television show. Only twelve people are chosen but there’s something strange about the contestants. They aren’t the biggest, strongest, or prettiest. They are however all in love with the world.
As they go through the standard, often cheesy, reality television challenges they start to wonder if it is just a television show. How does the Queen get her elf ears on so seamlessly, how do the special effects for the Court Wizard work, why are the camera’s so well hidden, and most of all why do the banished players scream as they leave?
Point of View Characters
- Abigail: Emotionally abused by ex-fiancée and still not over him. She’ll have to overcome her dependence on other people and her lack of faith in herself.
- Pierre: A short thin man who boasts having the highest score in The Land of Everdome game. He’s completely out of his depth without technology and everyone wonders why he applied for the show.
- Annie: Abigail’s younger sister who is the favourite to win with her years of experience working in a Renaissance fairs and theatre as a weapons instructor.
- Nicole: At the age of 20 she is the youngest and has the longest police record. She never applied for the show but getting out of the country was probably a good idea after her last con went south. A consummate pretender, she isn’t in the game to win, she’s in to avoid the mob hitmen that will surely be looking for her.
Finally here’s the story I’ve written so far. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Warning: Contains scenes of emotional and verbal abuse.
“Why the Hell is there a man in armour asking for you in the lobby?” yelled Patrick a little too loudly. He had already dressed and shaved.
The only reason Abigail could tell was from the colour differences and shiny reflection from his moist aftershave. Reaching over to the bedside table she put on her glasses and took a good look at her fiancé. He was dressed in a designer suit and looked like something from a magazine. Her own prince charming.
“Well?” he asked again. Even pouting he looked sexy.
Brushing back her mousy brown hair, she sat up and wondered why there would be a man in armour outside. It wasn’t a common occurrence in their downtown condo.
“I’ll go check,” she mumbled. She was not a morning person. She’d worked the late shift last night and Patrick had insisted they go out with some of his friends. She would have preferred to stay home and read but he’d insisted. She could never say no to him.
Getting out of bed she stumbled towards her hamper and reached into it to grab a half clean pair of jeans. They were the comfortable kind, not the pair that Patrick insisted she wear out but the kind that didn’t take ten minutes and a shoe horn to get into.
She was about to just put on a wonder woman tank top but she saw Patrick’s look and put on a proper bra before putting on the top.
As she rode the elevator down she looked into the mirrored wall and wondered what he saw in her. She was too short, too round, and her hair was as controllable as a rabid rous. Her skin was ambiguously brown and splotchy, her father had been native but she had no idea what her mother had been. She tried to put some sort of order in her paradoxically limp and curly hair and gave up when the elevator doors opened.
The knight wasn’t just in armour, he was in authentic chainmail and he wasn’t alone. There were two camera men and a photographer.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“Dame Abigail Montrose?” The knight asked in an authentic British accent.
“Yes,” she replied.
Without any delay the man fell to one knee and said, “My lady. It is my great honour to extend an invitation from Queen Tamora the sixth, to visit her in her kingdom Everdome.”
The expression on Abigail’s face transitioned from confusion to disbelief to shock and finally settled on excitement. All traces of sleepiness disappeared as she remembered what was going on.
“Oh my goddess, yes, yes, yes. Thank you.” She threw herself at the knight as he stood and hugged him tightly. “Thank you, thank you, Thank you” She squeed before letting him go.
“My Lady. Here is your invitation and all the information you need,” He was blushing and never once broke character. He gave her a large envelope with her name on it. It was pretty thick and she assumed it was the legal contracts and disclaimers she’d have to sign to be on the show.
The Land of Everdome, was the world’s most popular online videogame and was based off of a series of novels. Abigail had never played the game but she read the ten book series every year around her birthday. They were the last present her father had given her before he died.
At one point she’d considered playing the game but Patrick had flipped out, telling her that he was willing to put up with her childish obsessions but not to push him. That had ended that. He was probably right.
When they had announced a television series, Abigail had expected something along the lines of Game of Thrones. Instead they’d announced that it would be a reality show set in the world, using the characters in an original story where twelve people would vie for the honour of becoming the Champion of Everdome and fight against the evil Host, an all-powerful dark lord.
In one of the rare times that she’d been allowed to see her sister, Patrick had been away on business, they’d both applied for the show. Neither of them expected to be picked, they were fantasy nerds but neither of them played the game these shows only ever picked the most attractive contestants.
Inside the apartment, she walked to the bed and pulled out a piece of parchment from the envelope. It was aged and made to feel like leather. On it was an official invitation to Everdome and the Queen’s seal and signature. It was exact in every detail.
A chime made her look for her phone. Patrick was standing over her looking at her phone. “Your sister has sent you three texts. What does she mean by I’m in?” He’d never liked her sister. They were both strong willed and thought they knew what was best for her. She hated that they didn’t get along but Patrick knew best.
“Uhmm. Remember those books I love so much?” She suddenly felt really uncomfortable.
“Ever… whatever? What about them?”
“We’ll Annie and I applied to be on the TV show set in the world. Remember we talked about it?” She had told him about the show but he hadn’t been all that interested.
“Yeah I remember. I remember saying it was a waste of time, just like the game, and the books,” his voice was harsh. He softened as he said, “Abbi, you know I only want what’s best for you. These childish hobbies are distracting you from your studies. Don’t you want to be a nurse and do something good for the world? Something useful not wasteful?”
“Yes of course I do,” she replied her eyes on the ground.
Lifting her head gently she saw him smiling benevolently, he was so beautiful it hurt her to upset him. “Good then. Throw that stuff out and put these childish things away.” He left the room and came back with a large box. “I think it’s time for you to put these things in storage until we have children. You’re twenty-six, you’re not a child anymore.” He started taking down her books and putting them in the box. Her heart sank as he picked up her father’s books and placed them in the box. He was probably right. It was time she started living her life instead of wasting it.
“These are pretty old and you’ve read them a lot. Instead of putting them in storage, we’ll donate them. We don’t really want our children to have silly ideas. These are the kinds of books loser guys read in their parent’s basement.”
Conflicting emotions turned her stomach as she sat on her bed watching him prepare her books to be given away. Anger won out and she yelled, “No!”
“Glad you agree with me babe,” he said dismissively.
“No. I am not giving those away.”
“Don’t be childish. Of course you are.”
Blood pounded in her head and she couldn’t stop herself from shaking, “No. I’m not. And I’m going to this.” She lifted up the envelope. He turned red and dropped the box and the books.
“You will not talk to me like that. You were nothing before me. I know what’s best. Now throw out that letter.” He took a deep breath. “Look what you’ve done. You’ve made me angry. Do you think I like being the bag guy? No. But you have to grow up and put these things behind you. You’re not twelve anymore.”
A wave of guilt flowed through Abigail. He was right. None of their friends were into this, she was being childish. She picked up the envelope and a section caught her eye. “You were chosen from over 200,000 applicants across North-America.” Could they all be childish?
“No Patrick. Those books were given to me by my father. I’m keeping them and I really want to do this. I know you think it’s childish. And it might be. But I need to do this.” She stopped herself before adding please.
Turning to face her again, he seemed to calm down. He smiled at her but she knew that smile, she only saw it when he was so angry he became calm. It didn’t touch his eyes and made him look like a Bond villain. “Fine. If you want to do this, go ahead. But if you leave, don’t come back.” Without giving her the chance to answer, he grabbed his briefcase and left the apartment.
The sound of the door closing was like an explosion. The apartment they’d shared for two years suddenly seemed hostile and too quiet.
Again her phone beeped. Her sister wanted to know if she was ok.
“I’m fine. I got the invitation too. Wasn’t the knight cool?” she texted.
“Yeah. I can’t wait for us to go.” Her sister added a smiley face after the message.
“I can’t go,” she wrote back.
“Duck Patrick. You can do better,” The autocorrect on her sister’s phone had certainly edited that line. “This is Everdome. We’ve been dreaming about this since we were kids. Would you give up your childhood dream for a guy?”
“I’m sorry Annie. I can’t.”
“Ok. I’m not going without you big sis. If you won’t go. Neither will I.”
“No, no. One of us should go.”
“Talk about it over lunch?”
She agreed to meet her for lunch and they told each other they loved each other. As she put down her phone she felt her face was wet. She was crying, just like a child, she thought.
Without thinking she finished packing her books. Looking around she was hit by how little she felt attached to the things in the apartment. Other than the bookcase with her books and photos, everything was stark black and white modern. Patrick’s taste, not hers.
The apartment and Patrick had always made her feel safe, protected, and taken care of. She went to her closet and looked inside. There were a few superhero shirts that she was allowed to wear in the apartment but that was all. The rest of her clothes were all scrubs, formal wear, or her work uniforms, dress pants or skirt with a maroon polo shirt with “Paragraphs fine Books” embroidered on it. The formal wear that she wore to events or even to the grocery store, were always picked by Patrick. She had liked that, she hatted shopping for clothes.
Taking the geek shirts and putting them in a flowered suitcase with thoughts of putting them in storage with the books, she surprised herself by putting her uniforms and scrubs in the suitcase also. She was done her nursing classes, two months and she’d be a registered nurse. Then she could work a few years before they got pregnant and then she’d take care of their kids.
Throughout the process of packing she’d been shuffling the envelope from hand to hand. Looking down at her packed suitcase, she’d taken half the clothes, all her books, and her family pictures. She packed the suitcase and her conscious mind caught up with what was going on.
It seemed unthinkable to leave Patrick but once she made the decision she felt a weight off her shoulders. She couldn’t help but think about how angry he’d be but she had made up her mind.
Picking up her phone, packing its charger and her laptop, she texted her sister again. “I’m going. But can I stay with you until we leave?”