March 08, 2011

Enchanted Garden Chapter One

Author’s note: This was my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. I didn’t use a formal outline or plot, but allowed my story to be shaped by the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program dare machine. This caused a few abrupt changes in plot direction, and added elements I would ordinarily not put in a book. One of the plot dares had me inserting characters from a favorite television show, and the story became fan fiction. I want to state at the outset that I don’t own all the characters in this story, and no copyright infringement is intended, this story was written only as a practice exercise, and not with any thought of commercial exploitation. Because the plot does shift more abruptly than usual, I have included the text of each dare that I used in the text of my novel. The dares are each their own paragraph, and they are bold and red. –Marie

The Enchanted Garden

Chapter One

We dare you to start the next chapter with this sentence: “Everything changed that fateful day.”

Everything changed that fateful day.

In the years to come after this particular Halloween that happened during the autumn that the trio of children Harold Porter, Dustin “Dusty” Brown, and Alexandria “Newt” Newton were thirteen, they forever after viewed life in an entirely different manner.

The day began ordinary enough. Harold squinted hard into the mirror while he tried to button up the red pirate jacket. The lace at the neck of his frilly white shirt kept getting in his way, and he had really hoped the mirror would help him to see what he was doing. Unfortunately, his reflection appeared to be a large red and white and black blob. He sighed deeply and with resignation, and then reached out for his glasses, devoutly hoping they were still on the top of his chest of drawers where he thought he had last left them.

His questing fingers closed around them almost immediately. It was a good thing he was in the habit of carefully fixing in his mind where he laid his glasses down each time, because without them he was blind enough that he would need to be wearing his glasses in order to find them. Carefully unfolding the thin plastic frames, he slid the thick lenses in front of his eyes and watched the reflection in the full length mirror come sharply into focus.

The pirate costume was absolutely perfect. Well, it would be perfect, he thought, if he didn’t have to wear his glasses. His glasses would look perfectly at home perched on the nose of some atomic scientist laboring over his computer screen deep in a secret underground vault someplace. Or perhaps the glasses should be carefully balanced on the bridge of the nose of some old grandmother as she sat comfortably in a rocking chair, with her knitting in her hands or in the basket at her feet, and her arms around a favorite and beloved grandchild. The geeky plastic glasses very definitely didn’t go with the extremely suave pirate costume.

Harold sighed again. What he wouldn’t give to be able to see without the monstrosities. On the other hand, he was pretty glad he was able to see with them. Now that his glasses were on, he was very quickly able to get the jacket buttoned up. He pulled on the knee high boots, and strapped on the wide belt, complete with the jeweled scabbard and cheap plastic sword. The sword was plastic rather than the steel he would prefer to be wearing so that he could wear the thing to the party at Rallison Junior High School. After all, what good was a pirate without his trusty sword?

Their principal, Mr. Archibald, had explicitly stated that there were to be no real weapons disguised as parts of Halloween costumes among those in attendance.

At least their school, Rallison Junior High School, was having a Halloween party, even if it was on a Saturday, and not during official school hours. He had heard that a bunch of “very concerned Christian citizens” across town had complained because Halloween was “all about devil worship”, and they made the town’s only other junior high school, Hatch Junior High School, cancel their Halloween party entirely.

In his opinion, Halloween was a holiday to have fun on, and it was about dressing up and getting candy, and having fun with your friends. It had nothing to do with your religion, and whether or not you were a Christian, or a devil worshipper. As far as he knew, neither he, nor any of his friends, nor any of the other students at either of the town’s small junior high schools, or even the high schools, for that matter, would even know how to go about practicing devil worship on Halloween or on any other night.

Though he himself had, in fact, like every one else in town, been raised to be a good Christian boy, he wasn’t so rabid or narrow minded or set in his ways that he believed that there was any harm in dressing up in a costume and having fun going to a party with his two best friends. Anyway, as a result of the "very caring and concerned Christians group", a lot of the kids from Hatch Junior High would be coming to Rallison Junior High’s party.

In addition, when you considered that the two junior high schools were the bitterest of rivals, and also that the big football game was coming up between them in only two weeks, and that feelings between the students were already running pretty high, Harold could really understand what had prompted Mr. Archibald, the principal of Rallison Junior High School, to declare the silly no-weapons-as-part-of-your-costume rule.

Harold flicked some imaginary lint off of the sleeve of his red pirate costume, and then clattered out of his bedroom and down the stairs. His mom was waiting at the bottom of the flight of stairs.

“You look great! Are you all ready to go?” she asked with a wide smile on her face.

Harold nodded, trying to be polite to his mother, whom he loved very much, but at the same time trying to get himself in the proper frame of mind to be a pirate all day. Characterization was very important to him.

“Are Newt and Dusty going as pirates too?” she asked.

Harold shrugged. He liked the way the lace moved whenever he moved his shoulders. It also moved when he breathed. He thought it was pretty cool, but then, he’d always liked dressing up in any sort of a costume. That’s why he was president of the Rallison Junior High School Drama Club. He was really looking forward to January, when the tryouts for the spring play they would be putting on at the school would take place.

“I don’t know,” he said, “the three of us all decided to keep our costumes secret even from each other until we all got together today.”

“I see,” his mother replied. “Are you all meeting over at Dusty’s house today?”

“Not today,” Harold grinned. “We’re meeting at Newt’s place, because it’s closer to the shopping mall. The store owners all have a trick or treat promotion going in addition to the carnival, and we’re going to get a big haul of candy. Then for the afternoon we’ll leave the candy at Newt’s place while we go on to the party at the boys and girls club, the one over by the skate park.

“When it gets dark, we’re headed downtown to the court house for the haunted mansion, and then finally we’re going over to school for the big party there. We’ll probably be home shortly after midnight, I would guess, since the party at school is supposed to have a very special and spooky ending at the very stroke of twelve midnight. And we’ll still have to go over to Newt’s to divvy up the candy before we come home.”

“Have fun!” his mother said, giving him a hug and then swinging the front door open for him.

Harold gave her a light hearted hug and half skipped, half ran out the door. His spirits were high, and his friends were waiting. He may not have been quite as filled with excitement and anticipation if he had known what really awaited him on this, the most momentous day of his entire life.