Week 35.1 – Desperate Times

Previously: Cole and Digger were attempting an escape from the Czar’s palace, while Yi Fan hoped to save Twain from the Mechanic, the Czar’s torturer.

Cole followed Digger through a maze of passageways that didn’t seem to lead to the surface at all. Startled palace personnel–workmen and valets and maids (a lot of very pretty maids)–leaped out of the way, while guards drew pistols and tried to shoot the escapees.

Digger didn’t even slow down at the sight of the pistols. And sure enough, rather than shots, the only things Cole heard in their wake were curses and pounding footsteps. They passed through seemingly locked doors as easily as if they were beaded curtains, but behind them, Cole could hear pounding and muffled shouts of frustration as the doors failed to yield to their pursuers.

Cole was sweating and breathing hard, and the drugs in his system were causing a metallic taste in his mouth. But worse than the physical discomfort was being shown up by this near-norm in Cole’s current state of powerlessness. It was petty, Cole knew–Digger seemed like an okay guy, in his way–but still, Cole had never liked being the junior partner. Following was not his style.

Even weirder than the thing with the doors and the guns was the way Digger seemed to know exactly where they were going, even though Cole was sure he’d never been in hte palace before.

“Where are we going?” Cole asked breathlessly.

“To steal a car,” Digger said. “The cars are this way.”

“How do you know?”

“I can, um, sort of hear them,” Digger said.

“What are they saying?” Cole asked.

[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]Cole had never liked being the junior partner. Following was not his style…[/blockquote]“This isn’t a Pixar movie,” Digger said, turning a corner. “They don’t really talk. They just sort of whisper, but it isn’t like words.”

“This is crazy,” Cole said. “I’m escaping with a crazy person.”

“You should talk.”

“No,” Cole said, “I never…”

They burst through another doorway into bright sunlight, and there before them was a wide asphalt lot with about a dozen cars on it, and a few military vehicles set off to the side.

Cole ran toward the nicest-looking car on the lot, an extra-long luxury sedan, but Digger called to him. “Not those,” Digger said as he turned toward the military vehicles. “We probably want something that can go off road.”

Cole swore under his breath as he turned to follow Digger. Not only had Digger somehow become the leader, but he was also making sense. This was all wrong.


“Hold on a moment,” Rada Vaneva said as she hobbled toward her door. She pulled her housecoat tighter as the visitor pounded louder. She did not stop to check the peephole on her door. Pounding like this meant only one thing: the Czar had another torture victim who needed healing. She steeled herself and pulled open the door.

But instead of the Mechanic’s assistants dragging in an injured prisoner, the Chinese ghost woman pushed past her, stumbling under the weight of the wounded American she was helping.

“Healer Vaneva,” the ghost woman said, her shirt splattered with fresh blood, “I need your help.”

Whose blood is on Yi Fan’s shirt? Find out in our next exciting episode!

To read from the beginning, click here

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2 Responses to Week 35.1 – Desperate Times

  1. Josh says:

    except that the name is already taken in this story, it strikes me that “the Mechanic” would be a good name for alternate-powered Digger (though that makes him sound like an action figure with a crazy neon color scheme)

  2. Tony Frazier says:

    I wish I could say that it was entirely conscious, because parallels like that add depth to a story and make it better, I think. But the truth is, much of this is discovered as the first draft is written (which is why Robert J Ray in The Weekend Novelist calls the first draft the “discovery draft”).

    For another instance, I did not know when I started that the story would revolve around all the main characters losing their powers (or almost all–the Czar hasn’t lost his, yet). And yet, it feels right. There was a time when the writers of, say, Superman would, when written into a corner, simply invent a new power for Superman to use to get out of the problem. I’m trying not to take that approach here (and yes, you could argue that giving Digger an alternate suite of powers might qualify, but stay tuned, because there might be more to that story).

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