I have reached a point in both of my current works-in-progress where I need to spend a few days (or all of tomorrow) plotting out the next twelve or fifteen chapters. To relieve some of the mental stress, I figured, why not do another round with Trystan and Magnolia? They tend to jog my brain and give me a laugh, so here we have the dynamic duo again. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
“Houston, we need to talk.”
I didn’t bother glancing up from my chemistry book. “I think the phrase is actually, ‘Houston, we have a problem.’”
“But you aren’t Houston now, are you?” was the condescending reply. “I meant what I said.”
I shut the chemistry book and sat up. “What is it?”
Trystan sat down on the end of the bed, his hands on his knees. “Louis.”
I blinked. “He’s supposed to be a problem,” I said. “He’s the villain. Sort of. I have future plans that may involve him realizing how terrible he is and making the required amends.”
Trystan paled – or would have paled, if he could get any paler. “No,” he said weakly.
“It’s a distinct possibility,” I said.
The vampire put his head in his hands and let out a keening wail.
I climbed onto my knees and patted his back. “What’s wrong? What’s the matter? I thought you’d be happy!”
He lifted his head and glared at me. “Happy? Over what?”
“And why,” he asked, “would I be happy about that? I’m the good guy! He’s the bad guy!”
“Technically you aren’t the good guy,” I pointed out. “You’re the antihero searching for a cure to your vampire state.”
“Whatever. I’m better than he is.”
I folded my arms, all consoling feelings gone. “You’re a brat. You just want to hog all the glory.”
“This has nothing to do with glory,” he protested. “It’s the truth!”
I narrowed my eyes. “Oh, so you’re hogging all the truth, then.”
“What – no!” He flipped his dreads around one shoulder and clasped his hands together, like he was saying a prayer for patience. “Louis,” he said slowly, “is a menace. He ripped out my heart, remember?”
“Chapter twelve.” I nodded sagely. “I remember.”
“He still has it in a jar somewhere.”
“It’s actually an ancient cured-leather case,” I said.
“Sorry. Please continue complaining.”
“I’m not complaining, I’m trying to make you see sense!” He stood up and strode several circles around the room, like a distraught merry-go-round. “Louis can’t be redeemed! He’s too evil!”
“You know how I feel about that,” I said, frowning. “Anyone can be redeemed. Don’t make me turn you into the villain.”
He sat down abruptly in the swivel chair by my computer. “You wouldn’t. I haven’t got an evil bone in my body!”
I pointed to the computer behind him. “Open your document,” I told him, “and search for the words ‘Trystan killed, maimed, or otherwise injured.’”
He folded his arms. “You wrote me,” he said, and sounded like a pouting three-year-old.
“Yeah, I wrote you. And look, you’re turning a new leaf. You’re becoming the good guy. There’s hope for you, and there’s hope for Louis. Stop whining.”
“I’m not whining! Vampires don’t whine.”
“Stop throwing a fit, then.”
“Louis is crazy,” he said.
I opened the chemistry book and placed it over my face with a groan. “Leave me alone.”
“He’s demented! He’s insane! He’s like – like Spike if he ran into Loki and they smashed into Jack Sparrow!”
I held up a finger. “Captain Jack Sparrow. And I really think he’s more like the Mad Hatter, if we’re going to bring in Johnny Depp movies.”
The room was blessedly silent for almost thirty seconds, and I wondered if he had gone to have a tantrum back in his own novel.
Then he said in a very small, very put-out voice, “If you make Louis part of the gang, I’m boycotting you. You’ll have writer’s block from now to Ragnarok.”
“So I’ll have it until today.”
I sat up, letting the chemistry book slide onto the bed. “According to the Viking calendar, Ragnarok is today.” I gave him a smug smile and snapped my fingers. “So there goes that threat.”
“You know what I meant,” he retorted.
Someone knocked on the door. Trystan glanced toward it, still straddling the swivel chair. He mouthed, ‘your mom’?
I waved a hand. No matter how many times I tried to explain Trystan’s random appearances, nobody really understood it. I didn’t blame them, but I had stopped mentioning it. An insane asylum was not where I wanted to spend the rest of my days.
“Honey? Are you on the phone?” Mom’s voice asked, muffled.
“No,” I sang. “You can come in.”
She walked in and glanced around the room, automatically checking for a visitor. Her eyes swept right over Trystan, lounging in the chair and watching her with his chin propped up on his hand.
“Dinner’s almost ready,” she told me, smiling. She motioned to my chemistry book. “Have you finished the chapter?”
“Almost,” I said. “I was interrupted.”
Trystan made a face at me, and I stuck my tongue out at him. I pulled it back into my mouth when I caught Mom giving me a quizzical expression.
I tapped my head. “Trystan,” I said. “Writerly things.”
She clucked her tongue. “I don’t know why you decided to write a vampire. They were never really your thing.”
I shrugged. “The character calls, I have no choice but to respond. Besides, he’s trying to un-vampire himself.”
“And you aren’t helping,” said Trystan.
“Well, I certainly hope he’s able to,” said mom. She ruffled my hair and headed toward the door again. Before she left, she turned to me and said, “How’s the other one? The mean one?”
“Louis?” I asked, surprised that she remembered. She could remember character roles, but names eluded her. She only remembered Trystan’s name because I talked about him all the time; not that I would ever tell Trystan that.
She smiled. “That’s the one. Did you decide what to do with him?”
“She’s going to ‘redeem’ him because she’s too soft-hearted to be smart,” said Trystan.
My mom’s eyes never wavered from my face as she waited for my response. “Well?”
I smiled. “I think I’m going to turn him into a good guy.”
Trystan almost fell out of the swivel chair. For a supposedly graceful vampire, he could be awfully clumsy.
I added, “I think he and Trystan are going to become really good friends.”
“I thought Louis did something awful to Trystan?” Mom’s eyebrows drew together.
“He tore out his heart,” I said helpfully.
Mom opened her mouth, and said the inevitable, “I don’t know where you come up with these ideas. I worry about you, sometimes.”
“Hey, I’m redeeming Louis, remember?” I smiled. “It’s going to be great.”
“It’s going to be purgatory,” said Trystan.
Mom laughed and said, “Well, I’m glad to hear that. Dinner’s in ten minutes. Finish your chemistry.”
“Gotcha,” I said.
Trystan got to his feet and folded his arms. “You get crueler by the day.”
“Go away,” I said, and threw a pen at him. He caught it and threw it back. “I have to finish chemistry before dinner.”
“Go blow yourself up,” he said, and disappeared.
I opened back up to the ninth chapter and began to read.
Just wait, Trystan. Louis has a few tricks up his sleeve, and so do I.