Pick Your Own YA Fantasy: Part 13

PYO-Logo[Welcome to part thirteen of my continuing blog series. I write the book, you pick the plot. For earlier parts, see part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6part 7part 8part 9part 10part 11, and part 12.]

Imagine you’re standing in front of an electrified door going at full volt, crackling with energy and lightning, and you’re told you have to touch the chair. What’s the scariest result you could imagine? As John reached out for the door knob, several scenarios flashed through his mind. The electricity jolting through his body. The room exploding with some unknown energy. The door opening to a scene from the underworld, full of fire and demons.

What he wasn’t expecting was for all the electricity to vanish the moment his hand touched the knob. It was as if someone had turned off a switch somewhere.

“Great.” Harvey the mummified crocodile sounded put out. “We don’t even get a good grilling.”

“Quiet, Harv,” Marvin the sphinx told him. “We’re side characters. Let the kid have his story.”

John glanced back at the two of them and frowned. Having someone having a chit chat while he was trying to do important things was distracting and inappropriate.

“Sorry,” Harvey said. “Didn’t mean to be inappropriate.”

John’s frown deepened. Was the crocodile a psychic too?

Marvin shrugged, his enormous leonine shoulders rippling in the torchlight that might or might not have been there last time. “He was just conversing with the narrator, is all. Harvey likes a good narrator.”

“They taste like chicken,” the crocodile explained. “And I ain’t even sure if I should even know what a chicken tastes like, anachronistically speaking. Also, did I have an accent last time?”

“No,” Liese said, confused. “I don’t think you did.”

The croc sniffed. “Always wanted an accent. One of them Cockney ones like Dick Van Dyke pretended he had in that movie with the parrot umbrella.”

Marvin sighed. “I loved that umbrella. So witty.”

John turned to face the two of them. “Do you mind?”

Harvey’s eyes widened. “Not a fan of children’s movies, are you? More of an action connoisseur?”

“No,” John said. “It’s just the two of you are completely distracting this story from what it’s supposed to be about. Me. An adventure for me. Did your uncle win a djinn in a poker game?”

“No,” Marvin admitted.

“And were you tasked with returning this book thing to the library place?” John asked.

Harvey sighed. “No.”

John nodded. “Okay then. I’m glad that’s settled. The two of you are just supposed to be here as a temporary obstacle I have to overcome so that this story feels appropriately difficult.”

Liese shook her head. “I don’t think that’s quite right. I mean, I can see where Marvin came into play. Sphinxes and riddles. It makes sense that he’d be an obstacle. But Harvey just came out of nowhere.”

Now the crocodile was almost crying. “Out of nowhere, says she. As if I haven’t had an entire afterlife full of rotting dreams and desires. As if I’m just some flat thing that don’t even deserve to be in this story at all.”

Marvin bowed his head and patted the crocodile with a paw the size of a dinnerplate. “Don’t let it get to you, Harvey. Side characters have rights too. People will see that. Someday.”

The crocodile shrugged off the pat. “I don’t want to wait for some la-di-da someday in the future. I want a story of me own. You and I could do this, mate. All we have to do is return the book, right. And the little blighter admitted last episode he didn’t want nothing to do with this story. He could give us the book, and we could do this adventure all on our lonesome.”

“Listen,” Liese snapped in, her voice sharp and demanding. “The two of you aren’t derailing anything. John and I are going through that door, and we’re having this adventure. I’m the voice of reason in this story. John’s supposed to listen to me and take my advice.”

“You’ve been wrong before,” Marvin said.

“I heard tell you almost ended up being a French bloke,” the crocodile added. “Seems a mite bit uncertain to me.”

“Yeah?” Liese said, hands on her hips. “Well you’ve got names that don’t even fit the plot. Harvey and Marvin? Where did you come up with those? They’re not Egyptian.”

“No they ain’t,” the crocodile said. “But let’s just say their former owners weren’t using them no more.” He and the sphinx chuckled softly and even tried to give each other a high five. It didn’t quite work. Harvey had trouble turning his foot around properly, and it ended up being more of an awkward fist bump than anything else.

“Can we be quiet?” John called out, his voice echoing through the room. The door behind him gave a small crackle, almost as if it was a bit put out that everyone had forgotten about it. Liese, Marvin, and Harvey turned to John and studied him, but they didn’t say anything, which was nice. “Thank you,” John continued. “Now. I have to get home. The only way home is to get that djinn to show up and alakazam me there, unless any of you has a plane ticket and taxi fare stashed away somewhere? No? Well, the djinn said he’d meet me in the library, so that’s where I need to go. I’m going to go there. Liese will come with me. Marvin and Harvey, you’re welcome to come too. What do I care? The more the merrier, if you can fit through the door.” He eyed Marvin’s bulk skeptically. “But look at us. We’ve gone on for almost a thousand words, and we haven’t advanced the plot at all. We’re at the exact spot we left off last week. So could we please stop arguing about anachronisms and who’s doing what, and start actually doing things? This story’s turning into a complete mess.”

Everyone thought about that for a moment, then nodded. “An entertaining mess, though,” Harvey added.

“As opposed to what it was before we showed back up,” Marvin muttered.

“Excuse me?” John said.

“Nothing!” the sphinx called out. “Just agreeing with your plan. All for one. One for all. Good thing I have my own personal library down here and that I subscribe to books by mail, or people might start wondering how in the world I just made a Dumas reference.”

“Whatever,” John said. “Anyone who’s coming, come on.”

Survey Says?

So, dear readers, is John going with just Liese, or will Marvin and/or Harvey join them on the adventure?

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