Unfortunately Week Two had not let up, and Mia was suffering. The fog from last year that Mia had managed to escape so far was now descending upon her just as it had last year, gripping her and her creative muse Alaina like the grippe. Mia turned back to her computer and continued writing.
But as Mia tried to summon her characters to create words… they wouldn’t come. It felt like last year all over again with the fog wrapping around her. This wasn’t Writer’s Block attacking, as it so loved doing. This was lack of motivation to write, hands down, and it had just shown up in Wrimonia.
Mia looked around and watched as the Fog consumed other characters and muses, grabbing them with its foggy hands and eating them. The Fog ate Mia’s characters and will to write last year, eating them until there was nothing left to consume. That was the thing about the Fog: it knew exactly where to reach in order to make a Wrimo not want to write. Sleepy? Oh, let’s get sleepier. Stuck? Recruit Writer’s block. Hungry? That’s okay. Maybe you need a snack or three.
But Mia was smarter than the fog. This year, anyway. She looked up at the fog and said, “I’m not going to fall prey to you this year, Fog.”
As soon as Mia said that she found herself scooped up by a large black hand and eye to eye with a black powderlike figure. Its yellow eyes stared back at Mia.
“Shoot,” Mia said as the fog swallowed her whole.
Mia tumbled down the fog’s throat, which was surprisingly solid, and landed on a fort in what she suspected was the fog’s stomach. Wait, a fort in the fog’s stomach? She tossed a pillow aside and–
Wait a minute. What was a pillow doing inside the fog? Mia looked around and noticed that the fort was not an ordinary fort but was made of blankets. This wasn’t getting any more reasonable at all. Mia crawled into the blanket fort and looked around.
This wasn’t any ordinary fort; in fact, Mia suspected that it was in fact bigger on the inside, as she had never seen a blanket fort of this size before. Mia crawled around the blanket fort in search of anything that would help her out, thinking all the while to herself that maybe this would be a great place to work on her novel. She looked around for her laptop bag or at the very least a notebook.
They were nowhere to be found. Mia peeked under all the pillows in search of a pen at the very least. Surely someone would have left one here, especially since this fort looked like a great place to write with its hidden nooks and crannies to hide a writer and its many pillows to seat a writer, not to mention it was safely hidden from Timmy the pillow-throwing bot.
But then Mia remembered that she was nestled (she hesitated to say safely nestled since there appeared to be no safety implied) within the digestive system of the fog. Were pencils and laptops considered to be useful digestive material to the fog?
Mia continued investigating, carefully stepping over the stomach of the fog and peering out of the blanket fort. She didn’t hear a sound except what sounded like something the fog was digesting. She crawled out of the blanket fort and walked in the direction of that grumbling noise.
Mia walked past the blanket fort and followed the pillow path away from the fort. The grumbling noise got louder, and Mia continued following them, finally arriving at a downward chute with pink wrinkly walls. Something smelled funny here…
She peeked down the chute and watched as the chute churned. But more interesting than the chute churning was the contents of the chute. She watched as pencils and notebooks and keyboards swirled around the chute, along with the occasional word. None of them swirled up toward Mia, though; all of them made their way down the chute in the opposite direction.
This left Mia with only one choice. She looked back at the pillow path and the blanket fort, then back toward the chute. Should she go for words or the safety of the blanket fort?
Before Mia had too much time to ponder this thought, a notebook fell from above and bopped her on the head. She reached up to catch it but just missed it, watching as the notebook flew past her and down into the chute below.
Well, that was a first. Mia grabbed a pillow, not because it would help protect her from the falling notebooks and who knows what else, but because it may just serve as a talisman from everything else that would fall from the abyss above. Not that there could be an abyss above, but you never know.
Mia kept watching out. This was the first time she had seen something fall from that wondrous space above. Well, ever since she had fall from above. She did fall from above, right? did that make her an angel?
But before she had too much time to ponder that, a word fell and smacked her on the forehead.
A word? What kind of word was this? Mia reached out to pick up the word, but the word scurried away from Mia and toward the wrinkly chute. She did catch a glimpse of the word, though: “scurry”.
As “scurry” scurried away, Mia headed back to the chute, still clutching the pillow and unsure of what to do next. All the words and notebooks and paper were still flying down the chute to places unknown, but Mia still tried to catch something, anything that would let her write something down, even though she had no idea of what to write. But surely being inside the fog would be somewhat inspiring, yes?
She continued looking down the abyss, pondering what to do. Surely a bot would be more useful in helping her make a decision than her own gut instinct, but there were no bots to be found in the fog, especially a fog that was fond of eating Wrimos.
Another notebook fell, and Mia caught this one, a blue spiral notebook with perforated pages. She turned to the first page. The first couple of paragraphs, all scrawled in cursive, read like a journal.
“I’m rereading Adventures in Wrimonia now. Time to take some notes.
“*Welcome to Wrimonia sign. This needs to show up in the first scene, which features Lindsey Grant and the megaphone a la the October first breaking news….
“Is that space between Plot Doctoring and Reaching 50k still there? Is there anything special about it? I guess it’s possible that this is just a representation of Mia’s imagination. But it could have gotten destroyed in the 2011 redesign, and this is what she’s looking for.”
Mia stopped right there. Reading Adventures in Wrimonia? What was this? Mia was in Wrimonia, and someone was writing a book, no, had already written a book on Wrimonia. But she wasn’t in this book, was she? Mia kept reading.
“Mia’s going to have a session with TSOD while finding herself.
“Mia got her laptop in 2008. She’ll probably lose her work at some point.
“Mia was an English major.
“Mia hunts for Chris Baty and the one place rumored to inspire all that she thinks she found a long time ago and that feeling of NaNo. I think I may need a title change…”
Wait a minute, Mia thought as she lowered the notebook. Mia? They couldn’t all be about her, could they? But they were all true statements if they were referring to her; Mia did in fact get her current computer in 2008, and she did major in English, and… wait a minute. Mia did have that session with the Traveling Shovel of Death.
But not all of these notes directly involved Mia’s adventures this year. And even if they did… Mia noticed that two of the pages were stuck together. She unstuck the pages and read the pages that she didn’t notice before.
“Mia’s dad was abducted by aliens when she was six.
“Mia discovered NaNo on 24 Oct 2009
“She likes to write and take photos.
“What if Mia wrote a novel about me? That would require much more silliness than she’s used to.
“Alaina: Mia’s muse, long red hair, bright blue eyes
“Inspiration Garden between Plot Doctoring and Reaching 50k: garden to her, everyone sees something different?”
In a flash of inspiration Mia turned back to the first page. 6 October 2012. She flipped through blank pages of the journal. There were no more entries.
So this was it, wasn’t it? Sushimustwrite was in fact the best person to ask about the inspiration garden, but asking a Wrimo writing a book about you for advice would be awkward after you disowned their authorship.
And then there was part where sushimustwrite knew all these little things about Mia. Who was sushimustwrite, a credit agency? She even knew all about Mia’s muse.
It was time to confront sushimustwrite, but in order to do that Mia had to leave the fog.
Clutching the notebook, Mia jumped down the chute. It was as wrinkly as Mia observed, but notebooks and pens and flash drives zoomed through the edges of the chute. Mia clutched tightly to the notebook. She would not lose this notebook. She would not.
Mia landed on a particularly wrinkly part of the chute. While the chute absorbed the notebooks and pens and flash drives, Mia slid right through, still clutching the notebook. She landed a minute later on the hard ground of Wrimonia and looked around.
Yes, this was exactly the place she had left. Same forums, Same location. But was it the same time?
Mia walked around Wrimonia in search of a clock. Surely not that much time had passed. When did she get sucked into the fog? That was what, day fourteen? Donation Day. Mia remembered seeing the signs requesting Wrimos to donate and all the fabulous prizes she could win if she did. Mia meant to donate on Donation Day to get that shiny halo on her head, but somehow getting sucked into the fog took precedence. It wasn’t too late to donate, was it?
Luckily there were more halo vendors than ever around Wrimonia, and Mia continued looking for a halo vendor who wasn’t occupied and for a sign that told her what day it was. The latter got resolved first when Mia saw a sign saying “Day 16. Target word count: 26672. Happy ML Appreciation Day! Thank your MLs today.”
Day Sixteen? What happened? Mia looked around. Her ML MattKinsi was nowhere in sight, but a halo vendor did stand a few feet from the sign, and this halo vendor was not affixing a halo to anyone. Mia approached this short vendor with halos of all kinds hanging from his stand.
“Welcome, welcome to the Donation Station,” the halo vendor said. He waved his right hand around the stand. “We sell halos of all sorts here in exchange for your support of Wrimonia.”
“I know,” Mia said, having heard the spiel multiple times before. “I just want the Extraordinary Helper halo, please.”
“Excellent!” the halo vendor said. “We’ve added a few new features to the Donation Station this year that you might not know about. You now have the option to support Wrimonia every month!”
“Every month?” Mia asked. “How does that work?”
“You choose an amount among our current donation amounts that you can donate every month for a year and file your information with us. Every month for twelve months we deduct that amount from your card. After twelve months you can choose to continue your monthly donation program with us.”
“That sounds neat,” Mia said. “I’m not sure I could commit to that for a year, though.”
“Like I said, you can donate as little as ten dollars a month,” the halo vendor pointed out. “And that still makes a world of difference to a small organization like us to create something as big as Wrimonia. Oh, I never told you about our other program.”
“It’s the extra noveling karma program. We could also call it the tip jar since that’s essentially what it is. That’ll let you donate any amount.” The halo vendor pointed to a jar sitting at the front of his stand, which contained spare change and bills.
“Any amount? Really?”
The halo vendor nodded. “People have been asking for this for years. We still take payments through PayPal for small amounts, but finally we set up a special donation jar for those small amounts. Spare change from coffee shop purchases. Change MLs get from donation jars. Change you find from behind the couch. All that adds up to keep Wrimonia going and make it even better next year.” He paused. “Oh right, you wanted an Extraordinary Helper halo. Hold on one second.” The halo vendor checked his stock of halos. “That’ll be $25.”
Mia handed the halo vendor some bills from her pocket, and the halo vendor stepped back from behind the stand with a halo and stepladder. “We have to tell you this every year,” he said. “But remember that removing the halo has to be done manually at Wrimo Hall, so speak now if you don’t want the halo attached.”
“I want the halo!” Mia said. “That’s half the reason I donate in the first place. All these other cool people have shiny halos attached to them, floating over their heads showing how angelic they are, and I don’t have mine yet.”
“All right, all right, I just have to tell everyone this.” The halo vendor scooted the ladder closer to Mia and stepped up on it, then adjusted the halo on Mia’s head. He made a couple more adjustments, then stepped down from the ladder. Mia glanced up at the halo and admired the halo vendor’s work.
“Aw, thanks,” she said.
“That halo will stay there until next October, guaranteed,” he said. “After that you’ll need to donate again to get a new halo.”
“I know,” Mia said, remembering her shock before her second NaNo when the halo from her first year disappeared. “This halo is for this season only.”
“That’s right. Any more questions?” Mia shook her head. “All right. Have a good day, and don’t forget to thank your ML today!”
Thank her ML… That was what Mia meant to do! She ran to the nearest WrimoRails stop and waited for WrimoRails to appear. The service was slow today, and Mia found herself tapping her feet and looking for something to write with while waiting. Which reminded Mia, where did her bag go? And did Wrimonia have a lost and found?
Mia looked up at the rails above. WrimoRails didn’t zoom on the rails like they usually did. What was going on?
But before Mia could ponder this too much, one set of WrimoRails appeared in front of her, and the door opened. Mia stepped aboard.
“Greetings,” the driver said. “Where would you like to go today?”
“United States, Georgia, Elsewhere,” Mia said. “But before we go there, does Wrimonia have a lost and found? I’ve lost my bag and that bag had my laptop and notebook and everything else I need for NaNo.”
“It certainly does,” the driver replied. “Would you like to go there? You can always catch another WrimoRails to go to the regional forum.”
Mia thought this through for a minute. She could thank her Municipal Liaison just about anytime and he’d probably appreciate it. But if she didn’t find her stuff soon… what if the fog ate it?
“Let’s go there,” Mia said.
“To the Lost and Found,” the driver said as she pushed a few buttons and directed WrimoRails.
“Do you know anything about the fog?” Mia asked as they zoomed past the Reference Desk.
“The fog?” the driver said. “It infects everyone, Mia. Some worse than others. You can get hurt really badly if you take the fog too seriously because it will eat you alive.”
“Has the fog ever eaten you?”
“Oh yes,” the driver replied. “Every year it grabs me, even if only for an evening. It tells me that my writing isn’t good enough, it thwacks me with everyone else’s notebooks and pens because their writing is so much better, and to make things worse, I can’t write with them because the pens won’t work.”
Mia didn’t know this last part; she could never grab a pen during her stay in the fog and therefore that last part remained untested.
“It’ll take your stuff too, that vicious fog. Anyway, here we are at the lost and found. Good luck finding your novel.” The WrimoRails door opened, and Mia stepped out of it. The driver waved. “Remember, we’ve all been there. You can find it.”\
And now we know about the fog that was mentioned earlier. Wrimonia has so many secrets! How can you document all of them?
Share, don’t be a jerk, donate to Nano if you’re so inclined.