Mia found herself in front of Wrimo Hall. Was everything here? Seriously? She should have known this by now. If she had a question, chances are someone at Wrimo Hall knew the answer or where to find it.
But they didn’t know everything about the legends of NaNo or where Chris Baty was.
Mia pushed the shield door open and entered Wrimo Hall. A young woman wearing a staff cape sat at the front desk, and the nametag as well as the plaque next to her read Shelby Gibbs, Customer Service Captain.
“Welcome to Wrimo Hall, Mia Wonnor,” Shelby said. “How may I help you?”
“I lost my bag,” Mia said, still clutching sushimustwrite’s notebook. “You know, my bag with my laptop and notebook and everything else. I need to keep writing my novel, and let’s face it, I’m way behind by now. Do you have a lost and found anywhere?”
Shelby pointed to the stairs. “Top floor, to the right,” she replied. “When do you think it came in? We clean out the lost and found every year with the relaunch, and the newest stuff is always toward the front.”
“Sometime in the last couple of days, I’m guessing,” Mia replied. “I got sucked into the fog on Donation Day and meant to donate then, and of course the fog left my stuff behind. Or maybe it sucked my stuff in but wouldn’t let me get it. I don’t know.”
“Oh, the fog,” Shelby said. “It’s a fickle creature. We’ve tried to ban it from Wrimonia, but banning something that’s part of human nature is so difficult, you see. And the fog attacks every Wrimo slightly differently, so we’d have to adjust our techniques accordingly. This turns out to be surprisingly difficult.”
“So you know more about the fog?” Mia asked.
“A little. I’ve been on staff only this season,” Shelby replied.
“Tell me everything you know.”
“Pull up a chair. This is gonna take a bit.”
Mia pulled up a tall stool that appeared. It was pale blue with the NaNo crest on the back, and she sat down across from Shelby.
“I have to be honest with you,” Shelby said when Mia was comfortable. “The only thing I know about the fog is from my own experience with it and not anything official from being a staff person.”
“That’ll do,” Mia said. “But the fog made me quit NaNo last year, so I need to know more about it. And about all the legends of NaNo.” She didn’t mean for the last part to slip out. It just did. She had mostly forgotten about her quest for the legends of NaNo and for Chris Baty thanks to her stay in the fog, but now that she was in front of someone who knew more about one of the legends, it was time to learn more.
“I heard a lot of people falling victim to the fog. It gets me too.”
Mia remembered this. She saw people dropping like flies all around her this, and she tried to stay tough, tried to stick with it. She couldn’t quit, after all. She had two NaNo victories behind her and wanted a third. But that fog was eating at her like she was a food last year.
“It nommed on me,” Shelby said. “I didn’t know what to make of it. It was my first long stay in the fog, and I tried fighting my way out of it. Oh, I tried my hardest. But every time I tried climbing my way out of the fog the same way I went in, more notebooks and pens fell on top of me. I tried to grab one of them so at least I could write something down, anything, even if it was a sentence of two to add to the word count or an idea for a future scene. But the notebooks kept falling and every time I grabbed one of them, my fingers burned so hot to the notebook that it made wanting to grab another notebook undesirable. Eventually I gave up and stopped reaching, choosing to go where the notebooks went: the chute.”
Mia remembered the chute. She tried grabbing a notebook there as well but wound up grabbing the notebook of her author. Come to think of it, sushimustwrite was probably missing that notebook if this was in fact her real notebook. But how awkward would it be to find her and return the notebook?
“And then what happened?” Mia asked.
“I entered the chute,” Shelby said. “It looked a lot like what I’d imagine the insides of intestines to look like, and all the notebooks and pens and other writing implements were there, getting absorbed through the chute into the body of the fog. But I kept tumbling down the chute in an attempt to find an exit, continuing to grab notebooks and pens. I never could grab anything, but at some point I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and slid out of the chute.”
“And that’s it?” Mia asked.
“Yep,” Shelby said. “Now you might want to head up to the lost and found. Top floor. The stuff likes to move around a lot.”
Mia thanked Shelby and scrambled up the stairs to the top floor. So this is what happened to the top floor…
This must be the Muggle version of that room in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Mia thought to herself. Messenger bags and laptops and notebooks and pens and even the occasional typewriter filled the room with no sense of order. Mia looked around the room in search of something that would resemble her bag, a plain black messenger bag with no insignia on it. The problem in finding this is that just about every other bag in here is also black, including some black messenger bags that Mia spotted with the NaNoWriMo shield on them. Where did they get those? Did they get regular old black messenger bags and sew on the NaNo crest? But that would lead to the question of where they got the crest, and Mia didn’t have an answer to this. Though to be fair she didn’t pay attention to most of the vendors selling things this year except for the halo vendors.
All Mia knew was that she wanted one of those. They were probably expensive though, and her payday wasn’t this week. Alas.
Mia stepped over a thick binder and a typewriter and kept looking for her bag. Shelby was right about everything moving around; Mia could have sworn that the things in this room had moved around since her arriving in this room. There had to be a way to keep everything straight in this room, and she didn’t know how to keep them straight. Did anyone who tried looking around this room know how to keep anything in this room straight? She was about to look on the other side of the room when she heard a noise.
Someone else was in here. Mia looked down and noticed that she was still clutching sushimustwrite’s notebook. Mia didn’t get that from this room, but she kept holding on to it. What were the odds that sushimustwrite would be coming in here in search of that right now, anyway? Granted, sushimustwrite did seem to be everywhere, judging by how everyone around Wrimonia seemed to know her.
A long-haired Wrimo who looked very familiar entered.
“Sushimustwrite!” Mia exclaimed.
“Mia!” sushimustwrite said. “And hey, that’s my notebook! What were you doing with it?”
“I found it,” Mia said. She didn’t hand it to sushimustwrite but instead studied sushimustwrite’s expression. What was going to happen, anyway? Was she going to make this more awkward?
“Where?” Sushimustwrite jumped toward Mia and hugged her neck. “and I’ve been looking for you for ages too. Where have you been?”
“Everywhere,” Mia replied. “I went to visit the shovel shop and the fog sucked me in and I found your notebook. I know, by the way.”
“That I’m just a character. No more, no less.”
“OH, Mia,” sushimustwrite said. “I meant what I said before.”
“Why weren’t you… I don’t know… less gentle?”
“Because most people don’t deal well with being told that they’re just characters in books!” sushimustwrite said. “You saw your reactions. You’re a writer too. You know how mean we writers are to our characters. But you don’t exist just to do my bidding. No, you’re special.”
Mia took this moment after sushimustwrite stepped away from Mia to hand over the notebook. “I figured you’d want this but I didn’t want to track you down. What if you were still mad at me?”
“You’re just like me in that fashion,” sushimustwrite said. “Though I guess that’s expected. Some of my traits are ever present in you. Look, Mia, I know you were upset. I’m still a little upset, to be honest. but I meant everything I said. You’re the only person who can uncover the legends of NaNoWriMo, and you’ve already done that so well. You uncovered the real inspiration garden. If you read the notebook, you know that the inspiration garden is real and not just a figment of your imagination. You know about the pit of procrastination. You know about the fog. You know about the traveling shovel of death. And now you need to find out about noveling nirvana.”
Noveling nirvana,” sushimustwrite said. “It’s that feeling you get, that high when you write and want to keep going to keep that feeling alive. You don’t want November to end, but all good things do come to an end. There’s a story behind it, and you’re the one who needs to uncover it.”
“But why me?” Mia asked. “I’m just a character. You’ve done this how many times again?”
Mia looked at sushimustwrite’s halo and full word count bar. Despite sushimustwrite’s fifty thousand words on November second, her word count bar hadn’t budged that much despite being in the second half of the month. Was sushimustwrite done? Was she too struggling on the book about Mia?
“But you’re the best person to uncover all of the legends, Mia,” sushimustwrite said again. “You’re fresh, you’re newer to the land than I am. I’m an old Nano fart. I watched Wrimonia evolve from a small thing. My view is more historical while yours is a fresh and new one.”
“But–” Mia wasn’t sure what she was going to say here.
“You’re still on for helping me out, right?” Mia asked. “I’m not sure I can do it myself?”
“Of course I am,” sushimustwrite said. “I’m your author, remember? Wherever I guide you, I’ll do my best not to guide you wrong.”
“Then where am I supposed to go now?” Mia asked.
“First things first,” sushimustwrite said. “You never did thank your ML for ML appreciation day, did you?” Mia shook her head. “Well, it’s time to do that.”
“Wait a minute, how are you going to help me do that? I mean, he might be around the forums, and you could sneak into my region’s forums, but–”
Sushimustwrite didn’t say anything, just grabbed Mia’s wrist and dragged her out of the lost and found.
“Hey!” Mia said. “My bag’s still in there!”
“No it isn’t,” sushimustwrite said.
“How do you know?” Mia asked, turning to sushimustwrite.
“It’s right here.” Sushimustwrite lifted a bag off her shoulder, and Mia noticed just then that sushimustwrite was in fact wearing two messenger bags. Sushimustwrite handed one of them to Mia. “I noticed it as soon as I entered. Funny that I’d notice my character’s bag before noticing my own missing notebook. Anyway, we’re going to thank your ML, and mine too–”
“Wait, you’re in my region?” Mia asked. “But–”
“No, I’m not in your region,” sushimustwrite said. “But MattKinsi, who is your ML if you remember right, is also the ML of the Atlanta region, making him my ML. He also watches over your region. I used to ML the Atlanta region, so I know what goes into MLing.”
Sushimustwrite reached into Mia’s bag.
“Hey, that’s my bag.”
“I’m your author. I can do whatever I want.”
Mia sighed. It was like sushimustwrite said she was Mia’s mother, but it was… a little worse? A little more invasive? She couldn’t decide which.
“Okay, fine,” Mia said. “But how did I meet him with a bunch of Wrimos I didn’t know that time a long time ago?”
“Oh, that was easy,” sushimustwrite explained. “That was thanks to the plot shovel.”
“The plot shovel?” Mia asked.
Sushimustwrite nodded. “One of my friends acquired one. Not sure how he did it, to be honest, but he grabbed the shovel and didn’t look back after using it.”
Shovel twins… “Who was this again?”
“Quintopia,” sushimustwrite replied. “Not that you know who he is yet; he wasn’t at that writein you showed up at. But he dug a plot hole so a random Wrimo would show up and lo and behold, you showed up. Now all we need to do is dig a plot hole with your plot shovel, and we’ll show up at the writein that everyone else is at, including MattKinsi.”
Sushimustwrite grabbed the Plot Shovel from Mia’s bag and struck it in the ground. “Okay, let’s get digging,” sushimustwrite said.
Sushimustwrite and Mia took turns digging a hole with the plot shovel. They dug deeper and deeper until they found themselves surrounded by people with laptops smiling back at them.
And now you know how Mia showed up at the Atlanta writein despite not being in that region!
We also know that I lied a little before. Come on, how’d you take it if you were JUST a character in someone’s book and your author had to break the news?
Share, don’t be a jerk, donate to Nano if you’re so inclined.