Mia wasn’t sure why Chris Baty gave her his Viking helmet, but whatever the reason was, it had to be for something. She hopped on the pony and galloped back to Wrimonia.
Though now that she thought of it, writing here in the hills would be really peaceful…
She jumped off the pony and walked toward the top of a nearby hill, this one not as large as the one she and Chris Baty rolled down together and certainly not as large as the one Chris Baty rolled down himself.
But it was a hill, and this gave Mia a ridiculous idea. She looked down. The pony was still at the bottom of the hill, munching away at some grass. It wouldn’t notice, would it?
Mia laid down, Viking helmet still perched atop her head, and rolled down the hill. The helmet rolled off her head about halfway down the hill, but this didn’t matter. Mia bounced up, then forgot about how dizzy she was and stumbled around until running into the pony.
“Oh hi there,” she said. The pony neighed. Mia leaned against the pony for a minute before running back to fetch her Viking helmet. She placed it back on her head and mounted the pony again. Yes, it was time.
“CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE!” she yelled, even though there was no one else there to charge with her. The pony neighed as if it was also charging for words. It was time to get stuff done.
Back in the forum area of Wrimonia, Mia typed away at her novel, Molly and Luke by her side. But they weren’t the only three people around. Molly and Luke had dragged two other people in chains around with them.
“How have they not bitten you yet?” Mia asked.
“Beats me,” Molly replied. She and Luke continued to clutch the chains. “But we found them.”
“Where?” Mia asked again, trying to figure out how on earth they had crawled out of this plot hole. Weren’t they just trying to figure out how to capture Molly’s parents the day before? Or whenever the last time was that Mia wrote?
Mia checked her word count. Forty-six thousand words. So close, yet…
She couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was going to run out of story.
“Say, you two,” Mia said. “You don’t happen to have anything else exciting up your sleeve, do you?”
“Define exciting,” Molly said. “Escaping multiple zombie hordes redefines exciting.”
Mia sighed. She knew she’d mess with their minds at least a little bit during the novel month. This was what always happened, wasn’t it? Sushi did the same thing to her, making Mia discover that she was indeed a character in a book, but what else was to be done? She needed to make things happen to the characters in order for plot to happen. wasn’t that what FireFallon had said about creating moral crises and dilemmas?
“You know, plot!” Mia said. “You guys do know you’re my characters, right?” she added as an afterthought, and then she thought back to all her other past characters. Did they have any idea? Or was that part of their minds warped to the point where they didn’t know whether they were characters in books or something entirely different? Maybe they were all living in the Matrix, and this was a crazy (though admittedly quite sane in the grand scheme of things) where people wrote novels in very short periods of time.
“Oh yeah, we’re definitely characters,” Luke said. “You think we didn’t know that?”
“I was hoping so. But never mind that now,” Mia said. “Let’s get on to some other things. I need to know how much plot you two have left.”
“Honestly, not much,” Luke said. “This is pretty much it. Once we kill off patients zero and one we’re done. We’ve already defeated all the other zombies.”
“All the other zombies? Seriously?”
“We managed to find a few folks we trusted and got them on our side. It helps when the government decides to kill the zombies off eventually. Well, after half of them become zombiefied themselves. But then the rest of the world got into it as well and said screw American law, the rest of the world is at stake here.”
“Especially when the zombies got into Canada and Europe and Asia,” Molly added. “That’s when we really knew we were screwed as a society.”
Mia nodded and thought of the real implications of a zombified culture. It wouldn’t last, would it?”
“So why were you still so dead set on finding the first two patients anyway?” Mia asked.
“Dude, they’re my parents,” Molly said. “You’d be dead set on it too. I was going to put them out of their misery and now even the government is urging me to. So much for the “life ends at natural death” government.” Molly snorted. “They want these two dead, and heck, I think they consider these two undead even at this point. But I don’t know. I mean, they’re my parents! They raised me from a young lass.”
“That’s normal,” Luke said. “Or at least I’d assume that’s normal, never having had zombie parents…”
“Luke, your parents got shot during the last zombie insurgency, didn’t you hear?”
“The last pager call told me so. But at least you didn’t have to pull the trigger yourself. See, this is what I’m deciding now. Such big decisions!”
Molly looked at the creatures at the other end of the chains. They were now crawling toward Molly and Luke.
“See, normally I’d encourage you to go on about this at great length,” Mia said. “It’s good for my word count and I still need a few thousand more words to get to fifty thousand words. But given the circumstances…”
“Look, it’s shoot or lose the whole zombie battle, Molly. And no offense, but you make a better human friend than a zombie friend,” Luke said.
“I know, but they’re my parents!” Molly exclaimed, removing the pistol from her belt. “And I don’t know if there are any bullets left.” She checked. “Crap. One more bullet.” She looked toward her zombified parents. “I don’t know, Luke. It’s gonna be one or the other.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way.”
“We’ve lost. One of them get shot, the other turns us into zombies. We’ve come this far, Luke.”
“No, I know it doesn’t have to be this way. There has to be another way. Just choose which one you want to shoot–”
“CHOOSE WHICH ONE I WANT TO SHOOT? You realize what you’re asking me, right? You’re asking whether I want to kill my mom or my dad, Luke! That’s not a decision you make lightly!” She clutched the pistol more tightly.
“I know, but look, has one of them attacked more than the other?”
“I don’t know. How do you expect me to know this?”
“You seem to be the person who knows this sort of thing.”
Molly paused. “How am I supposed to know this? I can’t be everywhere.”
Luke turned to Mia. “I wasn’t talking to you. I was more talking to her.”
“Excuse me,” Mia said. “I am not just a Her. I am your author and if you don’t stop cooperating I WILL kill you off right now. Or worse, let the zombies eat you right now.”
“You won’t.” But the blood flowed away from Luke’s face.
“Oh I would,” Mia said as she typed out some words on her keyboard.
“No she wouldn’t,” Molly said. “You really wouldn’t. Don’t you need more words to finish this book?”
Mia looked at her word count. “Crap, I guess I need to keep on writing then, don’t I?”
Molly nodded and turned back to the zombies, who were now approaching her and Luke. Without thinking she aimed her pistol and shot it at the male zombie’s head. The male zombie fell over and moved no more.
“Well, now what?” Molly asked as the female zombie crawled slowly toward them. “We’re out of bullets.”
“No we’re not,” Luke said.
“What do you mean no we’re not? I just used the last one. Unless you have a stash of bullets you’ve been hiding on me.”
“That’s what improvising is for. And besides, who says you need to use bullets to kill a zombie?”
“We’ve been over this. There are other ways to kill a zombie, but let’s face it, not too many of them are effective. Unless you have a chainsaw or something. But we passed that abandoned hardware store days ago.”
“I knew I should have grabbed that sweet chainsaw when I saw it.”
“Well, there’s no time for that now. It’s now or never.”
“And he looks hungry,” Mia added, writing this as she said it out loud.
“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Molly said. “But what now?”
“This.” Luke bent over and picked up a shovel that fell out of Mia’s bag.
“Hey, that’s my plot shovel! I don’t know how well that’ll work on a zombie…”
“It should work okay, at least,” Luke said as he sneaked up behind the female zombie. (Did zombies have a real gender? Mia found herself wondering. Zombies probably didn’t have enough sense of self to worry about gender issues, but certainly the zombie identified as female when it was human. That was enough to make it a female zombie, right?)
Molly continued holding onto to the chain, but she took an occasional step and chained the other end to the eraser bench.
“Whoa whoa there lady, what do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m not holding on to this,” Molly said. “Do I look stupid?”
“To be fair you’ve done your fair share of stupid things,” Mia said. “Luke’s done more, though,” she added, lowering her voice.
Molly chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell him.”
Molly returned to sneaking up behind the zombie with Luke. Neither one of them said a word. Luke thwacked the zombie on the head with the plot shovel. An instant later, there was no shovel but a chainsaw in Luke’s hand.
“Yes!” Luke exclaimed. He revved it up and ran it across the zombie’s head. The zombie and its head fell down without another moan and hit the ground with a thud.
“Is it dead? Like dead for real?” Molly asked. She turned to Luke, who was now holding a chainsaw. “And where’d that chainsaw come from?”
“I have no idea,” Luke said. “One minute I was holding a shovel, the next, a chainsaw.”
“That must be another superpower of the plot shovel,” Mia said. “But I better check the calendar. Last time i used the plot shovel it took two days away from me. Using it for something like that probably means it’s December right now.”
“Oh no, I don’t want to do that to you!” Molly said. “Surely the plot shovel can turn back time, right?”
“It’s not that fancy,” Mia replied. “But I can figure out something. First, we have a loose end or two to tie up.”
Mia sat there for a few more minutes typing up the end of her novel, and then she checked her word count.
Forty-six thousand. Forty-six thousand? But that was less than fifty thousand. Where did those words go? They were supposed to be in her document!
And most importantly, what was she going to do with the other four thousand words? She couldn’t be a winner at this rate.
Mia trudged her way to the Reaching 50,000 forum and browsed the forum. Surely someone else had already experienced the same thing she was right now. They had, but none of them addressed her immediate concern: wrapping the story up and coming up short. How do you come up with four thousand words of conclusion when the conclusion is already there?
So Mia started her own thread and sat in there for a minute. A small poster from Camp NaNoWriMo hung in this thread. A minute later a Wrimo by the name of Ceetee entered the thread.
“So your novel’s over, yes?” Ceetee asked.
Mia nodded. “And it’s over at forty-six thousand words too,” she said. “What am I supposed to do with that? I can’t go back and add an entire subplot like I could if it were over at twenty-six thousand.”
“Maybe write an epilogue?” Ceetee suggested.
“It’s a zombie novel,” Mia said. “Almost everyone’s dead.”
“Oh,” Ceetee said. “Have you thought about writing a prologue? What happened before that?”
“That could work,” Mia said. She thanked Ceetee and walked back outside the forum.
But when she returned to the nearest eraser bench, she cracked her laptop open and was about to open her novel when she heard a cry from above. All the other Wrimos in the vicinity also looked up as the voice burst into song.
“Ohhhhhh, we know you’re working hard to finish NaNo
But we have some things you might wanna know
Check your word count, make sure your novel’s nice and backed up
You don’t want any last-minute screams!”
Mia looked around. Who was singing this, anyway? She couldn’t spot the source of this voice, but suddenly it didn’t matter. The voice didn’t say anything else, and Mia returned to opening her novel.
But there was nothing else to add, she decided as she stared at it for a few more minutes. Sure, she could add a prologue, but why? It wouldn’t add anything to the story, and quite frankly, Mia was glad to see Molly and Luke and all those zombies go.
And then Mia remembered the unfinished legends.
And she hit enter a few times and started writing everything down. New documents could come later. Having everything in one document for validation needed to happen now.
Mia, you always cut it close.
Share, don’t be a jerk, donate to Nano if you’re so inclined.