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Eterna Familia: prologue and chapter one
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scissorkitty



Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:47 am    Post subject: Eterna Familia: prologue and chapter one  

PROLOGUE:

Everybody has a secret. Everyone has something they would rather the world in general didn’t know. My secret is something I wish I didn’t know.

Imagine your life. You were born to a mother, probably a nice woman. You had a father, probably a decent sort of guy. You happily passed through all the regular stages of infant development, your happy family clutched in the palm of one chubby, grubby fist. You ate a few crayons. You scraped your knees. You passed your math tests, learned to read, rode a bike, hid peas beneath your napkin, and tried to avoid being killed by an older, immortal brother that you only vaguely knew existed. Or maybe that’s just me.

My name is Europa Fielder. As I write this, I am 22 years old. I live by myself in a tiny apartment above a Laundromat in a small town called Dolmen Groves. My apartment is too small, cramped, dim and ant-infested for most folks to really like it, but due to Aunty Mel’s Quick Wash downstairs, it always smells fantastic! I am not, as of yet, immortal. Before you throw a porterhouse at me, or try and create a charming garden fence in my chest cavity- I am not a vampire, nor am I likely to become an imaginary creature any time soon. I am simply a victim of a rather unfortunate curse on a rather overly fortunate man, who fathered one too many bastards.

“May you and your bastards live the life of the Damned, forever!”

Wow. Who’d have thought that Fate was listening to that one?


Chapter One:

The Triplets were playing Scrabble when I arrived. It’s a pretty rare sight to see all three of my vastly different near-octogenarian siblings sharing a tender moment together. Eloise and Helen were slumped or perched respectively on a pair of matching Edwardian mahogany dinner chairs on either side of the game board, whilst Powell hovered protectively over the tile pouch. Normally, the Triplets are so widespread in their attentions its hard to focus on them as a group, so a rare moment like this one gave me a nice chance to observe.

Eloise is the eldest, although by mere minutes. Her mauve-rinsed hair was carefully roller-set, then back combed into a perfect french twist. She was wearing a little sweater set in a soft rose colour, tiny seed pearly sewn onto the collar and cuffs in a delicate floral pattern. On her feet were little pink house slippers, the ballerina style you can pick up for a few dollars at Sears. She had her favourite crepe slacks on, the dusty rose ones with the satin waist band, and a set of old but newly polished pearls on her throat, ears and wrists. Looking every inch the maiden sister, Eloise ran her carefully filed nails over the tapestry of the chair cushion in an annoyed gesture.

Opposite her battle station sat Helen, her nemesis and middle sibling. Helen was decked out for a night on the town in a little black dress, marabou trimmed heels, and a ruby cabochon ring large enough to choke Donald Trump. Her carefully highlighted blonde bob, flawless as usual, highlighted her razor sharp cheekbones and carefully sculpted brow- carved and sutured by the best plastic surgeons that money can afford. (Helen has recently become a tad addicted to plastic surgery, but lets keep that between us for now.) Judging by the size of the rock on her finger, I gathered Helen had been watching Dynasty re-runs again on TvTropolis.

The Triplets didn’t achieve Immortal status until well into their seventies, back in 1850, so Powell has always been as much of a grandfather figure to me as a brother. It came as quite a shock to him when, at the tender age of 78, he awoke one morning to find that he and his beloved older sisters had passed away in the night due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a clogged chimney flue. Awaking with Immortality is a tough thing to handle, I assume. He has, according to his sisters, been a little touched by dementia ever since.

Always at his finest when interpreting between his more egregious sisters, today Powell was dressed like a cross between Mr. Rogers and Sherlock Holmes. His bald scalp glistened with sweat from the Tiffany lamp overhead, while his cramped and age-spotted fingers crimped the edge of the plastic tile pouch with exaggerated tension. He was wearing his favourite cardigan- an age worn brown wool fiasco made by some well meaning dame a good twenty years ago- and a pair of tweed slacks, which drooped sadly over the heals of his blue and green plaid slippers. His large white moustache positively quivered with excitement as Helen pushed her tiles onto a red “triple word score” marker.

“QUOTATION”

“You can’t use that there!” Eloise grumbled out loud, crinkling her nose at her sister and crabbing the offending letters onto the floor, leaving just the poor “QUO” to stand alone.
“I started that word. You can’t use my letters to make a bigger score for yourself!”

“Yes, darling demented sister, I can. It’s the basics of the game!” Helen’s voice began to raise in ire, and she pouted her carefully enhanced lips into a little moue of distaste as she stabbed a crimson nail at the game board. “You start a word, I add more letters to make a bigger word, I get the points!”

Powell continued to tremble as his eyes darted from sister to sister behind his copper rimmed glasses.
“Now girls...”

“Don’t call us ‘GIRLS’!!” Two voices rang out in unison, finally uniting on a common enemy, and two dining room chairs crashed unceremoniously to the floor as each sister stalked from the games room in a different direction.

“Hm. Well, brother mine? Uniting the fronts as always?” I couldn’t help but interrupt. Powell shrugged his bony shoulders, and held out his arms in a welcoming, tobacco scented hug.

“Yes, well. Did I ever tell you I was a negotiator in the War? It was back in 1871, and our neighbors were fighting as usual- very disgraceful in a married couple- and I was stopping by to ask if Edward had an extra pipe stem, as Helen has just thrown mine in the fire..”

We chatted a little as I picked up after my sisters, righting the chairs and rounding up the errant tiles. I had to prise Powell’s fingers off the pouch, him having forgotten he was holding it in all the ensuing excitement. The rest of the townhouse was neat and tidy today, a testament to the untold virtue of the housecleaning service the Triplets employed. I guess a healthy paycheque and a nice holiday bonus will make up for even the crankiest old timer. We made our way into the kitchen, and as my brother set the kettle on the stove to boil, and as I rescued the electric pot and plugged it safely into an outlet instead, I cut to the verbal chase.

“Where’s Harrold?”

“Oh, my. Well, I haven’t heard from him in, erm, .. Well. I can’t quite remember. Perhaps if you’d care to ask Eloise? She usually handles the correspondence..”

Powell looked steadily at the travertine tiles, avoiding my questioning glare, his fingers picking at a few of the burn holes In his sleeves. Powell has always been a terrible liar. I think that’s why he’s so easy to trust. It’s not that he wouldn’t try to keep information from me on occasion, but he’s just so naturally bad at covering his tracks, it’s like following a catburglar into an open bank vault- easy to see why the money is missing.

Harrold is our brother as well. Physically around his mid forties, although born in 1890, he’s been trying to kill me for as long as I can remember. We have something of a hate-hate relationship. He hates that I’m not dead yet, and I hate him for consistently trying to remedy the situation. I can remember my childhood- always fleeing in the middle of the night with my mother to move to a new suburb, or commune, or mobile home. There was a period of a few years in which I couldn’t even remember my last name, Susan made me use so many different ones. Luckily, as I moved through my twenties, Harrold seemed to have backed off a bit in the killing and maiming department. It made me suspicious.

“I don’t like it when I don’t know where he is, Powell. You know that! If you tell me what he’s up to, I can just avoid him. I don’t like violence any more than you do!”

The last time Harrold and I had a friendly little meeting, I ended up needing 6 friendly little stitches in my left shoulder, and he ended up with a friendly little butter knife stuck in his left eye socket. I was fairly certain his bruising would have faded by this point. It was an awkward way to end our father’s funeral, but my family likes to keep life interesting. Harrold’s latest scheme was to turn me into some sort of vegetable. He was obsessed with inheriting our father’s fortune, and terrified that I, as the only family member of legal age who could possibly pass for Rolph’s daughter, would have a paternity test done and steal the money from his clutches. I wish! I would have loved to move somewhere with a little grass, at least. I was more concerned with surviving my twenties with my brains still intact.

****

I chose to question Bernice as to the whereabouts of our least favourite brother. The Triplets have always been a little ambivalent about Harrold and his nefarious activities, preferring instead to live out their Immortal years in relative comfort. They own quite a bit of real estate, amassed over the past two and half centuries, and enjoy a lucrative rental housing business, nominally run by Powell but in all actuality controlled by Bernice. She prefers to stay under the radar for the most part, as most of the tenants wouldn't appreciate knowing they have a 9 year old landlady.

Well, she appears to be nine or so, anyway. Bernice was actually born in 1901, and died of a misplaced bone in her training corset. It punctured her lung, causing her to silently suffocate midway through a piano recital. Children at that time were to be seen but not heard, particularly during public appearances, and so her death was originally thought to just be a sweet swoon brought on by too much attention and limelight. Unfortunately, not so much. After passing through a mortuary that the Triplets happened to run at the time, Bernice was discovered to be alive- or Re-Alive- and was lovingly embraced as a new family member. She lives in an attached granny flat over the garage of the Triplets' townhouse, and enjoys ragtime music, and Hello Kitty. She's also a financial whiz, so despite Harrold's constant attempts to weasel financial control of their assets from Powell, Bernice handles all the business and fortune of their little collective.

"Damn this arpeggio!" Her little fist hit the keys of her Baldwin piano with surprising force, sending her bobble-headed Hello Kitty collection into a nodding fit.

"Hey, Bernice! What're you working on today?"

"Nevermind, kiddo. Modern piano just doesn’t have the same charm as the old stuff." She slammed the key cover shut, and stormed over to me, pixie features a mix of frustration and happiness. It's easy to show contrasting emotions when you have the face of a diminutive, strawberry blonde Louise Brooks. Ever partial to barrettes, Bernice had the sides of her hair pulled back with a set of pink plastic Dora the Explorer clips.

"What's with the headgear?"

She ran a hand over her hair, careful not to send her perfectly blunt bangs into disarray, and smiled disarmingly at me, dimpling in the dappled light.

"These? A gift for Helen's "grand daughter" from the tenants on Chapel Street. I rather like them. Dora's no Betty Boop, but at least she has nice hair."

I grabbed a seat on the overstuffed suede couch, and patted the pink flower shaped cushion next to me.

"I need to ask you something important."

Looking every inch the self-important 107 year old nine-year-old that she was, Bernice complied.

"Have you seen or heard from Harrold? Powell told me to ask Eloise.. but as I'd rather saw off my own fingers, I figured you'd be more inclined to tell me the truth." Bernice is no fan of old Harrold, even though they are actually very close in age. He sees only her child’s body, and not the mind behind it.

“That great ass? I’m happy to say no. The last I heard he was sniffing around Marion’s back door, hoping to beg some scraps from Rolph’s estate. You may want to swing by Mommy Dearest’s place and ask her. If it’s a good day, she may even be able to help. You should probably talk to Eloise at some point, though. She claims to have met a psychic who can talk to father’s ghost, and Davis has a theory about Rolph’s death that might prove.. Um.. enlightening.”
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Crunchyfrog



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:24 pm    Post subject:  

Well that was a good start there, Kitty. I got a good feel for the characters and their environment, and they were introduced well.

I have to say though that I found things just a little confusing with the immortality thing - I guess because they're dying at different ages and I found it difficult to keep up with the chronology of it all.

Also when you write a storygame, at the end of the chapter you should be inviting your readers to make suggestions on what Europa should do, rather than present your options to poll.

This is the essence of 'playing' a storygame, the readers get a little control over the main character, and your next chapter runs from the most popular suggestion.

For that reason I haven't voted yet - but I would be interested to see what the next chapter brings.

Well written!

:)
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scissorkitty



Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:23 pm    Post subject:  

Crunchyfrog wrote: Also when you write a storygame, at the end of the chapter you should be inviting your readers to make suggestions on what Europa should do, rather than present your options to poll.



Thanks, Crunchyfrog! That actually makes it a little easier on my tired brains as well, thanks for reminding me!


So.. what SHOULD Europa do next? Suggestions?
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8778
Location: http://www.NeilHarlteyBooks.com

Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:12 pm    Post subject:  

Nicely written indeed Skitty!

I want to see this phycic fellow (or female) No doubt they are totally batty and walk around in the nude* all the time or something.

You need a title though, I really hate stories without one. Even a working title. Maybe: Family Eternia? Hey, it's just a suggestion!



*Trust me to lower the tone already.
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scissorkitty



Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:53 pm    Post subject:  

Hmm. I'm going to need more options to make a Poll out of this! Input needed, please! :shock:
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Crunchyfrog



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 6:12 am    Post subject:  

Well - if Mother is less than helpful on the best of days... hmmm... and who trusts psychics anyway? Anybody with any sense would start by looking for some concrete clues.

I would say start at Harrold's place. A character like that should have a very interesting (and chilling) abode, I think...

:-o
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Traveller



Joined: 02 Apr 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject:  

Good start...interested to see where this goes...I would like to see more of the world around these Immortals and how they interact with it...but I'm sure that is to come...for that reason I would like to meet this Psychic...have Eloise take him to the psychic (reluctantly probably) and at the same time we can get a tour of the neighbourhood nearby...good luck with this...can't wait for chapter 2
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scissorkitty



Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:18 pm    Post subject:  

Alrighty, gang! Looks like we're headed to the psychic! Better get writing! (oo! I've been waiting for enough responses to come up with an answer! yeee haaaw!)
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Crunchyfrog



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject:  

Hehe, okay!

Actually it's at this stage you're supposed to set up a poll - but seeing as you're already started writing, don't worry about it this time around!

Just remember at the end of chapter two -

First wait a few days for responses and suggestions for your poll.

Then put those suggestions into a poll - the winner of the vote forms the basis of your next chapter.





Looking forward to seeing what this psychic will be like...

:D
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:17 am    Post subject:  

Hey Ms Kitty,

Continuing my random, and sometimes partially drunk, ramblings through the city's winding streets, it is this little story that I have stumbled across next.

And I really liked it. I was definately a little confused in places, there was suddenly a lot of names, and it was mid-way through the chapter before I was beginning to grasp the immortal concept. But regardless, I did really like it.

Your style of writing is extremely pleasant, with a dry humour that I appreciate.

Quote: We have something of a hate-hate relationship. He hates that I’m not dead yet, and I hate him for consistently trying to remedy the situation.

*chuckles* One example :)

I await eagerly for the next chapter.

Happy Writing :)
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