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Chapter 1: In Which a Butterfly Dies
Elena Lash was driving to school one morning and a butterfly hit her windshield, which made her cry. You see, it probably would not have been that much of a tragedy if it was a moth or any other kind of bug, or something generally unbeautiful. There's something so horrific about a butterfly's wings splattered across the windshield, dead and in pieces, that just brought Elena to tears.Wait, she has a car? And she's in school? Is it college? Late high-school? Is it different where she lives? Gah, I need answers, like, right now. Exposit me up, book!
The thing with Elena, though, is that she was not that type of person. No, she didn't normally get all weepy over something so trivial. In fact, she was really more the type of jovial and funny person. The type who laughs at the weirdest things; for instance, she didn't find handlebar mustaches funny, what she found funny about that situation is the thought of a man with a handlebar mustache buying mustache wax. She normally laughed at the mechanics of a concept, rather than the actual concept. You know, that person who inquires, "Wait, what sort of bartender would say 'We don't serve ducks in here' instead of shoo a duck out of his establishment?" She loved that the presidents had their own theme song like Spider Man or The Brady Bunch, and always wondered if there were lyrics. You know, she wondered about that kind of stuff.I didn't know the presidents had their theme songs. I'm tempted to search it, but some small part of me holds me back. I don't want to risk looking like an idiot if it isn't true. Or stumble upon some website and get the wrong information... Anyway, presidents are American, right? At least, the presidents used in the context of the book. So that would make the book set in America. There's no kingdoms in America, other than Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom and... I think that's it. God, I hate those two kingdoms. And MGM or whatever it is now. Epcot is the only theme park I like, because it was interesting and didn't have the goddamn Carousel of Progress. I liked the Ear Worm, but it always brings back bad memories because the circle-shaped ridey-thing stopped going around the thing, installing a fear of closed-in spaces that you can't escape from that will last for the rest of my life. It's the kind of installation you wish never had happened. Sort of like Windows 8. But I digress.
Somehow, though, the flakes and guts of the butterfly were utterly horrific to her so she had to pull over to the side of the road in order to get in her good cry. But, she reasoned, maybe it wasn't the butterfly, not really. Maybe it was the accompanying flashback; the pretty colors coupled with the gooey insides. It was like that day, three months ago, when Mom and Dad were both hit by a car and propelled into another car, pinning them in between the two. When the firemen pulled the two cars apart, Mom and Dad fell into pieces, literally, because the bumpers had chopped them up. All the while, Elena was waiting in the cell phone store, impatiently wondering where they were, because they had promised to buy her a new phone after they finished across the street at the convenience store.
My, my, what a surprise that had been when she finally went outside to inspect the commotion and discovered her parents were both dead and in pieces on the road, their blood and guts staining the pavement, littered with the pretty colors of their bright clothes and baseball caps....Excuse me while I hurl. I can't stand the mere mention of guts, at least not in the context where the innards become... outards. And I'm the one who mocked the kids in health class for ew-ing at the videos about digestion. I made sarcastic and over exaggerated "ew"s and "gross"es all throughout the video. And at the end there was a non-graded quiz about it. The information sort of... slipped through me. I have a fairly poor memory, which is a shame because if I had a better memory, I'd be able to use my smarts much more effectively. Anyway, I learned a very important lesson: don't be sarcastic towards the other students during a video you'll be quizzed on later. Save it for other, less useful classes. Like Social Studies!
Today was one of those bad days. Recently, most days had been good days, but every once and a while, one of these bad days would creep through in the form of butterflies against the windshield. Bad days usually involved Elena not exactly going to school, and by 'not exactly', I mean essentially she did not go at all. Not essentially, but entirely....Huh?
''She stopped at the stop sign and her mind wandered. Uncle Ted spoke to Aunt Jane about Elena a lot, saying things like, "She used to be so creative…" Used to be, Uncle Ted? Really? What sort of thing to say is that?
Admittedly, Uncle Ted maybe had a bit of a point. After all, Elena used to create fanciful stories and ideas. She didn't like poetry, but she absolutely loved stories. In fact, she was one of the loudest protestors following the book store's closing. She always used to envision seeing her own fiction on its walls.
And yes, Uncle Ted's point was further realized because Elena generally wasn't doing very much creating recently. She found herself in a dry spell, which started a few days before Mom and Dad died and was still fully in effect.
But! Even so! It's a bit rude to say she used to be creative, wouldn't you say?
Especially because she still had plenty of creative thoughts, but just couldn't put them onto paper anymore.Writer's Block: Now with 85% more dead parents.
And when I say something, I mean it. It was an enormous building of some sort, except it was far from modern; it was almost castle-like with stone walls surrounding it and windows and ledges coming off at every angle and in every direction. There were flags and rooftops slanting down over ledges from the windows, and countless windows at that, let me say. The oddest thing about this enormous castle (odder than it simply being there, I suppose) was the fact that it was hovering. A thick mist surrounded it around the base, but Elena could quite clearly see it was at least twenty feet up off the ground, with the exception of a small rope ladder dangling down.
A small rope ladder.
An inviting rope ladder.Things have gotten very interesting, very suddenly. Anyway: speculation - this is the Kingdom of Rain.
Elena slowly climbed out of her car and stared at the castle. For some reason, she didn't find herself surprised that it was even there. It was magnificent, certainly, but somehow she expected it. And that rope ladder was becoming increasingly more inviting, as if it was a handsome stranger from inside a suspicious car, asking her to come a little bit closer....and Elena clearly has a thing for castles.
Normally, you're not supposed to approach handsome strangers in suspicious cars (or anyone in suspicious cars, or any kind of car—just stay away from cars and people, in general) but Elena was feeling rather daring and bold. She jogged right up to the rope ladder and swatted at it to make sure it was still there. Taking a moment to stare up at the bottom of the stone castle hovering above her, she finally gripped onto the ladder and stepped up onto the first swinging wrung. It was hard at first to balance, but once she pulled herself up to the first few ropes, it became increasingly easy.I suck at climbing ropes, so I suspect that at this point I would wave my fists at the sky and curse my ineptitude at Physical Education. And then I'd go to the cloud mist stuff and stuff some in my shoe, and hope it would allow me to float to the castle. If it works for a castle, then it would surely work for a rather skinny guy like me.
She climbed through the mist so she could no longer see. It got a little colder. She got a little braver. When she reached up for the last rung, she felt a hand close around her wrist to pull her up the rest of the way.Friend or foe, friend or foe... this early in the story, I'm going to guess... friend? Either way, this guy is clearly a Badass. Why else would he own a freaking floating castle? - Anyway, in just the first chapter, I am intrigued. The narrative style is sort of odd, but it's nice. Different. However, I feel that it would work better if it was first person. But that's just me. Also if you comment on this, there is one rule you absolutely must follow here: Don't. Spoil. Anything. G'day.
Let me tell you why this story already angers me immensely: Strike 1: The Lemony Narrator is absolutely killing this for me. I don't understand how someone could write 150,000 words in this voice and live to tell the tale... unless he didn't survive, and this story is actually one giant suicide note leading up to the solution of Chesterfield's mysterious death! Strike 2: A frustrating an uncharacteristic grammatical error in the second sentence completely ruins the illusion of Lemoniness for me. Strike 3 (annulled on a technicality): Liberal use of the Dead Parents trope and over-the-top gore to inspire sympathy for the protagonist. If you want me to like your hero, don't guilt me into it. Strike 4 (technically strike 3): Author insertion. I don't mean to jump to any conclusions, but despite being a girl Elena is still an apparently exceptional writer who dreams of being published. I wonder what or who that might be an analogue of...
Yes, I do agree a bit, at least on Strike 1 and Strike 3. The lemonyness isn't really something I'm a fan of, but oh well. I can't help how an author writes, as along as he or she makes a good story. So far I haven't seen enough to judge, so I'm trying to remain neutral. I will go through this entire first book and see if I want to do the rest when I'm finished.
U.S. Presidents are introduced with the tune "Hail to the Chief", which I believe was originally Scottish.
I liked the narrative. It made me smile with its quirkiness. One thing that I think would improve it though is for it to not state stuff so much. Sure, there's some showing going on, but the statements turn me off.
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