10 ~ Avatar Interrupted
“You know there’re rituals in this culture. Same’s true in any culture. It’s no different here,” he said.
“”Cept for the tail and the ears, you mean. At least in this region. No different here…’cept for that,” another guy said.
“Don’t listen to him,” a third guy said, brushing off the comment about the tail and ears. His tail flicked. He scritched a tuft of hair along the edge of his ear. He appeared to be thinking. “What he means is you can write your own rules here, to some extent. Make your own way as you see fit. Well…mostly you can.”
“‘Cept when you can’t,” the second guy finally said after what seemed like another lapse in thinking.
“Yeah,” the first guy added quickly. He had latched back onto the cadence of their group speak. “Except when you can’t,” he said.
NaNoWriMo studied the group of these three guys. He had no idea what they meant by anything they said. They had started their group monologue all nonchalant like while they stood casually in front of him. Somewhere along the way, they had positioned themselves quietly so that they stood in a pattern that nearly engulfed him. Nearly. They probably thought he hadn’t noticed; NaNoWriMo had but he deliberately acted as though he hadn’t.
“Weird name, there,” the third guy said, gesturing upward with his eyes first and then his chin toward the nametag that hovered over NaNoWriMo’s head. “Hard to pronouce.”
“Yeah…yeah. You’re not the first to tell me that.” He chuckled even though he wasn’t feeling all that buddy buddy with this group. But he didn’t have an overly negative vibe about them either no matter how bad they hinted at being. He admitted he felt slightly disadvantaged because he couldn’t seem to find their nametags, and here his was staring at them in broad windlight. The only identification on each of them seemed to be a Health Meter: 100% each. NaNoWriMo figured that meant they were bragging about how tough they were. The other thing…NaNoWriMo just wasn’t sure why they had basically pounced on him when he was just getting started. Somehow he figured their Health Meters were a clue, and yet he couldn’t say for certain. He was never completely sure what to expect whenever he tried to log in. He always had it in his mind that he would continue where he left off or log into any old region at random. No other reason for it, other than he figured it was an adventure that way every time. He’d never know who would be there. Like these three guys, in neko tail and ears, with paw boots made of a densely matted fur sorely in need of a cleaning and bound tight with string. Their paw boots left big neko paw prints that lingered a bit on the ground before the prints disappeared. Their claws flexed out in a cruel, wide arch that dug onto — and NaNoWriMo was pretty sure — into the parcel surface. It didn’t take long for him to be absolutely certain that unlike the neko paw prints, those claws weren’t going to be retracted any time soon.
The three nekos circled closer around him. They growled almost like dogs. If they had a clue that that was how they sounded to NaNoWriMo, it would have raised the hair straight up on their backs, but it was an accurate description. Suddenly, they had gone from chattering almost casually to him to this feral, far less friendly gutteral sound. It definitely felt…tribal or like some kind of cultural initiation or something. He couldn’t very well say they hadn’t warned him, what with all their mumbo jumbo about the rituals here, in this Feral Neko Roleplay region. That’s what the sign said. What did he know about role play, NaNoWriMo curled the sides of his mouth into a grim smile. Not alot, but “feral” gave him an idea of tone. As for the rest, well, funny how some rituals hinted at meaning that seemed to permeate across all cultures. He stole a few seconds to look at each of the nekos separately before everything broke loose. If he had had time, he would have warned them. He would have told them how he saw it all going down. But he didn’t have time, so instead he thought it all out and it went like this: NaNoWriMo would kick each of their feral neko asses. Their Health Meters would deplete to zero. They would be logged out of world or teleported to someplace somewhere other than where he was. And after he got rid of them, he would roam this region and he would find out where they got the Health Meters, their tails, their ears, and most of all their claws. Because NaNoWriMo thought he might want to stay there awhile and walk on this wild side. Heck, he might even come back here again next time in full feral neko regalia.
But then again…maybe not.
Instead, the thought occurred to NaNoWriMo that maybe he should check out the slurl that showed up on one of those splash pages…really, on any of the splash pages. They all enticed him into verb mode in the same way, with teaser messages that urged him to “check this out!” “try this out!” or “go here!” NaNoWriMo was more than happy — no, really, he was *eager* — to get on the verb train and go to, see, do, be in all the places that were advertised. He viewed all the ads as invitations to explore something he imagined he hadn’t seen before. To do something he imagined he hadn’t ever done before. To fully enter a new world within a world with strange and new rituals he anticipated that he will have never encountered before and best of all, to find his place in it so very easily. Really so very very easily because, after all, he wanted to be there. After all, he chose to be there.
“Hey, NaNoWriMo! Great to see you! What’s going on?”
“Hey, dude! Nice feral neko paw boots!”
NaNoWriMo beamed and nearly blushed. Word had travelled fast, even from what he thought would be the closed off region of Feral Neko Roleplay. But somehow word had gotten out to as far away a place as the one listed on one of the splash pages. The slurl there led NaNoWriMo to this open performance center where very few – if any – people aside from NaNoWriMo walked around with Health Meters. His said “100000% Awesomeness.” (Could you blame him? He had just emerged victorious from his first ever battle roleplay.) It seemed that overnight or in reality over-seconds, NaNoWriMo had been transformed from an accidental roleplay tourist into an near-immediate SLebrity. The latest New Sensation, he stood with his chest puffed out just a bit in an open park that nestled itself into the center of a small island or a large floating rock. It could be the plateau of a mountain that had thrust itself up from the seabed in the middle of the ocean for all he knew. But what he did know was that he was at the coolest giant floating party NaNoWriMo had ever seen: particle shows everywhere, dancing everywhere, giant art sculptures tastefully flanking the area that was filled to the brim with shiny happy people. A low-level stage occupied the center of the park. A performer emerged at the front of the stage. The performer was a giant rabbit that played a guitar. He wore a pile of gadgets that was strapped to his thigh. His nose twitched when he sang. His whiskers fluttered in the breeze. He looked cool if entirely strange and unusual from anything NaNoWriMo had ever seen before. The Rabbit greeted NaNoWriMo warmly just like the rest of the brimming crowd had. Suddenly, everyone knew his name even though he didn’t know anyone at all, but the rush of such a warm welcome flooded his senses and nearly blinded his mind to the immediate and the very reason why he was here. He should find a place to sit and stay awhile. Maybe even make some friends. Eventually, he noticed balls hanging here and there suspended in the air. He wondered if they were people, maybe another form of life in this world. They seemed to hover over a space in the bench seating area. He assumed they were seated. NaNoWriMo moved closer to the nearest set of balls. He smiled as if inviting praise for his Feral Neko Roleplay exploits. He was everybody’s friend now afterall.
“Heyya,” he said gregariously, fully expecting a warm, rousing reply.
The balls uttered not a peep. Not only did they not reply or even flinch or acknowledge his presence, come to think of it, NaNoWriMo realized, they didn’t even bother to greet him or throw praises upon him when he first arrived. He might have thought them fairly rude or completely out of sync with everyone else at this floating party, but then he wondered if maybe they just weren’t there. It was hard to tell. Then he watched in surprise as a very hip young woman made what he thought was really rather a bit of an aggressive move. She thrust her hand out, her arm extended straight and pointing at one of the balls. She must have communicated something forcefully because before NaNoWriMo knew it, the very hip young woman had not only given one of the balls what-for, but she had actually sat where that ball had previously been. NaNoWriMo nodded his head in appreciation. The very hip young woman wasn’t wearing ears or a tail or neko paw boots or claws or a Health Meter and yet, she still managed to kick that ball’s ass. He scanned the region name: Live Music Region…All Live Music All the Time. Not roleplay or feral or any other type of culture. Just Live Music All the Time, and yet NaNoWriMo had the feeling that the very young hip woman who had just kicked that ball’s ass was about to become as nearly-immediately famous as he had become. Tales of the exploits of her standoff with the ominously quiet ball would travel far and wide and no doubt be known on any of the other places that advertised themselves on the splash pages. NaNoWriMo decided that he might want to know that very hip young woman a bit better just because he liked her style.
Funny how some things occurred with enough frequency that they created patterns and established themselves into rituals that seemed to permeate across all cultures. He stole a few seconds to look at each of the silent, hovering balls separately before everything broke loose. If he had had time, he would have warned them. He would have told them how he saw it all going down. But just like the first go around, he didn’t have time again, so instead he thought it all out and it went like this: NaNoWriMo would kick at least one of the ball’s asses if not all of them. Their prefectly round shining shapes would be pummelled. They would disappear or be vaporized either out of world or teleported to someplace somewhere other than where he was. And after he got rid of them, he would sit right down next to that very hip young woman and he would find out where she got all of her very hip young urban clothing and maybe even find out where to get a small pile of gadgets to strap to his leg because he thought that looked really cool. Because NaNoWriMo thought he might want to stay at Live Music Region…All Live Music All the Time. Heck, he might even come back here again next time with a guitar and a rabbit outfit because the very hip young woman seemed to dig it.
But then again…maybe not.
Instead, another bright and shiny splash page caught NaNoWriMo’s attention. So many splash pages, so little time, he thought in excitement to himself. And with each new splash page, a doorway to a new environment beckoned. To things unseen before, to things never imagined before, well, except for those things that NaNoWriMo couldn’t help stop himself from imaginging. His world was what he made of it and all within the creativity within his own mind.
His skin was like brushed suede, all soft and buttery and rich and luxurious and a gleaming champagne hue. His legs, muscled and torqued, held his powerful body upright with such a regal air about him that it threw even him a bit. NaNoWriMo wasn’t of nobility. But he was very much at home with nature and now at present and arrived upon from this latest splash page, NaNoWriMo found himself very much running to the horizon on every side of an extremely hilly parcel that was blanketed with trees and mounds of snow. He ran like a wild Mustang. His long black mane whipped openly in the wind as his muscles pummelled against gravity. His long black tail swished in happy circles and side to side with each big intake of big brisk cold air that passed through his nostrils. He leapt into the air with abandon and landed with a perfect symmetry that absorbed all the pressure the physics had brought to bear. Only, NaNoWriMo didn’t bear any of those physics. Instead he was nearly in flight mode and when his feet did light the parcel ground, he often found himself prancing around a bit NaNoWriMo did, lifting his taut front legs and well-labored and shoed hoofs up in a perfect happy rhythm. Somehow he had found the cadence in this region without even really trying, without even really hearing the beat. It had to be because of his love of nature and his admiration for powerful yet graceful movement…a movement that could really be thought of as delivered only by a professional and studied dancer. If you ever thought trained dancers were pushovers you didn’t have the first clue. But NaNoWriMo did. He was an athlete. A football player, forced into ballet classes — along with the entire football team — to acquire balance and even weight distribution. The barre was not for the timid, this he knew.
But still, was that the only reason for his acquiring the cadence so naturally? It might have been because of the very hip young woman who now straddled his back. He laughed to himself, as much as a horse can laugh. He beamed, as much as a horse can beam. He nearly blushed but definitely whinnied with a playful toss of his head. And he finally admitted to himself, that yeah, the very hip young woman probably had something to do with it. She seemed to have a way with sitting that he still found mysterious. He had yet to sit, NaNoWriMo did. Such a mysterious thing, he felt like such a toddler not knowing how to do it. It wasn’t all that long ago that he wanted nothing more than to sit right next to the very hip young woman at the Live Music Region…All Live Music, All the Time. Now, she was here with NaNoWriMo on this new region: the Run Wild Region. How she got there with him, he didn’t know. All NaNoWriMo knew was that all he wanted to do was let her ride him. And so she did, mastering the sit and now the straddle perfectly. Never mussing up her perfectly appointed equestrian wardrobe, never tossing her hair out from under an exacting bun that sat tucked deeply within the furthest recesses of her rider’s cap. Her bearing in this region was far more regal than NaNoWriMo recalled at the Live Music Region, and far more regal than NaNoWriMo himself, who was sorely tempted to roll on his back and over to his side in a mound of snow but he stopped himself because he knew if he did that he would crush her. And she must now be one of the New Sensations, one of the near-immediate Slebrities because no doubt word of her exploits with the balls had travelled far and wide, even to this parcel.
NaNoWriMo was happy enough to run with her under under the trees and over the tumble of ice and snow that blanketed the ground…until then all at once, the very hip and now regal young woman who had mastered the Art of the Sit so perfectly suddenly vanished. Right into thin air. He tossed his head frantically from side to side in search of her, but he found instead two new very attractive young riders who watched him. They approached him slowly. They seemed more than eager to straddle NaNoWriMo’s back, and they seemed to know how. He couldn’t really say how he knew this. He just did.
Funny how some things occurred with enough frequency that the patterns become confused with rituals and are taken for granted across all cultures. He huffed the crisp air. He whinnied and stole a few seconds to look at each of the two attractive young ladies before everything broke loose. If he had had time, he would have prepared them. He would have told them how he saw it all going down. But just like the all the other times before, he didn’t have time again, so instead he thought it all out and it went like this: NaNoWriMo would invite both of the attractive young ladies to straddle his back. Their prefectly round shapes would shine in the crisp morning sun. They would gallop fast and hard, breathlessly and heatedly together until one or all of them couldn’t take it any more and teleported to someplace somewhere other than where they all were now. And after they all finished panting breathlessly, he would flop right down onto the ground and roll on his back and side and he would look at each of them and ask them how they had mastered the Art of the Sit. And maybe they would teach him. And maybe he would learn. Because NaNoWriMo thought he might want to stay there for a while. Heck, he might even come back here again next time with a brand new saddle that could carry even more young attractive women.
But then again…maybe or maybe not. Maybe all of these things that NaNoWriMo had just imagined in the privacy of his own mind would happen. Or maybe none of them would. Or maybe something altogether unthought of would happen. He was curious to discover how it would be…if only he could get the world to load. If only registrations hadn’t been suspended.
Then suddenly a banner ad for another world forcibly grabbed his attenion. It was incredibly hard to ignore. It pulsated a blinding light less than discreetly in a less than discreet area. “What’s this?” NaNoWriMo asked.
He clicked on the radioactive boobs in the ad and landed to a place where his account immediately registered.
And at last, the world finally loaded.
Nanowrimo10 total word count: 3,136. Total wordcount to date: 27,490 of 50,000 (not including this notation). Primal screams abounding. This has become increasingly maddeningly difficult. I am counting down the wordcount, which is a not so great motivator. Around the 2/3 mark, my focus always seems to turn to the wordcount, instead of to the story or the idea. The strangeness of where the stories lead themselves is proof of this. And yet I’m still publishing it although I’m not at all happy with it…trying not to judge it and not succeeding too well at the moment. I can only offer that the entire process of writing is far more involved and difficult than it might otherwise seem.