Archive for the ‘ Chapter 08 – Alternate Beginning – Opener ’ Category

(172-A) Compromise is a Dirty Word

Author’s Note:
I stopped writing Doctor E for a semester of school as updating was incompatible with my schedule, but I did scrawl a little for the beginning of book 2, “Opener,” where book 1 was “Closer.”  This is alternate beginning part 1 of 3. 

Magic, whether you know it or not, is about compromise.

Yeah, there are wizards who are powerful enough to drop mountains onto cities.  It’s not very human, though, is it?  It’s not the way of the world.  It’s not how mountains or cities are used, and the farther you go, the harder it is to change and be part of the world. You become more and more of what is Beyond it.

This is why wizards work with coincidence, with slight changes of possibility.  With the greys, the maybes, the might have beens, the lesser trod of the two paths. With mystery.

It is a crisp autumn day.

Nevermind that about five minutes before it had been the darkest of the “before dawn” in late summer.  It is a crisp autumn morning, and I am walking in a diminutive wood, a bonsai bonanza.  Huge trees had marked my passage, and here I am a giant, and everything is cuter in miniature.

Fairyland is more like us than we are like ourselves. That’s the phrase that comes to mind out of one of Thomas’ sayings, and I see why he says it.  It’s a compromise, not a coincidence.  For it to interpret us (oh bless thee, Bottom!) we must interpret it in kind.  Not in one of those convenient little parables of, “I see it like my mind would explain it,” because then it would be more Star Wars and less Hamlet, but in that to stay stable, to stay in synchronization with our world, these fairylands make compromises.

So I am not in the back of the Beyond.  I am in a tiny forest that comes up to my hips, and I am trying to balance on a tiny path that is a twisty maze of passages that are all alike from this vantage point.  I am clumsy, and I am curiously waiting for a cupcake to say, “Eat me,” so I can better interact with this world that is Small.

Do I synchronize with the place, or does it synchronize with me?  A dragon’s tooth lies heavy in my pocket.  I keep fiddling with it, like some kind of worry stone.  I wonder for a moment what my troll friend does in this place, made of stone and the bones of the earth.  How does a creature that could be twelve feet tall handle a town that fits in a tea cup?

It’s not the size that matters, I guess.

You know, I’ve never met a girl who has actually said that.

How you use it, well, there is a trick to that.  As no convenient mushrooms or cupcakes make their way to me, the forest does become larger, and it’s not just a trick of the distance.  After about an hour of walking (and I do it a good clip so that I don’t keep too cold in the fall breeze) I’m actually into the forest, and trees that would make a troll feel small (little “s”) tower over me.  I still don’t know where the path is taking me, but I take it for granted, as I have an invitation.

Somewhere.  On my kitchen counter, I’m sure.

The forests of the Small Kingdom are not like the ones in the Rocky Mountains I’m used to… no chipmunks running around, no cycle of life and death the way trees lose leaves and needles.  No crisp calling of birds.  Every once in a while a tree settles or sighs, and I freeze up, waiting for it to become a carnivorous beast hungry for my brains.  It doesn’t happen, and after a while, their ambulatory nature just becomes another sound.  At least that’s settled – if one falls, the other trees are going to point and laugh.

These aren’t evergreens, or deciduous, or heck, I’m not a botanist. They’re not normal trees, and sometimes they stare at me as I go past, so I try not to notice.  Nothing’s getting in my way or shouting out, “Beware… for the path you have taken shall lead to certain destruction.”  Heck, maybe they all speak Esperanto.  That’d be funny.  The trunks are black with pink leaves here, and then black with green and red leaves over there.  The shapes, they seem to be the same, the ideas are there, but the execution is by painters who think cutting off their own ear is sane and practical.

I always wanted a children’s book to say, “See Van Gogh.  See Van Gogh run.  Go, Van Gogh!”  That’s a lie.  I just thought of that this minute while trying to figure out if that flash of silver was a flag or a fish or a bird or a stream.

Anything’s possible when your flowers smell like Old Spice.  Well, Old Spice and dead things.  I don’t know if it’s actually possible to be allergic to anything in the fairylands. I mean, wouldn’t my receptors have to recognize the allergens in some fashion?  Sneezes here were probably the work of tiny demons.

That’s a pleasant thought.  I could have angels in my mitochondria to fight back.

It’s a flag.  The trees here are less alive, in that, well, animal nature, I guess.  Mobility is one of those things I was taught separated animal and plant to some degree.  Or was it motility?  Motile telephones sound scary, but maybe that’s the obvious evolution of the babelfish.

This is what happens when I’m left alone with my thoughts.  Not that my brain wouldn’t happily betray me in company with odd meanderings, but I was trying not to think of something.  Something big.  Something important.

Something like a Dragon in my apartment, throwing me through time and space, like I didn’t exist anchored in any reality.

I shivered, and it wasn’t because of the cold.

I had a dragon’s tooth in my pocket.  That dragon’s tooth, in particular, if I believed the Questor’s wife.

What is the Dragon’s tooth fairy like?

And is it really a fairy, or some kind of goblin?

The flag billowed bigger than a bus, the colour of the sky, with a silver lining.  A small man stood in front of the flag pole, made of a particularly straight branch of a tree more like a cactus than a fern.  Which, looking at it, made sense, even if it fails in description.

“Sir Recks-a-Lot, I presume?”

(173-A) Knighty-Night

Author’s Note:
I stopped writing Doctor E for a semester of school as updating was incompatible with my schedule, but I did scrawl a little for the beginning of book 2, “Opener,” where book 1 was “Closer.”  This is alternate beginning part 2 of 3.


“Ya name it, an ye own it,” the small (Small?) man noted.  The strange almost-brogue was back, and I think that his discussions with me in my home without it meant something.  I would have to keep that in mind.  Or he had a modern evil twin.  Such tropes were made for faery.

“That implies that owning is the second magic,” I argued.  Naming is the first.

“Hospitality, man.  There lay an angel with’n a flaming sword wit’ nae other purpose but ta block the way back ta Eden, an yet, thousands of years later, nae a one ha’e e’en gone lookin’.  ‘Tis a small thing ta ha’e a purpose?”

“Like those weird elves in Blue Mountain. Door, and Brace.  They weirded me out, really.  All that immortality and magical potential, and they did the work of machines. I thought it too easy to just have blamed it on Winnowill’s madness.”

“I am certain yer meanderings ha’e meanin’ ta ye, but they sound like nonsense ta me.”

“That’s what my mom says,” I reflected with a sigh.

“Indeed.”  He said it like he’d met my mother.  “Are ye ready ta meet our King?”

“As ready as I’m likely to be.  Do I have to change?” I meant it both in a, “dressed-up,” and a, “transform,” way.  I looked at Sir Rent-a-Wreck’s clothing. It was a mishmash of styles, a pair of neutral slacks, mismatched sneakers, a vest that looked made from competing scrap materials, a shirt with the word “Diva” across it in silver sparkles, and a bowler hat.   His hair was a emo dandelion’s puffball of dark green and white.   His face still had that slight strange shaping to it that reminded me of a dog, and he was still the size of a six year old.

“Nay, do they not hae the phrae ta nae sweat the small stuff?” he asked.

“Was that with a capital ‘S’?” I asked.  “Nevermind.  Yes, we have that phrase.  But a King is met in a different way than a man, or I am not showing him Hospitality.”

“An’ he meets a wizard in a way different than a man.”

“I’m not a wizard.”

“So ye say.  So I agree.”

“No, really, the etymology is important to me.”  I hate sounding whiny about this, really, I do.

“Ye can do things beyond the ken of other mortals.  Ist not wizardry enow?” he asked.

“I can do a trick.  I can’t explain how I do it, although I know why it’s important. I understand I can learn a lot more, but I’m not a wizard. A wizard…makes deals.  They think magic first, practical living in this world last.  I’m a dog who goes viral on the internet for being able to ride a skateboard, and then everyone turns to the next big thing, like a cat who can bark, or a singing animation of a toadstool or something.”

“Per’aps,” it sounded like that or maybe ‘praps,’ “yer defined by yer associates.  Ye’ve been rubbin’ some elbows wit’ dragons.”

“It just means I’m out of my depth.  Over my head.”  From ‘ken’ to ‘rubbing elbows,’ I began to feel that the Small World wasn’t a closed one, after all.  Or that Wrecks-A-Lot wasn’t on a short leash.  Dreams have changed their venues.

Of course, if you look at the mythology, the “Little People” could very much be Small’s folk. I hadn’t gotten in the research I wanted to know more about the Small Kingdom, or really, the Seven King.  I wonder if gremlins count as Small things.  No, wait, of course they do.  No wonder Small’s people were familiar with technology.  A glitch is a Small thing that changes…well, big things.

I am guessing there’s no Kingdom of the Big.  Just a guess.

“An’ that be the truth,” Rent-a-Wreck opined. I took it as an editorial comment, anyway. “Nay, a magical wardrobe we hayn’t.  No backpack, nor the proper stone gifted ye by our Knight, ye didn’t prepare ‘tall, did ye?”

“Hey, I was kind of rushed. By a Dragon,” I added, and yeah, it was petulant.

“Oh, a Dragon he says, an complains on the hand widdershins he not be a wizard.”  I liked that. I was going to use, “on the hand widdershins,” if I had a chance, but I didn’t like the sarcasm. No one does who has it used on them, I think.  Rent was still muttering, but he took a step or two lightly towards an old tree, with leaves mostly running from green to orange, a few purple.  I decided that the Small Kingdom and being on acid probably had its similarities, until a Door opened.

I felt it almost as if I had pulled it open myself.  A great yawning gap in what was and what could be, the skin and muscle of a place pulled open to heart and bone.  It hurt, and it was loud, and I clasped my hands to my ears and fell to my knees without intention.

“Ye big baby,” I heard Rent as if he were right beside me.  And he was, which was not what made it strange.  I don’t know how to describe it.  It was as if my sunglasses had fallen off on the mountain and I was suddenly snow-blind.  “Kneel before the king, but not to his Knights or any for whom ye’ve taken nae oath.”

“I’m,” I started to try to describe the idea of overwhelming agony, but it was gone.  It was gone except for the memory which held me back from trying anything.  The memory that says, “Okay, I can’t remember exactly what it felt like, but it hurt, and I don’t want to do that again,” of not putting your hand on the burner.

“Aye, you are.  And I be the knight who welcomes you into the darkness of the Hall of the Seven King.  Open your eyes an be who you are, wizard.”

“He is not a wizard,” a booming voice from around my kneecap complained.

“Then what does he be?”

“Within this court, he is a man of threshholds.  We need him as Closer, as much as we need him as Opener.”  I realized the reason I hadn’t seen anything was because my eyes were closed.  And thus, I Opened them.

(174-A) Hall of the Mountain Kings

Author’s Note:
I stopped writing Doctor E for a semester of school as updating was incompatible with my schedule, but I did scrawl a little for the beginning of book 2, “Opener,” where book 1 was “Closer.”  This is alternate beginning part 3 of 3.


The Hall of the Seven King is not a dwarven hall of stone, with some Peter Jackson marvel of pillars that reach to the sky despite being set within darkness.  (And who needed the room, anyway? I mean, sure, Tolkien had Tall Elves, but that’s just inviting in something like a dragon, when you can fly kites in your own living room.  Well, I suppose the main hall of Khazad-dum was probably not the equivalent of the living room, and instead was their own cubicle farm.  The Balrog probably just felt right at home, that’s all I’m saying.)  It was still absolutely as imagined, full of warmth and colour and texture, really a lot of texture.  I might have known what to expect, which is to say, either our Reality or that Beyond bleeds into the other.  I guess specialists like myself are just giant napkins and seltzer water, dabbing up the stains.  Honestly, I probably prefer the plumber metaphor to the dry cleaner one.



From here, the description went on to meeting the Seven King, but I lost everything in a server move.  (I thought I was updating the new database, turned out I was updating the old database.)  Alas, alack, all that.  We’ll get back here someday.