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(Tin Soldier)   Tin Soldier returns, and so does Maggie's dad. An embedded summary, a crawling baby, and magical child-proofing that's got way out of hand. It's a free web serial by a farker, and the author is giving away TF. DIT   (tinsoldier.space) divider line
    More: Misc, 2007 singles, 2008 albums, Debut albums, Ciara, Debut singles, Kitchen, Erik's drawing paper, Milo  
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319 clicks; posted to Entertainment » and Discussion » on 28 Jun 2020 at 8:00 AM (6 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2020-06-28 3:13:06 AM  
Hello again, FARK! Tin Soldier is my web serial and it's free to read, although you will turn up my Patreon page if you look for it and want to help me pay for the webspace in exchange for some extra stuff and that warm feeling you get from supporting your local writer.

House Rules

-For a month of free TF, read some of my web serial and give me a useful opinion (I already know it sucks!).
--You can comment here or there, but if you comment there, remember to link me back to your profile here so I know who to give the TF!
-You can start from the very beginning or hit up the New Readers' Page for other places to pick up the story.
-Ask me anything! In-character answers available upon request.
-Spoilers OK, but warn people.
-The site is probably not FARKed. Check your security settings and extensions first.
-Support FARK! - there are lots of new options!
-If nothing else, you can post ponies, I'm a fan.

This week: Maggie's dad is home from work! He's a sailor, so that's kind of a big deal and he always gets an update on everything that happened while he was away. (That means he works as a built-in summary function.) Also, the baby has learned to crawl and Milo has adult-proofed the house.

Give Tin Soldier a click and you'll see Maggie say: "You said that guy who got bit by a lion was an accountant!"

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Thanks everyone for clicking and reading.

Last week seemed to go well with content posted in the thread, so I'll do it again. I'll have to break it into two posts, but if you don't want to click to read this week's installment, you can just scroll down!
 
2020-06-28 3:14:03 AM  
Calliope grabbed Milo before he could even hang up his coat. He stiffened like a department store mannequin and his hand became a frozen claw.

She didn't notice.

Which was great, because he didn't mean to be horrified, he just needed a couple of seconds to switch over from walking down the street unmolested to being dragged around by loud people. He really did like her and want to see what she was so excited about. When she didn't notice him being wrong they could just do the next thing instead of having a conversation about why what he just did was wrong. Don't worry, Calliope! I don't hate you! I want to see the thing! Just gimme a sec...

He had partially defrosted by the time she yanked him into the dining room. His legs were working a little better. He still wasn't sure what he ought to do with his hand.

He waved the other one, that one didn't have Calliope's touch cutting off its connection to his brain. Hi, Lucy!

Lucy was lying on a crumpled white sheet on the dining room floor with Miss Kitty's damp foot in her mouth. She couldn't wave back yet, but she drooled and smiled.

Milo managed a vague one in response. All right! Time for some cute baby stuff! What did you learn to do while I was at work? I wish we had that damn camera. I'm going to build a camera. I... probably know how to do that? Cute baby stuff is better than radio!

Calliope gently removed Miss Kitty and turned Lucy onto her tummy. Lucy was in a lemon yellow feetie pajama ensemble with white buttons running down it and an embroidered sunflower where the pocket would've been on real clothes. Milo approved of this design choice. What was a baby going to keep in a pocket, anyway? Calliope had pulled her fuzzy brown hair into two almost-pigtails. It wasn't quite long enough and the resulting configuration looked more like the crimped ends of a candy wrapper. But it was all still very, very cute.

Lucy pushed up on her pudgy arms and knees and lifted her head with a toothless grin.

Milo recognized the position. Baby exercises! he thought. He dropped down to the floor to encourage her, sitting at the top of the dining room step. Yeah, Lucy! Go!

"Come on, Lu!" Calliope said. "Do it again! Come get the kitty!"

Lucy rocked gleefully back and forth. Milo and Calliope had jointly decided this was called 'revving the engine.'

Milo patted the sheet with a hand. Come on! You're gonna get it in gear one of these days, hon! Then we can...
Lucy slid her arm forward, and with her fat little legs working like pistons, she clambered across the sheet and face-planted into her kitty. She turned her head and regarded Milo with a smile he found somewhat chagrined. Maybe the pre-verbal version of I meant to do that!

Milo nodded. Yeah, sure you did! He picked up her little hand and shook it once gravely. Wow! Lucy can get her kitty! Now she can...

His eyes widened and he glanced rapidly around the front room.

...get all the other...

The books on the lowest shelf of the bookcase...

...heavy...

...and the box with Erik's drawing paper, stencil and a scissors...

...sharp...

...and the cracked, uneven tile...

...broken...

...and the stairs...

...tall things.

Calliope picked up the baby and the kitty and bounced with them. "May twenty-seventh, 1377!" she announced. "The baby is mobile!"

"And just in time for magic season too," Hyacinth said with a smirk, observing from the kitchen doorway.

Okay, this time Milo did mean to be horrified.

He bolted for the basement before Calliope could notice.

---

Hyacinth appeared at the kitchen table holding a wooden duck. "Okay, so I tried to get him to come up and eat and he threw this duck at my head, so..."

Erik got up and took the duck decoy from her to make sure it was okay. Milo told him not to get attached but come on. It was a cool toy with eyes and a smile, how could you not?

"...So I think we have another 'really great idea' in progress," Hyacinth went on.

Mordecai dropped the spoon into the pot of spaghetti sauce with a clatter, "Oh, gods, no..."

"...and the last time this happened he produced an evil toaster. I don't think I need to remind most of you, but Calliope, you're new, so..."

"An evil toaster? I want to help!" Calliope cried, upstarting.

"Ga!" Lucy agreed.

"Oh, gods, no!" said both Mordecai and Hyacinth. Mordecai put hands on Calliope's shoulders and made a gentle attempt to press her back into her seat. "No, no, dear. This isn't like the headphones or the exploding coffee. Whatever this is, he's going to make it fast and he does not accept input very well when he's focused." Gods help them, he might from Calliope, but she could only make it worse.

His gaze drifted to the middle distance and his expression went slack. My gods, he thought, only Ann can help us now.

"Oh, yeah. I get like that," Calliope said, nodding.

Hyacinth lifted both hands for quiet and raised her voice, "So if you would all please be extra careful if you find any mysterious new objects or appliances and wait until he gets home from work to explain them and/or fight them to the death, that will help keep us all safe in this time of crisis. Thank you. I'm going to go make sure Barnaby knows."

---

"Huh?" Calliope started and blinked open her eyes. She beheld two pale circles of light staring back at her, like headlights. "Oh. Hey, babe." She was adjusting to the dark room and she made out a wave. "Really great idea?"

He nodded, the reflection in his glasses went up and down.

"Need art supplies?"

He shook his head. He set something on her art table and it went 'clink.'

"Okay. Well, just don't wake Lucy."

He nodded again.

She rolled over and went back to sleep.

---

Milo was standing over the coffeemaker and methodically consuming the contents of the entire thing. He held his color-changing mug with the smiling pink face in two shaking hands. It was still dark outside, but according to what he could see of his watch it was about time to sprint down to the bus stop and head back to work for the morning. He'd just finish up in the kitchen first. The house was safe.

Milo, I really think you'd better not go in today. You need to sleep.

He set down the mug and lifted a finger to declaim, I do not need to sleep, Ann! Period! I am evolving right now! I've adapted to breathe coffee! He picked up the mug and drank again, then poured more from the hourglass-shaped vessel.

See, now, I am pretty certain you did not say that to be funny and that worries me...

I just need to fix the cabinets! And then the watches!

Milo, the watches are at the factory. You are still wearing yesterday's clothes and you do not look... Honey, you do not look
normal right now, okay? I'm sorry.

He wandered off, still holding the coffee mug. His sleeves were still buttoned but his shirt was not, held in place only by the suspenders. His hair was falling out of its braid and forming wild corkscrews and frizz around his hollow face, which was liberally smudged with pencil. As was the rest of him. He was missing a shoe. He had taken it off to test something and now he couldn't remember where he'd left it. They'd found Calliope's shoes in weirder places, it would turn up.

I'll wear our sunglasses, he thought absently.

Milo, no! Not with the little red hearts and the palm trees! ...And watch out for the stairs!

He hit the magic so hard he bounced.

---

The lady at the front desk in the nice plaid jacket blinked and startled. "Mr. Rose! Is... Is all that hair yours?"

He stared at her for a good ten seconds. He was still holding his coffee mug, but it was empty. The face on the side of it was blue and frowning. He turned, retrieved his time card, and punched it, an hour early.

"Mr. Rose, you can't go to work like that!" cried the lady from the front desk.

---

"What do we do?" said the foreman to the manager. "Are we liable if he dies, or what?"

"If he dies, our production goes down twenty-five percent," the manager said, tenting his fingers over the desk blotter. "Permanently."

"What do you want to do about it?"

The manager opened a drawer in his desk and retrieved an object. "Be very careful. Don't scare him."

---

The foreman approached Mr. Rose - whom they had long ago decided was an alien in a complicated disguise who had come to San Rosille to drink coffee and make watches - holding a fine black hairnet in both hands. He looked as if he were about to wrangle an alligator. A very delicate alligator. He smiled carefully. "Mr. Rose," he said softly. "I wonder if... Mr. Rose...?" Usually the sound of breathing was enough to get him to turn around; it reduced his production by five percent for the rest of the day. They didn't dare use the speaker box. "Mr. Rose...?"

Milo was fixing watches with a determined frown, squinting to see through his sunglasses, which were not prescription and made everything dim. His waist-length wavy red hair was dangling precariously close to the rollers under the conveyor belt. He had set his coffee mug down on this conveyor belt quite some time ago and confused the hell out of Quality Control.

With sudden decisiveness, the foreman grabbed as much of the hair as he could, stuffed it into the hairnet and pulled the whole configuration over Mr. Rose's head. It bore a vague resemblance to a poofy red chef's toque.

Milo didn't miss a beat. He didn't even flinch.

The foreman gazed over his shoulder at the line of watches marching past. "Uh, good work, lad." He did not pat Mr. Rose on the back. He crept away on tiptoe.

---

Sanaam saw what he thought was a homeless person standing at the bus stop on Angel Lane. In passing he noted the sunglasses, and then the suspenders.

"Stop, driver! Stop-stop-stop! I'm sorry," he added, at a much more reasonable volume. The driver was gripping the emergency brake like a tree branch suspending him over a gorge. "I think I need to pick up my friend."

---

Milo saw a large black man climb out of a small black taxi, already waving, "Milo!"

Light blue poplin cloth, he thought absently. Oh. Is that today? Super. Fun. I forgot it was May.

"Milo, what happened to you?" Sanaam said. He tugged Milo by the shirt and began doing up the buttons, working from bottom to top with rough but careful fingers. "Is that your hair?"

Milo reached up and touched his hair. Or whatever that was. After a few moments' feeling around he found the edge of the hairnet and removed it, letting it fall from his hand to the ground. His dark red hair tumbled around him like instant noodles. He took off the sunglasses and replaced them with the real ones from his shirt pocket. As an afterthought, and with a grin that was a trifle hysterical, he offered Sam a card. Hi. I can hear you but I cannot speak, remember?

When Milo removed the glasses, Sanaam saw the dark shadows and the bloodshot eyes. It didn't quite click, but it fit where he wanted to put it and he made a smile. He'd seen a dazed, drained and sometimes happy face like that staring back at him from the mirror a bunch of times. "Hey, Milo, are you and Calliope..." He wasn't sure how to put it. He didn't want to hurt Milo if he was wrong. Milo and Calliope had broken up once already and they hadn't even been together yet. "...friends?" he managed. "Friends again?"

Milo twitched a weak smile. He nodded.

Sanaam beamed at him. "Taking care of a baby is really exhausting, isn't it?"

Milo nodded. He huffed a sigh and slumped forward.

Sanaam clapped him on the back. Milo's left eye seized up and twitched, but he was too tired to run away.

Sanaam didn't notice.

It's not as cute when you do it, Sam, Milo thought petulantly.

"Come on!" the man said. "I'll give you a ride home! I have presents for everyone... Happy belated birthday!

We'll pick up some coffee!"

Milo nodded rapidly. Thank gods, yes. I had my last drink of air over an hour ago!

---

When Sanaam climbed out of the taxi bearing one of two iced mocha lattes (He wouldn't have called that a coffee, exactly, but it was all right.) Maggie was not sitting on the porch waiting for him. He stopped right where he was with a dismayed expression as Milo got out on the other side and walked around him, limping on only one shoe.

Milo's new evolution did not have a whole lot of patience. He kicked over the gate and wandered into the yard, sipping his power source. He knocked into a pile of bottles, frowned at them and pointed a finger. You weren't there this morning. I have a photographic memory powered by caffeine and stress, so don't you mess with me, bottles! I'm watching you!

He edged past sideways. He paused and sipped his coffee.

"Barnaby always puts me on the calendar," Sanaam said pathetically. This was like a day without sunshine. Maggie had waited for him to come home ever since she could crawl. "I'm important, aren't I? What happened to my daughter?"

"Sir, do you want..." said the cab driver.

"Something's wrong," Sanaam decided. He knocked over some more bottles and blew past Milo on the front porch to burst into the house. "What's going on? Maggie? Sir?"

Maggie was standing at the bottom of the stairs. She turned with a grimace and hollered, "Dad, don't close the door!"

The entire front room was lit up in tangled threads of blinking white, red and green. It looked like a cat's cradle conceived by a madman. Even the floor was glowing, and multiple threads were winding their way through the air to the kitchen. Amidst them, like flies caught in a web, stood Hyacinth, Mordecai, Erik, Calliope, the General and what must surely be the spider itself, a pink monstrosity clattering on six spindly legs with a baby in a safety harness and a pair of tiny goggles riding it.

"Ba!" the baby said, grinning.

The General was the only one on the second floor. Everyone else was gathered around the front room, staking out different positions on a spectrum from fascinated to annoyed.

While Sanaam watched, Erik took a run at the sweeping staircase and hit some invisible barrier, which halted his forward momentum, lit him up like a Yule tree and redirected him upwards, where he flew a gentle arc before being set down near the front door.

"Wheee!" he said. The lights flickered out and he smiled at Sanaam. "Hi!"

"Don't close the door!" Maggie reiterated. She ran over and put her shoe in the gap. "Milo!" she said. He was still on the porch. "We need you, but my mom..."

"Mr. Rose!" snarled the General. She attempted to climb over the banister and was prevented, levitated and set back on the floor near the door to Room 203. "Damn it!" She levitated herself with a spell that became visible as more white threads, cleared the banister and descended the rest of the way to the first floor. Her arms were full of loose sheets of drafting paper and her brutally short hair might pass for disheveled. "Mr. Rose!"

Milo peeked past the front door, grasping it with one hand. The coffee was in the other one. He sipped it. What?
The General spoke as if rattling words into an urgent typewritten message, "Mr. Rose, after hours of intense study, I have come to the conclusion that you do not understand the purpose of magical notation." She threw the papers onto the floor at his feet and then pointed an accusatory finger at them, "I am supposed to be able to use this nonsense which you have produced to reproduce this other nonsense which you have produced! This is not supposed to be a series of disjointed notes which make sense only to your diseased brain. Magical notation is not a mnemonic device, you ignoramus! It is instructions!"

Milo picked up his papers and sorted them, frowning. It can be both...
 
2020-06-28 3:14:51 AM  
There was a series of thuds from the attic above. The whole house shuddered and plaster drifted down from the dining room ceiling where the chandelier used to be.

Hyacinth tipped back her head and shrieked, "I know you're hungry! I can't get to you! We've got the door open now, you want me to go get takeout and lob it in the general direction of your window from the back of the house?"

"Would you, please?" Barnaby's faint voice drifted from above. "At least give me a chance!"

"I wasn't being serious," Hyacinth muttered.

Milo winced upwards. Ooh, did I mean to seal him in there permanently...?

Yes, Milo. You said he was a hazard.

Oh, well...
Milo flung a dismissive gesture. Obviously. That makes perfect sense!

No, Milo, it really doesn't.


Sanaam grabbed Maggie and embraced her. "You weren't on the porch because Milo did something horrible and locked you in the house!" he cried happily.

"Yeah, pretty much," Maggie said. "It was fun for a little while but Mom..."

"Wheee!" Erik said, floating by five feet above their heads.

"...Erik doesn't have to live with her," Maggie noted.

"It appears to be an attempt at child-proofing which has widely overshot the mark and become adult-proofing!" the General called over. "Lucy has recently learned to crawl!"

Sanaam lowered his voice, "Did he put her in that thing so she couldn't?"

"What thing?" Maggie said, blinking.

"Maggie, there's an enormous pink spider standing right there with a baby riding it! With goggles," he added. "On the baby."

Maggie laughed. "Oh. Him."

"Him?"

"Calliope thinks it's a him. I don't know. Mordecai made Milo put a safety harness and the goggles are just for when Hyacinth's doing stuff with metal but Calliope thinks they're cute. We're calling it a Lu-ambulater. Milo and Hyacinth made him ages ago. It's Erik's old highchair. It does a bunch more stuff, but it won't listen to you. We have to wire in some of your fingernails so it knows you're a friend. Cin and Milo put in hair from our brush but, you know, you don't use one..."

"Calliope taught it to dance," Mordecai put in. Erik flew past again, giggling. The red man just shook his head. "Sanaam, is this real life?" he said weakly. "Could you check?"

"Mordecai, what happened to your arm?" Sanaam said. It was in a cast that said JENNIFER in big block letters - there was also a unicorn and some kind of rainbow sticker. Sanaam was not aware that they knew any Jennifers.

Mordecai shrugged. "Racist street gang. It happens. I'd be healed up already, except Hyacinth nailed me back together with metal and she keeps adjusting it. A... a friend of Erik's rescued us. It's complicated."

"Jennifer?" Sanaam asked, pointing.

Mordecai regarded the cast. "No, that's his sister. His name is John. He brought us the paint for the house."

Sanaam leaned down to Maggie's level and spoke sideways, "Isn't that the guy who hurt Erik?"

"Sanaam, I'm pretty sure I know what you're trying to be subtle about and you can quit it," Mordecai said wearily. "I know how Erik knows John. I'm still not okay with it, but I know. To the best of my knowledge, all the secrets in this household have expired..." (Except the one about Hyacinth being Ann and Milo's accidental mom, but I don't think we need to mention that to the loud man.) "...and that includes the one about the hash brownies."

Sanaam clapped his hands, a sound like a rifle blast. "Finally!" he said.

There were more thuds from the attic. "Are you still down there, Alice?"

"I can't really buy you takeout, Barnaby!" Hyacinth screamed. "My purse is in the kitchen with the food!"

"What's wrong with the kitchen?" Sanaam said.

Maggie smirked at him. "What do you think?" She took a run at the doorway that opened into the front room. She was lifted as if by a very firm hug and set down ten feet away near the front door. Her pigtails flattened slightly as an invisible force patted her on the head, three times. She mimed doing it in tandem on an invisible tiny child beside her. "It's a friendly overprotective fake ghost," she said.

"She didn't light up but Erik did again," Sanaam said. "Sir...?"

"I already know!" the General snapped. "I can't make any sense of it and I've been trying since eight o'clock this morning! It acts as if he's operating it, but these constructs are far beyond his capacity. Mr. Rose!"

Milo had collected his schematics and was now standing in the corner of the dining room, facing the wall and occasionally sipping coffee.

"Four hours?" Sanaam cried. His expression was midway between horrified and delighted. Perhaps more towards horrified because, like Maggie, he had to live with her. She hadn't spent this much time taking something apart since the war, and during the war she had people shooting at her and countering her magic. Milo had left this thing here and it couldn't defend itself.

The General turned with a murderous scowl. "Just... don't."

"He doesn't do it right," Maggie said quickly. She waved her hands through the tangled threads of light around them. "It shouldn't look like this. It's not Mom, it's him."

"Milo doesn't build magic out of pieces," Erik said. He was smiling and just slightly out of breath. He needed a break. "Maggie figured it out when I let her check out my eye. Also I'm wired into the universe but she's not, and my eye helps me cheat at tangrams. I think my uncle would light up if he did the stairs, but he's not interested."

"I was going to give it about ten more minutes in deference to his injury and then fling him for the data point," the General said. "Mr. Rose!"

"Glorie, cut it out," Calliope said. She walked past with the pink spider-creature following at her heel. "Milo doesn't want to play with you right now. He's trying to be nice about it."

"I am not playing, Calliope!" the General said. "I..."

Sanaam put his hand on her arm, "Sir..."

Calliope slipped both arms around Milo's waist and put her cheek against his shoulder. "It's okay, babe. I think it's super fun, except for the part where we can't eat." She frowned. "And I've never wanted to sketch anything so bad in my life, but I can't get a pencil. Babe, don't make it so Erik quits flying around until I can get a pencil, okay? That's like a real life cartoon."

Milo turned to look at her, dismayed. He set her back gently and shook his head at her. Calliope! Of course you can have a pencil! I wouldn't take pencils away from you! You just have to... Didn't I write it down? Where is it?
He stumbled into the kitchen, still clutching his coffee and his designs. He took two high steps and bypassed the invisible baby gate across the doorway.

"Oh," Calliope said.

The General made an incoherent noise of rage and punched the wall where Mr. Rose had so recently been standing.

Sanaam brayed a nervous laugh and then covered it with both hands.

Milo stepped over the gate again and urgently presented Calliope with a yellow slip of paper torn from the kitchen pad. It said: Virtual doors password protect: You Are My Sunshine. In retrospect, he should've left it somewhere a little more obvious.

How was he supposed to know they wouldn't figure out the kitchen? He put marks on the doorways where the gates ended! Maybe he should've done it in red paint. Damn it. And Calliope had offered him art supplies too...
Calliope read what he'd written and smiled. She stretched up and planted a kiss on his cheek.

"Yes!" Sanaam whispered. "Relationship upgrade confirmed!"

"Relationship...?" the General said. "Oh. That happened after he concussed himself and got lost all night. She must have missed him. The gods alone know why..."

"You're my sunshine too," Calliope said with a grin.

Milo rolled his whole body sideways and then bapped her lightly on the forehead with the heel of his palm. No, you dummy!

MILO!

She's teasing me, Ann, and I am really stressed out right now! I need more coffee.
He looked down at his empty hand. What the hell happened to my coffee?

Milo, you apologize to Calliope and get her a pencil right now or I'm not telling you where you left it.

Ann, stop helping me.

That's not a magic spell, Milo. I have judgement. No. You need me right now. Tell Calliope you're sorry
!

Milo sighed. He leaned down and hugged Calliope.

Sanaam excitedly socked the General in the arm. "Milo hugs people now? When did that happen?"
"About the same time," the General said. "Perhaps something got knocked into place."

Milo patted Calliope on the shoulder much like his baby gates patted people on the head (Stay!) then he walked into her room. The door worked a lot easier. He paused and rocked it back and forth, then he pointed at it with a knowing nod, Aha! Yes! I replaced all the hinges with pure magic so the doors wouldn't fall on Lucy when Hyacinth messes with 'em! I'm so smart I literally cannot keep track of how smart I am! Why don't these people appreciate my brilliance, Ann?

Ann was drier than a packet of silica gel, Perhaps they get cranky when they are hungry, Milo.

A whistled refrain from the familiar tune emanated from Room 103, Erik nonsensically let up with magic again, and Milo returned with the box of colored pencils and a drawing pad. Ta-da! Pencils! Easy!

"I have to sing to open my closet!" Calliope declared, beaming. "Is that how come we couldn't get the books off the bookshelf, babe?"

Mordecai's mouth dropped open. "Milo, did you alter reality so I have to reproduce stupid music in order to use my kitchen?"

"Who says it's your kitchen?" Hyacinth said.

"My kitchen, your hospital," Mordecai said.

Milo darted an accusing finger at him. You know what your problem is, Dad? You have absolutely no sense of humor!

Erik snickered and put a hand over his mouth. "Sometimes I... hear Milo," he said shyly. "We adopted him on accident. Ann and my uncle figured it out. Uncle Mordecai is their, um... family." He smiled. "And me too."

Sanaam was grinning, but his expression fell. "I miss everything fun," he said.

Calliope patted him, "My brother will come visit again, Sam. You'll meet him one of these days."

"Calliope's brother?!" Sanaam cried. "The one who works for the big cat sanctuary, the blue ribbon pastry chef with nine toes or the weird one?"

"You said that guy who got bit by a lion was an accountant!" Maggie accused.

"They have accounts," Calliope said with a shrug. "Melpomene likes kitties. The little ones live in a box in his office. And he is really annoying."

"Apparently we met the weird one," the General said. "He was unexpectedly good at Conquest."

"Aw," Sanaam said.

"I can play with you later if you want, Sam," Calliope said. "It's not the full Euterpe experience, he's better at it than me, but I could wear a hat..."

More thuds from the attic. It sounded as if he'd graduated from stamping his feet to jumping up and down. Plaster dusted Sanaam's shiny head. "Alice, I know Milo's home! Stop doing exposition and make him dial back his stupid idea so you can feed me!"

Milo glared at the ceiling. Excuse me, Mr. Graham, this all-inclusive household safety spell with proxy operation for magic weather was inspired by the gods themselves! I prayed for this! Or it could've been the cheese sandwich I ate after I did that... Either way, the fact that I intended you to starve to death up there in no way diminishes how impressive this is! I hope Sanaam brought me a trophy for my birthday because I deserve one! You know what? I'm gonna buy one for myself! And a cake! And I'll have them write...

The General's hand clamped down on his arm and derailed his train of thought before he could decide if it was more proper for his cake to say, Congratulations Certified Genius! or Congratulations Certifiable Genius!

"Mr. Rose," she said tightly. "If you dispel this deranged construction before explaining it to me, I am going to harm you. And Hyacinth will not protect you because neither one of you will ever know it was me."

Milo recoiled, more from the words than the touch. Dispel it? Would you rip up an oil painting? This is art! I'll just do a quick modification here so Barnaby doesn't die and we're good to go!

He regarded the tangled threads and tried to interpret them. He'd left his design somewhere, hopefully near his coffee, and he couldn't remember what he'd done to the attic stairs exactly...

Ah! There it is!

He approached Erik and laid a hand on the boy's head. Erik lit up again briefly and several, but by no means all, of the glowing threads snapped, leaving a residue of ephemeral white sparkles trailing all over the house. They faded like cooling embers before hitting the floor.

The attic stairs fell down with a clunk and ratcheted into place. "I want an egg salad sandwich!" Barnaby's voice said, somewhat more clearly.

"Make it your damn self!" Hyacinth snapped.

"I refuse to sing 'You Are My Sunshine!'"

"Then perish!" said Hyacinth.

"It's all running through him?" cried General D'Iver. "It's all running through him? Like he's a... a... a metaphysical fusebox? How could you... Why... I refuse to entertain the idea that you've invented a new kind of countermagic just to screw with me, Mr. Rose!" she shrieked. "What in the hell did you think you were doing?"

Milo waved a vague gesture, It's for magic storms. Duh! If it's user-operated, it won't work during storms, but it will for Erik. Oh, you never understand what I'm saying, I can't even draw it for you... I'll tell Calliope! He tugged the drawing pad from her hands (she had already produced the vague outline of a flying Erik) and tore off a page before returning it. He's always in the basement, anyway! As long as he's in the house, it will...

As long as he's in the house.


He crumpled the blank sheet of paper in his hands. Oh, shiat. What happens when Erik leaves the house? Ann...

You don't listen to me when you're excited, Milo.


Erik winced. He waved his hands for attention and then managed, "Milo, I'll... stay in the... house until you can... fix it. Lucy's... safe. Please nap first."

Milo's expression was a pained snarl. His eye was twitching. He stared into space. Very gently, Calliope began to drag him towards her bedroom.

He didn't notice.

3AM cheese sandwich, I blame you for this, Milo thought.
 
2020-06-28 8:56:14 AM  
I ain't going to work for Maggie's dad no more.
 
2020-06-28 11:33:18 AM  
Here's my two cents:

I don't see a problem with the story world or the interactions between the characters, but I think the characters could be more distinct from each other (i.e. they sound too similar).

There's different ways to tackle this issue. One would be to tighten the narrative into a close third person. Telling the story that way would give the reader something to hold onto when you're dealing with multiple characters. You'd be able to have one character give their opinion(s) on the rest and that would free you from having to start sentences with a specific characters' name. It also helps in blocking a scene so the reader has a better idea of where everyone is. Another would be to switch up the sentence structure each character uses. You used ellipsis to show exasperation and befuddlement and when a character is being interrupted, I'd pick one use per scene. Consider giving certain characters a default phrase they go to instead of trailing off in an ellipsis. I'm going to use General D'Iver as an example, here's the original:

"It's all running through him?" cried General D'Iver. "It's all running throughhim? Like he's a... a... a metaphysical fusebox? How could you... Why... I refuse to entertain the idea that you've invented a new kind of countermagic just to screw with me, Mr. Rose!" she shrieked. "What in the hell did you thinkyou were doing?"

Now, say I change the ellipsis to the phrase 'some damn'.

"It's all running through him?" General D'Iver cried out. "It's all running through himlike he's some damn metaphysical fusebox?How could you get some damn idea to invent a new kind of countermagic just to screw with me, Mr. Rose!" The cry rose into a raspy shriek. "What in the hell did you think you were doing?"

That would free you to use an ellipsis in another context and make your character distinct from the others in the scene.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I do like the story overall.
 
2020-06-28 1:35:06 PM  
Worm is my current favorite webserial but I will check this out.
 
2020-06-28 3:30:30 PM  

Fox10456: Here's my two cents:

I don't see a problem with the story world or the interactions between the characters, but I think the characters could be more distinct from each other (i.e. they sound too similar).

There's different ways to tackle this issue. One would be to tighten the narrative into a close third person. Telling the story that way would give the reader something to hold onto when you're dealing with multiple characters. You'd be able to have one character give their opinion(s) on the rest and that would free you from having to start sentences with a specific characters' name. It also helps in blocking a scene so the reader has a better idea of where everyone is. Another would be to switch up the sentence structure each character uses. You used ellipsis to show exasperation and befuddlement and when a character is being interrupted, I'd pick one use per scene. Consider giving certain characters a default phrase they go to instead of trailing off in an ellipsis. I'm going to use General D'Iver as an example, here's the original:

"It's all running through him?" cried General D'Iver. "It's all running throughhim? Like he's a... a... a metaphysical fusebox? How could you... Why... I refuse to entertain the idea that you've invented a new kind of countermagic just to screw with me, Mr. Rose!" she shrieked. "What in the hell did you thinkyou were doing?"

Now, say I change the ellipsis to the phrase 'some damn'.

"It's all running through him?" General D'Iver cried out. "It's all running through himlike he's some damn metaphysical fusebox?How could you get some damn idea to invent a new kind of countermagic just to screw with me, Mr. Rose!" The cry rose into a raspy shriek. "What in the hell did you think you were doing?"

That would free you to use an ellipsis in another context and make your character distinct from the others in the scene.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I do like the story overall.


Thanks! I do do what you've suggested a bit, and if you consumed more than a scene where everyone is annoyed they've been locked in the house you might start to notice it. I gave (sort of) Mordecai the word "absolutely," because I use it too much otherwise. "Naturally" also tends to pop up in and around Hyacinth (and sometimes Barnaby, I think she got it from him). Furthermore, Calliope is slangy and Milo tends to retreat into simple language and phrases - except when he's involved in something he feels confident about, like adult-proofing the house. The General is not usually a swearing-type person, especially when there are children present, and her speech is broken up like that in part because she's trying not to!

Elipses are a pause in speech and trailing off, and we all do that. Erik gets a lot of them because he's mildly aphasic and he slows down when he gets excited. For that reason alone, I can't assign them to one function per scene. I would end up with a lot of "said" and the names repeated anyway, because there are a dozen people talking over each other and you'd need a master class in dialog to sort them out from each other based on patterns of speech.

Anyway, thanks for your help and I hope you wanted TF, because you're stuck with it now. Anyone else in here want a month of TF? I'm considering lowering my standards to just showing up and asking because almost no one seems to want it at all!
 
2020-06-28 7:09:02 PM  
I'm still here and reading, TF or not.
Still digging it.  I like that you're now doing the latest chapter here so it falls into my checking fark routine, but that's because I'm scatterbrained and easily distracted.
Keep it up!
 
2020-06-28 7:35:39 PM  

ANDizzleWI: I'm still here and reading, TF or not.
Still digging it.  I like that you're now doing the latest chapter here so it falls into my checking fark routine, but that's because I'm scatterbrained and easily distracted.
Keep it up!


Heck, it's the end of the month and I promised FARK $50 in subscriptions or whatever's available, so enjoy and/or ignore some TF. It's my contribution to helping keep them alive while the pandemic is eating up their ad revenue. A link is a kind of ad for me and seems to be getting me new readers.

I will apologize in advance for the the formatting errors you're going to find when you read it here. Depending on how I paste it into the comment box, FARK either strips out the paragraph breaks or the italics and I have to put them back in. Milo's cards, when he uses them, are going to be a bit of a challenge. I think I can add them as images like on the site, but FARK doesn't allow me to edit, so there will probably be multiple weird formatting things and I'll never be able to fix the typos. Sorry!
 
2020-06-28 10:32:29 PM  
Thank you!
 
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