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[CONTEST] Author Idol Entries
 
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Potassium
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Joined: 11 Apr 2004
Posts: 4,783
Location: Bozeman, MT

PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:24 pm  Reply with quote

01. Echo_Nevermore

It's not really bad, dawg, it's just not that interesting. It doesn't really say anything about the ending, just that you really wanted to continue in the competition. Sorry, dude, out of all of them this was the least interesting.

02. Avea

This was great, dude, for real. I loved the Cambodia line, and the cliffhanger ending was really good. Echo should take notes from you on how to do a good cliffhanger.

03. Rikkugrrl

This is a really strong one, too, dawg. I'm with Simon, yo, you've come so far from the first round, and this was a great ending for such a strong round from you. Yours and Avea's were really close for me, dude, but I have to say I liked this just a little more than hers.

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CidGregor
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:40 pm  Reply with quote

At long last, it is time to declare the ULTIMATE WINNER of AUTHOR IDOL! It was a phenominal race full of amazing entries, good laughs, and hopefully a lot of improved writers! But in the end there can be only one!

So without further ado, the FINAL RESULTS:

Third place

Aaaaaaand the bronze goes to........

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The lovely and talented ECHO_NEVERMORE!

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Second Place

The silver medal winner iiiiiiisssss.......

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The Robin/Wally co-queen, AVEA!

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And so, (as though it is not obvious already) .....

THE GOLD MEDAL AND WINNER OF AUTHOR IDOL IS....

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RIKKUGRRL!

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Many congratulations to our winner, to our four finalists, and to everyone else who entered. It was a wonderfully fun adventure, and you all deserve recognition! Hugs for everyone! And Finalists, you will be contacted soon about getting your prizes!

Until next time, this is your lovely sweetheart judge Cidaula saying goodnight, folks!

*credits roll*

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Azelma
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:33 pm  Reply with quote

We thought we'd post Avea's final round entry, out of respect for the time it took her to write it. She and the judges would appreciate any comments you have about it, as Paula, Randy and I feel that this has the potential to be a workable novel, should Avea choose to develop it further. We hope you enjoy reading!

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Part Two
Multi-millionaire playboy Justin Waitley wakes from a mugging in NYC with no idea where he is and no memory of the past year. The hospital expedites his release when his insurance denies coverage, and he’s horrified to discover that his fortune was lost three months ago. When things don’t add up as he tries to figure out why he’s broke in New York, he becomes convinced that someone sabotaged him, stealing his fortune, and alienates some of the few friends who didn’t abandon him while searching for answers. He discovers that he had feigned the disaster to find out whether his friends, followers, and girlfriend would remain loyal despite it, and alienates his new friends with a sudden rekindled need for wealth. Eventually he finds a balance and manages to rebuild some bridges, knowing himself a bit better even though he doesn’t recover the missing year.



Part Three
Name: Justin Waitley
Storyline: He lost a year and a fortune and wants them both back.
Motivation: Wants to feel like he fits in, be accepted.
Goal: Recover his fortune and rebuild the events of the past year.
Conflict: Lack of memories leading to some unfortunate paranoia.
Epiphany: Figures out more of who he is.
Justin finds out he’s lost his fortune and a year, and investigates what happened to his fortune, etc. Because he’s at a loss, he doesn’t tell anyone he’s lost his memories, and then tends to take behavior that doesn’t make sense to him as guilt of something, making him suspicious and a bit accusatory, driving some of them away and making for uneasy relations with the rest. He found that he has a busking license, so he makes his money on the streets with a violin, and makes friends among other street musicians. Eventually he discovers that he just pretended to lose his money. He buys extravagant gifts for his new friends, which they mostly seem kind of appalled by, and alienates them with condescending generosity. Eventually he strikes a balance between

Name: Patricia Anderson
Storyline: She’s Justin’s girlfriend and stayed loyal to him through the disaster, but is having second thoughts now that he’s acting paranoid.
Motivation: She loves Justin.
Goal: A healthy, happy relationship and rewarding work.
Conflict: Justin’s increasingly wild behavior and accusations, new interest in Parker Hastings.
Epiphany: She really does love Justin, rather than simply thinking they’re a perfect couple.
Patricia stuck with Justin through his fall from riches (which he took remarkably well, treating the whole thing as some sort of adventure), but has more trouble dealing with him now when he seems convinced she’s had an affair. She’s always been loyal and attentive, despite having a busy life of her own organizing charity fundraisers. Just after she and Justin decide to put things on hold for a bit, she meets Parker Hastings at a benefit, and almost gets together with him, but realizes she actually does love Justin, and doesn’t actually want to sleep with Parker. Eventually she and Justin get back together.

Name: Brian Young
Storyline: Justin’s best friend from childhood is the one person who remains the most loyal throughout.
Motivation: He, too, loves Justin.
Goal: To help Justin get back on his feet and start being himself again.
Conflict: He thinks Justin’s newly suspicious behavior is due to his coming out to him a few weeks ago.
Epiphany: He gets over Justin and comes out publicly.
Brian came out to Justin a few weeks before the start of the story. Both coming out in general, and telling him that he was in love. With him. And had been for years. He didn’t want or expect anything to come of it, but he thought he should know. Justin had taken it well at the time—but now suddenly he’s acting pretty weird. Brian sticks with him through the paranoia, trying to get him to accept some money. He figures out that something’s up with Justin’s memory when Justin tells him he knows he’s gay, since obviously he knows since he told him. He gets the whole story out of him and helps with investigating the lost money, advising him to tell Patricia, at least about the missing memories. He becomes friends with Marcus Silva, one of the buskers Justin is friends with, who is also gay, though they don’t get together.

Name: Therese Champney
Storyline: A busker in New York, she takes Justin under her wing and helps him get settled.
Motivation: Love of music, desire for freedom.
Goal: To prove to her family that she can make a living without conforming.
Conflict: Money’s tight, it’s sometimes tempting to give up and go back to them for help or take a more usual path to stability.
Epiphany: She really can make it on her own.
She’s got her own stuff going on. She sees an obviously new busker and decides to take him under her wing, teaching him the ropes and introducing him around. They get along great until he suddenly gets his fortune back and starts acting like a spoiled, arrogant prig, at which point she recommends he get lost. When he grows into himself a bit more, she welcomes him back to both music sessions and drinking sessions.



Part Four
Multi-millionaire playboy Justin Waitley wakes from a mugging in NYC with no idea where he is and no memory of the past year. He’s informed that he had a bad concussion but no other injuries, and asked for his insurance information, as he was unconscious when he came in and didn’t have his wallet. He provides it and asks for information, finding out that he’s in New York City, that no friends or family have been contacted, since they didn’t have any identification, and that there’s a cop waiting to talk to him. He talks to the cop, but doesn’t have much to say, since he doesn’t remember even why he’s in town.

His level of care drops a bit, and a nurse informs him that his insurance was rejected, the company telling them that the policy had been closed a couple months ago. She looks rather embarrassed as she checks him over again and then informs him that he’s being released as he seems to be doing fine, and they need his bed. In his personal effects, he finds a hotel key and heads there in hope of finding some clues. He finds his cell phone with a bunch of new messages—which he can’t access since apparently he changed the password in the past year, busker’s license issued three days previously, and the violin he hasn’t played in years. He calls Jonathan Heskell, his lawyer, to find out what’s going on with his health insurance—and is informed by him that, yes, his insurance was cancelled along with most other things, three months ago when several bad decisions ruined him and left him nearly broke. He explained about his memory loss, and the man offered a dryly impatient sympathy and to fax over copies of the last year’s records. Which he agreed would be great—if he could find a fax.

When he discovers that he has two days to get his next week’s rent in, he uncertainly takes to the street with violin and license and starts playing a subway stairwell. He’s better than he remembers (the beauty of muscle memory), but it’s slow going. He teams up with a Therese Champney, a flautist, who introduces him to the busking scene and helps him get on his feet. He also gets the papers from Mr. Heskell and begins backtracking, trying to determine what’s happened. Several things seem off to him, and he starts looking more carefully, seeing signs in the careless transactions that seem less than careless, a sense of intent behind it. Patricia, his girlfriend of three years, calls, and something about her anxiety to know exactly where he is and when she’ll see him strikes him as off, and he starts wondering just why she needs such detailed information. When he sees her later at dinner with a man he doesn’t know, he thinks the question is answered, and confronts her with having an affair, which she denies angrily. He also gets in touch with Brian, his best friend, who seems unusually hesitant and worried. A few days in, he figures out the truth of Justin’s lost memory, and, although he advises him to come clean about it to everyone, assists him in his search to discover what went wrong. Justin starts seeking out his old friends and acquaintances, trying to figure out who it was that turned on him and destroyed his fortune. Many of them are unwilling to talk to him even before his rampage began—many of the others are thoroughly annoyed with him by the time he’s through with them.

He starts slowly mending bridges with Patricia, realizing that he’d been unreasonable in leaping to conclusions, and though she refuses to immediately return to dating status, she does start talking to him again. In his search for the financial truth, he figures out, through careful perusal of the accounts, that while a great deal of money was lost, the vast majority was very carefully siphoned off into a series of other accounts. He confronts Heskell—who appears convinced that he’s run mad, and then explains that the money was still Justin’s, that he’d carefully concocted this whole ridiculous farce to test his friends. Chagrined, Justin sets out to live through the next few weeks as planned, until the time when he’s to ‘win back’ his fortune with a rigged Publisher’s Clearinghouse-esque contest set up specifically for that purpose. More relaxed, he gets back into the music, enjoying playing the streets and clubs with his friends. Brian is the only one he tells, since he wasn’t willing to keep up his search and Brian was the only one who had been enough a part of it to really realize that something big had changed. Brian strongly recommended telling at least Patricia and probably the others as well, but Justin refused, wanting to enjoy the freedom of being poor. When the money rolled in, he bought extravagant gifts for his new friends, which at first they took happily, but soon began seeing as condescension. His playing started getting more recognition as well, and while at first it brought them all more income, they soon began to feel less like musicians and more like a freak show. Therese eventually lost all patience with him and asked him to stop coming.

Upset, he goes to Patricia, and comes clean about both the amnesia and the trick with the money. Although at first she’s furious that he’d test her, she agrees to give him one more chance, and they continue with their not-dating, not-avoiding routine. He discovers that Brian is still visiting with the buskers, who don’t seem to be irritated by his presence, and they have a fight about it, Brian telling him he’s being a jerk. Justin stalks off alone—and figures out that he was right. He goes back and apologizes to everyone, and they more or less welcome him back as long as he can leave behind his entourage of tabloid reporters. He apologizes to Patricia as well, and she says that she met someone new—which was enough to remind her how much she loved him. If he’d just be himself again and stop acting crazy. He agreed. She agreed to a date.

The End.



Part Five
Justin
Everything before and since has been Justin’s PoV, so I think I shall leave it at that for now.

Patricia
Patricia’s been going out with Justin since shortly before they graduated college, him in liberal arts and her in sociology. They’d always gotten along well, but in the last few months he was acting a little bit weird. When his fortune was depleted overnight, she thought she finally understood what he’d been on edge about, but he actually seemed to deal with it really well, treating his sudden lack of money as a game rather than an experience to be feared. She tried to convince him to move in with her, since they’d been talking about it off and on, but he refused, going through a series of bad jobs and staying at one fleabag motel after another. He insisted that he wouldn’t live off her.

It wasn’t uncommon for them not to talk for a day or two—but when she called and he didn’t call back, she started getting a bit concerned, and she was about to hire a private investigator when she finally managed to get through to him—only to find out that he had been in the hospital with a concussion after being mugged! Again she pressed him to move in with her, but he responded snappishly, not really answering any of her questions, and seeming eager to get off the phone. He claimed he just had a headache, but it worried her.

Over the next couple weeks, she became more and more confused and frustrated with him, especially as it began to seem the blow to his head had screwed up his brain far more than the minor concussion he’d claimed. It was like his entire personality changed. He was suddenly demanding and suspicious, acting like he was always looking for traitor. Paranoid. She tried to convince him to go to a doctor, saying she’d be glad to cover the fees when he explained about his health insurance, but he refused with increasing anger as she pushed. Reluctantly, she let it drop. She was also a little concerned by his friendship with Therese, the beautiful flautist he seemed to be spending so much time with, though she was fairly certain that neither of them were really interested in the other.

His accusing her of cheating on him felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Coldly furious, she got up, dropped a fifty on the table to cover their dinner, and stalked out without a word. At home, she sobbed herself to sleep and wondered what had happened to him and if he’d ever be himself again. Justin had never seemed like the sort to have his identity wound up in his fortune—but the lack of funds seemed to be making him crazy now, though it hadn’t before the mugging. She wished he’d just let her help him.

When he came back and apologized for his behavior, she hesitantly agreed to remain friends, but wasn’t ready to accept a relationship again until they were both a little more sure on their feet. He seemed disappointed, but accepted the distance, and they slowly worked on growing closer again. A couple days after that, he seemed to have another brain-swap as he suddenly stopped behaving paranoid and suspicious, and simply threw himself into his music and his friends and, to a lesser degree, courting her again. She was surprised but tentatively hopeful when he won back a fortune in some sort of lottery, hoping for the best but concerned that he’d lose any respect for consequences he’d ever had, but he seemed more to treat it as though he’d never lost it than to act like he never could lose it. When he admitted some days later that he’d never actually lost it, just pretended he had to test everyone, she was furious. And as for him losing a year of his memories and not telling her—well, she couldn’t be angry about that, but she was hurt. The fact that he couldn’t remember why he felt the need to test everyone didn’t exactly excuse his behavior, but it did make it hard to stay angry at him, though. The hurt was easy to hang on to.

Parker Hastings was a breath of fresh air. Handsome, charming, and uncomplicated, he asked her to dinner, took her dancing, and almost swept her off her feet. She’d actually gone home with him before she realized that she wanted the hands on her breasts to be familiar and the lips on hers to have slightly shaper lines and—in short—she was still in love with Justin. She begged Parker’s pardon and said she had to go. He, being a gentleman, called her a cab.

Justin came the next day to apologize for his behavior, remembered and unremembered, and she accepted the apology. When he asked her out, it only took a brief hesitation for her to be able to agree to go.

Brian
Brian and Justin had been friends forever. They’d become blood brothers at age four, and when Justin’s parents died when he was thirteen, Brian had been the friend whose treehouse he’d lived in for a month when he refused to be in his home without his parents. When he finally faced the world again, Brian had been at his side.

They’d had classes together, took skydiving lessons together, gone on double dates, kissed and told. Brian had stopped telling when he’d figured out why Justin’s stories always seemed more eager and stopped even thinking loudly when he realized why he was always so eager to hear them—and why he was always jealous. And not of Justin. But romance had never been the focus of life for either of them, and talking less about that didn’t hurt their friendship.

Justin’s sudden loss of wealth hadn’t hurt it any either. Brian had tried to convince him to accept help, but Justin laughed it off and treated the whole thing like some sort of crazy game. After a couple weeks, Brian started to seriously wonder if Justin had followed his idol after all—he’d always been fascinated by that guy from the movie Brian could never remember. The one about the old guy who lost all his money and his family turned on him—except one. Then it turned out it had all been a test. He’d never actually thought Justin would go with it—but he was seriously starting to wonder.

In part hoping that Justin would open up about his secret, hehe finally nerved himself up and told Justin that he was not only gay, but kind of in love with Justin. His friend had rolled his eyes, punched him in the shoulder, and commented that he owed himself a drink—he’d had an inner bet as to how long it was gonna take Brian to tell him. He’d been relieved—though disappointed that Justin hadn’t told him the whole money thing was a scam. Then Justin disappeared on him a few days later. Three days with no word—and then to discover that he’d been mugged and had a concussion.

The fact that Justin hadn’t called him was what upset him the most. And then when they did finally get together, he was acting so weird, not talking about some things, showing undue interest in others. And suddenly the whole money thing mattered. A lot. All the time he wasn’t spending wrapped up with his new musician friends, he was poring over records of transactions and deals, where previously he hadn’t seemed to take any interest at all. It did have one definite effect: the idea that he might have been faking was completely dismissed from Brian’s mind.

It all fell into place, though, when Marcus, one of the musicians, asked Brian to dance, and he’d glanced uncertainly towards Justin, who’d rolled his eyes and said he knew he was gay and had been waiting for years for him to admit it. Brian had taken him aside and demanded to know what was going on, and Justin had, reluctantly, told him the truth: that he couldn’t remember anything that had happened in the past year or so.

Brian threw himself into helping Justin work out what had happened with his records, the two of them noticing more and more pieces that didn’t quite fit together. He tried to get Justin to tell his other friends, or at the very least, Patricia, but he was convinced that there was some sort of conspiracy and refused to let in anyone else. When they found clear sign that the money had been tampered with, Justin went to his lawyer. He came back practically sobbing with laughter and explained that the whole thing had been his idea, to test people. And he didn’t even believe Brian when he said that he’d wondered early on if that was what as going on.

The money came back, and he hoped the whole thing would be over, but instead Justin seemed to thrive on the tabloids that told his story again and again, loving the tale of his yo-yoing fortunes and hoping he’d waste another one to sell more papers. He continued hanging out with Marcus and Therese and the others, but he kept trying to buy them positions in clubs and other venues, and finally they got fed up with it and him. He seemed to feel betrayed when he found that Brian was still hanging out with them, and Brian finally had to wonder why the hell he’d been in love with him for so long, and gave him an honest piece of his mind. Justin left. He returned a couple hours later soggy, sorry, and chagrined. Justin let him grovel a bit, then forgave him, as did the musicians. He was pleased to hear a few days later that Patricia was at least giving him another chance as well.

Therese
She dropped out of music school to make a living actually making music rather than playing technically perfect notes to people who wouldn’t know how to handle an honest emotion if it kicked them in the head. She hit the streets and the clubs, and if the money wasn’t what she’d be making in first chair at Symphony Hall, well, here she got to actually interact with people, to make them smile or laugh or stop in their tracks and stare at her as though they’d seen a ghost—or a half-forgotten hometown.

When she heard Brahms issuing from a subway entrance, she followed it, somewhere between horrified, entranced, and curious. She found a young man playing classical music with his eyes closed, and she rolled her own and decided to give him a few lessons in busking. Starting with the idea that if you’re depending on the honesty of strangers to not rob you blind when you put your money in front of you and close your eyes—you shouldn’t like in New York. He had a charming smile, a delicious laugh, and all the common sense of her five-year-old brother, so she took him under her wing, taught him that classical wasn’t really the music of the subway and fiddlers made more than violinists—and took him back to O’Riley’s for beers and to meet the guys.

They liked him, of course. They liked everyone who could hold an instrument and his liquor, and he managed both. His story was outlandish—he blew through some fortune he was heir to, but she couldn’t fault him for choosing music to see him through to whatever came next. None of them could. They’d all made the same decision at one time or another, after one fall from grace or another.

When he brought his friend Justin by, she liked him, too. Rich enough to buy the bar and everyone in it a dozen times over, but instead he just bought a couple rounds and didn’t rub anyone’s face in it. Not musical, but not everyone could be, and he had a pleasant enough singing voice even if he couldn’t be trusted to touch finger to instrument. And he knew when to shut up and let everyone else sing. Besides, he had an ass like she’d rarely seen, and seeing it flicker on the dance floor was enough to brighten anyone’s day. And Marcus’s smile as he watched it, well, that was fun in and of itself, even though the pair of ‘em showed no sign of actually getting together.

He got more carefree as time went on, did the violinist, and he got better fast enough that she guessed he was just a bit out of practice, and that if he was with them a few months, he’d be good enough to turn heads and open wallets. All was well till he won the lottery or his great-great-uncle died or there was a bank error in his favor or whatever the hell happened to make him rich again.

Suddenly every time he played with them, he bought a gaggle of reporters—and he played to their requests rather than the kids with the stars in their eyes or the oldsters missing the old country and wanting a taste of home. Or the businessmen with the bills in their pockets, because, aye, she was here to pay the bills, even though he wasn’t anymore. It was all a lark to him, now, and when they complained, he offered to pay the bills for them. Which was quite enough—they sent him on his way, though they kept the friend with the lovely ass. And none-too-happy was their violinist at that, either. But Justin sent him off with a flea in his ear, and he came back to apologize rather than shout and things were back to normal again. Better than normal, really. Because ends were finally getting met. They had a regular Saturday night gig (which he had not paid money or favors to get them, she’d arranged it herself, thank you), and for the first time she wasn’t living on the edge of having to beg her parents for help. Life was good for Therese.

Jonathan Heskell
It was a foolish plan, but what would you expect from a foolish lad? He’d always been too high-spirited for his own or anyone else’s good, and that was the truth. Just as it was true that you couldn’t help but love him anyway. As for this, though, it was as bad a plan as any he’d ever heard. But the boy insisted, and he was the employer. So they made their plans and he worked his magic over the funds, and within days it was clear that Justin Waitley had lost everything. It had to look real. Too many people would look to see if it was some sort of scam, which would defeat the whole purpose. So he made it real as only he could—which was as well, because young Justin had no gift for acting and couldn’t manage to even look upset that he was broke and unemployed.

When he called three months later, Jonathan assumed that it was to arrange a meeting to speed the recovery of the money, since he could hardly believe he’d be enjoying himself. But apparently it was just further proof to some friend or another, because he didn’t arrange a private meeting and instead simply gabbed on with his ridiculously overdone tale of amnesia. Jonathan Heskell was nothing if not faithful to his bargains, so he said nothing about the truth, assured him that he was indeed broke, and went back to focusing on keeping the truth hidden until young master Waitley had had his fill of poverty.

He did finally show up a couple weeks later. With accusations that Heskell had stolen his funds. There was a brief confusion during which Heskell thought Justin had become convinced that he had no intention of returning the money—and he could steal the funds if he so chose, of course, and so he had warned the headstrong boy, who had laughed and proclaimed his total faith. Then he realized that the boy wasn’t saying he intended to rob him—he was saying he already had. And, truth to tell, the evidence he brought forth warmed an old man’s heart. He hadn’t known Justin could follow his accounts so clearly.

Now that he was alone with him, as they had previously stipulated, he explained the entire situation, including the fact that Justin had forbidden him to tell the true story over the phone for any reason. The boy had had a few instants of frozen shock, but had ended in stitches of laughter, which was all very well, but if he’d never had this ridiculous idea in the first place, he never would have had such a scare, and that was the plain truth!


Part Six

Multi-millionaire playboy Justin Waitley wakes from a mugging with no idea where he is and no memory of the past year. He’s informed that he had a bad concussion but no other injuries, and asked for his insurance information, as he was unconscious when he came in and didn’t have his wallet. He provides it and asks for information, finding out that he’s in the public hospital, that no friends or family have been contacted since they didn’t have any identification, and that there’s a cop waiting to talk to him. He talks to the cop, but doesn’t have much to say, since he doesn’t remember the mugging itself or anything leading up to it, which the man seems to find rather suspicious, but lets go.

Unexpectedly, he gets moved from a private room to one where his roommate is an apparently homeless man who screams almost constantly. His nurses, previously immediately responsive, seem more harried and rushed, and while they still do what they can, his level of care drops a bit. Eventually, when he demands to know what’s going on, one of the nurses informs him that his insurance was rejected, the company telling them that the policy had been closed a three months previously, and that they had not been informed of any new company taking over it. She looks rather embarrassed as she checks him over again and then explains that he’s being released as he seems to be doing fine, and they need his bed for, it’s clearly implied, paying customers.

In his personal effects, he finds a motel key and heads there in hope of finding some clues. He finds his cell phone with a bunch of new messages—which he can’t access since apparently he changed the password in the past year. He’s got two empty suitcases, a cheap dresser full of clothes, and, of all things, the violin he took lessons on as a teenager and hasn’t played in years. Opening the case, he found a shiny, new busker’s license issued three days previously allowing him to play music on the streets of New York City and make money from tips offered to him.

Not sure what to make of it, he puts it aside and focuses on the immediate item of importance: his apparently canceled health insurance. He calls Jonathan Heskell, his lawyer, to find out what’s going on—and is informed by him that, yes, his insurance was cancelled, his house, cars, and motorcycles sold, his stocks and bonds liquidated, and, in fact, all his possessions except what he had in his room sold or taken from him, the proceeds paying off the last of the losses made due to several huge mistakes on the stock markets, all made against Mr. Heskel’s advice, as he very well knew. He explained about his memory loss, and the man offered a dryly impatient sympathy and to fax over copies of the last year’s records. Which he agreed would be great—if he could find a fax.

When he’s going out to grab some dinner, the landlord grabs him by the shoulder to point out that he’s to pay another week’s rent on Saturday if he intends to stay longer, so he goes back and picks up the violin and busker’s license with the uncertain thought that he must have planned to win his bread that way, and surely he wouldn’t have done so without some level of planning and forethought. He wished he knew himself a little less well, but went out to a nearby subway stop he’d noticed from the cab and settled in to play. He was better than he remembered, thanks, no doubt, to muscle memory. He was a bit reassured by the realization that he must have at least been practicing. The tips, though, come few and far between. Eventually he opens his eyes after a song and sees a young woman with a flute over her shoulder leaning against the wall, arms crossed, watching him.

She introduces herself as Therese Champney, and offers to teach him how to busk. He’s briefly offended, thinking he’d done pretty well figuring it out for himself, but her advice (the first piece of which was to keep his eyes open—both to gauge his audience’s reactions to the songs better so he could choose what to play, and to keep track and make sure the money only went into his violin case and didn’t come out), made sense and she went about giving it in an utterly inoffensive way that he couldn’t possibly take exception to. She takes him to a bar when they’re both too tired to play, and introduces him around to her friends. They’re a friendly bunch, and he passes a good many hours with them, making plans to meet up with Therese again later.

He also finds a local copy shop that does faxing, and gets the papers from his lawyer, and starts going through them. Brian finally catches up to him and they get together. He’s relieved his friend doesn’t seem particularly phased by his change in circumstances, and introduces him around to his circle of friends, amused at how Marcus’s eyes lit up. When his new friend asked the old to dance, he noticed Marcus’s worried look at him, and rolled his eyes, telling him to get out there since he knew he was gay. Marcus hadn’t looked relieved but, rather, sharply concerned, and took him out demanding to know the truth about his memories.

He helps Justin with the going through the papers and files searching for some sign of what had gone wrong with his finances, and they start uncovering more and more discrepancies as they search.

Meanwhile, Patricia, his girlfriend of five years, calls, and something about her anxiety to know exactly where he is and when she’ll see him strikes him as off, and he starts wondering just why she needs such detailed information. When he sees her later at dinner with a man he doesn’t know, he thinks the question is answered, and confronts her, accusing her of cheating on him, which she denies angrily. Justin starts seeking out his old friends and acquaintances, trying to figure out who it was that turned on him and destroyed his fortune. Many of them are unwilling to talk to him even before his rampage began—many of the others are thoroughly annoyed with him by the time he’s through with them.

He starts slowly mending bridges with Patricia, realizing that he’d been unreasonable in leaping to conclusions, and though she refuses to immediately return to dating status, she does start talking to him again. In his search for the financial truth, he figures out, through careful perusal of the accounts, that while a great deal of money was lost, the vast majority was very carefully siphoned off into a series of other accounts. He confronts Heskell—who appears convinced that he’s run mad, and then explains that the money was still Justin’s, that he’d carefully concocted this whole ridiculous farce to test his friends. Chagrined, Justin sets out to live through the next few weeks as planned, until the time when he’s to ‘win back’ his fortune with a rigged Publisher’s Clearinghouse-esque contest set up specifically for that purpose. More relaxed, he gets back into the music, enjoying playing the streets and clubs with his friends. Brian is the only one he tells, since he wasn’t willing to keep up his search and Brian was the only one who had been enough a part of it to really realize that something big had changed. Brian strongly recommended telling at least Patricia and probably the others as well, but Justin refused, wanting to enjoy the freedom of being poor. When the money rolled in, he bought extravagant gifts for his new friends, which at first they took happily, but soon began seeing as condescension. His playing started getting more recognition as well, and while at first it brought them all more income, they soon began to feel less like musicians and more like a freak show. Therese eventually lost all patience with him and asked him to stop coming.

Upset, he goes to Patricia, and comes clean about both the amnesia and the trick with the money. Although at first she’s furious that he’d test her, she agrees to give him one more chance, and they continue with their not-dating, not-avoiding routine. He discovers that Brian is still visiting with the buskers, who don’t seem to be irritated by his presence, and they have a fight about it, Brian telling him he’s being a jerk. Justin stalks off alone—and figures out that he was right. He goes back and apologizes to everyone, and they more or less welcome him back as long as he can leave behind his entourage of tabloid reporters. He apologizes to Patricia as well, and she says that she met someone new—which was enough to remind her how much she loved him. If he’d just be himself again and stop acting crazy. He agreed. She agreed to a date.

---

First and last sample chapters included in the next post!

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing
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Azelma
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Joined: 27 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:34 pm  Reply with quote

And now, please enjoy the first and last sample chapters of Avea's AI entry! Again, we would appreciate helpful feedback from readers.

---

Chapter One


Justin woke with the familiar grogginess and pounding, splitting headache of far, far too many drinks. He groaned softly and closed his eyes a little more tightly—both of which had the effect of making the headache worse rather than better. He wondered if it was possible to be more still than perfectly still, and tried to find that state.

“Oh, good, you’re awake.”

The voice was soft, feminine, and completely unfamiliar, and he opened his eyes in startled reaction, snapping them shut again with a moan when the light slammed into them with the precision and force of a guided missile. Even the pain wasn’t enough to stop the whirling thoughts racing through his mind. He had been sleeping. In an unfamiliar bed. And there was a woman with an unfamiliar voice above him. Patricia was going to kill him. He didn’t sleep around. He’d never slept around. He had plenty of vices, but he’d never cheated on anyone ever, and Patricia was going to kill him and he deserved it, and just how much had he been drinking

“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice still softer. “But can you tell me your name?”

He groaned in misery only partly physical. “How drunk was I?” he demanded.

She let out a startled gasp, then a musical laugh. “You aren’t hungover, sir. I’m afraid you were mugged and are suffering from a concussion.”

“Oh thank God,” he muttered instinctively.

“Well, that much settled, do you think you could tell me your name?”

“Justin,” he muttered. “Justin Waitley.”

“And... do you happen to know your insurance carrier?”

He felt himself smile slightly despite the pain and confusion, and he cracked his eyes slightly open as he answered. She was a nurse, a pretty nurse with chestnut hair and a pixie smile and a pale blue smock. He gave her a gallant attempt at his best smile, and she grinned back. “I’d better call the doctor to come take a look at you. We’ve been waiting eagerly for you to wake up—the police are looking forward to interviewing you, too, but the doctor has dibs.”

“Why then, I’m all his, hers, or its,” he said.

“It?”

“I had a rather wonderful doctor one time who I’m quite sure was not human,” he explained. “It was very skilled, though.”

She laughed, shook her head, and left the room, to be replaced not long after by a tall, black woman who studied him for a long moment from the doorway and then crossed the room to look at him more closely. She frowned after examining his eyes—he took it as a good sign that he could see the frown: the pain of the light shining in had been agonizing—but shrugged. “A moderately severe concussion. You took quite the knock to the head. A police officer has been ... patiently awaiting your waking to get a report. A homeless gentleman stumbled across you—literally: that’s the faint tenderness in your ribs—and told a traffic cop, who called for an ambulance. Do you feel well enough to have a word with him?”

“I guess,” he said, with a definite lack of eagerness.

“Excellent.” She stood, opened the door, and showed in a middle-aged man with a wrinkled blue cop’s suit and an irritated smile.

“Oh, so you finally decided to wake up, did you?”

“Officer Perry...”

“Sorry, sorry. He’s sick. I shouldn’t intimidate him,” the man grumped with the air of someone repeating back lessons painfully learned by rote. “I get it. Go away.”

“Officer—“

“It’s fine,” Justin said, amused, and then offered the policeman a smile as the doctor left the room. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Officer.”

“Yes. Well. S’pose it couldn’t be helped. So tell me what you remember of the events leading up to your little bump, would you?”

“I—“ He blinked, giving it thought for the first time, except there was no thought to give because it didn’t sound even vaguely familiar. “I have no idea,” he finally admitted. “The last thing I remember is....um... a friend’s wedding party. When I woke up, I figured I must’ve drunk more than I meant to at the reception, but I guess I ...must’ve gone out for some air before going home?” he offered uncertainly.

“Gone out for air,” the cop repeated noncommittally. “And what day would this’ve been, sir?”

“Last night, I assume,” he said slowly. “Why?”

“Well, it weren’t last night, as it happens, because you were here in this bed last night. And the night before that. And, if you’ll believe it, the night before that. And the one before that, while you wasn’t here, it was raining fit to bust itself, and nobody with any sense went out for a bit of air, and that’s the truth.”

“I’ve never been accused of having much sense,” he offered with a grin. “But I don’t remember rain. It wasn’t forecast, certainly.”

“Not forecast? That storm was the biggest thing on the news for a week! And that’s with the Priestly scandal fighting it for air time!”

“Priestly scandal?” he repeated blankly, wracking his mind for some memory of anything that had been on the news or running the rumor mills.

“The Priestly Corporation’s dumping of waste into the harbor?” the cop demanded, staring at him like he’d crawled out from under a log.

The headache, which had been starting to fade, came raging back. “I don’t—that doesn’t even sound familiar,” he muttered.

“Fat lot of good you are,” the cop muttered. “This wedding. What day was it?”

“Thursday,” he said, glad for one he knew the answer to. “The twenty-fifth.”

“Thursday was the seventh,” Officer Perry stated.

“I was a groomsman at a wedding, Officer, I’ve been staring at the invitation on my mirror every day for six weeks—I hardly think I’m likely to forget the date!”

“Well I read the paper maybe fifteen times waiting for you to wake up,” the cop replied, irritated. “And I know perfectly well today’s Tuesday. The twelfth of June.

“No way. You’re telling me I lot three weeks?” he demanded.

“Well I would be, ‘cept last month the twenty-fifth wasn’t on a Thursday, neither! My little girl’ birthday’s the twenty-first, and it was a war convincing her she couldn’t stay home from school on a Monday for it.”

They stared at each other challengingly, then Justin forced himself to sit up a little more against the pillows. “If you don’t mind,” he said carefully. “Might I see the newspaper?”

The officer held it out, and he looked at it, eyes skipping over the lurid headlines and pictures to lock onto the date. Tuesday. Twelfth of June. 2007. “It’s next year?” he demanded.

“What?” the officer said blankly.

“This is a joke, isn’t it? A punishment for me getting drunk? You pretend I’ve been knocked on the head and pushed a year into the future?”

“You’re from the past?”

“No! Because this is all some kind of stupid joke, and whoever’s doing it had better—Brian? Brian, if you’re behind this, enough is enough!”

The doctor came in at the raised voices and demanded to know what the officer was thinking when she told him not to exhaust her patient.

“Exhaust him?” he demanded. “Me? Exhaust him? He’s the one going on about time travel!”

“Time travel?” she repeated doubtfully.

“I was in 2006 last night!” he insisted.

“You were here last night.”

“Well—okay—fine! Last time I was awake then.”

“Well, I think that’s unlikely, because your muscles show no sign of the deterioration that would come from a full year in a coma. However,” she said, raising her hand to cut him off, “it is not uncommon for victims of concussions to suffer memory lapses. I believe we can put this down to that. Such amnesia is usually temporary, although admittedly it generally doesn’t encompass so much as a year. I should think there’s every chance of you regaining your memories, but for now, I must insist that you rest. Officer Perry, do you need anything further?”

“From him?” he demanded. “Do I look like I have time to worry about last year?”

She shrugged. “Very good. Go away, then.”

With one last black glance cast at Justin’s stunned face, he left.

Chapter Last

“Justin.”

He flinched at the chilly tone, but reached out to catch the door just in case she decided to slam it on him. “Patricia, look—I’m sorry—“

“You always are,” she pointed out.

“Okay. I deserve that. I know. But...it’s been...it’s all been really, really weird. I mean, I’m not saying that as an excuse, but—I know I’ve been awful, and for a lot of it I didn’t even have the excuse of being confused by lack of memories—but I don’t know what lead to those ones. I don’t—it makes it so damn hard to excuse myself because normally I’d give reasons for why I did things, but I don’t know the reasons. But at the same time, I can’t just say it wasn’t me, I’m not the same person—because while I don’t know what led me to actually do it, I totally get it at the same time. If I could do it without anyone getting hurt by it, I can totally see myself doing it. Just to see. But I don’t know any way I could possibly have thought it could work without anyone getting hurt, and that makes the whole thing so crazy, and—“

“We’ve been over this,” she said softly. “I said it was okay. I said I forgave you.”

“I know. But—but everything’s different, and I—I love you, Patricia, and everything’s so screwed up!”

She sighed. “I don’t—“

“Can I please just talk to you? Please?”

For a long moment she hesitated, then opened the door wider, letting him in, and led him into the sitting room. “So what—“ she broke off, staring at him, and said more urgently, “Justin? What is it?”

His gaze caught on the couch, he didn’t respond right away, then slowly stepped forward and pulled a leather driving glove out from under the corner of the couch. “I—Someone must have misplaced this,” he said carefully.

“It’s not—“

“It’s okay. We—We broke up. That’s the whole thing about breaking up, isn’t it? I don’t have the right to—you can—I mean—“

“I can, Justin, but I didn’t,” she said patiently.

He stared at her, stuck between hope and horror, and slowly felt relief overcoming everything else. Then a dull sort of misery. “I screwed everything up.”

“Yeah,” she agreed softly.

He looked up at her. “Did I lose you?” The words came out easily, but he could feel himself preparing for the answer, pulling himself together, preparing for a blow that could potentially shatter him.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t—I love you, Justin. I just can’t take any more of this craziness. I can’t believe you decided to test me!”

“Me neither!” he agreed. “I mean, I can see testing some people. But—but I don’t remember ever doubting you, Patricia. You or Brian. I can’t remember having anything but total faith in you, and I’m sorry that that faltered, I’m sorry—“

“Except you did have less than total faith in me!”

“Well—but—“ he sighed. “The confusion thing really sucks as an excuse, but it’s all I’ve got,” he admitted. “Everything was just so crazy, and I was so sure that someone was against me, and I didn’t think it was you, not about the money thing, but then you were acting ... weird—“

“Maybe because I’d managed to piss you off several times trying to get you to accept some financial help, and was trying not to step on your toes any more?”

“Maybe, maybe, I don’t know. And then I saw you in the restaurant with that guy, and—“

“’That guy’ was Jerry Covington. The journalist. He was preparing a spread on the AIDS benefit. Justin—“

“I know. I know. And I’m sorry, I just—I should have trusted you, and I didn’t, because I was confused and upset and lashing out, and I’m sorry—“

“Justin—“

“I just—“

Justin!”

”What?”

“I need to tell you something. Will you please stop talking for a moment?”

He opened his mouth, closed it at her glare, and mimed locking it and throwing away the key.

“Thank you. What I’m trying to say is that Jerry was nobody for you to worry about. However,” she continued, as he started to open his mouth again, “I did meet someone.”

The color drained from his face and he did open his mouth again, but closed it when she set an impatient finger lightly against it.

“Just after that. When I was so upset with you. And I—he was really funny. Smart. Sweet. Handsome. And ... we had dinner a couple times. Went dancing. He took me home.”

“Please—Patricia, please don’t tell me this. Please?” He didn’t care that he was begging, just wanted her to stop saying it. He’d screwed up. He admitted that much. He had screwed up beyond words. But surely he didn’t deserve this punishment—

“Justin. Listen to me. Please?”

Reluctantly, he sank onto the coach and bowed his head, waiting.

“He took me home and we started to...fool around. And that was when I realized that I didn’t want to. Not with him. Not with anyone. I missed you, Justin, even when I was the most angry with you and hurt by you—I missed you.”

“And—he—“

“Called me a cab,” she said, rolling her eyes. “And gave the driver a huge tip. He wasn’t a bad guy, Justin.”

“So—you didn’t—“

“I didn’t. Though I could have.”

“I know!”

“Okay.”

“So—are we—back to normal?”

“No,” she said slowly. “I don’t think so. I’m not sure where we are.”

“Well, that’s about par lately,” he said with a slow smile. “Are you...seeing this guy again?”

“Socially, maybe. Not romantically.”

“Okay,” he said slowly, not entirely satisfied but knowing better than to try for a better offer when he’d already gotten far more than he was hoping for.

“And you? Anything to report?”

He blinked. “You want more? I pretended to go broke, apparently to test you, and then had a concussion, forgot it was a test, and fell for it myself, and then accused you of cheating on me—how much deeper can I dig myself here?”

“Well. Any reason cheating was on your mind?”

He stared at her blankly. “When I woke up in the hospital and heard the nurse’s voice my first thought was that I’d gotten totally blasted and slept with a stranger who was now demanding to know my name. Is that what you had in mind?”

“So there hasn’t been anyone...?”

“Patricia. I forgot the last year. We’ve been going out for five. Four that I remember. I didn’t forget we were together, and I wouldn’t cheat on you.”

She smiled. “I didn’t think so. But...it w as just so weird for you to jump there. I thought you might be...you know... projecting.”

He nodded. “Okay. So you didn’t cheat on me. And you didn’t go out with someone else even when it wouldn’t be cheating. And I didn’t cheat on you unless it was in the year I don’t remember, and I really, really don’t think I did then either. I’ve unloaded to you. You’ve unloaded to me. This seems like an ideal time for me to ask you something I’ve been wanting to for months.”

She raised her brows. “Ah?”

“Will you get a root beer float with me at this little stand that looks like it might have been built of driftwood three hundred years ago but makes nectar of the gods?”

With a laugh, she shrugged. “And you’ve been meaning to ask me this for months?”

“It never seemed like the right time,” he explained solemnly.

“And is this root beer float a romantic thing?”

He hung his head and sighed. “You caught me. To certain native tribes, the drinking of root beer floats together denotes a start of a romantic relationship that may lead to much more serious ones, possibly including (but not limited to) dinners, movies, dancing, picnics, worldwide travel, music, sex in a multitude of locales and varieties, and sometimes even marriage, lifetimes spent together enjoying all of the above, and plots side-by-side in cemeteries with names like ‘Shady Rest’.”

“Are you a member of such a tribe?” she asked, a smile playing on her lips.

“I’d like to be,” he said earnestly. “I filed to be adopted into one.”

“And?”

“They said I had to ask you first,” he explained. “So... floats?”

She thought about it for long enough that if he hadn’t been totally caught up with the play of the smile on her lips would have thoroughly freaked him out. Then she nodded. “Yes."

_________________
I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, y'know, we've got it all
'Cos we're all we've got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free, I love you freely

it's your movie; you're directing
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