Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mall of Mâvarin, Part Twenty-Six

I'm getting a complex over this darn story. Having watched episodes of House all afternoon and evening, I see that there are things other writers know how to do - characters manipulating each other, for example, or the unraveling of a mystery - that I don't know how to do. All I can do is tickle the part of my brain that speaks for Cathy and Rani and JW, and hope one of them knows how this story turns out. I sure don't.

The easiest way to catch up on past installments of this serial is here on Messages from Mâvarin. Synopses to Parts One through Six can be found at the top of Part Seven. Synopses to Parts Eight through Thirteen can be found at the top of Part Fourteen. Synopses to Parts Fourteen through Eighteen are at the top of Part Nineteen. The installments themselves can be read in order on Blogspot using the sidebar.

Part Nineteen: Li Ramet, Lee Ramirez and Joshua Wander go off to try to reverse the effects of Li's modified portal spell, which, along with the appearance of Josh's magic castle, apparently caused all the trouble. Meanwhile, Rani and Randy announce they have successfully returned their own minds and spirits to the right bodies. Rani sets out to try to help Carl and Carli do the same. Despite being only a bookish high school student in a strange and magical land, Randy Foster thinks he has acquired sufficient magic and knowledge to sort out Cathma and Cathy as well. They sit down together to let him try.

Part Twenty: In mindtouch with Randy, the girl who thinks of herself as Cathma is told that she is really Cathy after all. According to Randy, Li's spell is more an accidental "mindpush" (magical brainwashing) than an actual transfer mind and spirit. Randy takes Cathy on a whirlwind tour through the memories of her own life, until she feels like herself again rather than the Queen of Mâvarin. At the same time, Randy helps the real Queen Cathma to reclaim her own identity. The process leaves Randy exhausted—and there are still dozens of people from Dewitt and Mâvarin who need similar help.

Part Twenty-One: Since Rani and Randy are too tired to do mind magic with anyone else for the moment, Cathy suggests going back to "Plan A"--seeing that Li, Lee and Josh successfully reverse Li's spell, getting everyone home both mentally and physically. Although leaving the castle once again floods Cathy's mind with Cathma's memories, this time it does not overwhelm her sense of who she is. Shoppingtown Mall now looks intact again, albeit in Mâvarin instead of Dewitt. Li and Lee are proud of this accomplisment, Josh less so. Cathy points out that the point is to get the mall and the people back where they belong, not to reassemble the building in the wrong world.

Part Twenty-Two: Li and Lee propose to leave Shoppingtown in Mâvarin, at least temporarily, until the people are restored. When Cathy and Cathma press them on how that part of the problem is coming along, they say that the people who actually traveled with the mall (as opposed to safely in the castle) are "feeling much better now." They have mindpushed these people from a state of emotional shock to one of relative normalcy. The mall employees have even started selling their goods and services to customers--including curious Mâvarinû, who have started coming in from outside.

Part Twenty-Three: Li and his counterpart have convinced the mall personnel to accept Mâvarin coins, on the theory that they will be valuable in the other world for their gold and silver content and as collectible rarities. They've even worked outan exchange rate with the J.C. Penney manager: Ruthie Foster, Randy's mom. Randy rushes off to see her. Joshua Wander and Fayubi (who still doesn't know he's really Fabian Stockwell) both express an interest in goingshopping at the mall,on the theory that they may never have another opportunity to buy 21st century goods from a high-tech society. Before they go off to do that, however, Rani announces that all these stranded people, aside from the two sets or twins, aren't who they think they are.

Part Twenty-Four: Rani explains to the others that despite all previous suppositions to the contrary, nobody is in anyone else's body after all. Although the Mâvarinû remember bits of the Americans' lives, and even identify with them, they remain themselves in reality, body, mind, and spirit. He offers to help Li and Lee to feel like themselves again, promising that while in Mâvarin, Lee will still be able to do magic. Afterward, they will need to solve the problem of getting the Americans--and Shoppington Mall--back to DeWitt, New York. Meanwhile, the others decide to go shopping anyway.

Part Twenty-Five: Fayubi and Fabian go to a men's clothing store, accompanied by the four twins, Jamie and Jami. Over the next few hours, the eight of them buy clothes, discuss brand consciousness, and eat pizza--until they all suddenly pass out, with the exception of Cathy and Cathma.

Part Twenty-Six: Why Them and Not Us?

Art by SherlockCathma frowned. “What just happened?”

This hardly seemed like a fair question. “You’re asking me?” Cathy protested. “You’re the one from a world where magical things happen. In my world, the only way something like this would happened would be if they were all drugged or poisoned or something. Even then, it’s much more likely on TV or in a book than it is in the real world.”

“They couldn’t really have been poisoned, though, could they?” Cathma asked. She seemed very nervous and upset, much more than Cathy was. “We all shared the same pizza, and anyway, who would want to hurt them and not me?”

Cathy realized belatedly that Cathma’s brother had been poisoned the year before. She reached out to lay a reassuring hand on the young queen’s arm. “I’m sure it’s not poison. As you say, it doesn’t make sense. It’s more likely to be something that Li and Lee are doing.”

“Then why did it affect the others, and not us?” Cathma asked.

“Because we’re already ourselves, maybe?” Cathy guessed.

Cathma pointed at her brother. “So were Carli and Carl.”

“Because we’re female?”

“What has that to do with anything?”

“I don’t know!” Cathy practically shouted. “I don’t know anything about this stuff! It’s your world, not mine!”

“Well, don’t get mad at me!” Cathma said. “I didn’t do any of this.”

Cathy forced herself to calm down. “I’m sorry. I know it’s not your fault. But do you have any idea at all what happened to the guys? Are they all right?”

Cathma reached out to touch her brother’s chest. “Well, he’s breathing, anyway.”

Cathy examined her own brother. “You’re right. It’s as if Carl’s just asleep. What about the others?”

They checked on Fabian and Fayubi, Jamie and Jami. They all seemed to be sleeping, but in no distress. Their breathing was normal, and their hearts beat steadily.

“Maybe the reversing spell Li was going to work on knocked them out somehow,” Cathma suggested.

“Maybe,” Cathy agreed. “But why Carl and Carli, and not us? And what about the other people here?” She looked around. People at the other tables – male and female, Mâvarinû and Americans - were also slumped in their chairs.

Cathma was looking around too. “Looks like we’re the only ones still conscious. What are we going to do about it?”

“Well, unless you want to take a nap, there’s only one thing we can do,” Cathy said.

Cathma looked at her and nodded. “You think we should go find Li and Lee.”

“Well, don’t you?”

Queen Cathma stood up. “Yes. Let’s go.”

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