Shelved Stories - Prototypes
These blog posts about my old projects are reaching the point where I started working on various ideas I still consider quite promising. Prototypes is something I really would like to get back into one day, and like plenty of my ideas, it was sparked by a dream.
In the dream, two teenage boys were trapped in a cottage in the woods, and ending up breaking through the window to escape. One of them had turned into a wolf-like creature, and there was a thunderstorm going on. These two boys became two of the main characters. Tempest, who had control over weather, and Maverick, who turned into the large animal he calls the Beast. The third main character, a girl named Kaylin Reed, wasn't in the dream but also became part of the story fairly early on.
In the first version, the boys had their powers naturally. I toyed with a few different ideas for where the powers had come from, and what the plot would be. At one point they were going to be in high school, and had to go on some sort of quest, which Kaylin would end up tagging along for. Soon I gave up that idea for one that was much better. The boys had escaped from a lab with a group of other teenagers, and they were sort of in hiding by attending school. At that point, the story was tentatively called "The Storm Beast" as a reference to the boys powers. I wrote the first handful of chapters without the school aspect. Kaylin was working a night shift at a gas station and the boys show up to buy gas and food, when suddenly the scientists attack and Kaylin is caught up in the boys' escape. Then the idea sort of petered out.
I did create the other escaped teens during "The Storm Beast" phase of this project. There was Darshan, the oldest of the group, who had been given the ability to connect to computers, but ended up blind as a side effect (but, he could connect to cameras and see through them). Abcde (Ab-see-dee, it's a real name!) could understand, speak and read any language in the world as long as she was exposed to it once. Then there was Carver, who could turn his arms, hands and fingers into metal blades.
(In the earliest version, Tempest and Maverick briefly had a fake last name they used in high school. "Dunshire" was how I referred to the idea in my notes until I came up with "The Storm Beast" title.)
In my third year of university (2012) I briefly went back to these characters after getting some inspiration from campers on a canoe trip. I used the same basic idea as "The Storm Beast", but renamed the story "Prototypes." The idea was that Tempest, Maverick and the others were prototypes, who all had some sort of flaw. For Tempest, his main flaw was that the scientists had no idea how he worked. Maverick's flaw was that he was constantly hungry and exhausted as a side effect to changing into the Beast.
I also figured out some details about the lab and plot. The boys called the scientists "crypters" because the lab was called CRyPTIC (it stood for Calamity Research and Preventive Training Investigative Corporation, which seems a little forced but kinda works). The boys had numbers, Tempest was 103 and Maverick was 110. The girls on the canoe trip each invented other powered characters who were called the Perfects, who were going to be introduced later. Possibly in a sequel. The new plot was also going to include a little canoe trip through a provincial park to escape!
Later that year, I rewrote the five chapters I had written for "The Storm Beast" in first person (my preferred style at the time), switching between the three main characters' points of view. I also tried to figure out more details about the world and plot. I roughly came up with a plot for a trilogy, and wrote a couple of extra scenes that I showed my friends. Then, once again the idea petered out. Not because I wasn't interested, but because Without a King's sequel took priority.
I do really want to go back to this at some point. Maybe instead of a trilogy I could condense it into one book. I'm really not sure, but I love the characters and the rough plot I had worked out. For now, here's an excerpt from the most recent version (written in 2012-2013). This is part of chapter two, told from Tempest's point of view. Kaylin and the boys have just escaped from the crypters in her parents minivan, but she has no idea what's going on. The last thing she saw was Maverick, as the Beast, jumping into the the trunk of the van.
The girl stirred beside me. Maverick fell silent, and, I assumed, concentrated on eating his ice cream. She sat up suddenly, seeming instantly alert. I couldn’t watch her closely, but from the corner of my eye I saw her looking back towards Maverick, taking him in before glaring across the front seats to me.
“What is going on?” she demanded, her voice a little shaky. “What is he doing here? Where is that… thing?”
“Um… Maverick and I… uh-” I groaned inwardly at how articulate I was being. “Maverick and I are being chased by those guys, and we-“
“Who are you?” she asked, apparently giving up on my other terrible explanation.
“Tempest,” I replied. “I’m Tempest, and he’s-“
“Maverick. No last name, either of us, long story. So who’re you?” Maverick asked casually.
The girl was silent for a moment, turning around in her seat so that she could stare at Maverick. “You kidnapped me.”
“Saved you, really,” Maverick corrected. “So what’s your name?”
“Kaylin,” she replied. “Reed.”
“Well, Kaylin Reed, Tempest’s going to explain everything to you in a way that hopefully makes sense and doesn’t make us seem like we’re crazy.”
“I am?” I made eye contact with him through the rearview mirror. “Everything?”
“Might as well, right? I mean, she’s already seen me. I’m proof enough that we’re telling the truth. Go for it.”
I sighed. “Ok, Kaylin, bear with me for a bit. It’ll sound crazy, but I swear it’s the truth and I don’t know what else to tell you. Will you listen?”
“Just talk,” she said.
“Ok… So, Maverick and I are from this lab and we escaped about a year ago-“
“Whoa, man, start from the beginning,” Maverick interrupted.
“The beginning? Really?” I asked.
“Just tell me what’s going on!” Kaylin said loudly, taking us both a little by surprise.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “Full story. Twelve years ago, I woke up in a cage in a laboratory. I was put through various weird tests and things I didn’t understand. Two years later, Maverick showed up, and after him there were others. The scientists there – we call them crypters – were trying to change us into, well, we don’t know, but they had some goal in mind. About a year ago, those of us who survived all the testing and changing escaped. There were five of us. We all got out, but pretty soon we were split up. Mav and I managed to keep together, and we’ve been on the run ever since.”
I could tell Kaylin was trying to decide whether or not to believe what I’d just said. “Changed?” she finally asked.
I nodded. “We were all changed. Maverick’s change is the easiest to prove. He transforms into that creature you saw. We call it the Beast. He’s not dangerous or anything, he still fully thinks like himself, and he can change whenever he wants.”
“So you’re a werewolf?” she asked him calmly. The calmness struck me as a little strange, giving what we’d just told her. But maybe seeing Maverick had already startled her enough, and she was past that point.
“I’m not a werewolf,” Maverick replied indignantly. “I’m not even a wolf.”
“You looked like a wolf.”
“He roars,” I commented.
She looked at me. “So what?”
“Wolves don’t roar. It’s a big cat thing. You know, lions, tigers…”
Kaylin didn’t seem to care, and looked at Maverick. “Ok, so you roar. So what?”
“I do other cat things,” Maverick said. “See, I look mostly like a wolf, but I move more like a cat. Apparently. I can’t say I’ve ever watched myself move, but whatever… I have retractable claws, that’s a cat thing. And the roaring thing. Big cats roar, right? Wolves howl, bark, whimper – I do all that, too. I can growl, I can sort of purr. I whip my tail around when I’m angry like a cat, but I also wag it happily like a dog. I’m this weird hybrid thing. Like Temp said, when I’m the Beast, I still think like myself. I can’t talk or anything, but I’m not going to eat you, so you don’t have to be afraid of me.”
“Uh-huh,” Kaylin muttered in reply. “And… Tempest? I assume you turn into a lion who kind of moves like a wolf?” she asked dryly.
“No… I control the weather.”
“I control the weather,” I repeated, risking a glance away from the rain-soaked road to look at her. “Not the way you’re probably thinking. I can’t make things happen, but I can move things around. The weather reacts to my body somehow, and it’s actually an exhausting effort to minimize the effect I have. When we first got out of the lab, I actually completely lost control and caused a giant thunderstorm. Before that I was too far underground to have any sort of connection to the atmosphere.”
“How is that possible?” Kaylin asked.
“I don’t know, I can’t explain it, it just happens.”
“So… you control the weather, and he’s a werewolf,” she said thoughtfully. “What about the other people you escaped with?”
“Well, there’s Carver. He’s similar to Mav in that he physically changes, but he can change his arms into blades. Anything from his elbow down – so his whole arm, or just in hand, or just a finger,” I paused there, glancing at her again to see her reaction. She was just staring at me blankly. “Um, so then there’s Darshan,” I continued. “He’s a little bit more complex, he can connect to anything electronic. Not sure how it works, I’m not even sure how to explain it, but he can touch a computer and just see everything in it. He’s also blind, from some side effect, but if he holds a camera he can see through the lens. The last person is Abcde, she can-”
“Ab-si-dee,” I repeated more slowly. “She can become completely fluent in any language after hearing or seeing a word or two. That seems to include dead languages that have never been translated, and she’s pretty good at decoding things.”
“How is any of this possible?” Kaylin asked, for the second time.
“I don’t know.”
“Ok, so why did these scientists do this?”
“We don’t know that either. So, you believe me, right?”
“How can I not after seeing the werebeast?” she pointed out. “He’s real. Those people with guns were real. This rain is real. It sounds absolutely ridiculous and impossible, but it’s clearly real. I’d still like to go home with my van, though. I don’t see why I have to be involved in this.”
I cringed at that, “Yeah, that might not be possible. The crypters will know about you by now, you’d be in danger if we left you behind. I didn’t want to involve you, but we just happened to be in your gas station.”
“Sorry about that,” Maverick said.
“There’s nothing we can do about it now. So, just give it a few days. Hopefully we’ll be able to drop you and the van off somewhere and be on our way, and then you can live your life and forget about us.”
“I doubt I’ll forget this,” she muttered. “So where are we going?”
“Nowhere in particular,” I replied. “Just forward. It’s late, why don’t you two get some sleep?”
“Like you even have to offer,” Maverick said, his words broken by a yawn. “I’m exhausted.”
“How much have you eaten?” I asked. “Are you still hungry?”
“No, I’m good. I ate all of the ice cream,” he replied. “You’ve got to sleep soon, too, Temp. When was the last time you slept?”
“I got a couple hours last night.”
“That was what, twenty-six hours ago?” Maverick asked. “And by a couple hours you mean one and a half.”
“Maybe I should drive,” Kaylin spoke up. “I took a nap before I started the night shift.”
I shook my head. “You don’t know how to keep a lookout for the crypters.”
“Ok, fine. So why doesn’t Maverick drive?”
Maverick laughed. “Yeah, like I have the attention span for that.” He yawned loudly, and I heard him shifting around in the back seat. A quick glance at the rear view mirror showed me that he was lying down across the seats.
“What do you mean?” Kaylin asked. When no reply came, she opened her mouth to ask again.
I stopped her. “Don’t bother, he’s asleep. He can’t drive because he would get distracted too easily. Or fall asleep. He needs to sleep around sixteen hours a day, give or take a couple depending on how much he’s phased. Being the Beast tires him out. It’s the same with eating, he needs to eat more than a normal person on a regular basis, but especially after changing.”
“So I guess he didn’t get the best of both forms?” Kaylin said.
“No. I mean, he got a lot of good traits from the Beast. Even while he’s human he’s much faster and stronger than a normal person. He’s got perfect sight, very good hearing, and a good sense of smell. But on the other hand, he has a short attention span, he’s claustrophobic and he goes stir-crazy really quickly. Then of course there’s the eating and sleeping. You should really try to get some sleep.”
“How can I sleep with all this running through my head?” she asked.
“Well, I don’t know,” I said. “You can ask me more questions, if you’d like.”
“No. I need to think about this,” Kaylin replied. She turned to face her window, falling silent. The rain was still falling heavily, and I forced myself to focus more on the road again. I watched her out of the corner of my eye. Despite her protests, it wasn’t long before I saw her head start to droop. She fought sleep for awhile, but then went completely still.
Maverick had been right, I was tired, but I knew we had to keep going. The further we got from the gas station the better. I’d sleep when we were safe. So with that in mind, I concentrated on the task at hand and drove through the night.