Acts of God
There was an earth-shattering ka-boom and the world ended.
That seems like an ending, but that was my beginning. The explosion was large enough to destroy everything, including me. Moments later, everything was reset. I was back in my apartment, sitting in my yellow couch and watching a documentary on cake decorating. But I still had a feeling of panic and horror about the total annihilation of Earth.
I had a feeling of dread. It was one of those moments that came from time to time and it meant only one thing. He was at it again. And moments later, my windows came crashing in; glass cut into my body, but I ended up drowning in a massive tsunami. Everything was reset as usual and not a damp spot appeared in the house. My skin still tingled from the shards of glass.
I jumped out of the couch, half expecting some kind of bomb. But no, it was my door bell. I picked up my lucky cat plushie and went to answer it. Right as I opened the door, something destroyed my apartment yet again. I think it was some kind of heat ray, as it was just a quick and hot melting to death. When the world reset, I found one of my neighbors waiting for me. She was dressed up almost to the point of being overboard, with green high heels, a sleeveless seafoam green gown, a pretty tiara, a pearl necklace, and gold hoop earrings. Not to mention the make-up, and the blond hair dye, and the expensive looking purse…
"Hi Sally!" she said, all excitement bubbling over. "What do you think, huh? I'm going up to the Pencil Palace for an audience with Maxwell. I'm going to ask him if he can give me the wedding of my dreams." Her eyes were sparkling.
I wasn't sure if I should smile or not. "That's… nice," I said. "But Petunia, you're not even dating anyone."
"Oh, that doesn't matter," she said dismissively.
Right then, an earthquake struck. Petunia panicked and screamed as the apartment building came down over us. I tried to grab her and bring her into my doorway; I had heard that it was the safest place in an earthquake. But then a giant boulder blasted into my back, killing the both of us.
It didn't last. The apartment was quickly set back right, with Petunia happy and excited again. "You know that Maxwell can make anything happen! He's sure to set me up with the perfect man."
I clutched my plushie close, looking around for any other dangers. Like always, I seemed to be the only one noticing the repeated destruction and resetting of the world. "He could set you up with a janitor," I pointed out. "He can do anything that he wants."
"Oh, don't be such a sour puss," she said. "I was wondering if you'd want to come along instead of hiding in your place as usual. It's going to be so exciting!"
"Right, exciting," I said, unenthusiastic about it. I felt that my life would be a lot better with less excitement.
Like when a strange monster came rushing down the hall. It seemed like a horse that had been patched together through parts of many different horses, including several demonic ones. And patched on top of it, there was a horrid looking man with long arms and a warped face. Screaming, it galloped over to us and kicked its front legs at Petunia, knocking her into the ground hard enough to kill her. I froze in place. Things would be reset, I reminded myself. But this was going to hurt so much…
But then another creature charged in from my own apartment, this one a more conventional centaur. The brown horse with a man's torso shoved me aside and bashed the other monster with a spiked mace. As violent as the attack was, there was no blood. The bodies just fell down, then popped out of existence. I still slammed the door shut in case the centaur decided to attack me next. Moving further back into my apartment, I wondered if anything in here could be used as a weapon. He could make it so, but I didn't want to ask him. There should be something… then I noticed that I wasn't holding onto my kitty plushie. I must have dropped it when the centaur shoved me aside. And there it was, over by the door.
Before I could get to it, there was a large explosion. Not the earth-shattering one that had started this evening off, but one loud enough to hurt my ears and big enough to destroy a good chunk of my apartment building. I looked in time to see the centaur pop out of existence. In its place, there was a policeman carrying a massive gray gun that looked as large as he was. The policeman saw me and saluted. "Don't worry, miss, everything's going to turn out fine," he said.
I didn't believe him because I could see him. Past the demolished walls, there was a flying bed; it was a simple wooden frame with a mattress and a white blanket, but furniture shouldn't hover around like that. Sitting on the bed was what seemed to be a boy wearing a blue t-shirt, long green shorts, and a peculiar hat that looked like a rooster's comb with headphones. In his hands, there was a small plastic green notebook and a black marker. This was Maxwell, the cause of all this chaos.
He looked to me, tilting his head. Then he wiped a cloth across his notebook, dismissing the policeman with the giant gun. He wrote something, which caused the world to reset once more. However, instead of being outside, Maxwell and his floating bed were in the hallway with Petunia, just out of her sight. And when I looked in my hands, my lucky kitty plushie was gone. I looked back on the couch, but it seemed that my dear doll was completely missing.
"It's going to be magnificent, but we have to get over to the palace quickly, before they shut the doors for the night," Petunia said, still oblivious that she had recently killed by a strange patchwork creature, and probably several times over through this evening.
"I don't think he's going to be in tonight," I said, looking over at him.
"Huh? Why not?" Then she looked over at the floating bed. While she was momentarily surprised, she soon was jumping in glee. "Oh, Master Maxwell! I had just been planning on coming over to see you, as I…" a cloth soon appeared around her mouth, keeping her from speaking.
Maxwell smirked at her, then looked to me expectantly.
"What do you want?" I asked, feeling a rare bubble of dissent. "I've lost my favorite doll thanks to your monsters and weapons."
However, he didn't look ashamed. Instead, he brightened and wrote in his notebook. A rag doll appeared in my hands, looking like a little girl with brown pigtails and a spotted red dress.
I tossed it at his bed. "No, it was a plushie black kitty, and it was my lucky item."
He looked puzzled, then tried writing something else. That got him a teddy bear, which he quickly wiped out of existence. Then he made a black cat appear. It was small with long plush fur. Mewing, it looked up to me hopefully.
"Not a real cat," I said. But I picked up the black cat anyhow. It purred, happy to have me.
Sighing in disappointment, Maxwell then pulled the gag off Petunia's mouth. After a stunned moment, she stared at him. He wrote something, which seemed to do nothing. But my neighbor squealed and went to his side. "Oh, Master Maxwell, you came to me instead! I want to get married and I want it to be the most fantastic wedding ever. Would you do that for me, please?"
He grinned, then nodded. He wrote something, which spontaneously turned my t-shirt and jeans into a pastel pink dress with little ribbon roses. While it wasn't something I would pick out for myself, it was something that would delight Petunia. He then whisked us away, directly to his Pencil Palace.
In just a few minutes, Maxwell had set us up in an elegant ballroom, with a silver chandelier, impressive marble statues, a grand staircase with red carpeting, and a full orchestra. He disappeared for a while, but came back with servants, a priest, dozens of guests, and Petunia's parents. I assume that's who they were, based on how happily the three greeted each other. But it was hard to tell who the groom was supposed to be.
And I wasn't sure what to do. The plush cat was still with me; even when I put it down, it followed by my side. I went up to one of the servants. "Is this cat okay to be here?" I asked.
The servant brought out a magnifying glass, marked with the same star that was on Maxwell's shirt and notebook. He looked surprised. "Oh, mademoiselle, you have been gifted with an exquisite companion. This is a lucky loyal black plush kitty. She will always be by your side. It is an extraordinary blessing from our Master Maxwell. You ought to thank him with your Starite."
"I don't know if I have one," I replied. "And what is a Starite? I hear about it all the time on TV, but they never explain it, just that he will give anything in order to get them."
"It is a sparkling golden star which is greatly desired by the Master." The servant nodded. "For us, the Starites do not do anything but look pretty. And everyone has a Starite. But Master Maxwell seems to be able to do something with them. But, I am just a humble servant, so I am not aware what he does with them. There is a place… oh, but you could not enter there."
"I see. Well thank you for identifying my kitty." I looked down at the feline. Was she really loyal? "Come," I said to her.
"Mew!" She came right to my side and looked up expectantly.
I looked over the ballroom, noticing that Petunia was having a grand time. The other guests were treating her like a princess. When I glanced down one of the aisle, I spotted Maxwell again, this time minus the flying bed. He was writing furiously in his notebook, turning what seemed to be an ordinary guy (maybe even a janitor) into a handsome prince. Then he gestured the fellow towards Petunia.
Quietly, I watched as the pair fell in love at first sight, then danced together. Maxwell conjured up a romantic snow of gold dust all over the room, amazing everyone there. Save me and my cat, although she sneezed when a speck of gold fell on her nose. The priest came up and declared that this must be true love. But not just for Petunia and the made-up prince. No, there were two other beautiful and suddenly loving couples attending this spontaneous ball. It was declared that they should all be married immediately.
Maxwell went back to work, changing the grand ballroom into a sacred chapel, filled with white flowers, white balloons, white streamers, and white curtains. I was teleported again to act as Petunia's bridesmaid; I wondered if that was why Maxwell had put me in this pink dress initially. She and the other two brides were put into lacy white wedding dresses with long veils and trains, then given bouquets of white and red roses. The grooms were given tuxedos, groomsmen, and gold watches. To fill out the ceremony, more people appeared: caterers with a massive tiered cake, dressed up boys with wedding rings, dolled up girls with baskets of flower petals, and more guests. A unicorn even showed up, quietly letting anyone come up to pet it.
Without a doubt, it was the most elaborate wedding I had ever been to, or even heard of. During the reception and feast afterwards, Maxwell appeared to give each of the couples a new car, somehow predicting exactly what each pair would want. The whole room cheered, and then they appeared. Golden sparkling stars, exactly as the servant had told me, emerged in a golden light from the three brides, the three grooms, the priest, and somehow, a few of the guests. The Starites were drawn to Maxwell, whirling around him before vanishing into the same golden light. Somehow, the sight of it unnerved me.
And then, Maxwell walked over to me. After giving me a look, he scribbled something in his notebook. A black teddy bear then appeared, wearing a white ribbon. I shook my head. Looking puzzled, he shrugged again and vanished, off to do something else.
Which turned out to be a giant meteor striking the packed wedding reception. But this time, I wasn't the only one who noticed. My new cat was all puffed out and tense. Picking her up to soothe her, I decided to leave.
I was born a psychic, although no one at the time could pinpoint what kind of abilities I had. It was said to be a great and rare gift; I used to like being special. But then he came and started a reign of creative chaos. Other people are amazed by what he can do. Physics and biology mean nothing to him when he can make anything happen. Whatever people ask for, he can make it appear.
In most cases. I played with my new plush cat that morning, teasing her with a bit of string. I had already named her Fortuna. While she was a nice companion to have, she wasn't my lucky kitty plushie. Why he wasn't able to recreate that, I'm not sure. His powers don't cover all, but the only thing widely known that he can't do is create alcoholic items. I see that as a good thing, as he can't get obedience by simply getting us all drunk.
With his rise to power, I learned what my ability is. I can tell when Maxwell is doing something. Every time he resets the world, I know what went wrong and when he did it. Unfortunately, this means that I remember so many disasters: a night of a thousand tornados, world-destroying bombs, black holes, alien invasions, zombie infestations, vampires, dragons… he does some great and beautiful things, like the weddings last night. Then again, he has a great imagination for destruction and violence.
It used to be just simple mistakes; he would revert the world if his solutions ended up killing someone on accident. Then he figured out that he could not only make anything, but take anything that he wanted. He started resetting so that he didn't get caught or that things went as he wanted. In time, he must have gotten addicted to his power. Times of repeated resets, like yesterday with the excessive mass destruction, came more and more frequently. And I remembered all of it. Perhaps only Maxwell and I do. That is why I spend much of my time in my apartment. The world is scary with Maxwell in it, but his notebook can reach anywhere. Might as well be somewhere familiar.
But I wondered about Petunia and her husband. Were they getting along or were they finding themselves displeased with the match? I had not heard anything from her apartment. Maybe they had already moved out. Since that afternoon was quiet, I picked up my black purse and headed out to see them. "Come on, Fortuna," I called.
"Mew!" The cat eagerly bounded off the couch to follow after me.
When I knocked on the door, it wasn't long until she answered it. Petunia looked back to her usual self, brown hair, regular makeup, a blue dress. She smiled at me. "Oh, hello dear Sally. This is a surprise; how are you doing?"
"I'm okay," I said. "Fortuna keeps me company. How are you and your husband doing?"
"Oh we're fine. Perfectly happy." She was still smiling, but her voice sounded dull and weary. And her eyes looked to me blankly. It was worrisome. "You ought to be happy with your kitty and give Master Maxwell your Starite."
"I'm not sure how," I said. "Are you sure that you're well? You seem tired."
She shook her head. "No, I'm fine. Wonderful, really, since Maxwell granted our greatest wishes. Isn't that right, dear?" She opened the door.
Immediately, I noticed that her apartment was quiet, save for the chatter of the television. Usually, she had the radio on and was singing along with it when she was at home. Her husband was sitting in front of the TV, looking blank and dazed too. But he turned to us and smiled. "Yes, this is perfect. We're grateful and happy." He had the same kind of monotonous voice too, even though he had sounded normal at the wedding.
"That's good," I said, although I felt that it wasn't. "You're sure nothing's wrong? I just came by to check on you."
"It's all wonderful thanks to Master Maxwell," the man said.
"Is something else bothering you?" Petunia asked. "You can always ask him about it."
There was, but I didn't think it would help to talk about it with her. "It's nothing. But it's good to know that you're well. I'll see you later."
"Okay. Don't hesitate to ask for anything." She then shut the door.
What now? I could tell that something was wrong, but what could I do about it. I left the apartment to take a walk outside. Maybe I would think of something out there. While Fortuna came out with me, I didn't worry about her wandering off and getting lost. Maxwell had made her loyal, after all.
On my way to the park, I met with a few other people: joggers, kids, drivers. I noticed that they all had the same kind of look as Petunia and her husband now. Dull, dim, dazed… yet they all smiled. It was like they went about their daily routines, but didn't feel anything. Why was that? I thought it was creepy.
Things didn't change until I got to the park. There, a boy was crying under a tree. A purple kite was stuck in that tree. Before I could reach him to offer help, Maxwell appeared out of nowhere. The powerful boy looked over the situation, then wrote in his notebook. A man dressed like a stereotypical hippie appeared. He looked shocked at the sight. "Ack, somebody's littered in the tree! How terrible. I've got to get it out."
The boy looked startled at the accusation of littering. But then the hippie fellow climbed up into the tree and took the kite out of it. It was broken from having struck several branches. At that, the boy started crying again. I wondered if Maxwell would reset it, but no. Instead, he picked up the kite, looked at it, then made it vanish. He wrote in his notebook, making a new purple kite appear. Then he gave it to the boy.
On seeing it, the boy shouted in glee, taking the kite and its reel. Maxwell wrote in his notebook again; the wind stirred up. The boy then ran off, tossing his kite into the wind so it could soar in the sky. Once there, a sparkling golden Starite appeared from the boy and went to the Scribblenaut. Looking satisfied, Maxwell closed his notebook and vanished.
"Did you see that?" a strange voice said beside me. "He just stole that child's soul!"
I jumped and turned, finding myself face-to-face with a weird bum. He wore tattered clothes, had rough stubble over his chin, and carried a black trash bag with something in it. Even stranger, one of his brown eyes was wide open, while the other was only halfway there. Normally, I wouldn't have talked to someone like this. But what he had said… and my cat Fortuna didn't seem all that worried. She was even sniffing at his bag as if some tasty scent was attached to it.
"Th-the child's soul?" I asked quietly.
"Yes," he said, then stepped closer to me. Our faces were probably only four inches apart. "I normally wouldn't say anything, you know. But you, you ain't like them. You ain't sleepwalking. And your eyes are so sharp."
Uncomfortable with that closeness, I stepped back. "I am psychic," I told him. "But only to knowing what he does."
The bum brightened. "It's the same with me! I notices what he does, but nobody else does. It's a shame; they wouldn't be so eager to follow him if they knew what he was up to most of the time. But, ooohhh…" he gripped his arms and shuddered. "He finds out. He came to me and made me look into the eyes of pure terror. And now, those monsters knows me. They're looking for me. I can't stay in any one place for long. Got to keep moving, keep ahead of them." He glanced around nervously.
He could have been crazy. But I didn't know anyone else who could see and remember what Maxwell did. "Right. But, the Starites are the souls of people?"
Pointing to the boy with the kite, he said, "Exactly! Take a look at him now. Go on, look!"
I looked over and noticed that the kite boy's demeanor had changed. He wasn't laughing and genuinely enjoying himself now. While he still was flying his kite, his face was blank, save for a dazed smile.
But while I looked, the bum put his hand on my shoulder and leaned on it. "The pretty golden treasures, our souls sparkles likes stars. Every soul ever born has a star in the sky. Everyone should keep their own stars; having another person's Starite doesn't do anybody no good. That is, save for the twisted perversion of creativity, the Scribblenauts."
"The Scribblenauts?" There could be more than him? But then, why did I only sense him?
The bum answered my unspoken questions too. "A Scribblenaut shows up from time to time, bearing the notebook of the gods. Usually, it's only one at a time. But no mere mortal knows the rules that applies to them, if any applies to them. They comes and goes without warning. Is it merely one that travels across time and space, or a succession of these gods? No one is certain."
"And they're after souls…"
"Yes! They offers their assistance in exchange for the mysterious Starites, the lights of souls, the stars of Earth. But when they takes the Starites, the people left behind are vacant sleep-walking robots that smile so much. They enjoys nothing. They just sleepily goes along with what the Scribblenaut directs them to. But then, what's about the people like us? And what makes them go away? Hmm? Do you knows?"
I moved away from him, getting him to let him go. "I don't. I didn't know what the Starites were. But thank you for telling me."
"Bssshhhhaa," the bum said, waving his hand and bag about. "You ain't going to do nothing. Probably better for you. That way, you don't get haunted by transdimensional horrors. Be careful, and don't let him has your Starite!" He then wandered off, looking about in anxiety.
Actually, I wanted to do something. But what? I looked down at Fortuna, who looked up at me adoringly with her amber-colored eyes. I was just a lowly psychic girl. How was I supposed to take on a Scribblenaut god?
On walking around town and thinking about it, I decided that I would need some special gear. Most people would have told me to ask Maxwell for it. I couldn't do that, though. I had to be careful not to be grateful around him, or else he might get my Starite. Besides, asking for the kind of equipment I needed would seem suspicious.
But what would I need? Something to keep me safe; I have died before, but he always resets me. Once I stand against him, he might not bring me back. Also, I wanted to return the Starites to people. I wasn't sure if the soul stars would go back, but that may help break the weird sleepwalking daze everyone was in. It might even let them see the truth. And perhaps I needed something to fight with, and something else to keep him from erasing Fortuna for good.
The best place I could think of to look for things like this would be the junkyard. It was said that this was where things he erased went. It would be a lot of things, many dangerous. Although, that information was just rumors. The only thing to do was to go to the junkyard and see for myself what was there.
I went to a bus station and checked its route map. After a moment, I found the nearest stop to the junkyard. It wouldn't be too long of a trip, so I sat on the bench and checked my change. Fortuna hopped up beside me and rubbed her head against my elbow, looking for attention. While I did rub her head, it wasn't long before she tensed up. Someone had sat on the bench beside me, a guy with familiar green pants.
I looked up and saw Maxwell there. He had a confident smirk on his face, as if he knew something important. Did he suspect me already? He took out his notebook and wrote quickly in it. Then he turned to look behind us. I did too, in time to notice a trio of ratty looking brown barrels falling from the sky. While I saw a red marking, I didn't have time to figure out what it meant before they struck the pharmacy that was behind us. With a triple kaboom, the store was completely destroyed.
Startled at the blast, I didn't say anything. However, I had been in that store before. The people who worked there were nice and they sold good things. Such wanton destruction. But it turned out to have a meaning. Maxwell wrote something else, creating another building in its place. However, this was a toy store, as evidenced by the large star and the small toys on the sign. Not only that, but it was a massive store, trampling on the parking lots that had previously been there. Some more writing, and he handed me fifty Ollars. Then he beamed, proud of himself.
I wasn't sure why he was so proud. He'd just destroyed a good pharmacy and replaced it with a giant toy store. Was he trying to get me my kittie plushie back still? For a moment, I felt impressed that he was trying to help me. But no, he must only be interested in my Starite. Still, the bus wouldn't be here for a while and there was a chance…
Before I got up, a mass of people descended on the toy store. Where had they all come from? The street had been quiet before, and the store had only just appeared. But there were so many kids, parents, grandparents, collectors, gamers, and other folks going into the store. How strange. Once things calmed down, I got up from the bus stop bench and went inside myself. Maxwell followed me.
It wasn't long before we were pestered by others. Probably the majority of customers that I saw were all the sleepwalkers who had lost their Starites. But those that still had them were quick to come up to Maxwell and ask for things. It wasn't really my business to care, so I checked out a map of the store's layout. This was a massive toy store, split up into departments. One department was devoted to dolls and plushies. That would be where I might find one like mine. But, it wouldn't really be my old one.
There was a pop, and then Maxwell appeared beside me. He was wearing a black trenchcoat, a large black fedora, black-rimmed glasses with a fake nose and fake mustache, and black boots. Tilting his glasses down, he winked at me and showed me his notebook, as if I couldn't guess who he was simply from the fact that he had teleported again. Then again, the crowd that had been after him all looked puzzled before returning to searching the new toy store.
"How clever," I said in a neutral tone. Then I headed up to the second floor, where the doll and plushie department was. Maxwell followed me up the escalator, making festive decorations as we went: multicolored balloons, confetti, streamers, costumed mascots, cosplayers…
When I got there, the area looked impressive at first. There seemed to be hundreds of stuffed animals, dolls, and plushies there. But on looking through, it didn't seem right. Such a massive toy store ought to have a large variety of dolls. Not this one. There were baby dolls, fashion dolls (with so many outfits to choose from), teddy bears… and that was it. Sure, they were all kinds of patterns, colors, and materials, with any number of little accessories. But nothing past a doll or a teddy. Kind of like how Maxwell seemed to be restricted.
I picked up a black bear that had velvety plush material; while it was incredibly soft, it still wasn't a kitty. It seemed to disappoint him when I put the bear back. "They don't seem to have any kitty plushies," I said. "Fortuna, do you see any?"
"Murr," she said, then rubbed my leg with her head.
"Are you looking for a kitty doll?" a clerk asked me, coming into the aisle we were in. "We have some down another aisle."
"Really?" I asked back. "Are they the Beanie Baby plushies?" That was what my old plushie had been.
The clerk gave me a puzzled look. Then she smiled, giving that dazed expression. "Oh, no, we don't carry anything like that. But you really must see our kitty dolls. They are so adorable. This way." She left the aisle and indicated another to the left.
No Beanie Babies? They had been getting strangely scarce as of late. Why weren't stores carrying them anymore? But, maybe their kitty dolls would be close. I felt wary of being too grateful, but at that moment, all I really wanted was my plushie back.
In the next aisle, there were all kinds of small dolls. However, this wasn't the same limited selection as before. This had dogs, lizards, horses, a skunk, a zebra, a lion, and many others, all tiny little things. This included a variety of cats: plush pink ones, lavish purple ones, spotted and ribboned ones, royal blue ones, and so on. "This is our selection of toy animals," the clerk said. "Any kind of animal you can think of in toy form and all kinds of colors and materials too. Why, look at this rainbow silk toy cat." She picked up one.
I had been looking at a fuzzy black one, but looked at the rainbow silk one. It was exactly as she had said: brightly colored stripes like rainbows covered its body. However, it was moving slightly. I could see it tilting its head, and even see its chest move in and out. When I petted it, the toy cat mewed. Fortuna growled with her ears turned back. But she seemed wary more than jealous.
"Isn't it a darling doll?" the clerk asked me.
Maxwell watched me, his eyes occasionally moving to the fuzzy black toy cat.
"Is that a real cat?" I asked. "It's moving and breathing."
"Well it won't walk on its own," the clerk said. "And you don't have to feed or water it, as it is never hungry or thirsty. Well, unless there's some error made in production. But yes, it is so much like a real cat, isn't it? Enough to make your friend jealous."
I squeezed the toy cat lightly, feeling a resistance like tiny bones. "You couldn't hug this cat. That would kill it. This isn't like my old plushie. That was my favorite thing for years."
At that moment, I finally heard something from Maxwell, something like, "Hmph." Then he vanished again.
The clerk stared at where he had been for a moment. "Oh my…" then her eyes seemed to be staring at nothing. When she blinked, she looked back at me, then at the rainbow silk toy cat. She put it back on the shelf. "Well if you want something a little tougher, here's a pewter toy cat. Or even steel; we might have a steel one in back."
"No thanks," I said, holding my hand up to her. "I'll just stick with Fortuna for now." I picked her up and patted her.
She looked at the toy cats and went, "Fffftt." Once we had left the aisle, she started purring.
Still, I had a free fifty Ollars now. I might be able to buy something useful. But at a toy store? I doubted it, but then I spotted something interesting. Magnifying glasses. I put Fortuna down to go check them out. They had plastic frames and handles, in all kinds of colors and materials (again). They cost ten Ollars. I picked up a lime green one and looked it over.
"Nice, aren't they?" a male clerk said to me, stopping by. He had that dazed look to him. I wondered if Maxwell was influencing them to try helping me, to get me in a more gracious mood. "You can set some things on fire with those, as well as magnify the view of objects."
"Do they identify them?" I asked, looking through the lens. Nothing seemed to happen.
"No, not those models. You'd need an identifying glass, not a magnifying glass. We do sell those."
That could be useful. "Really? How much do they cost?"
He paused, thinking, then said, "A thousand Ollars; we've got them in a locked display case."
I couldn't easily afford that. Maybe if I went to the bank… but I didn't want to spend that much on something. Wondering, I pulled out one of the bills that I had gotten. "That's no good. I got this ten Ollar bill directly from Maxwell and I was hoping to get something neat."
The man stilled, eyes widening. So they could show emotion under some circumstances. "Th-that came from Master Maxwell?"
"Yeah, but your store didn't have the first thing I wanted to buy. And I don't have enough for that identifying glass, so I'll just have to go somewhere else." I started to turn away.
The man then grabbed my arm. "Well that does change things," he said quietly. "Um, I think I can make an exception to that given price if you trade the identifying glass for that bill." He seemed so eager for something directly from Maxwell again.
"Are you sure that's okay?" I asked.
"I'll make it okay, one way or another. Please, pretty please?"
I started to smile, but caught myself before I got too happy over the deal. Maxwell could be watching. "All right, thank you sir."
Smiling again, he brought me to the locked case and opened it. After glancing around, he pulled out a bright yellow identifying glass to trade for my ten Ollar bill. I put it in my purse and was going to leave. But then, the front door turned out to be locked.
Then I heard a scream, setting the hairs on the back of my neck on end. "Eeek, the teddy bears are attacking!" I looked up and saw the female clerk running away with a large fork stuck in her shoulder. Then there was a bang; she collapsed and poofed dead. Right behind her was an evil looking teddy bear.
I took my identifying glass and looked up at it. Nothing appeared, but a name popped into my head. This was an evil magical ultrasonic flying armed teddy bear, which was armed with a tiny deadly bayonet. An evil undead mutant armed teddy bear armed with sharp forks waddled up to the edge, jumped down, and stabbed a man in the head. Before long, Fortuna and I were killed by some other flying bears wielding various guns.
And then we were reset. "Quickly," I said to Fortuna, and tried the door again. It let us out. I thought about running, but the bus was right there. Strangely enough, this bus seemed to be made of solid emerald. Probably his doing, as usual. I hurried over to get on board; the cat was quicker, leaping inside. I smiled at the bus driver, trying to look casual. "Hi; do I need to pay for my cat?"
"No, miss, she can ride free," the driver said.
"Thank you," I said, placing the right amount of change in the payment box. Fortuna and I then sat down in the front seat.
As we pulled away, an inferno consumed the giant toy store. This caused the bus to have to reset to just in front of the toy store, as I was sitting down. And it kept pulling the bus back as other toys went berserk, rabid panthers attacked, more toys went bonkers, a gas leak exploded, and finally as a giant tornado wiped out much of the street. While the bus driver and the other passenger (an old grandma according to the identifying glass) never noticed, Fortuna and I did.
I really had to do something. I just had to figure out what.
The junkyard seemed to be a small trashy lot behind a high chain link fence. There was a mean looking black dog around, but he was more interested in a nearby kennel where other dogs were. At the entrance, there was no guard or any locks; there wasn't even a gate. Fortuna and I were able to enter easily.
Once inside, something strange happened. It had looked small, but once past the fence, we found ourselves in an enormous lot filled with mountains of junk. There were a few dirt paths in between heaps, but some passages would require walking over things. While some of it looked like true junk, like a burnt out rusty car, much of it still looked usable. Maybe when people gave up their Starites, they didn't feel the need to keep many things as they were content and complacent.
"I've got some ideas," I told my cat. "But if anything catches your eye, let me know." She was a lucky cat, after all. That could help.
"Mew!" She sniffed around and started investigating.
We made our way through the junkyard. I had my identifying glass in one hand, constantly looking over everything. As could be expected, there was a lot of junk: used lollipop sticks, torn rope, oily rags, worn tires, dirty plate, broken mug, rusty radiator, shards of glass, shattered eyeglasses, bent umbrellas, frayed blankets, holey socks, food scraps, and on and on. Some things seemed like they would be worth a lot of Ollars if cleaned up: gold statues, silver goblets, diamond rings, jewel-encrusted crowns, grand trophies, pearl necklaces, silk dresses, and more. If I needed funds, this might be a good place to come. But what to fight Maxwell with?
I heard a clatter as Fortuna landed on a metal sheet. She bounded off onto an old tire and then dropped something in front of me. "Meow." Then she nudged it with her nose.
Even though I recognized it as a cat harness, I brought up the identifying glass to see if there was anything special about it. "Invincible awesome supersonic flying pretty cat harness," I said. Then I let the harness go. It remained in the air. "That's neat. It should protect you well. Here, let me get it on you." I grabbed the harness back (as it had decided to zip off a foot to the right), undid the latches, then placed it on Fortuna. "Does it let you fly?"
Once I backed up, Fortuna crouched down, preparing herself. Then she jumped straight up into the air. And stayed there. After a second, she moved around, then flew up to my shoulder and perched there. "Murt," she said, pleased with herself.
I scratched her ears, then moved away. "That's good; I feel better knowing that you're protected. Now we just have to find something for me."
The day grew later and the sun dropped lower. Finally, at the beginning of twilight, I came across something quite promising. I didn't see much of it at first, just a corner of black fabric. But when I passed the identifying glass over it, I realized that it was something rare and precious. It was an invincible supersonic magical calm waterproof fireproof shadowy black velvet grimy cloak. Who had thrown this out? Maybe Maxwell had erased it, and so it ended up here. But it was under a bathtub.
"Watch out, Fortuna," I said, as she was back on the ground checking out some ham bones. I crouched down and lifted up the bathtub. While it was heavy, I managed. Then I supported it with one shoulder and one hand while I snatched out the cloak with the other hand. After tossing the cloak aside, I set the bathtub down so that it did not disturb the junk heap and cause us both to get hurt. Well, me at least, as Fortuna had that invincible harness.
Then I went over to the cloak. Unfortunately, it was grimy. The fabric was both greasy and gritty to my touch; it smelled like sweat and mud. As useful as it was, I wasn't too keen on the grimy part. Fortunately, I had seen a washer and dryer around. Would they work? They were obviously of Maxwell's make, so it was possible.
I went back to the machines; I even managed to find a partial box of laundry detergent on the way. And when I dumped the cloak and the detergent in the washer, it did miraculously run. Of course, now my hands and even my identifying glass were grimy. I held them up, wondering if there might be a sink around too.
To my surprising, a green washcloth flew right at me. It was covered in soapy bubbles. As if it despised grimy things, the washcloth came up and scrubbed at my hands and glass. It left them clean, but wet. And not too far behind it, a blue washcloth followed up to dry them off. The pair then darted off, as the green one spotted another grimy item.
I ended up smiling. So bizarre. That kind of thing would have never had happened before he came. It was still unnatural, but I was glad they were around. Fortuna jumped onto the dryer and started to groom herself while we waited. After looking around, I came up with a book that wasn't dirty. There wasn't anything wrong with it, so I read.
After the cloak ran through the dryer, I was left with an invincible supersonic magical calm waterproof fireproof shadowy black velvet clean dry grateful cloak. I was surprised when I saw the last adjective there. But, when I held the cloak, I did have a feeling of being appreciated. Perhaps the magical adjective gave items some sentience? That might explain the washcloths. I put my arms through the long sleeves and pulled the cloak on. While there was a large hood on it, I left it down for the moment.
And it granted me its qualities. Moving was suddenly a lot easier and I quickly covered ground. I felt like I was safe from nearly everything while wearing the cloak. Knowing that, and that Fortuna was safe, I felt calm, even brave. And I felt grateful… but still not to Maxwell. I was grateful to the cloak for its assistance.
That gave me a moment of doubt. Should I go challenge the one who created it, and Fortuna, and most everything that was around me now? These were great things. Then again, I remembered that the Starites are a piece of our souls. Those without Starites are like sleepwalkers, never truly feeling things and bound to Maxwell's will. And he was the one taking them. Also, he recklessly destroyed everything around him because he knew that he could simply reset it all. But there were problems with this, as proven by the disappearance of my lucky kitty plushie.
"Maxwell is not God," I said aloud. "And he must be held accountable for his actions. Are you with me?"
"Mew!" Fortuna flew over and landed on my shoulder again, purring.
I sensed that the cloak was willing to help too.
"All right then. Let's head to Pencil Palace."
I found the gates open, inviting an evening audience with Maxwell. Pencil Palace was an astounding place in terms of scale, but lacking in architectural beauty. Instead of regular building supplies, the Palace was made up of art supplies. Giant pillars were shaped like unsharpened pencils. Doors appeared to be notebooks. The wallpaper looked like lined or drawing paper (there were even bins of regular crayons, markers, pencils, and pens to draw on the walls with). The floor tiles were all kinds of colors, sometimes made to look like a paint palette, sometimes made to look like Maxwell's notebook, sometimes made to look like pencils or crayons. Blocks like paint cans made small supports, while crayon rods were built into railings. While it was praising creativity, it was gaudy and poorly decorated.
However, not all rooms were like that. The rooms were subject to Maxwell's whims too. When I entered the audience chamber, it seemed like a stereotypical medieval fantasy throne room. Gray rocks made up the floors and walls, but were covered in rich carpets and complex tapestries. All of the furnishings made for the Master were lavish and grand, like the oversized throne and elaborately carved table. Overhead, a giant crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, with three dozen glittering lights sitting on a circular ring. On the floor level, red velvet ropes kept the people away from the Master. And there were a number of people waiting for their turn.
For a moment, I wasn't sure if I could bear to wait. But then, Maxwell perked up. He waved at his butler, who nodded. "Master Maxwell calls up the artist Sally to come next with her request."
Why was he so interested in me? A servant helped me pass the velvet rope, but I was reluctant to come up. "Why should I be next?" I asked. "I just came in the door."
After another wave, the butler said, "Miss Sally, you have proven yourself an interesting challenge to the Master. It has been some time since a Starite has been so tricky to obtain. He wishes to help you, with whatever you wish."
This caused some murmurs of admiration and jealousy from the crowd. Fortuna snuck under the ropes to come sit beside me. With her support, I felt confident to try. "What do you do with the Starites that you collect?"
"What is it that you want?" the butler asked me.
"I want to know that," I said. "Among other things that I want to know."
At that, the butler looked distinctly uncomfortable, breaking out of his sleepwalking mode. But Maxwell didn't seem bothered. He made some loops in the air with his pencil. Then the butler said, "The Starites are kept within the Collection Vault. They help to make the world better, at peace." On saying that, he relaxed and drifted back to sleepwalk mode.
"I don't think the world is better off than it was before," I said, to many gasps in the crowd. "In fact, I think things have gotten worse."
Now all the servants looked uncomfortable at my accusation. But, Maxwell sat up abruptly, his eyes beaming as if he's had an idea. He wrote in his notebook. A strange gray booth appeared. Looking futuristic, it had strange buttons and an odd antenna on top. Maxwell hopped off the throne and opened up the booth. A golden glow appeared as he stepped inside.
Having a moment, I brought up my identifying glass to see what it was. A time machine. That made me suspicious. And then he came back out, holding onto my lucky black kitty plushie. For a moment, Maxwell swelled up with pride as he tossed it at me.
But it twisted and warped oddly in the air. At the height of its arc, there was a sharp 'pop'. When I caught the object, I found myself holding a lucky black plushie. A teddy bear.
I threw it back. "So that's why it disappeared!" I said sharply. "You stole it! And because you touched it, it stopped being a Beanie Baby and started being a generic plushie. I am not happy about this."
At first, I expected him to get mad. He was seemingly all-powerful and I had just made an accusation of his being wrong. Instead, he was wide-eyed in shock. That gave me an idea. Maybe he just didn't realize that what he was doing could be wrong.
"I'm also not like the people around us," I told him. "I remember everything that happens. I notice the things that you do. And I remember all the times that you have killed me. By earthquakes, by world-destroying bombs, by fires, by an evil teddy bear with a deadly bayonet, by zombies, by strange monsters, by random flying stones, and all that. That's not right. The world is not your playground to destroy and remake as you see fit. You can't just destroy a perfectly good pharmacy to replace it with a giant toy store, only for the purpose of solving a problem.
"And people aren't your playthings either. You've ruined all the people you've helped. They used to be passionate and complex people, with their own dreams and plans beyond what those immediate wishes were. Someone might ask for a wedding, but they're supposed to have a fulfilling married life too. You only give them a sleeping passive life, negating their dreams and future for a false happiness and a dreamless sleepwalking life. After that, they only get to do things if you summon them, to act as your servants or your play actors." I gestured back to the crowd. "That's why they're all there. All of them have given up their Starites and they don't know what to do now. So they look up to you for guidance, even willpower, for they no longer have such things. You have stolen their free will and made them slaves.
"Yet, you're bored with them! You're not taking care of that which you own. You're a highly irresponsible person, Maxwell. Just because you can reset everything doesn't make it all right again. And what's going to happen when you get everyone's Starite? Nothing, that's what. There will be nothing more to do, nothing more to capture your imagination, nothing exciting ever going on because there's no one else that is willing to think and act. Maybe you'll just leave then, leave us all to be the waking dead, wishing for things that we can't have because we no longer have the desire or will to work for or make those things. I don't care if you can make magical impossible things a reality. You make things so easy that no one wants to do anything. And that is going to lead the world to ruins, all because you granted everyone's wishes."
The room was silent, filled with anxiety. The crowd and the servants had no idea what to do. This didn't fit in with their expected routines. On the other hand, Maxwell stayed stunned through my speech. He gripped his notebook in both hands, close to his chest, just watching and listening to me. Maybe I had just needed the courage to say this to his face. Maybe I could get him to stop and restore the people to how they had been by returning their Starites.
And then, Maxwell grinned devilishly. He wrote something in his notebook, then pointed at me. At that, I felt wary. He was doing something… I brought my identifying glass up to my eye.
That's when I saw it: a strange glass bottle in the air. The identifying glass noted that it was an 'evil potion'. He was trying to make me evil? Or at least labeled as evil. On instinct, I swept the identifying glass through the air. The bottle turned visible when the glass struck it, knocking the former into the floor. It shattered, releasing a grisly black liquid all over the floor. This was what my psychic gift was for, I realized. Protecting myself from him.
"I am definitely not someone for you to play with," I told him.
He glanced at the butler, who looked shocked. "How terrible! We have had peace ever since Master Maxwell erased the evil Doppelganger on the moon. But now we have a new villain… villainess. She's a rebel against our beloved Master!"
At that announcement, the whole room turned against me. People starting booing and hissing; four knights in steel armor began to encircle me. "This isn't a game, Maxwell," I said.
Then, to my surprise, Fortuna abruptly grew to being seven feet tall. She was still a plush black cat, but was somehow a giant one now. "RAWWRRR!" she screamed, then lashed her claws out at two of the approaching knights. She caught one and slammed it into the other, leaving gouges in the former's armor. Maxwell tried to negate Fortuna, as he had created her and her harness. But, it didn't work. I don't know if I countered that unconsciously or if she did.
Maxwell was writing again. A large weapon shell appeared beside him. Was that a nuke? I tried to identify it, but he threw the switch. There was an earth-shattering ka-boom and the world ended again.
I thought that if I stood up against Maxwell the Scribblenaut, he would neglect to bring me back. But I was wrong. He seems to find me more fascinating than before; he brought me back to life, only to send me to the junkyard. Although I had hoped to get him to set down his notebook, he took my words to mean that he needed an opponent to struggle against. He needed a villain, and so he chose me.
Broadcasts have gone out over the television networks about it. It wasn't necessary, as he could have just made all of his people know. Maybe he just likes the drama. The reporters have called me a treacherous evil that evades true identification as the worst rebel to appear against Maxwell ever. The number one fugitive and wanted person. Everyone knows of Sally as the evil enchanting villainess. In fact, they know it so well that they dismiss me as looking too ordinary. That has helped.
Although the reporters also say that Maxwell is on the case to capturing me, he doesn't do much. Every now and then, he appears for a challenge. But he always resets me and Fortuna, back in this junkyard where we have access to anything that he has created. We just have to find it.
As for me… I haven't done anything particularly villainous. The worst I've done is challenge Maxwell. I have a fly's chance in a blizzard of doing anything to change things (or even surviving a particular encounter). But I have to keep fighting him. He needs to be stopped. But, I also need to keep him entertained. If I start to bore him, there's a good chance that I will be permanently erased the moment he figures out how.
I still cling to the hope that I can do something about this nightmare. Once I find a way to return the Starites to the people, it will all be worth it. In the meantime, I only exist as someone for him to play against, just an opponent in a game where he can curb-stomp anything.
(These words have been tested in Super Scribblenauts. Due to limited programming, many don't act in the same fashion in the game as they do in this story.)
Black Kitty Plushie/Beanie Baby: You can't use copyrighted words.
Tiered Cake: Use 'wedding cake'.
Baby Doll: This gets you an article of clothing, not a toy.
Pewter: Use 'silver'.
Identifying glass: It's an interface tool.
Cat Harness: Collar doesn't work either, as that brings up a human article of clothing.
Pencil Palace: I made this up.
USABLE WORDS AND NOTES:
Nuckelavee: The 'patchwork centaur'. Stars in the 'I Heart Nuckelavees' level of the original.
Barrel Gun: The 'massive gray gun' that the policeman uses. Shoots explosive barrels.
Flying Bed: To make it useful, I suggest adding 'ultrasonic' to it. Furniture doesn't move fast.
Maxwell's Notebook: Essentially a random button. Lots of fun for the playground stage.
Wind: You can summon wind, but it doesn't make it windy. It's a pity.
Confetti: You can hurt someone by throwing confetti at them!
Evil… Armed Teddy Bear: The bears must be 'armed' in order to give them their weapons. They'll come with a sword, so just give them the weapons. Word of caution: the sword can destroy the bears in one shot when replaced, so catch it quickly. Or, make the teddy bears invincible.
Sharp Fork: A fork can be used as a weapon. The sharp adjective will hurt the user, though.
Washing Machine: Strangely enough, it does not clean dirty objects. You must put in 'soap' too, as 'laundry detergent' will not work. A dryer will dry wet objects, though.
Invincible … Cloak: Does not work as shown. I had trouble getting all the adjectives on it, and wearing such a thing doesn't make you faster.
Sentient Flying Soapy/Dry Green/Blue Washcloth: You can fly by holding onto these, however. They won't clean a dirty object on their own, but the soapy one at least can be used for that purpose.
Sally: I use the Artist for her, as that's usually my playing avatar. Summoning a Psychic Artist will get you an Artist holding onto a Crystal Ball.
Fortuna: Use 'Lucky Loyal Black Plush Cat'. Loyal will make it follow you, although I don't know if Lucky does much. For a later Fortuna, add 'Invincible Flying Supersonic Awesome Pretty'. You can actually ride the latter! Just don't get it mad…
Petunia: Use 'Oblivious Woman'.
The Bum: Use 'Batty Bum'. I had him running around my playground screen for a long time.
Ending Author's Note: Don't get me wrong. I adore both of the Scribblenauts games. That's why I wanted to write a fanfic for them. However, Maxwell is pretty much a Marty Stu from the get-go. He can do anything, so any challenge at all is presented in getting the Starite's safely. You could work some character faults into him to drop him out of Marty Stu status. But then you'd have to find a conflict where 'having nearly any item in the world just a few letters away' would not solve things immediately. So if there's any other aspiring Scribblenauts fanfic writers out there, take this fandom as a challenge and good luck.
I hope you enjoyed the story. Drop off a review if you like.