Charlie Does NaNoWriMo
A/N- The second story I've ever written for Numb3rs, and hopefully not too OOC. Also, one of the first things I wrote after finishing NaNoWriMo last year (can you tell where my mind was at?). Please tell me what you think! ;-D
"What's another word for 'despicable?"
Don had hardly walked into the house before he heard these words shouted from the living room. He came in to find Charlie lying on the couch with his laptop. "'Despicable,'" he repeated, and Charlie nodded. "First I wanna know who you're angry at."
His brother smiled, shaking his head. "No one. This is for my novel."
Don did a double take at him as he headed for the kitchen. "What?"
"It's November. National novel writing month," Charlie replied, and shrugged. "Basically, a bunch of people each write a novel-"
"In a month," Don finished, sitting down with a beer. "I've heard of it- it just doesn't seem like the sort of thing you'd put time towards."
"The average words per day is only sixteen hundred sixty-six point seven. It's manageable."
Don nodded. "So are you gonna try to publish this?" he asked.
"Well," Charlie said, smiling confidently, "maybe. I don't see how publishing a work of fiction would hurt my reputation as a brilliant mathematician."
"It might just hurt that ego if you don't finish on time," Don retorted. "Which wouldn't be such a bad thing. But if you don't plan on publishing, then what's the point? Releasing all that 'unexpressed creativity'?"
"Precisely," Charlie answered. "Actually, Amita dared me to do this and I'm hoping it'll help… open up my imagination," he said, with a flourish of his hand.
Don thought that that wouldn't be such a bad thing either, but he didn't say as much to Charlie. "Wait, this whole thing is fiction?"
Charlie hesitantly looked up. "Yeah," he answered with the unspoken question, 'why?'
"I hope you don't mind my saying so, buddy, but fiction has never been your forte."
"Okay, Don," Charlie said, "why don't you keep your professional king-of-sucky-book-reports opinion to yourself and give me another word for 'despicable.'"
"Alright," Don said. "'Despicable'… Shameful- detestable."
"No one uses that word."
"Ignominious," Don continued with a smile.
"Hmm." Charlie looked thoughtful before tapping on a few keys.
"…What- detestable is rare and ignominious isn't? Like, how many times do you use that word in a day?"
Charlie ignored him, typing a bit more before coming to a dead stop.
"How far are you anyway?" Don asked, coming to look over his brother's shoulder. He could only make a blur out of the black on white document as Charlie slammed the lid shut and glared up at him. "I'm guessing that should answer my question," Don said, backing away to sit down again. "It's the fifth, isn't it? You should have about eight thousand words?"
Charlie quirked an eyebrow, staring stubbornly at the computer screen. "Eight thousand three hundred thirty-three point four, and it's an average, not a requirement," he replied.
"So… you're on the first page."
"Th- No. No, not the first page."
Charlie sighed. "…Third."
"Okay," Don said, hiding a smile. "So yeah, you could still finish on time."
"I am going to finish on time," Charlie informed him, typing a few more keys before backspacing with a sigh. "What's another word for 'bomb'?"
"Already used that."
"Then just use 'bomb' again."
"I've used the word 'bomb' three times already in this paragraph. Give me another word."
"Look, Charlie," Don said, "I'm not a thesaurus. There should be one on Document Word, though."
"I'm on WordPad," Charlie replied.
"…I'd recommend pasting to Document Word."
Charlie shook his head. "Fine. I'll reuse 'explosive.'"
"'Despicable,' 'explosive'- what's this story about, anyway?" Don asked.
"It's in its earliest stages and I'm not willing to share it yet," Charlie told him.
"That's fine. Just a basic, one-sentence synopsis, then?"
"Oh, come on, Charlie, now you've got me curious."
"Nope," Charlie said, tapping a few more keys in a decisive manner before backspacing again.
"I might be able to help out," Don said.
"Go get me a beer, Don," Charlie told him.
"If you'll let me read it," Don replied.
Charlie huffed a sigh before forcing himself up off the couch. "Don't touch that," he said, gesturing back to the laptop as he staggered into the kitchen.
The moment he was a few feet away, Don hurried over to take a look. Before Charlie ran back to close the lid again, Don only caught the words 'explosion,' 'cackle,' and-
"Was that 'gerbil' that I just read?" Don asked.
"Yeah- gerbil; the small, hamster-like creature," Charlie explained with annoyance.
"Please tell me your novel's not about gerbils," Don pressed.
Charlie gestured helplessly before slumping into the couch and taking a steadying drink of beer. "Okay," he began. "There's this guy in a science fiction universe who develops a detailed and intricate kind of bomb that only he can think up-"
"Is this guy a mathematician?"
"A scientist who dabbles in mathematics. Anyway, he tests the bomb on a planet, of… gerbils."
Don broke out laughing.
"Well, you're sure being a big help, Don," Charlie told him.
"Sorry- I'm sorry," Don replied, "it's just the-… gerbils?"
"You can laugh all you want. Look, you always hear, 'write what you know.' Well… I have my own experience involving gerbils, and it drives the protagonist through the first half of the book."
No longer able to suppress his smile, Don discreetly kept a hand over his mouth. "How?"
"He feels guilt for destroying the gerbils' homeplanet- Don, it's not that funny!" Charlie threw a pillow at his brother, but Don didn't feel it.
"I'm sorry!" he said through laughter. "I just can't help it- the gerbils' homeplanet? Are they an advanced culture in this universe?"
Charlie pursed his lips. "Do you want to know the rest?"
"Sure," Don replied.
"Too bad," Charlie told him, closing the laptop and getting up.
"Wait, wait, hold on," Don said, grabbing his arm. "Charlie, maybe the reason you don't know where to go now is that you didn't have a plot to begin with. It's fine- you still have twenty-five days, but- well, what else happens in the story?"
Charlie paused before sitting down again. "The universe is controlled by this emperor who's intent on destroying all animal life in the universe and he'll do anything to get his hands on Professor Derrick's bomb. But after the experiment with the gerbils, Derrick's not sure he can let his work get out, even though his life's at risk because the emperor wants him dead so that he can use the bomb."
Don nodded slowly. "So… what does this guy have against animals?"
Charlie looked blankly at him before raising his eyes to the ceiling with a sigh. "I have no idea," he admitted.
"Okay, well…" Don shrugged. "It's just details. What does the professor do to keep the animals safe?"
When Charlie didn't answer immediately, Don looked up. "…I have no idea," Charlie repeated.
A thoughtful silence passed between them and then Don cleared his throat. "What if… the evil emperor secretly hires an assassin to send after Professor Derrick so that he has to use his scientific skills to trick the assassin and stay alive?"
Charlie looked at him in a strange way. "That's actually a really good idea," he confessed. "Don, how did you think of that?"
Don shrugged, not thinking it so brilliant, but pleased that Charlie thought so. "It just came to me," he said.
"…This is really great," Charlie said, staring thoughtfully at nothing in particular. "There's so much I can do with an assassin." He picked up the laptop and began typing again.
"…Can I take a look now?" Don asked. When Charlie gave a half-hearted nod, he sat beside his brother on the couch, reading the top of the page in use.
It began mid-sentence: "…orbited the planet from a safe distance, data collecting on his numerous computer screens. Professor Derrick ignored the feeling of guilt for the genocide he'd just committed- there was far too much information to take in to pay attention to such trivial matters."
Don didn't laugh again, but he couldn't help smiling. "So when does he start feeling guilty for killing all of the gerbils?"
"About chapter two."
"No, I mean… why does he?"
Charlie paused. "Because… there's this woman, who's a slightly crazy animal activist and she makes him see how wrong he was to vaporize all of the gerbils."
"Because he falls in love with her."
"But, Charlie, why does he fall in love with her?"
"Because she's pretty and they don't get along at first."
"Charlie, for an esteemed mathematician, you really aren't good at thinking outside the box."
"Fine, what would you suggest?" Charlie challenged.
"I don't know," Don replied, but searched for an answer all the same. "Maybe she… she could… well…"
"She's the assassin," Charlie realized aloud, a downright childish grin budding on his face. "And he doesn't even know it!"
"You're hardly in a position to gloat," Don told him, but Charlie's attention was fixed on the keyboard for a moment before his cheer faded in an instant.
"How are they gonna meet?" he wondered. "Wait, she's an animal activist- she can't be the emperor's assassin!"
"Unless he doesn't know her true identity- maybe she's an undercover… ninja animal activist, and her skills are renowned throughout the galaxy and few people know her true intention or identity."
"Fake ID's," Charlie said, then frowned in thought, rhythmically tapping the keyboard. "I'm not sure if you're making fun," he said, "but I'll use that anyway."
"So the emperor hires her, unaware that she plans to destroy the bomb information to save the animals."
Charlie smiled widely. "This is good. This is really good."
Don smiled back. "Glad I could help." He stood to leave.
"Wait- Don," Charlie said. "Where are you going? You have to help me get Derrick and Anita together!"
"Anita?" Don repeated, as Charlie's face grew red. "Gee, I wonder how you came up with that."
Charlie shrugged. "She's pretty," he reminded Don.
"And 'slightly crazy,'" Don reminded him.
Charlie hesitated. "I'm keeping the name."
Don grinned. "I guess you better hope that Amita never gets the chance to read this," he said, and sat back down.
"Okay," Charlie said, "so Professor Derrick's shuttle sensors just picked up the presence of another ship- that's Anita, though he doesn't know it- and he's going to start firing at her."
"Because she's an animal activist and wants him dead for killing the gerbils."
"But he doesn't know it's her."
"Well… maybe he does know it's her."
"Or," Don suggested, "maybe her ship has some kind of symbol marking her as an animal activist."
"Alright," Charlie replied, tapping out a few words.
"He didn't know who was flying the ship," Don read to himself as his brother typed, "but the blue painted pawprint on the flank of the ship marked it as one of the animal activests'."
Don still didn't laugh. "…Charlie, there's no 'e' in activist," he said.
Charlie pointedly corrected the error, and carried on.
The next sentence ran: "Derrick couldn't understand those people. He'd never been familier-"
"'A-R,'" Don said.
Charlie sighed, but corrected himself. "…with any animal activists,"- the 'i' he typed especially loud and with a deliberate glance at Don- "exept his uncle-"
"There's a 'c' in except."
"Bob," Charlie typed quickly.
"Look, Don," he said, very little patience in his voice. "I know you just wanna help me out, but-"
"Why don't I type?" Don asked. "You can dictate. That'll work, right?"
"…Okay," Charlie said, handing over the laptop as he saw the logic in his brother's plan. "'Suddenly she fired on his shuttle.'"
"'She'?" Don repeated.
"…Anita's a girl," Charlie prompted obviously.
"But you said he doesn't know who's flying the ship yet."
"Okay- 'Suddenly they fired on his shuttle. He held onto something as the ship lurched.' …Don, you're missing 'something'."
"I'm not gonna type in 'he held onto something,' Charlie," Don told him. "Think of a 'thing.'"
Charlie sighed, and then was quiet- for several seconds.
Don was hesitant to break the not-so-productively-thoughtful silence. "…How 'bout a chair?"
"Good. Write that. Now… he has to end up taking her prisoner, somehow."
"She's an assassin, remember- she's not gonna go down easy."
"But he's a scientist," Charlie pointed out. "Maybe he knows the exact places to target to disable her ship's weapons and engine."
"He still has to board the ship- she'll probably try to kill him when he does."
"Unless he floods her ship with an anesthetic gas that knocks her out and boards with a gas mask to protect himself."
"That would work," Don said.
"So- where were we?"
"You know, maybe it's a good idea for me to read the beginning."
"Yeah," Charlie said with a shrug, and Don scrolled up.
At the top of the document was what was meant to pass as a title, 'Science Fiction Story,' but it was the line below it that made Don chuckle. "'Once upon a time'? Really, Charlie?"
"It's four extra words," Charlie explained with an embarrassed smile. "Now only forty-eight thousand six hundred two more to go."
"Charlie, if you- or we- actually make it to 50K," Don said, "…I'll be a little impressed."