MONSTER TEMP AGENCY STORY
"In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded." - Pratchett
RECAP SO FAR:
We've got an opening scene draft, a sort of tone-piece for the thing - not sure if it's going in the final draft.
We've got a secondary opening scene introducing the nominal protagonist, which is probably poorly written (most things i write are at first) but which we'll pick at and edit a bit today maybe.
MOSTLY though, we're gonna write more things, new things, try to develop some scenes and get the plot in motion maybe.
PROJECT FOR THE DAY: Just get some more stuff on the page, explore some scenes, develop a plot thread or some characters.
The world has humans and monsters in them. The monsters are treated like an economic underclass, repressed and discriminated against by humans in particular.
A young man, misguidedly trying to write a great novel and / or blog about the inequalities plaguing society, accidentally helps a mathematically literate Orc find a job as an accountant. Word gets around, and he finds himself unintentionally at the head of a monster temp agency, finding work for disenfranchised monsters in unusual positions.
A troll woman runs a shelter for disenfranchised monsters, and one day happens to save a young man who wants to write a great novel and / or blog about the inequalities plaguing society from his own stupidity by pulling him out of a bar fight. When he accidentally manages to get one of her regulars a job, she sees an opportunity to help the monsters under her care, and she starts a monster temp agency, finding work for disenfranchised monsters in unusual positions.
Everything is going well, and the temp agency is doing good business and even helping engender a sense of understanding between humans and monsters. But then one of the temp agency employees becomes embroiled in a plot by a human-run company to use a monster as a patsy for a major money-laundering scheme. The employee is killed by an assassin, and the monster temp agency is burned down.
The young man and the troll woman try to dig up evidence and solve the murder, but despite all of their efforts and everything they discover, they have no way of proving the crime. [INSERT TWIST ENDING THAT I KNOW BUT THE VIEWERS DON'T KNOW YET HERE]
- We meet our main protagonist, Louie and explore his situation and ennui, set up his character arc and cluelessly optimistic saviour complex.
- Louie gets the bad idea to wander into the monster ghetto to gather material for his book and - predictably - acts like an entitled idiot and gets himself in trouble with monsters who are not particularly charmed by his behaviour.
- Our secondary protagonist, Sjovn, pulls his ass out of the fire, and as payment for her help tells Louie to volunteer at her shelter. Both because she needs the help and free labour is the best labor, and because she's hoping MAYBE some actual experience with the people Louie is cluelessly trying to "save" will make him be less of an idiot about it.
- Louie meets Dennis (née Grathbuk Bloodbreaker), a shy and timid orc who, breaking severely with stereotype, is a math genius and trained accountant. Louie also meets various other monster characters who frequent the shelter who are down on their luck in various ways.
- Louie, trying to assuage some guilt, reaches out to a family contact to get a job for one of the monsters. (Maybe a salamander lizard man gets hired to drive an ice-cream truck? Something unexpected, anyway.)
- Word gets around that Louie knows how to get work for people (stealthily encouraged by Sjovn) and Louie ends up trading on his upper-middle class family contacts and using his human status to reach out to various companies, finding work for monsters.
- Sjovn uses this as an opportunity to re-brand the shelter into a monster temp agency (I should come up with a clever name for it - like a pun or something), with Louie as the main agent. Quite unwillingly.
- Our villain is introduced: the dastardly ????? who wants to ???? and ????? in order to ???? (i have no idea yet)
- The monster temp agency begins to pick up steam and business, and even begins to make some money.
- It also sparks a media discussion about the place and plight of monsters in society, causing some problems for our villains because ????? (still don't know)
- we follow the action through a series of monsters finding work and employment in various places, sometimes even permanent
- Louie's character develops as he begins to form a more nuanced and useful understanding of the problems he thought he had all the answers to at the beginning, his saviour complex begins to crumble.
- As part of the villain's plot, Dennis gets work at their company as an accountant. The villain, however, is planning to use Dennis as a patsy for a money-laundering scheme (or something similar). But the villain, who only understands orcs as stereotypes, fails to realize that Dennis is actually an excellent accountant who realizes there are problems with the numbers.
- Dennis is about to expose or otherwise ruin the plan, so the villain has him murdered, and burns down the monster temp agency in the process, trying to frame Dennis for that crime instead.
- The All Is Lost Moment, Louie and Sjovn try to pick up the pieces of their hopeful enterprise. They both fall back into old character foibles, perhaps briefly turning on each other?
- Some clue, or some pressing need, comes to light, forcing Sjovn and Louie to resolve their differences and work to figure out the crime and bring justice to the perpetrators.
OPENING SCENE, DRAFT I:
They lined up in the morning. It was bright, misty, and dewdrops condensed in their fur. Aa'haga shivered in the cold. His thin, pastel-blue t-shirt barely kept the moisture off, and he was hungry. They were all hungry. Most of them were thin. Some of them were barely alive. They waited for the trucks to come.
The growling of an engine perked the to attention, some of them waving their work permits even before the car came into view. It was just a sedan, some guy in a suit by the wheel, causing a collective stir of discomfort to run through the group. Suits were the type to call the cops. Someone got a coughing fit, someone else collapsed. It was just another day.
Then the first truck pulled up and the shouting started. Shouting, waving papers, clamoring. /I'm strong! I'm healthy! I can work! I can work!/ Nobody bothered begging, because begging didn't work. The man on the flatbed picked out a couple of young bucks, then turned around and fiddled with his phone. Someone who'd been lucky enough to work the day before stuck up a ten dollar bill, the man snatched it and motioned for the briber to get in the van. More people got their bills out, more people got on the truck. Another truck pulled up, then, and the crowd splintered as people ran to be the first to reach the next hope. Then another truck, then another. People shouted, people waved their papers, people got on the trucks. With a little luck, come sundown, most of them would make it back, too.
When the frenzy was over, the oldest and the weakest staggered off. Someone laid still on the ground, knocked over in the stampede. He might not get up again. Aa'haga, unlucky today, didn't spare him a look. He put his work permit away and walked off towards the industrial quarter. Sometimes, someone fainted on the production line and you could get lucky work by the door. His stomach grumbled, and he felt nauseous. He walked on.
SECONDARY ESTABLISHING SCENE: Draft I
It was bright, misty, and dewdrops condensed in the flowerbeds below. Louie Rust, vaguely anticipating coffee, listened to the drone of the espresso machine and stared out over the grounds from his open window. He lived in a nice place, all in all. Clean. Pleasant. Quiet. Respectable. God, how he hated it. The embers of dissatisfaction smouldered under the fog of drowsiness in his head as he heard the espresso machine finished, and he lumbered into his little kitchen to pour a cup and eat half-burnt toast. EDM warbled out of his radio in between ad breaks, and overexcited canned hosts throwing to the next ad break after that.
The ember of dissatisfaction, stoked by caffeine, became the bonfire of anxiety and he swiped open Instagram. Fifty-seven likes on the selfie from last night, a couple of comments. Two attractive young women wanted him to see their naked video now, please click the link, bit.ly/notaphishingscam, heart emoji. He scrolled through, leaving likes and brief comments on things without really looking at them. Then he put the phone down and took a bite of his toast. Then he picked the phone up again. Put it down. Toast. Up again. Down. Coffee. Up again. Toast. Down. Coffee. Toast.
He couldn't post about morning coffee and toast again, it would get old two days in a row. He wanted to buy a book so he could recommend it, or find a café. Brushing crumbs off his shirt, he went looking for some content.
Louie began to take in the room. It was an old, disused bar—rickety, lit by a thrift store menagerie of hot yellow lights, floored with dirty carpet and the wallpaper was peeling. And it was /packed/. A couple of goblins, long noses poking out from under their big floppy hats, were arguing about something in the corner, while gnomes darted about their feet, carrying bits of old food and crumbs from god knows where to you don't want to know. A hoary old fairy, fat and made of wrinkles, was telling baudy jokes to a group of kobolds, who lounged across a collection of old armchairs and sofas with more bits missing than attached. The tilting bar chairs were occupied by orcs and half-orcs, shouting loudly at a football game playing on someone's phone, all the while pixies hung upside down from the rafters and glass-holders, cackling and singing indescipherable songs. The shouting, jostling and raving community spirit painted a scene like Hieronymous Bosch by way of Oktoberfest. A party for no occassion, to which everyone was invited.
"Hoy is youse half breed or fecking elfish?" gurgled a goblin, poking his fingers in Louie's ribs and snapping him out of his overwhelmed reverie.
"Who the fuck said 'half breed'?" bellowed a half-orc, rounding out of his chair and pounding his chest in challenge.
"Yer mum did when yer dad porked her!" squeaked a Pixie, darting off screaming laughter. The half-orc cursed and punched the air, missing the Pixie but jostling another orc who promptly tackled him.
"Is youse fecking elfish, boy?" the goblin demanded, paying no attention to the rapidly expanding brawl.
/Behind them an Orc known to most of the bar as "the Nut" threw an elbow at his brother, Big Nut, hitting him in the back of the head. As Big Nut spun around angrily he caught shoulders with Gara Big Hands, who shoved him over the top of two struggling goblins, who got thrown off balance, accidentally tripping the charge of Unu Mad Eyes—/
The goblin grabbed Louie's wrist in his long fingers and glowered, "we CUT fecking elves around here."
/—whose opponent swung his arms up in victory, accidentally delivering an upper cut to the jaw of a previously disinterested ogre, who promptly picked up the offending orc and threw him back into the middle of the melee before wading in bellowing—/
The goblin was half his height and spindly as a reed, but Louie was scared. He tore his wrist free and scrambled over a still-lounging kobold.
/—promptly knocking his head into a group of Pixies cackling at the brawl from under the ceiling, who reacted by poking him in the eye, pulling his hair and screaming, causing the ogre to lose his balance—/
Louie took cover behind an upturned sofa, where two other furry kobolds were piled on top of each other, serenely ignoring the mounting chaos. The angry goblin raised a screech.
/—and landing on top of a screeching goblin, who started furiously biting at his sides. The ogre rolled upright, flattening a group of skirmishing gnolls, and tore the angry goblin away, throwing him at the wall, where its coat got stuck on an old broken lamp rod. Furiously struggling free, it raised an accusing finger at a face poking out from behind an upturned sofa and raised a screech.
"There's a fecking ELF-SHITE HERE!"
The entire bar went silent in an instant, raised fist paused in midair as many shapes of faces began to follow the line of the goblin's finger, lingering on the upturned sofa. Big Nut moved the furniture out of the way with a shove, revealing two lounging kobolds entirely failing to work as a hiding place for a small human halfway through the process of squeezing in between them.
"That's not an elf you moron" Big Nut barked at the goblin still stuck on the wall, which persisted in shrieking "ELF-SHITE, ELF-SHITE!" and furiously wiggling to get unstuck.
Big Nut rolled his eyes and made a movement to drag the couch back in place, but Louie - at this point terrified beyond sensible self-preservation - reacted to the motion by screeching "I'll call the fucking cops if you touch me!"
Big Nut's vertical slit eyes narrowed.
"Oh you fucking will, will you?" he growled, clenching a hand.
Louie, beginning to sense his mistake, tried to wiggle his leg free from between the kobolds, but to his mounting horror he realized both of the previously undisturbed canids were staring at him intently, and holding on to his leg tightly.
"You fucking people," Big Nut said, "come down here to see the subspecs, fucking ghetto tourism, and now you'll call the fucking cops? You people fucking /come/ here!"
The goblin on the wall changed his chant, "man-shite, man-shite!"
"You wanna call the cops I'll give you something to call the cops ABOUT-" Big Nut raised a fist, but stopped mid-motion. A troll twice his size had grabbed his wrist.
"Mine," it said simply.
Big Nut glared at the troll. "Fucking 'call the cops' he said!"
"I know. Still mine."
Big Nut glared at the troll, glared at Louie, then back at the troll. Then he made a frustrated noise and backed off. The kobolds let go of Louie's leg, slowly.
"Get out" said the troll, grabbing Louie by the shoulder and marching him towards the door. He had to half-run to keep up with its stride.
Stop me if you've heard this one. In the beginning there was nothing...
13.7 billion years later, there was everything. An infinite universe with infinite worlds, and among them, a single blue-and-green life bearing jewel, floating with its seven siblings around a single star, in a single spiral arm of a single galaxy. And we called it "Earth," because it's dirty and a bit of a mess, but good things grow out of it.
Now take a half-step back, not away from anything, but away from /everything./ Slip out of the three-piece suit of reality and into the comfortable pyjamas of imagination, and suppose, for a second, that somewhere in the infinite mirrored hallway of alternate dimensions, there is one where, in the beginning there was nothing, 13.7 billion years later there was everything, and a single blue-and-green life bearing jewel floats in space. And they call it "Earth," because it's dirty.
Now suppose that this Earth had a few more seeds planted on it, and that they produced a few extra sprouts. And suppose that these sprouts became part of a garden that looks much like ours, and which flowered into much the same history, resulting in much the same cities, most of the same inventions, and all of the same mistakes.
Let me put it another way.
Suppose that dragons are real, and are struggling to pay off their college loans...
Dennis looked down at the now still figure of what used to be his body. What surprised him the most was how unsurprised he felt - how little of ANYTHING he felt. He had, after all, nothing left to feel it with. It had been quick, at least, he'd give them that. Dennis wondered what the equation would be to calculate the force it had taken to sever his spinal cord, and found that it came to him as easily as it had in life. That was something, at least. He'd be upset if dying had made him forget how to do sums.
He watched his murderer ransack his former room dispassionately. Somehow he couldn't find it in himself to even be annoyed at the mess anymore. But something did linger at the edges of his soul, a nipping sense of regret. He felt bad for Louie. Louie had gotten him the job in the first place, and now he'd gone and gotten himself killed before he could serve out the contract. He wondered if that would cause a mess in the paperwork.
His murderer seemed to find what they were looking for. They stuffed it in their clothes and disappeared out the window from whence they'd come.
Dennis watched them go. Then turned to the figure lurking behind him.
"Does something happen now?" he asked. Death waved a bony hand, and he found out.
Louie Rust was on the phone. He wanted desperately to be off it.
/"My friend Margaret, you know Margaret, she's the one with the husband who runs the hairspray company, you know, the one for centaurs, and she says-"/
"Yes, mom," said Louie.
/"-and you could just try it for a week and you wouldn't have to stay for too long if you didn't like it but I just-"/
"Yes, mom," he objected.
/"-lots of opportunities you know if you just show up every day and apply yourself to-"/
"Yes, mom," he opined.
/"-but will you just please call her? I sent you her number, and she knows you'll be calling so please do it this time. Okay Louie?"/
"Yes, mom," he lied.
/"I'm just so worried you'll get left behind. The job market is really hard for people who don't have experience you know."/
"Yes, mom," he disagreed.
/"Ok I have to go, I have a meeting, but you will /call her/ all right? I'll see you next week. I love you."/
"Yes, mom," he conceded, and she hung up.
Louie put the phone in his pocket, then took it out again. He took a selfie, and it came out awful. He put the phone away again and fiddled with it in his pocket. He wandered past shops and bodegas down Snakeskin Street, and bought a hot dog from a werewolf. It would be a full moon soon, judging by the man's beard. He considered tweeting something supportive about full moon awareness as he ate the last bit of sausage. He sidled into a comic shop and flipped through a few issues, then to a bookstore where he tried to look well-read for a selfie. It came out okay. He bought a paperback about economics and went to a cafe where the server got his name wrong. He tweeted something relatable about it. A couple of pretty elves giggled about something in the corner and he watched them surreptitiously for a while. He liked elves, but then, everybody did.
Louie Rust had a normal life. He'd been raised by normal parents in a normal house, gone to normal schools and made normal friends and, as is normal, promptly lost touch with them when he graduated college with a degree in English Literature. He had had the very normal ambition of becoming a famous something-or-other (he'd said "novelist" to his parents and "blogger" to his friends), producing the very normal outcome of listlessly drifting around the city in vague anticipation of the Big Break, always just around the corner.
When he finally took a sip of his coffee it had gotten lukewarm, and the autumn sun was setting. He sighed and left it, and left the café, and wandered into the chill to feel cold rather than useless.
MONSTER TEMP AGENCY STORY