The Other Life of Sachi – Part One: the Missing Setting

Rwfshi turned to a huge monitor displaying a map of north-eastern America. “How many Earth sols to Washington D.C.?”

“Souls?” Archie asked, perplexed. Everything was going as planned, except for one little thing that was bugging me – that had been bugging me over 5,000 words ago.

“Days, I mean, excuse me.” Rwfshi corrected himself to the Earthian language.

“Oh. Well, it depends on what you travel by. By plane only several hours, but that’s probably too risky for you. By car-” He hesitated and stared at horror at the map. Finally he panicked. “Zoom out! I don’t even know where we are!” Rwfshi zoomed out, showing the entirety of the gloomy country that was about to be hit by collapsing buildings. They both looked at me expectantly.

“Hold it,” I sighed. I glanced between the two. Was Rwfshi too complicated of a name? Oh, well, I had more pressing problems. As my parents had told me, just write. But it was getting harder and harder to just write when I didn’t even have a setting!

“All right, guys,” I said, crossing my arms and studying the map on the monitor that made up America. “I don’t even know where this book takes place.”

“That’s not very helpful,” Rwfshi said matter-of-factly – after some more thought, did he say it with fear? “If you don’t know where the book takes place, then how are we supposed to figure out how many sols it takes to get to your capital? And if we don’t know how many sols it takes, then how are we going to inform your leader of the oncoming attack? And if we don’t warn your leader of the attack-”

“I’m not so sure you’re going to be able to warn him,” I said, biting my lip, hoping he wouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t work out.

“Well this is just a wonderful little disaster,” Archie muttered. Rwfshi looked helplessly at me.

“You plan on letting my government destroy your people?” he asked in a quiet whine. I shook my head.

“Not exactly, I just can’t figure out how my main character” – I looked to Archibald – “managed to go from a simple role – a selfish human being abducted by war-thirsty Martian invaders and taken to Venus – to escorting a peaceful alien scientist to Washington D.C. so they can warn the President of an attack from more evil Martians. Just yesterday, Rwfshi, you were only a slightly more civil version of the invaders that attacked at the turn of the century, but today you became the sweet little teddy-bear you are now.” I smiled at him, developing his character as I spoke. Maybe I was making him a little too gentle for a Martian, but I didn’t care. Writing about him like this was too much fun. I couldn’t possibly go back to a cold, pitiless Martian warrior. At least not now!

He, however, wasn’t quite convinced. “What’s a teddy-bear?” he asked, concern showing his plastic-covered eyes. Or were they glass…? Or something else more alien? Actually, I hadn’t even mentioned their “suits” in this version. Plus, how could I see concern in his eyes? Oh well, that’s how I see him, and I’m the writer. So there.

“Anyway,” Archie snapped. “Where are we? Florida?”

“I hate to do that,” I groaned, “but I don’t know what else to do. It has to be someplace I know well. I’m already doing the Lighthouse Descendant in Florida, but that’s necessary for the story line, anyway, and it’s also perfect.”

“Well, you’ve never been to Venus, but part of your book will take place there.” Rwfshi sounded hopeful this would convince me to try wherever suited my imagination best. I gazed at him. It almost convinced me. Maybe Martians were extremely charismatic…? Or not?

“True,” I said, “but no one else has been to Venus, so I can get away with that. However, I can’t make some place up because people will say ‘I’ve been to that area, and that place doesn’t exist.'” I stared at the map helplessly, praying for an idea.

“Just do it in Florida.” Archie mumbled. “I can take no snow.”

“Wait a minute,” I whispered. I had an idea. “Wait here, I will be right back.” I ran off.

I came back some minutes later,wearing a long sleeved shirt and warm, fuzzy pants. Rwfshi noted something before I had an opportunity to speak.

“You’re wearing warmer clothing,” he said as if he had conducted a successful science experiment. He was so happy and adorable that I had to grin.

“Yeah,” I replied. “Fifty-seven degree weather will do that to you.” I glanced at the monitor. “You zoom that thing in with your mind, right, Rwfshi? Go to Lexington, Kentucky.”

Rwfshi zoomed in. “57 degree Fahrenheit sounds fairly warm to me. But I understand. What is this city for?”

“Well,” I began slowly, “I consulted one of my personal problem-solvers, and she may have just what we need. I’ve never lived there personally, but I think I’ve probably been there – I just don’t remember much of it. Problem-Solver-Assistant was there, however, and I think – it’s risky, but I think we can do it.” I glanced at them. “Worth a try?”

“Anything,” begged Archie. “Just get it over with.”

Rwfshi looked excited. “This isn’t that far from your capital – if that is where we are headed, at least.” He looked up at his new “Earthian” friend. “So tell me, Archie, how many days to Washington D.C.?”

I chuckled. “I hope this works, guys,” I said, “but we won’t know unless we try. Ready?”

“Ready!” they shouted in unison.

“Have fun, talk later!” I waved, and exited the cylinder. More realistically, I came out of my imaginary world and stared at the blinking cursor in front of me. After a moment of considering my characters and story some more, I read:

“Oh. Well, it depends on what you travel by. By plane only several hours, but that’s probably too risky for you. By car…”

The cursor blinked. I decided to open up GoogleEarth so Archie could at least give a rough, approximate answer to Rwfshi’s question.

This was more fun than sitting for hours lonesomely, eating up writing time thinking about how annoying it was since I didn’t want it to be in Florida but it had to be in Florida.

Just write. 🙂