Act 1- Scene 1: The Beryl Spinners
“Tis’ would’ve been a fine day, young Quin, if not for the Spade King to attack.”
“Old Sable, he dares?”
“Who knows what rash things the King of Spade hath thought of doing, young Quin.”
“But the land of clubs is their brother, old father!”
“Silence, young Quin, and you might just live through this apprenticeship.”
You watch as your popsicle slowly melts, waiting for the right moment to strike. As soon as you feel like it’s going to drip, you lick it.
Perfect. As always. You timing was spot-on.
Your mother always said you were like a military commander. Growing up, she taught you how to play a lot of card games. You were now a master and ever since your third birthday (the day you got your own deck) you always took what she said to heart because all her advice had helped you greatly.
All advice to heart. To heart.
Her favorite quote was ‘Life is like a game of Spades. You play your cards right, you win.’
‘Was’? Why did you think ‘was’?
Something connects in your head, but you don’t know what it is yet. It has something to do with playing cards and hearts. You continue licking your popsicle. No point in thinking about it now, you tell yourself. You have worse things to worry about.
Such as your online midterms. That happened to start tomorrow.
You didn’t study at all. That was probably a bad thing.
Your mother poked her head from your doorway and peered into your room. “Are you done with that popsicle? Your midterms aren’t going to study for themselves.”
You finish your popsicle and sigh. Your mom laughs.
It almost seemed nervous, like she was anticipating something bad to happen.
It’s nothing, you tell yourself. She’s probably worried about your bad marks.
Act 1- Scene 3- Watch Your Step
“Old Sable, nothing will survive.”
“You shalt seem certain.”
“I am certain. The Spades are playing the Red card.”
“Young Quin, they wouldn’t dare. What hath I say about silence?”
“Y-Yes, old father. But, I-”
“You really want to lose your apprenticeship, young Quin? And go back to that old dump?”
“No, old Sable...”
“Mind your mouth then, young Quin.”
“So there’s an alternate reality?”
“And it’s populated with people who call themselves Cards? ”
“And they’re also divided into Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, and Clubs.”
“It also happens to be in danger because the King of Spades is going to attack everyone?”
“And this all has something to do with me?”
“And you kidnapped me in a truck for this sole reason?”
“I wouldn’t go as far as kidnapping! Borrowing, maybe, but kidnapping?”
“You broke my window, shoved a Dora the Explorer handkerchief in my mouth, then dragged me out of the window and shoved me into a potato truck. If you were going to kidnap me, or ‘borrow’ me as you say, could you at least have made sure my self-esteem didn’t shatter along the way?”
“I’m taller than you!”
The four-foot humanoid in front of you seemed like he had just flown through a hurricane. His hair was everywhere and you doubt it had been brushed in weeks. A torn eyepatch covered his mechanical eye, and his tie was loose and hung over his shoulder. His white shirt was ripped in several places.
You sigh and massage your forehead. At least you got miss your midterms.
“Quin, what exactly does this have to do with me?”
“Err, your mother didn’t tell you?”
“What did she not tell me?”
“You are a Card.”
“You are excused. Now, I have no idea why I’m asking a mentally-stunted fifteen-year-old for help, but… I don’t know what to do anymore.”
“What Card am I?”
“The sandbox trash king is going to launch an attack sometime this week…”
You hear him mutter something like, ‘She won’t be safe anymore.’
You choose to ignore it.
“What Card am I? I wanna know!!”
“Did you even listen?”
“Did you even listen?”
“Fine, you’re a Club. I think.”
“Why can’t you be sure? Why? Why?”
“You are mentally a five-year-old, I see. You need help.”
“But why can’t you be sure?”
“Because no one can! Your mother is a Club and your father was a Heart! You’re already so much like your mother, I assumed you are a Club!”
He pauses and facepalms.
“Listen, I need your help!”
“How do I help you, exactly?”
“The evil dude is going to play a red card!”
“You mean, like a sheer cold?”
“Yes! A one-hit KO!”
“On the whole world?”
“One by one. He’s going to start with the Clubs. Your mother’s homeland.”
He pauses. You have a feeling that there’s more to Clubs to him than what he was letting on.
Humanoids have feelings too.
Act 1- Final Scene
“I am sorry I did not trust you sooner, young Quin.”
“Old Sable, how do I stop him?”
“You cannot, young Quin.”
“Please, father! I must do something! I-”
“Why are you so interested in saving the land of Clubs? Why not in your own land?”
“I- Father- I am a Card of the Hearts!”
“Why, tell me! Why do you go on and on about the Clubs?”
“I hath held details from you, old Sable. My mother is a Club. I, however, am a Heart.”
“You dare besmirch the Hearts with a dishonor like this?”
“Young Quin… I don’t have it in me to destroy your apprenticeship.”
“I was young once too. I made mistakes.”
“My own apprenticeship was broken off. I was taken in by someone else. Go, young Quin. Save your mother.”
“Thank you… Thank you so much, father!”
“Go and seek one of your own. Half heart and club. She lives on the other side, and she might be able to help, if she really was raised by Zanna.”
“Zanna of the Clubs?”
“Yes. Now go!”
“And that’s pretty much how I found you.”
“You were an apprentice to a Dealer? I can’t believe it.”
“Well, Dealers really are gods.”
“You’re crazy. Absolutely crazy.”
“Why, thank you!”
“So how are we going to stop Sandbox King?”
“We infiltrate. We negotiate. If negotiation doesn’t go well, we attack.”
“That’s the plan?”
And so, you and Quin travel to the other side. You really don’t want to do that again, because it involved a lot of experiencing 3-Gs and vomiting. I repeat, not fun.
“We’re in the kingdom of the Spades right now.”
You jump out of the rabbit hole, and stare at where you are. It looks just like, well, the real world. Disappointing. You were expecting inverted colors and giant Venus traps and a lot of rabbits. But it seemed to be normal, so far.
You travel alongside the sidewalk of the dusty gray city. It was oddly silent, like it was anticipating something. Your stomach reminds you how long it had been since you last ate, and your throat was dry. But you kept on putting one foot after the other.
It took a solid hour of walking to reach the palace of the Spades.
By then, you were panting like crazy and your legs felt like papaya stems, but Quin wasn’t even sweating.
Must be nice, being a humanoid.
When you finally reach the palace, you duck into a bush, because it just so happened that the King was strolling around.
If he sees me or Quin- game over, you told yourself.
Quin seemed to have thought differently. He walked straight up to him and said, “I know what you’re planning, you diabolical, nefarious villain!”
Come to think of it, the King of Spades didn’t really look like a villain. He was round. And chubby. And jolly-looking. He didn’t even wear any jewelry, like how you had expected him to.
“Did you tell the Queen of Clubs?”
You stood up from the bush you were crouching in.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s not my fault I didn’t know her favorite flavor was vanilla instead of strawberry! When will I ever stop getting hate?”
You and Quin look at each other, confused.
“Don’t worry, I changed the flavor of the cake now!”
“Are you quite all right?”
“Aren’t you planning to attack the Clubs?”
The king laughs. Then stops when he sees you were serious.
“Oh, I thought you were joking. It’s the Queen’s birthday this week, so I’ve been around everywhere to collect stuff for her party!”
“So you aren’t going to destroy the whole world?”
Oh well then. Crisis averted.
Tick that off your bucket list.
Saved alternate dimension.