The third story on this adventure, and the first one I was probably proud of.
Into The Crystal clocks in at around 41000 words. It was started in 1987, and finished in 1988. And this one deserves some thanks. My English teacher at high school encouraged this to a huge degree, and without her badgering it might never have been completed, and I might never have started on this path.
First, it is another high school kid story, but unlike Stuff Of Friendship, it had no characters that anyone could actually identify as real people. I had finally broken away from the “use your friends” method of story telling. It also combined that high school life I was going through with the Dungeons And Dragons of Crossed Swords. And, having discovered in high school Stephen King, this one owes a small debt to Carrie – a lot of the narrative is done through third party sources, like books, letters, school essays, interviews, etc. I must say I’ve never tried that method again, but for this story it was what worked for me at the time.
Kathy is a teenaged girl whose best friend is Keith. But what she doesn’t know is that Keith is actually from a parallel world, which is accessed by a crystal. Then John Smith, also known as Necar, comes into their lives. He is Keith’s best friend and the heir to an usurped throne in the parallel world, a world of sword and sorcery. Through John, Keith is drawn back into the other world, and Kathy ends up going along for the ride. But things don’t go well and there is a falling out between the old friends. However, Keith’s betrothed is killed and Keith is almost killed, and this leads to John’s capture and a final confrontation in Rundle Mall, in the middle of Adelaide…
The themes of kids not feeling like they belong is strong throughout this story. Also the image of an out-of-place battle happening in Adelaide is an image that I return to again and again, over the course of many short stories and longer works. One day I’ll get it right, I am sure.
Again, this story is filled with clichés, especially in the alternate world, but I am happy with the characterisations of Keith and Kathy. It definitely reads like it was written by a teenager, though.
Wednesday night; Keith and John sat in silence around John’s kitchen table finishing their set homework, books scattered everywhere, empty glasses of soft drink beside each. The speed was frantic and there would be no time for extra study tonight – an hour or two in AdgaD was necessary and as soon as Bryan arrived they would go; but he wasn’t due for another twenty minutes or so yet. There was a strange tension in the air between the two boys, accentuated by the wary glances John continually cast Keith, whose countenance was grin. They were not, Keith thought, expecting anything for a while yet, so when there came a knock at the front door, both looked up from their books with a start. John quickly went to answer it (Keith was sure he was hiding a grin) and he was gone for quite a while. Maybe a religious nut, Keith thought, but something indefinable definitely felt out of place. John was up to something, and it was very soon that he found out exactly what that was…
The prince of AdgaD re-entered with Kathy in tow. “What are you doing here?” Keith burst out angrily. “I told you we were going in tonight.” She thought she could see his anger was being feigned; his eyes told her (she told herself, maybe) just how much he really loved to see her here.
She decided to play along; she grit her teeth in return and prowled, ‘I’m going, too,” As far as she knew, this had all been Keith’s idea in the first place.
But Keith laughed; John looked at him seriously. “Keith,” he began. “I honestly think we should let her come.” The laughter stopped abruptly and Keith stared his comrade-at-arms directly in the face.