Phil Phorce: Gravel Factories?

Egg roll please…  This is the last scene of the third episode of the Phil Phorce!  Once November is over with and I’m taking a break from whatever novel I write, I’ll get to work on the fourth episode.  Enjoy.

Quirk tried every trick in the book that gives people tricks to try.  He made foul air flow into the rooms of each of the Phils, so foul that they were forced to sleep in the conference room for a night.  He tried to fake a flawed foundation, which on a cloud was pretty easy.  He even tried to trick the Phils into taking a ride on a catapult; they chickened out when they realized it was aiming for New Jersey.

Quirk was despairing.  It was the third day since his conversation with the Castle, and he was growing desperate.  He had become very attached to his life, and wasn’t quite ready to give it up, especially to something whose normal body seemed to consist of only two blue flashlights and a hand.

At last he ditched the subterfuge and called a meeting with his Vice-Phil emergency powers, the same that Percival ever refused to acknowledge.

“We have to leave the Cloud,” said Quirk bluntly, once the door had closed for the last time.  His eyes roved over the gathering, resting for a moment on the space where Sam had once sat during conferences such as these.  The ping pong ball had been imprisoned on the evidence Quirk had given, though Quirk himself had been granted the Head Phil’s pardon due to, as Percival put it, “…being too stupid to lie.”  Sam, on the other hand, was a ping pong ball—he was infinitely more intelligent than the Vice-Phil would ever be, according to general opinion.  Even if Quirk’s claim that Sam had prompted him to unwittingly help the Blanks was false, Sam was still in on the plan and thus was to blame.

“Why?” asked the Head Phil, just as bluntly.  The Phils had just completed a mission without any mishaps—they felt invincible.

“Because the Castle wants us to.”

“Quirk…” began Percival with a kindly pitying tone, “It’s no use to try to empathize with a building.  They don’t have feelings.”

“I’m not trying to empathize with anything.  After I turned the Castle upside-down—and yes, I admit that was a mistake to listen to Sam—the Castle took me.  It talked to me and told me that if I didn’t get the Phils out of the Castle within three days, it would make me go mad or kill me or worse.”

“Did it?” asked Percival, obviously trying to hide a smile.  “The Castle talked to you?  What did it look like?”

“Two blue eyes—“

“Two?”  Percival opened his eyes wide in mocking astonishment.

“Yes, two,” said Quirk angrily.  “And it had a hand—“

Percival whistled.  “Astounding.”

“Be quiet, Percival!” yelled Quirk.  “I am not crazy, I am not unintelligent, and I was not hallucinating!”

“Did I say any of that?  You might have been asleep, though.  I told you not to eat all those tacos before going to bed.”

“I wasn’t asleep, and anyway, going to bed after eating the thirty tacos was part of our bet!”  Quirk took a deep breath.  “This was real, I know it was.  And it’s not to be ignored.  It’s done this before to people who’ve angered it.”

“Such as…?”  Looking at him, Quirk could tell Liam wasn’t any more convinced than Percival was.  None of the Phils were, by the looks of it.  The old lady wasn’t even looking at him—she was reading a newspaper.  Sebase was whispering to Phume, and Phoenix was playing a phantom clapping game of pat-a-cake with Steve.  Isaac might have been asleep—it was difficult to tell without seeing his eyes.

“Jonathan Swift,” said Quirk.

Liam and Percival exchanged looks, and as the Head Phil turned back to him, Quirk could see he was smiling.  “The floating castle in Gulliver’s Travels used magnetism.”

Quirk shook his head.  “It was the Castle on the Cloud.  The Castle told me.”

“Of course he did,” said Liam.  “Did anyone else get on the Castle’s bad side?”

“I don’t think so,” said Quirk.

“Excuse me,” said the old lady.  “I don’t know exactly what I’m interrupting, but there’s a story you should see in the paper.”

Percival took the paper.  “Solitaire tournament canceled because of weather?” read Percival questioningly.

“No, the one below that.”

Percival’s eyes widened.  “Manfred missing?”

“That’s the one,” said the old lady.

“’The billionaire was reported missing after having left the twenty-sixth annual Fantasy Fiesta for an assassination,’” read Percival.  “’His abductor, disguised as a security guard wearing the portrait of a poet, led him from the Fantasy Fiesta and into an unknown vehicle, upon which none were near enough to place a tracking device.  The billionaire was last seen wearing a penguin suit…’”  Percival stopped reading and dropped the paper.  “The rest of it just describes the penguin costume.”

“So… we didn’t save Manfred?” asked the Head Phil.  He slumped in his chair.

“Obviously not,” said Quirk, uncaring.  “What are you going to do about it?  You had the chance to save Manfred and you failed.  Now you have the chance to save me; are you going to fail me too?”

“Do you have any proof for your story?” asked Percival coldly.  “For all we know, you’re just making it up.”

“I don’t have proof, unless you want to wait here for a while and see if you die.”

“I thought it was going to be you dying,” said Percival.  “I’d say those aren’t bad odds if we did want to test this out.”

“You’d kill me to see if I was telling the truth?”

Percival shrugged and nodded.

“So you don’t believe me,” said Quirk, sitting down heavily.

“That remains to be seen,” said the Head Phil.  “Listen, everyone!  All who think Quirk is telling the truth, say ‘Aye’.”

“Aye,” said a voice.  Everyone looked around, surprised.  Feiron sighed.  “I didn’t mean, ‘Aye’,” he said.  “I said, ‘Eye’.  I was guessing which part of Isaac was aching today.”

“Oh,” said Liam.  “So I take it none believe in Quirk?”

“We still need a nay vote,” said Percival.  “All who think Quirk is completely off his rocker, say ‘Nay’.”

The welkin rang with their nays.  Even Gologer joined in, even though he didn’t know what was going on.

Quirk slumped in his chair.  He was condemned.

“Cheer up, Quirk,” said Percival, leaning over and patting him on the shoulder.  “If you die before tomorrow, we’ll be sure to make up a fairy tale called ‘The Vice-Phil Who Cried Castle’.”

Not a moment after Percival finished, the building quaked.  Quirk’s eyes glazed over.  “You didn’t listen to him,” he said in a deep voice.  “For this reason, it is on your heads as much as on his.  My punishment will reach all of you—none shall escape.”

The Head Phil and Percival looked at Quirk in shock.  If he had been in control of his body, Quirk’s jaw would have dropped too.  Instead, his cheek bulged outward and a rock the size of a coin broke the skin.  In quick succession, three more popped out of his forehead, cheekbone, and chin.

“I do wish you don’t die from your plague immediately,” said the Castle through Quirk.  “I hope you stick around long enough to go mad first.  Enjoy your afflictions.”

Leave a comment


  1. Sorry if this is an idiotic comment because it’s something I could find on the Phils page, but are you ever planning to publish these? I think people would like them… like, more people than just your blog readers. 🙂

  2. What?! WHAT?! You can’t end here! *bangs head on table in protest*

    I like the castle speaking through Quirk. Although a lot of authors do this, it still gives off that aura of mystique. Nicely done.

    • Whoa, deja vu… Didn’t you say the same thing back in July at the end of episode two?

      I’m planning a lot more with the Castle/Quirk mix. It will be hilarious.

      Question: have you gotten the impression through the Phil Phorce that Quirk is left-handed?

      • I wouldn’t be surprised if I did.

        Can’t wait to see what comes from that duo.

        Erm….no. I can’t say that I’ve gotten that impression. Of course, I can’t say that I was concentrating on Quirk’s hands either.

        I didn’t do NaNoWriMo this year, and it’s probably a good thing. I just read a book that completely slaughtered my writing abilities. Why did this author have to keep switching between past and present tense in the middle of paragraphs?! *bangs head on table* At this rate I won’t have any brain cells left…

      • Well, he is. That will become a hilarious point early on in the fourth episode.

        That’s too bad. Hope you recover.

      • Hmm… *mulls over what evil things Liam will do with a lefty* Well, I’ll have to wait and see, I suppose.

        I do as well. It’s complete rubbish what I’ve been writing since I’ve read that book. I dislike how my writing style changed after reading it. It’s strange how my subconscious mind picks up on those little things and adjusts the rest of my brain to match. Evil brain.

      • It’s killing me not to spill it all right now, but it’ll be funnier later, in context.

        Indeed. The subconscious is great except when it isn’t.

      • Mm, yes. It’s hard not to spill the beans sometimes. But spoilers are no fun.

        *checks the chapter that she just finished* I do believe that my brain is starting to become back to normal!

      • Yippee! It’s still not to late to start NaNo, though. Especially on the YWP site– you can set your own, lower goal there if you don’t think you can do 50k. …Ahem… or you could just go for 50k anyway. Hope I didn’t offend.

      • Nah, there’s no offense taken. 50k is a lot of words. I’ll think about it. Meaning, I probably won’t do it, but if I suddenly have the urge to start typing like a madman today, I might.

      • Indeed… I think it would be cool if you did it, though.

      • As do I, but it’s already four days into NaNo, and starting now wouldn’t probably be the best idea.

      • Lots of people do it. So I’m told. I prefer to start on day one… so perhaps you ought to not partake in the challenge.

      • I do know what I can do for next year’s NaNo, though. I’m absolutely disgusted with how I wrote a novel (erm…it’s actually an eighth of a novel) that I started a few years ago, so I’m doing a complete rewrite, adding and changing a few characters, and doing an insane amount of plot changing. I’m changing the narrating voice, after I realized that she sounded far too like a MDBC girl, and that she didn’t make sense talking about her best friend’s fuzzy sweater in the middle of a murder. *shakes head in disbelief* I cannot believe I wrote that in those pages.

      • I know how it feels, but perhaps you ought not to redraft. Just burn it and start anew.

      • I do plan on doing away with the plot, but I think I’ll keep a few characters. Some of them are quite amusing.

      • That’s good.

      • Of course…I could always keep the names…change the personalities….tweak the size of that person’s ears…

      • Indeed. Those ears are just too small.

      • Can’t have too small ears now, can we?

      • Oh, no. Of course not.

      • Too big of ears?

      • They can’t be that either.

  3. Charley R

     /  November 3, 2012


    GREAT twist with Manfred at the end there – I thought that last scene was a bit tame. Well done Liam – looking forward to ep.4 now! 🙂

    • See, this scene wouldn’t work if the penultimate scene wasn’t anticlimactic. Unfortunately, I did both things badly…

      • Charley R

         /  November 4, 2012

        No, not at all – this scene rather explains the other, though unless you read this bit the last bit still seems a touch off 😛

      • I know. Any tips?

      • Charley R

         /  November 5, 2012

        Up the climax a little bit for the latter scene – just to make it a bit more exciting – and may have a remark about “that was . . . surprisingy easy.” and maybe someone has thoughts of “too easy . . . or maybe he’s just done this before” and brush it off with that humour you do so marvellously well. Or rush their escape so they don’t have time to to worry about the ease of it.

      • Indeed. But the Phils are so conceited that they would all attribute the ease of their escape to their awesomeness.

      • Charley R

         /  November 6, 2012

        Put mention of that in, then!

  4. Robyn Hoode

     /  March 17, 2013

    “’The billionaire was reported missing after having left the twenty-sixth annual Fantasy Fiesta for an assassination,’” sounded like Manfred was leaving to assinate someone himself.
    Percival sounded a bit out of character with as mean as he was to Quirk.
    That’s it for the critique.

    From a fellow author, well done. It was well ended, I sympathize with Quirk, who started out less likable, and I don’t envy your rock-pox.
    Anyway, good job. I’m off to read Episode 4, thus consoling my reader-ego. 🙂

    P.S.– How would one generate sympathy for a MC who starts out a jerk?

    • Whoever wrote that newspaper article was an idiot. It makes no sense whatsoever.

      Anyway, I’m so glad you liked it, and I’m extremely glad you sympathized with Quirk in the end!

      Jerks are usually characters who are overly interested in petty things such as themselves. One way to make them sympathetic is to show that they are indeed interested in something bigger, something worth fighting for. The scene in the basement with the Castle– that did it, and I hoped more people would pick up on it.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 17, 2013

        So, don’t make them entirely bad. Give them a good quality?

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 17, 2013

        And adding a thought to my previous delusions of another post — I think I am just fine not being a Phil, right now. I don’t want rock-pox and I’m pretty sure they haven’t come up with the shot for that yet.

      • To answer both at once:
        No, you don’t want to be a Phil right now. But you do want to start reading episode four!

        Yes, give them redeeming qualities, but something that directly contradicts the worst quality they originally had. Also, the good quality must heavily outweigh the bad one. That shows that what was bad has been turned around and become something more powerful– character development.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 17, 2013

        Can you give me an example?

        I have started reading Epsiode 4. 🙂

      • What I did with Quirk is an example, in theory. I’m not quite sure that I did it well enough. But in other fiction… Usually it happens with traitors. The rat who spills the main character’s secrets comes back to fight loyally in the final battle. If you’ve watched Star Wars, look at Han Solo. At first he’s a conceited mercenary who doesn’t pay bills. At the end, he comes back to fight without pay. Boromir as well– all he seems to want is the Ring, but at last he comes to his senses and pays his debt. That’s another thing– sacrifice brings up sympathy like almost nothing else.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 17, 2013

        Thanks! I have a new story I’m working on planning and it occured to me that readers need to care about my jerk. Little things.

      • This only works for long term development, however. To spring it upon the reader immediately will not do at all.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 17, 2013

        Oh, I know that he has to be a little good in the beginning. You can rarely spring anything on a reader immediately and have it come off well.

      • No, that’s not what I mean. There must be time in between his introduction and his change– that way, the reader thinks it could have happened in that time. People don’t change overnight, after all.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 18, 2013

        I can’t have him be a jerk one day and the very next not one. He can’t change completely that fast, correct? And something has to start/encourage this change of attitude and behavior, right? Am I close to understanding, at least?

      • That’s what I’ve been trying to say, yes. There has to be enough time for the character to change, though you don’t necessarily have to show the character actually changing in there– you just have to keep from reinforcing his jerkiness. But that doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge his jerkiness. It’s a fine line.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 18, 2013

        Thank you, Head Phil. You are getting acknowledgement if not dedication for this book. (If I actually get it written, that is.)

      • Good for me!

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 18, 2013

        Your celebration is a bit premature, I’m afraid. I have this thing where if a book doesn’t reach 30 pages, it doesn’t live. And… I’m outlining.

      • Well, then, that should get you past thirty pages if anything will.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 19, 2013

        I don’t usaully outline much. I’m a pantser.

      • Neither do I, but it’s sometimes helpful.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  March 19, 2013


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