This week, the sidequest is about writing by the seat of one’s pants versus planning before writing: you must write at least two stories that are written the way you don’t usually write – the pantsers must plan beforehand and the planners must write without plans (and the ones who do both must figure which parts they plan and which they don’t and reverse the way they do said parts). This story was not made for the sidequest – as a pantser, I’m saving the planning for the challenge days.
“What’s inside this snow globe?” the child asked.
“Don’t touch it; it’s not a snow globe,” you told.
“Then what is it?” the child asked.
“It’s a delicate scientific project that must not be tampered with.” You looked away for a moment to find the paperwork you needed but from the corner of your eye you could see the child reach for the ball again. You turned back and snapped, “Keep your fucking hands off that thing!”
The child startled, pulled his hand away and started to bawl.
“And stop crying. I told you not to touch it. If you want to live here, you do as you are told.” You glared at the child. “None of the items outside of your room are toys. I have worked on that thing ever since before your parents made you. One of my colleagues works with highly explosive substances and has items that blow up the moment they come into contact with either air or bare skin.”
“You’re meeeaaaan!” the child bawled.
“No. You, however, have already proved to be disobedient and a danger to us all. Now be quiet and look at me.” Once the child finally did do as you told him, you continued, “Your parents may have let you do whatever, but this manor is full of dangerous and invaluable items that are not meant to be handled by anyone except the person responsible for them. Here, you will do as you’re told and only as you’re told until I say otherwise. If I find you even reaching for an item that belongs to me or my colleagues, you can be sure that you will be sent to the orphanage if the item doesn’t kill you before that. Do you understand?”
“Noooo!” the child started bawling again. “You’re meeeaaaan!”
The child had been in the manor for less than a day and you already regretted giving in to the extended family’s demands to take your grandchild in. You had previously expressed concern over the way your only daughter had been raising her child — reasonable rules and enforcing them were the basis of the society, after all — and denied visits to protect the research at the manor, but months of endless guilt-tripping from family members who would have never taken such a poorly raised child into their normal homes had worn you — and your colleagues — down. Had the guilt-tripping — more like harassment at that point — not extended to people coming to the manor unannounced just to rant and whine at anyone they could find — or better yet, had the damn police actually done something for once and gotten the restraining orders both done and enforced — you would not have agreed. But no, the restraining order applications were still pending somewhere in some useless bureaucrat’s office and here you were, dealing with a child who had never been disciplined in his life in a manor full of scientific research a simple tantrum would destroy in a blink of an eye.
The child’s proximity was a risk for the miniature sanctuary for Lear’s macaws — among other endangered species you had managed to conserve after finishing the prototype of the protective miniature world — so you stood up, walked briskly to the ball and picked it up, careful not to disturb the contents. For those living inside the ball, everything within it was the whole universe, and disturbing the balance of it could destroy everything he had worked for. You would not have moved the ball instead of the child, had you not calculated that moving the ball posed a smaller risk of conflict and danger to your life’s work.
“Gimme the snow globe!”
You ignored the petulant demand, but then you felt a push in your lower back, a leg at your left ankle and suddenly your elbows met the floor with sickening crunches, followed by your torso. The ball, a whole universe full of life you had worked so hard to save from extinction, flew off your delicate grip.
Your life, all the years of work, flashed before your eyes as you watched the ball fly up — already most likely killing everything inside it — and then descend, as if in slow motion, until it hit the floor well out of your reach and shattered.
Your life’s work — the only prototype there was and would have been for years to come — was gone, and so was everything within it.
Your grandchild, no, your whole family, had just destroyed what could have saved many endangered species from extinction.
You don’t know if it was the searing pain in your elbows registering or the realization that your work had been reduced to tiny shards of glass, but you screamed.