It’s that time again—time for my bimonthly LTDI preview. This is the sixth in a series of previews to tide you over until LTDI is ready for its official launch. Links to the earlier previews are available on LTDI's talk page.

Tonight, you are getting two short scenes. The first comes at the end of the first episode, and provides a look at the framing story, with interaction between the Storyteller and her son.

Whilst serving as beta reader for chapter 2 of TDIRM’s crossover/AU story, Winds of Change, I discovered that he and I independently came up with the same tidbit for Ezekiel’s backstory, namely that he has experience flying light aircraft (crop dusting, to be precise.) Although TDIRM’s story only mentions this tidbit in passing, I still thought the coincidence noteworthy. Tonight’s second preview scene is the scene where Ezekiel’s flying experience comes to light.

Those of you who are fans of the TV Tropes website will want to tune in for my 3000th edit special (most likely next weekend). I will be listing the tropes that I have identified in LTDI and my two short stories. So far, I have identified 20-odd tropes in Legacy, a few less in Courtney and the Violin of Despair, and almost 170 in LTDI.

LTDI Status Update

I’ve been pretty busy with various things over the last two or three months, most notably with my sports photography and beta reading for a couple of stories, so my progress on LTDI has been disappointing. I’m only up to about 70,000 words, so I’ve still got a long way to go. I should be able to pick up the pace over the next few months, though.

Much of the time that I would otherwise have spent on LTDI was spent instead on beta reading a couple of stories for fellow wikians. In addition to TDIRM’s story, I also beta read chapter 18 of Life After Lies for Gigi, because she thought it was too violent for Sprink, who is her usual beta. Because I’m so impossibly thorough, I gave Gigi 7300 words of commentary on a 5300 word chapter, and so far (with 2 of 16 pages still to go) I’ve given TDIRM almost 11,000 words of commentary on a 7100 word chapter.

Preview #1: ”First Breakfast” from The Tale Of The Gathering

Scene background: with a few exceptions, the competition runs on a 3-day cycle, with the first day being (usually) downtime, the challenge on the 2nd day, and the elimination on the 3rd day. For the initial cycle, the first day was the meet-and-greet, orientation, team assignments, etc.

Breakfast consisted of eggs runnyside up, with delicately carbonized bacon and a heavy bread toasted golden-black. The beverage options were lake water that still tasted of the disinfecting chemicals, horrifically bitter grapefruit juice (the news of “Ruby Red” grapefruits having apparently never come to this corner of Muskoka) and milk that was noticeably over the hill. As the teens ate, Chris called for attention, and announced that the challenge would begin in one hour.

"Some of you,” the host noted, “have suggested that the first challenge won’t be anything too hard. And you’re right, it’s not all that hard, if by “hard” you mean physically strenuous or tough to figure out.

"The problem with easy challenges, though, is that they’re not good for ratings; and since Total Drama Island is a new show, we need to do something to grab the audience’s attention. One way to do that is by showing a lot of female skin and feminine curves, so you’ll need your swimwear. As for the other way we’re going to goose ratings…”

Chris paused a few moments for dramatic effect, then dropped the other shoe.

"You are about to find out why you had to sign all those waivers to be on the show. Your first challenge will be one of the most dangerous of all.”

Brett was confused. “Mom?”

"Yes, dear?”

"You said you were on the show, but you haven’t mentioned yourself.”

"Actually, I have. In those days, I was still using my first name. I started going by my middle name when I entered college, and that was before you were old enough to have permanent memories.”

Although Brett knew his mother’s first name, he almost never heard or saw it, so it hadn’t come to mind unbidden. Thinking about it, Brett now recalled that this long-unused name did, indeed, match one of the contestants.

"So, why were you talking about yourself in the third person?” he asked uncertainly. “You don’t usually do that.”

"I was a different person then,” his mother explained. “You made me grow up before my time. That’s partly why I started going by my middle name.

"Besides, I think it makes a better story this way. Just humor me, okay?”

"Sure. Whatever,” Brett conceded. It was no skin off his nose, and in any case he didn’t want to discourage his mother from telling him the rest of her tale.

Preview #2: ”Thinking Outside the Box” from The Tale of the Deer Hunt

Scene background: After seven challenges, the Eagles are one player up, but Chris’ role assignments in the paintball deer hunt appear designed to give the shorthanded Muskies an advantage. (Someone will probably notice and comment on this.) While both teams have four hunters, the Muskies have only three deer for the Eagles to shoot at, and those three are the most physically fit players that the Muskies have left. The Muskies’ hunters are Beth, Courtney, Duncan and Ezekiel.

"I’ve got an idea,” Duncan offered. “Do any of you know how to fly a plane?”

"I fly my uncle’s cropduster, sometimes,” Ezekiel answered.

"That’s what I was counting on,” the delinquent pronounced with a wolfish grin. “If Princess Pure’n’perfect can bring herself to bend a couple of rules, I’m pretty sure I can hotwire Chef’s plane. We could hunt from the air.”

"I wish you’d stop calling me that,” Courtney said, but then met Duncan’s wolfish grin with an impish grin of her own. “But that’s a great idea. The Birdies won’t stand a chance.”

"Awesome,” Beth added. Her teammates’ enthusiasm was infectious, and the nerd girl was now grinning from ear to ear. “I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces!”

"Let’s do it, then. Death from above!” Duncan cried.

"Death from above!” his teammates answered.

<one or more scenes featuring other characters will probably go here>

The Muskies’ hunters arrived at the plane’s parking place, and Duncan set to work. Ezekiel, meanwhile, began a walkaround to verify that the plane was airworthy. Seeing the plane up close for the first time, Beth and Courtney were having second thoughts.

"I hope this was a good idea,” Courtney said, casting a nervous eye on the decrepit-looking plane.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Beth admitted, no less nervously.

"Famous Last Words: ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time,’” Courtney replied, swallowing hard. In her mind’s eye, she had a vivid image of a scenario that would leave the Muskies down by far more than one player, or even two.

"I think we’ll be okay,” Zeke pronounced as he finished his walkaround. “It’s not going to fall apart in midair. It just looks like it will. The skin’s all patched up, but the structure and the engine look okay.”

Soon after, Duncan completed his work. “There, that should do it,” he pronounced.

The hunters boarded the plane, with Ezekiel taking the controls. The engine roared to life, the prairie boy verified that they had enough fuel for a reasonably long flight, and the Four Muskie-teers slipped the surly bonds of Earth.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


The poem quoted is “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922-1941). While a favorite of aviators in general, it is particularly beloved by combat pilots because it was written by one of their own.

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