Aitch-Bar

Two Almost Physicists With Almost Something To Say

“Swap” by Kevin Chang (Part 2)

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Also a terrifying and confusing journey

Delicious prose.

Last time, in “Swap,” we were introduced to some of the main characters: Ping and Pong, who seem to have no character traits so far other than speaking like insultingly shallow imitations of rappers. Lon, who actually is a wannabe rapper, but whose mix tape was so boring that it put Ping to sleep in a matter if seconds. The Old Man, who seems to be shambling around town in the hunt for outdated technology, and his Panda, whose appearance was startling to no one, despite the fact that he is an actual Panda.

Lon had made the aforementioned Ambien of mix-tapes, but let it fall into the clutches of the Old Man and the Panda (who supposedly “love human junks”). Ping & Pong rushed out to a show, but returned after realizing that they missed it because Pong’s watch “has been busted for years.” (Is this subtle foreshadowing of the time-travel plot?) They inform Lon that the Old Man is “da major G and everyone treats him like he’s their popdukes” and not to mess with him—as if the giant bear following him around and obeying his commands wasn’t reason enough. Also, the phrase: “I beat fo tha yolk everyday” was used. It doesn’t make any more sense in context.

This installment is the short Scene 2 and the first half of Scene 3.

———————–

Scene 2 – Lon and the Girl in the Mirror

Scene: In an enormous space in a shelter, there is nothing. No single furniture or any photos that reflect the person that lives in there. Old Man and Panda enter.

Old Man:    Ah… our plan worked didn’t it?

Panda:    Nods.

Old Man:    I know I know! He looks all… jumbled up and spoiled. It’s perfect! …He can be the sacrifice for my granddaughter after all… Eeeheehee…

Panda:     Gestures an “X” with its arms.

Old Man:    What? You think I’m mean!? Aiyoooo… it’s the same as you my little panda. You eat meat and human looks delicious to you, yes? But don’t humans still think you’re cute and cuddly fur ball from China? We’re on the same boat my friend.

Panda:    Pointing at the mirror.

Old Man:    Yes… with this mirror… I’m going to use this mirror to save my granddaughter… Jin-Mei.

Panda:    Nods.

Old Man:    I promise you that she won’t feel lonely…… ever again.

Panda:    Nods Rapidly.

Old Man and Panda both enter and disappear into the mirror.

Black out.

Lights on.

There is a trail made by Panda’s paws. It leads to the mirror. Lon enters.

Lon:    Sigh… where did dat freakin’ beast go…(notices the footprints) Ya ain’t outsmarting me anymore…

Lon starts tracking the foorstep until it leads him to the mirror.

Lon:        Did I miss anythin’? Sumthin’s wrong hea… (he looks at the mirror) Huh? (stares at the mirror more closely)

The reflection Lon sees in the mirror appears not to be his reflection, but a girl of about his age, who is wearing an old-fashioned Chinese dress.

Lon:        Why… do I look like this… (turns around away from the mirror and poses) Damn, am I hot! Wait!  (turns back to the mirror) This ain’t me! What in da world is…

Lon tries several movements in front of the mirror. The girl on the other side of the mirror synchronizes with the same movements.

Lon:        (turns away from the mirror again) Wat da (beep)ing (beep) ia dis (beep)ing mirror messin’ with my freakin’… aii… eei… aight… aight… I’m dreamin’… I’m trippin’ for some reason… ya know wat? I will just… turn around with me (beep)ing eyes wide open and…

The arms of the girl emerge out from the mirror and pull Lon into the mirror as Lon screams out of fear.

Lights dim. Scene ends.

Scene 3 – Jin-Mei, Lord Wang and the Old Man

Scene: In an old-fashioned room, a girl, Jin-Mei, who is about the same age as Lon, is sitting on the floor dazed out. Panda is sitting next to her, playing with his beach ball. A buffed big man, Lord Wang, with shaved hair and long eyebrows enters the room.

Lord Wang:     Ahem.

Jin-Mei looks up.

Jin-Mei:    Sigh… there goes my day.

Lord Wang:     What is this tone of voice I sense?

 

Jin-Mei:      Um, no sir. You must have heard me wrong.

Lord Wang:      (pauses) Choose your words carefully Jin-Mei, You should be well aware of who I am.

Jin-Mei:     Yes sir…

Lord Wang:     Tell me! Tell the whole world who I am!

Jin-Mei:     (sighs with a reluctant worshipping tone) …You are the Lord of the Jiang-shis, blood-sucking vampires feared by all of China.

Lord Wang:     Yes! And you will be the bride of such a “blood-sucking” vampire! Remember, my precious Jin-Mei, that the lives of all the villagers are placed on your shoulders.

Jin-Mei:   Yes sir… I believe that is my only choice…

Lord Wang:   You are one lucky girl my dear. (pauses)

Jin-Mei is looking down.

Lord Wang:    You were chosen as the most beautiful girl in this village. Isn’t that an honor? (pauses)

Jin-Mei resumes silence.

Lord Wang: A nice, old tradition we have in our village isn’t it? (pauses) ISN’T IT!?

Jin-Mei:    …Oh…um… yes sir.

Lord Wang:    I have some interesting things to tell you by the way, Jin-Mei… If we’re going to be married we might as well start learning about each other. Jiang-shi’s rule no.1! Never suck a woman’s blood until you have succeeded in seducing them! Oh it’s vice versa if it’s a female Jiang-shi. Jiang-shi’s rule no.2! The victim needs to be young! Once a dumb Jiang-shi drank an old woman’s blood, and he sort of… um… died. Ahem… anyway, rule no.3! Never tell anyone what our weak point is, which is to stick a sacred seal on our forehead! (pause) …anyway, as long as these rules are obeyed, Jiang-shis will live forever! (laughs loudly)

Jin-Mei:    …Yes…

Lord Wang:    On the other hand, you humans are pathetic. You walk out under the sun, weak, but arrogant, dumb, but likes inventions, and always killing each other. What’s that all about!? Eating meat!? Ugh… disgusting…

Jin-Mei:    …Yes…

Lord Wang:   (suspicious) Jin-Mei, do you love me?

Jin-Mei:    …Yes…

Lord Wang:   (sounding irritated) Well… be happy then! You will be mine forever!

Jin-Mei:    …Yes…

Lord Wang:   Jin-Mei… what’s your name?

Jin-Mei:    …Yes…

Lord Wang:   That’s it! We will be engaged tomorrow! …You are the sacrifice for the village after all. If you want to curse somebody… curse your own beauty. (laughs)

Jin-Mei:    …Yes… wait! Tomorrow!? No, please, not that soon!

Lord Wang leaves as he laughs. Jin-Mei breaks down crying. Old Man enters.

Old Man:    My, my…Jin-Mei

Jin-Mei:    Gandpa… how many more days to I have to bear this? Every single day Lord Wang comes in and out to see me. No… not only just to see me, but he keeps reminding me that I’m going to be engaged with him. (cries)

Old Man:   Yes… I just passed by him out there… oh oh… what should I do?

Jin-Mei:    Please, who in the world ever decided that the daughter of our family needs to be engaged to such… (breaks down crying again)

Old Man:    The Jiang-shis did… I mean, Ayo… please be patient Jin-Mei… we should let the sleeping dogs lie.

Jin-Mei:    Thank you for your “today’s words of wisdom” …which always has been the same all these years…

Old Man:    Oh, Jin-Mei… you know… um… maybe grandpa can help you…

Jin-Mei:   Grandpa… I will never forget hou you will bring back gifts for me every now and then. Every week… at least for a day … you will disappear into what you call the “wonderland” through that mirror, and in the next morning you will bring back many odd things I’ve never seen. I will also never forget how you promised me when I was little, that you will bring me there…

Old Man:    Yes, yes… I understand my little girl. It’s just that out there is still… too dangerous for you…

Jin-Mei:   Grandpa. I’m not the naive girl you knew before! Tomorrow I will be gone. Lord Wang will take me away from you forever. (in a weeping voice) I wish I can be brave enough so that I can just jump into that mirror on my own.

Old Man:    Jin-Mei… I shall not let that happen… what should I do? … oh my head hurts… (falls to ground)

Jin-Mei starts sulking. After an awkward moment of silence, she notices that her Grandpa is still static on the ground.

Jin-Mei:    Grandpa… grandpa? (shakes him)

Old Man:   Ah ha! (suddenly waking up with his head hitting Jin-Mei in her nose) …Jin-Mei!

Jin-Mei:   Y… Yes?

Old Man:    There is something that I need to tell you… (whispers into her ears)

Jin-Mei:   (looks very worried)  What!? …Are you sure about this? I’m a little worried… I’m not sure if I’m confident enough to… I mean… what will happen to that person?

Old Man:   Sigh… it’s an old man’s selfishness… yes…

Jin-Mei:   Grandpa… I’m just glad enough to hear how much you care for me.

Old Man:   (mumbling to himself) Yes… I’m a greedy old man… I don’t deserve to live.

Jin-Mei:   I was just trying to be…..honest with you.

Old Man:    Oh BUDDHA! I shall be at your place in a moment!

Old Man takes out a small knife and tries to stab himself in the stomach.

Jin-Mei:   Wait!!

Jin-Mei slaps the knife out from the Old Man’s grasp. Old Man breaks down crying.

Jin-Mei:   Ok Grandpa. Your plan doesn’t sound that bad after all. So please don’t act in such manner please!

Old Man:   So you’ll be on it?

Jin-Mei:   Yes.

Old Man:   Aiya! God’s blessing! My granddaughter is agreeing with me! We have to be quick then! We got not time to waste! Lord Wang is coming back for you tomorrow.

Old Man steps up.

Old Man:   Stay here Jin-Mei… I’ll be back. Follow me Panda!

Panda:   Sigh… (follows Old Man through the mirror)

———————————-

So we have featured the slightly impossible mirror effect, been introduced to Jin-Mei, who lives in some non-specific period of “old” China. The Old Man, despite living in the present, has children in the past…but seems to not be trying very hard to save them from having to marry menacing vampires. When told about the situation, despite having a portal that can take her to another period of history, he tries to kill himself, and then leaves her there anyway while he returns to modern times to formulate a plan. Also, we’ve been given things slightly out of order for no particular reason — Lon gets pulled into the mirror in Scene 2…but he doesn’t actually appear there until slightly after this (spoiler!). It’s pretty odd that the Old Man thinks he needs *any* plan, when he can just get his granddaughter out of this extremely life-threatening situation by bringing her into the future. But if the characters obeyed the laws of rational behavior or not using ellipses all the fucking time, it wouldn’t be “Swap.”

Coming soon, the rest of Scene 3, and Scene 4 – Lon and Lord Wang.

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Author: (Ryan) Michney

Dread Astronomer

2 thoughts on ““Swap” by Kevin Chang (Part 2)

  1. It almost seemed like it was veering towards some relatively normal, albeit poorly written, drama. And then: panda.

  2. Pingback: “Swap” by Kevin Chang (Part 3) « Aitch-Bar

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