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Selcaby
07-31-2011, 09:27 PM
My protagonist has been magically transported from his home in central England to the Isle of Wight, about 150 miles away. He needs to get home as quickly as possible without using magic. Since he comes from another world, he has no bank account and no ID. He does have a mobile phone (basic -- no Internet access) and some money, but not the 80 or so that a rail ticket home would cost. He also has very little experience of our transport system, and is very nervous about travelling alone (though he's going to have to).

His situation is similar to someone who's had their bank card and ticket stolen while away from home, except that he didn't have a bank card or ticket in the first place. I can't help suspecting that the British transport police, or someone, have a protocol for dealing with this sort of thing, but I don't know what it is or how he could access it.

The first thing he'd do would be phone a friend for advice. Unfortunately his girlfriend is out of contact due to being embroiled in another strand of plot, and the only other person he can talk to about the magic side of his life is a 14-year-old girl who is at school that day (though I expect she wouldn't mind bunking off if it would help him). His landlady might help him, but only if he can come up with a mundane explanation that doesn't sound too dodgy, and doesn't ask too much of her. Driving down to pick him up is too much. There isn't anyone else he can ask.

I don't think he can easily hitchhike. He has a lot of trouble dealing with strangers, including benign ones who want to chat. He can't risk letting people see how strange he is. He has trouble with crowds too, but it's easier to hide in a crowd.

While this could become an epic journey and throw up all sorts of difficulties, I don't really want it to. I have enough plot already. Really I just want to get him home well before the end of the day so he can deal with the next nasty surprise the plot is going to throw at him (which has to be the same day he set off from home). And with the emotional state he's in, even an uneventful journey is going to be stressful for him. So I'm looking for something unpleasant but smooth and short, that I can get over with in a couple of pages and move on. I picture him crawling home exhausted and upset, looking for comfort from his girlfriend, only to discover the horrendous reason why she hasn't been answering the phone, which is going to take him more hours to sort out before his day can end.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 09:33 PM
Hmm.... the problem is you've abandoned him on an island. And a small one at that. The only way off is to get on the ferry, which will take money, or to sneak on a pleasure boat that he knows is on its way back to Portsmouth.

Have you checked how many lorries go back and forth every day? Of course, if he does get picked up by the police for sneaking into the back of a lorry, he won't be getting home that day.

Does it have to be the Isle of Wight? Cos you are giving yourself unneccesary problems leaving him on an island.

Selcaby
07-31-2011, 09:39 PM
I suppose it doesn't have to be an island, no. The alternative is London, some district on the outskirts where millionaires live. But I like the idea of him having to catch a ferry; ferries have come up elsewhere in the story, and he has good reason to find them very disturbing.

I need to find the right balance between tormenting him and smoothing his way.

He might be able to get to Portsmouth out of his own pocket and not be able to afford to get any further.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 09:57 PM
Then that might be the best idea. Conflict could arise cos he can either buy a ferry ticket or eat.

Cowes to Southampton = 17.50
Ryde to Portsmouth = 13.44

So if your MC only has a 20 pound note......

Selcaby
07-31-2011, 10:42 PM
20 sounds like a realistic amount for him to be carrying. Thanks.

National Rail tells me he should go via Ryde/Portsmouth, but then it wants him to change at Southampton. I suppose it depends exactly where he starts from. If he has a choice, he might well choose wrong, being inexperienced.

The two-stage journey might actually save him some time. If he makes his phone calls before he gets on the ferry, and someone is sending him some money, they could arrange for him to pick it up in Southampton or Portsmouth, and it could be ready by the time he got there. (I don't know exactly how this works -- without a bank account or ID, could he pick it up? From a post office?)

Or, if he had to sell something to afford his fare, a bigger town would be a better place to do it. He is familiar with the idea of pawnbrokers. I wonder if he would be able to find one.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 10:50 PM
There are definitely pawnbrokers in Portsmouth.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 10:54 PM
Thinking about it, I'm not sure he could collect money from anywhere. Not without some form of ID.

Kenn
07-31-2011, 11:02 PM
He could take a taxi (or more likely a private hire) and pay for it at the other end.

Becca_H
07-31-2011, 11:02 PM
If this were me, I'd go for the lorry. They're not going to check a domestic trip, and you know just how many clandestines get through at the UKBA checkpoint in Calais. They make climbing in look extremely easy - if not unpleasant - and then without any CO2 detection, I don't see him being discovered.

If we make an assumption this lorry is heading to a distribution centre in Birmingham, it'd be M3 -> A34 and then home and dry. The vast majority of logisticky stuff happens in the West Midlands.

Of course, many lorry drivers are quite happy to take hitchhikers, so he could even do this the easy way. I know he doesn't want to, but if he could over hiding underneath a lorry or inside its cargo? It's probably nicer.

Selcaby
07-31-2011, 11:14 PM
There are definitely pawnbrokers in Portsmouth.

Here's one. (http://app.xtremelocator.com/visitor/viewLocation.php?lid=34539544)

But it says, "Bring your gold diamond jewellery into store together with some ID." He hasn't got any ID. Hmm.

Parametric
07-31-2011, 11:18 PM
Perhaps the landlady could call a local friend and ask them to lend your protagonist some money, on the understanding that it will be promptly repaid. If the friend trusts the landlady and the landlady trusts the protagonist, there's no problem. That might be simpler than dealing with a bank or post office without ID.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 11:19 PM
I'm not sure a cab driver would be willing to do a 300 mile round trip without at least some money up front.

Goldenleaves
07-31-2011, 11:19 PM
He could sit down on the pavement, depressed, and have people mistake him for a beggar.

Someone could need some help with something, he could offer them a hand and be handed some cash, or be offered some cash in return for help.

He could hook up with some travellers or hippies who smuggle him.

He could be a great swimmer.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 11:20 PM
Here's one. (http://app.xtremelocator.com/visitor/viewLocation.php?lid=34539544)

But it says, "Bring your gold diamond jewellery into store together with some ID." He hasn't got any ID. Hmm.


Really? They never used to ask for ID.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 11:21 PM
He could be a great swimmer.


Not round there he couldn't! The current is evil!

Becca_H
07-31-2011, 11:22 PM
Here's one. (http://app.xtremelocator.com/visitor/viewLocation.php?lid=34539544)

But it says, "Bring your gold diamond jewellery into store together with some ID." He hasn't got any ID. Hmm.

I think you could ignore the need for ID, or have him talk them round.

We once had temporary employees who took their paycheques to one of those immediate cashing places. They could only cash it with a payslip, which they misplaced, and the store cashed it upon a phone call back to us.

Goldenleaves
07-31-2011, 11:23 PM
You can get the National Express bus from the Isle of Wight to London and go wherever from there.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 11:23 PM
For 20 quid though?

Parametric
07-31-2011, 11:24 PM
He could be a great swimmer.

But the shipping lanes! The car ferries! The propellers! :eek:

Goldenleaves
07-31-2011, 11:24 PM
He could hide in the boot of a 4x4. I suppose mermaids are out. *sigh*

Becca_H
07-31-2011, 11:26 PM
You can get the National Express bus from the Isle of Wight to London and go wherever from there.

I don't believe National Express service the Isle of Wight. Niche coach companies might, though.

Probably expensive, though. A van on the ferry is about 130.00, so I can only begin to imagine a bus.

Goldenleaves
07-31-2011, 11:27 PM
My Mum used the National Express. They might have an arrangement with another coach company though. It cost about 50 from middle England about 4 - 6 years ago.

Goldenleaves
07-31-2011, 11:29 PM
He could post himself!

Kenn
07-31-2011, 11:29 PM
I'm not sure a cab driver would be willing to do a 300 mile round trip without at least some money up front.
You could get somebody at the other end to guarantee it with a credit card or debit card payment.

Becca_H
07-31-2011, 11:32 PM
You could get somebody at the other end to guarantee it with a credit card or debit card payment.

This could work, especially if payment is debited up front.

But, a lot of taxi drivers are uncomfortable with these random people going long distances with payment from an unknown third party. Awful lot of crime that taxi drivers can get involved in if they're not careful - so many are.

Selcaby
07-31-2011, 11:32 PM
I forgot to mention, he's travelling with a rabbit in a cardboard box. The rabbit is a transformed human; the MC is going to try to get him turned back when he gets home. He might also be carrying the rabbit's human clothes, along with whatever's in the pockets.

The rabbit would have ID. Of course, it wouldn't have the MC's photo on it. They don't look alike even when they're both human, though they might pass for the same age. So there's a problem with borrowing the rabbit's driving licence, but maybe he's carrying some non-photo ID that would be accepted. A bank card? If so, the MC doesn't know the PIN, and the rabbit isn't telling.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 11:35 PM
I forgot to mention, he's travelling with a rabbit in a cardboard box.


:Wha::ROFL: You could have said that earlier!

Parametric
07-31-2011, 11:35 PM
You could get somebody at the other end to guarantee it with a credit card or debit card payment.

Now that you mention it, I think all you'd need to pay the taxi fare over the phone is your card number and account number. The protagonist might know that by heart, so he wouldn't need the physical card to read off. He could call and pay himself. Would that work?

Parametric
07-31-2011, 11:36 PM
A bank card? If so, the MC doesn't know the PIN, and the rabbit isn't telling.

:ROFL: This gets better with every post.

Becca_H
07-31-2011, 11:37 PM
I forgot to mention, he's travelling with a rabbit in a cardboard box. The rabbit is a transformed human; the MC is going to try to get him turned back when he gets home. He might also be carrying the rabbit's human clothes, along with whatever's in the pockets.

The rabbit would have ID. Of course, it wouldn't have the MC's photo on it. They don't look alike even when they're both human, though they might pass for the same age. So there's a problem with borrowing the rabbit's driving licence, but maybe he's carrying some non-photo ID that would be accepted. A bank card? If so, the MC doesn't know the PIN, and the rabbit isn't telling.

Lol, this made me laugh when I read it.

The problem you have with this, is people are going to think he's weird. People who may be willing to help, may not upon presentation of a random small animal.

A possible cover story is that he went out the previous night, drank too much, and has woken up without knowing where he is or how he got there. (Building the rabbit into this is...I don't know...possible?)

Becca_H
07-31-2011, 11:41 PM
Does the rabbit possess human consciousness?

If so, put the card in the cash machine, and the rabbit's paws on the keypad. If he wants to get home and stop being a rabbit, he will damn well tell.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 11:41 PM
Does he know any magic tricks? He could busk for the money. Could do some good tricks if the rabbit can understand him.

Becca_H
07-31-2011, 11:42 PM
Does he know any magic tricks? He could busk for the money. Could do some good tricks if the rabbit can understand him.

No street trader's licence?

I suspect Isle of Wight council will be hot on stuff like that.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 11:45 PM
But they have to catch him first. I've seen plenty of buskers who disappear at the sight of a uniform.

ironmikezero
07-31-2011, 11:51 PM
Can he lie convincingly?

Alas, this poor lad, a potential bridegroom, has been trundled off by his mates during his bachelor party and left to fend for himself - and this confounded rabbit - in some gods-forsaken place, the brunt of a colossal pre-wedding joke.

Would no one take pity and help this hapless hung-over victim of such twisted mirth?

Have a care - despite his chagrin, his head hurts, so he avoids unnecessary conversation.

How about a lift?

Selcaby
07-31-2011, 11:53 PM
:Wha::ROFL: You could have said that earlier!

Er. That came out wrong. The rabbit is in the box. The MC is carrying the box. So the MC still needs transport.

mirandashell
07-31-2011, 11:57 PM
No, we got it. It was just the way you came out with it made it funny.

Selcaby
07-31-2011, 11:59 PM
Now that you mention it, I think all you'd need to pay the taxi fare over the phone is your card number and account number. The protagonist might know that by heart, so he wouldn't need the physical card to read off. He could call and pay himself. Would that work?

No, because he doesn't have a bank account at all. The no-ID problem again.

Selcaby
08-01-2011, 12:14 AM
Lol, this made me laugh when I read it.

The problem you have with this, is people are going to think he's weird. People who may be willing to help, may not upon presentation of a random small animal.

True. And they'd be right, he is weird. Then again, they wouldn't have to know what was in the box. It's my shopping, that's all. Why has it got holes in? I don't know, it just came like that.


A possible cover story is that he went out the previous night, drank too much, and has woken up without knowing where he is or how he got there. (Building the rabbit into this is...I don't know...possible?)

That might work, but I'm not convinced it's the kind of story he'd tell or that the tone is right for this novel. Besides, talking to people will just make them notice how weird he is -- he's not from this world, and he doesn't know what to say.

Which is why he would really rather not ask for help from strangers.

Selcaby
08-01-2011, 12:19 AM
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I'm thinking at the moment I will go with the pawnbroker and fudge the ID issue. I already had him stay in a hostel earlier in the book, and I think he should have needed ID for that too.

frimble3
08-01-2011, 01:19 AM
I think you've made his life way too complicated, if you just wanted to make sure he gets home, frazzled, before the end of the day.
Why not just have the magic drop him, naked with no possessions but a rabbit in a box, on the outskirts of London?
Far enough that making it home will take all day, esp. if he has to hide in the bushes and try to steal some sort of clothing.
It's putting him on an island that seems to be a little too much to overcome, especially if he's easily upset, and you've already got lots of plot.

Selcaby
08-01-2011, 03:28 AM
I think you've made his life way too complicated, if you just wanted to make sure he gets home, frazzled, before the end of the day.
Why not just have the magic drop him, naked with no possessions but a rabbit in a box, on the outskirts of London?
Far enough that making it home will take all day, esp. if he has to hide in the bushes and try to steal some sort of clothing.
It's putting him on an island that seems to be a little too much to overcome, especially if he's easily upset, and you've already got lots of plot.

:ROFL: You've been reading The Time Traveler's Wife, haven't you?

I didn't set out to write about a guy on a journey with a rabbit. It's all come out of other story considerations. He's been taken to this place for a purpose, and the magic that got him there can't take him home because it's used up. The other guy got transformed because the villain wanted him out of the way. (So did I. His continued presence as a human would have solved too many of my protagonist's other problems.) My protagonist is not the type to abandon him, so what else is he supposed to do? He has to get home.

It's true, my villain has no understanding of where the line between ridiculous and nonridiculous is. You are welcome to laugh, but it doesn't seem so amusing to the characters on the receiving end.

So, no journey is going to be easy for my protagonist, because of who he is. If I give him a journey that looks easy on paper, readers might think he's making a fuss about nothing. London looks easy, because it has great transport links, right? Until you consider that he'd have to go into central London, and if you know how confusing it is and how crowded it can get, you realise (if you know him) that he'd actually have terrible problems with it. I think the Isle of Wight is actually easier for him, despite the ferry. The ferry takes half an hour or less. But it sounds harder, which means it sounds more like how hard it really is. You know, that "I'm on an island?!" sinking feeling. I realise it's my job to express how he really experiences it, but it's always nice to have first impressions on your side.

waylander
08-01-2011, 03:50 AM
The Greyhound coach goes from Ryde to London Victoria for 10

Selcaby
08-01-2011, 04:11 AM
The Greyhound coach goes from Ryde to London Victoria for 10

Thanks, that's useful. In the name of saving money, he could have the worst of both locations and get even more frazzled. His overall journey time would be longer though, giving him a later start on his next challenge. I'll have to think about whether that will work.

Buffysquirrel
08-01-2011, 03:15 PM
When there's nobody around to tell on them, coach drivers will sometimes let you travel short distances for free. Word.

Brindle MacWuff
08-01-2011, 03:39 PM
have your MC show the rabbit a barbecue.
Then show him a taxi.
Then show him a barbecue.
Then show him a taxi.

Let the rabbit work it out, and then he'll hand over his pin number.

On the other hand, if your MC wants to send the rabbit up to Jockland, I'll send him down the train fare. I've got a special
recipe place for succulent bunnies.

Right, better get the carrots on, and prepare a little red wine jus.

Selcaby
08-01-2011, 11:39 PM
Dear Mr MacWuff,

Miss Selcaby has notified me of your intentions towards my leporine person. I'll have you know I am myself an expert in the making of fine jus. I have also travelled extensively in the Far East, where I sampled a few delectable dishes of the canine variety. Only the other day I was thinking it's been too long since I tucked in to a good plate of jong sung kim.

If you have a couple of minutes to spare, you might find this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcxKIJTb3Hg&feature=youtube_gdata_player) edifying.

Yours sincerely,

Le Lapin de la Bote.

Becca_H
08-01-2011, 11:49 PM
Dear Mr MacWuff,

Miss Selcaby has notified me of your intentions towards my leporine person. I'll have you know I am myself an expert in the making of fine jus. I have also travelled extensively in the Far East, where I sampled a few delectable dishes of the canine variety. Only the other day I was thinking it's been too long since I tucked in to a good plate of jong sung kim.

If you have a couple of minutes to spare, you might find this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcxKIJTb3Hg&feature=youtube_gdata_player) edifying.

Yours sincerely,

Le Lapin de la Bote.

Uh oh...

Buffysquirrel
08-02-2011, 01:44 AM
I remember someone once asking me if I had a rat in the box I was carrying. I lied with a straight face.