Monday, April 2, 2007

Lucas' First Line Assignment

Well, this is actually not really what Lucas asked for--a short story of no more than 1500 words, starting with the first line he'd provided--but once I started writing these characters, I saw their story would be a lot more than 1500 words. I fell in love with them (and the ones not introduced in this bit), but since the first line was his, and the concept came from there, I'll give you the first 1500 words or so of:

Herald in Merriland

Chapter One


The rain plummeted to the ground like tiny meteorites. Herald Weaver (his mother thought the alternate spelling was romantic) feared it might turn out to be one of those days as he gathered his briefcase and umbrella in preparation for his interview. His fears were confirmed twenty minutes after he’d left the house and his umbrella failed to open a second time.

He dashed from his car into the building that housed the law offices of Kimble, Bramble and Bernstein, and took a moment to gather his thoughts before boarding the elevator. He checked the nearby glass-plated directory to verify the address and saw his reflection. The hair he’d so meticulously combed to the left this morning now dripped in six-inch long strands over his right ear and his clothes were soaked through. He carefully smoothed the strands back into position, stepped into the elevator, and tried to convince himself that things could only get better from here.

Lighted numerals marked his way up each floor...two...three...four. Herald glanced down to pick up the briefcase he’d sat on the floor next to the useless umbrella. He shook the case slightly to remove some of the water. A ping announced he’d arrived at his destination and Herald turned as the doors of the elevator slid open. He faced a solid brick wall. He wondered if things could possibly get worse.

A hand reached through the wall and grabbed him by the throat.


*********


“You look like an angel,” King Barak whispered to his sleeping wife.

The facts that she outweighed him by over fifty pounds and snored louder than the rusted muffler of a pickup truck traveling a dirt road did nothing to diminish her ethereal beauty in his eyes.

A rap at the door turned his attention away from the queen.

“Enter!” he commanded. He didn’t fear waking his wife; in fact, he needn’t have whispered earlier. She’d been under a sleeping spell for almost a year.

A tiny man in a red pointed hat entered and bowed, his hat falling forward as he bent.

“Yes?” Barak heard the excitement in his own voice and tried to control it.

“I believe so, yes, Sire.”


*********


Herald didn’t have time to scream. He was jerked through the wall so fast he hadn’t even had time to register the fact that the very strong hand around his throat was attached to the very strong arm belonging to Dildo Pong, bodyguard of the Wizard Tom, Magician and nephew to the King of Merriland.

(Perhaps it should be mentioned that Dildo’s mother once heard a story about a chunky hero named Bilbo and thought it a nice name for her chunky baby boy. Unfortunately, Mrs. Pong was also a bit hard of hearing. Tom’s mother, on the other hand, lacked the romanticism of Mrs. Weaver and Mrs. Pong, and felt “Tom” was a perfectly suitable name for a boy, no fancy spelling needed. She still would have done the same had she known he'd grow up to be a great wizard, which tells you something about her.)

Herald still didn't know any of this because he fainted as soon as he saw the disembodied hand appear in a brick wall where a brick wall shouldn’t have been.

Tom, however, knew everything.

“I got him!” Dildo shouted, holding the limp, soaking form of Herald by the neck and bouncing him up and down.

“Good job, Dildo. Now please put him down gently so that we can have a look at him,” Tom said with a voice that suggested years of practice being patient with seven-foot tall bald men with long feet and short attention spans.

“Hmm...” the wizard hummed as he walked around the slumped form of Herald. “He’s a bit...wetter than I would have expected.”

“I didn’t do it!”

“I wasn’t accusing you, Dildo, just making an observation.” Tom pulled a wand out of his robe sleeve and said, “Anyway, we should clean him up some before the king arrives. I’ve already sent one of the garden gnomes so they should be here soon.”

“What you got in mind?” Dildo’s protruding brow furrowed, giving his lone eyebrow the appearance of a caterpillar with cramps.

“Just leave it to me and you keep an eye on the door. Signal if you see the king coming,” said Tom.

“What sorta signal?”

“Cough.”

“I ain’t sick.”

Tom took a deep breath and closed his eyes briefly. “All right then, just stamp your foot to let me know if you see them coming,” he said.

“Which one?”

“That one,” said Tom, pointing at Dildo’s size 24 left foot. (His right foot was a size 24 also, just to be on the safe side.)

Dildo nodded and lumbered toward the door pointing at his left foot and mumbling “this one, this one, this one.”

“Now, as for you...” Tom turned and pointed his wand to the dripping figure on the floor. “Resecate!”

Herald’s hair and clothing dried instantly, though his hair had fallen over his right ear again. He was still out cold.

“Curious,” Tom mumbled as he looked at Herald’s hair. He wondered if it was a lawyer thing. He wouldn’t be surprised. He’d never met an attorney before, but he’d heard rumors and studied the scriptures. Some rumors he’d scarcely believed, but faced with the crumpled form of Herald Weaver, he thought there might be some truth.

“King’s comin’!” Dildo stamped both feet and bellowed.

“Shit.” Tom shook the prone man and jerked him to his feet. “You’d better get ready,” he said to the now-blinking Herald. “We don’t have much time.”


*********

“What was that? Did you feel something?” Mimsy asked her familiar, Septimus. (It was widely believed Mimsy had no mother, which was in fact, not true, but which she let people believe because when you’re an apple-cheeked, pert-nosed, curly-haired witch named Mimsy you take what you can get by way of inspiring fear.)

Septimus glanced up from licking his paw and stretched. He’d felt nothing but the warm pull of an oncoming nap.

“Nothing? You didn’t feel as if someone just came into the world, but... but...no one left?”

Mimsy shivered. Septimus yawned and curled into a bit of sunlight on the back of the sofa.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Mimsy said darkly as she pulled the cat from his perch. “We have work to do.”


**********


“Uncle Bara-- Sire!”

Herald watched, bewildered, as a man in a wizard costume (flowing robe, tall pointy hat with gold stars on it) and a giant bald man in green pants and brown leather vest bowed before another man wearing a royal costume (ermine robes, large crown.) Just behind the royal was what looked like a living garden gnome (attire too frightening to describe.)

Herald groaned. This was worse than one of those days. "Where am I?” he asked.

“You are most welcome here, at Ernie’s, in Merriland!” the royally dressed man’s voice reverberated on the stone walls.

“Ernie’s? Maryland!” Herald looked around the group in panic.

Attorney, Sire,” said the man in the wizard’s cap. “Singular. ‘Attorneys’ is plural. Common mista...that is, common interpretation... that is, not so common because only the most learned men have access to the scriptures...” his voice trailed off and Herald noted beads of sweat forming around the rim of the man’s conical hat.

“That’s what I said, Tom,” the king said after a heartbeat’s worth of silence. “Your hat must be too tight over your ears. I’ll see to it you’re issued a new one. You should have told me you were having trouble hearing with that one.”

“Thank you, Sire,” said Tom, adjusting his hat. “I didn’t wish to be any trouble. You’re very thoughtful.”

Herald shook his head and spoke again. “Would someone please tell me where I might find the law offices of Kimble, Bramble and Bernstein? I’m late for an appointment.” He lifted his briefcase to make the point.

Everyone backed up a step and looked at him in alarm, except for the king who was grinning broadly.


*********


Mimsy pushed Septimus away from the black bowl of water on the table and peered into it. She saw only her reflection.

“I know I felt something.” She turned to the cat, “Septimus, fetch my cards.”

Septimus dipped a paw into the water then licked it.

“Good idea,” said Mimsy. “See what you can come up with while I check the cards.”

She hurried to a nearby cupboard, retrieved a small, black velvet bag and returned to the table. She took the Tarot cards out of the bag and began to shuffle carefully. Two cards slipped out, face up, onto the table.

Justice and the Magician.

Mimsy picked up the Magician. “Tom, no doubt,” she muttered. “But what’s he up to?”

She pictured him clearly and rejected the thought that the blue hat with gold stars complemented his blond hair and blue eyes. He was a wizard, for crying out loud. Undoubtedly up to no good.

She blinked away his image and put her other hand over the Justice card. A terrible image began to grow in the back of her mind and arrived, full bloom, in the front. She snatched her hand back and stared at Septimus in horror.

“Surely, even he wouldn’t try something that dangerous, would he?”

"I wouldn’t put anything past him,” Septimus said. (Actually, what Septimus said was, “mreow mrerp,” but Mimsy was sure she’d heard him correctly.)

“Well, we’ll just have to bring in reinforcements then,” she sighed, gathering herself together.

After Mimsy had written the necessary letter, she pulled her black robe and traditional witch’s hat from the same cupboard from whence she’d taken the cards. She intensely disliked traditional garb, preferring soft sweaters and loose cotton trousers when home alone, but she was on a mission. Further, she had a public image to maintain.

Unfortunately, that image looked something like this: at sixteen, Mimsy stopped growing upward at five feet tall; her breasts, however, continued to grow outward for the next several years as if they expected to belong to someone’s six-foot tall, three-hundred pound grandmother. The effect when she closed her robes was that the material fell straight from her impressive bosom down to the floor, giving her the appearance of a squat, black chest of drawers with a hat on top. Because of this, and her face's natural tendency toward roundness, most people assumed Mimsy was fat, when in fact, she only weighed a hundred pounds. A good twenty of that was in her bra.

Nevertheless, she closed her robes, settled the hat over her red curls and marched out the door.

10 comments:

Lucas Pederson said...

Amazing! It's great to hear you will be continuing this! I'd love to read more. I was hooked from the beginning. I esspeceally love the bodyguard's name: Dildo Pong! Hilarious! I admire your work. And the thing with this is that it's so original! I liked the elevator doors opening to s solid brick wall and the garden gnome. You know I wrote a poem about an evil garden gnome on my blog right? I also wrote a short story using the poem as an idea.
Great, great work! And I want to thank you for giving this a try!

Kate S said...

Thanks, Lucas. I had just signed on to make some edits I forgot and saw that you had already commented.

I didn't know about your garden gnome poem & short story - I'll be sure to check it out. In fact, what I'd signed on to add was the attire of the gnome was too frightening to describe. Creep little buggers, aren't they? :)

The elevator opening to a brick wall actually happened to someone I know (no hand came out of it, though.) :) I thought it was horrifying and have been waiting to use in a story. Glad you gave me the opportunity. :)

Lucas Pederson said...

Funny how real life can inspire great ideas for writing isn't it?
The gnome poem is on my blog under Febuary entitled "Walk". There's also a picture I drew to accompany the poem. If you get a chance check it out. Thanks again for giving my little assignment a try, I'm glad everything worked out for you and that this story will continue.

Kate S said...

Well, Lucas, you said you wanted to read more, so I added through the end of chapter one. I didn't post the last bit originally because it brings things up to around 1700 words, give or take a few. I hope you enjoy it. :)

Lucas Pederson said...

Oh I like Mimsy. She's a regular firecracker! You gave me more and this is great! The only problem now is that I want even more! I want to know what comes next. This is very good and I'm glad you're going to make this into something. A novel with these characters would be absolutly awesome! I look forward to reading more when and if you post it. Thank you so much for this.

Susan Miller said...

Fantastic, Kate! Damn, you are good, girl. I love your imagination and these characters.

etain_lavena said...

wowi...this is awesome...so very awesome:)
sorry only read it now:)
wonderful:)

Kate S said...

Thanks Susan and Etain. :)

Travis said...

I came over from Lucas' place.

Wow - this is delightful.

Kate S said...

Thanks, Travis. I was just thinking I should repost this since I've made some edits. (This was a first draft.)

I appreciate the feedback and the fact that you stopped by.