Here are three different openings that I did as an exercise about a magic shop. I really liked how they turned out and am thinking about how to use these three in a novel. Not sure what roles they would play, but I think the main character would be Bart with Sadie–in some way–playing into it. Zed was the character I used to get into the right mind space for the exercise and he’s such a character, he’ll show up somewhere; I’m sure.
Stepping into Chaos Comics, the ambient magic in the dim, cozy shop made Zed Christi’s body hair jump to attention. Grinning at the knack caused by the invisible, kiwi scented energy—and the wonderfully toasty, shag carpet underfoot—Zed hooted softly in joy as he rubbed the static charge from his chest first. Unlike other shops, he could actually taste the mana.
Work had him visiting shops around the world and there was nowhere else that would let you port-pad to the front arch in your underwear. Nowhere.
Other places could always dwarf Chaos Comics’s boxcar size, but they could never capture the feel.
Rubbing down the rest of his body, Zed fondly mumbled old Joe’s motto, “No shoes, no shirt, no problem. Forgot your pants? That’s cool too.” Registering how much he’d spent over the years, the white carpet which spanned the store—even into the back issue rows—darkened to gold.
Remembering the first time he had seen the effect in his early teens, pride swelled in his forty-year-old chest. He’d managed to maintain his top tier customer status for twelve years running. Second only to Othar Ostrada’s thirty-six, which shouldn’t really count since the sovereign prince never had to earn his own ingots.
Rubbing his hands greedily, Zed stepped up to the spinner rack of the latest releases and grinned at the classic squeaks it gave as he rotated through.
He stopped at the empty bin where the current issues of Frank’s Blazzin’ Pyromancer Tips should have been. So much for buying an extra copies to bag up. Zed frowned at the empty spot. “But it just came out…” Getting the feeling he’d missed the release of a real steamer, Zed called out, “Uh, Joe. Do you have the new issue of Frank’s BPT in my pulls?”
Sadie Arrowhead stepped into Chaos Comics and froze. Everything wrong with the dark, shitty store was epitomized in a dumpy, grown man standing in his tighty-whities spinning a squeaky rack right at the entrance.
This was the same sort of bullshit, pervey old-man crap craft that got this boxcar store booted and blacklisted from more countries than years she’d been alive, Sadie pulled the cover from the dragonstone end of the cinnamon matchstick she created—and had always chewed since—for her master thesis project.
It remained dormant.
Created to only light in the presence of pure magic, it would never light in a shop as sinister as this one.
She glanced to the sandstone archway that led out into the Grand Marketplace in the island nation of Millstra and found the twenty-one and older etching at a child’s eye level. Yet, the ephemeral slime in the seedy air told her instincts that no one in this place would ever enforce it.
She put the cap back on her match. You’re not here for that official reason, Sadie. Just get the books and get out of this shit hole. Not wanting to touch the dumpy man, no less talk to him, she didn’t approach the counter. Instead, she raised her voice and called out, “Shopkeeper! In the name of Magestone and the Sovereign King Uther Skata Ostrada, I demand you hand over all copies Pyromancer Tips.”
Done with the final issue of six arc Demonfire spell bound into Frank’s Blazzin’ Pyromancer Tips, Bart Tsung felt a warming in his head as the magic lesson sunk into his repertoire. Used up, experience shared, the pages and cover went blank. He tossed it into the large black Rubbermaid bin in the employees only area of Chaos Comics. It thunked against the edge and, like the others, waited for distribution to recall them. He guzzled the last of his orange soda and tossed the aluminium into the green Rubbermaid recycling bin.
Bart had heard muffled voices call from the front of the store, but Joe—the old, tight-fisted, liver-spotted owner—wouldn’t pay him if he worked during his break and also wouldn’t let him bank the time. So, even though it went against everything he was learning in Business 414 about customer satisfaction, he let them wait until his time was up.
Opening the narrow door from the cramped break room, his nose curled up. The kiwi air freshener must’ve triple squirted.
When he first got the job, Janaa, his first—and only—girlfriend had once made him try the small, hairy on the outside, delicious on the inside, fruit. Scores of kiwis later, and years after the breakup, the smell still made her memory force its way into his mind. Obviously, she had bound a spell in what most called the cute fruit, but the complexity of even the most simplest of enchantments were always beyond his grasp and—working for tight-fisted Joe—he couldn’t afford a counterspell.
At least, not yet. It’s all about saving up.
Bart check the normally white shag carpet and noted it had turned gold. A customer with deep pockets had come in. He stepped into his flipflops—tight-fisted Joe allowed all kind of weirdos walked in there barefooted—and started to the front.
He froze. Deep green robes interlaced with gold. Magestone. His mind went to the bootleg Blasters DVD set he had in the back. Trying to tell himself it wasn’t about that, Bart walked down the counter toward the customers.
© Ezekiel James Boston
Here are three different openings that I did as an exercise about assassins experiences a hotel room where their target is going to be. It was good fun writing how three different character could/would perceived the same room.
Violette Simms tried to blinked the past away. She had heard the Numi Hotel air freshener spritz—it would every hour—and had expected the light orange scent from her stay in this exact room last month. The subtle peach permeating the hotel room knocked her straight back to her early adolescences.
To Gainesville Texas.
To the Red River Peach Orchard.
To a time when life was only about occasionally plucking peaches with friends, getting home before Miss Lindsey texted a second time, and killing for a living was something only James Bond did.
She shook her head and exhaled sharply.
The different smell had thrown her, but that was good. Get the only difference to the room out of the way. If she didn’t get her job done in an hour, she’d be able to steel herself against subsequent spritzes.
While just short of luxurious, Numi’s rooms were quite spacious. The staff would leave the beige curtains open so, that upon entering, the picturesque view of Bear Lake—resplendent in the late spring sun—would steal your attention from the blueness of the room. It’d be a bit before the teal carpet and aqua wallpaper would register.
Violette had closed those curtains. She wanted Terrence Goodwin, better known as rocker Johnny Win of The Winners, to have nothing else to look at besides the saffron loveseat and, more importantly, the smorgasbord of pills she had laid out on the round glass table top set upon a lacquered tree stump.
Johnny had released a song railing against the President and, rather today or tonight, Violette would make sure that he would be yet another rock n’ roller who, tragically overdosed.
Oskar Lee slipped on his nitrile gloves and slipped into room 313 of the Numi Hotel. Shit. There was absolutely nowhere to hide until night.
The twenty feet wide by thirty feet deep hotel room with blue walls and dark blue carpet had sparse furnishings – sort of like his own apartment. In his case, too much stuff made it difficult to up and relocate on a moment’s notice, but this was supposed to be one of Bear Lake’s more luxurious resort-hotels.
Smelling peaches, his gaze shifted to the glass tabletop set on one of those pricey tree stumps in front of a yellow, dual lazy boy loveseat. Where was the smell coming from?
No welcoming bowl of fruit. Clearly the Numi—with its $250 per night rates had a bunch of shills stacking their ranking on TrueHotelAdvisor.com.
He shrugged off the scent and switched his cinnamon toothpick to the lucky left side of his mouth as he hustled past the loveseat to the king-sized bed positioned two feet from the floor to ceiling windows against the right wall. Early morning sunshine lit the hills on the other side of the lake.
He lifted the dark mustard comforter.
Crap. An oaken base. It’d be possible to hide inside… He knocked on it. Nope. Solid. He smoothed the comforter out.
Oskar had a few scarce minutes to get hidden, comfortably hidden, before the maids made their rounds and the door code was changed. The clients had ordered a Carradine—his specialty—on Jonny Win and it was always a good deal easier to chloroform someone when they were asleep. And a chloroformed target always made for an easy hanging.
This was one of those times when people, obviously, didn’t understand the difference between hiring a lowly assassin and giving patronage to a truly prolific homicidal artist. I mean, when it comes down to it, any monkey can splatter paint on a canvas just like any thug can pull a trigger, but there would only ever be one Jackson Pollock.
Most understand that they are not buying my art. No. My art is mine, and mine alone. They are paying for my discretion and simply providing me with a canvas… And, after this piece of death-art, I’m going to track down the designer who laid out this abortion of a room and make it so they never can do this kind of work again.
Anyone who would pair aquamarine wallpaper with dark teal carpet should have their hands chopped off. Then, their eyes scooped out because they obviously didn’t use them when they picked out sun porch yellow comforters for a king-size bed, and, and chose saffron for the loveseat—is that pleather?
I don’t want to enter this blue rectangle.
I don’t. God, I don’t. But I have to know…
Yup. It’s pleather.
What was that squirting sound—oh my God! Stock-gray Glade air fresheners? In Numi?
Are. You. Kidding me!
That’s going to cost them their nose.
I have to.
So, that’s: their hands for the blues, their eyes for the yellows, their nose for—
Wait. That’s not a typical Glade scent. No, it’s… Peaches… White peaches.
Well, they can keep their nose.
© Ezekiel James Boston
Least. Productive. Weekend. Ever.
Things were going so well. I had just been sent a rough concept of what the cover of book three will look like, had a nice talk with the proofer over my choice of repeatedly jamming two words together, and–having already hit my weekly goals–had a clear schedule going into the Friday evening…
I had started watching Avatar Season 1 earlier in the week as a reward at the end of a good day’s work. Then on wednesday, I rewarded myself with watching two episodes, and again on Thursday. Then Friday–
*Sigh.* Then Friday came and I thought I could knock out my two reward episodes before work and just write myself to sleep.
That didn’t happen.
I work up in the living room and, before I could really give it any thought, resumed my binge watching. Saturday poofed away into the ether and clung to Sunday for survival. Instead of being Saturday’s salvation, Sunday went down too.
So, now that I’ve taken in all three season, here’s my opinion:
Season 1 was well done.
Season 2 seemed a bit loose (in a bad way).
Season 3 felt rushed and unfocused. Don’t mistake me, they got the story across and brought it to a satisfying conclusion, but a lot happened in a very short time leaving me wondering if Nickelodeon told the writers mid-season (presuming here that Avatar isn’t an import) that season four wasn’t going to happen.
“Hurry up, y’all! We gotta stitch Zuko into the group and bring this baby on home.”
When these lapses in productivity happen, I always feel that my subconscious led a rebellion campaign against my will. This makes these rare slips hard to regret…which is I don’t. The show proved to be good fun and that’s probably exactly what I needed.