Friday, January 10, 2014

Writing update #19

So, I've finished updating the opening chapters of PAINTING. The first chapter became 4 chapters, and the second became 2 chapters. The third and forth are about the same, though they've been updated to better match Zack's personality. When I have readers go through it, I'll post the new chapter one. I've also started back on BURNING's second draft. 

So, this is the second draft of my first scene from this year's NaNo WriMo, BURNING FOR THE GLORY OF PEACE! I've revised it a good bit. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1 (Jerked into trouble)

            John’s white cellphone snapped in half when he flipped it open.
            The screen-half of his cellphone bounced off of the steps leading into Higashi-Washinomiya station and landed beside the large red postbox. The bright, noonday sun reflected from the screen into his eyes.
            “Fuck!” John spiked the other half then yelled.
            The handful of people milling around the train station turned to stare at him with their mouths agape. Among them, there was not a single member of the PTA. Luckily, his students’ parents were busy hosting a summer bazaar at his school despite the heat and humidity.
            After shaking his head, John climbed the steps into the station. Just because I’m a teacher, doesn’t mean I should have to work these Saturday events. He groaned. All I want to do for the rest of the day is relax and grab a few beers with Taisei. He pulled out his wallet and touched it to the ticket gate.
            When it read the Suica inside his wallet, the ticket gate dinged.
            John moved towards the bathroom until the nose shredding scent of bleach slapped him in the face. His eyes watered.
            A middle-aged woman stepped from the men’s bathroom with a bucket in one hand and a mop in the other. She wore her brown hair that was a bit darker than his own in a bun. Just like his mother.
            John’s heart slammed into his chest, and he gasped. His hands trembled.
            His mother’s face appeared in his mind. Suddenly, a sneer contorted her lips.
            A choking sensation washed over him.
            His mother screamed.
            John’s muscles slacked. He reached towards the nightstand beside his red racecar bed and patted its smooth surface.
            Something cold rested under his hand. Something hard. Something sharp.
            John killed the memory and turned away from the bathroom. Why? He sniffled. Why did she make me do it? After wiping the tears from his cheeks, he stumbled over to the escalator then rode it to the second platform.
            Dozens of people crowded the Utsunomiya-line platform that headed towards Tokyo. Buzzing conversations riddled the air. The musty stink of Japanese salary-men and their inability to use deodorant made John gag.
            By moving closer to the tracks and away from the smell, John tried to hold down the onigiri that he had eaten earlier. He closed his eyes. Several calming breaths later, he opened them again.
            Gray stones littered the train tracks, standing out among the brown ones.
            “What are those for?” John blinked.
            Something pulled at him. The gray stones pulsed — thumped like a beating heart. They called out to him.
            In order to inspect them further, John leaned forward. Maybe I could grab —
            “Fucking wonderful,” a youthful voice said from behind in Japanese. The voice carried the vowels a bit too long.
            John spun.
            A Japanese man more than a head-length shorter than John stood there. The man’s gray hair contrasted his child-like face, giving him an old yet young appearance. The man marched towards John.
            The stench of burning potatoes filled the air.
            John’s upper-lip curled, and he scrubbed his tongue across his teeth. Who’s cooking potatoes?
            The man’s eyes shifted from brown and began to glow a shade of red that matched John’s own.
            “Wh— why?” John stumbled backwards. “Why are your eyes glowing?”
            “So, seeing the stones wasn’t a fluke.” The man grunted. “At least you speak Japanese.”
            At a loss for words, John nodded.
            “But for someone to awaken here? Right in front of me?” The man spat. “And a foreigner at that.”
            “No time to explain now.” The man grabbed him by the arm. “Don’t puke on me like the last foreigner I met in a station. That dirty Picasso … .” A pencil-thick, blue cable extended from his stomach and touched one of the gray stones.
            The world lurched. John’s stomach twisted, and his onigiri came up. While colors and shapes passed by in a blur, the splatter of vomit echoed in the distance like a soft whisper. Wind ripped at his face. Kuki station disappeared behind him. Haseda station barely registered. Then, everything became still.
            The man released John’s arm somewhere outside of Omiya station.
            John fell to his knees. “What —” He coughed. “— just happened.”
            “Come.” The man gestured towards McDonalds. “We must prepare for the job.”
            “Who — better yet, what are you?”
            The man shrugged. “The same as you … just older.” He grinned. “Call me Hyuga.”
            John’s heart thumped, and his mouth went dry. “I … .” His voice cracked. Should probably run away from this monster, but how? Several deep breaths later, he pushed himself to his feet. He wobbled back and forth.
            “Come on.”
            “McDonalds? Really?”
            “We need to recharge and prepare.
            “Again … McDonalds? Really?”
            Hyuga laughed. “I’ll explain once we sit down to eat.” He patted John on the back.
            John stumbled forward, and his knees buckled.
            Hyuga reached out and grasped onto John’s shoulder, keeping John from falling face first into the street. “Besides, you need to get your bearings before we do anything.”
            “Ha!” That’s putting it lightly.
            Keeping John firmly in his grip, Hyuga marched towards McDonalds. With a straight face, he ordered ten large french fries and nothing else.
            The clerk arched an eyebrow.
            John returned the gesture and rubbed at his throat. “Water too … please.”
            Hyuga sighed as if the free water cost him a trip to Tokyo Disney Sea. “I guess I’ll take a water, too.” Once the ten large french fries had been piled atop two trays, he gestured for John to follow him upstairs.
            John followed with a hesitant step. Strength slowly returned to his knees, and by the time he reached the top of the stairs, he felt like he could make a run for it. Though, he doubted he could get far if Hyuga really wanted to keep him close. John would have his peaceful weekend. He just would, but a quick lunch at McDonalds wouldn’t waste too much of his time. He could sit.
            While his head jerked back and forth, Hyuga edged forward into the dining room. “Over there.” He pointed to the far corner in the smoking section.
            “Do you smoke?”
            “Then why not —” John gestured towards a table on his left. “— here?”
            “Too many people to hear what I have to say.”
            “Oh … .” I don’t like this at all.
            “Come on.” Hyuga strolled into the smoking section and took the outer seat facing the wall.
            Despite John never sitting on the inside, against the wall, he didn’t complain. Who knew what this Hyuga was capable of. “So —”
            “Start eating first. I’ll talk.” Hyuga shoved a fistful of french fries into his mouth and chewed once before swallowing.
            John’s stomach turned. How can he eat french fries like that? “Ummm —”
            I said eat.”
            The burning smells of rancid tobacco drifted through the air while the bustling conversations blanketed the entire dining room. So many people continued to walk in.
            John’s fingers clung to the table.
            Puke rose into the back of John’s mouth. The unclean table twisting his stomach tighter than Hyuga did on the trip back to Omiya.
            After swallowing,, John ate some unhealthy, disgusting french fries.
            “That’s more like it.” Hyuga ingested another handful of french fries. “You’re probably asking yourself, why did we only order french fries? And what does this have to do with magic?”
            Yes … actually … . “Wait … magic?” A french fry caught in John’s throat, and he choked. He took a gulp of water then coughed.
            “Well, that is a general term for it. It’s more of a power than magic.”
            I want to argue about how stupid this sounds, but … . “And the potatoes?”
            Hyuga swallowed another mouthful. “Every type of power-user must pay a cost. Ours just happens to be potatoes.”
            “That makes perfect sense.”
            Hyuga’s brow scrunched.
            John rolled his eyes. Japanese people just don’t understand sarcasm. “By perfect sense, I mean that it makes absolutely no sense at all.”
            “I see. A foreigner joke?”
            “Racist much?”
            “Not that much, but a little.”
            Before groaning, John squeezed the bridge of his nose. “Great. This is wonderful.”
            “I’ll make an exception for you since your Japanese is so clean.”
            John nodded, trying not to smile. One thing he was proud of was his level of Japanese after studying so hard for so long.
            “Anyway, Chefs —”
            “Chefs?” John blinked a few times then shook his head. “What —”
            “Our kind. It’s the designated term for power-users who require potatoes.”
            “Where was I?” Hyuga scratched the crown of his head. “Oh yeah. So, potatoes are the fuel that we burn in our Stomach Ovens to power our link … s.” He stared into John’s eyes. “Red … so, who have you killed?”
            John gulped. My mother. “Killed?” He shook his head. “No, no, no. I was born with red eyes.” Wasn’t I?
            “I see … .”
            “You’re so racist.”
            Hyuga chuckled. “Sometimes. Too bad though. Having someone else on my side with more than one link would have been nice.”
            “More than one link?”
            “Yes. A Chef is only born with one link. They must kill someone close to them to harvest more.”
            John licked his dry lips, and the salt burned them. Is that why Mother was trying to suffocate me in my sleep that night? “I understand. But how do potatoes we eat power the magic?”
            “Simple.” Hyuga waggled his index-finger. “You ignite your Stomach Oven then mentally shovel potatoes into it from your Stomach Fridge. It will activate your link, and you attach the link to an infused item.”
            “An infused —”
            “Just try to burn for now and extend your link.”
            John closed his eyes, and for some reason, he could see three objects within his mind. One looked like a pile of gold while the other two were stone-like and hot to the mental-touch. Why had he never sensed these before? Is that what Hyuga meant earlier by awaken? Because John was sure what the second source of heat was, he fed the golden substance into only one.
            Heat. A blazing inferno. Then, the strong scent of burning potatoes filled the area around him and crushed the stink of tobacco.
            His stomach felt like it was on fire, though it didn’t hurt. John opened his eyes to see a glowing, translucent cable extend from his stomach.
            A deep crimson light bathed the table.
            “What?” John trembled then the Stomach Oven cut off on its own.
            The link vanished.
            The red light disappeared.
            Though it thinned, the smell of burned potatoes still remained.
            Hyuga clapped. “Very good. For your first time, that was amazing.” After checking his watch, he shook his head. “I’ll explain more later. For now, just eat.”
            Feeling a touch of excitement, John began to shovel the french fries into his mouth. His peaceful weekend could wait a little while longer.


Next: Update #20 BURNING Chapter 2 scene 1 Draft 2

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