So I finally decided to post the first chapter of the story I’ve been writing. I might post the second chapter later. Any feedback would be appreciated.
“What if we tried acid? I could get some from the pool store. Ya reckon that’d do it?”
“I doubt it. We tried fire and it just came back after that.”
“Yeah… What if we bury it agin?”
“Did that work last time?”
“Good point, but there’s gotta be somethin’ we kin do!”
“We could try cutting it up. I’ve got scissors in my room.”
“That didn’t work last time, either.”
“I know, but this thing irritates me and I need to vent.”
“If ya insist.”
“Who knows? Maybe it’ll work this ti- oh my… What happened to my room?!”
“It looks like a twister went ‘n tore this place up! Did one of yer little brothers git in?”
“No, I always lock the door. I don’t want them getting their hands on the… Wait. No, he wouldn’t have. That kusottare!”
“Naw… Yer not thinkin’-”
“Who else could’ve done it?!”
“We’ve got to get rid of this thing. It doesn’t matter how, we just need it gone.”
“But how? We’ve been tryin’ ta destroy it fer the last week!”
“There’s only one way.”
“You aren’t actually proposin’ that we…”
“It’ll only be for a short time. Until he stops looking. We can get it back and figure out what to do with it afterwards.”
“That’s a mighty big burden to be puttin’ on a perfect stranger.”
“I know. I don’t like it any more than you do, but this has gotten way out of hand.”
“What if I took it off yer hands for a week or two? Until things cool down.”
“That chinpo knows where you live. He’d come looking for it.”
“He’ll probably come, regardless.”
“But this way he won’t find it. We can just tell him we actually destroyed it. He’ll look and find nothing.”
“And then just give up? Y’know he’s more persistent than that.”
“I know. It’s less than ideal, but this is all we can do!”
“I hate to admit it, but yer right. Jaysus, how did things get so dern complicated?”
“Yeah. Stupid book.”
* * *
Thomas Jameson awoke from his nap to find the rest of the class filing out the door. He ruffled his blond hair and followed them.
After retrieving his meal from his locker, he searched for an empty table. The amphitheater? A group of tall boys in jerseys were already sitting there. Outside the music room? The spot was occupied by the band and their instruments. A quick survey of other dining areas produced similar results.
Looks like I’m eating outside the library.
The large, grey building sat in the middle of Delores High School. Its wide roof provided cover to the handful of students eating beneath. There, Tom finished picking apart the last scraps of his lunch. His attention drifted from the background murmur to the chatter of a nearby group of girls. Tom’s understanding was limited, but their conversation seemed to revolve around shoes. Or glues. Or elephants. It was hard to tell at that distance.
“Hi! My friends and I were wondering if you’d like to come eat with us.”
Tom gawked at the girl who had spoken. She looked to be a hair taller than him - average for a girl. A few blonde locks slipped out of her ponytail to frame her face. Straight, white teeth peeked through her smile. As cliché as it sounded, her blue eyes really did remind him of a clear day’s sky.
How long have I been sitting here staring at her face? QUICK, SAY SOMETHING, IDIOT!!!
“Uh, thanks,” Tom mumbled, “but I was going to the library. Do some reading.”
“Oh, okay then. Have fun!” She walked back to her friends.
Did she know I was lying? Did she care? Doesn’t matter. I said it, now I have to do it.
Tom wandered into the chilly building and sat down at an unoccupied table. History and psychology texts awaited in his backpack.
Which one should I read? History? If I fall asleep, I’ll ruin my perfect attendance record.
Tom flipped the heavy psychology text to a random page.
It wasn’t fair surprising me like that, but I guess it was nice that she tried to talk. Does she like me? Should I have said more? She was cute.
Tom let his mind wander through the end of lunch and then his history and psychology naptimes. When school let out, he hopped on his bike and went home. He met with an ambush almost immediately.
“Your father and I have a special surprise for you!” Tom’s mother announced. She hid something behind her back.
“We know you haven’t graduated just yet, but we got you a gift to celebrate.” She presented the object to him. “Happy graduating high school… day!”
It was a book. To commemorate the end of education and kick off the summer, his mother had bought him… a BOOK.
And I suppose you want a five page essay on it by the end of the month as well.
“Oh, cool. Thanks, mom,” Tom said. She dropped it into his hands.
This thing is heavy! It’ll take weeks to slog through!
The book’s cover looked like some type of leather, but felt more like cheap plastic. The fact that it was sapphire in hue supported that conclusion. An image of a black gemstone on a silver amulet decorated the cover. Embossed in gold ink, the title stood out.
“Phylactery: Chronicle of a Lich,” Tom read.
“We know you love dark, Gothic novels and those Dungeons and Dragons, magicky, fantasy games, so we bought this on Craig’s List for you!” his mother explained. “It was a REAL bargain. It cost me less than ten dollars AND it was hand delivered! No shipping and handling fee!”
“That’s pretty economic of you.”
Here’s a hint to all you parents out there: Telling your children how little money you spend on them will NOT earn you a high-quality nursing home. Huh. This might actually be an interesting read, though. If nothing else, it’ll make a decent paperweight. Heh. Using paper to weigh down paper. Irony is fun.
A sigh pulled Tom back into the moment.
“If only your sister were here,” his mother said.
Sucks to be her.
“She’d be a senior in college about now, wouldn’t she?” his mother continued.
Tom’s chest tightened.
Karen was four years ahead of me. Add the four… take the derivative… carry the G…
“Yeah. That’s about right,” Tom wheezed. He grabbed an orange inhaler from his pocket. Two puffs eased the pressure in his chest.
“Do you need any more albuterol, Tom?”
“No, I have another upstairs. Thanks for the book, mom. I’ll read it before bed. I’ve got some other things to take care of.”
“Tell me when you’re almost finished with that one so I can find you another,” Tom’s mother called as he left.
Okay, so that wasn’t entirely true. I don’t have any tests or homework like the juniors; I’m just not in the mood to talk about sis right now.
In the living room, Tom updated his Facebook page.
-Woke up, went to school, fell asleep, solved meaning of life, won Nobel Peace Prize in Awesome, became time-traveling lord of space and knowledge, woke up, came back home, received paperweight from parents, updated status. Conclusion: Dream Tom > Awake Tom.
With Facebook updated, Tom logged into his favorite online game. He teamed up with a friend and killed some odd hours. After finishing a dungeon, Tom noticed how late it had become. He hadn’t even eaten dinner yet. He excused himself and headed for the kitchen.
A quick rummage through the freezer produced a microwavable burrito. One minute of heating left it frozen inside. It went back in for another two. When it was done, molten cheese bubbled from its creases. Tom wolfed it down. Now with a burnt tongue, he went about his nightly tasks: shower, floss, brush teeth, go to sleep.
As Tom got cozy in bed, a nagging thought wheedled its way into his mind.
I didn’t even open my new paperweight.
The decision plagued him for a minute. Weather the cold outside the blanket or suffer the guilt of a broken promise? Cold or guilt? Tom kicked off the covers and sat down at his desk. The book looked at him with its onyx-gemmed cover.
“Phylactery: Chronicle of a Lich.”
Phylactery. That’s something associated with Dungeons and Dragons, right?
Tom meandered downstairs, evicted the family cat from her chair, and searched Wikipedia.
Phylactery definition one: An amulet or charm.
I could put this book on a chain and hang it around my neck. How would I look? Could be a new fad.
Definition two: Leather boxes with Judaic scripture in them.
Tom felt the book’s cover again.
Nope, still cheap plastic.
Definition three: the object a lich puts its soul into.
That’s right! Mom said it was some kind of fantasy story. And a lich is just a powerful, undead sorcerer. Wouldn’t a book about the life of a lich be an oxymoron? Like a jumbo shrimp.
Tom glanced at the clock. 12:30. He wouldn’t be able to read much tonight.
I can at least get through the first page.
Opening the book revealed a blank page. There was no title, no author, no praise or disdain from literary critics, not even a sticker with a price less than ten dollars. The second page contained more of the same. No publisher, no copyright notice, no sappy “this book is dedicated to my cousin’s uncle’s son who died of a massive diarrheal infarction.” Tom turned the next few pages. White like a bleached, albino polar bear in the snow. There wasn’t a single word in the book.
You get what you pay for.
Mildly disappointed, Tom closed the azure cover. As his fingers left it, an intense vertigo spun the world like a cyclone.
No, no, no! Don’t take me to Oz!
Tom thrashed about, scattering papers and knocking over electronics. Somewhere during his fit, he and the chair toppled to the ground. The walls and furniture revolved around him as though he were in a Tilt-a-Whirl. Then, just as quickly as it’d set in, the dizzy spell ended.
Okay, don’t freak out, review. A: Touching the cheap wad of paper made me dizzy. B: My parents suck at buying gifts. What explains A? Contact poison absorbed through the skin? Did some psycho think it would be funny to sell a book coated with deadly neurotoxin for low, low prices? No, that makes no sense. Mom touched it and she’s fine. And why choose a book with no pages? Why not one people would want to touch like something with a boy wizard or sparkly vampires? Contact poison’s out. Was there something in the burrito I ate?
Tom’s stomach rumbled.
Tomorrow’s gonna be rough, isn’t it?
He glanced at the clock. Monday night. Twelve thirty two. Or was it Tuesday morning?
Wait a minute…
Tom smacked his face.
Twelve thirty two! I’m just tired! Duh.
In Tom’s panic, it seemed he’d knocked the book open. He flipped it shut.
Did I just touch the…
He looked at the tome. No dizzy spell assaulted him.
Yeah, that’s it. I’m just tired from a hard day of sleeping at school and avoiding pretty girls. That sounds about right.
Tom took the book back upstairs, threw it on the desk, and crawled into bed.
That was totally productive. Still, I can burn it for warmth or use it to crush bugs. Heck, maybe I can sell it online and turn a profit. That’d be funny. But what could anyone possibly want with a useless, empty book?