I worked at NeXT the summer of 94. I was in the break room with 2 colleagues when Steve Jobs walked in and started making a bagel. We were sitting at a table eating ours when he out of the blue asked us “Who is the most powerful person in the world?” I said Mandela since I had just been there as an international observer for the elections. In his confident fashion he stated “NO!…you are all wrong…the most powerful person in the world is the story teller.” At this point I was thinking to myself “Steve, I love you but there is a fine line between genius and loco..and I think I am witnessing this right now”. Steve continued, “The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come and Disney has a monopoly on the storyteller business. You know what? I am tired of that bullshit, I am going to be the next storyteller” and he walked out with his bagel.
Which is easier to write? Story or a screenplay? I’m not talking about the formatting and differences, just the creative freedom allowed. Seems to me screenplays have a lot more leeway in PoVs and jumping from scene to scene to skip the boring bits. Also, leeway in narration – How loosely should a writer break from the character PoV to insert his presence into the narration, perhaps just to explain certain things or make quick quip.
Lemme know what you think of the intro I’ve written below.
- 3 scene, breaks represented by a space (no transition, just break and start again somewhere else)
- One sudden change in PoV from intro character to main guy. I plan to play between the 2 PoVs later on.
- Random dialogue from sub-characters.
- Random insertions from a narration stand-point.
Too messy? If you don’t notice of the above, that means I’m doing something right. Cheers.
When John was little, the one thing he loved most in the world were nuggets.
He didn’t know what it was about those little breaded chunks of meat, but once his ma has fried up a batch of those crispy treats and popped one into his mouth, he was hooked. His pop-pop had bought them as a treat on his fifth birthday, but lil’ John always wanted more.
Whether dipped in barbecue sauce, or eaten plain, John loved munching on that sweet savory meat. He could have nuggets for lunch, dinner, and when ma had to milk the cows early in the morning, he would sneak out the leftovers for breakfast. Punishment would follow if he got caught, but he didn’t care. The only thing that mattered were the nuggets.
One thing about nuggets though, there was no way to make them on the farm. So every week, Pop-pop would put the boy in the pickup, and drive down to the city to get a bag of them down at the Safe-mart. It was the only time John got alone with Pop-pop, so he tagged along without fuss. He never liked the city much, and it didn’t like him either. It was loud, crowded, and the people there liked talking too much.
In the city, John would put a hand to his face when somebody got near, he didn’t like them staring, but still he could hear them, whispering and sniggering all round. “Pay no attention to them John,” Pop-pop would say, and the adults would leave him alone. But it was the children who were the cruelest one.
Rat-face, freak-show, retard, just some of the names the children in this accursed city called him. They would point, laughing at his protruding teeth, his sagging left eye, and the constant dribble that went down the side of his mouth. John hated them, and he made up his mind early to never ever live in the city.
Inside the safe-mart, things were no better. The constant stares left him feeling awkward, and there was nowhere in the bright-lit aisles to hide. Pop-pop was friends with the supervisor in the store, and he would go round back with her for a little chat, leaving John to fend for himself in the frozen section. John resented his father for that, but it usually meant a dinner of MickeyD’s nuggets later, so he never complained.
But the safe-mart was also where he discovered kindness. Barrett, the butcher, has noticed the boy alone, and unlike the rest, he would beckon for him to come over, inviting him to watch him work. Barrett would talk, and John would listen. The man would sharpen his blades and chop up the meat, stacking them high on the counter, waiting for customers to pick out the choicest bits.
Sometimes, business in the store was slow, and he would cook up a little something for the boy. He knew John loved nuggets, but he wanted John to experiment. Cutting up meats into the same size chunks as nuggets, he would bread them and fry them up, offering John a little taste of everything. John liked him, and he liked the treats, they soon became fast friends.
Then one day, just like any other, Barrett was slicing up a side of beef. His knife slipped. In the blink of an eye, John watched as the blade severed the end of Barrett little finger, chopping through the bone just below the first segment. The dismembered digit flopped on the table and rolled onto the floor. John looked at it as the butcher stood there screaming bloody murder.
John had no recollection of crying then, he only remembered watching. He watched when the finger bounced and twitched on the floor, its white skin and pink flesh coated in the still-warm blood of Barrett. It called out to the boy, like a nugget. John walked over and picked it up.
“Gimme that son, I need to get it to a… what are you doing…John NO!”
Pop-pop heard the screams, and came charging back into the store, his hands swrestling with the buckle of his belt. He found his young son staring at the stricken butcher, blood stains on his little hands, and a red gob trickling down the side of his chin. John was gnawing on something, he turned around and gave his Pop-pop a happy look.
“The devil! The devil!” Barrett screamed, flailing his arms, trying to get help.
“Oh hell John…” Pop-pop quietly took his son into his arms, and fled away from the store.
News spread like wildfire. By the time they have reached home, TV reporters were already covering the story, calling John the devil’s boy. Soon, Pop-pop knew they would come for him. He got out his shotgun and loaded it up.
The angry mob got there before the police, arriving in cars and pickups that stretched up down the road. The man leading them was their pastor, and he demanded that the boy be handed over, so that the demon can be exorcised.
“But he’s an angel, my angel,” Ma had told them, pleading with the men while pop-pop shoved his gun up their faces.
“That’s up to the good Lord to decide Betsy. I told ya you and Eric were never meant to be, and now you shall know His wrath. Sister should never marry brother, that just ain’t right. Now bring out the boy so that we can do what’s right.”
Pop-pop fired shots into the air, stopping the men’s advance. “RUN BOY RUN!” Inside the house, John heard his father’s cry. “I’m warning ya, take another step forward and I’ll…”
“And you’ll what?” The pastor challenged, walking right up to the barrel of his gun. “In the name of the Father, I command you to bring out the cursed child and…”
A single shot silenced the crowd. Was it his trembling fingers or his anger, John would never know. Pop-pop had fired the shot that would change this community forever. Time stood still as the old man flew off the ground, landing back five feet away with a crunching thud. The crowd went berserk.
John ran. Out the backdoor he went, never turning back as gunshots filled the air. He heard screams, one of them sounded like his Ma. But still he did what he had promised them, he ran. Pass the barn and into rows of corn, he chanced a look back. Ma and Pop-pop were nowhere in sight.
“Where are you devil-boy?” A man in a black coat said, as men swarmed the shack, looking for the boy,
“He ain’t here!”
“Well, what are you waiting for then. Burn him out, burn everything!”
John watched as the men lit up the shack that he had lived in his entire life. The wooded panels caught easily, and soon the fire spread. It became a towering inferno.
“Throw the bodies in,” the man said. “Ain’t no police gonna bother with what happened here tonight,”
“But Remy, the woman’s still moving. Your Pa he…”
“My Pa is dead, they killed him! And I say throw them in!”
John tried to shout, but only a gurgled grunt came from out of his throat. “Mama…” It was one of the few words he knew. He stared at the man giving the orders, burning his face into memory. Then, he heard a rustling before him.
“Hey he’s here! The devil boy is here!”
John ran. This time, he didn’t stop. He ran when the men fired their guns at him, and he ran when they set fire all around him. John never stopped running.
One day he promised, they will be the ones doing the running.
Jake throws Dom’s cape into the air as he leaps onto the stage in a bloom of velvet red and black. With the spotlight shining on him, he gives a wide smile, waving to the silent crowd.
“Boooo, bring back the girls!”
Twirling his wand, Dom turns to face the heckler. “Trouble with men nowadays, they just don’t know how to treat a lady!” Dom lashes out with his wand, sending bouquets of flowers shooting over the audience towards the heckler, drawing grunts of surprised laughter.
“Tough crowd tonight,” Dom grins. Furling his cape, he flings it open with aplomb, sending a shower of poker cards flying through the air. “One… Two… Three.” He grabs at the cards fluttering down. “Four… Five!” With a flourish, he spreads out the cards in his hand, showing the royal flush of hearts.
The crowd starts to murmur, showing their approval with polite applause. From his position, Jake can see the men at the bar beginning to sit up.
“For my final warm up…” Dom runs, jumping off the stage and hooking onto the nearest stripper pole. Dancing a little jig around the pole, he waits for the spotlight to catchup before he spins around, drawing wild catcalls and howls from the crowd. With the audience riled up, Dom pulls his jacket open and thrusts his chest out. Laughter turns to open astonishment as five white doves flies out from his body, flying across the club.
The club remained silent for a split second, before breaking out in thunderous applause. Beside Jake, a dozen girls have squeezed up the stairs to witness the spectacular act.
“Oh wow, how did he do that?” the girl closest to him asks.
Jake grins. “Lady, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Dom returns to the stage. “For my first act…”
Jake reaches into the chest. He digs out the special torches, and lights them up with a flick of the switch.
“I give you… fire!”
Jake runs out across the stage, dragging the torches on the ground. The special cool burning spirit inside them spills onto the floor, leaving behind a trail of blue flame in his wake.
To the oohs and ahhs of the crowd, Jake crouches low and spins around, surrounding himself in a circle of flame. Rising up, he deftly juggles the torches before throwing one at Dom.
“Believe!” Dom catches the torch and flips it around, dousing the flame in his mouth.
Jake throws the other one at Dom before running backstage, grabbing two more torches. One of them, unlike the first two, burned with real fire.
“Volunteers?” Dom shouts from the stage. “Who wants to play with fire?” Hands go up across the stage while Jake lights up the rags at the end of the torches. “You sir!” Dom points at the heckler. “Why don’t you come up here and show the ladies a thing or two about magic.”
Goaded by the crowd, the man reluctantly obliges, stumbling onto the stage in a half-drunk state.
“What’s your name?”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a big round of applause to Milly!” Dom says, throwing one of the feathered boas on the floor around the man’s neck.
Ba Dum Tsss! The drummer plays, while the crowd roars with laughter.
Jake dances around the man. “Ladies and Gent…whoops!” Jake fumbles with the torch, swishing the flaming end past the man’s ear.
“Jesus!” The man squeaks, scampering to the side.
“Wrong club pal, Jesus’s is dancing over on Cloud Nine.”
Ba Dum Tsss! The audience is loving this.
Dom grins, feeding off the crowd’s energy as Jake hands him the fake torch. “Milly, the secret to magic…” Dom says, walking up to the man, “Is that you gotta believe.”
Jake smiles, he loves how Dom says that.
“Here, lemme show you.” Dom pushes the flame in front of Billy.
“Get away from me!” Billy runs, disappearing off the stage.
Dom laughs, “Sometimes, you just got to believe folks.” With a drumroll in the background, Dom lifts the torch to his face.”And tonight, I will make you believe. In magic.” Taking a deep breath, he blows hard into the flame.
The audience gasps audibly as a spectacular display of blue flames shoot forth from the torch and dances over their heads. Like a dragon, Dom waves his head left to right. producing a fiery display that sweeps through the air.
The crowd goes wild. Jake tries to shout above the noise, “Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for Mago the Magnificent!”
Dom swallows the flame, ending his performance. Taking a bow, he moves to stand beside Jake.
“Skip the hoops. Bring out the saw.”
– I am having a lot of fun writing this, didn’t know writing about magic can be so relaxing.
– Left myself plenty of loose ends in this intro, along with the rabbit in part 1, to play around with the story. Will remove the bits I choose not to follow up on next time.
– Last post of the week. Cheerio.
“Hurry up boy, we’re late for the show!”
“I’m coming,” Jake pants, trying his best to keep up. Behind him, he drags along the heavy wooden chest, filled with the wondrous gadgets that are the tools of Señor Dom’s trade.
The Señor looks at him and sighs, shaking his head impatiently. “This way.” He pats his face dry with a handkerchief, turning into the alleyway leading to the club.
Jake grunts. Covered in sweat, the brown-haired boy with the disheveled locks mops his brows. Aside from the trunk, he is also carrying the Senor’s cape, wand, and top hat in his other hand.
A rabbit sticks its head out of the hat. “I’m hungry, when do we eat?” Timmy puffs his cheeks the way rabbits do when they speak. He looks expectantly at Jake, wiggling his paws as he begs for a treat.
“Not now Timmy! After the show.” He pulls up to the alley just as the Señor stops at a faded blue door, squinting at the sign.
“Ah, this is the place.”
Jake looks up. The Tigress. He breathes a sigh of relief and pulls the trunk to the door, letting it fall with a loud thud.
“Careful with that!”
“Sorry,” Jake mumbles, rubbing his sore arms.
Jake pushes the rabbit back into the top hat, handing it back to the magician. “Rabbit’s whining again.”
He can wait.” the Señor says, glaring into the hat before flipping it onto his head, He smoothens his threadbare tuxedo and straightens his bow tie. “How do I look?” He asks, facing Jake.
Jake pulls at his own faded dress shirt trying to air himself dry. Summer time in Miami is hardly the season to be walking around in this get up. He shrugs. “Like a eighties magician.”
“Coming from you, that’s a compliment.”
Jake smirks and helps the man on his with his cape and hands him his wand. “You know, if you’ll let me find you some new threads…”
“For the last time, stop comparing me to those Hollywood magicians.”
A latch on the door slides opens, revealing a pair of intense eyes. “Yea? You the magic guy?”
“That’s right.” Dom says with a flourish. “Mago the magnifi…!”
“Whatever. You’re late.” The man slams the latch shut.
Jake suppresses a snigger. Behind the door, He can hear the sound of keys jingling as a burly man in a suit opens up. He has a bald tattooed scalp.
“You’re on in five. Sign in with Dorothy first.” The man indicates with his thumb. “The one in the green feathers.”
The señor smiles, trying to be polite. “Err…Dressing room?”
“Mirrors in the bathroom. Come on, we’re behind schedule!” He pushes Dom unceremoniously through the door before looking down at Jake. “Whoa, this is a men’s club, why you bring a kid here for.”
“He’s my assistant.” Dom says, signaling for Jake to bring the trunk in.
“No can do old man. The boss will have my ass for this if he finds out.”
“But he’s part of my act.” Dom protests. “I need him.”
Jake tunes out of the argument as a pair of dancers walk pass the door, flaunting their bits. One of the girls looks over at him and gives him a teasing wave. With his mouth hanging open, he waves back.
“Come on, he’s older than he looks.”
The tattooed man narrows his eyes. “Alright, but if I can catch him trying to get into the booze or the ladies…”
“He won’t” Dom slaps Jake hard across the head, pulling him out of his stupor. “Get the stuff!”
Master and apprentice settles into the bustling room as a dozen dancers in nothing but pink feather boas run pass, climbing up the stairs leading to the stage.
“Zoobies on stage. Mago, you ready?” A lady draped in green feathers and the face paint shouts, looking around.
“Here!” Dom says, raising his hand and waving at Dorothy.
“We’ll be making some changes to your act.” The green lady says, referring to her board. “No big deal, just some dancers to spice things up.”
Dom shrugs, turning to face Jake. “You ready kid?”
Jake is looking all around him, a wide grin splitting his face. “Yea, sure, whatever you say… ow!
Dom slaps Jake on the head again. “Cape.”
Jake ties the cape around the magician’s neck, taking extra care to make sure the props are tucked properly in their sleeves. Satisfied, he hands Dom the wand.
“Checked the batteries?” Dom says, making his final adjustments.
Dom snaps the hidden lever on his wand as a bouquet of plastic blooms burst forth from the tip of the wand, drawing applause from a few dancers relaxing nearby.
Jake smiles at them. “So we’ll start with fire, go into hoops, levitate the table, make yourself disappear, and end with the rabbit?”
Dom shrugs. “Management wants me to pull the stops, thought we might wanna jazz it up a bit to get some extra tips.”
“So skip the table, and bring out the saw… got it.”
Dom looks proudly at the boy, putting a hand over his shoulder. “Soon Jake. You’re almost ready to be a magician.”
“About time,” Jake says with a chuckle “Maybe then, mama don’t need to work no more.”
“Perhaps.” Dom says, smiling.
“Mago the Magnificent!” Dorothy shouts, “You’re on!
“That’s us.” Jake says, helping Dom to make some final adjustments. “Let’s kill this crowd tonight.” He drags the chest up the stairs and places it just off-stage, before unlocking it with the key around his neck.
A quiet applause signals the end of the last act as The Zoobies run off stage. One of the girls comes up behind Jake and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “Good luck!”
Jake turns to see the girl who had walked pass him at the door. He smiles at her. “Maybe we can hook up sometime,” he says, blushing at his own boldness.
“Maybe.” The girl giggles, running off to join her friends.
Dom comes up the stairs in time to see a flustered Jake smiling after the girl. “Keep your hands off the merchandise kid. Barrett will kill you if you touch any of them.”
Jake laughs. “You’re just jealous.” he says, watching as the announcers walks back out onto the stage,
“Here we go kid, big smile.”
“Gentlemen of the Tigress. For one night only, I give you your next act. Magoooo… the magnificent!”
– Was thinking of writing a piece about magic ever since watching Oz.
– Trying to tow the line between fantastical and possible here, like Oz
– Gonna try going for a very simple theme here, something like the Old Man & The Sea.
– Still too many as, when and whiles. Not sure if that is better or just quick full stops and short sentences.
Jon’s mind is a blur. I’ve killed The Captain plays on repeat in his mind as he comes to terms with what just happened.
But I didn’t! Jon Crawler, a two bit criminal mutant who only wants the serum to become normal, has somehow managed to bring down the most powerful superhero in the known galaxy.
That makes him a super villain. Inside, he feels a sense of exhilaration, tinged with guilt and fear. No one will believe that it has been the serum, the military will deny all knowledge of it. Besides, the Captain did wilt under his blows, all the cameras caught it.
He tunnels aimlessly around the outskirts of the city, too afraid to head home. Above ground, the military and Super League are probably tracking him this instant. He stops to rest for a moment, plucking out the last remaining vial from his pocket. With his night vision, he can see the greenish liquid swirling inside. He could end this now, stop living as Jon Crawler, and become just Jon. That is what this everyone else has died for… right?
But he has only one vial left, one for so many. He pockets the precious serum and continues on his way, brooding to himself. By the time he decides to head home, it is way past midnight. His head pops up in the little compost heap he keeps perpetually in the backyard. It is not the Batcave, but it serves well enough to keep nosy neighbors away. Creeping into the house, he cleans himself off at the sink before changing into his PJs, falling exhausted beside his wife.
Margery stirs, turning around to hug him. She cries as she kisses his face, and pounds on his chest.
“…Jon, what do you want for breakfast?”
Jon opens his eyes. Margery is standing over him, looking lovely in her nightgown. She cups a loving hand over his face and kisses him on the lips.
“You came home pretty late last night.”
Jon blinks, “Yea.”
“Why didn’t you come back sooner? We were all so worried.”
He winces as he tries to sit up.
“Poor baby,” Margery says, bending over to kiss him. “How does pancakes with strawberries sound?”
Jon smiles and nods, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Take a shower, there’s still blood on your face.”
Margery leaves the room as Jon gets up. He takes a quick shower and checks himself in the mirror. Jon Creedy’s face is clean now. Satisfied, he walks down to the living room.
His two sons, Aaron and Jake are on the floor in front of the TV, watching morning cartoons.
“Mind if I watch the news for a while?” Jon asks.
The boys let out a groan.
“Just for a while kids,” Jon picks up the remote and switches the channel.
“… Remly Manson, loving father and beloved Crime Fighter…”
“The superhero known affectionately as Captain…”
“… Dead! The superhero community is asking for anyone with the whereabouts of the mutant known as The Crawler to…”
Jake, his younger son, drops his spoon, spilling cereal on the table. “The Captain is dead?” He asks, staring with wide-eyes at the television.
Aaron turns around to glare at his father.
Jon flicks through the news channels. CNN, ABC, Fox, every channel is reporting on the same thing. Already a state funeral is being planned. Jon seethes, listening attentively to the commentary. There is no mention of the five people he killed.
Aaron stands up and storms to his room, while Jake sits there and starts to whimper.
“Honey please, switch back to the cartoons,” Margery shouts from the kitchen.
Jon sighs, flipping the channel back to Dora. He stoops over to pick up his son. “Why are you crying Jakie?”
“Cus the Captain is dead,” The boy sniffles.
“You liked the Captain?”
Jake bawls, “He’s my hero.”
Jon says nothing, feeling the wrenching in his gut. “Sweetie, the Captain isn’t that great, he’s just… well he’s like us.”
“Says who!” The boy says, struggling to free himself from Jon’s arms.
Jon bites his lips in disappointment. “Go watch cartoons in daddy’s room Jakie. Daddy needs to talk to mummy.” He lets Jake go and watch as the boy runs up the stairs.
“You okay hon?” Margery asks, bringing out breakfast.
Jon smothers his face in his hands, letting out his frustration. “I did the impossible Marge. I beat the man who cannot be beaten, yet…”
Margery sets down the plates and hugs him. “Let it go Jon, I’m just glad you made it out alive. I was watching the news together with Aaron. We thought you were dead.”
“I’m sorry,” Jon mumbles, reaching out for Margery’s hand. “But it was too dangerous for me to come back.”
“Did you get the serum?”
Jon hesitates before answering, “No.”
Margery looks away, tears welling in her eyes.
“I’ll try again hon, I promise.”
Margery laughs softly. “How? Everyone is dead Jon. How are you going to find the serum again anyway?”
Jon says nothing.
“That little girl they took in, they’re probably torturing her right now, trying to find out who you are.”
“She doesn’t know who I am Marge… None of them do…”
“How about the blood?” Margery says, flustering. “What if they test the blood on the scene and…”
“Enough, we knew the risk when we decided to do this. Talking about it now isn’t going to change anything.”
“I’m just saying Jon, them league-types gets to call themselves heroes while we get branded as the terrorists. It just ain’t fair.”
“Nobody said it was.”
For a moment, the couple sits quietly on the sofa, holding on to each other as they stare at Dora prancing around on the television.