Talullah: An Exercise in Character Development

My writing group, the Wicked Wordsmiths of the West, decided to try an exercise in character development.  We each took a turn at the white board, and the rest of the group gave us traits, abilities, likes, and dislikes of a character that we were to then write a short story about.  Luckily, I went pretty early before everyone got warmed up and crazy.

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I was to write about Talullah: a four foot five vampire hunter with hair that sticks straight up, one blue eye and one green eye that was a transplant from her companion, a magical flying walrus.  Her weapon of choice is blow darts, and she has perfect night vision which becomes stronger when she’s breakdancing.  Oh yeah… and she’s disgusted by blood.  Yes, I do believe I got lucky in this exercise.  There were other writers that had much, much worse.

When we met a month later, we read our stories out loud and gave each other Olympic style scores on a scale of one to ten.  When all was said and done, I came out on top!  Silly little thing that it might be, I was really honored.  I even won prizes!

Winner's swag

Winner’s swag

And now, I present to you…

Talullah

My alarm clock went off with a shriek, harsh and premature. I sat up and rubbed my eyes groggily. 6:15am. Time to get to work.

After a brief shower, I stood before the full length mirror in my bathroom, scanning my four foot five frame. I squirted some pomegranate scented pomade into my hands which I then rubbed together briskly before running them through my black hair. I cautiously make sure every hair stuck straight up in the air, just like the coif of my idol, Grace Jones. She was one tough dame, and starting again today, so was I.

I turned my head to the left and checked my profile with my one blue eye. Satisfied, I turned my head to the right and checked my profile with my one green eye, the eye transplanted from my good friend Sammy after the incident. Both the blue and the green eye were looking back at me in the mirror with sorrow. The incident. I shook my head. I didn’t have time to think about that today.

I heard Sammy’s voice coming through my bedroom window. I walked into the room to see him floating outside waiting for me. Sammy the flying walrus and I had worked together for a long time in this messy business. “Are you ready to kill some vampires, Talullah?” he asked with a smirk. “Your hair looks fine. Let’s go!” I nodded and climbed out of the window and unto Sammy’s back. I felt his muscles tighten beneath me as we sailed forward.

“You remembered the blow darts, didn’t you?” he inquired.

I glanced down instinctively at the pouch on my hip. “I won’t forget the blow darts again. I dipped them in a fresh coat of garlic oil and everything.”

“Good. We can’t afford another….incident….”

 ***

Four hours later, Sammy and I had laid waste to three vampires with my special blow darts. I was leaning against the beige painted wall of the basement apartment our last conquest had occupied, and my stomach churned. “The blood,” I thought. “I can’t take the blood anymore.” I closed my eyes and cleared my mind as best I could. I breathed in deeply, the dank smell of moldy carpet and dust filling my nostrils. I exhaled slowly between parted fuschia lips and noticed Sammy was watching me.

“Ready? They’re waiting.”

“Sammy, I don’t want to go all the way down there. Not after the last time. I can’t face everyone again.”

Sammy rolled his one green eye. He adjusted his eye patch. “The other hunters are our family, Lulu. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I’m not ready for their pity.”

“You can’t avoid them forever. Let’s go. We’ll see everybody, cut a rug…it’ll be great, doll! I promise.”

In fact, I knew I couldn’t stay away forever, but was I ready to face them all yet? Sammy pranced impatiently, insisting upon on immediate departure. “Fine,” I huffed.

 ***

Under the city streets, the bass pumped while the vampire hunters popped and locked. Trepidation hissed in my ears as I followed Sammy through the crowded underground break-dancing hall. The other vampire hunters cleared the path when they saw us. They didn’t expect to see me back to business so soon. Sammy lead me to the dance floor and yelled “Hit it!” to the DJ.

“BUST IT!” Young MC started to jam. Sammy launched into a back flip. Without more than a moment’s hesitation, I grabbed my ankle with my right hand and put my left hand around to the back of my neck. The running man they called it…my signature warm up move. I reached down and planted one hand firmly on the ground and kicked my legs in the air and spun around.

As we danced, the stench grew stronger. Just past the onlooking crowd, I spotted movement with my transplanted eye. The familiar tingle ran up my spine. Sammy could tell by the look on my face. He shook his fat walrus head and grinned, “Break-dancing always has made your powers stronger.”

“Sammy, hit the lights!” I exclaimed, dropping to a crouch as one hand grabbed the pouch concealing my special blow darts. I scanned the room with the perfect night vision my transplanted eye afforded me. Then they came, slinking out of the shadows, pouncing on unsuspecting vampire hunters, and sinking white gleaming fangs into unsuspecting necks.

I raised the blow gun to my pursed lips and shot one garlic oil dipped dart through the air and into the neck of one…two…three…and four vampires who burst into flames and fell as ash to the floor. Then I saw him, tall and dark, seeping out of the crowd toward me.

“Lulu…” he stood before me, his red eyes dancing and twitching with nervous energy.

“Dominick,” my voice caught in my throat. Of all of the vampire hunter break-dancing joints, in all the towns, in all the world, he walked into mine.

“Your eye is healing well. I guess I didn’t fair as well.”

Before I could stop myself, I reached up and touched the scar tissue around my transplanted eye. I swallowed hard as the memories flooded my mind. My vampire hunting partner Dominick…as a team, we were unstoppable. We fell in love. Then one night, things went bad. We were ambushed. I woke up in a puddle of blood, Sammy towering over me, my Dominick and my eye gone.

Dominick chuckled, snapping me out of my thoughts. “Why don’t you join me?” he beckoned. I started to protest. “JOIN ME!” he screeched as he lunged at me. I reloaded the blow gun and puffed. The blow dart cut through the air and pierced through Dominick’s chest. “Talullah!” he exhaled as flames consumed him, and then nothing remained of Dominick except for the pile of ashes at my feet.

The lights came back on. The janitorial crew appeared and began to clean up the wreckage. Sammy laid one heavy flipper on my shoulder. “Are you okay, Lulu?”

I stared down at the ashes. “Yes. Believe it or not, I am.” I looked around. The DJ returned to his perch at the booth. “Hit it!” I told him.

“Don’t just stand there. Bust a move!” Young MC instructed, and we did.

 

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Different Than The Other Guys

Let’s get started!  The first short story I’ve chosen for you was written as a prompt from my writing group, the Wicked Wordsmiths of the West.  We pulled slips of paper out of plastic sandwich baggies to determine our genre, at least one noun and one adjective that had to be used somewhere in the story.  There was a Draw Two slip, and I happened to pull it twice!  Therefore, my genre was Romance-Science Fiction, utilizing the noun “alien” and the adjectives “ancient” and “cheap.”

Enjoy!  And feel free to comment below!

 

Different From The Other Guys

It was January when Claire Mitchell found herself sitting at the coffee shop around the corner from the office where she worked as a receptionist. Today she was waiting for her friend Haley. It seemed as though she was always waiting for Haley.

Today was the day for Simon Jones introduce himself to Claire. He sat by himself near the entrance of the coffee shop with his untouched copy of Naked Lunch on the table before him along with his black coffee. According to his research, the most suave and debonair men drank black coffee. Today was the day to meet Claire because today she had finally noticed him. After weeks of making sure to arrive at exactly the same time she did so that he could open the door for her and after days of polite nods when he let her cut in line in front of him, Simon had finally caught her attention. Claire glanced in Simon’s direction for at least the seven hundred and eighty sixth time in the last half hour. Simon had been counting. He was nervous; after all, he had never done anything like this before.

Claire looked at the entrance again for what seemed like the eight hundredth time, expecting this to be the time she’d see Haley saunter in, already thirty minutes late. Claire’s eyes trailed away from the door and locked into Simon’s gaze. Instinctively, she smiled and looked down at her chai latte. When she looked up, Simon was standing in front of her. “Is this seat taken?” he asked.

 

By early February, Simon and Claire were dating. Simon was so shy and timid, the strong and silent type, Claire thought. She was patient with him, waiting for him to hold her hand until one day, she took a deep breath and reached for his hand while they were sitting in a cheap diner. Simon smiled and squeezed her hand. That evening on her doorstep, Simon stood next to Claire with his hands in his pockets, looking down at her. Claire looked up at Simon, waiting for him to kiss her. Finally, Simon blurted out, “I’m sorry. I haven’t kissed a girl in a long time.” Claire assured him that it was okay, so Simon bent toward her and planted a soft kiss on her lips.

On Valentine’s Day morning, Claire found Simon on her doorstep, bright and early with a bouquet of yellow roses. He took her to breakfast at the coffee shop where they met. After they ate, Simon took Claire back to his house where they sat on his bedroom floor looking through his record collection, listening to the Velvet Underground, and kissing. Claire told her friends later that it was the best Valentine’s Day she had ever experienced. “He’s different from any other guy I’ve ever dated!” she gushed.

 

The relationship between Claire and Simon blossomed over the next several months, but not everything was perfect. Often they would be together, and a distant vacant look would wash over Simon’s face. Claire would speak to him, but it was as if he was millions of miles away. As the shiny newness of their fledging relationship began to wear off, Claire began to question some of her boyfriend’s behaviors. Simon had a large collection of video games, movies, records, and books. Not long after Valentine’s day, while snuggled up next to Simon on the bed in his room, Claire began to ask about the different books that lined the shelves that made up one wall of Simon’s bedroom. Simon explained to Claire that his favorite author was William S. Burroughs and indicated the shelf that held most of Burroughs works. After a few questions, Claire realized that Simon had read few to none of these favorite books.

Days later, Claire flipped through the binder in which Simon kept all of his DVDs, looking for something to watch. Simon began to tell Claire about his favorite David Cronenberg films, some of which Claire was familiar with and all of which were in the binder in front of her. The more Simon talked, the more Claire realized that Simon had seen about as many of his movies as he had read of his books which amounted to very few. Simon ended the conversation and went to take a shower, leaving Claire to herself in his living room to watch whatever film she felt like. Claire went over to Simon’s desk in the corner of the room and switched on the computer screen, intending to check her Facebook page. The screen came on, and Claire found herself looking at the Wikipedia article for David Cronenberg. Reading the article, Claire realized that Simon had more or less just recited the entry to her verbatim. Claire turned the computer screen back off and returned to the couch to ponder while Simon finished up in the shower.

 

Later that evening, while finishing dinner at Simon’s favorite Chinese restaurant, Claire couldn’t stop thinking about the Wikipedia article. Simon had that far away look on his face again. Claire watched him and waited. Minutes later, Simon’s eyes snapped back to the time and place at hand as he met Claire’s gaze. “I’m sorry. What did you say?” Simon asked when he saw her troubled stare.

“I didn’t say anything, Simon. Neither did you. It’s like you’ve been on screen saver for the past…” she looked at her watch “seven minutes. What is going on?”

Simon readied his courage. He knew since that first day in the coffee shop that this conversation would be coming. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that, Claire. Are you ready to go? We can talk in the car.”

In the car, they rode in silence until Simon turned on the blinker to turn onto his street. Finally Claire spoke, “Sometimes you drift off, and you get this look on your face like you’ve checked out. And all those books and movies? Why have them if you’re not going to read them? Why pretend like you have? I’d still like you either way!” Claire shook her head. “I found the Wikipedia article on David Cronenberg open on your desktop. Is it really so hard to talk to me that you have to look stuff up? On Wikipedia? What is that, Simon?”

“I’m a robot, Claire,” Simon said. He pulled his car into his parking spot in front of the apartment building and looked over at Claire.

Claire’s brow furrowed. “…you’re a what?”

“I’m a robot, Claire. I was sent to this planet by an ancient race of aliens from the galaxy your scientific establishment calls M82 or the Cigar Galaxy because it’s shaped like a cigar. I’ve been sent here on a mission to gather information like the books and movies in an attempt to understand how you humans operate. When I get that look you mentioned, I’m transmitting the data I’ve gathered back to their laboratory. I’ve waited so long to tell you. Please don’t be mad.”

Claire stared at Simon, her mouth hanging slack. She had been told a lot of lies by a lot of guys over the years, but this was a first. “A robot?” she snorted. Claire burst into uncontrollable laughter, tears streaking down her cheeks.

“Why are you laughing?” Simon asked. “I am a robot.”

Claire stopped laughing. “You are not a robot, Simon.” She sighed, unbuckled her seatbelt, and got out of the car.

“I am!” Simon insisted. He jumped out of the car and began to follow Claire up the stairs to his apartment on the second floor. “My creators picked you as my girlfriend based on your Facebook posts. They thought someone like you could help me assimilate.”

“Simon, please stop. You’re starting to scare me.”

“No, really, listen to me!” Simon grabbed Claire’s arm somewhat roughly.

“Let go! You’re hurting me!” Claire shoved Simon away from her. Simon teetered for a moment, and then, losing his balance, fell down the flight of stairs and hit the pavement with a thump. Nuts and bolts shot out in all directions as smoke seeped out of Simon’s nose and from behind his ears. Claire screamed and ran down the stairs two at a time to crouch at Simon’s side. Simon’s eyes scanned from the left to right, left to right, left to right before unfocusing and rolling back into his head to reveal the serial number 87913070 on his left eye and “Property of M82” on the right.

A cold numbing terror started in Claire’s chest and spread up to her shoulders and down her arms. Claire got up and ran to her car, speeding home with hot tears stinging in her eyes. Simon really wasn’t like any guy she had dated before. Simon was a robot.

Upon reaching her house, Claire stumbled to her room. Shaking, she pulled out her laptop and deleted her Facebook account.

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Hello and Welcome!

If you’re reading this, you are probably one of my real life friends from Facebook.  Thank you for taking a break from your game of Words With Friends to check out my brand spanking new blog!

In junior high especially, I wrote a lot of short stories (and some not so short stories), filling notebook upon notebook of half stories and character sketches and completely awful poems.  However, high school happened, then post-high school happened.  Finally, six months ago, I started writing again.  I had forgotten how much I had love it, and I hadn’t quite realized how much I missed it until I was writing again.  

I started this blog as a way to get my writing out there, a place to share some of my shorter work and to test the waters of receiving public feedback.  Go ahead, give me feedback!  Just be gentle…I’m new here.

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