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.

photo (1)

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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