This is the first draft of Chapter 1 of the novel I am writing. I am hoping that sharing it will motivate me to continue writing and finish this thing. I have been stuck lately.
A great shadow blanketed the Earth. Behind it, a hero stood clad in his armor of justice. The dark suit and even darker tie that made up the hero’s super-secret spy outfit was enough to garner the respect of men and send ladies far and wide into torturous fits of lustful psychosis. Never mind the chocolate smeared on his collar or the grass stain on his left knee! This hero was simply a god amongst men. He was the sort of hero that could rip an entire army of maniacal extremist bed wetting war criminals limb from limb while petting a box full of slobbering kittens. He was most definitely a special someone.
He sniffed the air three times, each time lifting his nose slightly higher in an effort to fully embrace the cold stench that had swept up the hillside towards him. It was the smell of evil, and it was floating on the breeze like a stale fart in a doctor’s office. If there were two things the hero hated, it was stale farts and evil. It was clear that his heroic expertise would be needed on this day.
He removed a ball point pen from his breast pocket and twisted the cap. The chrome top protruded upward and wilted to the side as three mechanical arms emerged from the depths of the pen. The arms extended in several jagged twists and turns towards the sky before unfolding into three sharp, perfectly symmetrical propeller blades. The hero stood for a moment under the blanket of his strange, mechanical umbrella frame before tapping the bottom and watching as the blades began to spin and lift him slowly off the ground.
The hero tilted the pen forward slightly and began to fly downward towards the bottom of the hill where his destiny was waiting silently like some sort of very squishy invisible grandmother with a plate full of evil cookies. He soared over a pit of hungry gentlemen alligators and stared cautiously at the top hat and monocle-clad monsters as they snacked on cheese and whining orphan dolphins before turning his attention back to his target. The fortress that lay ahead was as dark as a black hole and as void of light as Wesley Snipes’ armpits. It was so dark; it made his suit look like an albino polar bear’s left butt cheek. Its towers pierced the clouds like daggers and its tall, uneven windows left even the bravest of souls quivering in soiled, soggy trousers. Fortunately, the hero was the bravest spy in the world, and neither an evil fortress nor three week old Indian food could compromise his pantaloons.
He sailed onward towards his destiny. The air grew thick, sticky with the oppressive stench of evil, and the propellers of his chopper pen slowed briefly against the dense farticles. He was getting close, and he descended into the tree line of the Really Dark Forest in order to avoid detection. A flock of flying porpoises fought over a frozen burrito wrapper while some aboriginal rocks pranced around a Screaming Tree like the savage little creatures that they were. They seemed to be in the middle of a sacrificial ritual, as one of their young pebbles was tied to a burning twig.
There were several wild unicorns starring up at him hungrily as he passed, and he wondered what would happen if his hand slipped from the pen and he fell to the forest floor below. Would they skewer him and eat him with a side of pickles, or would he be able to defeat them all by utilizing his skills in Ugandan Jiu Jitsu? He shook the thought away and brought his attention back to his mission. After all, heroes have no time for pitiful thoughts of horrific deaths! They only have time for evil fortresses, attractive ladies, and marathons of silly cartoons. He was pretty sure that was written somewhere in the Heroic Code of Ethics.
After what seemed like forever, but was actually 6 seconds, the hero broke free from the tree line and arrived at the base of the fortress. He watched his footing carefully as he landed near the great stone wall, making sure to avoid any mashed potato mines that may have been concealed beneath the poisonous dandelion weeds. There was no time to waste; he needed to find a way inside. He moved quickly before the crab grass could clamp onto his toes or mate with his ankles (they were lustful buggers), but he was ever-watchful of his steps. Though he could not see them, he knew that the perimeter of the fortress was infested with spies and cameras. In fact, the branches of a nearby birch tree seemed to have a very “counter intelligence” way of not doing anything in particular.
After a short jaunt along the perimeter, he found a small hole leading into the fortress beyond. It was too small for any normal person to climb through, and he wondered for a moment what it would be like to be very tiny. A flea or his Great Aunt Mildred could most certainly walk right in and make themselves cozy under a blanket of dust bunnies, but regular-sized folks needed a craftier way inside. Fortunately for the hero, crafty was his middle name. Now, it was not his middle name in any actual sense of the word, but merely in a figurative sense that indicated how awesome he was at any given time. He also had other figurative nicknames such as Brave, Extremely Attractive To The Ladies, and Shenanigans.
The hero removed a clothespin from his jacket pocket and placed it on his right index finger. He felt a sudden twitch in his hands and a tingling in his ears before the hole before him began to grow. He waited until the hole was just large enough to walk through before he removed the clothespin from his finger and smiled to himself. For every problem there is a solution, and for this problem he had the patented and potent Growing and Shrinking Clothespin. Though it did seem to be a rather terrible name, it did do exactly what one would imagine, and he was grateful that it was effective and did not take up much space in his pocket.
As he made his way through the crevice, he began to feel a chill biting at his skin. He noticed a thin haze in front of him, and he wondered for a moment if he should turn back. There had to be another, less annoying way into the fortress. Was any adventure really worth getting his favorite shoes dirty? He thought about it for a moment before deciding that he could simply have one of the weird teenagers at the mall clean his shoes for free. That would solve that problem.
The air was damp and cold, and he felt terribly uneasy as he passed beyond the vivid haze. It was as if he had left his own world and traveled into another realm. The feeling of death was all around, suffocating him and making him feel as though the walls were caving in. When he reached the other side, he placed the clothespin on his left index finger and watched as the hole behind him began to shrink again. He was careful to remove it before he got too big. The last thing he wanted was to have his body fill up an entire room until he popped. He had heard that explosions were a possible side effect of adding extra inches when growing, and he was not prepared to scoop his own insides off the ceiling.
He put the clothespin back in his jacket pocket and scanned his surroundings. It was quite dark, but a single torch on the far wall gave enough light to make out the silhouette of a long desk and chair. Though it was difficult to make out, he was fairly certain that the dancing flame was also giving light to a Morrissey poster on the wall. He winced at the sight. He had indeed found himself in a place of unspeakable horrors.
He shook the thought and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. The floor felt rocky and uneven, and it seemed to be damp for some reason. “Why are evil fortresses always so wet?” He pondered this as he shuffled towards what appeared to be a wooden door to his left. There was no telling what kind of sick and twisted booby traps were waiting to poke, prod, or tickle him to death. What if he tripped over a wire and a deranged liberal polar bear rappelled from the ceiling and chewed his face off like a piece of ridiculously tasty beef jerky? The thought sent shivers from his head down through his toes. As he tiptoed along, he noticed what appeared to be a small, silver flashlight sitting in a glass case with a note that read, “In case of emergency.” He wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but he had a feeling that evil fortresses probably didn’t pay their power bills very often. He removed the glass case with care and placed the flashlight in his pocket. It wasn’t stealing if it originally belonged to someone who might kill him. Anyway, he was certain this mission qualified as an emergency. When he reached the door, he tried to pull it open but it would not budge. After several frustrated moments, he gave the door a push and stared blankly as it squeaked open into a hallway. Typical.
The hallway was long and twisted, and the hero was fairly certain that whoever built it must have been blind or simply a very crooked person. The torches that lined the walls gave light to various portraits and paintings, and his eyes fixed themselves upon one particular piece of artwork that featured a pack of fruit snacks lying seductively on a red couch with a glorious diamond draped across its label. He stared in disgust for a moment before a memory of his mother muscled its way into his brain and reminded him that his face would stick in that grimace if he kept it up. He tip-toed along the wall towards a wooden door that was so large, it would have made even the tallest of spies feel like a tiny little booger as they stood before it. The hero paid no attention to such things; he was too busy being awesome.
He gave the knob a slow turn and struggled to push the door open enough to squeeze through. It must have been built for a basketball player or a woman in heels. As he squeezed through the opening, he noticed that the room was fully lit with what appeared to be over-sized fireflies hanging from the ceiling like creepy, crawling chandeliers. That was when he found what he had come for. Strapped to an old wooden chair in the middle of the room was Princess Olivia. She was the most breathtakingly beautiful human being that had ever plopped into the world. Her hair was silky and brown and it reminded him of chocolate. Her eyes were nothing short of emerald trophies that seemed to glow when she smiled. Speaking of smiles, the princess owned a smile that could turn the devil into a blubbering schoolgirl in a pen full of bunnies. Needless to say, the hero had a bit of a crush on Princess Olivia. Of course, he would never tell her such things. After all, she probably liked girly men.
She did not look much like a princess then. Her once shimmering clothes were now little more than rags, her hair was a messy mop of despair, and her eyes had lost their glow. It was clear that she had been through a great amount of turmoil, and he was there to bring her back to herself and to her people. He hurried to her and rested on one knee as he removed the gag from her mouth.
“Princess, are you all right? Are you hurt?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” She struggled to speak as she dealt with her freed jaw. “It was…horrible. My feet…they were tickled for ten hours a day. I was fed only with off-brand cereals and I was forced to listen to the same Rhianna song over and over again.” She looked away as if to discourage her tears. “I thought I would die here.”
The hero untied her arms and legs. “You’re safe now. Let’s get you out of here.”
He felt a sudden tickle at the back of his neck and swatted it away. The tickle returned as he loosened the last knot and freed the princess. He glanced up at her with a smile. Her battered face was frozen in terror and her piercing green eyes were fixed upon something behind the hero. Their eyes met and his hands slowly fell to his sides. He took a deep breath and turned around to face the horror that had been waiting for him ever since he entered the fortress.
The evil wizard was perched halfway up the far wall like a great black spider of death. His eyes were red orbs of fire and his mouth was twisted into a horrid, nightmarish grin. His beard spewed from his face like a serpent, flowing down the wall and on the ground as it reached for the hero. It seemed to move on its own, as if eager to consume them both.
The hero could not help but stare in a sort of momentary haze, watching as the beard slithered closer to his feet. The haze gave way to a searing pain that ripped through his left ankle and soared upward. The beard had wrapped itself tightly around his lower leg and was pulling him back towards the wizard, whose grin had transformed into a gaping hole. Clearly, the wizard had an idea that heroes were tasty creatures.
The hero did his best to maintain a supreme level of awesomeness as he made eye contact with Princess Olivia, who was still seated in the chair and seemed to be frozen in fear. “Just remain calm, Princess. I totally have everything under control!”
She nodded and forced a smile, and the hero could not help but feel that she somehow doubted him. He thought that she must be a very pessimistic person, and probably not much fun at parties. He could see, however, that she was the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen. There was something about that smile that could light even the darkest catacombs of Hell. A smile like that could not simply be forgotten and fed to some evil wizard with a hunger for princesses. No, that would be a travesty and a terrible way to spend an afternoon. He was given a mission to save the princess, and that was exactly what he was going to do. Saving her was his job and had nothing to do with the weird, mushy feelings that were bouncing around in his chest, or the butterflies that seemed to be living in the pit of his stomach. That was probably just indigestion or some sort of plague. Yes…that was definitely it.
He turned to face the evil wizard and removed a tiny metal piece from his jacket pocket. It was roughly the size of a matchstick, and he held it up for the wizard to see. A deep, disastrous cackle bellowed from the wizard as he gazed upon what appeared to be the world’s smallest metal pipe. He began to crawl up the side of the wall and the beard pulled the hero towards him; towards a torturous demise. The hero put the metal piece to his lips and blew. A bright white and yellow flame burst from the hero’s lips and scorched the beard just beyond his ankle. The wizard howled in anger and retreated into a grotesque web that was hidden in the far corner of the ceiling. The beard writhed and sizzled as it worked to put out the flames that threatened its evil white whiskers. He may have been an evil wizard, but he was no match for the surprise of the World’s Smallest Blowtorch.
The hero raced to the princess and took her by the hands. “You must stand, Princess! I have to get you out of here!” They sprinted towards the door, and he believed for a moment that they were going to get out of that dreadful place. The hero glanced behind him, but he could no longer see the wizard. Perhaps he had ran away in order to heal himself, or perhaps he had a change of heart and was making them all some hot cocoa. The thought was shattered from his mind when a blackened mass crashed to the floor in front of the door, causing them to stumble as the earth shook beneath their feet. The darkness began to rise and take shape, and the white beard of death began to flow onto the ground. The mass continued to grow until it reached the ceiling. It could only be described as nothingness; a towering inkblot that was void of any light or definitive shape. It was truly frightening, even to a spy that once survived a mission that required diving into a vat of sweaty jockstraps. There was no way for the hero to get the princess out of there without first destroying their enemy.
He dug into his pocket for another blowtorch and cursed to himself. What kind of idiot weapons developer would make a blowtorch with only enough fuel for one shot? Those fools had clearly never battled a powerful magical creature with a hunger for attractive royal ladies before. They were stuck there, trapped in the blazing aura of the wizard’s gaze. There was no way out; no way to escape. The wizard’s teeth began to gnash and grow into dripping, rotted fangs. The beard began to slither its way down the murky, unnatural form that still seemed to be filling the room with darkness. The wretched conjurer was consuming the light as he grew. The fireflies began to free themselves and swarm around the room in a panic before finding their way into the desolate pit that was the wizard’s mouth. The hero and Princess Olivia retreated backwards in search of an escape route. They found nothing but the cold stone wall. The darkness was closing in, engulfing their entire world in its form. The princess screamed and gripped the hero’s arm as they watched it sweep towards them.
Then the hero remembered; he was the toughest, most heroic, best smelling spy that ever lived, and he was not going to die in front of a beautiful princess! He was going to defeat whatever this wizard had turned into, and then he was going to carry the princess out of that fortress and back to her castle (if she wasn’t too heavy of course. Needless to say, some princesses were very dense). The hero searched his pockets for a weapon; two rose petals, a smashed chocolate mint, a clothespin, a red ribbon, a dime, three pennies, his lucky unicorn hoof (which he kept safely in a clear plastic box), and…a flashlight! Of course! How could he have been so forgetful? If any bizarre situation with an evil wizard could be categorized as an emergency, this had to be one of those situations.
The room was almost completely consumed, and the evil wizard’s eyes had begun to ooze a flaming substance that burned holes in the ground as it dripped. The hero held the flashlight in both hands and looked to the princess one last time. “Hold on tight!”
She clutched his arm securely as he turned on the flashlight. A bright beam of light shot from his hands and filled the room with a blinding whiteness that took over the shadow and everything else in its path. The beam was so intense; the hero could feel it penetrating his brain even with his eyes closed. He could see nothing but white heat and it seemed to be burning holes through his eyelids. After several excruciating seconds, he found the button on the flashlight again and turned it off. He shook the spots out of his head and threw the flashlight away. What sort of sadistic person would create such a thing!?
The princess was still clutching him. Her face was buried into his arm and she was sobbing softly. As the room cleared, he began to make out the chair, the flashlight, and a dark figure huddled in the far corner of the room. It was the wizard, and he had shrunken down to a fraction of the monster that had stood before them moments before. He could see that the wizard was trembling and was wiping tears away with his short, lifeless beard. The hero approached him slowly and raised his hands in preparation for combat. He hoped that he looked intimidating, but he imagined that walking and pretending that his hands were claws was probably not the best way to achieve this. He wished he had machete, or a mongoose, or a machete-wielding mongoose.
When he was within striking distance, he realized that there was no need to fight. He could simply feel it. The evil wizard was no longer evil at all. Whatever had possessed him had left his body, and what remained was a tired, scared old man.
“Please don’t kill me. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.” The wizard covered his face with his beard. The hero lowered his guard and motioned the princess over to him.
“Why did you take Princess Olivia?” The wizard looked towards the princess and shook his head.
“I-I’m sorry. I-didn’t know. The last thing I can remember is working on a new potion for toe hair removal in my lab. A sudden terror fell upon me, and all the world grew dark. I heard laughter. Horrible laughter that filled me with sorrow. I felt death. Actually felt death surrounding me. I saw a darkness rising out of the floor, its eyes burning holes through my soul…and my mind went blank.” He wiped his eyes and struggled to gain his feet. “Please, take the princess back to her people. You will have no more trouble from me. Thank you for freeing me.” The hero hesitated for a moment, unsure if he should trust the wizard. Perhaps he could instead eliminate him and leave his beard on a stake outside the fortress as a warning to any other evil doers in the world. He pondered this for several seconds and decided that the princess would not be fond of such an act. Instead he picked her up without a word and carried her out of the fortress.
When they emerged from the depths of the realm that had imprisoned her, Princess Olivia smiled and kissed the hero on his cheek. He put her down gently and straightened his suit as best he could. One bad thing about being a spy was the fact that his suit always ended up in shambles by the end of the mission. He made a mental note to create an indestructible suit when he got back to headquarters. He held out his arm and the princess wrapped her arm around the crook of his elbow. They walked into the tree line together, safe and on their way home. Princess Olivia took a deep breath and looked back to watch the fortress disappear behind them.
“Thank you for saving me.” The hero smiled at this. Gratitude was definitely his favorite part of the job. Sometimes he wished the world would line up single file in order to pat him on the back and hand him delicious ice cream sundaes.
“You’re welcome. If you get a chance, please give me a positive review on Yelp.”
“Of course. May I ask what your name is?”
The hero stopped and positioned himself in his favorite pose, with his fists on his hips and his chest puffed out like a manly Peter Pan. With a grin of confidence on his face he howled, “Doom. Timothy Doom.” Then he walked her home.