I’ve expressed concerns of being an incompetent, Marvel Comics caliber social justice warrior a week or so ago, and I ended up with some… Interesting, feedback on the matter. In the longrun, I guess the only way to truly find out is to just put it out there, and let the people decide.
As of this writing, I’m on the verge of finishing the second draft. there’s at least two or three more drafts that need to happen before this gets released to the public, but I’m feeling pretty confident about getting this in around the beginning of February. In fact, let’s just make it official: I’m aiming for 2/11/17 for a release date. Set your calendar apps to that date, and when you don’t see it on Amazon, check back here for a possible explanation. Or just bitch me out.
In the meantime, I hope this sample chapter suffices.
DISCLAIMER!: This is the second draft version of the chapter. If there are some noticeable errors, it’s because I may have missed them in my initial proofreading. With luck, I, or my spellchecker will catch them in future drafts.
Also, as is the case with sample chapters, this version of the chapter might not be the version you end up getting. Until the final version becomes available, though, I hope you enjoy.
THE MAJIN AMONG US
COPYRIGHT 2018 BY THOMAS J. BLACK
I thought for sure I was going to have to play detective that day. I dreaded this, because back in those days, I was never especially good at detective work. Sure, Redcrest was pretty tiny, but there were still a pretty considerable amount of nooks and crannies she and her family could’ve been hiding in that I’d have never thought of looking.
So it was probably a good thing that I didn’t actually have to do any of that detective work. I don’t know how, exactly, but somehow, Debbie was able to find where I lived! All I know was that there was a knock at the door, and Debbie was standing on the other side when my mom answered it. Next thing I know, we’re taking my car to her place.
It turned out that she lived clear on the other side of Redcrest. Specifically, the bad part of Redcrest. The part Joe Jack’s dad lived. The part where all the meth heads from neighboring towns go to buy their product. The part of town all the adults warn us about.
“You live out here?” I asked. Considering this was the same girl who could turn people into chocolate on a whim, this shouldn’t have been as shocking. And yet, here we were.
“Yeah,” said Debbie. “My parents aren’t exactly the wealthiest people on the planet. Especially not these days.”
“What happened?” I asked.
Rather than answer my question there, she pointed to a house further up. “That’s my place,” she said.
In terms of houses in bad neighborhoods, you really could’ve done worse than Debbie’s place. You could do better, for sure, but you could’ve done worse. The outside could’ve probably used a new coat of paint, and the lawn definitely saw better days, but none of the windows were broken, and there weren’t any toilets or washing machines in the front lawn. More than I could say for a couple of her neighbors.
The inside smelled like cat piss. Debbie’s family clearly didn’t own any cats, or really any pets at all for that matter. I’m guessing that was left over from the people who used to live here? The carpet was a dull dark grayish color, and the furnature was clearly thrift store furnature. The couch had a pretty generous amount of cushioning torn out of one of the arm rests, and one of the chairs looked like someone fatter than the chair could handle sat in it.
Debbie gestured for me to have a seat on the couch. Rather than join me, she chose to take a seat a foot or two away from me on the floor. She looked me from down their, and I looked at her from up where I was.
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s just get down to it. I find that in situations like this, it’s just easier to get all the awkward questions out of the way right here and now. I’m sure you have plenty of questions, and I probably have answers. So go ahead, ask me anything.”
I thought about it for all of three seconds. “What the hell!?” I exclaimed.
Debbie laughed a little. “Okay, maybe broaden it a little more than that.”
“You ate chad!” I exclaimed.
“Are we really still dwelling on this?”
“Um, yeah, we are!”
Debbie started to sigh in frustration… But halfway in, she seemed to come to a revelation.
“Wait a minute,” she said. “You didn’t want to eat him by chance, did you? I’m so sorry!”
“What?” Was all I could say in response to that.
“I really should’ve taken your pride into consideration,” she said. I thought for a split second she might’ve been mocking me, but all it took was a look at her face to see she genuinely meant what she was saying. “I mean the guy was clearly beating you up and everything. It probably would’ve satisfied your pride if you’d been the one to eat him. Plus it’d be pretty ironic. He always did want to be inside another man, after all. What better…”
“That’s not even close!” I interrupted, maybe a little louder than I would’ve liked.
Debbie blinked. “Huh. Okay, what’s the deal?”
“Debbie, you took someone’s life!”
“What the hell do you mean and?”
Debbie snapped her fingers, coming to another realization. “Oh, right! You’re a human. I can’t believe I keep forgetting that.”
I blinked. “What?”
Debbie stood up then. “Maybe it would help if I dispelled my glamour.”
She bowed her head, and closed her eyes. Then, to my absolute shock, she began to change! Admittedly, her appearance didn’t change all that much. However, it was enough to surprise me.
Her skin went from pretty standard Caucasian to cotton candy pink. She opened her eyes, and revealed that they were now the color of blood. Her hair remained in the same style it had been before, but now it was a very dark blue. On the sides of her head were little nubs that looked like they were trying to be horns, but were too short.
“Whew,” she said, “that feels good. Glamours are so hard to maintain, you know? Wait, you probably don’t know.”
“Whah… I… What are you?” I stammered out, astonished.
Debbie took a seat on the floor once again. “I’m a majin,” she explained. “My whole family are majins.”
I vaguely remembered her mentioning majins that one time, and it became clear her dumb little joke that only mythology buffs would probably find funny wasn’t a joke after all. She really was a majin in human clothes.
Unfortunately, rather than answering any of my questions, it only raised more.
“I think I explained what majin are,” said Debbie, trying to fill the awkward silence.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Apparently, they’re pink devils who can turn people into chocolate, and have no problem with eating them right afterward.”
“I didn’t want to use my powers on him,” Debbie protested. “I hated seeing him and his friends bully you around like that. And believe me, you’re far from the first person he’s harassed.”
“Oh you don’t have to tell me. I already know that guy was a douche. Everybody did. But eating him? Couldn’t you have just used your little jedi mind trick on him like you did with his friends?”
Debbie blushed… I think. The color scheme was not something I was used to, but it definitely looked like she was blushing then.
“I suppose I was thinking with my stomach again,” she said. “I knew I should’ve gotten some snacks at the theater.”
“Uh… Okay then. I’m guessing that’s a majin thing?”
“Kind of. For sure, it’s a Debbie thing. Majin in general are pretty hedonistic.”
“Hedenistic. It means do whatever because it feels good, and to hell with the consequences. On the positive side, that just means a lot of us like food. Or sleep. Or… Um, “other pleasures”.”
It didn’t take me long to figure out what that meant.
“I suppose that’s the problem when you’re an all-powerful godlike being who lives for flippin’ ever,” she continued. “We tend to think of humans the same way humans think of cows or chickens. Or more positively, we tend to think of you the same way you think of cats and dogs.”
“So we’re either food, or we’re pets,” I clarified.
“At worst, I’d say food. At best, I’d say you’re just another animal we have to share the planet with. Nothing personal. It’s just that majins have to eat too. And like I said last night, nobody’s going to miss that douche.”
“His parents are going to miss him. His friends are going to miss him. And even if nobody ends up missing him, people are going to notice he’s gone. Redcrest isn’t that big a town. Somebody goes missing, you usually hear all about it. Not to mention that guy was the star quarterback.”
“Oh, woopy for him. He can throw a ball, so we should put him on a pedistol and treat him like a god.”
I couldn’t say I disagreed with that. People around Redcrest worshipped Chad Testaberger. It was a popular joke around Draiman High that they held him back twice so he could get the football team to state. The other kids looked at him as someone to respect. The adults looked at him like he was somehow going to make them rich. In the case of people like Pat’s dad, he probably was.
The sad part is as disgusting as this was, it wasn’t, and actually still isn’t exclusive to Redcrest. We treat football players in this entire country better than our teachers, our emergency service workers… Really, better than everybody. And why? Because they can throw a ball really far? Because they can get tackled by a three-hundred pound lummox with an additional fifty pounds of padding?
They’re certainly not good people. I swear to god, there was at least one player a week getting a D.U.I. or a drug charge. And that was the standard nonsense. If you wanted the really bad stuff, you need only look at guys like Ray Louis, or Hector Hernandez: men who were charged with, and possibly even got away with murder. Although I think Hernandez eventually got caught, but I digress.
The fact football players, be they big time NFL players, or small time high school flunkouts in the making like Chad, are worshipped like gods is definitely something Debbie and I could see eye to eye on. Unfortunately, it was straying from the point entirely. Even if Chad was a douche, a closet case, and frankly, an individual the world would be better off without, Debbie had still opened pandora’s box on this one.
She was in the middle of a rant that, in short, was exactly what I was saying just now. However, she chose to end the rant with, “You want to see a god? A little majin like me is the closest thing you’re going to get.”
I chuckled. “If you’re so godlike,” I countered, “why do you and your parents live in such a dump? Surely, you could use your magic to counterfit money and buy a nice house out in the good part of town.”
“Because we’re trying to lay low,” said Debbie. “And in any case, that’d be a vulgar display of power.”
“Sort of like Jesus refusing to perform miracles on the spot?”
“Well yeah, in concept. My grandpa insists Jesus was either a very opinionated street preacher, or the head of one of history’s most successful cults.”
“Well yeah. The only real difference between a cult and a religion is the difference between a membership in the dozens and a membership in the millions. We’re kind of getting off track here, though. Basically, I don’t see what the big deal is with you humans and football. Hell, it’s not even football! It’s not in the shape of a ball, and the only real footwork is in how far you can run.”
“Well… Okay. You’re more than welcome to have that opinion, but it still doesn’t change the fact people are going to notice Chad is gone now. And if they figure out there’s a pink devil girl around here with the power to turn people into chocolate…”
“Not my problem.”
I was at a loss for words then.
Debbie laughed. “Honey, if humans could kill us with anything less than a nuclear bomb, there’d be significantly fewer majins in the world.”
I sighed in frustration, which led her to laugh at me.
“Relax,” she said. “I’m not going to pick a fight with the entire human race. All I want to do is live my life, and enjoy the ride.like you. The only difference is we live a lot longer than you.”
“Really?” I asked. “Like, how long?”
“Well, that depends on the majin, really. My grandpa was somewhere around a couple thousand before he finally passed.”
Debbie laughed again. “It is way too easy to blow your minds, you know? But yeah, thousand.”
“Okay, uh, I know I’m not supposed to ask a lady this, but how old are you?”
“I’ll be a hundred and ninety-eight in December. I’m guessing that whole “never ask a lady how old she is” thing is a human taboo? Probably because you guys only ever live to be seventy or eighty on average.”
“I… Uh, I guess so. I always thought it was a girl taboo more than a human taboo.”
Girl taboo, huh? Majins don’t have a whole lot of those compared to humans. I mean we have similar ones to humans, like “Thou shalt not kill”, “Honor thy mother and thy father”, and so on, but the only real taboo I can think of we don’t have in common is “thou shalt not use thy magic on thy fellow majin”.”
“Um, I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of commandments there.”
“Eh, six in one, half a dozen in the other. The important thing is majin are discouraged from using magic on each other. Which… Sort of brings us to Scott.”
“Yeah, who is this Scott anyway?”
Debbie was about to explain, but then the front door came open. A woman with a similar Buddha belly shape, and brown hair to Debbie came in first. She was followed by a skinny looking man wearing overalls, a trucker hat, and sporting a thick black handlebar mustache. Someone was clearly trying way too hard to appear Midwestern. He looked like how one of those douches in San Fransisco thought us Midwestern folk looked. The woman had a better concept, if only because she didn’t really where anything that screamed “YOU’RE TRYING TOO HARD!” to anyone who looked her way.
Lastly, there came what had to be the fattest man I think I’d ever seen. If he were any fatter, he’d probably need one of those scooters those fat city people ride around on when they go to Walmart.
“That was a good walk,” said the woman.
“Brad like walk!” the fat one declared, clapping.
“You sure did,” said the woman. “Now head up to your room, and…”
“Debbie!” the man interrupted. “What are you doing out of your disguise!?”
Debbie was already on her feet by then. She handled herself calmly… Sort of.
“You really went out into town like that?” she asked, pointing at her dad’s overalls.
“Debbie, we have to be glamoured, remember?” her dad insisted.
“But dressed like that?” Debbie countered. “I keep telling you guys that nobody here dresses like that. You look like a couple of damn Beverly Hillbillies!”
“fair point,” the woman interrupted before the man could say something, “but you still need to look human if you’re going to socialize with these things.”
“It’s okay,” said Debbie, calming down. “He already knows what we are. Kind of.”
She explained that I had unfortunately seen her use magic. She bent the truth just a little, implying both of us were backed into a corner and left with no alternative. She made it sound like Chad and his goon squad were going to kill us! At absolute most, he’d probably just shove me around like he had been doing for a while longer, make a few more gay jokes only Joe Jack thought were funny, and call it an evening. Debbie could’ve probably gone home right then and there, and they wouldn’t have even noticed she was gone.
The father sighed, and his glamour faded. I soon learned the mustache was fake as he pealed it off. Debbie’s mom unglamoured next, revealing she had the same dark blue hair as her daughter. Brad, the fat one, seemed confused.
“Mom said Brad need be human in front of humans,” he said, puzzled.
“Your sister already blew our cover,” his dad explained. “You can unglamour yourself in front of this…”
“Okay!” said Brad, way too inthusiastically.
With that, Brad’s glamour faded. Rather than two nubby little horns on the sides of his head like Debbie and her mom, he had one long horn protruding out of his forehead. It made him look like a unicorn trapped in a human-shaped bubblegum mold, honestly.
Debbie’s dad removed the trucker hat, and a unicorn horn of his own popped out of his forehead with a faint pop noise.
“Go to your room, Brad,” Debbie’s mom ordered. “We need to have a talk with your sister.”
“Okay!” said Brad.
Gleefully, Brad went barreling past his sister and me, and down the hallway to his room. It was just the four of us then. I wasn’t sure of anything at that point, but I couldn’t help but think that nothing good was going to come of this.