Home > Creative Writing Exercises, Game Development, The Island, Writing > “Waking the Shade” – Part I

“Waking the Shade” – Part I

I’ve started working on some lore for my new project, The Island. Here’s the first part of a work in progress that helps set the stage:

“It’s gotta be the real deal, Bobby,” the stripper insisted as she swatted another mosquito from her well-tanned forehead.

She followed the Seminole warlock down the winding path past the darkened lighthouse into a clearing surrounded by palm trees whose fronds shifted and whispered in the westward breeze coming ashore from Lake Okeechobee.

Bobby Hopwell knew it was a bad idea. No, truth be told, it was a terrible idea. But Maggie Lerner swore up and down she’d take him into her bed if he lured a genuine Florida panther as a protective familiar to watch over her and her two boys. She’d made a vow, and Bobby’s drought had gone on far too long.

The sun sank toward the horizon in the west, making a faint silver snake of East Lake Avenue and turning the small town in the distance into a shadow box silhouette. Bobby rolled up the sleeves of his red plaid shirt. “Need to build an altar,” he said.

Maggie took a swipe at another bloodsucker. “Don’t take too long. Eatin’ me alive here.”

“Won’t take too long,” he assured, and then walked between two palms into a rough washed out gully that led to the rocky eastern shore of the island.

Bobby liked to think that he had done his best to reason with Maggie. He liked to think that he had no other choice in the matter. In his own world, Bobby Hopwell would have been unfettered by the Sheriff’s singular mandate. He could have fetched Maggie the finest spiny panther, snared the fiercest bogbear, or called down the mightiest fire drake. He had told her as much, but none of those suited Maggie Lerner. Only the best for her and the boys. “You want the best of me, Bobby Hopwell, you better get the best for me.”

He couldn’t remember the last time anyone reported seeing a Florida panther on the island, but he knew that wouldn’t matter. Bobby Hopwell grew up strong with the nature wisdom inherent in his ancient bloodline. He gathered the stones and returned to the clearing to build a small altar. When that task was complete, Bobby dropped to one knee, raised his face to the star-speckled evening sky, and spread his arms wide.

He sang the words that woke the Shade and brought his doom.

***

The Sheriff pulled the thrashing gargoyle off the battered Bible salesman while Squidmeyer used those ever-handy tentacles to right toppled tables and chairs.

“That’s enough of that,” the town’s lawman insisted, lamplight glinting off the dinged silver star on the left breast of his white uniform shirt. “Make peace and be about your business.”

Wiping blood from his shredded lower lip, the salesman whimpered: “I don’t even know why he attacked me!”

The Sheriff found the man’s bulky leatherbound sample case on its side next to the bar counter. “Seems odd to me too,” he conceded, kneeling to flip open the latches on the case. “Stoney’s usually got a real even keel.” A raspy rumble issued from the gargoyle’s throat as the Sheriff pulled a Bible from the case. The lawman’s eyebrow arched. “Oh, this probably explains it.” He got to his feet and moved to stand near the salesman, setting the book on the table as Squidmeyer waggled a blue kerchief in front of the bleeding man. “Stoney’s particular about the good book. He’s a King James man, all the way. You’re packing the Beck Gospels.”

The salesman pressed the kerchief to his wounded lip. “Anth thapt’th bath?”

“So it would seem,” the Sheriff replied. “Best not be selling wares in the Lamprey, regardless. You want to hock Bibles, do it somewhere more fitting, like the Church Street rummage sale. Folks don’t come here to right their wicked ways. They’re here to revel in ’em.” He looked toward the cephalapoid bartender and said, “Got it under control, Squid?”

The bartender warbled something and slapped three tentacles on the counter that the Sheriff translated to mean that he did, in fact, have it under control.

Wagers changed hands, paws, and flippers in the crowd. Just another Friday night in the Lamprey.

The Sheriff stepped out onto the sidewalk fronting Main Street, below the red and blue neon sign that only had four letters – LAMP – illuminated. The clock on the town hall spire showed 8:23. He still had about a dozen new arrival registrations to peruse and file – one of them, it occurred to him, was the Bible salesman, a fellow who listed his name as Garvis Hamilton. The man hadn’t seemed an incorrigible troublemaker yet, but the Sheriff felt compelled to flag the file for future review. Only on the island a few hours, fresh through a portal, and already trading blows with a pacifist gargoyle philosopher – not a good sign at all.

He rubbed his forehead, then started crossing the street to town hall, making it past the whitewashed gazebo before he felt the sharp stab in his chest, like a knife hooked up to a tractor battery. A coruscating wave of green light shimmered across the bowl of sky that surrounded the island.

For the briefest of moments, the stars changed.

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