...


Nigel strutted down the street, shoulders squared, unkempt dirty blonde hair slighting the collar of his battered jean jacket as he tilted his head back, throwing off a tough and defensive air. The sidewalks were especially crowded that morning in late February, which was curious, as heavy dark clouds spread themselves low over the city of Ventura, ready to burst at any moment.
As Nigel pushed his way forward, his mind laden with thoughts churning themselves to madness, the crowds seemed to part for him, staying to one side of the sidewalk when they saw him coming. But he took no notice of this and continued on, his feet, clad in heavy black steel-toed boots, carrying him on towards who knew where.
His mind cleared for a moment as he dug in his pocket for a spare cigarette, lit it, and began chewing feverishly on the one end. His eyes began to sweep the streets in an effort to figure out where he was--he had been wandering for quite a few hours now--and landed on a street sign that said “Main Street.”
How quaint, he thought bitterly to himself, then delved back into his now every-present conflict, which he had only just realized as of late. He was, aside from Nigel William Starkey, thirty-seven years old, 5'9” and 145lbs., a writer. Ever since he was a young and eager man, aching for release from school into the endless reaches of the earth, he had been a writer, and everyone around him knew it. It wasn't as though it was branded across his chest, obvious for all to see; he just had the air about him that he was a bit deeper than a first glance would give him credit for.
Once free from school, he fought his way to the top and was welcomed into the arms of a prestigious publishing house, spewing out fantasy novels left and right like some kind of god. Through this art he found many followers, fans and fanatics, and he was generally pleased with what he had accomplished for himself. He was living in his own definition of comfort, and he was never found lacking.
And that was where he found his problem, though it wasn't really all that plausible; his best friend wondered if it was just all in his head. For he had found himself, after so many successful years of writing and reclusive living, in a state of discontent. That, in itself, was no surprise, but the fact that he was fed up with writing endless fantasies and magical tales was quite shocking, considering the man that he was.
And now, after a sleepless night of tossing and turning over the matter, he found himself wandering like a vagabond, a roaming gypsy. No destination in mind, just a hope of stumbling across some clarification for his life, which he thought might be hidden away somewhere, in the sand or tucked away behind a bush.
It was then, as if by the magic spun in his head and woven onto blank pages that he found himself standing in the middle of an antique bookshop, dust floating silently through the air to find solace on him in some small way. The shop was massive; Nigel couldn't even see the far walls for all the shelves and ancient pages of immortal stories and ideas. This place is silent as a graveyard, he laughed softly to himself, not daring to disturb the solemnity of the place.
In a way it was a graveyard, and he wound his way from tombstone to tombstone, reading titles and names inspirited in ages past, and it was when he was thoroughly immersed in a sea of fantasy writers that a wave of human voices lapped around his ears.
It was a faint sound, but enough to shatter the spell he was under and cause him to look up, startled. He could see no one else in the place, but he knew better than assume he was imagining things. So, he took up the book he had so lovingly waded through and followed the trail of the soft deep droning voices and sharp tinkles of laughter.
After a time, he found himself standing at the edge of a circle of people, notebooks laying carelessly in the laps of some, tape recorders clutched in the fists of others. One, who appeared to be the leader of the group, spotted Nigel standing on the outside of the gathering and called out to him, “Hello there, friend. Care to join us?”
Nigel looked at him for a moment, and then it was as if all fears of human contact had vanished. “Sure, okay.”
The man rose from his chair to get an extra seat for Nigel and placed it by his own. “Welcome, friend. We were just in the middle of a discussion on the advantages of writing science fiction over other genres. It's not a very taxing discussion, though, as we all seem to agree on the superiority of science fiction. Here, would you like a pamphlet explainging our foundations and reasons? It's quite intresting reading, I assure you.”
Nigel said nothing, but the newfound and cherished fantasy book slid from his hand onto the floor, unnoticed, as he took the pamphlet from the ever-smiling man.
Nigel was hooked.

(more to come, as time goes on)

Samantha Conner ©2005