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eyes

Day 1

Posted on 2007.11.02 at 01:33
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1560 / 50000 words. 3% done!

Not as many words as I hoped. I was going for 2,000, but it's a school night, and I really need to go to bed.

By the way, at this point, I still haven't come up with a suitable title for my NaNo novel. I have some options, but I'm still feeling them out.

Here we go:


The black coffee seemed to wink at her, but Ariel shut her eyes and took a deep breath. Clearly, she needed something strong, so she ignored the cream and sugar.

The young man offering the coffee toppings pouted at her refusals.

“Well, can I get you anything else then?” he pressed. “A shot of vodka? A candy cherry? Whip cream?”

“Why on earth would I want whip cream in my coffee?” Ariel asked him. She lifted up her mug and breathes in the fumes. The barstool she sat on has a white, velvet cushion, and it suited her very comfortably. Making a mental note of this, Ariel openede her eyes and took a sip of coffee.

“Are you sure?” the young man tried again. “Well, all right then. But please, have you heard of the Zebra Association?”

“Look, I’m only here to pick up dinner,” Ariel cut in, but he cuts in quicker.

“I sincerely believe that the Zebra Association will serve you like no other. Please, take a card. You see our mascot? The blue zebra, a subspecies of the grey zebra, thought to be extinct for centuries until a group of scientists discovered a thriving colony underground, at the African provinces. Like the blue zebra, the Zebra Association was believed a done and dying organization of struggling oldtimers, but just recently, we have revived ourselves. We strive to ensure justice to the common people, to ensure that nobody ever goes extinct...”

A few droplets of spit flew from his mouth at “extinct” and landed a few inches from Ariel’s resting mug. She tapped her fingertips and carefully moved her mug to the side.

“Please, miss.”

Ariel blinked as the young man bowed, holding a small, glossy business card to her with his right hand.

“Please consider the Zebra Association! Our meetings take place right here, at this very bar…”

With a sigh, Ariel took the card and slipped it into her jacket pocket. She downed her coffee in one gulp.

“Is there anything else I can possibly do for you?” the young men asked, his face insistent and eyes bright in the aftereffects of speechmaking.

“You may enquire in the kitchens after my pasta,” Ariel gave in.

“Yes, yes, anything.”

Ariel rolled her eyes at the ceiling as he retreated. All these people, all these youths joining political organizations and not actually being political, only used to recruit more members. But, they lack the confidence to recruit from the sidewalk, to preach to people who truly need inspirational speeches of hope, and instead merely grasp the first new face they see in places containing citizens without a need for extra hope, and might already be in another political organization already.

Somebody, she mused, needs to train these people. Somebody needs to guide these misguided young minds and tell them that in the end, there is no purpose anyway.

The young man returned, carefully placing a packaged meal before her. “You know,” he commented, taking out a plastic bag from behind the bar, “Your hair is blue, just like the bountiful, flowing hues of the Blue Zebra. Perhaps this is a sign that…”

Ariel wanted to tell him, “Your attempts at seductions are wasted effort. You may think yourself young, dashing, and articulate, but in actuality, you are merely a generic face with the ability to talk for long stretches of time. In other words, you are no different from the last misguided youth who accosted me only half an hour ago. Besides, using sex appeal to advertise your association is amateur. Try again with a younger lady. Now, goodbye, and try not to get involved with a real political squabble.”

Instead, she smiled and replied, “Thank you for your service.”

The pasta was prepaid, so she took the plastic bag and hopped off the stool. Her red, leather boots squeaked on the ground, and she pretended not to hear the young man’s last propaganda as she left the restaurant.

Downtown was bustling, as it usually did early evening on a Friday night. Ariel looked away from protesters waving glossy, neon green signs outside a local law firm. As she passed a an old fashioned mechanical toy store, she sidestepped a group of running, dark-haired children and then again to make way for their furiously huffing caretaker. The evening had grown a little warmer, so she took off her black gloves.

Stopping next to a barber shop (closed for the weekend), Ariel allowed herself a few minutes of vanity. The shop windows were wide, and in the summer light, they reflected with the clarity of a silver mirror. She examined her blue-tinged hair, wild and wavy in the wind, and decided that magenta would be her next hair color. Turning her chin, she noticed a smudge in her lipstick, but decided against retouching it. Her apartment was not that far away.

A light glimmered next to her reflection’s elbow, and Ariel cautiously fingered the air it appeared in. She felt nothing.

Just like the wink in the coffee, she noted.

“I got another one,” she announced as she unlocked her apartment door.

Duza, her roommate, sitting at the couch, looked up in interest. Even Duza’s five snakes, twisting at her head, swiveled around in hissing interest. Flipping a magazine page, she raised an eyebrow.

“Which animalian operation recruited you today?” Duza asked.

Kicking off her boots, Ariel joined her in the living room, dropping the pasta bag onto an oak table.

“The zebra with blue stripes, this time,” she answered. Briskly, she wiped off her lipstick with a napkin and opened the box.

“Can I see it?”

Ariel handed Duza the card. Receiving it with green-tipped fingernails, Ariel’s Gorgon girl roommate giggled at the gaudy yellow font and the clashing colors.

“I should add this to my collection,” Duza remarked, but a small, red garden snake whisked it from her fingers. It sunk within the other snakes, camouflaged in Duza’s ruby hair.

“Do you want me to get it back?” Ariel offered kindly.

Waving a hand, Duza answered, “Don’t bother. They were getting hungry, and you know how they can be.”

“That’s the fourth business card they’ve taken though. One of these days, they might take something important, you know.”

“But, they’ve only taken cards you got from other people. And who needs theme?” Duza grinned in triumph and took a fork.

They made a rare pair, the human and the Gorgon girls. Although it was not unusual for two members of different human subspecies to coexist, Ariel and Duza were one of only five sets of cohabitants, in which one of them also housed an additional species on their body. Sometimes, Ariel did feel like she had more than one roommate. Duza’s snakes certainly ate their full share of food.

“I think I was being followed today,” Ariel remarked as they finished the pasta with a glass of peach wine.

Duza sighed and looked at Ariel with resigned eyes. “You should be more careful. The cafes you hang out at aren’t always as safe as they look on the outside.”

“You give them too much credit,” Ariel shot back. “Political organizations aren’t so organized that they’d follow potential recruits home. I would have been able to lose them if it political people were stalking me.”

A blue snake rested its head on Duza’s shoulder and flickered a tongue at Ariel.

“Nothing can happen to me,” Ariel insisted. “Having no political affiliation does have its benefits.”

“Yes, the benefit of being no danger to anyone. I disagree with that. You’re a danger to everyone, because nobody knows what direction you’ll go,” Duza commented, stroking the head of the blue snake.

Smiling, Ariel hummed. “A little guessing couldn’t hurt. No, I was being followed by somebody who knows how to stay hidden. But, don’t worry. If somebody wanted to kill me, I’m sure they would have found a loophole.”
Duza glared at her. “Don’t say things like that.”

“I’m sorry.”

Sighing, Duza took a last swig of wine. “Well, speaking of organizations, I’m off to organize a party for the big boss. Why can’t I have regular workdays instead of Friday gigs?”

“It’s your own fault for choosing the unconventional vocation.”

“Oh yes, I remember now. Do you want to come? Ladies always get in free on Friday nights.”

“And that’s why there will be too many people at your club tonight.” Ariel shook her head. “I’m sorry, I think I’ll get pleasantly drunk by myself tonight, on this very couch. The toilet’s right there, in case I lose control without you.”

“Suit yourself.”

When Duza left in a shower of black heels and black eyeliner, Ariel decided to take the wine into her bedroom. Unfortunately, there was a dragon sleeping on her pillow.

“But I’ve only had one glass of wine so far,” Ariel said out loud, and wondered why she had voiced it out loud.

Her statement woke the dragon, and it raised a scaled, long-lashed eyelid droopily. Its size was hardly frightening, for it just big enough to cover the entire expanse of her pillow, but only that. It gleamed in its purple-tinted scales, illuminating the silver talons decorating its claws.

Ariel nearly dropped the bottle of wine when it spoke.

“That,” it proclaimed, revealing a mouthful of small, ivory-pale fangs, “is not your true hair color.”

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