Monday, May 31, 2010

The story thus far....

OK so this is late but on May 27th I graduated college, I'm free from one prison and now I'm on to another called 'the real world', which as it turns out is not all that real, it's just less uniform and involves a pay check. Sigh I can't wait till the world ends, that's the next countdown.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Going, going back, back in time, time: Scrawl Travel

So I just finished chapter four of Scrawl of Dreams and well I was thinking about things that I should've said and done before the second part of the book where the time jump happens and well I think i may go back and do some more elaborate Introspective things with Roderick's home life and I think chapter Five should work more on what Ian did before the time jump but not how he rose to power or what happened to his big bad dad who will be introduced in said chapter. I may also put up the guide book in the near future I just have to figure out a place to put it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chapter I: The Concord

Chapter I: The Concord.

He walked, it was cold as usual, not blistering, but to him no cold was good. He wouldn't be out here if he didn't need to, but of course, he did. Walking with a cautious step mindful, that no one must see his face, not that any sane soul would travel this way. Still this was no consolation, for this was Winterbourne country and a Winterbourne he was not. They had taken everything and in doing so gained complete control although how they rose to prominence was a mystery, he was sure that his destination would provide a remedy to the cancer plaguing his world. The wilderness swirled around him in the torrent of snow; the howls of distant animals graced his ears. Slowly he entered a hollow wound in the earth. As he went deeper, the freezing cold gave way to a tingle. There was a dim light, which became brighter as he approached. There were rumors that this cave was guarded by something so horrible, the realm of nightmares wouldn’t dare conjure it up. Finally, he reached a cavern, illuminated by a translucent green fluid, hanging from stalagmites. They were like hesitant tear drops, cried by the cave long ago and along with the soft light they gave off there was also warmth. Below, a mirrored pool waited its surface calm, unmoving, beautiful, this was the ‘Fourth Wall’. He blinked at his reflection, his hair had grown, long black locks draping over his shoulders and his eyes, almost feral, were alien to him. How long had it been, since he’d been told about this place? He took a deep breath, pealing off his heavy clothes; he shed them for slender, white collared shirt, black jacket, pants, and gloves. As he prepared to plunge into the liquid below, a sound reverberated through the cave, a sound much like that water moving through strained metal pipes. Was this it, the horrible guardian of the fourth wall? Jumping back he braced himself, a gale force wind slapped his locks back into his face, followed by a vertical wall of water. It spouted up from the pool and hit the ceiling, Where is it? The liquid hung in the air like a cloud of smoke, if formed a sphere as a light moved across its reflective surface. And then he heard it, the ear splitting screech, followed another gust. He covered his face and tried not to lose his balance, the wind stopped and standing directly across from him was something constructed of his childhood nightmares. It was a deathly gray, bent backward as its head spun in around to observe him, its mouth or what counted for one appeared stitched shut, along with it’s eyes. It jerked around horribly as if it were on the verge of seizure, it’s elbows and knees were bent in the wrong angles and it stank of death, of violence. I’ve come too far to be stopped now. The young man placed his hands at his sides, took in deep breathes, closed his eyes. The creature reared back ready to lunge toward him, it shook uncontrollably and launched itself over the hole.

Show time, the young man opened his eyes, which were now gleaming silver and a bright flash filled the room.

Roderick stopped, saved his work, and logged off; he’d been writing this story for as week. It started as a project to relive stress and exercise recommended by his friend Sierra, but now he couldn’t stop as if something compelled him to write, as if he had a duty to tell this story. He walked over to his bed removed his glasses and laid down, it was as if his entire life force went his work, scrawling his dreams on to paper making them real, solid, dense. Sleep now hung on his eye lids; he’d write tomorrow, for now sleep.

He closed his eyes slowly dwelling between the point of reality and the rapid eye movements that awaited him in dreamtime. As his eyes closed he imagined himself in the story he wrote, nothing was different. Same town he lived in, nothing different except he could do what ever he felt like. He was rattled awake by the sound of footsteps and his eyes shot open. “Who’s there?” He waited for a reply but none came.

It’s probably just Avery. He closed his eyes again and tried at a second attempt to go to sleep, and seemed to be succeeding.


“Yes” he whispered. He shook his head.

Roderick got up out of his bed, opened the door, and walked into the hallway. “Avery did you call me?”

“No.” said a loud voice from a door in the middle of the hallway.” You hearin’ things go to bed.”

Roderick was about to ask his mother but stopped himself when he realized that she was at her boyfriend’s house across town. He closed his door and hit the bed, closed his eyes and hoped that he could get to sleep. And he did.

During the night he’d dreamt of a young man with dreadlocks like his swimming in a tunnel filled with water, no, not water; something else. He was woken up mid dream and seemed to be stricken by sleep paralysis. Of course, the only parts of his body that worked were his eyes and mouth. At the foot of his bed, he caught sight of a young man sitting down.

“Hello Roderick” the young man dread locks that were covering his eyes.

Roderick closed his eyes tight and utilizing the ostrich theory he hoped it would be gone when he opened them.

“Open your eyes” the young man had a wide grin on his face too wide to be human. He wore a T-shirt with a soccer ball on it, blue jeans, and converse. “I’m not going anywhere just yet.”

“What …I…I…Is it that you want?” Roderick broke into his nervous stutter.

“Only to talk”

Roderick blinked and the young man was sitting in his computer chair. “I'm here to give you what you want.” The figure moved in the chair a bit.

“What I want?” There were a couple of things that Roderick wanted.

“I want to escape”

“Great me too.” The Young man spun around in the chair playfully. “So do you want it or not, what am I saying, of course you do.”

“How do I get it?”

“Just shake my hand.” The young man smiled beneath his locks.

“But I can’t move, sleep paralysis.” Roderick breathed.

“Yes you can, get up.” The young man motioned for him to rise.

Roderick bolted up immediately as if by some strange magnetism. “Ok… so we just shake and that’s it?”

“That’s it, come on.”

“What do I call you?” Roderick asked

“It doesn’t really matter because by tomorrow, I’ll be you.” The Young man smiled and his eyes shown a bright silver.


Roderick lay in his bed staring at the ceiling. It was 7:00 AM. A cold sweat coursed down his brow and caused his hair to stick to his face. He looked over at his alarm clock flashing 7:00 and buzzing loudly.
Why do I keep this thing, all it does is make noise. He slammed his fist down on the snooze button and got up. It was Thursday and school was at 9:00. Roderick put his hair in a rubber band, put on his glasses, walked to his dresser, and stepped over the pile of clothes on the floor. Reaching for the drawer, he took out a pair of boxers and an undershirt. Opening the second drawer he pulled out a pair of Levis, then shuffled through his bottom drawer looking for a shirt to wear. He picked out a shirt with a fox on it and threw it next to the pants; he then picked up a dirty towel with boxers and undershirt in hand and walked out of his room.

A few seconds after Roderick left a man two inches shorter than him, but obviously older walked in quietly. Slowly picked up Roderick’s wallet, he removed twenty dollars and crept out again.

After ten minutes the door flew open and Roderick walked back in. “Damn it, my hair.” stepping in front of the mirror he attempted to move the wet, matted mess from its entanglement not noticing the small thin crack that formed as he stepped in front of it.

He walked up to his stereo and hit the Power button as raging guitar riffs and screeching vocals roared from the speakers.

“Turn that shit off.” A voice lumbered from behind his door and a body followed” Nigga you black. You can’t’ listen to that shit”

Roderick cringed. The word Nigga cut him like barbed wire. He hated that word. He also hated his brother Avery the living embodiment of It. Avery rushed through the door. He never approved of Roderick leading the lifestyle he did or the music that came with it. Avery was your typical black stereotype, thuggish, listened to rap, spoke improper English, and was generally negative.

Roderick never liked Avery, not in sight or in mind. He’d often times wondered why his mother didn’t abort him. He was an accident.

Roderick put his clothes on with no hurry and hadn’t even turned to acknowledge his brother shuffling through his drawer for his keys, wallet chain, and MP3 player.

“You hear me?” Avery’s tone was annoyed.

“Yeah, but do I care?” Roderick still didn’t turn around.

“Man whatever” Avery walked out the room slightly angered.

All the while Roderick hadn’t noticed that his mirror was cracking nor did he notice his reflection moving of its own accord. He turned to get his cell phone from the dresser. He stopped to notice that his reflection was staring at him. Its gaze was cold and distant.

“What the hell!?” Roderick stepped forward

It made no attempt to move, if only to watch him move forward.

He raised an eyebrow and tried to touch the mirror. At this it moved to match him. The mirror rippled like water and as the reflection reached out the glass bent around its hand.

“Oh shit!” Roderick Jumped back and hit his bed causing it to make contact with the wall.

Avery ran into the room “What the fuck happened?”

Roderick looked at the mirror. Nothing was out of place; his reflection was where it was supposed to be “Uh I slipped...” Roderick looked for something he could have slipped on, he wasn’t in the mood to deal with his brother calling him crazy. “On my socks”

“Well keep it down.” Avery was attempting to sound like the adult he was supposed to be, rather than the Child he was. “You gonna wake da dog.” He slammed the door behind him.

Asshole. Roderick got to his feet put on his sneakers then picked up his messenger bag lying on the left side of his bed near the window. He crept passed the mirror regarding it as a sleeping giant. He opened the door and glanced at the mirror quickly to see if anything had changed. But all stayed the same.

He walked out his door ignoring the loud music and weed smoke coming from his brother’s room then continued down the long hall. Roderick stopped in front of his mother’s room. Natalie kept her room like any other woman. Lots of jewelry, too many clothes with an abundance of shoes. On her dresser was a five-year-old picture of her Roderick at 12 and Avery at 22, right next to the new photo of her and her boyfriend James. There was no indication that his father Malcolm and his mother had been together or that he had a father.

Roderick never liked the idea of his mother attempting to erase his father from the family’s collective memory. The methods she used to do so, included but were not limited to letting the phone ring out when ever Malcolm’s name appeared on the caller ID and calling Roderick a cab rather than risk a direct encounter when he visited his father.

He stepped out, jogged down the stairs, opened the front door, and left his house.

Roderick read an old worn copy of the book Vigilance on the bus ride to school. That was coupled with a song rock, which was steadily damaging his eardrums so as not to be disturbed. He sat in one of the single seats to further make sure no one bothered him. Despite his trying the book failed to hold his attention and his mind teetered between thoughts and dreams, the music as loud as it was only did to mesh both together.

With heavy eyelids, he glimpsed something like a dog running beside the bus, and then he began to doze off, glasses hanging off of his face.

“Where are you!?” a loud obnoxious voice behind him broke through the barrier of guitar riffs and into Roderick’s lucid dreaming. “Oh yeah well hurry up I ain’t got all day and I gotta meet Trina to go shopping.”

Damn, please shut up. Roderick adjusted his glasses and turned his head to glare at the person only to realize it was his brother’s girlfriend Latisha. Roderick tried to look away quickly enough so as not to be noticed but had no luck.

“Hey, you’re A’s brother right?” her voice was even louder although she sat behind him. “Uh, yeah… hi” Roderick trailed off and looked away

“Yeah well tell him I’m going shopping, so I’m gonna need money.” She said nonchalantly

Guess that means he’ll be doing more illegal shit or stealing from mom … not that she’d notice. “Sure. I’ll tell him.” Roderick buried his head in his book.

Latisha leaned over his shoulder and looked at the yellow pages of the book he was reading. “Damn that book looks old, what is it” she said loudly.

Roderick winced at the sound of her voice and its volume. “It’s Vigilance; it’s about a young man who goes about saving a city in the mid-west, using the occult.”

“Oh, that’s for school?”

“No. It’s for me”

“You know, you don’t seem weird” Latisha looked at him somewhat puzzled

“Excuse me?” Roderick raised an eyebrow.

“Well Avery said you were weird, you’re trying to be white and shit”

Son of a bitch. “Listen Avery’s a liar with a Peter Pan complex.”

“What, does that mean?”

Roderick turned around “It means he’s damn near 30 living with his mother”

“Naw, you lying, he said he was 22”

Roderick had enough sense in his head not to try and contest her. Who knows what his brother had said to make himself look good and credible. “You’re right. I am lying. I’m only his brother right?”

Latisha was quiet for the rest of the ride to school.

The day went as usual a blur of long speeches about the important part classical literature played in our daily lives, the fact that PIs are squared and not round, and the glory of the rock cycle. How do I endure this everyday? His thoughts time traveled to the figure of a young girl with braided hair, chestnut skin, and beautiful full lips. Oh yeah that’s why. Time was apparently knee deep in a swamp so; it took a considerable amount of time for the day to come to a close. It did however in spite of itself.

The hallways were barren except for the few who had tutoring or wanted to be out of the house. Roderick strolled along nodding to those he knew sitting and standing. It was 3:00 and with his classes finished he’d bum around for a while, locate a quite corner to read or a loud open space in which to get lost. Roderick dreaded his house, even its aura was oppressive, and his only alternative was to go to his father’s house. Like he’d be home or crash at Sierra’s and well, that wasn’t doing anything but causing trouble.

“I’m sorry Randy, its over.” The familiar monotone yet feminine voice raised an octave. Roderick turned his head to see the tail end of a bad scene.

“But Sierra, can’t we just talk a little, I mean, we can work this out.”

“No, we can’t, you’re too jealous…first you start a fight at the movies, because a guy, who was obviously gay, said he liked my shoes and now you’re accusing me of sleeping with Roderick?”

“What am I supposed to think, you go out like every night with the guy, to the arcade and then I found out that nigga’s spent the night at your crib?” Randy gave his best thuggish scowl. “I haven’t even spent the night with you.”

“It’s not like that, his older brother attacked him with a bottle one night and he was afraid to go home.”

“Well tell that bitch ass nigga to handle his own problems.” Randy yelled.

“Randy , I don’t turn away friends and when we started dating you told me you had no problem with me having a male best friend.” Sierra crossed her arms and cocked her hip. “And since you’ve shown me you can’t do that, we’re over.”

Randy turned and walked away, caught sight of Roderick and walked toward him, Randy was four inches tall than Roderick and about forty pounds heavier. “You’re real lucky there are people here right now, because I’d fuck you up.” He breathed heavily . “But if I catch you alone or outside of school, it’s on bitch ass nigga.” With that he pushed passed Roderick and down the hall way.

Sierra came up to Roderick and sighed. “Don’t worry about him Roderick he’s all talk.”

“I’m sorry I was a party to that.” He replied, a melancholy expression plastered on his face. “Maybe we shouldn’t hang out for a while, at least until you two can sort things out.”

“No, this has nothing to do with you.” She sighed again, her newly braided hair framing her angular mahogany face. “It’s my bad choice in men, I don’t know why I can’t I ever find one that’s not a jealous, thug with violent tendencies.”

Roderick shrugged, he didn’t like to think about why Sierra kept dating the wrong guys, mainly because he wasn’t one of them. “It’ll work out for you, look at me, I haven’t been with anyone in…forever.” He allowed himself a bitter laugh.

Sierra had been Roderick’s best friend since he’d first attended Endwater high school. Endwater was the second largest city on the eastern seaboard and had been a trading post for many years. It was divided into five districts; Roderick lived in Endwater Flats a suburb of Endwater city, which was the center of commerce. The three other districts were Endwater sound, which severed as a port fort the City, Endwater Fields which was literally a university island and Endwater Commons. The Commons as they were called was the most dangerous part of the City, where crime was a common occurrence and some people estimated that its residents perpetrated crimes committed outside of it. Sierra was born and raised in the Commons, she’d taken a liking to Roderick a right away enjoying his quit wit and sarcastic humor. Her environment had made her less of a lady and more of a survivor and Roderick respected that, even if it meant that she wouldn’t ever think of him as anything other than a friend. Her type was tall, athletic with broad shoulders, a voice like a base drum, and a carefree swagger. Roderick was 5’7 and as wide as a toothpick, not to mention that his voice was in a perpetual bout with puberty and thanks to a car accident, what could’ve been a carefree swagger was now a nervous shuffle. But she tolerated him, whether for entertainment or out of some slight emotional attachment he could only guess, but he hoped for the latter.

Sierra looked apologetically at him and then swiftly changed the subject. “So what’s up?”

“Not much, except I realized that seeing you here is the best part of my day. Roderick exhaled slowly. “I’m now deciding whether I should cry about that now or later.”

Sierra smirked and slapped him on the shoulder. “Man, you always got jokes.”

“Yeah, I was thinking of trying stand up.” Roderick said with a tinge of melancholy. She was the brightest part of his day.

“So are we heading to the chest tonight or what?” The Cyber chest or the ‘Chest’ as it was called was a local arcade, she and Roderick liked to frequent.

“Sure I’m just gonna, take my stuff home, and meet you there.” Roderick adjusted his glasses nervously.

“Ok, I’ll be waiting for you.” She giggled and smiled with just a little seduction behind it. Maybe there was something to Randy’s assumptions. “I’m going to head home and change.” With that she turned and walked away.

Roderick stared at her, his forlorn eyes held until, a swift movement to his right caught his attention, a shadow on the periphery of his vision, Must be imagining things, that’s been happening a lot lately. Traveling down the hall he turned right, making his way into the bathroom. It was cold, the smell of urine filled the air, the once white porcelain walls now marred with graffiti, and the steel stalls were riddled with fake phone numbers and scribbles. Standing in front of a urinal he emptied his bladder, Whew I needed that. At that moment the hairs on Roderick’s neck stood like soldiers, something had moved past him, fast.

“Hello.” He turned, zipped up his pants and looked around. What the hell is going on?

There was no sign of who may have been behind him and if someone was there, I’ve gotta get out of here. Turning on the sink Roderick lathered up his hands and splashed his face with cold water. Chill out man.

“Yeah relax.” The voice wasn’t behind him but in front of him, in the mirror.

Roderick looked up and came face to face with himself, well a version of himself. His hair was long and he wore stylish wire frame glasses. He had on the same clothes but wore them differently, better. Roderick began to breathe heavily and he shook just a little bit, as his mind attempted to adjust to what it was seeing.

“I’m losing it right?” Roderick put his hands over his eyes, shaking his head causing his pony tailed locks to bob. “This isn’t happening, a daylight hallucination, like in that movie I saw.”

“Relax man, you know me, we spoke last night.” The reflection put it’s hands up in a calming motion. “I’m just here to let you know you’re about to be in some trouble.”

“Trouble. What kind of trouble?” Roderick still cradled his head in his hands but looked up between his fingers. “From where, from whom?”

At that moment a fist rammed in to Roderick’s jaw nearly lifting him off his feet and knocking his glasses off his face, spinning in slow motion he caught a glimpse of his attacker. Randy, I should’ve known. He hit the floor with thud.

“Think I’m gonna let a bitch made nigga like you take my girl.” Randy landed a boot to Roderick’s ribs.

Tears streamed down his face, as he clutched his side, another followed lifting him off of the floor momentarily, he hit the ground and pathetically groped for his glasses.

“Get up.” Randy yelled.

Roderick rolled over to face Randy blood trickling from his mouth, You need help. The voice was so clear in Roderick’s mind so familiar even more so than the pain he felt right now.

“Help Me,” Roderick whispered.

“What?” Randy grabbed Roderick by his collar and hoisted him up. “what did you say bitch, You want help.” He delivered a cross to Roderick’s jaw but didn’t let him go, another punch came as Randy began to pummel him.

You need my help I’m taking over. At that moment Roderick felt another presence enter his mind and then blacked out.

Chapter II: The Black Prince

Chapter II: Nelo Maxwell




Roderick sat up in his bed, cold sweat ran down his back like a serpent snaking across a desert. He looked at his surroundings; the bed room was cool and black. He put on his glasses, which were slightly cracked, the light from his alarm clock blinked 8:30. How did I get in my room.

“Roddy?” Natalie’s voice rang out through the hollow hall. “Are you up?”

Roderick rubbed his eyes with is hands. Of course I’m up who could sleep with you yelling like that? “Yeah mom I’m up.” Roderick stepped out of bed and ran his fingers through his hair. Walking out into the hallway he noticed his mother putting on her earrings in a hallway mirror. “What’s the matter why were you yelling?”

“Well, your brother Avery didn’t come home last night, have you heard from him?” She maneuvered her earnings as if they were wires of a bomb, and one false move would set them off.

“No mom sorry, can’t say that I have.” Roderick closed his door. He wouldn’t ask Avery for a molecule of air if he were drowning, so talking to him causally wasn’t going to happen. However, on the edges of his mind something told him that Avery was gone and may never come back.

“Ok well, I’ll call him later I’m going out, love you honey.” Roderick heard her descend the stairs.

Roderick swung his legs toward the edge of the bed, and felt a small tinge in his stomach. “How did I end up here, I was in school, getting my ass kicked by Randy.”

“I made contact with you.” Roderick’s reflection began to speak. “That’s what happened.”

“Contact, but that was a…?”

“That thing in the bathroom earlier, I couldn’t let you get your ass kicked, there’s still so much to do, and my enemies from Scrawl are still on my trail.”

“But Scrawl’s just at story I created.” Roderick plopped back onto his bed.

“Hate to break it to you but Scrawl existed long before you did, you were just taping into the Stasis, I’d tell you all about it, but it’d be better to show you.”

“How are you going to do that?” Roderick raised an eyebrow.

His reflection sighed heavily, the glass stretched out like bubble gum. “I need your body.”

Roderick crawled backward, a sinking fear framing his face. “What’ll happen to me?”

“Nothing, we’ll be sharing the same body.” He shrugged. “Look I can explain better to you once you’ve seen the Stasis.”

“How do I do that?” Roderick’s face calmed a little bit.

“Well you just Sleep” The last word was a voice in his head, and he was out.

They stood at the edge of a stream both on either side. Roderick walked toward the reflection that stood on the opposite side. With each step, he spun taking in the beauty of the new area. The sky was a powder blue and there was a thin haze all around, small green lights twinkled in the distance and the trees blew but there was no wind. Roderick noticed that his reflection didn’t wear, his eyes were silver, his locks were wild and untamed, and from what Roderick could tell, he was very athletic.

“I thought you were supposed to be me.” Roderick raised an eyebrow. “You look different, better.”

“Well I’m more of the other you, from Scrawl.” The smile was normal this time.

“Right, do you have a name; I mean I don’t recall giving you one.” Roderick scratched his head. “I mean it’s mine but I assume you want your own.”

“I have a name.”

“You do, what is it?”

“I’m called Nelo Maxwell back in Scrawl.” he smiled.

“So if I give you my body, what do I get?”

“I’ll make your life better, I’m an Ink Dweller, we have power. Not only that but, I’m charming, I’m witty and I kicked Randy’s ass although you weren’t awake to see that.” Nelo laughed

“About that, what happened?”

“When I’m awake you’re asleep, but you can see what I’m doing and vice versa, but that’s only for now.”

“So will I be like schizophrenic?” Roderick gave a puzzled look.

“No, once this happens I’m you, it’ll be like the conscious and the subconscious or two halves of the brain.” Nelo rubbed his onyx chin. “It’s not like two people in one body, it’s more like a synthesis.”

“Oh ok, so how do we do this?”

“You just walk to the edge of the Stasis and you’ll wake up.”

“Oh ok, whose gonna be in control?” Roderick asked.

“I’ll take over, as I recall you have to meet with Sierra at the arcade, and I know how you feel about her, just leave it to me.”

“Oh ok.” Roderick and Nelo walked to the edge of the Stasis, looking back he watched Nelo Maxwell vanish. Breathing deeply he walked toward the infinite expanse before him.

The sounds of exploding cars and bloody fights filled the air. Lights flashed from machines that prompted their users to dance on time to a beat. He stood still adjusting to the sounds and light

People went head to head on steep highways and racetracks at break neck speeds. If you’d like to kill an hour of your life, take a walk in the park, if you’d like to waste it, hit the local arcade. The Cyber Chest was an arcade and video game retailer that had been around since anyone could remember. All of its patrons were what you expected the younger versions of seedy bar flies that rarely had sex and used date rape drugs to do so look like. Roderick pushed his way through the crowd lining the arcade machines, beyond the smoke and smell of unwashed bodies he’d hoped to find a bit of fun while trying not to get sucked in. Now arcades usually had a high male to female population, that being 99:1, the females that were regulars sometimes made you wonder whether it wasn’t a 100:0 ratio. On occasion, an attractive female did show up and if she wasn’t on someone’s arm, she fell into three categories, Shrew, Crazed, and Rare. Tonight Roderick was looking for one in particular

There she sat staring at the lights of the newest racing game cooling off, from having danced her heart to a screaming pace. Roderick had seen her when he walked in ,hips like you wouldn’t believe and an ass to go with it; her hair was braided in a way that reminded him of tree roots. She wore a fitting novelty t-shirt, and pant’s so tight, you could see the change in her pocket. He brushed his hair in front of his face, to imitate the fashion of the day, his locks perfectly framing his glasses. Adjusting his t-shirt so that the logo on it was clearly visible, he tightened the belt on his skinny jeans to make them look even tighter. Finally he dusted off his sneakers and walked over.

“Mind if I join you?” Roderick stood next to her seat.

She looked up a bit annoyed, but then her eyes changed, lighting up like stars. “Roddy, you made it, I was worried.” She got up and hugged him tightly.

“Why would you be worried?” He hugged her back a bit closer.

“I heard you and Randy had a fight in the bathroom.” She looked at him with a hint of sadness. “And he’s bigger than you…so I was afraid…”

“Well as you can see I’m ok, but enough about that, let’s play some Zero fist.”

“Oh well I didn’t know you were in such a hurry to get your butt whooped.” She laughed.

Zero Fist was a 3D fighting game that both Sierra and Roderick had become acquainted over. On Roderick’s first day, he’d come to the arcade to find some competition. Here he and Sierra ran into each other and preceded to a match, after realizing they went to the same school, they began hanging. They walked up to the game cabinet, slotted their coins and selected their characters, they both picked Caporeia fighters.

“How about we make this interesting, the loser buys dinner.” Sierra smirked.

“Oh, sure, I hope you have enough to spot me though.” Roderick laughed.

The first round she beat him badly inciting combo after combo, but there were three rounds in a head-to-head match and he’d have two more to win. The second round he used a flurry of kicks and acrobatics to throw her off guard and win. The third round would be tough, she didn’t seem at all worried, but he knew she was. Roderick could read people and he’d known from experience Sierra’s little nervous ticks. He watched her lips twitch and knew she was as nervous as he was. She began a simple combo, a barrage of kicks coming for him, the trick to winning would be anticipating her final attack. He waited for her to charge up a finishing blow and attack at the exact same time.

Double K.O.” The voice from the machine blared.

“I guess we’re going Dutch.” Sierra smiled.

“Yeah well let’s go now.” Roderick wiped sweat off of his face.

They exited the arcade out into the cool night air. “You know I’ve always loved nights like this.” Roderick said as they began to walk, the moon hung large in the sky closer than it had ever been.

“Oh yeah, why’s that?” Sierra put her hair in a ponytail using a rubber band.

“Well it’s one of those nights, that makes you want to fall in love.” He smiled taking off his glasses to wipe the fog off.

Sierra looked at him vacantly, as if transfixed by his words. “Yeah, I guess so.” She forced a laugh.

They arrived at a small, Asian restaurant and were seated immediately; the place was almost empty and very quiet. They picked up their menus and looked them over. Instinctively Roderick checked his pockets for the money his mother had given him. God damn it Avery you fuck.

“I’ve gotta go, I just realized I don’t have any money on me.” Roderick got up.

“No, sit, I’ll pay for you.” Sierra had a worried expression on her face.

Roderick sat back down. “Are you sure?”

“Yes now sit and order.” She smiled.

The waiter walked up to them and took their orders, she had shrimp with garlic sauce, and he had broccoli in the same manner. One thing Roderick loved about Sierra, besides the other things, was that she never made fun of him for being a vegetarian. So you only eat plants, it could be worse you could eat people.

“Hey did my remark about the night make you uncomfortable?” Roderick adjusted his glasses.

“What, no, why would it?” Sierra looked around.

“Well you gave me this kind of vacant look.”

“It kinda caught me off guard.” She smiled nervously.

“Well you know I’ve always been a hopeless romantic.” He tented his fingers.

“I know, just not around me.”

“Sorry, I’ll try not to be it so often.” He sighed.

“No, no it’s ok just give a sista some warning before you do it.” She laughed again this one was lighter.

Roderick took a deep breath and thought about, what he came here to do. He hadn’t realized it but once he began talking to Sierra, everything became easier and seemed less depressing. He knew how he felt about her and now thanks to the Nelo persona had the courage to let her know. He reached across the table and grabbed her hand.

“Sierra, would I be wrong if I said I wanted to kiss you?”

She sat stunned; with a look so vast, she could’ve been calculating the expanse of space itself. “N-no.” She said almost breathlessly.

At that moment Roderick leaned across the table and kissed her, a hot bolt of warm electricity, shot from his heart to his brain and nether region at lighting speed. It was as if the longing built up in a two-year friendship had culminated in this kiss. Time stopped and it could’ve stayed that way for all Roderick cared. He pulled back and she stared at him.

“Maybe you should sit next to me.” He smiled

She shook her head slowly. “Y-yeah.” She went to get up, but their orders had arrived.

They were both slow to start they just stared at each other from across the table, then began taking little bites of their food. Roderick had lost his appetite; the electricity had settled in his stomach and refused to leave. The only thing that could satisfy him now was her and he knew she felt the same way. They finally finished and began to walk Sierra’s building was a few blocks ahead and as they walked they said nothing, Roderick listened in the night, he’d thought someone had been following them but wasn’t sure. Looking ahead, he stopped and held her hand for her to do the same.

“What’s wrong?” Sierra looked at him puzzled.

“Shh, someone’s following us.”

“So it’s true, you were cheating on me bitch.” Randy had stepped out from a door way behind them; he had a knife in his hand, his face was bruised and strangely pale. His eyes were bloodshot and he looked disheveled, his cornrows were undone and out of place.

“Randy, what are you doing?” Sierra stood in front of Roderick.

“Catching you and this nigga in the act, just like I knew I would.” Randy advanced toward them. “You may have gotten lucky last time but now, I’m gonna kill your ass.”

Roderick moved Sierra behind him something about Randy was off; it was most likely the effects of their previous altercation. “If you want a rematch we can have it, I’m sending her home though.” “Run.” He whispered to her.

Sierra cocked her eyebrow at him. “And leave you to get stabbed, hell no, we just started something and I’ll be damned if he finishes it.”

“Sierra.” He cradled her face in his hands. “Trust me, we’ll have a lot more time together just get home.”

She looked in his eyes for any sign of hesitation, but he was dead serious, what ever was going on it wasn’t anything she’d experienced before. “Ok, but you better not die.”

“I won’t, I promise.” He kissed her passionately. “Now go.”

She ran away from Roderick and Randy, down the block, toward her building hoping that this wouldn’t be the last time she saw Roderick. They had begun something new and though her last relationship had been bad, she knew Roderick would be different and she’d welcome it. Please live.