Another chapter of Asterion up. And… you know what I’ll just post the whole chapter here. It is kind of fluff on the surface, but of course it’s in fact there so we learn a little bit about the characters. We see a little bit how Jen’s mind works, learn a little bit about Sayuri, and see Kaya bounce back from what happened to her in the club earlier.
If you want to help out with beta reading and giving feedback, just message or send me an ask. I’m uploading all the chapters to a password protected blog here on Tumblr, or you can email me for a document if you prefer (see my about page). I’m currently working on… well, lets say second draft. It’s a bit complicated, but I’ve written lots, playing around with different ideas, but now I’m selecting what I want and stitching it all together. Anyway, here is the chapter I promised below the break.
Jennifer looked sceptically at her drink. She didn’t know what it was. She’d asked Sayuri, leaning on the bar next
to her, what she should get and the bartender, Amara, suggested something
sweet. She tasted it. It was tangy and fruity and not unpleasant at
all. She liked it, but was unsure
whether to drink it quickly in the hope the others would hurry up as well and
they could get out of here, or to try and make it last as she didn’t want to
get drunk or spend any more money in this place. Kaya hadn’t returned from the bathroom yet so
she supposed she would just have to wait anyway.
“So,” she asked, “what do we do now?”
Sayuri hummed, then said, “just chat, I guess.”
Jennifer was afraid of that.
She hated just chatting. She
never knew what to chat about. She
already knew what the weather was like, and she didn’t know Sayuri’s family
well enough to ask about them. Once,
when she was younger, she’d heard that someone’s dog had won a competition so
she asked them about that, only to discover that the dog had been kidnapped a
few days before. She felt that she
should have known that as everyone else immediately made it clear that they did,
and never got over the shame, embarrassment and guilt she felt at possibly
upsetting those poor people. It had long
felt like there was a private club that everyone in the world was a member of
except her. At least she’d never been
invited to join, until now.
She supposed there was one thing she was a little bit
curious about. “How did you and Kaya
become friends?” She asked.
“Nothing special,” Sayuri shrugged. “The band wanted a drummer. I’m a drummer, so I joined.”
“Oh,” Jennifer was really hoping she would have kept talking
a lot longer than that. Now she had to
think of something else. “Why did you
take that up?”
“It’s a great way to release negative energy and emotions,
you know? And it attunes you to the
natural rhythms all around. You want to
try it? When Kaya’s done we can go back
to the garage.”
Jen admitted she was a little curious to see if any of that
was true. But she’d never had any
musical talent and didn’t want to embarrass everybody. “I-I’m okay,” she uttered meekly.
As if reading her mind, Sayuri said enthusiastically, “don’t
worry. It’s easy.” Jen thought that Sayuri hadn’t considered
that perhaps it was just easy for her because she’d been doing it for years, in
the same way that engineering was easy to Jennifer because she had practiced at
it. Before she could continue that
thought, Sayuri asked her, “what kind of music do you like, Jen?”
“I don’t know,” Jen answered honestly. She often heard songs that she liked, but she
never really thought deeply about them nor was she wedded to a particular style
or artist. “All sorts I suppose.”
“I thought maybe with all your robots you’d be into heavy
metal. Or sea shanties since you live in
a lighthouse. Or Pirate Metal. Did you know that’s a thing?”
“No,” Jen confessed, taking another sip. “I like Blow the Man Down.”
Sayuri snickered at that, for some reason. It took a moment for Jen to realise that she
might have thought something dirty, but by then Amara had returned to them,
making herself look busy by wiping the bar.
“You still in that band?” She asked Sayuri. “What was it called… The Killer Aqua Babies?”
“Bunnies,” Sayuri corrected, turning her attention away from
Jennifer. “We’re a couple of members
short since we split up with Candace and Ashley.”
Amara’s nostrils flared as if detecting a foul odour. “Never liked those two. Grown women shouldn’t be acting like my kid
brother with his ‘gang’.”
“It was a long time coming.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about putting out an ad…”
They continued to chat about something Jennifer felt didn’t
really concern her. She would have liked
to have heard her friends play some time, but – maybe just a recording. Things sounded better if they were recorded
properly anyway. She could do that. She had a sound proofed room and plenty of
acoustic recording equipment at the lighthouse.
She used it to record the ghost and werewolf noises to keep children and
teenagers from getting too close, among other things. There wasn’t much point suggesting it now, as
there wasn’t a band and Kaya would ask if she wanted her to do that.
As Sayuri and Amara carried on, Jennifer noticed there was
couple arguing on the other side of the central dance floor. Or rather it looked they both worked here as
they both wore white shirts and black waistcoats. There seemed to be a problem with one of the
restrooms and were debating whose job it was to fix it and whether they should
inform the manager, who presumably was Stan Greif. There was a balcony overlooking the dance
floor, and through a window up there she could see Stan pacing and yelling at
his phone. Some more people had arrived
in the club, including a man and a woman.
The man had his arm around her, holding her tightly to him. She didn’t look comfortable with it, but
Jennifer wondered if maybe he was another gangster, used to threats against his
life and that was why he was being protective.
She couldn’t make out anything they said. She couldn’t make out when anyone was saying
anymore as there were at least a dozen people talking and she got snippets here
and there but for the most part it was just one continuous drone.
She sunk forward, focusing instead on the pleasant sound of
the bubbles in her drink. Where the
bubbles formed revealed tiny imperfections in the glass, which the bubbles
would be stuck to until they grew large enough to float away. She imagined them being like little squeaky
voiced balloon people who spent their short existence just trying to get big
enough to make it into heaven. Which
made it seem sad in a way, as when they escaped they in one sense ceased to
exist. But then they became part of the
greater atmosphere, so…
Jennifer must have been considering the cosmology of the
bubble people for some time as she suddenly felt her shoulder pushed and looked
around to see Sayuri peering concernedly at her. “You okay?” She asked. “Looks like you zoned out.”
That was accurate, but Jennifer realised her behaviour must
have seemed strange and inappropriate.
Her cheeks flushed as she shifted upright on her stool. “Sorry,” she said.
“Don’t worry about it,” Sayuri patiently said. Jennifer would worry about it. Telling her not to worry about it only made
her worry more. But she appreciated the
kindness. “We should get out of here
anyway. What the hell is Kay…”
Kaya chose that moment to appear again, her face, far more
cheerful than when she’d left, thrusting between Jen and Sayuri as she put an
arm around each of them. “Alright my
bobby-dazzlers, you ready to go?”
“Where have you been?” Sayuri quizzed.
Bathroom. Now hurry and finish up
and let’s go.”
Jennifer squinted, not understanding the sudden change in
her mood. “Don’t you want anything?”
“Nah. We’ll get something
from a store. Drink up.” Kaya was very
eager and insistent, and the others just found themselves being dragged along
in her wake, downing their drinks and heading with her to the door. “Don’t run though,” Kaya suddenly
cautioned. “It’ll make us look guilty.”
Jennifer and Sayuri both stared, asking at about the same
time, “guilty of what?!”
Jen looked back over her shoulder. Mei Lin had just gone into one of the
restrooms – the one she’d noticed the two employees arguing about. Seconds later there was a faint splash and
then an angered, tortured scream. Mei
Lin came running out, water dripping from her hair and flowing through all the
channels around her muscles. Stan Greif
came out of his office, leaning on the balcony railing to see what the
commotion was. And then he saw the three
women walking away.
“Cade!” He roared, muscles straining all around his face and
“Okay,” Kaya said as she inhaled. “Now run.”