25 April 2010

Excerpt from Darkness Round The Sun

This scene takes place at the beginning of chapter two. It's one of my favorites.

Brien yawned deeply as he tried to focus enough to stay awake. He was sitting at one of the library’s long tables, attempting to read a book on HTML coding for his information systems class, but the words on the page merely passed through his brain, without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind them; he equated the experience with trying to teach a blind man sign language. A familiar scent wafted towards him on the wings of the air. He looked up hesitantly and saw Angelo walking out of the stacks, hand in hand with the girl that he seemed to have gotten so cozy with over the last couple days. He was smiling, which Brien thought was good, but his insides still clenched tightly at seeing his hand in someone else’s. Angelo looked around and their eyes met; his body stiffened and the smile disappeared from his face. Brien held his gaze for only a moment before looking away. He didn’t have the energy to wonder what was going on in Angelo’s mind, so he went back to reading his book.

“Go ahead,” Brien heard the girl say; he assumed that she was talking to Angelo. A moment later she sat down next to him. “Hi,” she said. Brien looked up from his book, his expression dubious. “I’m Jan.” He saw her hand extend as though she expected him to shake it. He turned to face her and actually took in her appearance for the first time. She was a resident of the plumper side of life with greasy hair and a smile on her fat face. But Brien thought he saw something else beneath that smile; something malicious.

“Brien,” he said, taking her hand against his better judgment. As soon as he had, he wished that he hadn’t. Something inside of him sprang to life and began clawing at the underside of his flesh, begging to be released so that it could tear her to pieces. The urge was so strong that Brien had become visibly uncomfortable. He could see that she was suppressing another smile.

“I’m Angelo’s girlfriend,” she said, enunciating the word as though she were talking to a toddler.

“I know who you are,” he said, ignoring the hissing, spitting creature that was still trying to escape.

“Good,” she said, smiling that smile that made Brien so desperately want to hit her. “So then we shouldn’t have any misunderstandings.”

“Misunderstandings about what, exactly?” Brien asked, his eyebrow raised.

“Angelo.” All traces of the smile that she once had were gone from her face. All that was left now was an expression that was deadly serious; one that almost would have scared Brien under normal circumstances. But these weren’t normal circumstances. “I’m going to say this one time, and one time only: stay away from him. You see him coming: you turn and go another way. If you hear him: bury your nose in a book. Don’t let him see you. Got it?”

Brien smiled. She sounded jealous, in his opinion, and he kinda liked it. He decided to play with her a little. “Why should I stay away from him?”

She looked mildly insulted. “Because I said so. And if you don’t,” she lowered her voice and leaned in as though she were about to share with him some secret of national importance. “I’ll cut your balls off.”

Brien couldn’t stop himself from laughing. “How would you get close enough to them to cut them off?”

Her expression went from insulted to furious. She clearly did not approve of being laughed at; her face was purpling with rage. “Just do what I said,” she said through gritted teeth.

Brien closed his book and stuffed it in his bag; he slung the bag over his shoulder and got up from the table, then he leaned in to her, but he didn’t bother lowering his voice. “I’m going to say this one time, and one time only.” He leaned in a little closer and she backed away a fraction of an inch, as though afraid that she was going to catch a contagious disease. “Make me.” He winked at her, smiled, and left her sitting at the table, looking dumbstruck. The creature roared in approval, but he could still feel its desire to tear her apart.

Angelo was waiting outside the entrance to the library; his head was resting against the faux brick wall. When he saw Brien he straightened up. Brien wasn’t smiling anymore. Now that he was face to face with Angelo he wanted to cry; but it was tears of anger that demanded to be shed.

“What did she─” Angelo began.

“If you wanted me to stay away from you,” Brien said, voice breaking. He wanted to hit Angelo so badly that his entire body was shaking with the effort to stifle the urge. “All you had to do was say so. You didn’t have to send your lap dog to deliver the message.”

“That’s not what─”

“Go to hell,” Brien said. He spun on his heel and stormed away.

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