You may have noticed that I haven’t been around much lately. I do apologize for not writing this post sooner but a few days ago I cancelled my World of Warcraft subscription. I’m not going to sit here and list all the reasons why I left the game and if Blizzard did this I would, blah, blah, blah. The main reason for that being was because there isn’t one. I’ve stopped playing this game because this chapter of my life is at an end. Sure the guild issues, the raiding issues, etc, contributed to it but to be honest I feel that it’s time.
It was a hard decision to make. I almost made it a month ago but a few days before my subscription lapsed I played a bit again and I decided I would extend it again by a month and in that month time I’ve logged in a total of two times. But to be honest I’m not that heartbroken about it. I picked up my old pokemon games so that’s filled the video game void, but I’ve also started reading again….FOR LESIURE! I know, it’s crazy right? People actually reading for fun? Who has the time for that? This guy! And as I recently learned: the amount of reading I do directly influences the amount of writing I do. You must be sitting at your computer screen thinking: What. The. Fuck. He hasn’t written a damn thing in nearly two months! This guy is full of crap! Well as some of you may know I started blogging in the first place because I wanted to keep my writing skills sharp after I finished my first book (I use the term book loosely it requires a metric fuckton (legitimate Canadian measurement of matter, ask any Canadian, they know) of editing). Surprise, surprise once I started blogging I’ve barely written or edited anything. So with regret I say I will no longer be writing on Bag Overflow.
That begin said I won’t be giving up Twitter, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be back on Bag Overflow. But for now WoW doesn’t hold any pull on me. I check MMO-Champ for Mists news and I realize that it just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I have thought about starting a reading/writing/personal blog after I saw Angelya’s Oaken Bookcase blog. But for now I leave you with a hearty thanks for sticking with Bag Overflow for however long that you did and I also leave you with Chapter 1 (recently edited) of my novel: (Title still pending)
Chapter 1: Conscription
Lightning cracked across the clouded sky over the lake. Daniel awoke when the back of his eyelids flashed scarlet from the light that streamed through the grim encrusted window. Rats scuttled overhead along the rusted girders that nearly touched the ceiling. He sat up off the mouldy couch, that he dragged here himself, stretching his arms high above his head. With a quick movement of his head to the right and to the left, his neck let off several audible cracks. Deeming himself fully awake he reached over and pulled his t-shirt over his head. It was already damp from the humidity that emanated from Toronto on the hot July morning. Kicking over a pizza box, that the rats hadn’t reached yet, he pulled out a cold piece and began munching on it.
“It isn’t much of a breakfast,” Daniel thought as he took another bite, “then again I don’t have much of a life now, do I?” He ran through his plans for the day as he shouldered the door open. Daniel frequented an abandoned warehouse right on the lake when he didn’t want to stay at his group home, which was often. Daniel needed to check in with the social workers or else they would “enforce” their rules on him. Daniel still had bruises from his last “enforcement”. Instead of taking the bus, Daniel decided, he would take a more scenic route that would take him through his favourite place in the city, downtown. Daniel had lived in Toronto for the entirety of his sixteen years. The social workers said that they opened the doors one morning and there was a man standing their telling them he couldn’t take care of him. Ever since then, Daniel’s been walking around the city hoping to stumble across this man, but so far no such luck befell him. Although something was always drawing Daniel to Toronto, once he was taken to a summer camp just an hour north of Toronto and he felt sick for the entire time he was there, almost like a hollowness had moved into his chest. The moment he passed the city sign he felt better. It wasn’t odd for him to be spending hours walking around the city taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of the city. Little did he know that this was all about to change.
Police were closing down streets in the downtown core for some event that would be bringing all sorts of celebrities to town. Luckily he knew his way around the city, so he just by-passed the police and ducked into an alleyway that reeked of garbage and filthy rainwater. He hopped onto a garbage can, then onto a stack of old loading pallets, followed by a dumpster, and then finally up and over a wall that divided the alley.
With a sharp intake of breath Daniel hopped down from the wall. He had scrapped his wrist; blood slowly seeped from the torn skin down the tips of his fingers.
“Dammit!” Daniel swore, “I’m going be hear about this from witch one and witch two.” He had an arrangement with the two social workers that ran the house he lived at. They let him have free run of the city if he agreed to return in time for the weekly inspection of house by the province. Any injuries must be documented such as a scratched wrist. Luckily he had a first aid kit stashed under his mattress back at the home so all he needed to do is make it back before the provincial inspector came knocking and he would be home free.
Daniel distanced his hand from the rest of him, a first aid kit wouldn’t help much with blood smeared clothes, and continued his walk. Fortunately it was only a three block walk from the alleyway.
When he looked up and the clouds seemed to be darker with each passing step, he managed to stem the flow of blood and gave himself a few moments to compose himself. He looked out across the street to the place he had to call home. It was a standard building for Toronto: the first metre from the ground was a study gray coloured concrete that made the foundation. Above that were red bricks made up the majority of the wall but a few blues dotted themselves up to the roof. Daniel supposed that the contrast was supposed to make the building look like a fun place to live. That if parents were ever unable to look after their kids, this would be a great place to leave them. Daniel laughed bitterly. He knew the secrets of this place better than anyone. The only fun thing about this place were the arts and crafts that hung in the windows of some of the rooms, Daniel has been there the longest and he doesn’t remember anyone making them, they must have been made when the building first opened. Daniel sighed, as perfect the exterior was; the interior was anything but.
You moved in stages through the home. Babies were sent to the nursery meanwhile the older kids that had the misfortune of being sent here were put in the arrival room. To all the members of the home it was just known as the “A” room or just “A” for short. The “A” stood for the phases the inhabitants went through. The first stage was abandonment, their families and whatever high power they believed in abandoned them, leaving them there. The second stage followed a few hours after the first, this stage was known as agony. This is usually the first time the children have to themselves after whatever incident put them there. Whether it was a matter of the court or if it was just a car accident, this was the stage where it dawned that they probably won’t be seeing their parents again. The Agony stage usually lasted a few days, till the child cried themselves out and all came to the same conclusion, they would get out of there, no matter what it took they would. The stage after agony was anger. Anger for the other driver or for the judge who sent them there. Chairs and punches would be thrown. The A room was covered in posters covering the various holes in the walls. There’s even one on the ceiling which Daniel has yet to figure out how it got there.
After the A room, members of this home moved through the age rooms. The nursery was close to the entrance of the building, where the witches roosted. He hated them. Passed the nursery was the bathroom and shower. It was pretty standard as far as bathrooms went. When the door opened immediately to the left were two sinks with a large mirror above it, covered in grime as usual. Right behind the door was a tub with a shower head that most of the younger kids used. Right beside the tub were two stalls. Just like the rest of the building, the stalls were broken and gray. When Daniel had a roommate in his earlier years he would often spend all night sitting in one of the stalls reading. The bathroom was the only room that still have the lights on, even after lights out. Passed the bathroom the children lodged, usually ages from four to ten. Passed them was the kitchen. Up a flight of stairs and this is where the preteens lived, ages eleven to thirteen. At the end of the preteen hallway was the common area where petty squabbles primarily played out. Finally on the third floor is where the teenagers lived, but since most children were adopted before then, it was only Daniel who resided on the top floor. He didn’t mind because at the end of the teenager hallway was where Daniel’s favourite room was, the library. Although since the library ran on such limited funds, Daniel often went to the larger one downtown, which means he often took books back to his room. They littered every flat surface they could find. He had them stacked up in three separate piles on his desk. He couldn’t sit on his desk chair either because of the same reason. His bed was only functional if he curled up as tightly as he could, which was often. Daniel would rather wake up aching than damage a book.
A car door slamming snapped him out of his reverie. Daniel swore. The man from the government just walked in the front door while he stood like an idiot on the other side of the street thinking about books. He hurried across the street, with any luck he could sneak upstairs and bandage his wrist, or at least he could change into a long sleeved shirt to cover up his gash.
“And where are you coming in so early on this dreary morning?” the inspector questioned as Daniel walked in the front door.
“Library, had to return those books on the French revolution. Those library fines are killers,” Daniel lied casually, it wasn’t the first time he had to make up a lie on the spot and he had a feeling it wasn’t going to be the last either.
“Say hello to Mr. Johnson,” the social worker named Deborah said. She was a large woman. She was fairly thick and thrice as tall, she was pure muscle. She had short, thick curly brown hair and below that her eyebrows would play tag. Often times one would reach across her forehead to touch the other and vice versa, depended on the day if she had a unibrow or not Daniel supposed. She had thin, narrow lips that always had a thick coating of lipstick. Daniel assumed it was to make her look feminine, but he never asked. Her most defining feature was her large hook nose that she often used to sniffing out those children who disobeyed her and broke her rules. It was no wonder she was nicknamed, The Bear.
“Hello to Mr. Johnson,” Daniel said lazily to the man who wore a trench coat, oblivious to the sweltering heat that was plaguing the city.
“No need to get smart,” Replied Janet, the other social worker. She was the complete opposite of Deborah, Deborah resembled a bear meanwhile Janet was more like a tree, tall and lanky. Her face was like that of a large beaked bird. Long, sharp pointed nose with small beady eyes and her eyebrows weren’t nearly as entertaining.
“What happened to your wrist?” Inspector Johnson enquired as he snatched Daniel’s hand.
“I caught it on some thorns when I was in High Park studying the flora of the city for a report due,” Daniel replied quickly.
“In the middle of July?” the inspector asked icily, digging he nails into Daniel’s wrist.
“Well Ms. Deborah and Ms. Janet ride us hard, even in the sum- What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Daniel asked as the inspectors nails dug into his wound, making it bleed again, “Let go! That hurts!”
“Is he packed yet?” the inspector asked turning to the social workers as he eyed the blood dripping off his fingers onto the linoleum floor.
“W-we haven’t had a chance to tell him yet,” Deborah asked.
“Tell me what?” Daniel asked as an icy chill ran up his spine.
“We’re moving you out of the city, further north. It’s close to a military base. It’s become evident that if no one has adopted you by now, no one will. Once you turn eighteen the only natural option for you will be to enlist, thus eliminating the need for us to help you get on your feet.” No one said anything for a few moments, letting it all soak in. Daniel eyed the man standing before him. He hated every inch of him. All the way from the top of his balding head, right down passed his glasses, passed the plaid shirt under his jacket, right down to his cheap Italian knock-off shoes.
“Well alright then,” Daniel said as he turned away from the three of them and calmly strode out the front door.
“Where’s he going?” the inspector asked the two workers.
“Running away?” Janet suggested politely.
“Well then I suggest you go after him, or I’ll make sure both of you get extended unpaid vacations. Permanently,” he said, still inspecting the blood running along his hand.
* * * * *
Daniel began running shortly after he actually understood what was being offered him and what he was doing. He didn’t know for how long or how fast he had been running but all he knew was he couldn’t move out of the city. He only began to really understand what moving out of the city would mean for him when he sat down on a bus bench to contemplate it. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that eventually that hollowness he felt when he left the city before would kill him. He leaned back in the bench and stared at the sky. It was the exact colour he felt, a deep, dark gray. He looked at a man sitting in a red Cadillac, and more importantly he looked through the man’s windows and on the other side of the street were the two social workers looking dutifully for him and their vacations.
Again he didn’t know how long or far he ran till he was tripping over some garbage cans in an alleyway. When he last saw the workers they were right behind him, and as luck would have it this alleyway was a dead end. Thankfully Daniel had created enough of a racket that the store owner opened the back door.
“Get inside quickly.” Daniel cautiously stepped inside, the old man bolted the door closed behind them, “What were you doing in my back alley?”
“What are you doing letting me into your store?” Daniel asked.
“You’re quick. I liked that. You can call me Mr. Frydel, and you are?” Mr. Frydel asked.
“I’m Daniel and I guess you could call me a runaway. Are you going to turn me in?”
“I suppose that depends on what you’re running from,” Mr. Frydel observed. Daniel spent the better half of the next hour telling Mr. Frydel everything about himself. Daniel couldn’t help it., once he looked into those green, inquisitive eyes he couldn’t help telling Mr. Frydel everything. Something about the old man made Daniel feel calm and safe. While Daniel was talking, the man bandaged up his wrist and made him something to eat. Mr. Frydel’s eyes gleamed particularly bright when Daniel mentioned searching for someone and the feeling of longing for the city. Just as Daniel was going to start talking about this morning the front bell of Mr. Frydel’s Polish deli chimed. The workers had walked in searching for Daniel.
“Stay here,” Mr. Frydel whispered. He went to the front of the store where he found Deborah and Janet.
“I’m assuming you’re not here because you heard how good my Kielbasa is?” asked Mr. Frydel.
“No we’re looking for a boy, he’s run off when he was informed he was going to be joining the military,” Janet replied with pursed lips.
“And here I thought we lived in a peaceful country where conscription wasn’t enforced.”
“Well this boy belongs to the province meaning he belongs to the country as well. It’s time he grew up and faced the fact that no one is going to take him. We would like to look around. He was seen running this way.”
“Well as you said, if no one wanted to take him what makes you think I would take him? And even if I did you would need a warrant to search my store.”
“We’ll call the police!” Deborah threatened.
“I implore you to do so.”
After a tense stare down between the three adults in the front of the shop, Daniel heard the front bell chime again, signifying the departure of both workers. Mr. Frydel hurried into the backroom.
“You need to hurry, they’re going to be back. It seems they aren’t so eager to forget about you.”
“Their vacation time, more like it.”
“Regardless, there’s an abandoned house on the western side of the city, let me write down the address for you.”
“Not to be ungrateful for all that you’ve done for me. I don’t really know you and sending me to an abandoned house,”
“Daniel, you said that when you wander the city you have this feeling of longing and searching, do you not?”
“Do you have that feeling now?”
“I…” In all his years of searching Daniel had never quenched the feeling of longing until now. Was it possible that this was the man he’s been looking for his entire life? Could this be the man that dropped him off at birth?
“I’ll meet you there tomorrow morning and answer all your questions of how you came to be in here. Take this money for the bus,” the old man shoved money into the hands of the boy with the astonished look upon his face, “Keep your head down and head straight there.” Mr. Frydel unbolted the door and unceremoniously shoved Daniel out of it. Daniel was so deep in thought as he walked down the street he hardly noticed when the clouds let loose with their torrential downpour.