Pizzamancer is my National Novel Writing Month project for 2014. You can read Days 1-5 here. If you're unfamiliar with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), you can read my description here. This is my progress, unedited, through the month of November. I enjoy sharing my work, unrefined or otherwise, to prove that a novel can be written in just 30 days. It may not be the best 50,000 words I've written, but they will be written, and therefore, the best. This is 2,358 words written sometime between November 6th and the 14th.
#Pizzamancer Days 6-14 for National Novel Writing Month
a story of epic portions
by Michelle Brumley
Suzi didn't even know where to begin with the kitchen mess, and yet somehow, it was still the least of her problems. She had a man—no, a prince—to deal with, and he wasn't going anywhere fast.
“So, do I just call you the Prince of Anywhen, then?” Suzi asked, reaching slowly for a broom then changing her mind.
“What do you call princes in your kingdom?” He asked, setting his helmet on the counter.
“We don't... really have princes, in this kingdom. Or kingdoms, for that matter. Not any more.”
The prince blinked for a moment and nodded.
“Well, what should I call you, fair lady?”
Suzi considered reaching for the pizza pan again and giving the prince a good smack for her troubles, but she decided not to. She really didn't want to have to try and drag an unconscious man across the kitchen, or explain it to her brother. Or the police.
“My name is Suzanne. Some people call me Suzi. I prefer Sunami. Like the storm, tsunami.”
“Sunami like the storm.” The prince smiled. “I like it, it sounds--” He reached and flipped through his book again, presumably some sort of translation book or dictionary. “very tomato.”
“Tomato? No, let me see that book.” Suzi held out her hand. The prince raised an eyebrow but handed it over. The book was hand written, in alphabetical order. The word 'tomato,' in the prince's language meant 'messy, chaotic, full of fury.' She handed the book back to him.
“Yes. Tomato is... the right... word. Well, for you. In our language, a tomato is—something big, round and red. And tastes like—pizza.”
“Must everything in your world involve pizza?”
“Wait, are we talking the food or the creature you just splattered all over my kitchen?”
The prince blinked. For the first time, Suzi noticed his eyes. They were a deep shade of amethyst, with a white and black circle around his irises. Even confused—or insane, she wasn't sure yet—his eyes were beautiful.
“Never mind, Sunami.” The prince placed a hand over his chest and bowed. “I also consider myself very 'tomato,' and since I'm certain you don't have a word for my name here in your kingdom—you may call me Tomato.”
“How about if I call you 'Tom' for short?” Suzi asked. She tried hard not to giggle.
“Tom for short? Why is my name now three words long?”
“Tom. I could call you Tom.”
The prince nodded.
“You may call me Tom.”
A bell sounded, indicating the front door of the Frying J had opened.
“Tom, stay here for a moment.” The prince nodded and began to look around the kitchen curiously. His purple eyes seemed to take in every detail of his surrounding. Suzi wondered if they were just fancy contacts he had picked up at some Renaissance Faire.
“Hello, uh, welcome to the Frying J,” Suzi said as she approached the front counter. An older woman stood at the counter holding a fluffy dog in her arms. Her thin neck was covered in layers of necklaces and she wore a dress that looked straight out of a high fashion magazine. The woman smelled like she had dumped a bottle of perfume in her purse. Suzi already didn't like her.
“I ordered a pizza. Miranda said she was going to make it special.” The woman pet her dog and studied Suzi. “Who are you?”
“I'm—B-Becky. The new girl. Right. Your pizza. Let me just... go and get it...”
The woman arched a skeptical, penciled eyebrow and went back to petting her snotty little dog. Suzi wondered if the dog could even still walk, the way the woman held it. It probably had forgotten how to use it's legs for anything other than dead weight. Suzi retreated through the kitchen doors.
Tom was no where to be found.
Suzi ran across the kitchen, slipped over the remains of the pizza box and slid towards the Emergency Exit. The door was unlocked. She pushed the door open and peered outside. The sun was just beginning to set and it shed an orange and red light across the empty back parking lot. The sound of clanging metal sounded around the corner.
Tom had his sword drawn and was standing over the maintenance man. Baldwin had his hands up and looked like had spilled his coffee all over his coveralls. At least, Suzi hoped it was just coffee.
“Prince—err, Tom! What are you doing?” Suzi yelled as she raced towards the two men. Tom turned to look back over his shoulder at her.
“This man insulted me. I have a right to correct his opinion.”
“Correct his.... opinion. With your sword? That's not how we deal with people in this kingdom. Put your sword away before you hurt someone.”
“But I am going to hurt someone.”
While Suzi spoke with the prince, Baldwin took his opportunity to scramble backwards across the pavement and run away. It was more of a brisk walk, with cursing, and constantly looking back over his shoulder. Suzi was certain he was going to call the police, and when he saw the kitchen--
“We need to leave. I know I'm going to regret asking this but—did your quest tell you where you're going to be staying while you're here in our kingdom? Any royal relatives or a super cool secret lair?”
Tom sheathed his sword. He turned on his heel and looked around the fading parking lot. He then turned and pointed to Suzi.
“Yes, my quest did tell me where I'd be staying. In fact, it told me that I'd meet a stubborn young woman, named after a storm, that she'd thwart my first attempt to find information, and then take me back to her castle and feed me.”
“Did it, now. Your quest told you I was a cook? And that I lived in a castle? Boy, you need better wizards. Or witches.”
The prince took a moment to smile but he finally did.
“No, it did not tell that. In fact—I'm not even certain how much time I do have here. How did you know we had wizards?”
“I've been sent to your kingdom, fair lady, in search of a strong warrior. A man who can deliver my kingdom from evil. I may have a day, or a fortnight, or be here until I'm old and gray. But my kingdom is burning, and our Grand Wizard foretold that I'd find a hero here, and so I am here. I'll know more about how much time I have in the morning, when my hour glass settles down.”
“I'll make you a deal,” Suzi said as she made a point to calm her voice. “Do you make 'deals' in your kingdom?”
The prince's cheeks turned a shade of red.
“Not in front of people--”
“How about this. You call me 'Sunami,' and nothing else. No 'fair lady' or 'my dear,' and I promise I won't take your sword and hit you with it. Alright?”
Tom nodded very slowly. Suzi could guess what a 'deal' was, based on the shade of red that was currently fading from the prince's cheeks. He must have known a threat when he heard it, regardless of the word used.
“Also, since you appear to be alone, I'll be your unofficial guide to this kingdom. Unless you've got a wizard or an aunt or something following you?”
“No. No aunts, or wizards. Or Stromboli.” The prince smiled at his own joke.
“First things first. We need to get you in to some real clothes. You can't strut around in heavy metal and expect anyone in this kingdom to take you seriously. I know just the place.”
Sunami didn't feel like walking 20-odd blocks to her father's costume shop. She also didn't feel like explaining anything to her brother until she found Tom a change of clothes and vocabulary. She still wasn't even convinced that “Tom” hadn't just hit his head really hard at a Frat party and wandered in to her store. Her wondered if she was dreaming, maybe fallen asleep at work—but then, she'd catch a sniff of burnt cheese, and the entire dragon scene came racing back to her. It was hard to deny; and as imaginative as she was sometimes (according to her mother, and her psychiatrist), even she found it hard to believe.
I'm out of a job, I might as well be out of my mind, too.
It only took two blocks of Tom's loud, stomping footsteps make the decision to call a cab. She had some extra cash in her wallet—although she had no idea where it came from—and couldn't risk Tom passing out in the streets from exhaustion. Even though the evening wind was brisk for spring, and the streets were mostly empty, it just wasn't a situation she was ready for. Not until she had some answers. Or mace pepper spray.
She reached in to her purse and pulled out her smartphone.
Tom's eyebrows raised as if she was holding a cat up to her head and talking to it.
“You don't have—these?” She waved the phone at him. “No, I suppose you wouldn't.”
“Of course we have them.” The prince's chin raised an inch. “I have things from many whens. I just don't know what you call it here, or what it does.”
“What it does, is save us a walk. Unless you want to walk across half the city—err, kingdom—in your armor.”
The cab ride that followed was one Suzi hoped to soon forget.
“William's Costume Emporium, please.” Suzi couldn't help but glance at Tom as she spoke, “We've got to, uh, return a costume.”
“A costume?” Tom asked as he watched Suzi step in to the cab.
“I'll explain later. Get in the cab.”
Tom leaned down with a great screech of metal.
“I don't bend that way. How am I supposed to fit?”
Suzi climbed back out of the taxi and tried to help Tom in to his seat. She pushed and pulled and shoved until he was finally able to lay down in the back seat. His legs were bent and his boots were pressed against the glass. He looked extremely uncomfortable but the mercy of his helmet was that she couldn't hear him tell her just how uncomfortable he was.
Her tab was ticking away, and she had burned through half her budget just getting Tom in to the cab in the first place. She swore the Lakewood Cab Company was a front for the mafia.
She handed the taxi driver a $20 dollar bill. He looked at it, looked at Tom prone in the back seat, then cleared off the donut box and newspaper from his passenger seat. Her father's costume shop was 20 blocks away; by the time the cab started actually rolling, she was nearly out of money. They made it 7 blocks before the cab driver turned and looked at her.
“This is as far as I can go,” he said and pulled the cab out in front of a set of waving customers. Suzi was too embarrassed to try and convince the cabbie to go any further. It took everything she had just to pry Tom from the back seat of the taxi and avoid the laughs from the other customers. They had been dropped off in downtown Lakewood on a rapidly darkening Friday night. The streets would soon be crowded with bumbling drunk college students and people who asked too many questions. She wanted to be long gone before then.
“What are we doing now? I have no desire to travel like that again.” Tom said as he adjusted his helmet.
“We've still got a long ways to go, and I don't want to have to answer a bunch of questions--”
It was easily the worst thing Suzi had ever done in her life. And, perhaps, the most hilarious.
“Give me your sword.”
Suzi reached out and pulled the sword from the sheath that hung at Tom's side.
The sword was heavy. As soon as she pulled it free, it fell to the ground so hard it hurt her wrist. It took both hands to lift, where she saw Tom brandish it with only one—a fact that only enraged her further. She hefted the sword as high as she could. Tom argued something in the background but Suzi had made up her mind.
She saw a bearded man with thick-rimmed glasses and a scarf, holding a green organic coffee mug. A woman stood across from him with her nose stuck in her phone and a fashion magazine tucked beneath one arm. The air wasn't cold enough for a scarf—which meant to Suzi it was only for decoration.
Dirty hipsters. That last angry thought forced the sword up in to the air with strength she didn't know she had. She waved it around like a mad woman. She yelled the only thing she could think of other than 'dirty hipster!' at them:
“Give me your moped!”
The girl barely looked up from her phone, and the man in the plaid shirt dropped his coffee mug on the ground. Both of them stumbled backwards long enough for Suzi to drop the sword and grab for the keys dangling from the hipster's limp grasp.
“Yes!” She yelled, jumped on the moped and turned the key. Tom stumbled behind her, bowed to the couple who were still trying to figure out what was happening, and picked up his sword. As soon as he did—the hipsters ran away, the woman typing frantically on her phone and snapping a picture. Suzi revved the gas on the moped and strapped on the helmet on the back seat.
To her relief—and amazement—there was no one else around, and Tom didn't ask any questions. She patted the seat behind her and Tom sat down, nearly pulling the tires all the way flat on the moped. The bike strained beneath the weight but after she eased on the gas, it moved forward. Slowly.
It was going to be a long, slow ride.