Friday, March 6, 2015

Final Draft Friday

THIS is the prologue to my novel "The Continuing Adventures of Starbuck McLaw" Massive thanks to Kaitlyn D'Agostino who helped with editing.


Once Upon a Time in Wild West Jersey, there was a man who overcame insurmountable odds--the first of which being the he was a shriveled up mummy lost to time in the basement of a college library.

The man had another man's brain shoved unceremoniously into his ancient skull (hollowed out empires ago by men with much more tact), was zapped with some electricity (probably), and rose from a rusty operating table more confused than when he had died. At the beginning of it all, he was something less than a man; some considered him a creature or an artifact, or a monster even before a man. But by the end, he was a super hero by everyone’s standards. His name was (and still is) Starbuck McLaw.

You probably know the name as well as any other legends, but you don’t know the full story. Well, soon, you will. It will take a little belief without proof, more than just a few squirrels, and a little bit of science before the story is told in its entirety. Perhaps you know one of Starbuck's adventures; or maybe you think you know them all. But there are precious few who know where it really all began. Precious few and even fewer who are willing to share what they know. Lucky for you, I’m not shy, and I have done my research. I spent far too long talking with old dudes who were "there", checking my facts and double checking my sources and had to use a card catalog at one place because they haven’t upgraded yet and…. I put in too much effort to keep what I know to myself. I know where Starbuck has been, and where he came from.   

Every hero has an origin. When we're dealing with Starbuck, being himself a hero, we should also begin with the origin.  Starbuck was born during the New Kingdom of the faraway land of Egypt. Far away to me, of course, because I’ve only ever read about it in history books and occasionally seen pictures of it on the internet. Most recently, it was on the news when people there were lighting museums on fire and destroying libraries. But I’ve heard it’s gotten better. For Egyptians, however, Egypt isn't very far away at all.

The Egypt that Starbuck was born in, though, is far away --even for the Egyptians. Because Starbuck was born in a time of golden head dresses and heavy eye makeup, cat worship and beetles that ward off the dead. Perhaps it’s not as far off as it might seem. Perhaps that’s why he fits in so well here among the cat-worshipers and the heavily-makeuped, and why he adapted so well to becoming our hero.

I’m sure you’ve got the picture by now. And if you haven’t, then you are truly lost and might want to take a history class before worrying about squirrels and science and heroes with giant hats. While Starbuck's life as a hero was unique and singular, his life as an Egyptian Pharaoh, so far as I understand it, was more or less average for the time and place--though the import of facts is almost always arguable. Of course to any of us alive today (including the Egyptians), his days in the New Kingdom are unique and singular as well, though that could be said of any New Kingdom Citizen, I suppose. The origin story of Starbuck McLaw: 21st century hero, begins in the school library I mentioned before, where his elaborately decorated sarcophagus was being used to hold up an old stack of large books on criminal justice. The books were considered just as out of date as he was, and all were forgotten in that library basement.
Starbuck had been plucked from Ancient Egypt... well, he had been buried in Ancient Egypt and dug up in the Modern World by a man who liked to collect Important Historical Artifacts from Ancient and Exotic places and bring them back to his White Collar, Blue Blood private school here in the United States of America. In his time, this was actually a common practice and instead of appropriation, it was called “collecting” and “exploring”, much in the same way that shooting tigers was called “hunting”. This man’s name is unimportant now. Somehow he managed to lose track of Starbuck and many other of his Important Artifacts, and did such a terrible job of preserving them that even more have been lost since he died. As punishment, I did not bother finding out his name, nor writing it down when I came across it by accident.

At the beginning of this story, Starbuck was in the basement, after being taken down from display in the lobby of the library during a Very Important Renovation in the 1980s. There, along with the books on criminal justice, and some couches that no one bothered sitting on any longer, Starbuck spent many days being a dead Pharaoh. Finally one day another school somehow realized that he was down there. It didn't take much research to discover him, nor did it take much persuading on the part of the Other School's Research facilities to convince the Private College to hand over Starbuck in the name of science. "They didn’t know what they had.", the lab techs at the Other School are reported to have said after making arrangements for Starbuck's transfer.
"Ahahaha they took that hunk of junk off our hands!" The Private School librarian is reported to have said at the exact same moment.
Perhaps they were both right: before he became Starbuck, he was just a pile of bones and he was…dead.

A young man from the Other School, whose name WILL become important but for now he’s just a shrouded figure in a tie and over-sized glasses, marched right into the library on a sunny day in March (funny what people can get away with when the sun is high and the weather is hot…). That day, the shrouded figure…well…the young man in a lab coat and large glasses, got the Other School to do all the important paperwork that would allow him to transport Starbuck from the Private College to the Research Facilities on the Other School’s much larger campus. What neither school, nor Starbuck, nor the young man in the Lab Coat, knew quite yet was what was going to happen in a well-lit though poorly secured lab on the Other School’s campus, just a little over a month later.
That is where I will let the story begin, but before I do, here here are some important facts to know:
  1. Mummies are mostly from Egypt. They are dead people, very well preserved because of many chemicals, the dry Egyptian climate, and also wrapping them in cloth.
  2. Mummies do not have any organs. This includes the brain.
  3. A Brain is pretty essential for storing memories and thoughts and things like that.
  4. The shrouded figure/young man in a lab coat is named is Steve.
Now you'll have to excuse me, I  can see the very beginning of the story approaching, just there over the horizon. Or, the very beginning of the story as it should be told, anyhow.

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