In lieu of IT CAME FROM NETFLIX! this week, postponed due to the dayjob workload, I give you the start of that thing I’ve been inspired to write thanks to Chuck Wendig as I mentioned Tuesday. I honestly don’t know if anything will actually come of this, but rather than post some pithy filler I was driven to put this little scene down and see how looks. So here’s the opening to Dead Man On Campus.

Ever been punched in the face?

I don’t mean tapped on the cheek in an endearing way by a family member or close friend. I don’t mean slapped by a girl (or guy) you were trying to compliment and ended up insulting. And I don’t mean the kind of dead-leg punch you get from a chum on the couch when you’re kicking their ass in a first-person shooter on their expensive console that you kind of only befriended them to play since you live down the hall & get bored sometimes.

No, full-on punched. Right goddamn hook to the jaw.

It was my first time and my ass hurt almost as much as my face did from it hitting the curb.

I tasted blood. This wasn’t unfamiliar. Growing up nerdy in the outskirts of a big city, you learn to take a few shoves and pick up books out of the gutters. I’d had a bloody nose from a spill a couple of times. But this was the first time I’d seen a big, idiotic jock standing over me and not felt a surge of paralytic fear.

No. I was fucking pissed.

“What?” I give the jock a shit-eating grin. “All I said was it might behoove you to stop treating your girlfriend like a piece of meat.”

He hauled me up by the collar of my jacket. It’s a really nice pea coat my mom bought me, black with those little anchor buttons, like the ones worn by the Boondock Saints. I’m not Irish, though. I’m some kind of American mutt. The bozo nose-to-nose with me has some Teutonic blood in him, though. He’s tall, broad-shouldered, thick and brawny. His ice-blue eyes are trying to burn holes in my skull.

“You talk to me that way again, freshman, and I’ll turn you to paste. You feel me?”

I glance at the girl. She’s more scared than I am. There’s a switch.

“Yeah, bro, I feel ya.”

He drops me. He grabs the girl – by her waist, of course, with hand in prime gropeing position – and walks away. She glances over her shoulder at me, apologies in her wide, frightened eyes. I wave goodbye and, in spite of the pain in my jaw, smile.

She’d been pushing him away, telling him ‘No’, and he’d insisted on being all grabby. What was I going to do? Just let him fondle her in the street between the library and the science building, leading into the big parking lot in the middle of the campus? At one time, I might have. But I wasn’t the huddled little boy trying to get to school without the neighborhood toughs beating me up for my lunch money. Not anymore.

As they walk away I contemplate what I can do. I can make Bozo think it’s raining frogs. I can cause his vision to blur and turn his flavor of the week into a reject from Hellraiser before his eyes. I’d love to set his varsity jacket on fire but I have real trouble controlling that sort of thing. If I were really brave I’d pull my entire being into myself and concentrate my consciousness into a sort of singularity in my soul that would burst out of me and blast all of my organs and senses into overdrive, basically slowing everything around me to a crawl. But the last time I tried that my mentor nearly called 911 when my heart stopped.

I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Simon Aechmagoras, and I’m a sorcerer.

Well, a sorcerer’s apprentice. Like Mickey Mouse, only taller and with better fashion sense.

I check my watch, a mechanical pocket-and-chain job I inherited from my grandfather, and swear. I get up and run, sore jaw and bruised ass and all. Sorcerer or not, my biology teacher hates it when people show up late for his lectures.