writing chapter 1.2
Something was poking the girl; she shifted around to get away from it, but it kept nudging her side. Annoyed, she cracked her eyes open to see what it was, then bolted upright in surprise. A giant hand floated in the gloom, glowing softly, its index finger repeatedly jabbing her. Its fingernail was ragged and chewed-looking. And the size of her head.
The finger continued to come at her. She hit it and scrambled away, and it turned and started poking the boy. She was beginning to feel a little hysterical. The boy opened his eyes and looked at the giant, grubby finger, and rolled over to go back to sleep. This time the girl joined the finger in poking him, and he got up.
Then the finger started prodding them toward the edge of the building, and backed them right up against the parapet. They looked at each other in panic. Could they fight it? What was its intent? If they split up, would it drive one of them over the edge and down fifty floors?
They started arguing over whether the finger resembled Monty Python’s hand or the Blue Meanies’ glove, and it seemed an important point, because the Python hand was a good deal nicer than Glove. It didn’t matter that this hand wasn’t either blue or black and white, the boy and girl were so intent on persuading each other that it took a few moments to notice that the finger had stopped menacing them. They turned to look.
The finger was putting up graffiti on the retaining wall next to them. Glowing, sparkling graffiti. It was moving quickly and confidently, as if tagging came naturally. They stopped arguing and watched as the finger scrawled something in wild style, something long and intricate and really hard to read. They started to argue about what it was trying to say, and then the girl noticed that the writing was beginning to fade out.
“Quick,” she said to the boy, rummaging in her bag, “copy it before it disappears.” She handed him her can of spray paint and he ran over to trace the glowing figures, while she grabbed her phone and took a picture of the hand swirling along the wall. The finger continued to scribble glowing letter forms. The girl was conscious of the ragged fingernail making scritch scritch sounds against the rough surface of the wall, and suddenly she was very grateful that the wall wasn’t as smooth as a chalk board.
The finger got to the end of its message, and turned to point at them, floating in the air. The boy and girl stared, wondering what it wanted. The fingertip began to glow like the end of a cigarette. The boy leaned over and asked, “Hey, if we were to roll a joint, do you think we could light it off the end of that?” The girl turned to say something back, but at that moment the end of the finger exploded, and covered them with the same sparkly stuff that covered the wall.
The finger turned and pointed at the writing on the wall, and suddenly they could read the message. “Second star on the right and straight on ’till morning,” they chanted. They turned to look at each other. “Oh, please,” the boy scoffed. “Peter Pan and the Blue Meanies?”
The girl thought for a minute. “This kind of feels like a dream,” she observed. “I mean, it’s Dragoncon and all that, but I don’t think that’s a person in a costume.”
The boy studied the way the hand floated in the air. No strings. “It’s not a projection, either,” he said. “I can’t see thru it.”
“And it pokes too hard to be a projection, anyway,” she added. She started wiping the sparkly stuff off, then stopped, looking at it shining on her skin. “You know,” she said slowly, “maybe this is pixy dust.”
“Yeah, right,” he said, but stopped smearing it around his face. “Hmmm. Maybe if we thought happy thoughts…”
They stood there and thought about happy things for a moment while the finger bobbed in the breezes of the rooftop. Nothing. “What kind of happy?” the girl asked the hand. “Childhood happy? Joke happy? Sex fantasy happy?”
“Drunk happy,” the boy suggested. “Drug happy. Get out of jail free happy.” Nothing happened. The hand snapped its fingers in impatience.
“Cute kitten video happy,” the girl said. “You may already have won happy. Finding free money on the ground happy. Winning the lottery happy.” The finger wagged sternly at her. She felt glum.
“How did it work in the movie?” the boy asked. The hand made a thumbs-up. They thought about it. Then the boy jumped up in the air, flinging his hands above his head. “Christmas!” he shouted. “Candy! Chocolate ice cream!”
“A vacation!” she yelled, bouncing on her toes. “A paid-off car! Canceled debt! Bank makes a mistake in your favor!”
The hand sagged onto the roof. “Maybe he wants us to hang onto him and he’ll fly us somewhere,” he suggested. The hand edged away from them.
The girl looked at the edge of the building, glowing in the darkness. “Maybe you’re not thinking straight,” she said. “Fifty floors says you’re wrong.”
“I’m never wrong,” he said, and rose into the air.
“How did you do that?” the girl asked, looking up at him as he floated a foot above the roof.
He ignored her. “I’m the best,” he said softly, and rose a little higher. “I’m fucking awesome,” he shouted, and zoomed across the roof, stopping at the very edge, his foot just catching the top of the wall. He waved and bobbed above the edge like a balloon on a string.
“Be careful,” she shouted, running after him. “Grab onto me, I’ll save you.” Then she rose into the air.