Introducing Jericho Surname-To-Be-Confirmed

About a month ago while out walking something wonderful happened. I had some inspiration! It was magical and mystical and for a few minutes I floated off into space. No, I’m just being silly 😛 Mostly.

The inspiration part is true, though. I’ve had a character kicking around in my brain for a long time, as well as a potential setting and plot beginning for his first story, but I’d never got past the opening scene in my head, and even that’s only a rough sketch. And because I’ve got at least 2 more novels to write before I can even begin to think about outlining stories for this character, I haven’t put much mental energy into his universe. But sometimes the brain does what the brain does and while I was out walking Jericho (surname-to-be-confirmed) popped into my head, and I started fleshing out the scene immediately following what will open the novel. Not the opening scene, the one afterwards 🤣🤣

Once back in front of my computer, I wrote it all down. And now I’d like to share it with you.

I hope you enjoy this first look at Jericho (surname-to-be-confirmed)…

***

The moment Jericho entered the shop he knew he’d made a big mistake. From the outside, the steady stream of people entering empty-handed and exiting clutching food and beverages gave the appearance of a typical in-and-out inner-city café.

However, the inside of Mama’s Good Food told a different story. The homely décor, the friendly greetings customers threw at each other, the jowly woman behind the counter who knew everyone by name, all those things told Jericho this was a local watering hole, a place people checked in with their neighbors, a foundation block of the community. In short, the last place he wanted to be.

But now that he had crossed the entrance threshold he couldn’t just turn and leave. That’d be too obvious, too memorable. So he joined the queue, turning the collar of his all-weather cloak up and hunching forward as if cold. That might hide the thickness of his neck but it would only do so much to draw attention away from his broad shoulders and towering height. But it was something.

Conscious of the attention of the other patrons – mostly plain curiosity – he studied the old-fashioned handwritten menu board hanging behind the counter. Order fast, get out fast was the best he could do. 

It didn’t take long to get to the front of the queue. The woman, wearing a lapel that labelled her as Mama Su, placed both hands on the counter.

“What’ll it be today, dear?” she said, Jericho sure he could hear a faint edge behind her friendliness.

He hadn’t been on planet long enough to pick up the cadences of the local accents, so went with gruff and hoarse. “A large mersia, thanks.”

“Excellent choice. Extra syrup?” Mama Su asked, her manner so inviting that Jericho could only say yes.

He paid her in coins, the exact amount, which she stuffed into a pocket before turning to fetch a steaming jug from an element behind her. She grabbed a mug from a shelf beneath the counter – Jericho kicked himself that he hadn’t asked for the drink to go; everybody else was being served in typical disposable fare so he’d just assumed that was the norm – and filled it from the jug with a thick, dark-brown liquid. Then she took a squeeze bottle and squirted a generous helping of extra syrup on top.

While she did this a stocky, middle-aged man sidled up the line and leaned on the counter.

“Haven’t seen you around here before,” he said casually. He had grey-black hair tied in a long ponytail, stubble flecking his chin and cheeks. His right eye was an implant, dull red and disconcerting. Not a seeker though, unless he was pretending to be a street maintenance worker, his hi-vis jacket stained with oil and dirt, his pants and boots likewise.

“Just passing through,” Jericho said.

“Seems to be a lot of that lately.” The man placed a hand, palm down, on the counter. A purposeful gesture which Jericho pretended not to notice. An infinity-sign tattoo, the same dull red as his eye, graced the man’s middle finger. A veteran of last decade’s Sanchi Uprising, then, but on the losing side. The non-Alliance side.

Conversation in the café had dropped to murmurs and whispers. Nothing hostile, yet, just interest in the unfolding of a potential confrontation.

“I’m sure you’re right,” Jericho said. “The galaxy’s changing and that can make people all kinds of uncertain.”

“Is that how you feel?”

Mama Su cleared her throat. “Come now, Bartram, let the man have his mersia. We’re all allowed to be on our way to where we’re going.” She set Jericho’s drink – saucer and all – in front of him. “Here you go, dear. With extra syrup.”

Now the way she said the words made it sound like he’d made a mistake in agreeing to her suggestion.

“Right you are, Mama,” Bartram said, turning to fully face Jericho. His nose had been broken multiple times but never properly reset. “Drink up, stranger. To the health of the Alliance.” He laughed, a raspy sound. A couple of the other customers joined in.

Jericho smiled, acknowledging the joke. The Alliance was dead and there was no amount of anything that would revive it. That fact would make people like Bartram very happy. He lifted his mug and took a sip.

He had made a mistake. The hot liquid, treacle-like in its thickness, the extra syrup making it nauseatingly sweet, stuck in his throat. But he didn’t let on, gulping heavily and immediately taking another draught.

“That’s the way,” Bartram said. “Get it all down ya. Don’t give it time to settle.”

“But it’ll keep you going all day,” Mama Su added. “And mine is the best recipe in the city, I guarantee you.”

“I’ve never tasted better,” Jericho said, gently placing the empty cup back on the saucer. “Thank you.”

He turned to walk away but before he could take more than half a step, Bartram said, “Say, did you hear about the mobsters what got done for last night?”

“Mobsters?” Jericho shook his head. “Don’t know anything about that.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t, just passing through and all. But it’s a strange coincidence. We don’t get mobsters down this side of the bridge, ‘specially not big cheeses, and we don’t get ex-Alliance Special Forces neither, and then in less than twenty-four hours we get both, except one lot is dead as all get out and the other is drinking mersia for breakfast.”

He was close but still off the mark. Jericho was ex-Alliance but much higher up the tree than Special Forces. “Weird,” he said, “but what beef would any Special Forces soldiers have with mobsters?”

“That is the question, I guess.” Bartram sighed. “Though not mine to answer. All I know is that the less of both we have in our neighborhood the better.”

Jericho made his way out onto the footpath. His face was now branded into the minds of every person inside Mama’s Good Food. Which might come to nothing, or might mean everything. He was nearly certain the people who’d murdered those two thugs hadn’t seen him but that was still too great a margin for error. The sooner he got off this rock, the better.

***

And there you have it. Whether this will still be the second scene in the book when I get around to writing it, who knows. But it was fun to write and fun to spend some time in another character’s shoes after so long in Jazz Healy’s.

Speaking of Jazz Healy, don’t forget that Book 1 of the Reunion Series, Miltan Epsilon, is FREE from Amazon and other retailers, too. If you enjoyed Miltan Epsilon, Book 2, Chak’r’Das, is already out. You can buy it at the Amazon Kindle Store, and from other retailers.

Thanks for stopping by!

S.C. Mae

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