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While waiting in the airport for my plane to Atlanta, Georgia, I checked my email and read the latest from the newsletter David Farland’s Daily Kick In the Pants for writers. In this particular email he mentioned all the cliche opening scenes he’s seen way too may times during his time judging the Writers of the Future contest and to avoid them.

One of the cliches he mentioned was the main character waking up and not knowing where he and just overall confused.


So while on the plane, I thought of a new opening, which is what follows today. I think this will be my last revision since I really need to get past Chapter One one of these days (weeks, months, etc). It’s a lot shorter and it’s still missing of course, but this is only the beginning. There’s more to come.

Tell me what you think.

And above all, enjoy.


Nicolai sprinted down the alley, his sneakers skidding on the wet pavement.

They were gaining on him. Their growls grew louder and he could hear their jaws snapping at his heels.

Up ahead loomed a chain link fence.  Jumping onto a dumpster, he leaped and took hold. The lions collided against the fence below him, standing on their hind legs. One took a swipe at him and got a hold of the bottom of Nicolai’s jeans. It tugged him towards their awaiting jaws, but Nicolai  kicked out and smashed one of their noses. The denim broke free and he climbed for the top.

“I’ll get you for that!”

Nicolai, now straddling the fence, looked down and saw that they had reverted to their human forms. The one who yelled sported a broken nose, blood seeping into down his white t-shirt, staining his gold necklaces.

“We’re going to rip you to shreds!”

“A tasty midnight snack!”

One of the trio whispered something into the injured one’s ear. They smirked wickedly, their sharp white teeth reflecting the moonlight. They turned and took off, leaving Nicolai confused. The fence wasn’t that hard to climb.

Not liking this at all, he quickly climbed down the fence and kept moving. The more distance between him and the felines, the better. Problem was, he had no clue where he was. He only arrived to Capital City two nights ago and was still figuring his way around.

Once he left the alleyway, he found himself on the deserted main road. He felt exposed and at risk of being picked up by the cops for breaking curfew, but roaming the alleys was what got him into trouble in the first place. He stuck close to the buildings, hiding in their shadows and avoiding the streetlights.

He glanced at his reflection on one of the darkened store front windows. His blonde hair was greasy and stuck up in every angle.  It’d been days since he could find a place to wash it. The rest of him was in the same state – unwashed and uncared for.

Everything he owned was stuffed into his ratty knapsack and pockets and both were mostly empty.  His stomach growled and his ankle throbbed from where the lion’s claw grazed it, but he didn’t dare slow down. He stuffed his hands into his army jacket’s pockets and kept moving.

The street eventually lead to a plaza. A large stone fountain stood In the center, commiserating the founding of the city. Statues of the founding leaders in their majestic animal forms with the first human mayor standing around a bone dry moat*.

The entire fountain stood in the shadow of a gigantic tree that blocked the moon from view. Several small botiques and a small park surrounded the landmark. A few benches here and there, a water fountain or two, a path for people to walk along, everything beautifully maintained and cleaned.

It would have been the perfect place to stay. He looked up at the tree and wondered if he could sleep in the higher branches, hidden from view.

As he was looking up at the tree, he froze as he realized something was looking back. A set of large amber eyes that seemed to glow in the dark. A blinding white smirk, like a sadistic version of the Cheshire cat grin split the stranger’s face as he chuckled darkly.

“Lost little boy?”