August 7, 2012


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

H Trope: Ancient tombs discovered/cursed/releases monster/mummy

Walter St. Vincent Clark is the son of a construction contractor who, after divorcing Walter’s mom, married someone only ten years older than Walter (who goes by the name, Saint) and then decided it was a mistake. He choose to go to Peru to help rebuild a village leveled by an earthquake – to do penance for a life wasted in selfish pleasure… “Right, Dad,” Saint said, “You’ve had a non-religious conversion. I’m thrilled. So what am I supposed to do while you’re building los haciendas?”

Dad rolled his eyes, “It’s de una haciendas. You sound like an idiot when you say it that way.”

Saint growled and turned away. “Whatever. What if I say I’m not going?”

“I’ll say, ‘Tell your mother you’re getting to be a pain in the ass. Have a nice time with your son’.”

He goes and Saint meets the daughter of the village elder, Kina Silvana Mantilla and they immediately…

hate each other.

She thinks he’s a stuck-up American who’s trying to show off his (really BAD) Spanish in order to woo her, figuring she’ll be amazed by the Big, Bad Americano. His announced attempt to her that he wants to be a poet seems absurd because the boy has absolutely no feeling whatsoever.

She crossed her arms over her chest and said, “What am I supposed to do with a spoiled, American...”

“He may be spoiled, but his father is trying to do something right. He’s trying to break a curse on his life by reaching far above his level of comfort.” He fixed her with a dark glare and added in Jaqaru, “We need his money. You will be kind and attentive to his son.”

He thinks she’s a stone-age hillbilly from the mountains. This girl thinks she’s going to be smart enough (and educated enough!) to get into MIT! Hah! He’s known some of the smartest people in his world who tried to get into that school and failed.

On the insistence of their parents, the two are forced to go on a walk through the hills below the city of Nazca. Much of the western part of the city was badly damaged and that is where the Saint’s father’s work is being done. Looking down on the city:

“It looks so small,” Kina said, crossing her arms over her chest.

“It IS small!” Saint said. Kina turned on him, ready to attack his American arrogance, but bit her tongue when she saw a strange look on his face. He pointed, “Those are the Grinning Skulls, aren’t they?”

“It’s the ‘Grinning Skeletons’, ‘Los esqueletos sonrientes’ en La Casa de todos los muerto de Chaucilla and what do you know about them?” she said. The monument was no secret, but the macabre skeletons, arranged so that they were all crouching and sitting up, facing the sunrise each morning rarely attracted American tourists.

“Creepy,” he said. He wasn’t grinning and she heard no mockery in his voice this morning.
“Some believe that they were executed instead of dying naturally.”

“So there’s some sort of curse on the place, like on the Tomb of Tutaknamen?”

Kina regretted saying anything immediately and turned away from him, heading down the trail into the cemetery. She heard him scurrying after her and she picked up her pace until she was jogging downhill.

Neither one of them noticed that a line of dark clouds had moved in from the west, roiling clouds lit by the bloody red light of the morning sun. As if they were sliding backwards from their usual climb over the Andes Mountains, they seemed to be rushing to the Nazca Plains and the tiny cemetery.

Catching up with her, he shouted, “What’s wrong? What’s the curse about?”

“There are no such things as curses,” she shouted over her shoulder as a thick, wet, hot wind rushed over them, carrying with it the smell of dense, forbidding jungle...

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