Friday, July 13, 2007

The 13th Page

Found in a junk sale*, one well-used wooden box of indeterminate age, three times as long as it is wide and tall, currently painted black. Contents as follows: A rolled sheaf of parchment pages, oxidized and slightly singed at one end. One cylindrical brass trench lighter, working flint but empty of fuel, with pale blue green patina, bearing the initials HMS. One water-stained, dog-eared, heavy paper tag indicating Mellivora capensis, Kandahar, Baluchistan. One mammalian scientific specimen, a dessicated, grey and black furred paw, bearing four long claws. Bone structure intact. One glass phial with cork stopper, filled with thumbnail sized fish scales, grey-blue, each bearing an inked number in Roman numerals. I-XXIII. One linen scrap folded neatly around a stack of five Widow's head pennies and one golden Mohur coin. The linen scrap bears the faded emblem of the Honourable East India Company. One carven image of the goddess Sekmet, seated on her throne, two inches high, carved in soapstone, caked with an iron rich clay, oxidized to a deep blood red. One page, torn on one side, folded in quarters, blank, the size of a standard passport. Five rifle rounds, Mk VII, Enfield .303, four bearing the dark patina of age and one shining and bright as the day it was made. One strand of red silk, knotted, with ninety nine small wooden beads, bearing the sheen of hand oil. One rusted rations tin, contents twenty three sea shells, the largest the size of a grown man's first thumb joint. Colours vary from white to charcoal, purple to grey green, to browns and reds. One white, kid leather glove, female, folded in tissue paper.

Pick one and I'll give you a brief story.

* A junk drawer is an exercise outlining the items one might find in a junk drawer, trunk, chest, shoe box o' crap, that has been discarded or forgotten. Often the container itself is as interesting as the contents. They contain everything from tin soldiers to forgotten pizza coupons to back stage passes to wet naps. If you ever want to know more about your characters, envision what you might find in their junk drawer.

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