Naj’s “voice” gives me fits. He is easily my hardest character to write, flowing easily one moment, running off on wild tangents the next. Sometimes, these tangents work, sometimes, he says something like “Dude!” and I have to seriously consider if it fits or doesn’t. Naj is magpie (not literally, he’s a serpent :P), collecting mannerisms and attitudes from those around him. It makes him extremely difficult to nail down, and this is before I throw in all the complications of his “otherness”.
So, I do a lot of writing exercises with Naj. One of those is the following, where I attempted to retell the first chapter of Asylum in First Person POV, through his eyes. It’s …a fun piece? Even now, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. FP is just not for me. But that’s from a writer perspective. Enjoy!
If I were to tell you the story of how I came to Asylum, I would start in its rafters. This is not the beginning of the story, as no story every truly has a beginning or an end, but it is the first memory I have of the place, so that is where I would start. It is the place I would have stayed, if my first memory had not also been an imperative: Midnight. Don’t be late.
I didn’t remember who I was. I didn’t remember why I was here. As I slipped from the rafters, the best I could remember was human hands. It is always my hands that bring me back to myself. Every time I am lost, I come to my hands first, trailing them over every surface I can, experiencing the world through my skin when I cannot explore it through scales. Slick lacquer chairs, polished table tops, smooth, buttery leather of overstuffed couches. The cold bite of the metal railing, never warming under my hand because I never stop moving, down, down, down the stairs, out of the clouds, into the din.
Perhaps it was my hunger to return to my own scales, to run back to the rafters and hide again in the hot dark. Perhaps, I really was hungry for my own kind, though I had no memory of sensing kin. Perhaps, I was more hungry for life, and passion, heartbeats—Devin’s skin glowed with it. Pearly, translucent skin stained in the delicate blue reds of blood, hot with lust and anger and fear. All of the strongest emotions, all singing just below those shimmering scales.
I should have known no mortal scales would shine so clearly with life. But my own scales were an equal anomaly, where they not? I can just rationalize now all I like, but in the moment, I was as purely serpent as one can be—utterly in the moment. Scales called to scales, and I rejoiced in hers and my own, though I knew she was frightened. The bitter bite of it was so common to me, I doubt it would have swayed my choice, had I actually made one. But no. I had acted on instinct, and on ingrained habit when she ushered me away. She was in command here, and was to be followed.
Even then, I think I knew something was not quite right, but what did I have to compare to? I followed, and the story you know as Asylum followed after.