This is the first book in a series I am working on called The Dragonfly Circle. I couldn't leave a very detailed summary due to the word limit, so here is a better one:
The Dragonfly Circle : The Vessel of Sand and Sorrow tells the story of Art, a homeless man who is perfectly content with his life on the streets. One day , he is mysteriously sucked out of his world and thrown into a new one...literally. In order to redeem himself (And escape punishment) for destroying an ancient artifact, Art must travel to the world's end in search of a secret door that leads to an alternate realm. However, things don't go so smoothly as the shifting reality of the world becomes more and more frequent and begins to give birth to trouble.
A piece of paper. That's all it is to you. But for someone like Arthur Heath Marks, and many others like him, a newspaper could mean a number of things. It could be burned for warmth during cold and cruel winters; it could be read and mocked for entertainment on those long, boring days; it could be used, with many others of its kind, as a bed on the loneliest of nights.
Arthur woke up to the squeaking sound of his rodent neighbors. Lots of people see rats in a horridly negative light, but not Arthur. Over the years, he had gained a special appreciation for rats. He even considered some of them cute and took them as his pets. He never gave them a real name, he didn't find it necessary. He was perfectly content with calling them rat, and as far as he was concerned, they didn't mind.
Arthur, or Art as he preferred to be called, sat up slowly. He groggily rubbed his eyes and scratched his head. It was a cold morning. Using the nearby dumpster for support, Art clumsily rose to his feet. After standing there for a bit in the zombie-like trance so commonly caused by the mystical force of morning, he looked down at his shoes to find them untied. He stared at them for a bit, hoping with all his might that they would magically tie themselves, but alas, it didn't happen. With a sigh, Art bent over to reach for the strings of his dusty black brothel creepers (Which he found sitting on the side of a trashcan). On the way down, he bumped his head on the dumpster; this happened way too often in his life that one would think he'd pay more attention. He didn't.
After tightly tying his shoes, Art felt his stomach rumble with hunger. He looked at the dumpster and the hunger pains grew more intense. He knew there was no food left in there. He had gone through it the night before. He found a bunch of junk. No, not useful junk. Actual junk. The kind of trash not even the homeless wanted. He did manage to steal a few peaches from a fruit stand. Stealing wasn't his usual style, but he did what he had to do to get by. He didn't particularly like peaches either, at all really. He only grabbed them because they sat at the edge of the table, and were the easiest to steal.
Arthur was sure that things weren't always this way for him, or so he hoped. He really couldn't recall much of his childhood, or anything really. He just remembered waking up in an alleyway one day. The only thing he could remember of his life was his name. Art always found it strange that he knew his name, but nothing else. There were many times when he felt like finding out. He'd always tell the rats who he kept for company that he would find out about his origins someday. He always said he would do it soon, and that he just lacked the ability at the moment. But Art knew that he was just lazy, lazy and scared.
Art tiredly walked along the sidewalk as people in taxis and buses passed by, some throwing a few words of "encouragement" at him. He got over people like that fast. He knew that he was homeless, and a lowlife, and a slob. This self-realization repelled the negative energy that the words of strangers tried to bring upon. Besides, he was happy with his life. Sure, it wasn't a glamorous life filled with fame, fortune, and fancy clothes. But it was his life. It was simple. And that's all he really wanted.
Arthur stopped walking. An old, abandoned café caught his attention. He had seen the place many times, and always wondered why it was abandoned. It didn't look like a bad place. Of course it was falling apart, but it could easily be fixed up. He wondered why people looked passed this place. Was it only because of its trashy appearance? He didn't know.
Art walked closer to the window of the café. He could see his reflection in the glass. Though the general idea brought on by the ignorance of society claims that all homeless people are toothless, miserable, and ugly people, this was not true in Art's case. He was very easy on the eyes, or so he thought. He had brown, slightly wavy hair that barely reached his shoulders. Dark, scruffy facial hair decorated his face and suited him perfectly. His eyes were green, deep and kind. He knew that if he cleaned up a bit, no one would know that he was homeless. He also knew that, being an attractive male, he could use his looks for his advantage. Maybe earn the trust of someone, gain a friend, hell, he could even become famous. But none of that attracted him. He didn't care that he was good-looking. He didn't really care about looks in general. People were people in his eyes, he saw and treated everyone as equals…at least he tried. Some people just couldn't be helped, nor did Art even think that they wanted to..
Art let his tongue peek at the old café as he ran it across his dry lips. He scratched his nose and continued to walk in search of something to eat. After about ten minutes, he walked past a Mexican restaurant. He thought about going in, having a good meal, and then bailing on the check. But he didn't feel like going through all of the trouble, especially since it was risky. Instead, he made his way down the alley next to the establishment. He was sure that he could find something edible in the trashcans just outside the door leading to what was probably the kitchen. His stomach growled at him as he approached them, making him moan a bit. There were three trashcans. He lifted the lid of the middle one to find something that would forever change his life…
Beans. It was a can of beans. Yes, a simple, unopened can of beans resting on top of old, rotten food. Art never had a special fondness for beans or anything, but hey, it was food and he was starving. This can of pinto beans (Which he opened using a knife he found a few days back) is the last thing one would expect to change their lives. But then again, no one really expects their lives to change. Of course everyone wants their life to change for the better. Art didn't expect his life to change with this can of beans, nor did he particularly want it to. He was okay with what he was. He didn't need anything other than some food here and there, an alleyway to sleep in, and the occasional rat for company.
Art first held the can under his nose and inhaled. It didn't smell too bad. He stuck a finger inside the sauce and tasted it. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly delicious either. Oh well, it was food.
Art sat down in the alleyway and ate his beans. A mangy calico cat crept slowly towards him. When it got close enough, it rubbed itself against Art's leg and weakly moaned.
"Hungry?" Art said to the cat in a tired voice. Of course the cat didn't answer him, but instead, stared him square in the eye. It didn't move, didn't make a noise, only stared into Art's green eyes.
"Eh, f-fine." Art said as he poured some of his beans onto the cold ground before the cat. The cat slowly lowered his head towards the beans and licked them with its dry tongue. Art always had a soft spot for animals. He didn't like to see them in pain, but his current lifestyle forced him to face that nearly everyday. Art looked at the can of beans, which was half full now, and licked his lips. He ate a bit more, and by this time, the cat was already finished with its beans. Art looked into the can once more, his stomach aching with the pains of hunger, and reluctantly poured the rest of the beans onto the ground for his new friend.
"Bastard," he said as he watched the cat scarf down the beans, "you're lucky I don't have the mind to barge into that kitchen and-"
Art noticed something at the bottom of the now empty can. He hadn't seen anything like this before. At the bottom of the can was some strange symbol. It looked like an eye, and Art could see some sort of writing below it. He couldn't quite make out what the writing said because of the residue left by the beans. Using his shirt, he cleaned out the can so he could see. Underneath the eye symbol, he could make out something that looked like an "A", but he wasn't sure, it was pretty dark at the bottom of the can.
Art lifted the can to his eye in hopes to see the symbol more clearly. Of course this just made the can even darker. Art laughed at his own stupidity. But as he was just about to remove the can from his eye, a weird light emanated from the symbol, illuminating it.
"What?" Art said, partially blinded by the bright light. "What the hell?"
Before Art could make out the words underneath the symbol of the eye, he felt a sharp pain in his head. Groaning in agony, he attempted to remove the can from his eye, but found that it was stuck. Of course.
With his free eye, Art could see the trashcans before him melting. The bricks of the alleyway appeared to be crumbling before him. Arthur didn't know what to think, he could only imagine that the beans were bad. He was reminded then of the cat. Art looked towards it, only to find that its calico fur was falling off, exposing its skin. It wasn't long until that fell off as well.
Art began to scream out for help, but no one would hear him. Even if they did, they wouldn't really hear him. He was just another bum in an alleyway to them, why would they care?
Arthur, though it took some effort, rose to his feet, the can still stuck on his face and the light blinding him even more now. In the distance, he could see a few lights. It was as if someone took a photo of him with the flash on. The lights slowly grew bigger and bigger, causing the inner corners of his eyes to hurt. As the lights continued to grow bigger and brighter, so did the pain. It felt horrible. His eyes, and his head, felt like they were bubbling, like he too would melt. And then, as quick as it all happened, everything went away. Everything returned to normal. But before he could relax (Or remove the can from his face), an intense pain took over his entire body and he fell to the hard ground.
Art could see the cat, now just a walking pile of bones, circling him as he screamed in agony. He couldn't take this anymore. He tried to sit up once again, but he began to vomit. Everything started to lose focus. He felt as if someone placed a pair of glasses of the wrong prescription on his head. The sounds of his own screams became muffled, and slowly, his consciousness began to fade.