• Phoenix Ward

Oddstar Excerpt: Chapter One Part 2

This is an unedited, unpolished excerpt from Chapter 1 of Oddstar: A Which Where Novel.


As Will crept into the journalist’s living room, he reflected on the assignment he’d been given. The journalist’s full name was Jonah Nershberg, and Will had been hired to steal something Nershberg was using to blackmail his client. The client was a rich and powerful celebrity who chose to stay anonymous—a futile effort with fame. Still, Will respected his boss’s privacy. He was a professional, after all.

A decade or so ago, at the peak of the celebrity’s career when magazines were declaring him the nation’s sexiest man, he took it upon himself to launch a line of sex toys modeled after his person. It was the epitome of ego-stroking, but he had the clout to get it done. Rumor has it, however, that he had never seen another man’s genitals. Either a runaway ego, good old-fashioned homophobia, or both made him avoid any possible contact. His handlers even incorporated “hide any visible dicks” into their daily routine. This rumor claimed that one day, one of his assistants took it upon herself to show him a picture of the average dong. She clearly meant to help him, but in reality, the news that he had a strange, misshapen penis was devastating. He had always been proud of it; the way he acted, it was God’s gift to humanity.

Whatever really happened, the celebrity went into a panic and ordered every prototype of the sex toy destroyed. Every dildo was a constant reminder of his weird dick, and they had to be eradicated with Nazi-like precision. And they all were—except for one.

According to Will’s briefing, the only surviving dildo was purchased recently by none other than Jonah Nershberg. The journalist had been in contact with the client, threatening to reveal the true nature of his famous cock for all the world to see if he didn’t receive an inordinate amount of money. Always the pragmatist, the celebrity decided it would be cheaper to hire a thief to recover the blackmail. Beyond that, his precious ego would be intact, knowing he didn’t kneel to the journalist’s demands.

Will had no particular love for his client—in fact, he considered people like him to be exactly what was wrong with the world—but a job is a job. He should be grateful for the opportunity.

As he turned the corner into the kitchen, he spotted the painting that he knew hid Nershberg’s safe. It was a bizarre piece of oil paint, depicting Pagliacci the sad clown sharing a joint with Sonic the Hedgehog. Will gazed at the artwork from under a furrowed brow. He analyzed the craftsmanship, thinking about the countless hours its creator must have spent working on it. He shook the thought away and lifted the frame off the wall.

Just as his research said, the wall safe was concealed just behind the painting. He lowered the frame, leaning it against the wall, then retrieved his tablet. He pulled out a few more attachments from his bag, using them to connect the electronic device to the safe’s lock.

Will smiled as he started the safe-cracking application. Jobs like this almost felt like cheating.

While the program went about its function, Will looked around the kitchen. He almost went to the cupboard and poured himself a shot of Nershberg’s tequila, but he decided against it. Maybe a drink when I get home, he thought, but not until the job is done. That kind of recklessness was the death of a thief’s career, and he had no intention of retiring just yet.

He examined some of the news clippings that decorated the wall above the sink. All front-page pieces by Nershberg, criticizing one corporation or another, or demanding action against some foreign autocrat. His focus seemed to be opinion, and an angry one, at that.

While Will read the journalist’s snide comments about a pro-war advocacy group, the tablet made a buzz. Even though it was quieter than a whisper, it still made him jump.

Calm down, he told himself. You’re almost done.

The program had found the combination and the safe popped open like a bag of potato chips. He disconnected his device and pulled the metal door open.

There were a number of old VHS tapes and some cash, but Will was focused on the plastic box on the left. Inside the box, as if on display at a museum, was the colorful rubber of the dildo. On the case itself was a small placard, no larger than a business card, declaring the sex toy an authentic recreation. At the bottom of the placard was the celebrity’s autograph.

Will’s forehead wrinkled and his mouth fell open as he studied the strange curves and twists in the dildo’s shape. He wasn’t sure what he expected it to look like, but he was still shocked. It was almost like he was in a trance, hypnotized by the bizarre bit of rubber. He snapped out of it, though, and pulled the plastic case out of the safe.

Just as he started to lower it into his pack, he heard a click from behind him. The sound stole his breath and made him freeze. Though he didn’t turn around yet, he knew what caused the noise. He exhaled in defeat before spinning around slowly.

“Hold it!” Nershberg shouted, his words slurring together.


To be Continued (in two weeks!)

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