Zeth wore baggy, cream colored clothes that were a sharp contrast to his dark-skinned, athletic form. His head was shorn close to the scalp. He stood perfectly still, a sour expression on his face. He barely seemed to be breathing.
If you have been following my work closely (and if you haven't shame on you!) you may notice a character that pops up here and there named Zeth. Now most of my characters are drawn from my imagination with the occasional dash of people I know and or hate (Why yes Brian I AM talking about you.)(And which Brian do I mean? I'm not telling.)
Now where was I?
Ah yes, Zeth.
Zeth is based on a real person, a gaming friend of mine. You see for all my tales of role playing game madness that I share with my readers, the 1990's and White Wolf's Vampire The Masquerade were actualy pretty good times. I mean sure I had the occasional player wrestle me to the ground and bite me but most games were a lot of fun and I made some great friends that I still talk to over a decade later. One of my gaming semi-regulars liked to play a Tremere named Zeth. Zeth was a bastard with a heart of gold. He was selfish and evil but loyal to his friends. I enjpyed the character and the player a lot.
Many of the players followed me along to other games and systems, the man that played Zeth was one of them. I remember that around about the time my daughter was 8 months old or so she would sit with us in her high chair at the gaming table just so she could watch us. She took an instant shine to Zeth's player.
Zeth's player also dabbled in writing and after games we would talk about fiction and poetry, sometimes we exchanged books. We both discovered Chambers The King In Yellow stories around the same time and I loaned him my copy of The Hastur Cycle.
He had it with him the day he died.
I won't go into the details, I just don't feel I have the right, suffice to say he died. He was almost a decade younger than me and he was just ...gone.
I missed his wake. I couldn't get out of work, they just wouldn't let me go. I always felt a little bad about that.
It was a few weeks later that the fictional character of Zeth wandered into my subconscious; he was a little of Zeth's player and a little of Zeth's role playing game character. At first he was just mentioned here and there my some of my characters but then finally he appeared in my as of yet unpublished novel (I may Lulu it? Interested?). He tended to hang around with my most mercurial character Jason Magwier who was a bit like Doctor Who but blisteringly obtuse and incompetent.
He even had an origin story but I never found a spot to use it in...
Zeth's player has been gone for over seven years now and since my belief in an afterlife is forever trapped between CS Lewis and Richard Dawkins I can't be sure I'll ever see him again.
But he lives on in my imagination.
And now he's in yours too.