Cynthia Dowley is one of the main players in my forthcoming sci-fi/horror novel FRENZY ISLAND. She is absolutely, totally and completely my favourite character in the book; a prolifically tattooed twenty-something employee of SpaceWurd who digs heavy metal (favourite bands include Sumo Cyco, Butcher Babies, Stitched Up Heart and Megadeth), has a big ginger cat called Mashed Potato and an on/off girlfriend called Alison. Also, she takes great pride in taking no care of herself whatsoever; crashing out in her clothes and eating hot dogs for breakfast. She used to play bass in a band with her friends but let it fall by the wayside when she bought a games console.
We first meet her at Scottsdale Airport in Arizona, on her way to work for the night shift…
Cynthia liked to get to Scottsdale Airport early to grab a hot dog and a coffee before flying out to the spaceport to start her shift. At this point in time it was a spaceport in name only, as nothing had officially been launched from there. The company were promising that commercial passenger flights skimming the Earth’s atmosphere would be starting the next year. But then, they’d been repeating that promise for the last five. All that aside, no matter how far ahead of flight-time she arrived, there was always someone there before her, which only succeeded in pissing her off as it meant a queue at Gene’s Hot Dog Heaven trailer.
“Usual, Cynth?” asked the man himself from behind the counter.
“Hell yeah!” Cynthia replied with a wicked grin. “S’always the right time for a dog.”
“Thanks to people who hold that attitude, I can pay my rent,” Gene said in his glorious Arizona drawl. He started preparing her usual jumbo cheese dog with onions, ketchup and mustard.
“Besides, when you work shifts like I do,” Cynthia continued as she fished her wallet from her shoulder bag, “you stop caring if it’s morning or night. Hunger is hunger, you know.”
“Yeah, I guess. Have to take yer word for that though. Always bin a nine-to-five man, mysel‘. Till now, o‘ course.”
“You’re living the dream there, Gene. Living the dream.”
“Well, I don‘ know ’bout that.”
Gene looked at his watch. It was pushing 7:20pm. Be time to pack up and head home soon. When he’d left the house that lunchtime to come to work he’d made sure to leave a beer or two in the fridge for when he got back.
Cynthia zipped up her leather jacket. The sun had already disappeared behind the hills, leaving a dying blue sky behind it. She inhaled as the sweet aromas of coffee and frying onions mixed with the chilly breeze coming in from the desert.
By now a few more workers had shown up and were milling around. Cynthia spotted her friend and colleague Matt and nodded him a hello as a queue formed behind her. Not caring, she carried on yakking.
“Screw it. Gimme a donut too.”
“That’s my girl,” Gene said with a wink. “Say, you’ll never guess who came by here yesterday. Alice Cooper.”
Cynthia was genuinely astounded. “What? No shit!”
“Yep. Sold ’im a dog before his flight. Had his wife ’n‘ daughter with him. Nice fam’ly.”
“Gene, you just officially became the coolest guy I know.”
“’Bout time you cottoned on.”
“What is it about Arizona that pulls the rocks stars in?” Cynthia pondered aloud. “Place is crawling with ’em. We got Alice Cooper, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, the bassist from Megadeth, that dude from Tool.”
“Two words,” replied wise old Gene, “skies ’n‘ golf. We got the best o‘ both.”
A small passenger plane swished through the bleached-out sky overhead.
“Ooh! Looks like my ride is here,” Cynthia said.
Gene handed over her coffee, hot dog and donut. Cynthia paid up, bade Gene a good evening and scurried off to the landing strip. She liked Gene. He never seemed to be afflicted by bad moods no matter what shit was going down. She admired this increasingly rare quality in a human being. Gene, in turn, watched as his favourite customer, laden with her dinner of saturated fats, salts, sugars and caffeine, trotted off for another long night of doing whatever the hell it was she did in that darn spaceport place.
Nice kid, he thought, but if my daughter-in-law starts dressing like that, me an‘ her’ll be having words.
Stay tuned for more character profiles and extracts soon. FRENZY ISLAND is published by Cranthorpe Millner on October 25th and can be pre-ordered now.