So, what is the Hungry Boson?
Join Danielle, the protagonist of Initial Conditions, as she finds out.
The buildings facing Stateside Street were law firms and real estate offices, boutiques and an upscale barbershop. Parched and annoyed at not being able to find her way in a small town, Danielle was slow to distinguish a new scent wafting in the warm air, an elusive aroma that intensified as she walked down the street. A whiff of the tantalizing mixture brought to Danielle’s mind freshly baked cakes, summer berries, and melted chocolate.
“A fantasy,” she dismissed the thought, but quickened her pace. A bakery shop would have cold bottled water and fresh muffins and brownies, maybe a few tables.
Danielle’s nose twitched when she reached a single-story house. Her mouth watered, so seductive was the scent engulfing her. On a sign above the door, she read “The Hungry Boson.”
A strange name for a café or a bakery, Danielle thought. For a while, she just stood there and inhaled the smells that floated around, tickled her nostrils. Then she stepped inside.
Shaded from bright light, Danielle saw lace curtains drawn on windows , wooden round tables, and wide flowery chairs that belonged to an old-fashioned teashop. Buttery scents, fruity scents, and heavier chocolaty aromas swirled and glided all over. She inched forward; her eyes grew bigger and bigger as her stare shifted from an espresso machine to trays laid on refrigerated shelves. No muffins. No brownies. She gaped at neatly arranged éclairs, pies and tarts.
“A lovely day, isn’t it?” a woman’s voice came from the back of the shop. Glancing in that direction, Danielle glimpsed an elderly woman put a book aside and walk to the counter.
“How can I help you?” the woman asked. Her voice was friendly, its light accent matching the teashop ambiance.
“It’s so beautiful here,” Danielle said. “Can I get a cappuccino and a glass of water?” She turned her head towards a distant tray. “And one of these éclairs, please?”
Danielle gulped the water while drops of coffee slowly dripped into a cup. Her curious stare flitted from object to object, until it paused on a couple of newspapers at the edge of the counter.
“The King’s Monkey?” Danielle read aloud. “Is it a local newspaper?”
“The Monkey is a satirical students’ paper,” the woman replied.
“Hopeville Herald?” Danielle read another title.
“Plenty of gossip, and some university news.”
The woman put the coffee on the counter. “Drink carefully when you are reading,” she advised.
The coffee and the chocolate éclair were excellent. Reading about a professor in a Martian barbershop, Danielle felt at peace with herself and the world. She did not notice other customers walking in.
Excerpt from chapter 1 of Initial Conditions, © T. K. Flor, 2015.