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Bone Shop is a free, serialized online novella by T.A. Pratt, supported by donations from readers. Pay whatever you like.

If you like this story, visit to learn about the novel series.

Notes for Chapter One

If you want a little look behind the curtain, I'll be posting errata/trivia/weird stuff/inter- and extra-textual corrections, etc. for each chapter. Like DVD extras. For chapter one:

I picked Jenny Click's name because it sounds vaguely like Jiminy Cricket, and I like to think of her being Marla's conscience, later on in the story, sort of... though as longtime readers know, Marla doesn't have much of a conscience, and she's also never, ever mentioned Jenny later in life. There's a reason why.

Looking strictly at timeline issues, assuming the current Marla novels are set in the "present day," the YMCA card scam probably wouldn't work; Marla's in her early thirties now, so all this was at least 16 or so years in the past, and the YMCA didn't use bar-code-scanner cards back then (at least, not the one in my city). But as time goes by and the future rushes into the present, the scam will become more plausible, so I'm leaving it.

The Bau Bau room is named in honor of the (sometimes) dog-headed Akkadian goddess Bau, about whom I know very little, except that she was the "lady of abundance" in charge of fertility and thus associated with sex. And when you see what kind of place the Bau Bau Room is, you'll see why that's relevant. It's also a reference to the prototypical go-go dancing bar name, The Boom Boom Room.

Wrestling with continuity: In a way, writing this is something of a secret history. I've established certain facts about Marla's past in the novels and stories about her, and I have to include them here, preferably without contradicting myself. Some of those details are integral and fundamental and formative; some of them were pretty randomly and arbitrarily tossed-in. And yet, trying to fit in those arbitrary bits is also yielding some fascinating developments.

I established that Marla left home "around age 15," and she spent some amount of time traveling before she reached Felport, so it seems semi-plausible to have her turn 16 shortly after arriving in Felport. I don't want her to be too young because of some of the events in chapter 2...

A note on Felport's population: the only time (that I know of) when I made any statement regarding Felport's population was in Dead Reign, where the Walking Death calls it a city of "millions of souls." Oops. Bit of an overstatement. Upon reflection, I tend to think of it as a city about the size of Cleveland, which would make it a city of more like half a million, maybe 400,000 souls.

How can I retcon this, you ask? Well, the Walking Death is the Death of all living things, he claims, so when he says "souls" we'll assume he also means dogs, rats, pigeons, bugs, and etc. So that's why he seems to radically overstate the size of the city's population -- he didn't just mean people! (Though if we include bugs it should probably be "billions" of souls. Ah, well.)

Back to Chapter 1

T.A. Pratt lives in Oakland, CA, and works as an editor for a trade publishing magazine.