Wayne Cole

Writer Podcaster Geek

Ricochet Beginnings

Fiction Fragment Friday

I am hard at work at NaNoWriMo and doing well so far. I am over 8,000 words in and have hit the goals needed so far. I hope to get some extra writing in over the weekend so I have some slack in wordcount. I tell you all this to setup this weeks Fiction Fragment Friday. I’m going to share with you the first thousand or so words of my project.


I can usually tell by the second joke if an audience is going to respond to my set or not.  There is just an energy in the room that you can feel.  Sure it is always possible that I can turn the night around but when I feel that lack of energy it starts to get into my head.  The voice that sounds like a cross between my own and my parents’ tells me that I’m not really a comedian.  That I should have gone to college and learned something more practical.  This mental spiral is like an anchor dragging me under while I fight to get my head above water and build some sort of momentum.  It is a sinking feeling knowing that the next forty-five minutes of standing in the bright spotlight are going to be painful, but I have no choice.  I have to keep going because I am a professional and these people have paid to see my act.  Some nights they enjoy the act and other nights they wonder why they paid to see me.  This was one of those second kind of nights. 

Most people think that bombing means silence, but that is not the case.  There are multiple ways a bad night can go.  First if the audience just isn’t feeling the show you will still get some sympathy laughs.  That sympathy is more for them than for you.  It is awkward to sit in silence so letting out a forced laugh or chuckle helps to break it up.  The second kind of failure is when you have a heckler who is loud and just will not shut up.  The worst part is sometimes they are actually funny and that is just like salt being poured in the wound.  That night was a third kind of failure.  When you step on a land-mine you didn’t realize was there and the audience turns on you.  A single heckler is bad but a crowd of boos and groans is worse. 

Really people are just too judgmental.  So I told a joke about Mayor Allen being an idiot.  It wasn’t my fault I didn’t know that he had been killed by a super-villain earlier that day shielding a little girl.  Did they expect me to watch the news or something?  No I slept until around one and played video games until my girlfriend called me to make sure I wasn’t late for this gig like last time.  That joke would have killed on any other night.  In hindsight telling the audience that after they told me about the murder was probably not the best reaction I could have had.  It’s a good thing I get paid per set and not by the laugh because once they hate you as a person you are not going to get a laugh.  It is a good thing I know I’m funny or a night like this could really hurt a guys ego. 

At the back of the room I saw the emcee lift her phone up and wave the lit screen at me.  This was my cue to start wrapping things up so the main act could take the stage.  I glanced down at my watch and noticed that she was signaling me ten minutes early and made a mental note to buy her a thank you shot.  Jessie had been a good friend since high-school and she was the reason I had gotten my foot in the door at the Reignsborough Laugh Shack.  She even introduced me to my girlfriend Courtney who if I was honest was way out of my league.  Of course in high school Jessie was Ethan so a lot had changed in the time we had known each other.  Still buds have your back and she was trying to cut my pain short and I was very grateful. 

I got off stage and headed to the bar where she was waiting with a beer.  “Ouch that was painful to watch.”

“You are a life saver as always.”  I chugged back the beer.

“Seriously though man you had to start off with the mayor is distracted by shiny objects bit?  Today?  What the hell did you think would happen?”

“Welllll, first of all I didn’t know.  Secondly..  I guess there is no secondly.  I just didn’t know.  I have got the worst luck ever.”

She stood there shaking her head at me.  I knew the look she was giving me.  It was disappointment mixed with pity.  “It’s not luck it is you living oblivious to the world around you.  Most comedians watch the news and try to be relevant you know.  Also most comedians don’t show up with a big salsa stain on their shirt.”

I looked down and sure enough she was right.  There by my collar line was a big red stain.  I groaned and slumped onto the stool. 

“Carl when are you going to get your life together?  You have such potential if you just…”

I cut her off and could not keep the frustration out of my voice.  “Great now you sound just like Courtney.”

“Well she is my best friend,” she said ignoring my frustration.

“Wait I thought I was your best friend.”

“Are you kidding me?  After that set if anyone asks I don’t even know you.”  She chuckled and I realized she was giving me an out again.

I put my hand over my heart, gasped, and fell to the floor.  “Ouch a mortal wound.”

Between the laughter she choked out, “Now that was the funniest thing you have done all night.”

Laughter filled the club hitting me like a hammer to my self esteem.  “Well I think that is my cue to get out of here while the crowd is distracted so they don’t wait for me in the parking lot.”  I pulled myself up and gave Jessie a goodbye hug.  “Thanks again Jess, I really do appreciate everything you do for me.”

“Get out of here funny man before I hit you.  You know I don’t do well with flattery.”

NaNoWriMo Day 2

I got a late start to writing today and when I actually sat down to do it I found myself staring at the blank screen and not being able to think of anything. I wrote and deleted the first two sentences for the day at least four times. I kept thinking about doing something else and coming back to it, but I knew that if I did I would not come back to it. Writing needs to be something I do regularly and if I’m working on a project with a deadline I need to do so whether I am feeling it or not.

So I sat there staring at the screen and made a decision. I was going to just start and that is what I did. I wrote two horrible sentences and then I kept going and started to get in the groove. I went back and deleted those sentences once I was and replaced them with something I am happier with. I just had to get over that hurdle and start writing something.

I am happy to say that I surpassed the word goal now for the second day in a row. I am currently at 3853 words which puts me 500 words above the goal for day 2. I have in my scrivener for the project been creating character profile sections for each character as they are introduced, but I do need to fill those profiles out still.

NaNoWriMo Day 1

I started my National Novel Writing Month project today and I am happy to report that as of writing this I am over 2,000 words in which exceeds the daily goal they set. I know that I won’t reach the goal every day so the more days I can go over the goal the better.

For a project this year I am writing a novel about my Knights of Reignsborough character Ricochet. Specifically I am doing his origin story and I outlined the novel using the “Save the Cat” method. I wanted to talk a bit about that because I am not usually an outliner. I had three projects I was debating on doing. Each of them are novels that I want to write, but I couldn’t make up my mind. I found by working through the outline it made me think about the story as a whole and not just my concepts for the stories.

For one of them I realized that my science was bad and a lot had changed since I first thought up the concept. The world I created just didn’t work and I needed to spend a lot more time working out how the technology should function, how the political dynamics should work, and basically world build before I could truly tell the story. I had started that novel once before and got 10,000 words into it before I realized I had lost my way. Outlining it helped flesh out the story and while it gave me a path I am not completely happy with that path yet and the flaws are now glaring.

I found that my outline for the Richocet novel was very detailed and realized that I had put more thought into it than the other two concepts. I knew this character already and I had no problem outlining the book. I’m not completely happy with the outline, but I don’t need to be. I can change things as I go. It is just a framework to keep me from getting stuck like I so frequently do.

My third concept is the first book in a series. I have a real desire to write this series but as I look at my work I don’t think I am ready to take that on yet. I want to improve my writing more, research more, and generally take more time. It is not a good project to write in a month if I want it to be hard Sci-Fi. I also have doubts if the series will be sellable. It is about a generation ship and each book would focus on a different generation. I don’t know that new characters for each book is something that would sell or not.

With my project decided I started writing today. I was struck with the desire to go back and edit or to pad things to fit some artificial idea of what a chapter size should be. I had to keep reminding myself that editing and formating comes later. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to just write it and to achieve the goal I need to turn off my inner editor for now. That doesn’t mean I can’t make minor fixes or maybe add a new paragraph later in the month, but if I want to complete it I can’t get into the editing loop.

I really feel like this is my year to complete NaNoWriMo. Please wish me luck.

Vampire Story Part 2

Fiction Fragment Friday

This is the next part of the Vampire story I posted on October 8th. I thought this part was completely lost, but found the notebook that it was in recently. It was still hand written and had to be typed up. Since it is Halloween season a vampire story seems fitting. I had quite a few rules thought out for how my vampires worked.


“Ahhhhhhhh” She woke to a stream of cold water pouring against her back.  Thunder cracked and echoed through the tunnel.  With great effort she stumbled from the drain onto the ground.  “Eeeh” Her back arched as she reacted to the rain pouring down on her.  She was drenched and had no idea where she was.  Wrapping her arms tightly around her chest she tried to fight the shivering, but it was overwhelming.  It wasn’t just being wet and cold; hunger shook her to the very core. 


            It was about noon, but you couldn’t tell by looking at the sky.  The sun was completely hidden by rain clouds.  Wind roared through the forest and threatened to rip the trees from the ground root and all.  She screamed in frustration and smacked her hands down into the puddle around her.  The water splashed high into the air.  The frustration could only hold the tears back for so long and when they came, they rivaled the rain pouring from the sky.

With the tears came memories.  They were jumbled images, but one face kept coming back to her.  She focused on the strange man who had helped dig her out of the ground.  “Help me,” she whimpered.  She found that this thought comforted her and with great will power she forced the tears back.  She imagined him in a car driving.


            The ground slipped out from underneath her as she tried to stand up.  “Of course, it couldn’t be easy.”  She grunted as she slowly pushed forward on all fours.  Despite splashing and more slipping she was determined and forced her way out of the puddle and onto her feet.
As she stumbled through the woods, she realized that she had nowhere to go.  No memories of a name also meant no memories of a home.  She couldn’t remember any friends or family that could answer these questions either. for lack of anyone else her thoughts kept coming back to the man from last night.


            The rain had finally started to die down and the sun started to peek through the clouds.  A flush of heat ran over her, her heart started racing, and she could hear herself breathing heavily.  There was no denying that she was terrified.  “Why would I be scared of the sun,” she wondered to herself.  With the fight or flight instinct kicking in she started to run.  She had no real sense of direction, but a strange feeling told her where to go.


            A final push through a line of brushes dropped her into a parking lot.  I was completely empty except for a single car.  The man from last night got out and rushed to her side.  He was speaking, but her mind was too blurred to make out the words.  He put his coat around her, and she let him help her into the back seat.  As the sun shined in the windows, she curled up across the seat with the coat over her.  “I’m glad the dog isn’t here,” was her last thought as she faded to sleep.



            William had relived last night’s events in his head a dozen times.  He was second guessing what he had seen.  Surely, he didn’t really help dig a woman out of the ground.  She couldnn’t have really had fangs.  He decided that if she was real, he had to help her.
He thought about calling the police but was afraid of the questions they would ask.  The one that scared him most was the one he didn’t have an answer for.  Why didn’t he call them last night?


            “Pacing around the apartment second guessing myself isn’t going to help anyone.”  William grabbed his coat and headed for the door.  “Hank, you be good while I’m gone.”  As thunder loomed, he grabbed his umbrella and left the apartment.


            As William turned on the car, he suddenly had an overwhelming certainty of where he needed to go.   The night before he had exited the woods into a park.  There was no reason she would be there since she ran the other way, but the closer he got the more it felt right.
William pulled into the parking lot and found it empty.  “I guess not to many people want to go to the park in the middle of a storm.:  Not for the first time he wondered why he was there.

 
            The storm had started to die down and William could see the sun peeking through the clouds.  For a second, he thought it would help his search, but then remembered all the mud the storm would have created.  As he glanced at a line of bushes he decided to finally get out of the car.


            The woman from last night burst through the line of bushes.  She was covered in mud and her cloths had even more rips than the night before.  Even from across the parking lot William could see the water dripping off her.  She stared at William as he got out of the car and ran towards her.  He could see a look of shock on her face.  “Please don’t run.  I just want to help.”


            He could see that she was shivering and her hands where over her stomach like she was hungry or in pain.  He took his coat off and was pleased that the woman let him slip it over her shoulders.  “Come on, let’s get you somewhere warm.”  William knew that he should take her to a hospital, but for some reason he decided to take her home instead.  He didn’t want to answer their questions.


            She still had not said a word and William began to wonder if she could speak.  He put his arm around her shoulder and started to walk her towards the car.  She leaned into him and didn’t seem to have any issue letting him lead.   “I’m going to take you back to my place.   We will get you cleaned up and then I’ll get you something to eat.”  He looked at her expecting a reaction, but only got a blank stare.
    

        As he opened the back door and she slid right in.  He couldn’t take his eyes off her as she curled up into the fetal position and gripped his coat tightly.  “What have I gotten myself into,” he wondered as she shut the door.  The strangeness of his situation finally hit him.  “I have a woman who was buried alive sleeping in my backseat and I’m taking her home.  How in the hell am I going to explain this to anybody?”

Before and After

Fiction Fragment Friday

Something little different this week, but I think very interesting. The first story I had published was called Sick Day and it was in Sojourn Volume 1. You can find links to it on my published works page. What very few people know is that Sojourn was not the first place I submitted that story. The first place I submitted it was to an anthology themed around exploration. I got general feedback that it did not fit their theme. For Sojourn I worked with the editors and they helped me really bring out the story that I wanted to tell. I learned a lot from that experience.

This week I’m going to share the first few paragraphs from both the original submitted story and the one that eventually was published. I wanted to show just how different a story can be after editing while still at it’s heart being the same story.

Before

            I sat on my back porch listening to a car alarm going off in the distance.  The wind blew through the trees and I could hear the occasional sound of birds chirping.  Basically there was nothing really out of the ordinary except for me.  I enjoyed the time I got to spend outside.  It was one of my few relaxations, but I had never been outside at noon on a work day before.    

            Workaholic didn’t begin to describe me.  I never used all of my vacation days and it took near death for me to take a sick day.  That should give a person some indication about how I was feeling on my second straight day away from work.  To be honest though I wouldn’t have taken either if my boss had not forced me to for fear of infecting the whole office.  Even staying home I couldn’t help but check in periodically to see how everything was going. 

            The wind hit my face as I shut off my laptop and leaned back in my chair.  There was something about the fresh air that just made me feel better.  I could breathe easier and actually put work out of my mind for a few moments.  It wouldn’t last for long so I had to enjoy it for as long as I could.  I wondered to myself, “Why can’t everyday be like this?”  Then I remembered the mortgage, food, bills, and other responsibilities that required me to work. 

            Those thoughts would normally have led me to check back in with work, but my dog had other ideas.  As I reached for my laptop to check my e-mail she came up between me and it to lick my hand.  She looked so cute and her face just screamed for my attention.  I sighed and rubbed her behind the ears.  She had been around me all morning, but I hadn’t really given her a moment of attention.  “Come on girl, let’s get your leash and go exploring.”

After

The tree branches swayed as the wind blew through them, causing the shadows on the ground to dance wildly. I could hear birds chirping, dogs barking, and a car alarm going off in the distance. In other words, it was a perfectly normal Thursday—with only one exception. I had never been sitting on my back porch in the middle of a workday before.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like being outside. Quite the contrary; I loved being outside. It was one of the few things I could do to relax. Long hours at work and a list of projects around the house just didn’t leave time for it. I had plenty of vacation time saved up at work, but I never took much of it because returning to work after time off just meant a larger stack of work waiting. That thought led me to refresh my e-mail and see five new messages waiting. I sighed as I worked through them.  

I had to be near death to take a sick day, and while I felt horrible that morning it was not my choice to take off. My boss was afraid that I would infect the whole office when I showed up the day before and couldn’t go a half hour without a coughing spell so he had sent me home with strict instructions that I could not return until my fever broke or I could hold a conference call without needing my mute button to avoid coughing in people’s ears. Instead I went to an Urgent Care and spent a half hour on a breathing treatment before being prescribed a round of pills and an inhaler.  That didn’t stop the e-mails and I spent most of that morning constantly checking in to see what was happening without me and if I could keep work from piling up.

I felt the cool breeze against my cheek and leaned back in my chair. It felt good. There was something about the fresh air that just made me feel better and helped fight off the coughing spells. I shut the laptop and set it on the table next to me. Tilting my head back, I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. “Why can’t everyday be like this?” I asked out loud and then immediately answered my own question after a small coughing spell. “Because I have a mortgage, car payments, bills, and all those other responsibilities that need money.”

That thought process naturally led me back to my laptop, but as I reached for it a cold nose stuck itself in my palm. Chloe, my black boxer/lab mix, had decided that she had enough of my work for the day. She put herself directly between me and the laptop while proceeding to lick my hand. Her big eyes stared at me and she lowered her head. Her face just screamed for attention and as I rubbed her behind the ears my resolve melted away. “Come on girl, let’s go for a walk.”

Exodus

Fiction Fragment Friday

In 2016 I attended WorldCon 74 hosted that year in Kansas City. This was my first writing and fiction convention and I found myself incredibly inspired. I came up with the idea for a book series about a generation ship with each book focusing on a different generation. The first book would have been about those that chose to leave Earth and why they did so. It would focus on the struggles of adjusting to a life in space and giving up everything you had ever known. This is a series I am still working on from an outlining and research standpoint. The final version I’m sure will be very different than what I present here.


 “Mom the mail is on the counter.  There’s a big envelope from something called the Mayflower Project.”  My oldest son had no idea that with these words he was announcing that our entire lives were about to change.  Jeremy continued upstairs like it was any other day and probably didn’t even notice me rushing to the kitchen. 

 I grabbed the packet off the counter and stood there with my hands shaking.  The pile of bills under it taunted me, but for the first time they couldn’t bother me.  The big yellow envelope was indeed from the Mayflower Project and I knew that a simple rejection letter would not be nearly that thick.  I could feel my stomach twisting and turning with nervousness as I pealed open the envelope. 

Pain shot through my finger as I sliced it on the flap and I dropped the packet to the floor spilling its contents.  Blood pooled on my index finger and I instinctively sucked on it to stop the bleeding.  The coppery taste filled my mouth, but my eyes were focused on the floor.  A white folder filled with forms was laying spread open.  Next to it was a letter and I could clearly read the first sentence.  “Congratulations you have been accepted into The Mayflower Project.”   I dropped to the floor and grabbed the letter.  As I read I could feel the first tears start rolling down over my cheeks.

I don’t know how long I sat there crying, but the letter had splotches all over it.  I looked up and saw Jeremy standing there asking me something.  He looked worried, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying.  He looked so much like his father and I could feel the pain in my chest at that realization.  I missed Henry so much.  He trusted me to take care of everything after he was gone and I had failed so badly.  In less than a month we were going to lose the house.  What hope did a 17 year old and his 14 year old brother have with me as a mom?

“Mom what’s wrong?”  How was I going to tell him that in about a year I would be joining approximately 25,000 other people on a top secret spacecraft and he would never see me again?  How was I going to tell his younger brother?  I was no good for them, but I could give them one last gift.  A fully paid for college education and a real chance at a future here on Earth.  What more could a mother ask for?

**** Six Month’s Later****

“Ahhh,  I just don’t get it.”  I slammed the book on the table in frustration.  I had been studying for the Engineers certification test and just didn’t understand the underlying math.  Ten years experience with secretarial work had not prepared me for this.  If I didn’t figure something out I was going to be stuck in Janitorial because that was the only certification test I had passed. 

“Then stop trying.  Mom you don’t have to do this, we can figure something out.”  Jeremy started the same speech that he gave me every few days.

“No we can’t.  We would be on the streets right now if I hadn’t gotten accepted.  At this point even if I wanted to back out I couldn’t without breaching my contract.”  I watched as he lowered his head.  “Jeremy look me in the eye.  I started this for you and your brother, but now I’m doing it for me.  I can rest easy knowing your futures are taken care of and while I’m at it I can really do something for humanity.  There is nothing left for me to accomplish here, but out there I can be a part of something so much bigger.”

“Yeah I can see how dusting and laundry are more important than being here for our graduations or weddings.”

“That’s enough Jeremy.  This is hard enough as it is without you continuing to remind me of what I’m going to be missing.  You don’t think I know that I’ll never see any grandkids I may have?  You have a house and a guaranteed education ahead of you so you can provide for those grandkids.”  I reached out and opened the book again.  “Now either help me study or get out.  I’ll be damned if my contribution to the future of humanity is going to be laundry.”  I glanced up and I could have sworn I saw Jeremy smile for a moment, but as soon as he saw I was looking the expression vanished.

“Fine, I’ll be in my room.”  As he went upstairs I noticed that he didn’t stomp this time.  I couldn’t help but hope that he was finally accepting my decision.

****3 months later****

“What the hell do you mean you are going with me?”  I stood there staring at Jeremy holding the results to a successfully passed food services rank two certification test.  “How did this even happen?”

“I got the address from your paperwork and applied as soon as I turned 18.  I’ve been studying just as hard as you the last nine months and I’ve earned my place.  You can’t stop me any more than I can stop you.”

“Jeremy why in the world would you do this?  What about your brother?  Who is going to look after him if you aren’t here?  What about your future?  Are you really ready to live the rest of your life on a spaceship?”

“Are you?  I know what I’m getting myself into.”  He let out a loud sigh and for the first time I looked at my son and saw him not as a child.  He had to grow up so fast after his father died.  I wasn’t there for him so he had to raise his brother.  “Sam’s going to be fine.  Uncle Jeff has volunteered to move in until he turns 18.  With both of our sign on bonuses the house is going to be paid off completely.”

“but…”

“No but mom, I know you think I’m throwing my life away but I’m not.  This in an opportunity for me to really make something out of myself.  Why does it matter if it is on Earth or on a space ship?  It’s my life and I want to spend it among the stars.  Maybe this was about you in the beginning, but it’s not anymore.  Please mom, this is what I want.”

It was my turn to let out a sigh.  “Alright, I don’t like this one bit, but if this is what you really want.”

“It is.”

I pulled out my own certification test and set it on the counter.  “Well I guess my rank one engineering certification isn’t quite as impressive to a rank two food services.”  I almost fell as my oldest son grabbed me into a tight hug.  I could feel my eyes watering up, but was determined I would not cry.  “Ok not so tight.”  I chuckled a bit.  “Now how are we going to tell your brother?”    

NaNoWriMo 2020

I have never succeeded at NaNoWriMo. For anyone who does not know there is a website called NaNoWriMo.org that is dedicated to encouraging writers to write a novel in the month of November. They treat it as a contest, provide tools, and a community to help you reach your goal. I have tried this goal multiple times without success.

It always seems like something major is happening in November for me and usually it is work related. I have tried to participate while doing datacenter moves, builds, and disaster recovery exercises. I do not blame these things for my own personal failure at completing the challenge, but they did make things harder.

I know I can write a novel length work because I have done it. Still I have not done this and it is something I want to have achieved. So this year I will be trying once again to complete NaNoWriMo. I do not have anything yet that conflicts with this so if I fail I have no excuse other than I did not motivate myself to do it. That is actually the biggest reason I have not completed it.

I have not decided if I want to start something brand new or take one of my Fiction Fragment Fridays and develop it. I do have multiple chapters of most of them so that would go against the spirit of writing the entire work in November unless I rewrote it all.

Throughout November I will be blogging about this whether I am successful or not. I will be sharing challenges, successes, inspiration, and setbacks. I find that I do better when I hold myself accountable by setting expectations with others. That was how I finished my Skies of Glass Serial fiction years ago. Perhaps 2021 needs a weekly serial fiction story. A year long story is novel length.

Vampire Story

Fiction Fragment Friday

This weeks Story is chapter one of a novel I started writing but never finished. I have quite a few of those. The idea was to tell the story from two different character’s perspectives each chapter. If the characters interacted I would give the scene in both characters perspective. That got a little too much in dialog heavy scenes and I never worked out a way to make that work without too much repetition.


 “Hank, come back Hank,” William yelled into the otherwise silent night.  The ground was rough and he was starting to get tired from pushing his way through the heavy overgrowth.  A sharp pain hit him as a branch he had just let go of came crashing back against his neck.  “Ow, damn it Hank this isn’t like you at all.”  Blood dripped from where the branch had just struck. 

It had been five minutes since Hank had shot off into the woods pulling his leash loose from William’s grip.  William had followed him into the forest but had not seen or heard him for at least two minutes now.  Fear started to set in at the realization that he might never see his beloved pet again.  How would a house dog get by on his own without someone to feed and water him?   These thoughts were brought to an abrupt stop though as barking could be heard ahead. 

“There you are,” William mumbled as he rushed forward with renewed determination.  He was far from graceful as he tried to run in the direction of the barking.  Many new bruises and small cuts were earned as the forest seemed to do it’s best to slow William down.  Finally, the thick bushes gave way to a large open clearing.   On the verge of collapsing from exhaustion William stumbled to the ground caught off guard by the sudden lack of resistance.  Hank was in the middle digging at the ground.

 “Hank come on boy.  Come here.”   William struggled to his feat and walked slowly towards Hank afraid of spooking him. 

 Hank looked at William with his head tilted to the left.  He took a few steps forward, but then quickly turned away and ran back into the woods. 

“No, wait.  Why are you doing this?”  William shot forward after his dog.  As he reached the area Hank had been digging in something caught him by the ankle in mid stride.  His shoulder screamed with pain as it hit the ground.   For the first time William noticed that the dirt around him in the clearing was loose.  It was obvious that someone had done digging here recently.  He glanced back to see what his leg got caught on and was suddenly filled with terror.  A hand was reaching out of the ground and fingers were wrapped around his ankle.  Scenes from every horror movie he had ever seen flew through his mind.  Finally, though his mind went through all the logical options and decided that someone was buried alive there in front of him.

  “Hold on, I’ll help you.”  William started to dig in the dirt with his hands and found that the hand coming out of the ground had let go of his ankle.  He grabbed the hand and pulled with all his strength.  Suddenly another hand came out of the dirt.  It pushed against the ground and with William’s help a woman soon rose out of the loose dirt.  She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but they were ripped and dirty.  “Are you ok?  Who did this to you?”

She didn’t speak a word.  She just lay on the ground breathing heavily.  “Can you understand me?”  She stared back still looking very scared and confused.    “Look, it’s going to be ok.  I don’t know what happened here, but whatever it was it’s over now.  I’m going to get you out of here and we can figure out what to do from there.   Do you think you can walk?”  William reached out to her and helped her to her feat.  She stumbled a little bit but was soon standing on her own.  “I’m sorry Hank, but she needs me more right now.”  William turned away from her towards the direction he had come into the clearing.  “Let’s head this way.”

Hank lunged out of the woods and barked wildly at the woman.  He stood his ground and growled a sound that William had never heard from his dog.  “Hank what’s wrong with you?  Look he has never done this before.  I’m so sorry.”  William took a step towards the woman but stopped quickly and stumbled backwards to the ground.  She was snarling back at his dog with long fangs.  She seemed truly afraid of Hank.  After a few seconds she turned and ran into the woods. 

Hank turned to William and climbed onto his lap.  He licked his face and whined a little bit.  William started to pet Hank gently.  “What the hell just happened here boy?  Were you trying to protect me?”  He grabbed the leash still dangling from his collar.  “Come on let’s get out of here.”  William and Hank went off into the woods together in the opposite direction of the woman that William was just now realizing might not be entirely human.  He had a lot to think about on the search for a way out of the woods. 

************

She opened her eyes but couldn’t see anything.  It felt like something was pressing against them.  Movement was very difficult, but not entirely impossible.  When she opened her mouth, dirt poured into it.  The realization that she was buried underground hit her like a ton of bricks.  Panic overwhelmed her but screaming was impossible because her mouth and throat were now filled with dirt.

She franticly thrust her hands forward and found that the dirt was loose enough for her to push aside if she really struggled.  With no idea how far down she was or even what direction was up the only thought was getting out of the ground.  She clawed at the dirt for what seemed like hours, but in reality, was probably only a few minutes.  Finally,   her hand broke through the ground and into the air.

Her hand wrapped around something.  She couldn’t tell what it was, but it was solid enough to grip and maybe be used to get out.  Suddenly she felt fingers rub against her hand and realized that someone was digging from the other direction.  Help was coming.  Letting go of whatever she was holding; digging was once again the number one priority.  The hand on the other end grabbed hers and started to pull.  She managed to get her other hand out of the ground to help push herself up.  The combination of someone pulling her and her other hand pushing against the ground was enough to finally allow her to pull her way out of the ground. 

She just lay on the ground breathing heavily.  She looked up at the man who had helped her scared and not quite realizing what had happened.  The shock of waking up in a grave overwhelmed her still, but she was beginning to think again.  She also found that the longer she lay on the ground the more she started to feel hungry. 

The stranger helped her up to her feet and she found that even though she stumbled she could walk.  Memories continued to flood back to her.  She couldn’t remember who she was or anything about her life, but she was getting flashes of things she had done.  She wondered how she could have gotten buried, and as she did she began to get flashes of someone attacking her.  She saw herself thrown to the ground in the very clearing she lay in now.  She remembered pain as someone on top of her biting into her neck.  She reached for it and found two tiny holes. 

The hunger continued to grow in her.  She found that with each passing second it was harder and harder to think straight.  The man who had helped her turned away from her and seeing him with his back turned suddenly filled her with the desire to attack him.  Her eyes were drawn to his neck were a small line of blood was dripping.  She couldn’t understand where these feeling or this hunger was coming from.  It became too much for her and she moved to strike. 

Suddenly a dog jumped out of the woods and positioned itself between her and the man.  It barked loudly and growled at her.  She found that the sounds pierced her ears and hurt.  She heard a terrible snarling sound and realized it was her.  She didn’t seem to have any control over herself and found that she was behaving like a wild animal.  She was filled with fear of what she was doing and of the dog.  The barking and howling was still hurting her and the pain brought back a small bit of control.  She felt the need to run from the animal so she turned away and ran full speed into the woods. 

She found that she could run much faster than she thought she should be able to.  She seemed to flow into the woods being able to dodge every branch and brush before she even consciously knew they were there.  She saw a drainage pipe ahead and ran for it.  Quickly crawling inside she curled up into the fetal position.  She mumbled to herself.  “That poor man was trying to help me and I was going to attack him.  Who am I?”  She remembered the snarling sounds that she had made and the loss of control.  “No, what am I?”  The tears began to flow.  She cried herself to sleep lying in the drain. 

Lost

Fiction Fragment Friday

This weeks entry is the beginning of a novel I started but had never finished. I reached a point where I realized I needed to roll back two chapters and rewrite. I never did it. I like the world building I did and I am thinking about returning to this project and rewriting it. This one might be a bit rough from an editing standpoint, but that is part of what these fragments are. Very raw.

*******************

The ship shook so hard I was afraid it would rip apart.  For the second time in my 30 year career I was grateful for the regulations requiring seatbelts on all jump capable ships.   “Mr. Harrison report.”

“We jumped into an asteroid field sir.”

“What?  How is that even possible?  The Drake system doesn’t have an asteroid belt.” 

“I don’t know how captain, but we don’t seem to be in Drake.  I’m dodging as many of the big one as I can, but we’re getting banged up pretty bad.”

I glanced down at the display on the armrest of my chair and saw a sea of red.  “I think just about every alarm is going off.  Ms. Pike we need the magnetic field up now.” 

“Working on it Captain.  I can’t get the field stabilized with all these impacts though.”

See that’s the downside of being Captain on a research vessel.  You get access to all the newest technology, but most of it hasn’t been field tested yet.  They brief you on how it’s supposed to work, but until you actually try it you never really know the limits.  This was an example of that.  The Observer was outfitted with tubes running through the hull that could generate a polarized magnetic field.  It wouldn’t stop the large asteroids, but theoretically it should be enough to clear away any small objects.  Of course it was intended to be turned on before entering an asteroid field and there wasn’t anything in the documentation about needing open space to generate a stable field.

I found myself second guessing my choice of ship so hard that I almost didn’t notice it wasn’t shaking apart anymore.  I glanced down at the displays and saw various alarms flickering between yellow and red.  The magnetic field light was not on at all.  “Mr. Harrison not to sound ungrateful, but why are we not about to die anymore?”

“I had an idea Captain.  I brought us alongside one of the larger asteroids.  It’s blocking some of the small ones.”

“Good thinking Mr. Harrison.  Ms. Pike; how is that magnetic field coming along?”

“It’s stabilizing now Captain, and it actually seems to be working.”  She was smiling and I had to admit that we might survive this jump.

I reached down and touched the intercom button on my chair.  “Attention all hands.  This is Captain Donald Ryan speaking.  We have jumped, but our arrival area was not clear.  I want damage reports from all departments in 15 minutes.  At that time we will assess our status and prepare to move out of the asteroid belt.  Thank you all for your quick responses.  Captain Ryan out.”

I turned to my helmsman.  “Mr. Harrison I want to know how long it’s going to take us to get out of this Asteroid Belt.  The moment we are out I want all your attention trying to figure out where the Hell we are.”   

“Yes Captain.”

“Good work and fast thinking everyone.  I’ll be in my office going through logs.”  With that I unbuckled my seatbelt and walked across the bridge into my office.  Many captains would have stayed on the bridge, but I know just how nervous I can make people by staring over their shoulders.  For the good of the ship I try to give them space. 

My office is a fairly empty room right off the bridge.  There is a desk and a small round table for meetings.  In the back is a door leading to my bedroom where I have my own private bathroom.  It is all pretty small, but I have more privacy than anyone else on the ship and I am grateful for that.  I sat at my desk and started bringing up system logs from right before the jump.

My background was in ship systems so there was a small chance that I could find something in the logs.  I didn’t really believe that I would though.  It was more important to keep myself busy so my crew wouldn’t realize just how worried I was by the jump.  Being off on a jump wasn’t out of the ordinary, but jumping into a completely different system was unheard of.  

After a few minutes I gave up on the logs and just sat back thinking.  There were some power fluctuations listed just before the jump, but I didn’t really know if that meant anything or not.  I sighed.  I have a good crew and I needed to trust them.  Still it just didn’t feel right knowing that the best thing I could do for my ship was nothing at all.  The tension of not even knowing where we were was just adding to my ever growing frustration. 

After fifteen minutes had passed I left my office for the bridge.  It had been the longest fifteen minutes of my life.  My three department heads were all standing at attention waiting for me.  There should have been four, but my Chief Operations Officer had recently transferred and we had not yet found a replacement.  “Mr. Harrison I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to speak for Operations again.  Do you have the report ready?”

“Yes Captain.”     

“Now let’s start with Systems.  Ms. Pike?”

“All ship systems are online Captain.  Medical reported that the worst injury was a broken arm.  We were lucky sir.”

I nodded as a wave of relief flooded over me.  There was bound to be bad news, but a report of no casualties is always the best news a captain can receive.  I turned to a short man in his 20s covered in what looked like some kind of grease.  “Mr. Lee does the Engineering department have good news for me as well?”

The man seemed to choose his words carefully.  “Well Captain it certainly could be worse.  We have minor hull breaches on decks 1 and 4.  Since everyone was in jump position the hallways were empty and we were able to seal them.  We did lose some oxygen in the process though.  I have repair crews prepared, but thought you might want me to wait until we were out of the asteroid belt.”

“You do know me pretty well Mr. Lee.  Anything else?”

“Engines are online, but we lost a few thrusters to the impacts.  The ship is going to be a bit sluggish for Mr. Harrison.”

I glanced over at Mr. Harrison and could see that he was less than happy to hear this news.  “Mr. Glass do you have any damage to report?”

“No sir.  All supplies were secured and we shut the galley down before jump.”

“Excellent news.  Now that we know the state of the ship Mr. Harrison I think it is your turn.”

“Yes sir.  It will take us about an hour to get out of this asteroid belt.  I modified my projects after Mr. Lee reported.  At the moment I still don’t know where we are though.  This system doesn’t seem to have a functional telemetry beacon and the asteroids are preventing us from getting a good read on star position.”

I sighed in what had to be a very noticeable gesture.  “I was afraid that might be the case Mr. Harrison.  It is possible that the asteroids are blocking the telemetry beacon, but I have a sinking feeling that you are correct in your assessment.  I also expect that despite your not inconsiderable talents we will be in for a bumpy ride out of this belt.”

“You are probably right sir.”

“Unless anyone has anything to add I think we are done here.”  I waited a moment, but no one spoke up.  “Good, everyone please take your posts and notify me when your teams are all strapped in.  Mr. Harrison please prepare your course and be ready to peal away from this beautiful rock we have been admiring on my word.”

Mr. Lee and Mr. Glass left the bridge as Ms. Pike took her seat beside me.  I watched my chair display carefully as the various departments reported in and their icon’s turned green.  “Well Mr. Harrison if you’re ready let’s get started.”  Mr. Harrison took his position at the helm and in under a minute I felt the tell tale feeling that told me the ship was moving.  We were underway, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something off about this system.          

First Leap

Fiction Fragment Friday

This week’s story is about the character Ricochet that I play on the Knights of Reignsborough Actual Play. He is a character I have truly enjoyed exploring over the years and have done a few pieces of audio fiction about him. This is a scene I wrote last week while sitting at my dad’s bedside in the hospital. It is the first of many scenes I hope to write and combine into a either a novel or a collection of short stories. It is with great pleasure that I present to you Ricochet in “First Leap”

Ricochet

I felt my muscles strain as I pumped my legs pushing myself closer to the edge of the roof.  I was sprinting faster than I ever had before as I passed the point of no return.  I was committed and there was no backing out now.  I bent down and leapt into the air. My body curled up and I did a flip forward in the air. 

As my legs extended to point towards the next roof over my life flashed before my eyes.  As memory after memory came, I realized that I wasn’t particularly proud of any of them.  I had never done anything of note and if I died now, I would not leave a legacy. 

Everything changed when my feat hit the roof.  All the fear faded, and I started laughing with joy.  I could feel my muscles tighten and grow.  Deep down I knew that I had to keep moving.  I ran faster and faster until leapt from the other side of the roof.  With each jump I got faster and went higher.  All thoughts of fear and regret were gone, and I was lost in a euphoric joy. 

I’m not sure how long I bounced around the city.  Afternoon stretched into evening and I could hear my stomach growl more than I could feel the hunger.  I landed on the roof of a four-story building and without pause leapt off spinning three times before landing perfectly on the ground.  I felt invincible.

Finally, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.  As it turns out the tunnel was an overpass I landed in front of.  The light was the only working headlight on the moving truck that hit me at forty-five miles per hour.  I could barely feel the skin on my arms and legs being rubbed off by the friction of sliding across the asphalt. 

I looked back at the truck as I skid to a stop.  The front had crumpled around me and was now glowing from the fire that had ignited in the engine block.  Through the windshield I could see the driver slumped against the steering wheel with blood on his face. 

“NO!” I screamed as I ran towards the truck.  All I could think about was how this was my fault.  I didn’t even question how I was doing it as I ripped the door off the truck and flung it across the street.  I snapped the seatbelt from around the man’s waist and pulled him from the drivers seat.  Throwing him over my shoulder I leapt onto the overpass just as flames engulfed the cabin.

“Uhm, I hope you took out the rental insurance.”  I think the joke was more to calm me than it was for him.  He was waking up, so I turned to leave.  “Sorry to rescue and run but I really hate answering questions.”  I leapt onto the nearest roof and continued to bounce until all feelings of guilt for what almost happened faded from my mind.  I probably should have been more worried that it didn’t take very long at all.

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