So I’ve got my manuscript with one agent and my first 50 pages with another. Besides that I have queries pending with five others. I’ve done the responsible thing and started the outline for book 2 in my planned dystopian trilogy. I’ll have a more definitive answer the next time someone asks me how long it will take to crank out book number two. In the mean time I decided to give myself a break and play a little game with my writer friends.
I’m not sure what the term is for this but we started with one paragraph previously written as a writing prompt and flipped a coin to see who would continue the story first. The person whose turn it was with the story had 3 days to complete their section. We hadn’t yet determined the exact length of sections, but we did decide that the writer would owe a drink to the other two participants if they didn’t finish on time. I won the coin toss and was given the first opportunity to continue the story. I typically use every excuse in the book not to sit down and write but having a deadline helped me focus. I finished my section with a few hours of receiving the first paragraph and by the end of the night the others had each finished a section as well! Before I knew it the writing was back around to me again.
This exercise has turned out to be the highlight of my day for three entire days. I am delighted every time I open my email and see that the story has gotten a little longer! The first round was not more that a few hundred words each so the story still isn’t very long yet but I’m excited about the SciFi direction it’s heading in. I’ve decided to post a little of it here in hopes that others will enjoy it as well.
Untitled SciFi Adventure by Curt Shannon, Logan Grey and Mary Beecroft
Jessie stood by the open window, bathing in the morning sunlight. Once again I marveled at how settled she appeared, despite all she had been through. She had decided to keep her head shaved after the accident – the scar that ran across her skull from ear to ear still pulsed bright red.
She tapped her long fingers on the window sill, then turned to me, frowning.
“When will they let me out of this place?”
“That depends on you,” I said. “It’s common with a brain injury to lose some short term memory. What do you remember from before?”
She turned to look at me. Her cold blue eyes held me with an intensity that only came with years of training. She had seen horrible things and didn’t want to remember them, that much was certain.
“I don’t trust you. You’re not here to help me. You only want information.”
“And what do you want?” I had been trained in interrogation tactics and knew that I had to find some connection with this woman. It was a difficult task becase there was so little known about her. For instance she had several identities and I wasn’t even sure of her planet of origin.
“Do you have a cigarette?”
I reached into my suit jacket and pulled out a pack of camels that were partly crushed. I managed to find at least one that wasn’t ruined completely and handed it to her along with a lighter from my pants pocket.
Jessie, if that was her real name, didn’t light the cigarette but tore off the paper instead and poured the tobacco into her mouth as if it were a powdered pixie stick. This action left no doubt in my mind–she was from Mars. I found it interesting that she chose to reveal herself in this way. “I take it you haven’t been on Earth for long?”
“Only for about six months I think. But it’s hard to say for sure.”
“It must have been a terrifying experience, the crash I mean.”
She smiled with one side of her face and showed me a bit of teeth dotted with brown tobacco flakes. “What happened before the crash was much worse.”
I looked away, feigning interest in the soldiers filing past the window. Although it would be a stretch to say I’d grown fond of Jessie, I’d found myself admiring her fortitude. But a Martian — she was a goddamn Martian. Her memory might not have been all there, but apparently she hadn’t forgotten their disgusting habits. I breathed out and turned to her with a much practiced look of concern. Not only was I her psychiatrist, I was her interrogator. I had no choice but to play nice.
“Please start from the beginning. Do you remember why you came to Earth?”
She took her time running her tongue across the front of her teeth. “I’m not a spy,” she said at last.
“I didn’t say you were.”
“I’m also not an idiot.” Her smile was even colder than her eyes. “A face,” she said, shifting her gaze out the window again. “It’s the only thing I clearly remember.”
“Someone you knew?”
She shook her head and brought her arms in tight over her chest. “Not even human.”
“Like in those pictures you’ve been drawing?”
She stepped back, out of the sunlight and into the corner. She ran a hand over her scar. “You people have no end to your questions. All these fucking questions. But no one’s really listening. Why won’t you listen?” I didn’t like the sound of her voice — nervous, desperate. This wasn’t like her.
“I’m listening, Jessie.” I moved toward her and set a hand on her shoulder. “You know you can tell me anything.”
“That face, I didn’t escape it.” She grabbed my hand with a strength that startled me. Her eyes flickered to mine. Up close they seemed more than cold, distant. They were terrified. “It followed me here.”
I opened my mouth but was interrupted by the shrill cry of the facility’s alarm.
Jessie’s eyes darted to the door. I knew I had to stay calm no matter what.
“It might be a false alarm, like the other times.”
Jessie shook her head and said, “No, it’s different this time.” Now her voice was calm again. Had she known this was going to happen, some kind of precognition? There was so little I had found out about her since she had arrived.
She tried to slide off the examining table and stand, but instead collapsed in a heap on the floor. Without gravity adjusters, she couldn’t hold up her weight and certainly couldn’t walk. She tried again to stand, but failed. She cried out, a mixture of pain, frustration, and fear that sounds the same in every species.
I could hear people yelling and running outside, among them Professor Klingor. “Michael, open the door. We have to get her out of here.” But Jessie looked up to me and motioned silence, while Klingor banged on the door incessantly.
Somehow I knew Jessica was telling the truth. I walked to the metal cabinet at the back of the room and stared into the retina scan lock, waiting anxiously for the recognition protocol to kick in. It finally did and the cabinet door swung open. With shaking hands I found the grav braclets and tossed them to Jessie. She couldn’t raise her arms fast enough to catch them and they clattered on the floor behind her. She turned and shambled over to them.
I took out the disruptor and set it to max strength.
At that moment, the alarm abruptly stopped. There was only silence beyond the door. I turned and waited. Was it my imagination or was something happening to the door? The frame groaned as hinges unbuckled and the blue-gray metal of the door seemed to begin collapsing into itself. And beyond the door, I caught a glimpse…
Jessie was right. It was different this time.
I was about to fire the disruptor when I heard a cry and the sound of shattered plexiglass behind me. I turned to see Jessica standing at the now-open window, her hand bleeding, the jagged edges of the double-paned plexiglass security window still falling around her. She kicked at a low-hanging shard of glass and it fell, shattering on the floor.
“How did you…?”
“No time to talk. Time to run.” She stepped onto the ledge and adjusted the gravbracelets and floated just outside the window. Without thinking I raced to the window and leapt into her arms.
Please visit Mary Beecroft’s blog for travel adventures and reviews: marybeecroft.wordpress.com.
To find out if Curt Shannon dreams of Electric Sheep please stay tuned.