The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘wip’

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Posted by BigWords on January 31, 2010

I’m barely getting the chance to sit down for five minutes at a time before something (or someone) interrupts me, so if I’m conspicuous by absence anywhere it really isn’t my fault. If you remember my irritation at possibly having my brother come to stay, along with his family, then I’m pleased to say they have found somewhere. It’s smaller than they wanted, but it will suffice in the interim. I’m less pleased to say they have roped me in to the idiotic rush to do everything over the course of two weekends (which is why I’m not in the best mood), and this decision means that, alongside the Herculean efforts I’m making to be everywhere I’m meant to be, I also have more work when I ought to be relaxing.

At this point I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to untangle myself from all my commitments once March rolls around – a month in which, historically, I have been able to catch a breather. I’ve already missed a doctor’s appointment, left books on a train (three, count em’, three), lost my chance to attend Angoulême, fried a classic games console, and mislaid a handwritten manuscript. Things don’t appear to be settling down any, as there is no time set aside next week for myself either. Is this a rant? I don’t know any more, because my short-term memory is fucked. My vision is also being affected by the lack of sleep or rest, though double-vision can be kinda fun if it isn’t permanent. Don’t ask me to re-wire anything though.

Ach. I’m ahead of myself. Backtrack to the last paragraph… The doctor’s appointment was for the nasty evil nipple on my wrist. I’m still thinking that it is needing taken care of, but as I can’t drag myself off to take a shit in peace, I don’t know when I’ll have enough time to take a couple of hours away from the neverending madness. The books I left behind – The Herald Of Coming Good by Gurdjieff, Newton’s Wake by Ken MacLeod and The Chemistry Of Death by Simon Beckett – which I have been half-reading on my journeys, were forgotten as I tried valiantly to stay on schedule. I was offered the chance to travel to Angoulême by a friend who was travelling South for the festival, but with everything that is happening I’m in no position to escape for a few days to read BD, as much fun as it sounds.

The games console… Oh man, that deserves it’s own paragraph. I got a hold of a small stand-alone unit a couple of years ago – a battery-powered unit with screen, controls and a single game loaded onto the hard drive. They were popular back in the eighties, and I thought it might make an interesting addition to the collection of games I’ve been amassing. It had (or had) it’s own adapter for mains usage, but there was something wrong with the unit and I decided to check whether the problem came from the unit or the adapter, so I used a multi-purpose adapter with various power outputs. Of course, being deprived of sleep makes even simple jobs horrendously complex, and I forgot to check the output before switching it on. Cue faint smell of burnt plastic and metal.

The manuscript is less important than you may think, mostly because it is (was, dammit, was – I keep using the wrong tense) a parody of eighties horror, teen comedy and action films. There were references to everything from the Stallone and Arnholt brain-dead canon, Hughes teen comedies, Freddy (Jason, Myers, et al) right through to the Stephen King novels of the era. I think I made point of a few television shows as well, because I vaguely remember writing a monologue about The A-Team. I don’t consider parodies less worthy than ‘straight’ novels, and the reason I’m not cut up about the loss is simply because most of what I wrote wasn’t very good. It is also rather weird to consider an entire era worthy of parody, but if any decade deserves scrutiny for artistic and fashion crimes then the eighties is the decade I would turn to first.

I should mention Wednesday night here as well, because things started going wrong then. That is the night I spent four hours sitting, alone, in an empty apartment – no television or radio, no kettle (and thus no coffee), no seating of any sort… I was waiting on an electrician (or a plumber, or gas engineer, or someone else) to turn up while my brother sorted out other things. Needless to say the idiot never turned up, and I had to make my way home at an ungodly hour. The guy did show up eventually… After 8am the next day. I’m pretty sure that was around the point when my week went wrong. Having been unable to recover the time from such a pointless task has pushed everything else, concertina-like, into a time-frame which is impossible to deal with.

This is also where I’ll ask everyone to be patient. I know I’ve said I’ll do stuff (and I will), but there’s so little time that isn’t occupied by something else that I don’t know when I’ll be able to get around to doing anything. The epic lists – back when my spiralling OCD was out of control – are all still on compressed Win 98 disks. The dictionaries and media guides which I spent so long accumulating and indexing are going to be decompressed when I have the chance. I have the disk now (got one yesterday) but I have no way of knowing when I’ll have the chance to load the OS onto a spare laptop. There are so many things on the To Do list that it might be the middle of April before I’m in a position to think straight.

I mentioned the giant ice-trail down the side of my house, and the £210 it cost to get the drip repaired, but it seems that the idiot repairman sent to do the job was a bit hasty in getting me to fork out cash for the repair. It is back, and with a vengeance. There’s a growing puddle of water in the pot below the drip, and I’m getting a migraine just thinking about how much it will cost to get fixed a second time. The financial pressure on keeping this house from falling down around me is beginning to piss me off. If I had managed to get half-decent repairs done five years ago (when I spent upwards of £20k on the building) I wouldn’t be so annoyed, but it seems that all of the so-called experts in this country are taking liberties with their qualifications.

I’ll be busy, just in case anyone needs to get in touch. My mobile is on mute, the house ‘phone is unplugged and I’ve got half a mind to tape the letter box shut while I’m out. And don’t bother calling when I am home, because you’ll just get yelled at. Or water poured over you from an upstairs window.

[This post took five hours (on and off) to write. Don’t think I’m slacking off here.]

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NaNoWriMo Word Count Verification Blues

Posted by BigWords on November 25, 2009

If you head over to my NaNo user page you will notice that I have uploaded my novel for word verification already. There is a massive back story to such a simple act as uploading the novel, so I thought I’d treat you to a missive on how things which seem easy can turn out to be a massive nightmare of complications, alterations and attempts at tricking my web ‘n’ walk stick into letting me perform such a relatively straightforward action. I figure that this might come in useful for anyone else having difficulties uploading their material, so I’ll share my method of getting around the problem of constricted web activity.

This is not a rant, before you start up on me… This is merely me venting some frustration. There is a difference.

So… three o’clock in the morning, and I’m thinking that I really ought to make sure I remember to verify, because it would be a fucking disaster if I went through all this and neglected to actually put my novel through the NaNo word counter. Fine, I think, no time like the present to be getting the paperwork out of the way. The bit on the ‘My NaNoWriMo‘ page is easy to find, so there is one hurdle down. I stitch all of the pieces together in OpenOffice and save the completed material as an RTF file. I open the file up in Wordpad and copy the text into the box on the webpage and hit the button to send.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

And the fucking useless web stick dies on me. I hit the refresh button and wait once more. Same thing happens again. My heart is pounding in my chest, the li’l vein on my forehead pounding away, a thousand profanities pouring forth from my lips as I try to work out what the hell is going on. The stick, it turns out, is using too much bandwidth… Or something. It cuts out after about half the material is sent, meaning that I get a white page which has failed to load in Firefox. Fine, I try to get the information down to a manageable level.

This means going through the text and taking out every… single… blank… line. It takes forever, but I finish up, save the document, copy it into the wordbox and try again.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

And guess what? Same shit, same problem. The web stick doesn’t like me this morning, so I have to find a way to get the material down even further. This is where I get creative, and start using Find & Replace to squeeze every single word down. I change every use of “Talos” to “Tal”, “robot” becomes “bot” and “the” is squeezed to “t” in an effort to minimize size. I go through the text, quickly swapping out every word longer than five characters long for something smaller. It ain’t pretty, but at least it’s gonna go through to NaNoWriMo.

But it doesn’t. At this point I open the RTF and save it as a TXT, hoping to shrink the information by way of magic and belief in the digital gods. It’s right about this point that I’m wishing I had some grass in the house so I could chill myself out a little, the nerves and fear of failure pounding at my brain like a demented midget from hell. Again I try uploading the material, fingers crossed for the trickery to work on the damnable stick.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

The familiar white screen pops up on Firefox again. This is the point I really lost my cool, and the thoughts running through my head really, honestly don’t need o be spelled out here. I get myself in enough trouble without threatening the health and safety of whatever moron was in charge of coding the Bytemobile Optimization Client in the toolbar, which turns red at the slightest provocation. With little option, I switch off the web ‘n’ walk screen, run Crap Cleaner, defrag, clear my internet cache and bring the web n’ walk back up again.

By this time the text is all but unreadable anyway, so I figure I may as well add to my chance of success by pruning a few thousand words from the end of the document to get it even further down to a “reasonable” size. I save the file, copy its’ contents, close Notepad (which has taken over from Wordpad in my haste to shrink size) and paste it in the wordbox at NaNo.

Take a stab in the dark here. What do you think happened?

Damnable, fucking useless piece of outdated shit, pretending to be a bloody internet connector…The pile of cigarette stubs next to me has grown by a count of ten in the three hours I have been messing around with the document, and I still had more pruning to do before it accepted the text, but I did it. I got my winners page up on screen. I also have a rasping sore throat, a headache and a temper that would make even Old Nick himself think twice before fucking with me, but I managed to get everything working.

The wordcount (on NaNoWriMo) stands at 135,750.
The wordcount (unbutchered) stands at 196,942.

I haven’t hit my goal of 250,000, but – considering the obstacles the universe likes throwing in my direction – I’m lucky to have gotten this far.

There ya go. The best advert for getting broadband access you’ll ever read.

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A Brief Hiatus From Writing, Where I Delete Some Words And Add Others

Posted by BigWords on November 23, 2009

Rules are meant to be broken, so… I started editing. I know that NaNoWriMo lasts the entire month, but I wanted my copy, which extends a ways either side of what I have posted, to be a bit easier to manage. There are a few bits and pieces which were glaringly obvious as I tried to quickly beat it into shape, and I wanted to have something more malleable for the real editing work which is coming up. I also noted where strands tail off, pieces simply don’t fit and – the biggest irk – things that are referred to once and never mentioned again.

I’ll post revisions of the material later, mostly because watching the hundred minute differences between each draft is tedious and I don’t want to spoil surprises, but this update will point out some of the things which I have discovered abut the world I have created for NaNo.

Just Because It’s Cool, Doesn’t Mean It’ll Work

The beginning of the story has bugged me for the better part of a week. I like opening fast, but the random nature of the attack seems a bit too contrived, though I still haven’t worked out the best way to work myself into that scene. Three pages of dialogue didn’t work, a flash-forward to some place near the robot war later on felt too choppy, and I can’t even begin to explain how dull my attempt at injecting asymmetrical game theory into the opening managed to be.

Then I thought about how difficult it was to sell the notion of a homeless brat rising to the top of a major criminal organization in the space of a few years. Despite surrounding him with a bunch of characters who have ties to the Kings it still feels as if the shift is too quick and too unbelievable. I like the notion, but cutting out his story leaves me with a second headache that ties directly into an issue that presented itself later on. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

My political piece was an anti-robot, anti-cyborg manifesto presented by the Senator soon-to-be Vice President Leukman. His thread was basically to build up the DCU as an independent agency outside the normal channels of command. If they acted under specific orders then I would have had to manage hierarchy and their position in the wider policing status of the nameless city (which has gone through a couple of lame names), which would have handcuffed me at the penultimate big event.

Add to the fudging, there is also the issue of “the only sane man” going off the deep end into major insanity too quickly. Selling that plot point with a nanotech-gone-wrong monster just isn’t enough, though I’m not sure what else I could do to drive him insane whilst still being a viable candidate for such a large political role during his death scene. Which is tied in to the issues I was having with Charlie in the later sections.

Chronologically, the next piece of the puzzle which is really annoying me is the five / ten year jump between Charlie being crowned boss of bosses and the introduction of the de facto main character. There are examples of this having worked well, but there aren’t that many connections between the two stories. Talos can’t be moved into the position of the main character, because he really doesn’t do much for large tracts of the story.

The Message Is In The Messages… Honestly…

My attempt to position Charlie into the Kings crime syndicate was for one reason, and one reason alone. He absolutely had to be killed by Adway to bring Talos’ machinations into the open. Talos, as I had sketched out, was sending the detective the texts to get rid of Charlie, riffing off a mentor trope.

Talos deactivated his comm interface, satisfied that Adway would take the necessary steps to remove the increasing problem which Charlie had become.

Clumsy writing, I know…

The content of the messages always bothered me. I can’t have them come out and say that Charlie is behind the meme murders or it’ll look like a set-up, but too obscure and they look like McGuffins. I’m not sure if it can be fixed to any degree of clarity while remaining vague. A puzzler.

I’ve had a couple of comments about Adam’s part in the larger story, and I always intended him to blow himself up, much like the artificial in the blimp segment, but it never quite managed to sit right on the page, and always seems to come up as a sudden turn. I’ve tried a few ways to merge him into the story, first with conversations held between him and Talos via cyberspace, then with him escaping – none of the ideas seem to make his actions more cohesive…

Even when I’m editing in brief spurts – fixing tense, smoothing dialogue, easing in plot points, and slipping in the odd joke – there is the temptation to pull everything apart and do major reconstructive surgery to the novel. I’m trying to avoid heavy editing, but it is really, really difficult…

I’ll write without editing anything tomorrow, I swear. 😀

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NaNoWriMo: The Plan

Posted by BigWords on November 22, 2009

Pope Joan took the ID cards and spread them across the table in a fan shape. “Do you have any idea how long it has been since I saw so many of these. Mmm… Brings back old memories.” She lifted a card and sniffed it. “There are still traces of cocaine on this one. God, I miss the old days.”
“You told me that they contained information.”
“That they do. Now, young Charlie… You brought me cards with Charlie…” She paused, “I find that ironic. Anyways, the information on the cards is directly related to the importance of the individuals who were issued with them.” She picked a card from the table and inspected it. “The serial number that rests along the bottom of the plastic indicates the location of issue…
APC 05
“The person who issued the card…
158-392-602
“The status of the card holder…
D8
“And-” Joan broke off from her train of thought, noticing another card on the table. “Where did you get this one?” She held the card which belonged to the enforcer Talos had killed so many years earlier.
“It was from a friend. He killed a guy with a funky eye. I took the card.”
“You might be in luck. This would have been issued before the cards were keyed to specific locks. You can get into buildings which the Kings haven’t upgraded yet. Saying that, those delightful fools rarely spend money on physically protecting their belongings because they have enough rep to do what they want.”
“That’s good to know.” Charlie pondered.
“Do you know where the strongholds are located?”
“No, but I can find out.”
“Ah, the power of self-belief. Give me your hand.”
“I’ve told you often enough – We’re not going there.”
“Please, give me your hand.”
Charlie cautiously offered his hand. Joan produced a small tool from her purse and pressed it against Charlie’s hand.
“What is this supposed to do?”
Joan pressed a button on the device, eliciting a howl of pain from Charlie.
“Now you have an embedded chip in your hand you won’t show up on the Kings security systems.”
“Y’know, I’m getting really fed up of people setting me up for shit without advance warnings.”

####

Charlie banged on the door of the pawnbroker, eyeing the street for movement while he waited. The street was too dark to be completely sure, but it felt as if as if there were people moving around in the shadows.
“Yeah, whaddayawant.”
Charlie held the card up to the cam. “I need a word.”
The pawnbroker beeped the door open. “Come on in.”
Charlie swung the door open, the strong smell of old wood, freshly cleaned metal and blood hitting him as soon as he entered. “I’m here to talk about the last shipment.”
“It was sent out, just like all the rest.”
“Well it didn’t turn up, and you were named as the last person to see it. Care to comment before I am forced to do something I don’t want to do.”
The pawnbroker paled at the thought of his name being sent to the Kings’ enforcers. “I’ll take a look at my records. No need to act rashly here, ‘kay.”
As the old man disappeared to the back room Charlie took a look at the display of items stolen from across the city. Some of the objects still retained the blood of their previous owners, and it was surprising how much of the worthless junk had been priced at high prices.
“I have the paperwork here. It was sent to the lock-up on the fourth roadway at the side-entrance to DigiMax. Frankie the Nail took it up a couple of days ago.”
“Let me have all the paperwork you have. The bosses are taking inventory, and anything out-of-place will be accounted for.”
The pawnbroker handed over the file in his hand. “You want everything?”
“Every last piece of paper. Every digital file. Everything.”

Outside, Charlie held the box of information close. He stifled the urge to grin like a fool, moving hastily to his hov. Things were improving at a rate of knots, and soon he would be ready to show the Kings how business could be done.

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NaNoWriMo: Evacuation

Posted by BigWords on November 22, 2009

The robots swarmed the DCU building with unstoppable force, swiping aside the DCU agents as if they weren’t even there. Five thousand artificials with a single objective – clear the agency of all occupants. As the robots flooded the lower levels with increasing numbers, The General watched events from his office. Flashes of gunfire flared on some of the monitors, others were obscured by streaks of blood, and more were failing every minute the situation continued. Even a best case scenario would result in the loss of unacceptable casualties, the kind which brings congressional hearings down on government agencies.
“This is The General to all staff. Evacuate to the Black River Complex immediately. I repeat… Evacuate the building immediately.” The words didn’t come any easier with the knowledge that the action was the right choice to take under the circumstances. “Computer… Activate security ptotocol Alpha Black Five.” A three dimensional map appeared on his screen, displaying the immense hollow at the centre of the building.
A password box appeared in the middle of the screen, flashing spaces for the twelve digits required to complete the activation sequence. He paused a moment before commiting to the procedure, the knowledge that it could not be revoked weighing heavily upon him, but with time in short demand he forced himself to input the alphanumeric code. The screen turned red as the protocol was activated.
‘Thermo-nuclear detonation in one hour,’ appeared overlaid on the previous screen, all commands from the console finally and irrevocably locked out.
Closing down the lid of his command console, The General grabbed his comm and headed out for the upper hov deck. A siren blared through the halls, indicating that the self-destruct had been initiated. Over the alarm, the sound of twisting metal carried up the floors of the building, but he pushed on, determined to resolve the occupancy of his department by aggressive forces by any means at his disposal. The infected, whose occupancy of the basement could never be revealed, would hopefully be obliterated in the blast. No trace of the horrible secret could leave the DCU, no matter what else occurred.

####

Connell sighed as the DCU building came into view. “Say little guy, would ya mind if I had a moment tuh sit-down. All a’ this walking is making me feel like I’m gonna be sick.”
“You are ill?”
“I’m an overweight drunk.” Connell admitted, “I’m not made for all a’ this walking.”
“We will remain here for three minutes and thirty seconds, during which time you can recharge.”
“I ain’t promising anything, but I’ll take what I can get,” Connell said as he flopped to the ground.
From his vantage point, Connell could see the a fleet of hovs departing from near the top of the building at some considerable speed.
“There must be a sale on donuts somewhere.”

####

I didn’t post yesterday as I was out all day. And I didn’t – technically – write anything either. A dozen words typed into my phone don’t really count…

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NaNoWriMo: Slow Gray Nano Death

Posted by BigWords on November 20, 2009

Leukman checked the 3D map of the DCU building against the blueprints in front of him three times before reaching for his comm. There were too many rooms in the digital layout of the complex, more than had ever been disclosed to the oversight committee in the meetings which had presaged the construction of the building. One sub-level more than stated, an extra hov bay, three extensions that connected to the upper roadways, some modifications to the roof, and a sealed compartment which extended through five floors in the core of the building. It didn’t make sense for so many differences to have been made on the fly, meaning that oversight had been presented with false information. For the DCU to risk federal charges was amazing.
“Zoom in. Expand map. Show sub-level five.”
The computer reacted instantly to the first two orders, stalling on the third.
“Computer, show me the schematics of sub-level five.”
The screen flashed an error message as the map spun slowly.
Tapping one finger on the desk, he decided that a visual inspection of the level would be more efficient than leaving such details to a belligerent computer designed by the DCU. There would be time enough for answers later, but he needed to see what was so important that the design was presented fraudulently to oversight.
Pressing his comm, Leukman requested his aide. “Dray, come in to my office.”

####

The elevator slowed as it reached the first floor, then accelerated as it continued below ground level. Deep under the complex, the elevator slowed once more as it came to rest on sub-level five. Bright red lights flared in the elevator as the doors opened, two guards stepping out to block access to the corridor, weapons raised at the occupants of the elevator.
“I am the official head of the DCU. Step aside.”
The guards remained stationary in their defense positions.
“The Senator can come through if he really wants to see what is happening. Do you, Senator?”
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t concerned about the activities of this organization. Let me through.”
“Very well.” The guards stepped aside, their weapons lowered.
“I am Lt. White, and this… This is The Hold.”
“The Hold?” Leukman parrotted, “As in a jail?”
“The occupants of this facility are considered an extreme danger to the city. We can’t allow you access to the cells, but you can feel free to look around the open parts of the facility.”
“What crimes have they committed?
“Information on subjects held here are classified.”
“When did they receive a hearing?”
“Information on subjects held here are classified.” White repeated.
“Can you tell me anything about the people you are… Storing.”
White struggled with the questions, “I can’t answer you, sir, as much as I want to.”
“Can you at least tell me if the people held here are being taken care of adequately?”
“The people contained within this facility are given the utmost care.”
“No waterboarding?”
“Absolutely not, sir.”
“And I’m meant to take your word for that?”
“Sir, I…”
“I want to see the prisoners.”
“They aren’t exactly prisoners.”
“Then what are they? Guests?”

Dray peered into the window of the nearest cell. “I don’t see anyone, sir.” Dray turned to White, “Don’t you have lighting in there?” He strained against the gloom. “Is this your idea of utmost care?”
“Open the door,” Leukman demanded. “Now.”
White frowned. “Sir, you don’t understand-”
“No. You don’t seem to understand. I said open the door. Now.”
The guards stepped forward, aiming their weapons at the door as White keyed in the code to release the clamps holding the door sealed. “This is highly unwise, sir.”
“I will decide what is wise and what is unwise.”
The door hissed as the locks released. Dray stepped forward, “I still don’t see-”
Someone shifted at the back of the cell, then appeared almost instantly at the door, a mess of gray. The blob which once was once a man twisted and reformed as the guards opened fire on it, mostly to little effect. The former man still advancing, Dray and Leukman retreated backwards, too shocked to think clearly.
“What the fuck is that?” Leukman babbled, “What is it? What is it?” He grabbed Dray and pushed the aide in front of him. “Get rid of that thing. Get it out of my sight.”

####

“Those cells,” White explained, “Are test subjects whose reaction to nanomeds were… Less than successful. There are over two thousand people being detained in sub-level five to protect people from the infection. We don’t know how to stop the replication of the nanobots in their system, and as you saw…”
“Yes, yes… I saw. I know now. You people… You play god, and when your creations turn on you, you lock them up even though they have done nothing wrong.” Leukman spoke calmly and evenly thanks to several stiff drinks in his system. “I knew this place was a danger. I saw it when I looked over the plans earlier today. I saw it in your handling of the disastrous assignment earlier this week. There will be reforms. I guarantee that you will see massive changes around here.”

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NaNoWriMo: Tragedy

Posted by BigWords on November 19, 2009

“Did you enjoy yourself?”
Charlie thought about the question. “Yeah. I liked the shiny.”
“That’s all you ever think about. Money, money, money…”
“I think about you as well.”
Lara took his hand. “Riiight, and I suppose that you didn’t even give that blonde in the short black skirt a second look.”
“Which blonde?” Charlie played along.
“Yeah, like I really believe you,” She joked back.
Across the road three men slipped into the alley, out of sight. Charlie pulled Lara closer to him, quickening his pace. “Believe this. The street is about to get very dangerous.”
At the end of the street an enforcer quietly watched, moving away only when Charlie made eye contact with him. More people rushed from the sidewalk to the relative safety of the buildings on the ground level roadway, looking up to the sky and at the ends of the street. A lurching feeling deep in his stomach gripped Charlie, wishing all the time that his knowledge of the street gangs was better.
A black hov appeared from where the enforcer disappeared, flaring burnished orange neon lighting from under the vehicle, lighting its’ path. The three men reappeared from their hiding place across the street, wielding rifles and carrying grenades.
Charlie stopped in his tracks, pulled Lara close to him and moved to the doorway of a bar. The door was locked, leaving him no options. He shielded her from the street with his body, holding her as tightly as he could.
“Keep your head low.”

A flash of light from the street heralded the exchange of gunfire. An EMP grenade slid near the hov, bounced, exploding near the row of parked hov’s, oldtime wheels, and Charlie. Pieces of plastiglass and metal flew from the vehicles, showering the sidewalk. The hov slowed enough so that Charlie could see clearly the passengers. He could see the windows slide open, and see the firearms emerge from within. The men on the opposite side of the road were attacking the hov with every weapon at their disposal, and Charlie knew that there were always civilian casualties when turf wars spilled out on to the streets.
The Hov sped off as an explosion brought down a wall onto the men who were firing at them, Their enemies dead, the hov rose two feet in the air and sped off as fast as it could, leaving the scene of the battle without a second glance at Charlie.
An astonished tone in his voice, he asked Lara if she was all right. Her arms limp around him, he lifted her chin to see into her eyes, already knowing, even before her head was tilted back so that he could see, that she was dead. His heart pounded.
“Lara, we have to get out of here.”
She didn’t respond.
“Lara?”
Cradling her, blood seeped through his fingers. She made a whimpering sound, then the world was so much lonelier than before. Lara was dead.

Charlie stood in the rain of dust and debris, holding her.
“I swear. The people who did this will die by my hands.”

####

Connell looked out at the street. Three weeks on the job, he thought, and they stick me in the middle of this shit. The crowd of news reporters at the ends of the street, with their hov cams above the throng for the clearest pictures, made him sick to his stomach. Vultures, he silently cursed them, you’re a bunch of fucking vultures, preying on the dead.
The scene had been left more or less intact, and even though he knew – evidence or not – that the devastation was due to the Kings asserting their dominance of the streets, there was little that would bring out more experienced officers to the scene. Connell, third lowest placed in the police academy’s year, was the best that victims of the massacre could hope for to investigate their deaths.
“What’s a second-rate cop like you doing at a major crime scene like this?” The voice belonged to a woman Connell recognized from the last investigation into the Kings.
“Move along before I arrest you for loitering at the scene of a crime.”
“You can’t arrest me for being here.”
“No, but I can’t arrest you, but I can shoot you.”
“I’m not carrying a weapon.”
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Would you mind showing me your ID card, ma’am.”
“And when I put my hand into my coat you’ll shoot me. Your statement will claim that you thought I was going for a weapon and you’ll be exonerated.”
“You’re a lot smarter than your jacket would have a person believe.”
“And you’re a lot dumber than a cop ought to be.”

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NaNoWriMo: Wrong Way

Posted by BigWords on November 18, 2009

Connell had only stopped for a moment when he saw the robot, a funny looking little thing he instantly recognized as an iServant, walking towards him on the other side of the road. It was not a particularly popular model, but the body casing was unmistakable. “Fuck. I’m gonna be killed by a glorified toy.” His heart pounded in his chest, his legs felt as if they had been subjected to a marathon, and there was nowhere to run. All the time he softly mouthed the words he wished wouldn’t be his last… “Pleasedon’tseeme, pleasedon’tseeme, pleasedon’tseeme…”
The iServant halted suddenly from what had been a rather determined stride, and stood staring at Connell for what seemed like an eternity. He could feel large beads of sweat making their way down the contours of his face, but resisted wiping away his visible fear in case the robot misconstrued the act as a move of aggression.
The robot advanced, slower than it had previously been moving, but now in a direct path towards the overweight police officer. Wishing he had his comm, wishing he had his firearm, and wishing for a quick and painless death, Connell prepared for the worst.
“You are travelling in the wrong direction.”
Connell didn’t know how to respond. “I’m… Uh… I am?”
“Yes. The DCU building is in the opposite direction. Please accompany me.”
Connell felt his heart skip at least two beats as the implication of the robot’s demand began to sink in. As the iServant began moving on, Connell followed. He tried his best to ignore the strange sensation of knowing that he was walking to his ultimate end, being led by a ridiculous little white piece of plastic. God, he thought to himself, is a fucking sadist.

####

Adway looked around the precinct for any signs of life, but found none. A hastily scrawled note on the captain’s desk was the only addition to the familiar clutter, saying – in a simple script- ‘sorry.’ The significance of the note was not apparent at first, but as Adway searched further he saw the body of his commanding officer lying on the floor, a dime-sized hole in his forehead.
“You dumb sonuvabitch.”
He immediately made for the armory, bypassing the body of the captain. With the building deserted it took mere moments to get to the secured door, but it was clear that the keypad was inoperative.

####

The comedy moments are spreading throughout the entire work, and characters who were supposed to lead to darker moments have transformed into ones there for moments of humor. Not that mocking the destruction of a city is a bad thing. If you look back to any international incidents there will be brief spikes in the number of jokes being told (and sales of bubblegum, for some reason), so I’m on safe ground with that aspect at least.

Just in case anyone wa wondering… Connell was originally going to have died by this point in the story, so his continued survival is something of a surprise for me as well.

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NaNoWriMo: Escalation

Posted by BigWords on November 18, 2009

“So… You talked with Pope Joan?” Cyia asked.
“Yeah. Thanks for the advance warning.”
“Did she make you kiss her ring?”
Charlie scowled at the joke. “Fuck you. It ain’t funny, I should have been prepared.”
“Consider it a free lesson. You can’t always know everything.”
“I would have appreciated a little more background before I went in.”
“Ah… But did you learn what you needed to learn?”
“I learned enough. For now, anyways.”
“Then we are good. Are you going to act on the knowledge she imparted?”
“Right away. There’s no time like the present to introduce myself to Wilson.”

####

Wilson’s face was ashen, his hands shaking. “Is the money retrievable?”
“No. The hov was trashed, the money taken… Hell, whoever did it even had the stone-cold balls to take Darzian’s head. His fucking head. Can you believe that shit?” The enforcer on the other end of the comm shook his head.
“Has anyone else been attacked?”
“No. we’re stepping up on the business district, but there isn’t anyone working that stretch organized enough to even think about tangling with us.”
“We need to make a show of force. Something extravagant.”
The door slid open to allow Wilson’s robot entrance. “Sir, you have a guest.”
“Who is it?”
“The gentleman did not identify himself, but he requests an audience with you immediately.”
Wilson thought for a moment. “Show him in.” He turned to the comm signal being displayed on the wall. “It’s probably about the attack. I will talk with you tomorrow.” He flicked at a button on the side of the screen, killing the feed, then moved to the doorway to greet his visitor.

Charlie entered the room, carrying a bag at his side, “Hello Mr. Wilson.”
“I don’t believe I have had the pleasure of an introduction. Mr…”
“You can call me Dennis, just like the comic strip. You read Dennis?”
“I don’t believe I ever have.”
“Well, y’see… In the strip he is always messing up Mr. Wilson’s plans.”
“I assume there is a point to all this. I’m rather preoccupied at the moment.”
“There is a point,” Charlie placed the bag on the table in the middle of the room. “Mr. Wilson has all of these grand ideas, kind of like yourself, and yet no matter what he does he can’t get away from the shadow of Dennis. It really is a wonderful metaphor for the situation you are in right now.”
“You’re threatening me? Do you know who I am? Have you any idea what I can have done to you.”
Charlie unzipped the bag, “I’m sure you want your belongings back.”
“You… You attacked us?” Wilson approached Charlie.
“It wasn’t an attack on you. This is an attack on you.” Charlie lifted Darzian’s head from the bag. “Alas poor scumbag, you probably knew him well.” Charlie threw the head at Wilson, who was busy rapidly retreating across the room from the head.
“You can’t do this. You can’t do this. NOT TO ME. I’M IMPORTANT.”

####

This, you might have guessed, is what I chopped off the end of the previous post. Too many gags in such a compressed portion of the story made me think that it was too goofy compared to the rest of the material, but having re-read it a few times (and passing it around to a couple of people) I have decided to put it up anyway. The tone of the story shifts quite a way as it goes on anyway, so adding new elements where there is room shouldn’t be too drastic… And this is a first draft anyways.

The ring joke made me laugh out loud as I typed it, but I’m wondering if it is a bit too far. Whatever. It’s undercut by a streak of SF, so that should let me off the hook.

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NaNoWriMo: Ascension

Posted by BigWords on November 17, 2009

Charlie kneeled on the second level roadway watching the road below, aware of the time. Joan had said that the Kings were punctual, but the level of care they took was beyond anything he had expected. The long hov appeared at exactly midnight, just as it had the night before, and the night before that… Charlie recognized it immediately as the one from the drive-by shooting, deciding that he needed to do something to honor Lara.

“They have schedules to keep. You have no idea how much pressure they are under, darling. Back in the old days it was about surviving, but these days it’s closer to being a car salesman. The hired help have to take in a certain amount of money before they start earning anything. You would be very surprised at how little the street-level members actually make. Barely enough for nice clothes and good company.” Joan took another sip of her drink as she reached for her comm.
“The money flow isn’t what I’m interested in. I need to know about hierarchy.”
“The money flow is the hierarchy dear boy, and the sooner you understand how the Kings operate, the sooner you can find your way in.”
“I don’t want to join them, I want to rule them.”
“Ambitious, handsome and-” Joan eyes fell to Charlie’s crotch, “quite possibly very well hung.”
“Not that you’ll find out.”

Charlie hefted the block of concrete onto the guard rail with all his strength, timing his moment as well as he could. There was an elastic second when the block refused to move, but it slid from his hands quickly enough, and as it tumbled through the air Charlie exhaled. His aim and timing were perfect, hitting the front of the hov directly above its’ power cell, smashing the vehicle into the road. It tilted forwards, scraping the road beneath and showering the air with sparks as it hurtled onwards. A split second later the hov was tumbling roof over air-buffers, shedding pieces of metal, carbon fibre and plastic in a trail of debris. Charlie rushed to the stairway leading down to the roadway below, hoping that he would be able to get what he needed.

“So tell me about the enforcers. The ones I have met never lived long enough to learn anything from. They answer to the person in control of the city, right?”
“The enforcers answer to their commanders. One level up, and none of them worth the air they breathe. They take their cut of the money and pass the rest up the food chain. Now, here is where I should politely ask you to leave, but I feel like living dangerously today. A very attractive, metropolitan and distinguished gentleman named Wilson runs the east end of town with a rod of steel.” She sighed at her poetic description of his management style. “He is, sadly, too squeamish for anything more interesting than paperwork, but he has… Had some uses. He’s been entirely humorless recently, but he’s the go-to man if you want to do anything in that part of town.”

Staring at the trashed hov, Charlie saw the driver’s body through the smoke. Carefully avoiding the flames, Charlie dragged the corpse from its’ seated position onto the road. He tried to ignore the smell of burning flesh from the goons in the back seat as he cut away at the clothing of the driver, looking for the ID card and comm which would supply him the vital access to Wilson that he sought. Noticing the small bag of paper money in the footwell of the hov, he paused and made a grab for the bonus prize as well.

“Who does Wilson answer to?”
Joan thought for a moment. “There are many, many threads in the fabric of a crime empire, and not all of them are entirely vertical pathways. You have to remember that those who reside outside the borders of the city will very rarely make themselves known. They have, from what I gather, nothing to fear in the way of legal problems, though their underlings are less reliable.”
“The police always look the other way?”
“They look-” Joan flashed a leg, “Where their eyes lead them.”

As sirens flared in the distance Charlie had what he needed. The police would arrive shortly and believe that the scene of the crime was no more than a horrific act of vandalism. Then he spotted the severed head of a goon lying on the road. Smiling, he lifted up the head.

“When you speak to Wilson, as I’m sure you will, he should lead to you to the men you really want to talk to.” Joan paused. “I never spoke with you. You were never here.”
“I never spoke with you. I was never here. I never saw your freaky-ass parading around in suspenders.”

####

Two time-frames. Not sure if this works or not, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I actually have a bit more, but I think ending the scene there has more of an impact than side-tracking off into a different topic.

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