Monday, January 15, 2018

Some Changes 'Round Here

With all the resolutions and goal orientation that comes with January, it should be no big surprise that I will be making some changes 'round the good ol' blog for the next few weeks.

The first of these changes, which you may have already noticed, is more regular posts. Currently, my schedule is every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But it is not only the regularity that's changing, it is also the content. I'm hoping to bring you guys book reviews, more new fiction, writing tips, and continuing tales of adventure, anxiety, and goals.

Additionally, I'll be making adjustments to links, pages, and other additional content, hoping to make the blog easier to navigate, especially for long fiction series.

Finally, I'm hoping to spice things up visually with more pictures and maybe some design changes overall.

Although 2018 is still and young and I'm unsure of so much, I'm very excited for everything I'm planning for this blog and so many projects.


Friday, January 12, 2018

First Draft Friday: Consumption Divine Chapter 8 and 9

First Draft Friday is a more or less regular series where I share my parts of my first draft, usually whatever I am working on at the time. General writing advice tells us to keep our first drafts for ourselves, they are always horrible. I want to share my first draft and so I do. Maybe it can inspire other writers who think their drafts are too horrible to ever see the light of day but mostly I think it keeps me writing.

 Consumption Divine is the story I've been writing since the very beginning. Before that I was thinking about it. More than 25 years. I've written so many first draft versions, it's ridiculous. Currently, there are over 100,000 words written in this project. None of it is cohesive, complete, or very much usable. A lot of it is repetitive. I've given up on it many times but I literally feel haunted by it. I can't stop trying to write it but I also can't seem to write it right. I'm trying again. I'm trying for the last time. If I can't write it now, I have to give up. I can't keep writing something if it is impossible. So, this is the last first draft of Consumption Divine.

Read past posts: Chapter One. Chapter Two. Chapter Three. Chapter Four. Chapter Five. Chapter Six. Chapter Seven.


Consumption Divine
first draft, incomplete,  1,695 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Chapter Eight

“Any motion on PointFront?”

They met in the back corner of a chain restaurant (or some place) during lunch. West was in civvies and it was probably the first time she’d seen him jeans.

“Can’t hack it in an office?”

She sipped her water and glared at West.

“It’s been a week, there’s no movement yet. But that’s to be expected.” He drank from his own glass. “How are things at the office?”

She sighed and leaned against the wall of the booth. “Mind-numbing and tedious. Did Simmons tell you it was data scrubbing? I take paper files and cross-check them with the digital files and then shred them. The thing is, these files are so old, no one needs them now anyway. Digital or analog it doesn’t matter, it is all just a backlog of a digital upgrade started half a century ago. It’s literally eight hours practice in absolute futility. So, you can thank him for me for this inane fucking job.”

West smiled and chuckled. “Are you making friends?”

Their waitress brought their food, burgers and fries for him, a steak and mushrooms for her. She wasn’t hungry though.

“It’s impossible. I know nothing about anything. I haven’t listened to popular music or watched the latest movie in . . . I don’t know how long. I cannot relate to these people.”

“Ok, how’s this?,” He spoke between bites and slurps of water. “Take the weekend to stream something trending, just any random show as long as it’s in the trending or popular category. And maybe go to a movie theater and a bar you’ve never been to. Then on Monday you can talk about something, at the very least you can talk about what you did on the weekend, but more than likely something is bound to click with your co-workers.”

“That’s a very sensible suggestion, West,” She didn’t want logic either. “But it makes me itchy.”

“Itchy?”

She should have said something else. “It’s like impatience combined with claustrophobia. I feel trapped. I don’t like feeling trapped.”

“Just stay busy. Stay busy at work, stay busy in your off time and be as visible as possible. The more visible you are the faster you’ll come to his attention and the sooner you can be done with this cover. For now stay busy.”

He was eaten quickly, like he was rushing through the meal, rushing through the conversation. “I’m sure it won’t always be hand holding the whole time, it’s just been awhile since I’ve had to be like this, I guess. Make people like me. Try to be normal.”

“It’s no problem. Chrys, I’m here to support you in whatever the mission needs. It would be difficult for anyone to adjust to a new job especially in a new field. And it’s only been a week. See if you can’t get invited out, even if you have to invite yourself. Or you know, suggest you all get a drink together. Just ignore the itch.”

She sighed again. She couldn’t explain the kind of restraint it took to ignore this kind of itch or that she wasn’t particularly good at ignoring the itch. When she was hunting WIll, there was no itch, only the hunt. It took all her focus, all her energy. She was isolated, she was in charge, sort of. But now there was waiting, now there as patience, now there was boredom.

“Sure, busy bee, that's me,” she said.

Back at the office, she shredded triplicate forms and feed them to the incinerator while imagining Lt. Colonel Daryl Simmon’s screaming face and pleas for mercy.

Chapter Nine

Chris stayed busy. She updated more files and shredded more paper than any scrubber they’d had in years. She imagined new faces to destroy: Will, Crannach, Petran, the creepy guy at the laundromat, the talkative clerk at the grocery, Layn who couldn’t let one thing be said without making a joke.
She was learning to knit and going to Teri’s knitting group. She started a tea and book club for her, Whit, Emily, and Jesmyn. She’d been to a dozen happy hours, binge watched 10 of the latest television shows, and had seen 2 new movies a week in theaters. She’d met every one of her neighbors on the floor of her apartment building and had been to one community meeting/ block party. She even had social media accounts now. She was so busy, she had no more sleepless nights and fewer bad dreams. Still horrific nightmares but less of them. But she was stretched thin. Ready to crawl out of her skin. Working to be on everyone’s good side was not unlike her life with William. Paraded around on his arm, saying the right things to the right political allies and avoiding saying the wrong things to the adversaries. Being seen in the right places with the right people, keenly aware of the machinations around their position. The politics of the office and the rebellion were not that different from each other and were both equally intolerable. The thought of another week made her want to run, much less another six months or more.

In six months of working her new cover, immersing herself in the human experience, West and the taskforce only had possible action from Will. Suspected movement on a possible variation of one of his old aliases and a 65% facial recognition match out of Russia. Apparently he, Crannach, and Petran were very optimistic about this minute development. She and Lt. Col. Simmons were not and the very fact of their agreement added to her bad mood.

“I expected something more sure. Not much, something small, but definite. This. . . this might as well be fucking nothing,” she told him at their weekly lunch.

“Chrys, this is more movement out of Lapointe himself than we’ve seen in years. Despite the danger, your idea is working. You’re getting your freedom and bringing William to surface. This is a good thing.”

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful,” She stopped short of saying everything she wanted. But I’m impatient and I don’t want to be stuck in this trap of comparing my life to torture. Of course it’s better, even prison without the torture would be better but this is making me feel just as dead inside because I’m not enjoying it. How long do I have to wait to earn some peace?

“You’re doing great, much better than I would stuck behind a desk.”
She had a hard time imagining that because being behind a desk made her want to murder someone but would probably only make West have an extra beer on a Friday night. She didn’t argue.

“At least it’s Friday,” she said in an attempt to sound encouraged or more optimistic than she felt. She’d found that pointing out something positive would move a conversation along from whatever she didn’t want to talk about without raising alarm and was especially appreciated if it the topic was especially difficult for everyone else too.

That afternoon she did no work. She watched the cubicle gangs activity through her tinted windows. Normally she would have her door open and her coworkers would pass by for a joke or quick question or she would shout comments or jokes of her own out of her door at one of them, faking laughter and joviality, especially on a Friday afternoon. But today she was brainstorming, how could she accelerate William’s movements?

She couldn’t track him directly. The alias he was using was one he hadn’t used with her before, if it was indeed him. Plus she hadn’t spent much time in Russia during her previous life because she hated the cold and utilitarian feel of the country. So she could add no advantage from that angle.

Her only benefit to the task force now was as bait. So how could she make herself more attractive to the man who utterly despised her and wanted nothing more to end her life?

Not just your life.

No, he didn’t want to just kill her. He only knew about her. If he knew about Jack, he’d be after both of them.

There was flutter in her chest. Was she really considering this?

She activated her tablet and used her database access to search for (whatever rank) Jack McNaughton. He was not with one of the special forces squads so she had clearance enough to access his file. He was mechdrone operator with a unit assigned to Syria. She knew which building he worked in, his work schedule, his phone numbers, and his home address. She knew his birthdate and where he got his degree, his whole life was laid out before her.

When she opened his identity photo she saw only his face from her dream. The shock and pain. If she did this thing she was thinking of, that’s how he’d end up.

But maybe not.

She’d had plenty of dreams. Dreams that were never going to come true. Dreams that hadn’t come true. No matter how much Will and (what’s her face psychic) insisted she dreamt of the past and the future not a single thing had come true or had actually happened.

Plus, if it worked, if she could trap William and present him to the Council, they will ensure he could hurt no one. No prison sentence for him this time, no chance to escape. A quiet execution and the threat would finally, finally be over.

She looked at the photo of Jack in his army greens, the flag in the background. Not only could she protect him, but the shadowtrack team observing her could protect them both.

As awful as it sounded, it was tactically sound. Two lures were better than one. And if William was on his way to the area anyway, he could find out about Jack on his own. Jack would be safer associated with her than than coming to his attention unprotected. She could keep Jack safe, stay out of the Council’s prison, and end Will’s reign of terror over her life all in one fell swoop.

She needed to meet Jack McNaughton again and this time not run away.



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