I am now well over 5000 words into Chapter 6, and as of this evening, will be using none of them. That is, I’m sure I will carry over a few articles, probably a handful of adjectives and, given that it will be about one character, however it ends up, at least one proper name. But where they are in relation to each other, and what surrounds them…that’s still to come.
I’m not sure why this one is proving such a tough nut to crack. A writer I greatly respect (but whose name I’ve completely forgotten, at least in context of ownership of this quote) once said something like, “Get it all down, no matter what you think of it; it’s a lot easier to sort through what’s already written and figure out what’s not supposed to be there than it is to fill up the pages in the first place.”
By this point, I’m pretty damn sure what’s not supposed to be in the chapter, and at some point I’ll get something down that is supposed to be there…I’m having some mild frustration over it, especially given how clean the first drafts of all the other chapters have been so far…I think it’s time to bring out the big guns: the good nootbooks, my sensa pen, some cheap white wine and my Mozart-composing-Reqium-while-dying wine glass.
(Seriously, it looks exactly like the one they use in the movie when he’s near death, composing his final piece, standing over the pool table and rolling the balls around while writing the composition…all that’s really missing for me is the pool table.)
(And the whole imminent death thing.)
So in the meantime (since I clearly won’t have a new chapter to post in the next day or two, and it’s getting dusty in here), here’s a couple paragraphs from a new story I’m also working on. Come to think of it, might be a good time to set the novel aside altogether until next weekend and just focus on finishing this story first.
It will, I believe, be called “Last Star”.
Overhead, he could see the fire, a background of glowing red, and the brightest possible center, pulsing now. No one had predicted this. Every promise, from the governing council of the station to the Affiliation’s representative, to the sorry scientists they’d trotted out, seemingly every day, promising that the solar activity was benign, an aberration that would soon correct itself. Only it hadn’t. The spots had become flares, the flares become bursts, and now the corona was expanding, relentless, unstoppable. There was no time to get away, no time to escape. Even the interstellar transports currently docked–and there were only two of them, with a combined capacity of barely two thousand, enough to carry maybe half a percent of the population of Everest Station–had stayed too long, and would never be able to escape the expanding gravity well fast enough to avoid the incoming fire.
But that didn’t stop the crowd from trying. They were rushing the docks, and not just for the two transports. Any open hatch, any ship capable of moving even a few AU’s from the station was currently under siege, thousands of people pressing against each other, trying to get on board, praying that by sheer effort of will and an open seat they’d be able to escape the coming apocalypse. They may have known–a few, some, or even all of them–that their cause was hopeless, and the best they could hope for was a slightly less-obstructed view of the end when it overcame them. But that was forgotten in the panic of their attempt to survive, for even a moment longer than they had been allotted just a minute before. And so they pushed, and clawed, and screamed, and cursed, and became a crowd, the second kind.
And Sean fought the crowd, with every ounce of his being. He tried to avoid the worst of all possible atrocities, several times pulling his punches just inches before they landed in the face of a woman, or a man with his family in tow behind him. He knew what they were fighting for, and despite his own goals–which did not include survival–he could not bring himself to turn their last desperate moments into a tearful, regretful farewell surrounded by strangers. If they thought salvation lay on the other side of an airlock, he would not begrudge them their fantasy. Better they managed to make it through, and have a moment to breath, and think, and love each other, as the inevitable end overwrote their most desperate plans.
But that didn’t mean he had to be gentle with everyone. Two soldiers, clearly on leave and on the downside of several hours of pre-apocalyptic indulgence, felt the business end of his elbows, temples cracked, bodies collapsing, freeing a path for him a bit further to his goal. An officer of the station’s guard tried to subdue him, perhaps trying to find peace in a last, meaningless enforcement of the rules he’d sworn to uphold. Sean broke his wrist in the counter-move, crushed his throat with the heel of his boot, and silently added another entry to the tally of his impending damnation as he stepped over the man’s still-twitching corpse. He had no illusions that he would wake in paradise. Not after all he had done. But he would not allow himself to be damned–in this life or the next–without keeping one last promise.