Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Fear Itself

Time to jump into the wayback machine and post the beginning of my very first novel Fear Itself.  Yes, I picked out quotes for the beginnings of every chapter.

Chapter 1
“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.”
– Daniel Boorstin
 “We’re on in two.” 
Scanning the copy for tonight’s broadcast, Alex McKenzie couldn’t bring herself to believe what she was reading, not that any of it was new.  The world she once thought was so constant—so stable—was falling apart. 
She reported on the same types of things for the past two months, but she still couldn’t shake the feeling something wasn’t right about it all.  As if the action would erase her unease, she ran a trembling hand through her hair.
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of movement; a monitor just off the set showed a woman’s profile.  Her long black hair was perfectly coiffed, but hung limp around her pale face.  Her slender fingers quivered over the papers in front of her.  The corner of her mouth twitched as though she held back a tide of tears. 
At the edge of her consciousness, Alex heard the lead-in, but she couldn’t seem to focus her thoughts.  The camera in front of her indicated she was now on-air.  The woman on the monitor straightening to speak.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” said a familiar voice, “and welcome to GBC News.  It’s Friday, May 1st, and I’m Alexandra McKenzie standing in for Craig Jamison.” 
The woman sat rigidly behind the news desk and looked, for that brief moment, as if she would rather be doing anything else than reporting the news.  It took a moment for Alex to realize the woman was herself.  Shaking away the detachment she now realized was visible on her face, she replaced her harried expression with the steely gaze of the hardened reporter she used to be.  She looked directly into the hearts of her audience and began.  “What would normally be a day of celebration for the coming of spring is instead a day of trepidation.  This time of year we should all be thinking of beaches and bikinis, cookouts and ball games,  but instead our thoughts are of Fenrir and its rapid descent toward Earth.” 
Her face twisted as she fought against the pain coursing through her chest.  She had no hope to offer about its course and no new reports of anyone who could divert the catastrophe headed their way.
She looked at the text in front of her.  It couldn’t be true.  If she didn’t read the words, it wouldn’t be true.  But it was her job.  “Tonight, Paris is in flames.” 
The whole world was a gigantic jigsaw puzzle being dismantled bit by bit; one more piece taken out and tossed into the jumbled pile that once made a picture and now only made a mess.  “Over the past few days, a mob has moved across the city leaving death and destruction in its wake.  This morning, we showed footage of their attempt to destroy the Eiffel Tower.  As of late this afternoon, that same mob focused their anger on the Louvre.  Beginning with the glass pyramid that has become as familiar a part of Paris as the gallery itself, a full frontal assault on the historic structures ensued.  We have reports several of the mob’s members were trampled in the crush to escape the pyramid’s falling shards.  At least two have been pronounced dead from their injuries.”  She stopped, swallowing hard while the director looked on, horrified.  Motioning nervously, he tried to get her to resume, but she sat battling against a twisted urge to burst into hysterical laughter. 
After several more seconds and many more gestures from the director, she took a deep breath and forged in again.  “The assault on the museum escalated with an attack on three security guards who were attempting to barricade the doors.  Our thoughts go out to them and their families, but at this time hope for their safety is bleak.”   She paused as a lump in her throat threatened to choke her.  Each word drained a little bit more color from her face and a little bit more light from her eyes. 
Her hands shook as she pushed past the pain.  “Once the mob entered the museum, the carnage was overwhelming.  Attempting to save such famous artifacts as The Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, several noted historians lost their lives.  Men on the scene report nothing of significant artistic value made it out of the blaze.”  Splaying her fingers on the desk, she nodded curtly in response to a signal from behind the camera.  “I just received word GBC’s reporter on the scene is coming through.  For up to the minute news on the fires, we go now to John Clanton.”
As the feed began, the on-air light flickered out and Alex surrendered to her misery, sagging in her chair, her head slumping forward to rest on her arms.  Even as she tried to block it all out, she could hear the GBC reporter speaking and the sounds of the scene behind him.  The cries of the mob were like a thousand hyenas in her ears. 
She felt the urge to run, to get away from the horror she reported day after day, but a single thought held her in place:  “Tomorrow someone… anyone… may come forward...”  She never finished the thought; she didn’t know what was left to hope for.  Like the billions of people around the world, she once held out hope the scientists were wrong, but as time passed and the comet came closer, her hopes withered.  
“I don’t know why hope doesn’t just die,” she thought. 
No matter how bad everything got,  she knew she had to be there to report the news; to relieve the minds of the millions and speak the words: “Fenrir is no longer a danger.”

Yes, there are flaws, but this was first written in 2004 and edited ad nauseum between 2004-2008.  I don't think I have the heart to edit it again - not without some kind of industry interest anyway. 


Janet said...

I don't think I've seen this, B.E. - I love the glimpse into Alex' state and demeanor through the monitor (well done). And I am intrigued, I would, as they say, turn the page! Nice idea on the quotes, too!

As for your thoughts on editing "ad nauseum", I totally understand you desire to return to this only with industry's interest (been there - still there).

Great read first thing this morning - thanks :)

B.E. Sanderson said...

Thanks, Janet! I don't think anyone I still associate with has seen this. I'm glad you enjoyed it. If you're ever bored and want to read it all, let me know.

Silver James said...

Dang! Another good one. You "display" emotions on a very visceral level, B.E. I'm not sure I'd go back to edit this but I'd sure shop it around again, or consider it for self-publishing!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Thanks, Silver! I haven't tried shopping this sucker in years. I still think it's pretty good, though, and hey, it helped win me my husband. ;o)

jblynn said...

Shop it! I love it!!!

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