Here’s my third of eight installments in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2011, presented in its raw and unedited format for all to see.
Also, I have decided to raise money this year for NaNoWriMo and the Office of Letters and Light to support their efforts in encouraging writers both young and old. So, I am asking you, my readers, to sponsor my writing effort this year.
If you head over to my fundraising page at StayClassy and help me reach my goal of $250, I will post my NaNoWriMo effort on my website on 1 December 2011. Help me double my goal, and I will post the NaNoWriMo story plus a completed version of the story of which my preview vignettes will become a part on 1 January. If we go beyond even double, I will find something else cool to do for you.
NaNoWriMo Preview #3
By Dennis L Hitzeman
Kevin sat on a park bench taking quick sips from his can of energy drink without really thinking about what he was doing. The thought that he was sitting on a park bench made him laugh out loud because the last time he had done something like that he’d been about twelve. Then he looked around to see if anyone of the half dozen other people in the park noticed his outburst, and the nervousness and sipping set in again.
Once Ten had locked in his hardened channel, Kevin had kind of freaked out. He found himself locked into some kind of enclave and his whole connection was somehow inside of it. All of his data and feeds was still there, accessible and manipulable, but he knew from a dozen quick checks that he had simply vanished off the net like all the other people in his cell.
He tried for at least an hour to figure a way out of the hard channel, but it might as well of been the ultramax prison they sent all the terrorists to, because there was no way out. So, he did the next thing that came to mind. He disconnected and walked away.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been offline, let alone walked outside. His apartment was hardly in an archology—he couldn’t afford downtown—but it did have an indoor track he could walk if he wanted the rapid serve did just as well as indoor shopping centers.
Of course, he wasn’t really offline either. His wireless connection continued to monitor all his scripts and bots and feeds, though he thought it was strange that his hardened prison still allowed his harvesters to run. Maybe Ten didn’t need another mouth to feed.
Nevertheless, this was the most disconnected he had been… since college at least. In a way, it felt kind of good.
Kevin’s revelry was broken by the tickle of a private channel request. Inside his prison?
It was Ten. “Where are you? No wait, are you wireless?”
Kevin’s leg started to bounce. “Yeah, why?”
“Shut it off.” Ten said.
“What a second,” Kevin said. “You’ve already got me locked up–”
“Shut it off now!”
Kevin didn’t have time to reply. Instead, his wireless connection fuzzed, jolted, and was gone. He jerked at its sudden absence like someone had just hit him in the head and let out a little yelp.
“What the…” he heard himself saying.
About the same time, a white van skidded to a halt on the street, and several people piled out the back, wearing the tell-tale blue jump suit uniforms of some task force or another. They were joined moments later by two men in suits from a non-descript black sedan. Kevin thought he was going to wet himself.
One of the blue-suiters held something in the air, and Kevin knew it had to be a sniffer. His heart thundered so loud he was surprised they couldn’t hear it.
He squeaked when someone sat down beside him on the bench with a heavy thump. The bum reeked of alcohol and some other smells he couldn’t quite identify.
“Are you high?” the bum asked.
“What?” Kevin said. “No!”
“Then why were you using your wireless just now?”
Kevin about fell over. “Ten?”
The bum laughed. “Hardly.”
“This is just nuts,” Kevin said. “Who are you then?”
“Right now, I’m the man saving your life,” the bum said, handing him a paper wrapped bottle, “before it gets hauled off to some dark corner of the world and rezzed, so maybe you could calm down and act like your drinking from that bottle until our friends over there get bored and go look somewhere else for you.”
Kevin tipped the bottle toward his lips and noticed that the package contained only the top of a bottle. Just inside, there was a flex screen.
Read this very carefully, Kevin. This is not some sort of a game or something. You are the only surviving member of your cell. The rest got popped yesterday. I am not sure how you survived, but that shows some skill, which is why I am going to try to help you. But, you have to do exactly what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it, or you’re done. Got it?
Kevin didn’t know what else to do but nod.
Ok, good. Your friend is going to leave once the heat gets bored. When all of them are gone, I want you to find a coffin motel and open the bag. There will be more instructions after that.
He felt the bum get up and start to shuffle away and at the same time noticed that the car and the van were headed down the road. He jumped up from the bench and headed toward the nearest bus stop, his heart pounding in his ears and his mind racing to try to figure out what he had gotten himself into.
Vladimir opened the door so hard it rebounded off the wall and back into him, which made him that much more angry. When he left the club, he’d been terrified, but the train ride back had tempered his fear and replaced it with a kind of rage he hadn’t felt in a long time.
The rest of his team looked at him with wide eyes and hands poised over their weapons, and Vladimir realized he had also almost gotten himself shot. He wondered if that wouldn’t have been a better outcome at that point.
Alexi peaked her head around the corner from the kitchen. “Vlad, that kind of think is likely to get you killed if you keep it up. I take it the news is not good.”
“We’re not getting paid?” Anatoly said.
Vladimir carefully closed the door. “Yes, we are getting paid. No, the news is not good. But before anything else, we need to pack it up. We’re headed for the dacha.”
The rest of the crew scrambled to start packing up their equipment and gather their belongings. Alexi put her hand on her hip. “Wait! What? Nobody said anything about the dacha. What’s going on?”
Vladimir sighed and leaned against the door. He should have never brought her into this. “We have to at least change location, golubushka, before I can explain any more. We may have to do this again before it’s all done, but I will do my best to explain once we’re on our way.”
Alexi glared at him and threw the towel she had in her other hand toward the counter. He knew how she hated the country, but he had no choice. Maybe he could send her to her mother’s.
“Don’t even think about dumping me on my mother,” she said as she disappeared into their bedroom. “I’m with you on this, even if it means the dacha.”
Then she slammed the door. Someone in the apartment below them bellowed something unintelligible followed by a very intelligible string of curses probably directed at them.
“She’s going to get us killed, Vlad,” Anatoly said.
“That might be better,” Vladimir said.
Kevin sat in the booth of the restaurant picking at his food. It had been a tumultuous few days that found him traveling half way across the country by bus to wait for a mysterious contact to meet him at the place he now sat, proudly announcing itself as “Bunny’s Hasty Tasty, a Dayton Institution.”
He tried to avoid eye contact and found himself longing for his connection to the net. It had been four days since he’d last been online, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. Somehow Ten, or someone, had managed to erase his security IDs from the net, and unless he was going to brute force his way back on, there wasn’t an access point anywhere that would accept his connection.
Someone slid into the booth across from him, and he was surprised to see what he might have mistaken for a very young man except for the gray in his hair and day old beard. Somehow, he knew he was in the presence of the master.
“Ten, I assume?” Kevin said.
“I’m glad you followed my instructions,” Ten said. “This had the potential to get very ugly for you.”
“Look, what is this all about anyway,” Kevin said, hoping he might finally get some insight into what he had gotten himself into.
Ten shook his head. “Do you really want to know? I mean, really, Kevin. You’re a privateer, right? I’m helping you because you helped me and I know you didn’t sign on for these kinds of consequences. We’re both making the best of a bad situation, but do you really want to know why?”
“Yes, I think I do,” Kevin said. He wasn’t sure why he said it, yet he knew he meant it. He did want to know. He wanted to know about the attack against the Core and about their attack against the Core’s attackers. He wanted to know why it seemed like there were a hundred federal agents looking for him now. He wanted to know who Ten was and what he was up to.
Then he realized that, more than anything else, he wanted to know how to be like Ten, doing something that seemed to matter, instead of harvesting his living off bots committing identity theft.
“Well, I guess I didn’t read you wrong,” Ten said, “but it’s a whole lot more complicated than spilling the beans on everything just yet.”
“I figured,” Kevin said. “What first?”
“First, you finish your lunch and I eat mine, then we get you set up somewhere more comfortable than a coffin motel.”