NaNoWriMoPreVu 2011 #1 “And then there were two”

Here’s my first vignette in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2011. Also, to assuage any fears of cheating, this is not part of the story I will be writing for the actual event, although to prove that fact I offer you a challenge: I have decided to fund raise for NaNoWriMo this year, so if you head over to StayClassy and donate and I reach my goal of $250, I will post my NaNoWriMo effort on my website on 1 December. 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 sometime in January. If we go beyond even that, I will find something else cool to do.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Preview 1

And then there were two

By Dennis L Hitzeman

 

Kevin didn’t start to panic until Nelson went offline. The sudden disappearance of the other seven had been disconcerting, but he had been in the middle of working with Nelson to figure out what was happening to the rest of the cell when he suddenly vanished.

A part of Kevin’s mind told him there was no reason to panic. People went offline all the time. Maybe there were connectivity issues. Maybe they had some pressing local physical need to attend to. He would have thought Nelson might have mentioned that, and the thought unleashed a new torrent of unease.

Then there was the fact that the other eight’s vanishing act was so complete. Normally, even when someone physically disconnected from the network, there was still a residual trace of their presence. Besides, most people had wireless interfaces anyway, and while they were less capable than a physical connection, they were still there, even in some limited form.

Whatever it was that was going on with his cell, it was like the other eight had never existed. Sure, the evidence of their activities was there, but their presence was completely gone. Kevin hadn’t felt that alone on the net since he’d been a kid, since before he’d been augmented.

He was also unsure about approaching the last member of his cell who was still online. He knew most of the others personally, and the rest he knew by name, but the last he knew only as Ten. Kevin had been a latecomer to that cell, joining after another member had been busted for booster possession, but he noticed almost immediately how no one else in the cell really chatted with Ten. He was just always there, watching the rest of the cell and doing his part. Kevin was sure Ten was the driving force behind the cell, but his silence was creepy.

He nearly jumped out of his chair when he felt the familiar tickle of a private channel request on Ten’s data link, and for a moment, the cool, serene world of the net tilted and fuzed to reveal a background of his filthy apartment, strewn about with clothes and rapid serve boxes and his broken domesticbot he’d been meaning to repair for months.

His mouth was dry, a sensation that troubled him because he had long ago trained himself to take care of such things autonomically. All he had nearby was a cup of cold coffee, which he downed like a shot of whiskey. Then he keyed the rapid serve and heard himself say, “Coke and pizza.”

Meanwhile, to Ten’s query, he replied, “Ten? To what to I owe the honor?”

“Cut the crap, script kiddie,” came the terse reply. “As you can see, we’re in major trouble. How are you still online?”

Kevin was confused. He had no idea what was happening, but nothing had happened to him since it started.

“I have no idea,” he said. “What’s going on?”

It took Ten so long to reply that Kevin was almost certain he’d gone offline.

“Look, that’d take a long time to explain right now,” Ten said. “What I need you to do is hard channel to me right now. Cut everything else off.”

The thought of being cut off from the rest of the net gave Kevin a twinge of fear. “Everything?”

Ten’s reply almost cut him off. “Do it now, or there you won’t have to worry about the rest of the net ever again.”

Kevin wasn’t sure if that was a threat or an observation, but it scared him sufficiently that he cut over to the hard channel. He was completely unprepared for what he saw next.

 

Ryan sat back in his seat and sighed as he pulled off the halo. He needed a break and now as as good a time as any. The bots could take care of the rest while he took twenty.

For some reason, disconnecting from the net that way always filled him with a rush of euphoria, and he indulged himself in a chuckle, then a full out laugh at the absurdity of it all.

The room around him represented some of the most sophisticated technology mankind had ever produced, allowing its user full access to the net without the incredibly intrusive wetwork most people used to get there. Very few people understood why anyone would want to connect to the net any other way but wet, so very few people were even looking for something like Ryan’s setup.

Very few people, Ryan reminded himself, but there were still a few, and today they’d taken three of his cells down in one of the most sophisticated attacks he had ever seen. He was still up and running, but he was wounded. Virtually anyway.

What he needed then was a walk and some groceries from the local tienda. He’d hardened things as well as he could and there was really nothing else he could do but wait for the effort he’d expended over the past months to bear fruit. It was a race between those efforts and his adversaries, and it almost didn’t matter anymore whether or not he was watching. It was really in the bots hands now anway.

So, he left the austere and climate controlled confines of his conex hidden inside a storage unit in the grubby failed suburban sprawl of Dayton, Ohio and wandered down the sidewalk to the Mexican grocery that occupied a half dozen mismatched strip mall stores and an adjacent house that had seen better days. He was sure the place violated a dozen laws, but it fed the neighborhood full of mech mechanics and communications techs that everyone else sealed up in their high-rise archologies downtown depended on to keep the trash at bay, the food flowing, and the network running.

He was happy to see it was the same cute girl behind the register that had been there the last time he came. She greeted him with a shy, “Hola,” and a toothy grin that showed off her dimples. He smiled back and gave a little wave as he headed back through the door marked “Employees Only” to the underground farm market that ran in the back. The smell of the fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats took him back to another time, before the net, before wetware, before everything that made the world wrong.

Ryan shook himself from his descent into self-flagellation before everything went black. What was done was done, and all that remained was to try to do what he could. For the moment, that meant buying the fixings for a huge salad, potatoes, and some steaks just cut that day by a master butcher. And , he bought a rose for the cashier, who smiled prettily and blushed. If he was twenty years younger, he thought, and the last of the darkness was banished for the moment.

 

Back inside the conex well fed and well rested, Ryan surveyed the collection of screens he called his command center. His compatriots laughed that he still bothered to read, but when he had sworn off wetwear, he had sworn off every last bit of it, even the innocuous upload interfaces and data storage.

The screens revealed things were going as well as could be expected given how badly they had started out the day before. He’d lost three cells, most of a fourth and had to disband a fifth because it was probably compromised, but even with the counter-punch he’d received, the hole he’d drilled in his adversary’s defenses was still wide open, and his army of bots was still happily mining away inside. If all went well, it would be days before they discovered the real breach, and by then the cells would be unnecessary.

Of course, none of those questions dealt with the most pressing question: if he succeeded, then what. He shrugged himself into a beat up oversized recliner and sighed. He just hoped the rest of his ragtag band managed to pull off their ends of the bargain.

 

It always amused Dean that someone could flagrantly break the law everyday in plain sight, yet the world had degenerated to the point where the powers that were could not and would not do anything to punish the lawbreaker because doing so would bring them all to their knees.

It amused him as much that he always had those kinds of high minded thoughts as he guided a team of oxen pulling a planter along the next pass of planting a dozen acres of late season sweet corn into a field just recently harvested of clover hay for the winter. It was beyond absurd that growing food for sale on the local market was a worse offense than possessing weapons of mass destruction, but such were the times in which he lived.

And so it was that he found himself pulling up his team and ground tying them as a delegation including the county sheriff, the local agriculture enforcement officer, and someone whom he was sure was a federal agent of some sort made their way down the driveway to him. A trio of government officials was never a good visit, and for a moment, he wondered if the gig was finally up. Then he laughed as the oxen gave him their wary stare. Let them do their worst, because it would be far worse for them anyway.

The trio must have heard the laugh because they stopped twenty yards short and looked around in confusion, expecting to see someone else. That fact made Dean laugh more as he made his way to them.

“Andy, Chuck, to what do I owe the singular pleasure of your company,” he asked when he was close enough.

Chuck, the agriculture officer, was never one to mince words, “Dean, this is Special Agent Lucas Cantril of the Domestic Intelligence Service.”

Dean put on a wry smile and extended a dirty hand. This couldn’t be good. “Dean Whiteman, pleased to meet you.”

Cantril didn’t flinch and returned the handshake with a firm grip. “This is a nice place you have here, Mr. Whiteman. Or, should I say Colonel Whiteman?”

Andy and Chuck gave each other sidelong glances, but Dean shrugged. “Mr. will do just fine, Agent Cantril. I haven’t been a Colonel for a very long time.”

Cantril nodded. “Is there someplace we can talk?”

“Do we have to?” Dean said.

Cantril nodded.

“Well, then, let’s head up to the house,” Dean said. “I’ll have the boys finish up out here.”

 

NaNoWriMo preview 2011

Ok, kids, I have an idea.

Unlike a last year, I am completely unprepared to write for NaNoWriMo this year despite the fact that I have committed to writing this year as well. The fact that I haven’t been writing at anything near that kind of volume since last year compounds the problem.

So, my plan now is to write eight approximately 1667 word sketches over the next eight days (starting tomorrow) in an effort to get my writing gears in motion, and to hold me to this attempt and, perhaps, to inspire others, I will post the results of these sketches UNEDITED on this weblog under the title NaNoWriPreVu 2011 as soon as they are finished every day.

That way, you can read them. Maybe they’ll inspire you. Maybe they’ll annoy you. Maybe they’ll offend you. Maybe you’ll think, “Man, this guy sucks. I could write better stuff than that.”

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll try to prove you can. If you do, in a way, I have succeeded better than if what I wrote got published.

Are you in?

DLH

To NaNoWri or not to NaNoWri…

After last year’s successful performance during NaNoWriMo, the question before me is whether to try again this year. The biggest problem with doing so is the investment it takes to write 1,667 words on a particular subject when that has not been my habit up until now.

And, that, perhaps, speaks to a bigger problem: people who claim to want to write but who are not writing. Right now, I’m one of them. I can make all the excuses in the world for why that is so, but in the end I’m just another writer who’s not writing.

So, to NaNoWri or not to NaNoWri… I have fourteen days to decide.

DLH

DeNoWriMo the First

Granted I haven’t written here for a while, but I have been writing since the last time I posted. So much so, that I have decided to declare May the first arbitrary Dennis’s Novel Writing Month (DeNoWriMo I). Over the next 31 days, I plan to churn out 50,000 or so words on a project I have been working on–on and off–since last year’s NaNoWriMo. If May goes well, I may well declare June DeNoWriMo II.

What’s the point of all of this? Well, my hope is that I will have something to report by the end of this year, but you will just have to stay tuned. And, while you’re waiting, why not try YoNoWriMo (your own Novel Writing Month).

DLH

Sharpening one’s focus

I find that it is very easy as a writer to lose one’s focus or to have far too broad of a focus. For me, that lack of focus usually comes from my obsession with writing a novel.

The problem is that–at least I suspect the problem is that–I am not a novel writer in the classic sense of the idea. I cannot nor do I usually sit down and write copious amounts of words every day that can eventually come to represent a novel. Instead, I find that I am more of a vignette writer: someone who write short bursts of fiction, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, but rarely of the kind that can be considered a novel.

As a result, I have spun my wheels for almost a decade now trying to finish a novel while some of my widest reaching and most successful works have been short stories that I finished in my characteristic vignette style. Over the past several months, that reality in my writing has come into sharp focus, and I cannot help but pursue the path that focus reveals.

The latter is not to say that I am abandoning my obsession with writing a novel. To the contrary, I am changing my approach to writing a novel that better fits the way I write and why I write that way. The objective remains the same even if the route is different.

So, what is your obsession in writing? What causes you to lose focus? What kind of writing are you the best at? The worst at? What helps you regain your focus?

DLH

2011: A year to write

Frankly, my writing goals for 2011 are not much different from my writing goals for 2010 with perhaps the exception that I’ve taken on another project besides the Eagle Stone in an effort to get something going.

Really, all I want for 2011 is to establish a regular routine of writing that produces some volume of work by the end of the year. If we pretend that I can write 2,000 words a day between now and 31 December, then we can also pretend that I should have 730,000 words to show for it at the end of the year.

While I hope that I write, I also hope that, if you have something you want to write about, you write too. If you need someone to encourage you in that task, please let me know. I am always willing to help encourage other writers as much as I appreciate the encouragement myself.

DLH