Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNoWriMo '09, Chapter Four: Discipline

The below is a section of the novel that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month. It isn't a stand-alone story, and it's probably not worth your time to read. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month so wordcount is valued above quality. This is a good thing, as it encourages people to actually finish a project. Nobody expects that the result will be ready for public consumption without heavy editing. If you want to read it for some reason you can view the whole thing in one place HERE although that's still totally unedited and terrible. You have been warned.

Dear Mom,

I keep thinking about how dad left us and how sad you were and I don't want to make you sad. I don't want to do anything to hurt you. I put this off for too long already, and I'm worried I might have gotten you in trouble now by staying. It seems like maybe there's no way to do this that doesn't mess up your life somehow. I decided that the best thing now is for me to tell you everything so that you understand and maybe won't be as depressed about it as if I just disappeared. If the government comes looking for me it's okay to show them this letter, I want them to understand that you didn't know anything and it's not your fault.

You probably don't remember this because it wouldn't have been a big deal for you, but one day when I was thirteen you came in to the kitchen and I was just staring at a bowl of cereal I had spilled on the floor. You were pretty angry, because the milk was spreading out and some got under the fridge where it was hard to clean up. I remember that you asked me what I was thinking, and I couldn't answer and I guess you probably just wrote it off to me being thirteen. I know I was kind of a pain at that age but I like to think I got over it.

The truth is that I was staring at the cereal for a reason. I had put it right on the edge of the table (I guess that part was just because I was stupid when I was thirteen) and then when I was putting the cereal box away I bumped the other end of the table and the bowl fell off. I reached out to catch it even though there was no way my arm was long enough, and the bowl stopped halfway off the table.

It wasn't just the bowl but everything. The milk was already splashing out of the bowl but it just hovered there like it was paused or something. It was scary but it also felt really good somehow. I reached out to touch a piece of cereal that had stopped in the air and just like that it was over and everything hit the floor. When you came in I was still so surprised that I couldn't even move.

I know what you said about the freaks, and in school they keep a picture of the Disney memorial right by the entrance so we have to look at it every day. I don't want to hurt anyone and I tried really hard not to pause things. I didn't do it at all for a year and I even started to think I had imagined it but then Jenny was over because of Aunt Linda's surgery three years ago and she fell out of the tree and I couldn't help myself. I stopped everything and went over and stood under her so I could catch her.

It didn't seem like anything bad when I did that. I know it's wrong, I know freaks are dangerous and they need to be watched but I thought that maybe if I only used it to do good things it would be okay. Dad had a box of comic books in his stuff that he left behind, and I read all of them. I don't really understand why they stopped making those, because I think maybe it's good to see that you can do good things with powers.

There was one character named Spider-Man, I've heard of him somewhere else so he was probably one of the popular ones. If you don't know though, he got powers by accident from an experiment and then he wasn't going to use them much except to make money until his uncle got killed and he realized he could have stopped it if he was there. Isn't this the same thing? If I had let Jenny fall and get hurt just because I'm not supposed to have this power doesn't that make me the bad guy? I can help people. I've been depressed a lot since then, because every time something happens where I could have helped I feel like it's partly my fault. I've done a few little things to help out but mostly I have to pretend I'm not a freak.

That has to stop now, because I messed up. We had physicals in school yesterday and when they used this thing on me that they said was to check my reflexes the thing beeped and they all talked and wrote things down and looked at me funny. Nobody else made the machine beep, and I think they were somehow testing to see if anyone was a freak. I got a note saying I should go home early, and on the way I decided to pause everything so I could take a shortcut through the scrap yard without anyone yelling at me.

When I walked closer I saw someone was hiding behind a bale of metal, looking at right where I had been. He had some sort of rifle, and there was a bullet in the air in front of it. If I hadn't stopped everything he would have killed me. I hurried home to write this and managed to keep things paused the whole way. I hope that means you'll have time to read this before they come looking for me.

They want to keep something like Disneyland from happening again, but I do too. I want to do the right thing, to save people. I am so sorry for this mom but I can't let them kill me. I have to go somewhere else where they can't find me and I can help people who need it.

I love you.


I finish reading over the familiar letter and look up at Director Doyt's beet-red face.
"Yes? I'm not sure I understand what this has to do with my request?"
He snatches the letter back from me and sits down behind his desk. He gestures for me to sit, but I happen to know he recently had the legs shortened on the other chairs so that he could loom over his guests more efficiently and so I remain standing. This has the happy side effect of making him look up at me, which infuriates him just enough to keep his head that fascinating shade but not so much that he's willing to admit to our battle of wills by standing up again.

"Agent Black," he sneers as he says this, having guessed - quite correctly - that it isn't my actual name, "I find it suspicious that you are so eager to have this particular freak executed rather than Extracted. I find it further interesting that his letter indicates someone was trying to assassinate him rather than capture, as were our orders."
I shrug. "I don't find either of those things interesting. I want him executed simply because his power is dangerous and, in my opinion, not worth the risk of tampering with. As for the letter… possibly he was making things up in order to make the situation more dramatic. I'm almost fifty years old, Doyt, and to be honest I don't even remember what makes teenagers do the things they do anymore."

He stabs a meaty finger at the letter and glares at me. "What about the note he received, saying to leave early? If it hadn't been for that he would have still been there when the collection team arrived. I suppose you have an answer for that?"
"As it so happens, Doyt, I do. It was investigated thoroughly after he slipped through our fingers, and your department determined that there never was any such note."
At this he starts fumbling at his computer, trying to pull up the full report on the antiquated system. "Who investigated it?" he asks, more to himself than me.
"Oh, I did. As a favor."

His fingers freeze mid-keystroke. "You." He says.
"Doyt, you can't possibly think that I tried to help him escape if you already think I was trying to kill him. I'll chalk it up to a lack of sleep, but I would seriously suggest thinking things through more before you talk to anyone else. I mean honestly, you sound like one of those conspiracy theorists."
He knows he can't prove it, and it kills him. I know he can't prove it too, because I covered my tracks exceedingly well. He can't touch me - couldn't anyway, most likely, because of my political connections. In point of fact I don't technically report to Doyt, unlike every other agent.

He fumes for just a second, head very nearly reaching purple, and then suddenly regains his composure and smiles. "Fine, Black. You win for now. But you might be interested to know that he's being Extracted as we speak - and you won't be able to do anything to -"
He stops as another agent bursts through the door unannounced, sweating and stammering.
"Director, sir, there's been an accident in the main compound! The scientists were about to extract Holst and Crane, and somehow the Holst kid bit the tech's finger clean off! Charles Crane managed to escape in the confusion - he's out of the compound by now for sure."

My heart is beating so hard I can barely think. I grab the agent by his collar and turn him to face me. "Did Holst escape? Is he contained?" The agent squirms, trying to get out of my grip, but he answers. "Yes, Daryl Holst is drugged into a stupor and heavily restrained. It was just Crane."
I let go of him and take a deep breath before looking at Doyt.
"You march over to that facility and kill Daryl Holst before he wakes up," I tell him, "or I swear on your corpse I'll do it myself."