This may seem strange considering that I have multiple blogs and I’m fairly active on any number of social networks. But I’ve recently found my muse and I’ve been inspired to return to writing! Not the blog article/occasionally-way-too-long-comment kind of writing. I mean the novel/short story kind of writing.
Over the years I’ve started several books with such provocative titles like “Puncture Wounds” and “Come Kill Me”. But for some reason they all wind up abandoned with their potential unrealized. Well, I’ve finally decided to finish them all, starting with a short story called “Ring The Alarm”.
I should be done with the first draft by this weekend, after which I will delve headlong into revisions and polishing. But for now, I’d like to share a snippet with you. I cover your comments. This is from the first chapter titled “The Institute”…
Part I: The Institute
Clocks were a luxury by now. Especially in this god-forsaken zone. Not that it mattered. It’s not as if there were any appointments left to keep. Time was irrelevant for most, even laughable. Except for me, that is. Timekeeping was strictly reserved for government officials, military personnel and the few surviving social elite. And here I was, in possession of a clunky, standard military-issue watch. Lucky me. I rarely bothered to look at the intruding time tether on the floor next to my mattress. But then again, with the alarms preset, user contact was rarely necessary. It would sound off whether or not I touched it. In that regard, my job was relatively simple: Don’t miss my daily check in with the Institute Relay Station (IRS) and stay alive long enough to ring the alarm.
My guess was that it was somewhere around 6:30 in the morning when I sat up and hastily grabbed my nose, awakened by the familiar, pungent odor of despair that accompanied the dawn of each day. I’d long since given up pretending this was all a horribly cruel nightmare. The incessant wailing… the intermittent food shortages… the dry, dirty air… the corpses… man, those were the worst. They could go undiscovered in houses for days until the stench finally betrayed their presence. Sometimes bodies were even discarded on the roadside like everyday garbage until an Institute sweeper truck found its way to our location. The last one was three weeks ago. Rotting bodies were a sobering reminder that this was very much my reality.
This particular morning I realized just how much I missed the sounds of innocence I’d once taken for granted. Before the war, neighborhood children would spend hours at the playground across the street. They were long gone. Replaced by the low din of desperate people dragging decrepit furniture down the cracked and broken road just outside my living room window. Some of them heart sick and in denial. Most of them trying in vain to recreate a past that seemed to be doing its best to evade them. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Although the Institute had dedicated nearly all of its resources to the BAJA war, its unofficial mission continued to be the preservation of hope. No matter how implausible.