December 06, 2004

Corsican Rule

This is an excerpt from a novel I've spent the last eleven years not writing:

Joseph Carmon stands pale against the deep red sunset. He had never meant for this to happen, but now he knows that it is far to late for regrets; The destiny that was chosen for him is now unmaleable. The dark shadow that stands before him; unremorseful. A cold shiver fills his entire being in the ninety some odd degree weather, nearly freezing the tears that the wind snatches from his eyes. Sore from misuse are these eyes, sore from having seen what no eyes should witness. The prophecy had been unusually cruel to his lot, and he wishes he didn't have to die with the knowledge he'd gained in the last few days. "Is ignorance really bliss?" he wonders. He will find out far too soon.

Kaitlyn huddles in a corner of a nearly empty motelroom, the walls of which hide her barely enough from the bloody red sunset outside. Her son Jacob is Luke Skywalker, fighting evil, jumping up and down on the bed. Her heart feels as if a lightsaber were imbedded within it. Her emotional termoil has grown to the point that she experiences physical discomfort when she breathes in as deeply as she should, so she hyperventelates in quick bursts quietly in the corner.

She wishes her son would run to her and hug her tightly, but something in the air today just seems to keep people apart, disconnected from one another. Some unnamable insanity that leaches soul from body nearly flows from the scarlet skyline. Perhaps it fortells the coming of nuclear winter, if not something more insidious and direct? Kaitlyn has pondered this in the past week, but sees such matters as acedemic now. She blinks her glazing eyes to look for something. What's missing? The horror in her heart finally finds completion and clarity as she glares at the now empty space above the bed, and her shriek nearly drowns out the shrieks of pain from the unfortunate soul outside.

As a teenager I invented an idea for a story arc for a series of novels or comic books called "Corsican Rule". Driven by the whole angst-ridden-teenage-superhero type of undercurrent; borrowing ideas from the X-men, Star Trek and the Highlander; I designed dozens of characters, hundreds of events and situations and teams of interwoven subplots.

I commited to memory my notes for endless numbers of battles, events, alliances and betrayals. I developed the circumstances and histories of all of my characters and even half of my locations vividly enough that I could follow the story from each of their POV's. One of the most difficult things to do however, was to decide how to tell the story.

My cosmology lacked chronology since there was literally so much time travel and interdimentional interplay involved that there was no "beginning", no "end", and no clear order of events in between. To be entirely accurate the story arc follows an intricate loop. It had to since both the theme, and even the elementary physics of the semi-fictional universe consist of closed loops.

The one thing I was able to do was to sketch out the chronology of events in the life of "Joseph Carmen" mentioned above. The beginning of his story line paints a charming little causal loop 46 years long, more confusing than Memento, and oddly enough precicely fits the life-cycle of a character in Peirs Anthony's Incarnations of immortality. (I didn't find this out until after the real life date that Joseph Carmen was supposed to die, and didn't. Yeah, he was kind of based upon a real life person ;)

The scene mentioned here I wrote in college circa 1997 and saved to a text file. The text file got shifted around from location to location, amongst my digital baggage, and I just happened to find it hidden in an archive backup, inside a zip file, inside another archive backup, all of which I was this close -> <- to deleting :P

I'm pretty sure I intended it to be the opener for the book (series). You'll notice that it doesn't name or describe the antagonist(s). Neither the "force" of antagonism nor the particular perpetrator of the murder, which happen to be seperate. Of course to be fair, I never really decided exactly who the murderer was going to be. That was part of a subplot I hadn't actually worked out yet; the rest of this subplot carries on regardless of who actually dunnit.

But, the time and place are Greybull Wyoming, August 23rd 1999. This guy and his family have holed up in a hard to reach no-horse town while draft dodging, as the Third World War had been underway for the better part of a year. Joseph had (somehow) gotten himself mixed up in the politics of the main part of the book, which are extradimentional. He knew he would be killed, he knew the date, but he knew it had to be done.. so he allowed himself to be discovered. His wife also knew this, and understood why (better than he did for some pretty messed up reasons) but still found it to be a particularily jarring thing to experience first hand. Neither of them knew what little Jacob was up to. He was able to evade his mother's supervision and go outside. He did witness his father's murder. Luckily he wasn't discovered, and I know it's pretty macabre, but this was a formative point in his personal evolution and he is the main character of my book.

From a literary standpoint though, I think this snippet plays as a little desperately self-absorbed. Almost like Stephen R. Donaldson wrote it. It eschews nessessary grammar points like bothering to chop things up into sentences, as I tended to do back then. But on the other hand, I am kind of proud of the way I tossed around metaphores. Since I don't think I can do things like that anymore, I'll probably never get to finish the books ;)

Posted by jesse at December 6, 2004 12:26 AM

That's METAPHORS, Jess. That story file's in bad need of a spellcheck. If I poured that much of myself into writing something that no one ever saw, I'd ... well, I'm at the other extreme, as per usual, spitting out snippets of news that fade into history. Which is more satisfying? Who knows;-)

Posted by: Barney at December 6, 2004 06:57 PM

Have you considered finishing it during NaNoWriMo some year?

Posted by: DeAnn at December 6, 2004 10:23 PM

And, the 2005 Nonowrimo 3rd place award goes to..
Jesse! Nobody can tell what is going on in the story. Bill, I don't know if we'd be able to figure it out if he used proper spelling or punctuation either.. but since he's making up this award show, who cares?

Second place goes to... Steven King!
Not officially involved in the contest, he still started and finished his latest work "Reverie" during the alloted time period and has garnered honerary mention. When interviewed about his achievement, he commented that he hadn't realized it was November already.

And the grand prize for National Novel Writering Month goes to...
perl -e 'for($i=0; $i<25000; $i++) { print "hello world"; }' !!!

Posted by: Jesse Thompson at December 6, 2004 11:12 PM