View Full Version : >insert title here< Chapter 3

October 22nd, 2010, 04:41 AM
No, I still haven't found a title for my book... Anyway this is chapter three, just throwin it out to see how you guys like it. Oh, and if a certai (http://www.writingforums.com/members/bruno-spatola.html)n Bruno Spatola would be willing to offer input, that would be greatly appreciated :D (http://www.writingforums.com/members/bruno-spatola.html)



Blood in his mouth. He made a mental note to himself to try and break his habit of biting his lips when he was nervous. He also noted that he'd need to be nervous a lot more often for that to be affective.

There were only a few things in the world that made him nervous. The looming threat of a possible death sentence was one of them. Death, and, well, that was it. He didn't want to die, but now it seemed he was closer than ever. His men had failed to deliver, and the responsibility was on his shoulders. He was about to get the dressing down of a lifetime.

But a faint flicker of hope still lingered inside him. He was their best. He was priceless. Maybe they wouldn't kill him just yet.

He strode slowly down the long metal corridor, his footsteps echoing ominously. He brushed a strand of blond hair out of his eyes, stopped, breathed deeply, and pulled open the heavy metal door on his left.

The telephone was waiting for him, a lone object on a lone table in a tiny unlit room. He picked it up, absentmindedly wound the cord around his finger, and waited for the automated system to connect the call.

"About time." The voice on the end, though thin and distorted by the phone, was cold, merciless, carrying the unmistakable air of you're-really-about-to-die.
He let out a slow breath. "It's a long walk." His words came wrapped in a sharp Russian accent.

"No excuses. Let's cut to the chase, shall we? You've failed, my project is ruined, my money is wasted, my name and reputation are history, and better yet, the United States are about to get their hands on your information. They'll learn everything. Everything! Give me one reason to not blow you to kingdom come this very second."

He took a moment to consider his next words, startled by the sudden onslaught of fury, and the revelation that the entire place was in fact wired to blow. Getting incinerated was not very high on his list of things to get done. "Look, I know we've screwed up big time, and I know you're furious with me. But what if I said I could get my hands on a backup unit? A better unit? Is that enough?"

"I might consider letting you live, if you could get it to the objective in time for processing. Now, before we even go that far, there is still the matter of that making no difference if our files fall into the government's hands."

"I understand your concern, and I have been tracking the chip very closely since it left the lab. The man who stole it -- Sergeant Justin Baron -- will be returning to the mainland in just over twenty-four hours. He'll be surrounded by the military until he leaves the airport, so waiting until he's back on his home soil is unfortunately the only sensible time to strike..."

"Sensibility is no matter to me. I can have my men take care of him. If you want to continue existing you are to acquire the backup as soon as you possibly can."

He took a sharp breath. "Here's the catch. The backup unit is aboard Air Force One."

There was no reply for several moments. Then: "You're really pushing it. Convince me."

He continued carefully: "I've already planned it out. Air Force One will be returning to the mainland, specifically JFK Airport, on Saturday, the 13th. That's twelve days."

The phone remained silent. He took it as a signal to keep going.

"Now, in all modesty, I'm the only one you can trust to take care of Baron in an appropriate manner and get that chip out of there safely and lead a strike on the presidential plane. Am I correct? Once the chip is secured, I'll assemble my men and coordinate the attack on Air Force One, retrieve the unit, and the project can proceed."

"You do realize the country will go ballistic."

"I do, but it's a risk we'll have to take."

Silence on the other end. He closed his eyes. He'd blown it. His backup plan just wasn't realistic.

"Don't fail me."

He started. He had expected the next sound he heard to be the activation of some remote detonator. Instead, those three growled words had given him a chance to redeem himself. "This opportunity is perfect. I'll see to it that your plan succeeds."

"And you know perfectly well what happens if it doesn't."

"Perfectly. In fact, better."

"Good. I'll have our New York team begin their phase of the project tomorrow as planned. I'm counting on you to get that backup to them in enough time to make any necessary modifications."

"It will be done."

"I'm planning on it. You're the best I have. I really would hate to get rid of you. Don't fail me."

The call ended. He slowly returned the phone to its receiver and let out the breath we wasn't aware he had been holding.

Well, this is incredibly boring...

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020. It was Jeff's first day on the job. And, so far, he was really starting to boil inside. He was specifically mad at his commanding officer from the training camp. A better place for him than Special Ops, yeah right. What made it even more boring was the fact that the Freedom Tower saw considerably less traffic in the afternoon than the morning; his initial impression had been deceiving. Instead of the flowing masses like he had first witnessed, only a scant few people populated the lobby at any given time. Most of this scant few worked at the desks.

He had pretty much resigned himself, in those first few hours, to the fact that he would probably never use anything he learned during his extensive training. Not unless there was a flight simulator or ropes course or Asian martial arts master somewhere in the building.

The thought that irritated him even more, though, was that even if he had chosen this job, he would have still had to learn all that junk. The reform of the Armed Forces would have seen to that.

And from what he'd overheard, the other new recruits were annoyed by that too. And as much as he understood the intent behind requiring everyone who carried a firearm and a badge for their job to be put through those strenuous programs, he still didn't think it was quite justified. He had a hard time imagining a situation where more force than SWAT or the local police and military could provide might be required. It seemed more like a government takeover than a terrorist-infiltration-prevention plan.

Most of the terrorist infiltration that had happened had taken place overseas anyway. Justin had sent him quite a few stories in his holiday emails describing how he had almost been stabbed in the back, quite literally, by an assassin who had managed to get inside their platoon.

That didn't mean there wasn't plenty of terrorist uprising going on at home, however. Most of the news headlines nowadays had to do with an attempted car bombing or a sabotaged crop duster or an appliance in a rich man's penthouse that had been rigged to explode.

So maybe the government's reform was a sign of weakness or fear. Maybe the government was rallying its forces to defend itself against something much bigger.

Jeff descended to the lower levels by stairs and began a routine patrol of the parking garage. Of course, nothing out of the ordinary. A few exotic European cars did catch his attention though.

His later return to the upper levels was interrupted as he opened the door to a stairwell and startled a man carrying a large metal box quite badly. The man jumped and dropped the box on the landing, narrowly missing his foot.

Jeff winced as the crash echoed up and down the stairwell. "I'm so sorry sir, are you okay?"

The man, swearing under his breath, knelt to examine the box. "I'm fine, I don't know if this thing is..."

Jeff looked closer at the box. It appeared about two feet square, made of diamond plate metal, and had what looked like a giant glass lens on one side, somehow still unbroken. "My apologies, sir. Can I help you with this?"

The man straightened up. "Looks like it's fine... No, thank you, I'll just get this to an elevator."

"What is this thing, anyway?"

The man hesitated. "I'm not entirely sure. Reiker Performance Engineering is doing something with it, they're hosting that big event this month..."

Jeff nodded. "Understood. Feel free to grab me if you need help."

The man said nothing and continued to examine the strange box.

Jeff resumed his patrol of the lobby and first few floors, thinking to himself that it was a little odd for a lone man to be trying to transport what looked like a very valuable piece of technology to an automotive company's financial offices on the highest floors of the World Trade Center on a Tuesday at about 10:54am.

The next hour passed just as blandly as the rest, and lunch time arrived in New York City. The lobby of the Freedom Tower again filled with people, and Jeff stood watching them come and go. He was about to turn and head back down to the parking garage when a long mane of red hair caught his attention.

That cute girl from Special Ops? Here?

She wasn't wearing the grey and black jacket though. Maybe it wasn't her.

As if that mattered. Still, if she would just turn around so he could see her face and make sure...

"You steer clear of the Special Ops team, Baron."

Jeff resisted the urge to jump. Chief had just appeared at his shoulder, seemingly out of nowhere. "Sir?"

Chief narrowed his eyes and looked over the crowd. "The grey and black jackets. Special Ops have had their agents sneaking around this place for weeks now."

Jeff looked around but only saw one of the distinct jackets, worn by a tall man with spiky blond hair. "I thought you worked for them."

"You could call it that. They haven't been very fond of me as of late. They think I'm not doing my job here, that I'm not up for active duty anymore, to old..."

"What makes you say that?"

"They're always sticking their noses in, doing inspections, running their own patrols, and trying to talk to my recruits, especially the new ones. I think they might want me spied on too." He slapped Jeff on the shoulder. "Watch out for them, Baron. Dismissed for lunch!"

Well that was certainly interesting... Jeff watched Chief disappear into an elevator and turned back to the crowd, looking carefully for the red-haired woman, but she had already vanished. So had the man in the jacket.

Interesting indeed. First, that red-haired woman had him reassigned to the World Trade Center, and now Special Ops agents were apparently keeping close tabs on the place.
Jeff felt a small twinge of anxiety. Maybe it was some kind of test that all Special Ops applicants went through.

It was probably a character test, then. Nothing big would ever happen around here...

Following lunch, Jeff took over patrol of the upper floors. All in all, it was just as dull as the lobby shift. The only advantage was the occasional view over the island.
On one of his rounds, he paused as he again came to a window. This certain view, he hadn't seen it in years. The Empire State Building stood in the distance, several planes were flying low over the island on their way to or from the airports, and the endless sea of buildings threw silvery reflections of the afternoon sun across the walls.

"Mommy! Look at that plane!" A red and silver commercial jet had just passed close to the Empire State Building and appeared to be heading straight toward them.

He stood for a few more moments, then turned away and continued his patrol, slightly shaken by what the images of New York City had brought him to remember in the past two days. He decided that when his shifts were over he would go and visit the memorial. Maybe that would help clear his head.

The rest of the day passed slowly and uneventfully, and when 8:00pm finally came around, Jeff returned his radio and vest to the security center and left the Freedom Tower. The sun had hidden itself behind the mountains of buildings, and now the streets were lit mostly by cars and lamps.

The Reflecting Absence Memorial grounds were beautiful and quiet. An endless number of tall, poofy trees obscured the view of the sky, and the pedestrians that traveled along the walkways remained reverent in honor of those who had died on those grounds nineteen years ago, despite the noise of the city around them.

With the glowing Freedom Tower behind him and the massive square waterfall monument in front, Jeff stood with this hands clasped behind his back and silently allowed the memories of his family to flow through his mind. As the years passed, he found it ever more difficult to remember his mother's gentle face, or his father's warm laugh. The images had become worn and faded, like old photographs, held outside of their frames by grief-stricken hands too many times.

After a moment at the water's edge, he strode slowly down the ramps to the lower levels of the memorial. The silence seemed to swallow even the sound of the curtain of water falling in front of him, and the cool darkness was almost soothing to the lingering pain he felt inside.

He turned to the wall that surrounded the pool. The names of those who had died on September 11th, 2001--countless names--were engraved into the stone, wrapping around the far side of the pool and out of sight. Jeff began to skim over all of them, from top to bottom, starting at the northwest corner. He vowed to himself right then that he would find the names of his parents, however long it took.

How long he spent in the memorial, he couldn't tell, but after a long while he postponed his search and returned to his car, driving in silence back to his apartment.

He flopped on the couch and turned on the TV as soon as he arrived, anxious for something to take his mind off the sadness that visiting the memorial had brought. There would be plenty of time for more reflection later on.

The news was on. But then again, it almost always was. He made himself a snack while the news anchor went on about the academic achievements of a six-year-old in Nebraska, and then started unpacking the rest of his luggage.

He returned to the couch a few minutes later after the words "stolen from the Freedom Tower parking garage" caught his attention. He turned up the volume and leaned forward to catch the rest: "...after leading the police on a chase through the city, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a traffic light. He emerged from the vehicle--unhurt, according to witnesses--and escaped before police could apprehend him."

A clip of security camera footage appeared on the screen, showing the car skidding as it entered an intersection and slamming sideways into the light post.

Jeff recognized the car. It was a grey Mercedes C-class, lowered and sporting modified body paneling, painted with a black stripe down the center.

Jeff recognized the driver too. The terrible mustache was unmistakable.

"Police found a wallet in the car, but no ID of any kind was present. They also found several electronic components that resemble those used in explosive devices. The man is believed to be a terrorist and the police are offering a substantial reward for information of any kind concerning his whereabouts."

Jeff slapped the couch. That was big. He needed to contact Chief, but had no way to do so. He hoped the issue could wait until morning without any trouble.

The man who stole the car was the man with the box who Jeff had nearly frightened to death that morning.

J M Pumilia
October 27th, 2010, 09:04 PM
Blood in his mouth. He made a mental note to himself to try and break his habit of biting his lips when he was nervous.

'Blood in his mouth.' is a fragment but you could combine this fragment with the sentence that follows to make a sensical excerpt.

If you were to make a mental note then it would have to be to yourself unless you had psychic ability but this isn't the case. I suggest takeing out 'to himself' because we already know that mental notes are only to oneself and the phrase seems redundant alongside the words 'mental note.' Here is my re-writen example:

With blood in his mouth he made a mental note to try and break his habit of biting his lips when he was nervous.

He also noted that he'd need to be nervous a lot more often for that to be affective.

You reuse the noun 'note' in such a short writing frame that I found it bringing my attention away from the story and towards the repetitve word. Perhaps, "He also thought" could be a good replacement as it means the same thing but might not distract the reader towards the word usage.

There were only a few things in the world that made him nervous. The looming threat of a possible death sentence was one of them. Death, and, well, that was it.

So what your really saying is that he is only afraid of death? Then just say that. The reader needs more meaning faster but it took two sentences, and the last a fragment, to simply convey his one fear. Strive for consiceness diction that conveys the most amount of meaning with the least amount of words, for that is efficacy and what powerful literature is about.

His men had failed to deliver, and the responsibility was on his shoulders. He was about to get the dressing down of a lifetime.

What has his men failed to deliver? Do you mean they failed to complete a task or did they fail to complete a delivery? Either way it is unclear to me the way it is. What is a dressing down? I am litterally unsure of this vonacular and maybe you could explain what is about to happen with a more common or litteral way.

But a faint flicker of hope still lingered inside him

Don't start sentences with prepositions unless in dialogue. Take out 'but' and the sentence means the same thing.

He was their best. He was priceless. Maybe they wouldn't kill him just yet.
He was whom's best? He was priceless to whom? You cryptically let the reader that the MC is going to die but not by whom and to what affiliation he had with the intended murderers.

carrying the unmistakable air of you're-really-about-to-die.

How can you carry air? In a jar? But it's certainly odd through a telephone conversation. How can air be of you're really about to die? I didn't know air could speak or that it could be of upcoming events. Please consider revising or deleting that part.

"It's a long walk." His words came wrapped in a sharp Russian accent.

He could say "It's a long walk." in a sharp Russian accent but his words cannot litterally be wrapped around by an accent. You are the creator of your universe and your words are creation. What you say and how you say it will exist and be interpreted as litterally in your world as in the everyday one.

I don't have the time to review the whole thing but perhaps you would like to seperate the pages into two post so as to not overwhelm the reader with it's length. Just a though, good luck.