View Full Version : "Life Versus Death," chapters sixteen and seventeen

June 19th, 2014, 05:35 PM
Hi everybody! I've been working on a book for the past several months, and I've been feeling very optimistic and confident about it. For the most part. I'm not sure how I feel about my latest two chapters, though. I realize that they may be difficult to read with the first fifteen chapters missing, but I was hoping I could get some notes regardless. The beginning of the book introduces all of the characters separately, and the chapter before this has a lot of them meeting each other for the first time. Sorry if the spacing and indenting sucks, I'm copy/pasting from Word.

I mostly want to know if this flows well. Is it too much going on at once?

Chapter Sixteen – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

In Battle Creek, Michigan, things had taken a turn for the worse. The cops outside began screaming in terror as a loud rumbling sound came from beneath the ground. Then there were gunshots. One bullet hit the shuttle’s hull, and the sound reverberated inside like a gong.
Gary closed his eyes and lowered his head. “They’re here…”
Paul whirled on Hank and Jenna. “I think it’s time you all started talking,” he said with a growl. “How the hell did you even get here?”
“There’s no time,” said Gary. “We must act at once.”
Brendon asked Gary, “who’s here?”
"Everyone.” The reaper knelt down, opened a nearby cabinet and rummaged around inside for a while. When he stood back up he had a pile of miscellaneous tools and machine parts in his hands.
Paul started, “what are you do-“ He stopped speaking and his eyes widened as a bright flash erupted from Gary’s hands. When it was gone, he held a strange long-barreled pistol in his hand in place of the tools.
He asked Jenna, “dest thou have any other armes?” Her face expressed her bewildered confusion. “Weapons!” he clarified. “Do you have any weapons?! This will have a far better outcome if you all arm yourselves!” Paul noted that this was the first time he saw G71 excited in any way shape or form. It worried him greatly.
“No,” said Jenna. “We don’t have any weapons! How did you…what do we need them for?!”

Gary found a large wrench and tossed it to Brendon, who caught it, fumbled with it, and then held it steadily. Jenna, Joe, Paul, and Brendon all exchanged confused looks. Hank went to the door.
“Henry!” said Gary. Hank turned around and caught a long metal pipe that Gary tossed to him. “Do not open that door,” said the reaper. Gary then tossed Paul his gun, looked through a few more drawers and cabinets, and made a second one for himself. The screaming and gunshots continued outside, but the rumbling of the ground had ceased.
“What about us?” asked Joe.
“Okay,” said Gary. He now had everyone’s undivided attention. “Here is the plan. Jennifer, Joseph, you two continue working on the engine. Brendon, Henry, Paul, the four of us will wait here. Once the action dies down, I will go outside to survey the situation. Brendon, you may join me if you wish. Henry and Paul, you need to stay inside. Only use your weapons as a defense. You cannot let the reapers outside reach you. They will not hesitate to take your souls.”
“For God’s sakes!” shouted an aggravated Jenna. “What is happening! How do you know our names?!”

Gary sighed. “I am a reaper from the afterlife. I was sent here to do a job, but I refuse to do it. My fellow reapers have come here to either punish me or complete my task for me. Perhaps both.”
Hank said, “and what was your job?”
Instead of facing Hank when he answered his question, Gary looked directly at Paul. “I was assigned to kill Paul Truman and take his soul to a machine at Energy Link’s headquarters.”
Paul, Hank, and Brendon all spoke up at once. “What?! You said-!“ “Energy Link? They-!“ “But you’re the one who-!“ Hank’s voice rose above the rest. “That’s where my wife was taken!”
This bit of information both surprised and confused Gary; he did not know about that. He said nothing in response to it. Instead, he spoke to Paul again. “Death ordered me to take your soul after he sent you back to Earth. But I will not.”
“Is this related to how I died in the first place? You know how I died, don’t you!”

Everyone stopped speaking once they noticed that the commotion outside had finally come to an end. The running and shouting died down first, then the gunshots, and lastly the screaming stopped. The end of the screaming was the worst; it was as if the silence was more chilling. And then came a voice, loud and clear through the fallen officer’s megaphone.
“Come on out, everybody!” The voice of Ben Reynolds. “We have your friends!”

When Hank recognized the voice, he couldn’t hold back anymore. He threw open the shuttle’s door and gasped. Twenty-three dead cops lay dead in the grass, sprawled all around their squad cars. Next to each corpse was a small mound of mud, and next to John’s Caddy parked an unmarked white van. And standing outside the van, on either side, were Ben Reynolds and Dean Vernon. Ben held onto his Glock with one hand and the megaphone with another. Dean gripped a Mossberg riot shotgun in his two hands. Four reapers in their traditional black robes stood alongside them, and in front of the six villains were the only two survivors. Matt and Beth were sat on their knees in the grass, with cloth gagging their mouths and knotted rope holding back their hands. Beth looked at Matt with sad apologetic eyes; Matt looked away and shut his eyes.
“Hiya Henry!” Dean shouted across the field.
“Hank,” said Ben. “You have someone hiding in that shuttle. How about all of you come on out here, and no one gets hurt.”
Gary said to Jenna and Joe, “I urge you to continue working on that engine!” Joe obediently dashed to the adjacent engine room, and Jenna followed him.

Hank stepped out from the doorway and held his pipe down at his side. His voice boomed, “what are you doing here Ben? What have you gotten yourself into?” He sounded more like a disappointed parent than a confused friend.
“Shut up, Hank. Now exit the shuttle, before we make you exit the shuttle.” Ben dropped the megaphone, wrapped both hands around the grip of gun to steady it, and aimed it at Matt’s head.
Hank said, “you’re bluffing, Ben! I know you! You would nev-“ BANG!

Matt Wong collapsed dead onto the grass. As soon as his body hit the ground, one of the reapers dissolved his own body into the grass. A mound of mud formed where the reaper once stood. Tears flowed from Beth’s eyes, but Paul and Brendon were too shocked to react; they felt numb. Hank…well Hank just felt angry. He raised his pipe over his head and began to rush out the door, but then Ben moved his handgun to aim it at Beth’s head. Dean aimed his shotgun at Hank. The three remaining reapers stood still and silent.
“Now that you know we’re not bluffing,” said Dean, “send out Paul Truman.”

“Why do they want me?!” Paul asked Gary. “I’m not even Paul anymore, I’m John!”
“It’s not your body they want. They need your soul.”
“What for?!”
“Death is tired of being in charge. It has been gathering special souls as part of its plan to change things. Energy Link is helping Death; I do not know why. But Paul, Death is mistaken about its plan. If it succeeds…it could very well mean the end of the universe.”
Paul remembered something Death told him before he left the afterlife. “Never underestimate the power of a soul.” Everything Gary told him sounded awful, but one thing in particular stuck out to Paul.
“You said special souls. Am I special? How?”
“I don’t know,” lied Gary. “You would have to ask Death.”
“So I was sent back to Earth as what, part of Death’s plan? He had to get me killed again?”

Outside, Hank began to slowly step back into the shuttle, but he dared now take his eyes off the gun in Ben’s hand. Brendon went to the doorway to observe.
“Then let’s confront him,” said Paul. “If he’s behind all this, let’s go stop him.”
Gary said, “stop who?”

Chapter Seventeen – The Fellowship

Gary said, “Death is not a ‘him,’ Paul. But are you suggesting that we go back to the afterlife? That we stop Death ourselves? You cannot imagine how impossible it would be for two souls to make a raid on the lord of reapers.”
“Not two,” said Paul. “Seven. You, me, Brendon, Henry, those two in the engine room…and if we can save her, Beth too. Maybe we could recruit more help in the afterlife.”
Gary looked at Paul intently and admired his gusto. He knew it would be impossible to pull off such an attack; but he also knew that Death had to be stopped somehow. Gary considered Paul’s plan as Hank got back inside the shuttle and closed the door behind him.

Gary sighed and placed a hand on Paul’s shoulder. “I can take you to the afterlife.” He then looked at Hank and Brendon. “I can take all of you to the afterlife.”
Hank lowered his pipe back to his side. “What did you just say? You want to kill us?”
“No no. Death is the one behind all of this, and only Death can put an end to it. We are going to confront him.”

Jenna exited the engine room and wiped her greasy hands on her pants. Joe walked out behind her and followed suit. He glanced at Hank and then looked away nervously. Jenna spoke up. “The engine was completely fried when we went through that void. I don’t think there’s anything we can do to fix it.”
“What void?” asked Brendon.
Beth put her hands on her hips as she told him, “Joe and I are from the year 2042. We were sent on a mission to inspect a hole in the sky – yes, you heard me, a hole in the sky – and we got sucked in. When we came back out, we met Hank here and discovered it’s the year 2012. That’s our story. That’s how we got here.”
Paul remembered what Death told him about side-effects from passing through the fourth dimension on his way back to Earth. He remembered entering a hole in the sky himself. But he decided not to share that with Jenna. Not yet, anyway…He felt a bit responsible for her current predicament.

After hearing Jenna’s story, Gary felt more confused than he did when he first became a reaper. From what he understood, going back in time was impossible. But like Paul, he felt that now wasn’t the time to discuss that.
Hank said to Jenna, “get this; these guys wanna go to the afterlife and stop Death from doing something stupid.”
Jenna stared at Paul and Gary, speechless. Joe started laughing a nervous laugh.

“Actually,” said Gary, “it very well could be a way to get you back to your own time. There is no real time in the afterlife; it connects to all times.”
This seemed to interest Jenna. “And…” she said, “this is part of our mission…”
Joe was startled to hear her considering it. “What?!”
“Do we have any other options, Joe? Our ship’s fried and we’re stranded thirty years in the past. If the man from the afterlife says it can possibly get us back to our own time, I’m going to believe him. And as far as I’m concerned, this is still research. We went to The Void to find out what it’s about, and this is connected. So, let’s find out.”

“HEY!” shouted Ben from outside. He did not appreciate being ignored.
All this talk of time travel and the afterlife made Hank feel confused and uncomfortable, so he decided to do something that he knew how to do. The heavy aluminum door creaked as he swung it open once again. He decided to spill some blood. He let his pipe clatter to the floor, drew his own pistol, and charged out the door screaming.
“Henry, no!” shouted Gary from the doorway.

Dean fired and missed as Hank serpentined across the grass. Ben took his pistol away from Beth’s head and aimed it at Hank as a warning. The three reapers ran at Hank. Hank fired at one and hit her directly in the chest. The odd gun made a whizzing sound and Reaper C8675 fell to the ground. She did not get up. Beth took her chance and swept her legs out to the side at Ben, who was hesitating. The motion made her fall on her face, but at least so did he.

Gary opened fire with his own impossible gun. He missed the first two shots, but on the third, Reaper Q5043-6 went down. Paul, Brendon, Jenna and Joe stood flat against the walls and out of sight. Joe closed his eyes and mumbled a prayer to himself.
Out in the field, Hank reached Ben and Dean. The third reaper on the scene, K0409-5, ran past him and headed for the shuttle instead. Just as Ben got back up to his feet, Hank had his gun on him. Dean aimed his shotgun at Hank again, and Ben aimed his handgun at Beth. They stared at each other in their silent stand-off.
Gary shot at K409 as he approached the door but missed. Paul set down his gun, picked up the metal pipe Hank left behind, and raised it. Gary stepped back as K409 entered the shuttle. From his spot behind the wall, Paul swung his arms out and his pipe made contact with K409’s head. The reaper went down, and then his body went limp once Gary shot him again.
“Thank you, Paul,” he said.

Brendon stooped down and poked the reaper’s body. “So, reapers can die too, huh?” he asked.
“When we become physical, our bodies are as vulnerable as yours. Our souls automatically return to afterlife after these bodies die.”
“Then why don’t they just come back?” asked Jenna.
“I’m sure they will,” said Gary. “But it takes time.”

One hundred feet away, Hank stared down the barrel of his gun at who he once thought of as his best man. “So you’re in on this too, then?”
Ben’s hand wavered as he held it against Beth’s temple. “Yes, Hank, I’m in on this. You dumbass.”
“Why? What do you want with Lindsay?”
Dean said, “why don’t you come find out?!” He fired his shotgun not at Hank, but to Hank’s side. The explosive blast from the shotgun’s barrel made Hank duck and cover his ears. Ben and Dean took the opportunity to dash back inside their van, which was still running, and they drove away. Hank fired at the van, but the shot wasn’t enough to stop them. It merely dinged off the side panel, and then the van was gone.

With no way to stop Ben at the moment, Hank instead went to Beth and untied her bonds and gag. He led her back to the shuttle with his arm around her shoulders. Once the two of them got inside, she collapsed onto the floor sobbing. Paul saw her and felt like doing the same.
“They’re all gone,” said Hank. “One man…er, disappeared into the soil, three died, and the last two fled back to Chicago. We sure we can’t fix that engine?” Jenna shook her head no. “Well, that’s alright. I saw my truck still parked on the side of the road.”
Joe said, “alright for you, maybe! But us, we’re still stranded here!”
“No, we’re not,” said Jenna. “We’ve got a plan.”
“I’m not going along with that,” said Hank. “I’m getting back in my truck, driving to Chicago, and making those sons of bitches pay.”
Brendon pumped his fist into the air and shouted, “yeah! Me too! I don’t like your guys’s plan anyway. Gives a new meaning to ‘suicide mission,’ yanno?”
Beth lifted her head up and looked around at them all with her wet eyes. “What’s the plan?”
Paul felt a bit embarrassed when he said, “Gary here is taking us to the afterlife. We’re going to stop Death.”
“Do you honestly think that is a good plan?”
“Yeah sure,” said Paul. “How bad could it be?”