My computer is my best friend…or at least it feels like it lately. I’ve spent the last two weeks glued to my computer working on both writing assignments for my online writing class and a writing project for a potential employer.
To sum it up, I’ve spent hours drafting a fictional story, with very few instructions, only to be told it wasn’t what they needed. Lesson learned: Get paid first. All that to say, it did help me realize that as much as I do love writing, I don’t enjoy writing someone else’s story. I guess I can cross off Ghost Writer from my list of potential careers. In truth, I want to write my own stories, even if they turn out crappy, and the only people who want to read them are my parents.
On a happy note, I did get some positive feedback from my writing professor. The exact words he wrote were, “This is quite engaging. Excellent dialogue. Vivid evocations of characters.”
Thanks Mark! I really needed that after, “he thinks you wount be able to write what he needs… im sorry.” Yes, that’s exactly what she said, spelling errors and all.
So, while there was a moment that I almost threw my MacBook out the window and said screw it, I decided, instead, to keep on trekkin.
For my online Writer’s Digest class, I’ve been working on a novel called, Case 2399. This is my first attempt at working with dystopian fiction. While writing this book, I’ve reflected a lot about some of the classics that have inspired me to pursue this genre. Some of my favorites are, of course: George Orwell’s 1984
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale,
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451,
and Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
I also recently read Suzanne Collin’s trilogy, The Hunger Games, which I really enjoyed.
Below, is a short excerpt from chapter four of Case 2399. Here is some context:
Council member Adams just found out that his daughter has cervical cancer and has been denied treatment. To make matters worse, Adams led the council that denied her treatment, though he did not know she was sick at the time. Now, Adams frantically seeks medical attention for his daughter. Adams seeks help from his fellow council member, Carmichael, a man Adams previously did not like or trust. Carmichael’s father-in-law used to be a doctor, but with the new healthcare system, has been demoted to a paper-filer.
Here you go:
“The door opened and Carmichael stood before him. For a moment, Adams was speechless. He hadn’t thought this far ahead. He knew Carmichael didn’t particularly like him and for good reason. From Carmichael’s first day on the council, Adams had consistently badgered him. Now he stood before him, in desperate need of help.
“What are you doing here, Adams?”
“I need your help.”
Carmichael stepped aside so that Adams could enter.
“Come into my study, Sarah’s upstairs taking a nap.” Adams followed Carmichael down a long corridor to a room at the far end of the house. He took a seat on the couch and rubbed his hands together for warmth. Carmichael flipped a switch to turn on the fireplace.
“Can I offer you a,” he paused. “Coffee or tea?”
“You got anything stronger?” Carmichael looked at Adams suspiciously.
“I’m not here to tattle on you, kid.” Alcohol had been banned several years back, but almost everyone had a small stash hidden away somewhere.
“Whiskey?” Carmichael asked.
“Make it a double.”
An hour later and several drinks in, Adams asked Carmichael for Sarah’s father’s contact information.
“He wouldn’t help you, even if I did give you his number.” Carmichael said. Adams had expected Carmichael to be difficult. He knew he wouldn’t give the information easily. He wanted Adams to beg for it.
“You could at least ask? He might do it if he thought it was a favor for you.”
“For me?” Carmichael laughed, “He hates me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“He hates me,” Carmichael lifted his finger and pointed directly at Adams, “and he hates you.”
“He blames us, Adams. He blames us for everything.” Carmichael was drunk and beginning to not make any sense.
“For creating this world where people die, where people grow ill and have their organs traded like cattle. Where good doctors like Sarah’s father become paper filers,” Carmichael finished his drink and poured another.
“The system works,” Adams said. He began to feel irritated. He wasn’t interested in hearing anti-system propaganda. He just wanted to save Jenny.
“The system works? Is that a joke? Did the system work for your daughter?” Adams’ face turned red. He didn’t like hearing Carmichael go on like this about his system, about his baby. But, whatever Carmichael said didn’t change the fact that he still needed his help. So, he controlled his temper.
“That’s different. That shouldn’t have happened. It was a mistake.”
“It’s only a mistake because it happened to you.”
Adams stood and began to walk in circles around the room. He ran his hands through his hair and shook his head in disbelief.
“God, open your eyes! The system is flawed; it’s evil. And we’re its tools. We: you, me, Johnson, Roberts, Stevens, even Hesh, we’re all goin’ to hell.” Everything Adams had ever believed in was being challenged and twisted by this fool.
“Then why do it? No one’s forcing you to do the job. Quit. Save your soul!”
Carmichael’s body relaxed and his face grew solemn. He leaned back in his chair and pulled a cigarette box from his front pocket. Adams eyes grew wide. Alcohol was one thing, but possession of tobacco was a serious offense. Carmichael didn’t seem to care. He pulled out a cigarette with his teeth and let it rest on his lip.
“I have no soul. Not anymore at least. I traded it in that day I signed that fuckin’ contract and put on that matching blue suit and crimson tie.” As Carmichael spoke, Adams continued to shake his head in disbelief.
“With the attached strings.”
“No,” Adams said. Carmichael went on.
“We’re puppets, you and I. Goddamn puppets.”
“Damned down that dark tunnel to a blistering fiery end.”
“We’ve been damned ever since that day we first sat around that table…nay, yay, nay, yay, nay, yay…That was the day, Adams. That was the day we traded our souls to the devil…and let me tell you one thing, the devil never forgets a debt.” Carmichael lit his cigarette and tossed the lighter carelessly on the table. He took a deep drag and exhaled out the painful truth, “I’m sorry Adams, I really am. But the devil’s come to claim what’s rightfully his and he’s going to take that little girl of yours.””