Episode 83 The Newbie Writers’ Podcast
Draft revision, the live version
Apologies on the audio quality. Had technical difficulties.
Draft from Catharine’s novel – Five Elements of Time (working title)
A rock shattered the stained glass window scattering shards of red glass at Charity’s feet.
She glanced up at the hole, almost perfectly round. Through it the sky hovered gray, heavy, and unchanged despite the increasing volume of the chanting outside.
Preacher John stopped Charity from reading any more from the One True Word.
A big imposing man, twice the size of slender Charity, he never the less, glanced out at the men in the congregation for approval. Charity didn’t see a single nod, or twitch from any one, but there must have been some approval.
“We will exit, this way.” The man of the One True God gestured, and without a sound or word, the whole of the population of the Greater Suburb rose and filed neatly from the cavernous temple and through a narrow door behind the pulpit.
The men went first pulling their wives and children behind. Charity carefully set down the One True Word on the pulpit and silently waited to join her family as they filed out.
They didn’t pause in the walled courtyard, where Charity used to play after daily Temple service. Her father followed the rest of the families out through another door to the old abandoned parking structure and finally to narrow alley.
The sound of the chanting rose and fell punctuated by the shattering of another window, of the temple or of a house, she was not certain. Charity had never entered or exited the temple this way, she wasn’t even aware there was a way out of the courtyard even though she had played here every afternoon of her life.
The low beamed ceiling of the old parking structure was oppressive enough to hurry the congregation to the far door. She looked around for their preacher, their leader but he was no where to be found.
Did he escape and leave them to fend for themselves? You don’t leave your flock, or in the RC you never leave anyone’s avatar on the battle field. Even girls knew that.
“Heathens!” Preacher John’s voice rose above the babble of the villagers. He must have stomped through the front doors even as the last of the congregation members slipped out the back. His sudden words burst over the angry crowd. Charity felt, rather than heard a lull in the chanting as the big metal doors of the Temple clanged open. There was a pause, but then the crowd roared again.
She didn’t know there were that many villagers to make up such a crowd.
“That was the last of the colored windows.” Charity’s mother commented. Father, with one hand pulling Faith and the other gripping Hope, said nothing, he pulled them all along as fast as they could run.
She was unaccustomed to moving this fast, young ladies strolled sedately, took their time, did not call attention to themselves. But now everyone was running, slowly, Charity was surprised at how many she out paced, but it was bad to be proud. Okay, not proud then but she did take advantage of the chaos to pull off her floppy brimmed hat and drag at her scarf, she couldn’t breathe. Father had not slowed his pace, but she could easily keep up, she wasn’t as big as most girls her age.
Charity raised her head and looked directly up into the sky. It loomed low and gray over their Great Suburb. She jerked and rushed past familiar houses that seem to shimmer under the diffused daylight.
The homes were a purposeful jumble of architectural style, created to reflect the whim of the owners rather than display a uniform cohesion. Half timbered Tudors butted up adjacent to Craftsman Modern, and Mid Century Glory. All the homes in their neighborhood were Beautiful mansions, fronted by lush lawns and gardens. Charity glance at them, familiar, solid. But as she ran, the facades seemed to shiver before her, as if they were painted transparencies. Charity squinted wondering if she needed laser surgery so soon, at 18.
They raced to their own home, an imposing Victorian Mansion, Her father did not loosen his grip on her younger sisters, even after they gained their own front walk. There were no walls around their home so they were still vulnerable. Charity glanced around and watched her neighbors disappear into their pretty homes.
Some of the C Executives, the families of the very powerful. Like the Knight leaders, they all lived in low walled compounds, in the center of the suburbs. She was sure they were all there now, behind bunkers of their own making.
Charity replaced her hat not wanting to anger her father who was clearly agitated. She glanced down at the earth, now that her hat was firmly in place since there was no where else to look but down. The ground wavered, it was lush green, then brown, then green. She blinked and followed her family into the safety of their home.
The sheets were not even dry. Charity pushed them away and lit the stove.
She took a few deep breaths. She heard mother calm Hope and Faith, helping Faith with her labored breathing. Father disappeared into his home office to enter the RC through the home version, coded for his use alone. The house lights flickered. It wasn’t the first time the dranit burning stove that mother insisted on was an advantage.
The lights flickered again, but held.
Charity took the last two pieces of the dense, coal – like fuel and fed them into the stove.
“Nancy reported the Fabers in the market were down.” Mother tested the sheets and wiped her damp hands on her pale blue skirt.
They used to just toss the dirty sheets and Nancy, their main servant would bring in new from the market every week, the old recycled for it’s essential material. They were probably using the same sheets over and over, on a molecular level, but it was still nice to have new.
Not any more.
Charity glanced at the hanging sheets, no longer the original white. Just this morning she had helped her mother wrestled those sheets out of the big tub, the fire burning underneath.
Charity was used to such odd behavior from her mother. She had little choice but to help. So she automatically arched over the hot flames and helped her mother pull the wet fabric to the wringer.
“They are out of material for fabric.” Her mother said quietly. “I told you it’s good to know how to wash. Your sister, “ she left the rest unsaid and continued to wrestle with the old wringer.
“She was suppose to return today.” Charity announced.
“Mirabella?” Her mother jerked the wet fabric from the rollers and give the fabric a mighty twist putting her shoulders into the effort. “I know, she was.” Her mother held Charity’s gaze for a second before twisting the sheet with more force than Charity ever saw. Water, precious water, streamed from the fabric. Finally mother stopped her shoulders sagged.
“She is gone honey.” Her mother’s faded blue eyes watered. “I’m afraid she died in yesterday’s train wreak.”
Charity’s whole body turned cold. How could her friend, her first friend in school, her first pal, her only pal, be gone?
“Ray is devastated of course.” Her mother concentrated on the laundry and did not look up at her oldest daughter. “Of course. He’ll find someone else. He needs a wife to go into the GG. All Guards have a wives.” And all those men involved in the RC ,the Reality Cloud, needed a wife to keep the family fed, organized and together. If a man wanted to work, or participate in any of the Realty Cloud world, he needed to marry, put his wife into a nice house and make sure she was blessed with children.
Charity stopped wringing the sheets. The warm water dripped on her bare feet. They never wore shoes in the house, an old tradition. There used to be so much toxic material outside that the women finally stopped everyone from tracking it into the house by creating the rule – no shoes inside. Now it was a law.
“He asked for you.” Mother said finally.
Nancy, one of their five servants, was late. She pulled her kerchief more firmly over her blond hair and ducked her head. “I’m so sorry Mother, the lines were long for the dranit today. And the village riots stopped us from leaving the market.”
“Takes a lot of electricity to manufacture the dranit.” Mother never raised her voice at the servants, she insisted on treating them as people, even individuals. Charity kept that eccentricity to herself, her friends, like Mirabella, reported that Mothers were suppose to berate servants and keep them in line, something Charity’s mother never did.
Mother simply took the offered fuel, two day’s worth. “If only we could harvest wood ourselves.”
“There are no forests.” Hope importantly flounced into the kitchen. She was 16 and just feeling her strength as a leader, now that all the boys in her class had been transferred to the RC Colleges. “I learned that today.”
Mother sighed and considered the huge wood burning stove. The electricity was channeled mostly to the Government where the replicators and RC equipment were kept. The family owned a small one of course, but the food pods were becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, even for a well placed family like themselves. The only reason they weren’t hungry, the only reason Faith was even as well as she was, was because mother grew food in the back of the house. Dirt Food. Charity never told anyone. But she had to grudging admit that her mother eccentric gardening had kept them from going hungry many nights.
Only two days ago everything was as it should be. If she had known, she would have been kinder, not pinched so hard. Charity drew in a shuddering breath and batted away the drying sheet. She wanted things back the way they were. But according to Mirabella, that wasn’t even possible. “RC has been fluctuating, I can feel it. Most women our age can feel it. Sometimes I worry that we aren’t even real.” She held out her arm. “Pinch me.” She commanded.
Charity reluctantly took a pinch of Mirabella’s flesh and dug her nails into the skin.
“Yikes!” Mirabella glanced down. “That’s going to bruise.”
“Then you’ll know you’re real won’t you?” Charity shot back. They didn’t dare linger on the street. They continued to the Temple, but now that Mirabella mentioned it, the houses really did vibrate as she walked: sometimes revealing a plain one story home and sometimes turning into the glass and wood castles she always envisioned, remembered.
It wasn’t all that bizarre, they heard early on in their education that reality was one of two things: a shared community effort or an individual vision. The shared world community, represented by the 100 year old Reality Cloud, was preferable. Women were proud to support such an instrument of world peace.
Yes, increasingly, Charity was experiencing the individual version of reality. It was not comforting.
Mirabella liked to see her world one way, and Charity sometimes wanted to see it differently.
But they were alike in two important ways.
Their reality was shifting.
“What do you think is going on?”
“My dad said the grids are down more and more, there are surges, they blame the villagers. The Government sent out bot after bot to fix the problem. I heard they are even sending out drones but can’t find any reason for the electricity or for the the decrease in pod production .”
“Nancy said the lines were getting longer.” Charity confirmed.
“They’ll have to bring in the villagers.” Mirabella said.
They didn’t need to bring in the villagers, the villagers had apparently come to them.
Okay, after hearing us discuss a second draft of my book – can you do better? One experience that is often inspiring and motivating is to have finished a book and think, “I can write better than that.” And you should. Write three pages that are better than mine here, or better than a book you’ve recently read.
You know you can do it.
There is music that parleys absolutely nothing, manipulating the minds of those purchaser who listen and purchase there albums. However there is music that has an encouraging message which provides customers with motivation and the courage to endure their individual situation.
Word of the week
noun: Something large and powerful.
Via Latin from Hebrew liwyathan (whale). Earliest documented use: 1382.
“A merger between the two firms, which both belong to London’s Magic Circle of top five law firms, would have created a legal leviathan with 950 partners and more than 10,000 staff.”
Liz Chong; Partners Quit; The Times (London, UK); Aug 1, 2006.
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