Its been almost a year since I started working on my novel. I don’t have much to show for it, at least on paper, but my mind has expanded. I feel my prologue is done, there may be a little mistake here or there, but its done. The emotions, the imagery, I’m very happy with them. I have been using what I have learned to go over and over my prologue and first two chapters, applying it as I learn it. I still struggle with fight sequences but its a new area for me.
If you want to reed the other drafts, see the improvement in the writing you can check out these links to my other posts about my novel Helix. I found looking at before and after writing can help in your own, the differences in imagery, character development, so on.
Her is a post I did with some helpful sites for beginning writers.
So now my new draft for Helix – Prologue
Prologue : The world as we know it comes to an end
“Mr. President, may I have a moment of your time?” Mrs. Pickett knows he won’t listen, but grace insists on trying one last time.
“Yes, of course. Give me five minutes gentlemen,” the president says to his advisers. “I will meet you in my office.”
The president is very busy these days. Planning a war, making sure as many people as possible are safe in the colonies deep under the earth’s surface. Keeping the peace in a panicked country. His life would take a tole on any man. Mountains of paperwork over run his desk. His food often left uneaten. He would have no time for his family if they were still home, thankful they are safe even if he can’t be with them. Five minutes is a lot to ask of a man in his position.
Mrs. Pickett leads him to an unused office not far from his own.
“It’s Grace. She wouldn’t leave without seeing you.” Mrs. Pickett gave the president a sympathetic smile. She knew how hard of this had to be for him and he didn’t seem pleased.
He opened the door to the cramped office. There she was leaning against the desk, picking at her nails. A nervous habit she had since she was a child. He stood motionless just taking in her beauty. Wearing his favorite color on her, a deep red pant suit accented with black piping. He cleared his throat before speaking, startling her.
“Grace, this isn’t the best time. The Secretary of defense is waiting in my office.”
“I know, that’s why we are here. This office has been empty for months. No one will find us here.”
“I had to come and say good bye, I had to……” Tears welling up in her eyes, her words stop short.
He pulls a handkerchief from his breast pocket, dabbing at the tears tenderly.
In a low soothing voice he tries to comfort her. “I know, I’m going to miss you too. I just can’t go with you, no matter how many times you beg me. My place is here. Our country needs me, we are teetering on the edge of an abyss. I love you with all my hart Grace, but I can’t leave this place. You will be safe in the colony, you will stay in my thoughts and my hart.”
Fighting back tears of his own, trying to be strong for her sake. Holding her close, he presses his lips to hers tenderly. She melts into his arms, both unwilling to let go, wanting this moment to last forever. He can’t help but think of his wife in this fleeting moment, their goodbye wasn’t this sweet and painful even though he loved her once, long ago.
Grace looks at him with deep sorrow in her eyes, she knows whats ahead. With a tear stricken voice she says “If you stay you could die. I don’t want to live in a world without you. I know we may not win the war … I’ll stay here with you. I’ll die, I don’t care as long as we are together.” Desperately she tried to rationalize giving up her life.
Her words ringing in her ears, she realizes she has raised her voice too much. No one is supposed to know she is here. She breaths in slowly, deeply, trying to regain her composer.
“Don’t worry about me Grace, I’ll be fin. We will win the war, and then we can be together again. Just give us some time.”
He lies to her knowing the United States is out matched. Trying to lie to himself, convince himself its true. He will go down fighting, he’s no coward, he’s a leader, a soldier.
“If that’s true why can’t I stay with you?”
Her tears begin to flow black, she can feel them slowly creeping down her face. She doesn’t reach to wipe them. Shunning away from him she doesn’t want to appear week in front of him. That would be worse then dying.
“Grace look at me.” He speaks softly.
He grabs her chin,gently turning her head to face him. Etiquette is not important when the two of them are alone. He can truly be himself with her.
“You know I love you, that is why you can’t stay. Put my mind at ease Grace and get to the Washington colony before the doors close. Time is running out. With you there safe I can concentrate on the task at hand, and when it is all over you can come back to me.”
“I will go my love, just know I leave my heart with you.”
They press into each other, arms locked tight, reluctant to let go. The moment can’t last. He gives her his monogrammed handkerchief to whip the tears from her face. Staring at him, hands shaking she reaches to give it back.
“Hold onto it Grace, you can give it back when I see you again.” A small bitter-sweet smile pierces his lips.
She looks at it for a moment, unable to raise her eyes to meet his. With one finger he lifts her gaze, locking his lips to her’s one more time forceful and wanting, savoring their last kiss. Knowing it’s time they release each other. She pulls down on her jacket, runs her fingers through her hair, and pulls out her little compact and wipes the black smudges from her face. He smooths a stray hair away from her face. She looks at him with eyes full of sorrow and fear, fear for him, for the world. She brushes his cheek with her hand,letting it rest there for just a moment before woefully walking to the door. She pauses for just a moment with her hand on the door knob, but doesn’t look back. She can’t, she knows she has to go. If she hesitates any longer she will stay, no matter how she feels she knows it would be a mistake. She must make it to the colony before it closes; her sister’s family is waiting.
He stands in the hallway watching her leave, his heart pulling at him to fallow. He will never see her again, or his wife and kids, but it’s his duty to stay and fight, to die like a true soldier. walking back to his office he knows it will all be over soon.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Jim, I miss the kids.” Nora said weeping. It seems to Jim like Nora’s crying is never ending these days.
“I know Nora, I do to. But they’re safe with your sister in the colony, we are lucky they got in with her. If it wasn’t for all your sister’s connections they wouldn’t have.”
Jim holds her as they watch the news. Their new routine, watch news about the war as they hold each other, there isn’t much else to do any more but wait. Some call it world war III and all they can do is sit and watch for the end of the world. All factories and businesses have closed, every person left above ground with their loved ones simply waiting and praying the end won’t come.
“Things are worse Jim, I’m afraid we won’t see them again.”
“Maybe not, but it is better for them with Grace. With her we know they will live and have families of their own. If they had stayed with us they wouldn’t be safe. As their parents we had to make the hard choice, make them grow up without us to save their lives.”
“I know. I heard what the President said. What if he is wrong, what happens then? She starts to sob quietly again, without control, covering her face with her hands. She wants her babies home, her life the way it was before the war, her family whole.
“Then they come home and we can be a family again. You should be happier for them Nora, they’re safe. If the President is right our children live!” He didn’t mean to raise his voice, but coming to terms with their fate, their children’s fate has taken a toll on him.
“And if we die Jim, how is that fair? We won’t be there for them, watch them grow. We will never get the chance to meet our grandchildren. We don’t get to grow old together.”
“Its not fair, Nora. There wasn’t room for us, we are lucky they let your sister take the kids. They will have a chance at some kind of a life, and we get to stay with each other till the end.” his voice wavers a little. He has always been a strong man, but fear fills his hart.
Nora stands and walks to the window, rubbing her locket between her fingers. She opens it to look at the photos of her children. Closing her eyes she can see her daughter dancing and singing into a brush in her room upstairs while pop music plays on the radio. Her son practicing baseball with his father in the back yard, covered from head to toe in dirt by the time he comes inside. For just a moment its almost like they never left, so vivid she opens her eyes thinking they will be there. But it’s only wishful thinking. She feels like her mind is slowly slipping away, wishing it would end one way or another. She absently gazes out the window. Looking at this almost still scenery, Washington DC in the background, the grass and trees, even the clouds move sluggishly. The world in slow motion, she thought to herself.
On the TV reporter Thomas Jones says, “The President gave no comment today when asked about a possible nuclear retaliation after today’s failed negotiation…”
Jim shuts the TV off. He stands to walk over and hold Nora as the ground and walls start to quiver, then shake violently.
“Jim you have to come see……”
Jim and Nora where to close to see anything but a blinding white light, taking their sight. They couldn’t see the smoke rise high into the air in the shape of a massive mushroom, dark and looming. Never saw the gray smoke and fire glowing red, orange, and yellow. Couldn’t see buildings falling as the shock waves hit them. Ruble flying as fires ignite. Jim never made it to his wife’s side. He can hear screams all around him, Nora only feet away. Loudest of all are his own screams ringing in his ears before everything gets quiet, dark, and goes blank.
Jim and Nora are the lucky ones, it was over quickly for them. People further away survive long enough to know what’s happened. Further still, they live to feel their insides die. To get violently sick. Even grow tumors. Watch their skin tern gray as the cells die. But still death comes for them.
The unlucky live for some time their bodies changing horribly before dying. A few small pockets do live, the ones in extremely remote areas. What is to become of them is hard to tell. Radiation seeps deep into the ground tainting everything it comes in contact with. A nuclear winter consumes the planet’s atmosphere. The earth’s future bleak and uncertain.