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Paradise WIP – Chapter 19

Author’s note:

Hello readers! Thank you for coming back to the next chapter in my science fiction work in progress. If you are new here, Paradise is a tale of one memory dealing with no memory and living in two realities. Last week, Roman had returned to the compound, though that shouldn’t have been possible after the surgery Max performed. This week, something new is discovered in the compound.

Please keep in mind, this is a first draft, and it is being shared as it is written. If you notice inconsistencies or glaring errors, please let me know. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Enjoy!

 Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you.

 

Chapter 19 of the science fiction work-in-progress is now available to read online. New chapters posted every Tuesday. Come join in the fun! | #scifi #sciencefiction #wip #novel #firstdraft

Chapter 19

The next morning, I again woke in the compound. It didn’t make sense that I should be back there, but I decided to make the best of it.

I was sure that the key to figuring out what was going on could be found in the reconditioning center. Whether the compound was real or not, that center was important to that reality.

It was clear I couldn’t immediately go back to watching the door to the center. They would be watching me. Likely, they had been watching me for some time.

However, they were playing the game differently this time. Not only had they let Peadar come visit me, even telling him I had been injured, but they also allowed us to continue talking. We were even able to sit together at mealtimes.

Peadar was not impressed at the new way I was devouring large amounts of food, but I didn’t care. Real or not, I wanted to enjoy every morsel for as long as I could.

Paradise WIP

For several days, a group of barn workers sat around Peadar and I. It wasn’t clear who among them was the spy or if they all were, but we took the hint and spoke only about things in the compound.

The group quickly grew bored with us and soon let us sit at one of the fringe tables by ourselves.

“What happened?” Peadar asked me one day.

“What do you mean?” There were strawberries on the menu that day, and I was enjoying eating them in small, blissful bites.

“In the center. I know you didn’t fall.”

“No, I’m sure I didn’t fall,” I told him. “But I can’t tell you what happened. The whole time I was gone, I was back in the bunker. I don’t know what happened here.”

“And I’m still not in the bunker?”


I paused from my strawberries for a moment to look at him.

“No, I’m sorry. You’re not there. You died protecting me in that reality.”

“So, if this isn’t real?” He wasn’t really looking for an answer, and I offered none.

He looked down mournfully at his plate. “And we’re sure this is the construct?”

“Honestly?”

He looked back up at me. “Yes, sir.”

“I can’t say unequivocally. I thought for sure the bunker was real. Max found bots in my head and removed them. Life felt normal there, although awful most of the time. The people in the bunker seem just as real as anyone here.”

“So, this might be reality?”

For a moment, I imaged Peadar as a young boy, and I was having to find a way to tell him that his favorite pet had died.

“Again, I can’t say. I don’t know how to figure it out.”

He didn’t say anything for some time.

“Well, then, sir,” he finally said. “Perhaps that should be our new mission.”

It was then that I noticed a girl walking our direction from the barracks. My mind didn’t register anything at first, but it did pick up a hint of familiarity, so I did a doubletake.

“Who’s that?” I asked Peadar, nodding my head in the girl’s direction.

“That’s Jasmine,” he told me.

“Jasmine? From the center?”

“Yes. You really don’t remember?”

I was confused. “Remember what?”

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“The night we saw Gregg and Todd come out of the center, Gregg was carrying something.”

Yes, I remembered that. It had been too dark to see what it was.

“It was her,” Peadar went on. “They let her keep her name, Jasmine, but not much else. They really did a number on her.”

“What do you mean?”

Peadar paused for a minute like he wasn’t sure how to convey what he meant. “She’s not right,” he finally said. “Not upstairs. Something isn’t working right.”

“Still,” I replied, turning my head so no one would notice me paying attention to her, “she’s been in the center. That makes her our best ally.”

“Maybe.” Peadar did not sound as enthusiastic as I felt.

Jasmine didn’t have a work assignment. Instead, she seemed to be just wandering aimlessly around the compound. She didn’t wear the smile that most people did. In fact, she didn’t wear any expression at all.

I watched her much of the afternoon as I was working in the vineyard. There was no discernable pattern in where she walked or when, and I didn’t notice her interact with anyone.

When it was time for evening meal, I watched for her to come in to the dining area, but she never did. After feasting on corn, okra, and candied carrots, I set out to search for her. As luck would have it, I found her near the barn where Peadar worked, and no one else was around.

“Jasmine!” I called after her, but she continued walking at her slow pace.

“Jasmine,” I called out again softer as I got closer. Still, no response.

Finally, I caught up to her and grabbed her gently by the arm. She turned to look in my direction, but I got the clear impression that she wasn’t seeing me.

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“Jasmine, it’s me.”

“Hello,” she said methodically, but her stare and expression remained unchanged.

I lowered my voice to a whisper. “It’s me, General Roman. I need your help.”

No response.

“Jasmine, you’re the only one that has been in the center. I know it’s the key to everything here. I need your help.”

“Hello,” she said again in her monotone way.

Peadar was right. This definitely wasn’t the girl I had talked to in the center.

Just then, Vann appeared from nowhere just behind us.

“Rick,” he said with the smile I wanted to rip from his face, “I see you’ve met Jasmine.”

I didn’t say anything.

“I’d prefer you let her go.” It was clear that Vann was giving me an order, though his smile remained unchanged.

“We were just talking,” I told him.

“Really?” His tone was sarcastic. “Jasmine doesn’t talk a lot, and not usually to people she’s just met.”

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I wanted to confront Vann, but after my conditioning, I wasn’t supposed to remember Jasmine or the center. I also wasn’t sure what they had done to me in the two months I’d been in the bunker, so instead I stood there silently.

“Jasmine used to work in another part of the compound,” Vann started to inform me. It surprised me that he said that because everyone had always said there was nothing other than the part of compound we saw every day.

“She was a very good worker, but one act of carelessness, and she was unavoidably hurt. We’re doing what we can to help her, but I fear she may be forever altered.”

I let go of Jasmine’s arm. It shocked me what Vann was saying. He was giving me a warning. I had a choice to confront him or to pretend like I knew nothing. There was no doubt that Vann couldn’t be trusted, so I opted to remain silent.


Vann came closer and put his arm around Jasmine.

“Come on, young one,” he told her. “Let’s get you back to the barracks.”

“Wait,” I stopped them. I knew it was a mistake, but Jasmine was one of my people. She needed my help.

“Jasmine, has someone hurt you?”

Nothing changed in her pretty face. Her eyes stayed unfocused and fixed forward, looking right through me. After a moment of silence, she muttered another monotone, “Hello.”

Vann’s pleasant smile changed to more of a smirk. “I told you, something unfortunate happened to Jasmine. She’s a dear sweet girl, and we’ll do what we can to help her. In the meantime, she’s a good reminder for all of us as to why we need to follow the rules.”

If I had any doubt that I was being warned, that doubt was now erased. Vann may not have been sure if I remembered Jasmine from the center or not, but in either case, he was letting me know, if I failed to play nice, there would be serious consequences, to me and my people.

Author’s note:

Thank you again for stopping by today to read the latest chapter. What do you think so far? Leave your comments below or send me a message through the Contact Page.

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Chapter 19 of the science fiction work-in-progress is now available to read online. New chapters posted every Tuesday. Come join in the fun! | #scifi #sciencefiction #wip #novel #firstdraft

Continue to Chapter 20

Paradise WIP – Chapter 20

Paradise WIP – Chapter 17

Author’s Note: Hello, dear readers! Thank you for coming back to read the next chapter in Paradise, my science fiction work-in-progress. Each week I share a chapter of the saga as I write it. The entire story so far is available online. Please keep in mind that this is a first draft, and be kind as to any errors or inconsistencies you might find.

Last week, we left off with our four soldiers, Roman, Sam, Menton and Benjamin, heading out on their mission to capture a Plax. Let’s see how far they got.

Chapter 17

Much to my embarrassment, my strength gave out long before the others. Sam was intent on making it to the first bunker before anyone slept. Had Benjamin slung me over his shoulder, it would have been awful enough. When Menton said that she had plenty of energy and would happily carry me first, I wanted to disappear into one of the small cracks in the cave floor.

“I can go on,” I grumbled, but I knew I didn’t have many more steps in me before I would collapse.

Sam nodded to Menton, and before I could object, she swung me up and over her shoulder.

“Don’t worry, Sir,” Menton whispered to me. “It’s an honor to carry you as long as I need to.”

Happily, I passed out from sheer exhaustion a few minutes later.

When I next opened my eyes, we were back in the first bunker. They had decided the medical bay was the safest place to be. Sam and Benjamin were both asleep, and Menton was standing guard.

“Have you slept, soldier?” I asked her.

“No, sir.”

“Then it’s time for me to take watch.”

“I’m fine, sir,” Menton objected.

“Perhaps you are, but you still need to rest. That’s an order.”

I had a feeling she was not going to sleep, but she did acquiesce and took a place on one of the beds.

The bunker was too quiet, and I was too jumpy. I kept picturing the Plax that had almost gotten Max and me the last time we were in that room. Every little sound sent me into high alert. None of us had been in the bunker in weeks, so it could easily have been infested with Plax soldiers.

When Sam woke up she told me that Menton had done a preliminary survey of the bunker before she or Benjamin had gone to sleep. That knowledge might have made me less jittery had I known, but then again, I wasn’t sure it would have helped at all.

My intention was to stay in the bunker a few days, so I could regain some strength. I had insisted on coming on this mission. The limited strength I had was making me a burden on the rest of the group, and the mission was stressful enough already.

 

Paradise WIP

 

We spent a full day in the bunker. We split into teams, Sam and Benjamin worked together and Menton got stuck with me. Methodically we searched the entire bunker, but ultimately did not find anything.

The next day we set out early toward the surface.

“How long will it take us to get there?” I asked Sam. Nothing in the caves was familiar to me.

“If we hustle, we could be on the surface by tomorrow night. It’s better that we don’t come out of the caves exhausted, just in case we meet up with the Plax right away. There are a couple relatively safe places to rest along the way, so we’ll plan on three days.”

 

Lifting my heavy boots off the ground was becoming increasingly difficult, when Sam suddenly said, “We’ll rest here for tonight.”

“Here?” I looked around to find the entrance to another bunker. Instead, all I saw was the dark passageway we’d been marching through all day.

“Not here exactly,” she smiled at me. “There.” She pointed her headlamp toward the floor of the cave a few feet from me. I didn’t notice it at first, but then a small opening came into view.

“There?” I asked in disbelief. “That’s barely big enough for me to get my head through.”

“It’s a little snug,” she laughed at me, “but you’ve done it before.”

Menton took off all her gear and got on the floor to inspect the area we would be entering.

“Looks like the opening’s clear,” she told us. “Let me inspect the other side before you follow me.”

Then she rolled onto her back and stretched her arms out straight above her head. Slowly she inched her way into the opening. I couldn’t help but think of a snake eating its prey as I watched her. Something dark twitched in the back of my mind, but I quickly dismissed it.

“She’s not going to make it,” I whispered to Sam after some time. She laughed at me in response.

“I’m serious!”

“I know you are.” She patted my arm condescendingly, which only served to anger me further. “Peadar has gone in and out of this spot several times.”

“Peadar?” I pictured the mountain of the man I remembered from my time in the compound. “He must have been much smaller in real life.”

“How big was in he in the Plax world?”

“At least two heads taller than me and probably three times as wide.”

“Yep, that sounds about right,” she said.

I looked back at Menton. She had made very little progress.

“There is no way.”

“It’s bigger than it looks,” she told me, but I got the distinct feeling that she was lying.

What Sam didn’t tell me was the reason why Menton entered the opening by laying on her back. For one, if there were Plax in the opening, she had a weapon help firmly in her right hand. Two, the length of the opening was longer than my body and slanted upward the further in you got. Laying on my stomach would have bent me in an awkward position as I worked my way through.

Menton gave us the all clear and Sam put Menton’s gear in the opening ahead of her.

“Keep alert,” she told us, and then she started the entry process.

Since Sam was much smaller than Menton, it took her only a fraction of the time. Her feet had barely entered the opening when Benjamin started putting my gear into the opening so I could push it as I slithered along.

Jagged rocks poked me and dragged the length of my body. It was a horrible feeling being in a space so tight with my arms above my head. I could feel that my feet were finally in the opening, as I was able to push myself along better by using the sides of the tunnel for leverage. Yet my hands had still not reached the exit.

Suddenly I was very cold. My heart started to race and sweat sprung up everywhere on my body. I needed desperately to move my arms, but there was no way as they were pinned above me.

“I can do this,” I told myself, but for a few minutes, I couldn’t move, and the fear intensified.

Breathing became difficult. Air came in and out in short jagged breaths.

“Move, soldier!” I commanded myself, but I couldn’t. The sensation of a white shadow started to envelope me as my heart pounded faster and faster. My head felt disconnected from my body and my legs were numb.

“Move,” I told myself with less enthusiasm. “You can do this.”

Then my hands started to tingle like they were asleep, and the feeling was slowly creeping up my arms. Against my will, tears started the stream from my eyes, and consciousness started to escape me.

My heart was drumming so loud in my ears that I could hear the whoosh of my blood coursing through my body. Just when I was sure I had lost the fight, two strong hands grasped my wrists and yanked me the rest of the way into the next opening.

Once free, I immediately curled into a ball, hugging my knees tightly against my chest. Sam sat beside me and placed my head in her lap.

“Roman, it’s okay,” she tried to console me. “You’re okay.”

Breathing was still difficult, and the sense of panic only strengthened as I realized I still couldn’t take enough air into my lungs. I squeezed my hands into fists as my chest started to ache.

“Breathe, Roman,” she told me. “You’re free now. You can move. Breathe. Just breathe.”

I could barely hear her for the noise pounding in my ears.

“What’s… what’s happening?” It was all I could do to gasp out the words.

“You’re okay, Roman,” was all she would say to me.

I didn’t feel okay. In fact, I felt the furthest thing possible from okay. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut and tried to imagine open spaces, but the only open spaces I clearly remembered weren’t real. The illusion of the compound offered no comfort now that I knew it wasn’t real.

“Roman.” Sam started to blow softly in my face. “Roman, you have to breathe.”

But breathing was not possible. The vise around my chest grew tighter as the white shadow took complete control of me. I felt myself slipping further away.

“Sam!” I cried out, but I wasn’t sure any sound escaped me. At least, I didn’t hear anything above the drum of my heartbeat, and there was no air in my lungs to breathe out the word.

“Roman, breathe.” Sam’s voice was muffled, hanging disconnected in the air above me.

I was losing the fight. Terror completely encased me and took my consciousness away in the process.

 

I’ve Learned – Lessons 1-10

 

“Rick?” someone said my name. Whatever had happened was finally over. My mind was coming back to life. Exhaustion weighed on me like a lead blanket.

“Rick, wake up.”

Something was wrong. I sensed it before I opened my eyes.

“Come on, sir, return to me,” someone whispered. I knew that voice.

Peadar! It was Peadar talking to me. Had I died?

“Wake up, Rick, please.”

I tried to shake my head, but it was too heavy. Slowly I was able to open my eyes ever so little.

In the blur that greeted me, I could see that I was in a bright room. It was Peadar talking to me. He was sitting next to me on the edge of my bed.

Gregg and Todd stood guard behind him.

Author’s Note: That’s it for this week. What do you think so far? I would love to hear your comments.

If you are enjoying this tale, please tell others about it or share it on social media. I greatly appreciate it.

 

Chapter 17 of the science fiction work-in-progress, Paradise, is now available. Our team has set out on their mission to capture the Plax. What happens next? Read to find out. | #WIP #sciencefiction #scifiContinue on to Chapter 18

Paradise WIP – Chapter 18

5 Star Review

Disclaimer: Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission, at no extra cost for you. I only promote products that I use and have benefitted from.

Review

Today is going to be a great day. I received this wonderful review this morning in my inbox. This wonderful review was posted on Good Reads and Amazon.

Goodreads

Read the complete review by clicking the picture above or this line.

I want to note that this is an unpaid review. I submitted my book for free to Lexis Infinitum PR. Thank you so much to Lexis Infinitum PR and to Jessica!

Interview

Cathy from What Cathy Read Next published this author interview this week. I am having an excellent week.

Via Q&A: Getting Home by Wolfe Butler

Book cover

Author Notes

I talk a little more about the writing process for Getting Home in this blog post:

Getting Home – a Retrospective

Getting Home – A Retrospective

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November 2017 will forever be a pivotal date in the story of my life. This month I decided to stop making excuses and a bucket list and start checking old items off said list. I have promised myself since I was a small boy that some day I would be a writer. In the second grade, writing with colored markers and crayons on three-lined paper, I began to tell my stories. That love of storytelling has since grown inside me, but this is the first time I have ventured out and decided to share my stories with the world.

This month I put my first novel out for self-publication. Getting Home is the culmination of fifteen years of hard work. It was the way I worked through the loss of my best friend and then the death of my soulmate. It was the means I used to forgive myself for past mistakes. It provided me with validation that I was not the monster I was rumored to be. It was my way to heal and forgive. It was my voyage to peace, to catharsis.

Book cover

It was a rainy August afternoon when pen first met paper. The words of the prologue came first. Writing a novel was my dream, but I did not have a story waiting to get out. I only knew that I wanted to write. I immersed myself in the moment I was experiencing: the rain outside, the sound of birds, the sound from the aquarium next to me. The prologue is almost entirely my experience on that August afternoon. From that simple opening poured the tale that I hope all of you will read. Tom Jacobs was born. He was as real as the pen in my hand. The sky was not fully dark that evening when I knew what path Tom Jacobs would take and how the journey would ultimately end.

With the flood of details that washed in upon me, it should have been a simple task to sit down and write every word. It would be an exceptional blog post if that were true, and many of you would be contacting me wanted to know the secret of writing a novel in one sitting. As I approached each part of Tom’s life, I was forced to look deep inside myself and discern what in me was the catalyst that spawned what we be Tom’s journey. That process and the subsequent chapters took years to complete.

Part of me feels like I cannot take credit for being the scribe of this narrative. Yes, I did put each word down on paper and those words seeped directly from my mind. I wrote the prologue and gave Tom his name, but from that moment on it was no longer my words. Tom became a real person relating his experiences and honoring me with the opportunity to put his journey in written form.

After fifteen years, Tom and all the other characters in Getting Home are old friends and family. I know their pasts, their likes and dislikes, and for some, I know how their stories end. I am not sure if I will ever put more of their words on paper, but I am happy to have known them.