Houston – 3

It’s a long time since I’ve felt virtuous at 6 in the morning..! Never mind that I’ve just undone all the good of a gentle 30-minute workout with waffles and bacon in a plate the size of a boat..!

And now, before I Uber off to work, the chance to spend 30 minutes reviewing what I added yesterday evening to the tale I have begun spinning. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can establish a connection with your characters that takes you to a place where you want to find out what happens next. It’s exciting. And it’s an essential feeling to have when you are beginning a story; if you, as author, are not drawn in, then what chance do your readers have?

So let’s see what happens when I edge Liam further into this small world I am creating for him…

-*-

Here’s an excerpt:

But you didn’t come here for a geography lesson.

You wanted a story. One that can only be generated by me stepping onto one of those magical pods (I’ve a picture in my mind’s eye of a dark grey cylindrical disc the circumference of a human being) and – quite frankly – chancing a little bit to luck. There’s no handrail after all.

Other than the fact that it won’t go to Edgware, I can’t say much more about the journey at this stage. It may not even go anywhere near London, who knows? That’s one of the things about these adventures, their unpredictability. But if you think about it, surely that’s profoundly correct. How many people know exactly where they are going when they set off? Even if it’s just to the shops or to fill the car up with petrol, so much could happen between here and the supermarket or garage… You might not even make it. But you always assume you will. You have to make that assumption. If you don’t, what would you do? We’re all hostages to fortune when it comes down to it.

Is that what Liam was thinking that morning as he went down to the hotel restaurant for his breakfast? How far ahead was he thinking or planning? Had he stepped into more than just a lift when the doors pinged open in front of him on the fourth floor? That he had a plan of sorts was certain. It began with breakfast and went on from there, generally with increasing vagueness. Nothing very exciting nor, to be honest, individualistic, but a plan nonetheless. In its predictability and lack of ambition, it was a plan much like his life. Perhaps most of us have plans – and lives – like that.

If he was surprised by anything it was that he had become an old man. If people – friends and family – protested at any assertion he made in this direction, he knew they meant well. And perhaps on one level they may have been right. But when you came down to it, their opinion meant nothing to him. Even if the exact boundary where you tripped into being ‘old’ was an indistinct one, he felt it was a threshold he had indeed crossed. There was no one time nor single event that had seen him make the jump; it had crept up on him. If part of his surprise came as a result of this stealth, it was responsible for generating a larger part of his anger. It had transpired without his permission, and even though he knew there was a consequence in having had time to do things, to live his life, he somehow felt as if the terms of the arrangement had not been clearly enough stated up front. Yes, he had done a great deal in his life, but the price he had paid – almost inadvertently and without explicit contractual agreement – seemed to him to have been weighted too far in his adversary’s favour. And it was a battle. It hadn’t been, not until recently anyway; but now the gloves were off.

Be gentle. It’s a first-cut, unedited draft.

Liam has already moved into the practical, mundane world away from this philosophising. And he starts with – breakfast in a hotel.

Now does that rings any bells..?! Not that what happens to him has happened to me…

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