Hmm…I’ve only got one post (Wednesday’s) queued up and ready. I like to have 2-3 posts ready so I can slack off. I need to practice my slacking off, and God forbid I let this blog get in the way of that!
I had the beginnings of a different post I wrote over the weekend, but it involved cheese sticks and nukes, and I’m not sure I’m ready to go there yet…
Screw it, time for another writing snippet I guess. Below is a (very) early version of the opening scene for Connor’s (potential) sequel. Keep in mind: usually I create a plan and outline before I sit down to write a scene. This one never had that, it was done purely off the top of my head. Unlike the other snippet I posted, I likely will use this in the story itself, but only after some serious revision:
The whirring of another lock in another cell door. Connor would never get used to that. It was just as bad now, two months after his eighteenth birthday, as it had been at thirteen. Shit, in some ways it was worse. The years in between had taught him about suffering, yes, and about the price always waiting to be paid, but also about love and friendship.
A gulp, then, at the thought of friendship. Of absent friends. Of Oz.
Blood on the floor…blood on the knife…blood on Oz’s wrists. And Connor too late to do anything other than hold his friend – his brother – as the last of a too-short, too-painful life dripped away.
At least Oz hadn’t been alone. Only one thing had ever scared Oz: alone. Being alone and, especially, dying alone. Alone was worse. That was lesson number one, a lesson Connor would never forget.
But Connor was alone now.
Oz was dead. Marie and Vin were dead. Fadi had crawled into a bottle and disappeared. And Nat? A second gulp, almost as big for her as for Oz. Nat had washed her hands of him. Takie princess that she was, pretty and rich, she had had enough of her foray into rebellion and danger. She had cleaned away the dirt and grime of dockside, and Connor with it.
“Move your ass,” a voice barked from the small intercom by the door. “Work details leave in ten minutes.”
Connor didn’t want to crawl out of bed. For all its faults, the bed was warm. The prison’s floor was cold. The cell was cold. Hell, the whole fucking place was cold. Less than a year into his five year sentence and Connor was already very, very tired of the cold.
At least it wasn’t dockside.
If they’d put him into the much smaller jail out there he’d have been dead months ago. Too many people knew who Connor Spogelse was. Too many people blamed him for the violent gang war now ripping that space station apart. And far, far too many people wanted him dead. The cops almost as much as the remnants of the crime family he had betrayed.
Grim humor, and the memory of his sarcastic friend, were always enough to find the absurdity in his life: how many people could say they’d betrayed a major crime family, brought down an entire government, and earned a price on their head, all before their eighteenth birthday?
He could all-but hear Oz’s laughing voice in his head, “Fuckin’ overachiever.”
Out of bed he did get, in spite of the cold, and down to the entrance of their pod of cells. Even after many months the ground felt weird to Connor. Most of his life had been spent in the artificial gravity of a space station, and the regular, ‘real’ gravity of a planet was just different enough to be disconcerting. He felt constantly like he was about to fall over. And that was before he went outside and saw all that emptiness hanging over his head…
As stupid as it sounded, even to him, his mind just couldn’t accept concepts like ‘sky’ and ‘horizon’. And God help him with crazy shit like ‘scenery’ and ‘weather’. He just knew he’d never get used to any of it.
The lights were still dim and just eight prisoners waited by the door. The only ones of the forty in their pod with the privilege – and the drive – to get out of bed hours before the rest and go to work. The others gave Connor a certain amount of space while they waited for the guard to get his shit together and lead them out into the halls.
With nothing to do but work, read and exercise, Connor had finally started to fill out his height. He would never be considered big or bulky, but he was no longer the slight, rail-thin teenager he had been just a year ago. It was more than just size, however. What Connor had done to the last aho who had thought he could hit on the youngest kid in the entire prison brought its own respect, as well. Dirtside criminals and thugs were little prepared for the sheer violence any dockside ikiryo could bring to bear with no warning.
The heavy door to the pod clanked open and the watch sergeant stuck his head inside. “Alright, let’s go.”
The prisoners filed out, moving automatically to walk in single file against the corridor’s righthand wall. You didn’t have to be in Chapman Penitentiary very long before the rules became automatic. Fucking with the guards could be fun, but it most definitely did not make getting through your sentence any easier. And Connor wanted to get through his sentence; wanted to get through with as little trouble as possible.
Down the long hall they marched, whispered jokes and comments the only sound. It was early enough that not even the other guards were moving around if they didn’t have to. Later, when the day shift started, the halls would have guards and staff walking in packs alongside the ever-present movement of prisoners.
The small group reached an intersection and had to wait while the sergeant called to the control room to open the heavy security door sealing the end of their corridor. It was a major crossroads, this, and each of the four corridors leading off was similarly sealed.
A wave and an incomprehensible mutter from the sergeant sent Connor over to the one door painted a different color from the others. Sky blue this one was, indicating it opened into an area that led outside the prison. The others, connecting only to other internal parts of the facility, were a dull, earthen red.
A few steps and Connor pressed the small control on the door’s heavy metal frame and stared up into the holo camera. The door would not open until the operators in Central Control had verified his identity, and his permission to access this particular door. No smile showed – could never show, not for this – but his access to this door was his greatest scam to date. Quite how the prison officials had overlooked Connor’s past as a criminal specializing in cracking computer security and networks he didn’t know, but his first job in the prison library had offered him just enough access to arrange this very special gig.
“C’mon you little fucker,” the sergeant yelled, “hurry up!”
While the door behind Connor remained open, no other door in that intersection could open. Connor almost laughed at the grumbling he heard from those behind. The other prisoners were all headed to jobs in the prison’s kitchen and storage areas, and he could never understand why anyone would be eager to start burning fake-eggs and slopping out pseudo-oatmeal.
Finally, a buzzer sounded and the door behind Connor slid shut. The dull thud of that door was followed by the popping of seals from the one he faced. A heartbeat later that door slid aside. Even the air smelled different inside. Instead of the stale, chemical air of the prison, there was a hint of…something very different.
A wave of sound washed over him, and an air of activity. Two steps inside and he was almost run over by a rushing prison guard. Short and pretty this one was, with brown hair and bright blue eyes. She threw a distracted smile and a half-hearted wave. “Sorry, no time to get things set up right now. Just hit the basic stuff. By the time you’re done the rush should be over.”
Her accent was strange, vastly different from the hint of dockside’s patois that still clung to Connor’s tongue.
A glance around and Connor saw twenty new prisoners standing in a line, wrists and ankles shackled and orange jumpsuits rumpled and dirty. Four guards stood near that group, talking amongst themselves as much as watching the criminals in their charge. More guards were seated behind the nearby counter, checking ‘screens and preparing to call out names.
The prison’s Admissions and Processing Center, its link to the outside world. Work in that area was one of the best jobs a prisoner could get…and was far and away the best job a data-thief like Connor could get.
His smile was satisfied as he went to the closet and began filling a mop bucket. An hour of cleaning and four hours of network access every day? Yes, please.
Maybe he’d arrange a little ‘donation’ to his commissary account today; why eat prison food when he could just buy his own with someone else’s money?