I really want to take a moment and thank my good friend, and editor, Cameron Dixon for all his help this past week and going forward. It's going to be a crazy couple of months as I write this thing in real time, but I'm glad I've got Cameron in my corner.
And now for a bit of the ol' soft sell (if you don't mind).
The first Episode has been posted there on your right - in two formats - and contains the first 5 chapters of my story for the low, low price of 99 cents. From what I've been assured it's as simple as going through the link, paying through Paypal and then downloading your book.
Also, as promised, here's the first chapter of my eNovel '404'.
I truly hope you enjoy it!
P.S.: For those of you who may be new to my blog, or the story I'll be telling in '404', you can read my original pitch here.
The hourglass spins on the screen, languid, almost as if pleading to be set free. After a long moment, the browser kicks back to a simple grey screen with the same tired old message:
Connection not found.
“Jeezus man, you don’t give up, do you?”
The teasing woman’s voice hovers from above --a tangle of long, wind-tossed, dirty blonde hair peeking over her cubicle wall, smirking at the young man hunched over his tiny laptop.
“Screw off, Jess."
Marco Temura slams his netbook closed, patches of red-hot shame burning on his tanned cheeks.
“Aw, c’mon newbie! It’s kind of cute… did you get any email?”
"Why don't you check your Facebook while you're at it?" Sliding the plastic clamshell into his sidebag, Marco pushes himself back from the desk, damn-near spilling coffee all over his lap; standing face-to-face with a bemused Jessica Palmer.
"What's your problem?"
Jess steps back, aware she's offended him.
"Aw, c'mon kid, don't be like that. I'm just messin' with ya - gotta do something 'til my next segment's ready."
He gives her a dirty look and turns away.
"For some of us, it's not funny."
Marco walks down the hall, far from the cluster of cubicles and video cameras, dialing his cell phone.
"We're sorry. Due to network congestion your call cannot be completed at this time. Please try again later."
He sighs, tapping the cell phone on his forehead as if willing it to work.
He dials the number again.
"This is Thomas Givens, you know what to do." Marco turns himself toward the corner, trying to silence the chatter of a crowd of passing interns.
"Tom, it's Marco. Listen, I… I did it again. I'm trying not to, trying to stay on the path, follow the steps but… dammit. I'm having a bad day. Please call me soon."
“Marco! Get your ass in here!”
He spins as silence overtakes the bustling newsroom, as every eye finds its way to his slim, now-nervous frame. A bleach-blonde receptionist --Chantelle --giggles with a touch of schadenfreude.
A sudden rush of heat overtakes him as he pockets his phone --the armpits of his striped v-neck already drowning from the internal deluge as he slinks past the onlookers, toward the massive office.
The words creak from a dry mouth as his body tries to blend into the doorjam; gaze darting from one framed award to another before landing on the sinewy, grey-haired legend.
“Have a seat.”
With tentative steps Marco crosses the industrial carpet, breathing in the deep sandalwood cologne, a touch lightheaded from the musk and fear. He slides into the proffered chair, sweaty hands forming miniature patches of condensation on the cold, plastic armrests.
“Where were you when they threw the Switch?”
The tough old man leans on his elbows, staring across the oak and marble desk – his piercing blue eyes scanning the young, half-cowering journalist.
“I-I… uh… I was at home, with family. Online, like most, you know.--not long after trimming the tree… sir ”
Marco’s knees quiver just below the man’s line of sight, shaking with nervous energy as he fights to steady his voice.
“I used to run a blog and I’m a bit of a gamer so I was prob--"
“We’re doing a piece on the 2nd anniversary, nothing hard --these fuckers wouldn’t know a real story if it bit them on the ass --just some pre-approved government bullshit. Can’t spare my big names so you’re up --here’s your clearance and your list of questions.”
He slides the file folder across his desk with disgust.
“The Senator’ll be there, waiting. 1:30 at the Regency, we go live to air at 1:40. Better get your ass in gear.”
“Senator? Mr. Richardson, thank you! I wo--”
“Door’s over there."
Marco stands, dazed, his mind swirling as he crosses back to his desk --an euphoric rush overtaking him as he runs his thumb across the plastic clearance pass. Jess rounds the corner to meet him, hair now pulled back in a hasty ponytail.
“So, what’d he say?”
“He said you better go get the van – I’ve gotta be at the Regency in – shit! 20
Marco holds up the clearance pass, a grin on his face as Jess’s eyes narrow.
“I’ll be down in a sec."
She disappears down the hall as Marco yanks open the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet, pulling out a brand-new white dress shirt and tearing it free of the plastic wrap. He strips off his now-soaked v-neck, revealing the soft, stretch-marked middle of a man once twice his size. Sliding the shirt on over his head he fiddles with the buttons for only a moment before rushing toward the stairwell --price tag sailing behind him. The MSFoxNET news van skids into view as Marco bursts past the security checkpoint and out into the dull grey light of a San Francisco afternoon. He dives into the van and it peels off into the bustling traffic of cars and carts.
“What the hell’s at The Regency?”
Jess moves to snatch the papers from Marco, but he deflects her hand – just in time too, as she swerves to avoid a stumbling homeless man.
“Eyes on the road! Thanks.”
He chokes down the acid in his throat as she skids her way around another corner.
“We’re interviewing Senator Vanusen for a second anniversary piece about when they threw the switch.”
Jess tosses her head back, laughing and shaking her head.
“You got me all excited over that? Jeezus man, this’s as dead-end as you get."
“Hey! It could still be good…”
“Are you fucking crazy? Every decent journalist in the country’s been trying to get an honest word out of the government since it happened. You think some lil’ newb from, what, Hoboken --talking to yet another monkey --is gonna crack this thing wide?”
“What’s wrong with Hoboken?”
Marco grips the side of the door, feeling his gut yawn wide as Jess screams down a massive hill. He smiles, uneven, trying to hide the growing need to void his stomach, focusing on the task at hand. Flipping open the file folder, looking for any decent information, Marco finds two double-spaced pages of questions.
He turns the file folder over in his hands before chucking it onto the dash in frustration.
“They gave me nothing on this guy! Who the hell is he? I don't know! I'm interviewing him in, what, 10 minutes and I'm flying blind. God damn, what I wouldn’t give for a search engine."
“Why do you care? Don’t you get it? You’re not interviewing him --you’re there to read the questions, smile and let him blather on about how they’re ‘still working on a solution’."
Marco stares out the passenger window toward the waterfront and the pier, watching as swarms of homeless drift through the massive, and illegal, Tent City. A stubble-faced young man, maybe 30, sits by the roadside in a stained and tattered blue dress shirt, his sign scrawled in permanent marker: Sys admin, wife and 2 kids. Please help, God bless.
“Hey, we’re here."
He turns at the sound of Jess’s voice, watching as the crowds part around the van, as people pound on the windows, begging to be heard. Jess leans on the horn and a piercing shriek drives them back. One by one they cover their ears and move out of the way, each waiting until the last possible moment before making their escape to the sidelines. Marco keeps his eyes fixed on the road, unable to look people in the eye as the van rolls past. A rock bounces off the bulletproof glass of their windshield, then another. From the crowd a young man in dark green camo emerges, whipping chunks of brick at them. Jess slams the gas, speeding toward him, stopping just inches from running him down. She flips him the bird as he grins and saunters off, unfazed.
“Get a job, asshole! You see these pricks? Actin' like the whole fucking world’s come to an end.”
The makeshift gates around the hotel close behind them, the whirring of the machinery almost drowning out the drone of the automated warning:
“Please step back from the gate. These gates are hydraulically operated and will not stop. Please step back from the gate. Thank you.”
Marco exits the van, hopping out onto the cracked tarmac as Jess cuts the engine. Swinging her legs out onto the running board of the van, she slings a massive video camera over her shoulder then steps down to the ground.
“Well pretty boy, you ready to roll?”