But enough about me! You're here for science fiction, and I will not disappoint. This week in production was all about Sao - the mysterious and largely unknown prison-colony-turned-lawless-society colossus. I added about 3,500 words detailing its 99-year descent into horror and if I may toot my own horn, I really believe in how its history all came together. I think it's damn believable. However, it's pretty crazy stuff and chock full of exciting things I don't want to reveal, so I don't have an excerpt from that chapter...
I do, however, have a few hundred words for you from earlier on in the book. It's pretty self-explanatory; the only setup it needs is that the male lead, Detective Leon Adler, is waiting at Doc Frazier's outpatient clinic for the doctor's apprentice, named after contest winner Breanne Dibble. Enjoy!
Leon was still at least an hour early for Breanne’s autopsy results but he couldn’t bring himself to wait any longer. He sat in a chair in the waiting room and impatiently, but quietly, tapped both his feet on the floor. He took off his hat and set it on a side table next to him. The crisp breeze of the air conditioning soothed his discomfort and he found himself swimming in memories of his childhood.
As a boy, he ran outside and played with the other kids until nearly suffering from heat exhaustion. He returned home, nearly collapsing onto the sofa next to his mother while his father prepared dinner.
“Mama, why’s it so hot in here?”
“Because it’s hot outside, sweetie.”
“Oh. But why can’t it be cold like at Doctor Frazier’s?” Leon continued catching his breath, the sweat cooling his forehead.
“Well sweetie, a long time ago before you were born, there used to be a way to catch the sunlight and use it to power machines that played music and turned lights on inside the house and –“
“-and kept the air cold?”
“Yes, baby, some machines kept the air cold when it was hot outside. Then, one night when I was still growing in Grandma’s tummy, some bad men had come to Triton and many of the other giants that people live on, and they waited until everyone was asleep and they broke all the solar panels that –“
“What’s a solar panel?”
“It looked like a flat board or door and it was the device that caught the sun’s energy and made all the machines work. So now the air won’t be cold when we want it to.”
“They should not have done that; it was mean.”
Leon’s mother stroked his hair and blew gently onto his face, the redness in his cheeks fading. “Yes it was, honey.”
“So they missed the sun catcher at Doctor Frazier’s?”
“Well, no; he got a new one just like the doctor’s offices in the other towns.”
Leon’s mother chose her words carefully. He was too young to understand reduced prison sentences and fishing and Red Lung, regardless of what rumors or off-handed comments he’d heard from his friends or their parents, respectively.
“There was just one time when you were a tiny baby, when someone was able to get some more solar panels from down on the ground. They had to try a lot of times but they found several boxes of them.”
“Will they find more so we can make the air cold again?”
“I don’t think so, Leon. Now why don’t you get washed up for dinner? The water will feel nice and help you cool down – you’re old enough to fetch it from outside now.”
“But Mommy, why did the bad men break all the sun catchers?”
His mother and father exchanged glances. His mother took a deep breath and began speaking but Leon’s father interrupted her.
“Because they were crazy people.”
“Why were they crazy, daddy?”
“They’re crazy because they’re from Sao, and everyone from Sao is crazy.”
His father paused. “Your mother told you to wash up. Go do it.”
The sound of a door opening jolted Leon back to the present. Eventually Breanne exited the adjacent check-up room, preceded by a teenage patient nursing what looked like a sprained wrist.
“You rest that hand, Billy, and you’ll be off the bench in no time.”
The boy thanked her and left. She gestured towards the door he’d just closed. “Street hockey. Come on back, Detective. I’ve undressed her and put her into cold storage; let me brief you on her clothing before we fully perform the external examination.”
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Total word count: 38,510.