Thursday, July 17, 2008

Soar chapter 1

Well, I do write occasionally. Here is the first chapter(ish) of a book I'm writing.

Copyright Me, natch.

A few days passed before anyone noticed. Scientists later postulated the possibility that this had always been within our power, but was simply not noticed until now. At any rate, one small boy discovered it, and shared the secret of it with the rest of the world. The boy was soon forgotten to all but the most studious historians. His name was William Lambert, known as Billy to his friends and neighbors. Billy was an intelligent boy, especially for an eight year old. An avid reader and blessed with a great imagination, he had read book after book of mythology and magic. He didn't have too many friends his own age, and the few he did, he invariably kept at a distance, since his interests often failed to correspond with theirs. In the neighborhood he lived, crime and thuggery was rampant, further isolating this demure and bashful little boy. His favorite place in the whole world, was the local library, a place of wonder in which he could immerse himself in tales of old. He would momentarily overlook the failings of the world around him and imagine himself in another, brighter world; where chivalry and heroism still rang true, magic was abundant, and the impossible happened every day.

It was on one day, particularly a Wednesday; Billy was walking from his apartment complex to the library. On the way, Billy imagined what it would be like to soar like the birds, or Daedalus and Icarus in the quintessential Greek tale of human fallibility. When he was about 3 blocks away, Billy started making little hops and imagining lifting off. Deep down, Billy knew that this wouldn't work, but he still had hopes that maybe, just maybe, he would rise like a swan into the air. As he gave a little hop, Billy felt like he was reaching a bit higher than before. He kept it up, each time jumping a little higher than before, until he noticed a neighbor sitting on a porch staring at him. Properly browbeaten by this, Billy continued his walk to the library.

Jane Burton was a quiet, reticent woman of 57 years. she had worked a lengthy career in the insurance industry, putting in long hours to support herself and her only daughter after her husband left her and passed away of AIDS. I say had worked, because as soon as her daughter was on her own feet, she quit her career and took a (relatively) much quieter job as a librarian. Having dealt with so many pretentious brownnosers in her career, it was a joy for her to only deal with quiet, bookish folk. Unfortunately, the library had purchased new computers with online access, and since then it had been filled with noisy, rambunctious youth, who ignored the vast and fascinating worlds around them for the small and predictable world of their Myspace friends. Still, she found enough people that were genuinely interested in the main items that libraries had to offer, and thus had plenty of acquaintances. One such acquaintance was one Billy Lambert, who walked in and headed straight for the Fantasy section after dropping a few books into the return bin. Billy returned about a half an hour later with an armload of books.
“Going home so early?” said Jane
“I’ve got to make dinner for my brother, my mom’s working late” said Billy
“Oh, I could come by and help you, if you like”
“No thanks” Billy replied, feeling a bit uncomfortable about the offer.
“Well, ok. The books are due November 12th”
Billy subsequently left and began His journey home. About halfway down the second-to-last block, Billy again tried to hop into the air. He first gave a little skip, and felt something in his head twinge. He tried twinging that part of his head again, and felt a buzzing, first in his head, then moving all the way down to his feet. He tried jumping again, and found himself hovering fifteen feet in the air.

“Jiminy Jones!” exclaimed Billy.
Joe Briggs was an average guy. So much so that everything he attempted came out to be average. He was average at his job, average among his friends, and the average one in the family. He had average air speed, average weight, average intelligence, and an average sex life. There was, in fact, nothing anyone could say against him. Joe hated this with an average amount of passion.
Joe worked for Nike enterprises as a middle level manager. He was primarily in charge of the managers in the R&D section of the airsuit division. Airsuits were developed primarily due to concerns of potential mid-air hazards, such as bugs and the like. They were later developed to be far more aerodynamic than normal clothes, increasing airspeed by 5 to ten miles per hour depending on the user. His morning was predictably average, with three new reports to be processed and a quick “tiger-team lock up” meeting that mostly went over potential budget issues and the exact shade of a hated marketing exec’s ejecta during the summer retreat, spent dive bombing in sweltering hundred degree heat at Spanish Peaks in Montana. Joe hated dive bombing since he was never quite as good as the people he went with. The supply store at the camp was almost always out of helmets his size anyway. Of course, he always voted to do it for company retreats anyway, since he didn’t want to appear dissimilar to his colleagues. Joe hated his colleagues.
It being a Wednesday, Joe headed out for his usual Wednesday special of vegetable chow mein mixed with vegetable fried rice drowned in excessive amounts of soy sauce. Ever since an oriental restaurant had opened one story up, Joe had incorporated it into his weekly lunch schedule. After he flew back downstairs, Joe took a relaxing nap in his chair. When Joe woke up (around three hours later) he called his secretary, Andrea Burton ( who was even now in the midst of composing a brilliant exposĂ© on the corruption inside the company) and asked her to do a few menial things, just to remind himself that he was working. Andrea, who had gotten quite used to this sequence of events, immediately returned to working on her third novel (it was the third of a series of murder mysteries featuring a woman who flew about and killed adulterous middle aged men and the bumbling male detective that failed to catch her at every turn. The series was entitled hell hath no fury), secure in the knowledge that her accomplishments (or lack thereof) would go completely unnoticed. Joe busied himself with throwing his favorite pen into the ceiling and retrieving it until the clock stroke 4:45, his usual quitting time. Sometimes his subordinates would object to this, but he found he could avoid hindrance that by yelling “I want that on my desk by tomorrow morning!” the instant he saw someone.
That evening, Joe was flying home when he noticed a person walking on the abandoned sidewalks far below. At first he thought it must be a mistake; no one had bothered walking since It was discovered, as It required nothing more than will power. No one had yet found themselves running out of energy while using it. As a matter of fact, many people had found their legs had atrophied to the point that any more than ten minutes of walking tired them completely over. Obesity had become even more rampant, as people would no longer receive even the basic exercise granted by walking about their offices or homes. Joe decided (in a completely extraordinary move, for him) to investigate. He swooped down, feeling the air rush by his Aerosuit Mk 2 (an average quality suit made by Nike) and watching the smaller birds scatter at the sudden emergence of this unexpected visitor. As he came close to the ground, the Walker turned to face Joe with a startled expression on his face.
“What are you doing down here?” said the Walker.
“I could ask you the same thing.” Said Joe, in an unprecedented display of wit.
“Walking, of course”
“Well, goodness, I can see that, but why aren’t you flying?”
“Don’t want to”
Now this was one of the most absurd things Joe had ever heard, (not saying much) why should anyone ever desire not to fly? It was the most marvelous experience. Though eventually it did become somewhat mundane, Joe supposed. Yet still, walking was far more mundane, besides being painful and unnecessary. What if he tripped? Or twisted an ankle?
“Why not?”
“Against my religion” said the Walker.
“We have peace in our time!” Boomed the Hegemon, presiding (and hovering, a move that would be later analyzed as being somewhat tactless considering his company) over the treaty signing by the highest Footman of the Walkers and his own Magister Pacem, one of the key leaders in the original decision to begin the war. Later, certain liberal groups would insist that he could be seen grinding his teeth throughout the ceremony. Peace did not guarantee unity, however, as just days later, Walker Scarerists deliberately destroyed a Soarian housing complex. In retaliation, the Soarians bombed a major Walker food source in the lush plains of Siberia. Both countries denied official involvement, and demanded that life continue as normal.
The Soarian Utrymme ByrĂ„ Had launched Its second generation of colony ships to Mars, after the Reds successfully terraformed a small portion of the planet by using vaporizers to melt the polar ice caps and liberate the oxygen trapped in the iron oxide on the surface. Susan Burton, a stern instructor of basic level schoolchildren, was one of the first on the volunteer list for the second colonization trip. All her life she had found It to be unsatisfactory, just a normal part of life. She didn’t have the patience for walking, though she saw its value as some of the younger children in her classes had yet to quite master It and it was unfair to leave them behind just as so. But Susan had her mind on bigger things. “Where can we go?” was the driving question of her life, her doctoral dissertation, and a frequent (and somewhat awkward) choice of conversational topic of hers. She had dismissed all ideas about somehow escaping into the fourth dimension as unfeasible, the afterlife as unrealistic, and the latest mind altering drugs as just downright dangerous.
When Susan first heard of the Martian colony project, immediately she (and nearly everyone else) recalled the past six disastrous attempts. The program was solely pushed through on the impetus to find a solution for the rampant overpopulation of Soaria. The day the news of the colony’s success was reported, Susan had to be escorted to her home by school security (the Walkers had taken to equipping children small enough to pass as Soarians unable to fly yet with remotely detonated explosives during the war) for disorderly conduct when she started whooping and yelling in the midst of a lecture on ancient American history. Months later, Susan was floating in line (another anti-Walker measure) with her identity card and a small briefcase of clothes and a few inspirational books. As she boarded the rocket, an attendant handed Susan a small brochure outlaying where Susan would live and her assigned occupation (instructor), as well a bright, optimistic little picture of cornfields on the edge of a red tinted wilderness accompanied by a cheerful face stating
“Welcome to the Second Successful Martian Colonization Expedition!”
Susan felt a vague sense of unease upon reading it.


  1. ^
    That was me. :P

  2. Where are we sticking our tongues out again? :P

  3. Well, I read it, and it was good... but it skipped around FAR too much for the first chapter of a book should. It would be neat seeing how this pans out, but it would also be neat seeing how Billy decides to spread how to fly and how the Walkers went from just a freedom of expression thing to a seemingly terrorist organization. Nice piece, though.