Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Starborne - My Entry into the Literary Boot Camp

You're in for a treat: my first writing sample online. It's not my best, but it's what got me past Orson Scott Card's screening and into his 2008 Literary Boot Camp. The assignment was to offer up the first page of a short story you have written. I wrote this little bit exclusively for this assignment, and it never progressed beyond the first page. It's my first stab at science fiction, and though I'd love to flesh it out into a full novel, I don't see that happening any time soon.



            He held his mother’s hand, her grip strong and warm. He shifted his weight as the crowd pressed in about them. Glass and shrapnel crunched beneath the soles of his shoes.  Looking up to his mother, he tugged on her hand. She smiled at him, her look one of anticipation and excitement. She plucked him up and settled him onto her hip. He would soon be too old to be held like this. He was growing, changing. Everything was changing.
            He looked over his mother’s shoulder, past her raven hair, and over the heads of the people behind them. A crowd of hundreds, maybe thousands had gathered in the town square. Behind the masses stood the broken remains of glass buildings, tenements, and shops. Windows had been blasted out, their sills long since empty. Every structure bore blackened scars from the war.
            Some of the people stood atop firebombed autos, crushed gliders, the remains of the monorail, and the insect-like shell of a fallen hover transport. He had no memory of the war. He had only been three when it ended. That was four long years ago.
            “Look!” his mother said.
            He turned to see her pointing to the skies overhead, and he looked up too.
            The man and woman had finally reached the top.
            They stood atop a metallic platform suspended by a three-hundred-foot crane. They had spent the last five minutes climbing up, and now they stood ready. Even at this distance, he could see that they were naked. His face flushed with embarrassment. They held one another’s hand as they stared at what lay beneath them. Their pale skin glowed golden from below.
            “Who are they?” he asked his mother.
            She looked away from the two above them and down to her son. “The Chosen,” she said. “They were chosen for this.”
            “Are they going to jump?”
            “They are.”
            “Are they going to get hurt?”
            “I don’t think so. I heard some techniks talking earlier, and they didn’t think so either. And they helped make it.” She nodded to the expanse before them.
            “Why are they going to jump?”
            “They are the Chosen. They’ll set the pattern. For us.” She glanced around her to the others. “For all of us. When they jump, they’ll activate the Sea.”
            “Activate it?”
            “Yes, Jacob. Watch.” She pointed to the pair suspended above them. The buzz of the crowd died down as the two stepped to the edge of the platform. The man, looking fit and in his prime, leaned in to the young woman and kissed her. She kissed him back, her hand stroking his cheek. Then they parted and held hands once again. They dangled their toes over the edge of the platform.
            They stepped off the edge as one.
            They descended hand in hand through the black sky, their bodies aglow. Jacob watched as they plummeted toward the Sea. And then, with only the smallest of ripples, they plunged beneath its surface, a golden expanse that filled the once empty valley.
            Within moments the Sea began to toss and heave.

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