In keeping with my new theme for Sundays - at least for a while - here's the beginning of the second book I ever wrote. In all of it's early incarnations, it was called simply Caldera. I've since re-named it Nature of Destruction. It's about the impending eruption of the volcano beneath Yellowstone National Park, what one scientist thinks she can do to stop the destruction, and those who don't want her to do anything.
Once again, please keep in mind that this is an early work. Reading through it just now - for the first time in years - I want to shitcan the whole thing and start over. But that would defeat the purpose of this exercise. So, here it is in all its glory. Book 2: Nature of Destruction.
“This is ludicrous.”
A voice reverberated through the solemn corridors as if no one had ever dared to speak so brashly there—as if no one would ever dare to even think of it. Yet certainly, the congressional building in all its somberness had heard more than its fair share of raised voices and brash words in the past few decades. Every day its dignity was broken by the voice of some man yelping for money to fund a project more necessary for his career than for his constituents; every day its solemnity was pierced by the shriek of some woman crying out against a social injustice evident more in her own mind than in reality.
Pacing in front of a pair of large oaken doors was one woman who cared little for either the solemnity or the shrill voices who’d broken it previously. She only cared about the wasted minutes that continued to tick by as she was kept waiting.
“If they don’t call on us soon, I’m leaving.”
“After all our hard work…” her companion began.
Interrupting, she said, “What makes you think they give a damn about our work?” His words had brought her pacing to a halt, and the lack of movement was translated into a palpable energy in her every gesture. “After months of waiting patiently to be heard, they snap their fingers and we rush right over... Only to be ignored and then told they would think about it. Now, after another week we’re called here at the last minute as if their whims were more important than anything we might be doing. Then they have the gall to leave us standing out here for over an hour… Why the whole charade? Because whatever we have to say won’t have any real bearing on their decision.”
Unruffled by her sudden onslaught, her associate smiled and shook his head. “I can’t believe that,” he said. “Why would they have called us here at all if they weren’t going to listen to us?”
“I’ll tell you why,” she barked as her pacing resumed. “Two reasons: First, to keep up the facade that they were listening to us in the first place—to act as if we have any say in the matter. Second, to shut us up and get us off their backs. Either way, don’t fool yourself, Phil. They made up their minds long before we came into the picture.”
“Still… you can’t just walk out on this, Myke.”
Behind them someone cleared his throat. “Dr. Hughes? Dr. Mitchell?” came a young voice made younger by its attempt to sound authoritative—puffing himself up at the thought of his position as an intern for Senator Vera Killip. In his eyes, the senator was a very important woman and he was very important because he worked for her; to him, it was obvious that any words he uttered should be met with immediate attention and respect.
He received immediate attention at least. Phil Mitchell turned to gaze at him with an incisive stare that made the intern squirm like a bug under a microscope, and when Mykaela Hughes turned, the boy suddenly wished that he worked for someone else. When they both snapped, “Yes?” in unison, he found himself wondering why he’d ever assumed his job was all that important.
Before their eyes, the intern deflated like a spent balloon. “They’re umm… they’re ready to see you now,” the boy stammered.
Abruptly, the scientists turned away to gather their papers, leaving the intern to wonder if he had just undergone a careful dissection and been dismissed as inconsequential. Later he would fool himself into believing that it was a trick of the light that gave him that impression. He would never know how right his first impression was.
As they pushed past the suddenly awkward boy, Myke muttered, “About time.”
Striding into the room, Myke spared not a glance for any of the people she passed. She seemed instead to be looking directly at—or rather into—the men and women who sat on the dais in front of her. Several of them shifted uncomfortably beneath the stare of her deep brown eyes as she lowered herself stiffly onto a chair and laid out the papers she had been carrying. Giving no acknowledgement to their guilty expressions, she readied herself for the blow she knew would follow.
Only a week before, she had sat in the same chair in front of the same people, providing the facts they’d said they needed before making their decisions. That their deliberations had taken so short a time had sent up red flags, and now their stony glances confirmed everything she had already discerned about the decision they’d made—it was a decision they’d formed long before she had ever been called to speak. She knew a lifetime of careful thought was needed to effect a change in one’s mindset; there was no way that one week of deliberations had changed any of their minds.
After they were formally introduced to the assembly, a matronly woman in a too-fashionable suit addressed the scientists. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with us today,” she said in a honey-sweet tone that implied she was anything but grateful for their presence.
Steeling herself, Myke graciously replied, “It is my pleasure, Senator Killip.” Looking at each of the committee members in turn, she felt as if she were looking at a brick wall she had encountered many times before. It was a brick wall composed of preconceived notions and personal biases. It was then that she made a decision—no matter what their ruling, she would abide by it; she really had no choice. Clearing her throat, she began, “Judging from your expressions, I assume you’ve called us here because you’ve reached a consensus regarding our request.”
“It wasn’t a consensus,” a stout young senator from Nebraska ground out, “but it was a majority.”
“I think what Senator Hawthorne is trying to say,” inserted Killip, “is that this decision was not an easy one to make.”
“I’d like to go on record…” Hawthorne began.
“Hush, Robert. You had your time to speak and your objection has been duly noted,” the woman interrupted. Pulling herself to her full height, she haughtily addressed the scientists in front of her as a feudal lord would address his peasants. “Dr. Hughes. Dr. Mitchell. After careful consideration and review of all the available information, we’ve reached our decision.” Vera Killip smiled as if she were enjoying the dramatic pause. “I’m sorry but I’m afraid we are not going to be able to grant your request to close Yellowstone at this time.”
If you want to read the beginning of my first book, click here. And throughout this journey, please remember to be kind. I'm sharing these to show a 9 year progression of writing, not to show perfect prose. (Cuz, lord knows, this ain't perfect.)