Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beginnings - Wrongful Termination

Welcome back to my little journey.  Each week I've been posting the beginnings to each of my manuscripts - in as close to the order they were written as I can manage.  Today I offer you a little mystery/suspense I wrote years ago.  It's finished - except for the edits. 

Wrongful Termination
Mourning Breaks (Chapter 1)
She stood alone by his grave, as he would have wished.  No other mourners bore witness to the box being slowly lowered into the ground.  No flowers proclaimed his passing.
St. Anne’s was holding a memorial service on the other side of town, presumably so the good citizens of Serenity could say their last farewell to the city’s now-deceased manager.  They’d begged her to come, but he wouldn’t have wanted them to gather in remembrance.  Out of respect for his wishes, she’d politely refused their impolite insistence.  When she drove by the church, large signs announced their service for him, the way the corner grocery store announced a sale on toilet paper.  The only difference was: the store was at least sincere in their sentiment, and toilet paper at least served a purpose.  There was no purpose in a memorial service given by the upstanding citizens of a town that had driven her husband to an early grave.
Long after his coffin was covered with freshly turned earth, she remained staring at the place where her heart lay buried, feeling like she could only leave the place if she consented to leave the best parts of her behind.  It wasn’t something she was willing to do.  She wasn’t sure if it was ever something she’d be willing to do.
They’d only been married a year when the call came. 
Scott collapsed during a city council meeting.  The heart that beat so loudly against her ear as she lay drowsing against his chest had betrayed them both.  As he stood fighting for his principles, the traitorous organ had given up the fight. 
All around him stood men who should’ve been able to help—four councilmen alone on the volunteer fire department—but try as they might, they couldn’t bring him back.   They worked on her husband all the way to the tiny hospital, but Scott was already gone. 
She was gone seconds later.  Alive but not.  Driven immediately into a state of such utter despondence, she barely registered when the city’s ambulance director offered to ease her pain with something from his kit.  For an instant, she considered slipping into the unfeeling sleep he offered, but in the end, she refused.  She never believed in better living through pharmaceuticals, especially not when it came to clouding her mind or her emotions.  In the end, she didn’t need their elixirs anyway.  Her whole being did an excellent job of numbing itself.
She wandered through the coming days doing exactly what needed to be done.  Arrangements made, family contacted, her husband laid to rest in the tiny plot she picked out for him.  Everything was finished.
Still she couldn’t move.
The wind whipped up out of the north, splaying her long brown hair across her face.  Despite the heat of mid-summer, chill claws ripped through her light blouse.  In her mind, she could see the first few flitters of snow drift to land on his grave and disappear against the warm earth. 
Still she didn’t move.
When a hand gently touched her shoulder, she shifted only slightly, turning her head to look into a face worn by the wrinkles of time.  One of the few faces in Serenity she could consider a friend, and the only one who came to honor her husband in the manner she chose.  She acknowledged him with a nod and turned her eyes back to where Scott lay.
“He’s gone, Jillian.  It’s time to go home.”
She nodded again, wanting to scream about her inability to leave, but unable to make words form in her raw throat.  The old man took her hand, and gently pulled her away from her heart. 
Lost in her own pain, Jillian didn’t notice the old man gently help her into his car.  She didn’t think to ask about her car, sitting cold and alone along the tiny cemetery road.  She didn’t see the flowering gardens now gracing the homes they drove past, nor her own neglected lawn as the car pulled to a stop.
The best part of her was still standing in the cemetery staring at the rectangle of brown where her heart now lay.
The old man helped her into her house, no longer a home without Scott’s life within its walls.  He turned on the lights, and fixed her a strong drink.  Along the edges of her mind, she could hear him talking to her, and she could hear herself answering, but none of it seemed real.  When he let himself out, she stood staring after him long into the night.
Somehow she must have made herself to turn out the lights and get into bed.  Somehow she must have gotten herself to sleep.  As she lay unblinking in the glow of dawn, she unsuccessfully tried to remember doing either.  The light shown brightly through the pretty drapes she’d picked out to cheer their daily awakening.  She shuddered at the sight of those drapes, and longed to pull the covers over her head to hide them from her sight. 
Instead, she forced herself to look at them, and to remember they were part of the life she had lived before.
Dragging herself from the bed she shared with Scott, she realized she still wore the same outfit—black except for where the cuffs of her pants were lightly dusted with earth.  If she’d had an entire wardrobe of black, it wouldn’t have been enough to reflect the gaping hole she felt inside herself.
In the back of her mind, she could hear her husband’s voice, “Life goes on.”  If it had been anyone else’s voice, she would’ve spit in his face, but Scott could always get her to do things she’d rather not do.  Their entire marriage had been a series of new adventures.  His try-anything spirit gently coaxing her bookish self to stretch for the heights.
For the first time since that horrible night, she smiled.
After all, he had been the only one in the thirty-six years of her life to coax her on one of those damned motorcycles.  She was afraid it would kill her, but she survived the experience.  She’d been afraid it would kill Scott, but he survived riding on that hellish thing, too.  If only he could’ve survived one stupid meeting.
Scott was the strongest man she ever met.  Never took a sick day; shrugged off injuries like they didn’t exist.  Whether he was climbing Longs Peak or brushing a rattlesnake out of her the path with a stick, he did everything like he was going to live forever.  Looking back, she realized he sincerely believed he would never die, and as foolish as it seemed now, she believed right along with him.
He never saw death coming.  Until it came and wrecked them both.
For days after the funeral, she went through the routines of life, without actually living them.  She got up every day, she dressed herself, she ate, and then she went to bed.  Everything else was a useless blur.  When the food ran low, she ventured out into the town.  That was her first mistake.
Walking through an aisle of the town’s only grocery store, she was reaching for a loaf of Scott’s favorite bread when voices drifted to her from the next row over.
“I hear you’re having a devil of a time finding yourself a new city manager,” said a man she recognized only as one of the farmers from outside the city.  “Too bad about Underwood...”
“He was a pain in the ass,” said Jerry Powden, one of the city councilman who was present to witness her husband’s death.  Scott never talked much about the meetings she was never encouraged to attend, but she knew enough about those monthly events to know about Powden and his drive to make her husband’s job harder with every vote. 
She gritted her teeth and tossed the now-crumpled loaf into her cart.  Whatever the bastard said was no longer of any consequence.  He couldn’t hurt Scott any more, and as soon as his affairs were in order, she would never see Serenity again.  If the city council wanted to run the town into the ground, so be it.  As she turned to push her groceries away from the offensive conversation, though, Powden’s next words stopped her cold.
“It was the best thing for everyone when he keeled over like he did…”
“That’s a sick thing to say…”
“Screw it.  It’s not like anyone gives a damn one way or the other what I say about him now.  His dying like that saved us all a lot of trouble.  Not that it matters anymore, but we were getting ready to fire him anyway.  We had the votes.  Live or dead, he wouldn’t have been around bothering us for much longer anyway.  And if you ask me, I’m glad it was dead.”  Powden chuckled and the sound dripped like acid along her nerves.  “At least dead, he can’t whine about ‘wrongful termination’.” 
For the first time since that horrible night, Jillian felt.  Suddenly, she felt far more than she ever wanted to feel again, and what she felt was hatred.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Beginnings - Redemption

Back in 2006, I began a huge project.  The book was to be told in three parts - the first part being set in the current time, the middle to be set several decades later, and the third picking up where the second left off.  Of course, as you'll see from the beginning, it's a huge project about a huge project.  I never did finish this, but I still feel the old excitement when I read through it again.  I could still finish this, but I'm afraid - as I was when I dropped this - that it's totally unsellable.  Maybe someday it'll be finished and self-published.  :shrug:  Who knows what the future will bring?

Which was actually the point of this work...


Book 1

Chapter 1

“But surely you realize a venture of this magnitude will certainly break you…”
“That is of little consequence,” Peter Stiles replied tersely.  He looked again at the schematics laid out before him.  This was to be his greatest triumph.  After spending his life growing rich off the inventions he created, he was finally going to give something back.  None of his hundreds of patents would ever come close to this.
And now his lawyer was trying to talk him out of it.
“But Peter,” the man continued, “You’ve worked too hard to get where you are, just to throw it all away on some hare-brained scheme…”
Peter glowered across the desk.  “Not another word, George,” he said with more venom than he had intended.  One glance at George’s face and he immediately regretted his outburst.  More than just his lawyer, George Bannister had been his friend for nearly thirty years.  They’d been through thick and thin together since college—when George was spending all his time studying for the bar and Peter all his time working toward his double E.  They’d been best man at each other’s weddings.  George had taken him in after his first wife had thrown him out on his ear, and he was too drunk to find another place to stay.  He had taken George in when his only wife had died suddenly and George had been unable to survive a return to a house full of memories.  After all they’d been through, Peter knew that he should be big enough to make allowances for George’s incredulity, even if it was incomprehensible that George would doubt him now.
“I’m sorry,” Peter whispered.  “But you don’t understand how important this project is.”
His friend nodded.  “Apology accepted,” he said graciously.  For several minutes the two sat in silence, each of them looking at the pile of blueprints and engineering drawings that would be Peter’s opus.  Finally it was George who broke the uncomfortable barrier.  “It looks like it will be a beaut.”
That was all it took for Peter to relax back into his genial self.  A wide smile broke across his face.  “She sure will.”
“Peter?” George began tentatively.  “You’re right that I don’t understand why you’re driven to do this, but you’re wrong if you think that I don’t understand the thinking that started it.  You’re growing older… We both are… And you’re feeling like you need something to show for your life.  But christ, Peter, all you have to do is look back over your life to see how much of an impact you’re already made.”
“This isn’t a midlife crisis, George.  If you want to point to anything as a mid-life crisis, look at my marriage to Tiphani.” 
George smiled as thought about that utter disaster, but Peter wasn’t smiling.  “Then leave an endowment to our alma mater.  They’ll name another building after you.”
“This isn’t about having my name plastered on some building.”  Peter sighed.  “George, it’s about finally waking up to what a mess this world is and then coming to the realization that with all my money, I can’t fix it…”
“You can certainly make a dent, Peter, if that’s really what you want.”
“It isn’t enough.”
“Sure it is.  You could spend the next thirty years giving away a million at a time to whatever organization needed it, whenever they asked, and still be able to die a wealthy man.  There no need for you do to this and die destitute.”
Peter laughed.  “You’re making a couple of wrong assumptions there, my friend, not the least of which is thinking that if I spent it all now, I wouldn’t be able to make it again.”
“Of course you could, but that’s not the point.”
“And then there’s the other assumption,” Peter continued, ignoring his friend’s interruption.
“Which is?”
“That I will live long enough to see my own destitution.”
“Bull,” George declared.  “You’ve got plenty of time left.  Hell, you’re the baby of the two of us, and I’m planning on you to give the eulogy at my funeral.”  His eyes were twinkling at what he thought was a ridiculous suggestion on the part of his friend.  “You’ll live long enough to see us all in the ground.”
Peter shook his head and suddenly George turned a strange shade of gray.  He inclined his head as a sort of silent question and Peter nodded sadly.
“Damn,” was George’s only comment.

I meant to post the entirety of this chapter, but apparently there's something hinky with the formatting that isn't letting me paste it into Blogger without Blogger having a hissy fit.  Which is really too bad, because the rest of this chapter really sets up the whole first third of the book.

And I apologize for the crappy formatting on the above.  Between Word being a prima donna and my internet being a PITA, it was either leave it like this or not post anything at all.   

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Beginnings - Be Careful What You Wish For

At this point in the journey, I have no clue what book is next.  There are several partially finished manuscripts from around this time and a couple I finished but never edited.  And my stupid memory can't pinpoint which one is first in line.  I threw a mental dart and came up with this one...

It's called 'Be Careful What You Wish For' and it is totally not finished.  I wrote the beginning.  I wrote the end.  And I wrote a great plot twist for the middle.  It's also very 'first drafty' - which means what little I read of it this morning blows chunks.  But I'm posting it anyway because - in case you haven't been following along - I'm doing this experiment thing where I post the beginning of each of my books in as close to order as I can manage.  I'm hoping it'll show a progression of improvement.  (Not with this one, though... yuck.)

Anyway, here it is:

Be Careful What You Wish For

Chapter 1:

“Quiet!” a voice harshly whispered in the dark. 
“Where is he?  You said he’d be here.  He should have been here by now,” came a nervous reply.
“He’ll be here.  He comes here every morning at this time, and he’d have no reason to change his habits.”
“He knows.  In a minute this place will be swarming with the Feds and they’ll…” 
The hushed whispering was punctuated by a swift slap, and then the silence that was so necessary to their mission finally ensued, albeit briefly as the sound of footsteps finally could be heard along the path.  Gathered in the decorative undergrowth of shrubbery that typically made the park a favorite location for morning strolls as well as a favorite evening spot for young lovers, a few hesitant shapes ducked deeper to avoid any preemptive caution on the part of the individual approaching, a single member of their group standing unafraid before them.  Shortly the sound that they had all been waiting for was upon them and while the shivering and nervous members of the erstwhile gang tensed to spring at the gentleman’s back, their leader merely stepped out onto the path in front of him.
“Good morning, Jack.”  The leader said, his deep voice resonating through the stillness of pre-dawn.
Startled, the gentleman slowly backed several paces up the path until his face softened with recognition.  “Adam!” he said, his voice slowly changing from pleasant surprise to mild irritation, “Long time, no see, but what the hell are you doing here?”
“It’s a long story, Jack, and I don’t really have time to tell it right now.  Suffice it to say that I’m sorry that I have to cut your morning walk short today.”
“Well, you know that I always have time for you, Adam, but I really would have preferred that you make an appointment.  This is my only opportunity to commune with nature, and to get away from prying eyes…”
“My point exactly.”
“I don’t follow.”
“You’re going to have to come with me, Jack.  Now we can do this the easy way and you can casually stroll with me back to my car, or we can do this the hard way.”
“I really don’t have time to…”  The sound of rustling leaves behind him cut short his statement and Jack turned to discover several shadows moving in behind him.  “I don’t understand this, Adam.  What’s going on?”
“There’s something that my colleagues and I would like for you to see, Jack.”
“Well, perhaps if you explain then there won’t be any need for this subterfuge.”
“No time for that.  Not that we expect that you would consent to our plan even if we explained it to you.  Now if you will kindly step this way, sir, we have transportation waiting for you.  Step lively, Jack.”
“I’m not moving a muscle until you tell me what this is all about.”
Suddenly one of the other men spoke.  “Dr. Jeffers?  We’re running out of time.”
“Quite right, Dr. Paulson.”  Adam said to the men behind Jack.  “Shortly you’re going to be overdue, and your watchdogs will come looking for you.”
“It’s just as well.  You’ll never get away with… whatever you’re trying to do.”
Adam motioned to the men.  “Elliott… Gentlemen?  You know what you have to do.”
Poised as if ready to make a break for freedom, Jack was prepared to fight or to flee his potential captors.  In the gathering light of morning, he could make out their silhouettes, and from the looks of it, none of them were the muscular thugs he had envisioned.  He almost laughed at the thought.  His own physique was still well trained from his years in the military, and the thought of a physical battle against a group of scientists was the nearest thing to ludicrous that he could think of.  Jack was prepared for anything; anything except the feeling of a pinprick on the side of his neck followed by the sudden feeling of falling.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Beginnings - Blink of an I

Week three of my little experiment.  In case you haven't been following along, I'm posting the beginnings of each of my works in the order they were written - or as near to in order as I can remember.  (And not necessarily the order they were edited in - and not all of them have been edited.)  This is kind of my 9 year journey in words.

So here's my third book.  When I look back, I still can't believe this was only the third.  I could almost swear I wrote more books between the last one and this.  Maybe that was the year I was trying my hand at short stories.  :shrug:

Here it is in all its glory:  Blink of an I.  (For those of you in a different font - that's capital I, not a lower-case L.)  It's a speculative fiction - set way way in the future after the world has already been ruined.  It begins in one isolated city where the populous has been split into castes...

Blink of an I

 Seven colors, seven castes,
Created so our Union lasts.
Seven colors, Black and White—
Keep our Union future bright.
Violet heeds the servant call.
Indigos are helpmates all.
Management is left to Blue.
Health belongs to Greenish hue.
Yellow creates for Union needs.
Orange educates for Union deeds.
Leaving Red to shepherd all.
We answer our great Union’s call.
Beyond the colors, above the caste
Black maintains the laws they’ve passed.
Above all others, as is their right,
The Union wears the color White.
The shining light above us ever,
May the Union live forever.

Chapter 1
The twisted hulk stretched into the air above her like a man straining to grasp the hand of a loved one being pulled away.  On the opposite side of the strait, Mary could almost make out another someone reaching through the fog. 
Or maybe she was only remembering that it was there.  Every chance she got, she trekked the many blocks to stand on this strip of land between the ocean and the bay to wait.  Unsure of what she was waiting for, and yet still waiting.  On sunny days, she could see across the thick belt of water where a twin husk reached toward the city.  The two corroded towers between rose from the waves—silent guardians of a past she would never know.
Her fingers traced, yet again, the strange symbols rising off the brass plate at the base.  They probably told what the expanse was for, but their meaning was lost to her.  Below her the surf crashed against the rocks, and silently slithered back into the bay, whispering secrets in a language she wished to understand.
Turning her back to the mystery, she cast her eyes across the bay toward the hills and wondered if the upper castes who lived there knew what any of it meant.  Surely someone up there had been taught these things.  At some point someone thought this structure was important enough to build.  It ought to be important enough for someone to remember, even after all the years that must’ve passed.
But if anyone still understood, she knew they would never tell someone like her.  She was nothing to them.
Trailing her fingers through the rust, she tried to let go of the pain struggling against her station always brought.  In this place, her caste level didn’t matter.  The structure behind her didn’t care if she was a lowly Indigo or a lofty Red.  After her years in the foundling home, she found structures were better company anyway.  The wasted creation above never pointed and laughed at her questionable parentage.  It never shunned her because her jumper was a coarser cloth or a poorer color.  The warped and corroded metal simply stood, making her feel that maybe once upon a time people didn’t care about such things either.  Clearly if men could build such mysterious monuments, they wouldn’t have had time to dwell on origins and castes.
Her gaze drifted partway along the coast and a few blocks in.  Nestled inside the grid of streets was her other favorite place in the city.  Nothing more than sandy brick and dusty windows, without any outstanding characteristics to draw anyone’s attention, the building—whatever was within—was still prominent amongst the surrounding derelicts surrounding.  Like its brethren, it was worn with age.  Unlike them, it wore age proudly.  Though there was a cracked window pane here and a crumbling brick there, those minor details did nothing to associate the structure with the stolid sentinels around it.  None of the others would ever rise to the grandeur it must’ve once been wrapped in.
She never saw a pair of bright eyes peek from between the heavy draperies, but each time she watched, she was sure they were there.  Somehow she just knew there was a warm body tucked away, secure behind their folds.  She couldn’t imagine it any other way. 
Maybe tomorrow she would visit.  Perhaps then she would summon the courage to quench her curiosity.
If there was time.  Between work and sleep, there was never enough time.
From her perch above the city, she could see the first bright fingers of dawn, inching over the hills to chase away the mist.  Their arrival was her cue, and as much as she was loathe to leave, she turned her feet away from the mystery. 
The first dozen steps were little more than the shuffle of a child sent off to bed too soon.  She never wanted to leave this place.  The structure, whatever use had once served, was now a treasured friend.  When a bell sounded in the distance, though, her heart seized against her ribs, and her pace quickened.  By the time she moved another ten paces, she was running.
“Late again,” her superior would say with a terse shake of his head.  She would be shuttled into her cube, and set to do twice the work, if only as punishment for her transgressions.  If she worked very hard, she might be released to leave before the clock blinked twelve. 
Not until she reached the two-story building that held her workhome did she finally slow her pace.  She gasped for breath like the fish the Violet fishermen pulled from the bay with their great nets.  “Just a few more minutes,” she thought as she tried to right herself.  She cast a glance toward the sickly shell.  “They can wait a few more…”
“You okay?” said a rough voice behind her.  “Look pretty done in to me.  Sick maybe?  You want I should get some help?”
She opened her mouth to answer, but the dark purple of his coverall stayed her words.  One glance toward the vidcam above them, and she swallowed her reply.  She was in enough trouble already.  Talking to a Violet would ruin her for sure—if the Union Guard was bothering to watch the playback.  Most days they didn’t bother with the vidcams in her sector, but the way her luck always ran, today would be the day.  He’d probably get the worst of it, but she couldn’t afford to have another mark in what she was sure was a very thick Union Guard file.
Giving him no more than a quick nod, she pushed herself away from the lamppost.  His eyes narrowed and he reached out to steady her.  Shrugging his hands away, she hissed, “Get back to work before they see you,” under her breath as she staggered away.  One quick tug to straighten her own indigo coverall and she was as ready as she would ever be.
The Violet was still standing on the sidewalk staring after her when she closed the door.  His soft brown hair fell over one eye, and despite the fact those eyes were now clouded with hurt, she could see they might easily sparkle with laughter.  He looked like someone she would’ve enjoyed talking to in another world. 
But this was the only world she had to live in.

Speculative fiction is my first love and I still believe in this book.  Maybe someday someone else will believe in it, too.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Beginnings - Nature of Fear

Hi All!

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.”
“Watch me.”
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.)