Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A snippet of writing from the mind of an idiot

Just because I feel like it, here's three chapters of the latest story I'm working on. There's no real context to these as they form the middle section of the first act of this story.  This is really the pivotal point for the story that sets up the rest of the adventure.

I like to take the basic conventions of story telling and play around with them. In my first ever (unpublished, crap) novel, I had a fairly traditional boy meets girl, boy loses girl structure but rather than the normal boy wins girl back third act I went more with boy hates girl and wishes she was dead and is glad when the other boy he lost her to dies horribly. That was a bit of a mean spirited story, really. Most of my stuff turns out that way. I don't write nice stuff; as my wife likes to say, "Why can't you write stuff I'd enjoy?" Sadly, that's just not me. But anyway, back to the point. This is the sequel to a novel I've already written and shopped around to a few agents without any success whatsoever. If you're wondering why I'm writing a sequel to a story that nobody is remotely interested in then don't worry because I'm wondering exactly the same thing myself. The only answer that I can give you is simply this: I like writing stories.

5 - Date Night

“Hit me again,” Sebastian ordered the barman, his speech slurred by the alcohol already flowing through his system. The barman, a young, olive skinned man with slicked back black hair, looked Sebastian up and down and shrugged. “I think you have had enough for tonight, my friend,” he said in an apologetic tone.
Sebastian glowered at him. “What are you, my mother?” he sneered. “I didn’t ask for your opinion, I asked for a drink so please, can I have another Ouzo?”
As he spoke, Dan eased himself onto the empty stool beside his brother and slapped his hand down on his shoulder. “You hanging in there buddy?” he asked Sebastian, glancing up at the barman as he spoke and making it clear with his expression that Sebastian wasn’t getting another drink.
“You could say that,” Sebastian muttered, staring down at the bar before raising his head and shooting daggers at the barman. “Of course, I’d be having a lot more fun if this asshole decided to do his job and give me a drink.”
“And that’s why you’re not having any more right now,” Dan told his brother brightly. “It’s kind of traditional not to insult your barman when you want a drink.”
“I don’t need you or him or you or anyone else telling me I’ve had enough to drink!” Sebastian exclaimed angrily, slamming his fist down onto the bar and knocking his empty glass sideways. Dan reached and picked it up, handing it to the barman. “You really don’t do being drunk very well, do you?” he said to his brother dryly.
“That’s rich coming from a guy who got demoted because of his drinking,” came the slurred reply.
“Touché,” Dan replied with a grin, “although in my defense that was a very long time ago.”
“Well, let’s just say I’m making up for lost time, then,” Sebastian sniped back.
Dan put his arm around his brother’s shoulder. “You’ve well and truly caught me up, mister,” he said encouragingly. “Let’s go sit down at our table and I’ll get us a couple more drinks.”
Sebastian let the offer sink into his addled mind and mulled it over. He wore the expression of a man trying to work out an incredibly complex equation in his head but after a few moments he nodded slowly in agreement, and Dan helped him to his feet and led him across the room to a table in the corner, where Sebastian slumped down into a wicker chair.
“Don’t got anywhere,” Dan ordered his brother, who could only mumble an unintelligible response. He walked back over to the bar. “Sorry about that,” he said to the barman in a bright tone.
“Your brother, he had a bad day today, no?”
Dan laughed. “It could have been a lot worse. This morning I thought we were all going to jail. As it is, all that’s happening is we’re being escorted out of the country tomorrow.”
“That is not so good.”
“Not when everything we’ve been working towards for the last couple of years is here, no.”
“Perhaps you will be allowed to come back when he is not so drunk?”
Dan laughed at the suggestion. “It’s not the drinking that the problem,” he told the barman. “It’s what he did when he was sober that’s the problem. Your Navy doesn’t take kindly to people stealing boats and sailing around so close to the Turkish mainland. It makes them kind of antsy, you know what I’m saying?”
“There have nearly been wars over such things.”
“Exactly,” Dan said with a sense of satisfaction, before adding, “although it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. All the Greeks and Turks I know are great. You all seem to get along.”
“Maybe we are too similar,” the barman answered with a grin.
Dan gave a little nod. “You might be onto something there.” He glanced to his and his eye was caught by the person at the end of the bar. She hadn’t been there a moment before, but he hadn’t noticed her come in. He glanced around to where he had left Sebastian; his brother was now slumped down in the chair and seemed to be asleep. He turned his attention back to the woman at the far end of the bar and his heart leapt a little as the two of them made eye contact for a moment. Dan quickly broke off his gaze and looked down at the bar, but a moment later he found his attention making his way back to the woman, and when he looked to where he sat their eyes met again. This time she smiled, a wide, dazzling smile.
Dan was immediately hooked. She was beautiful, and he guessed she was in her late twenties. Her skin was deeply tanned and her hair bleached blonde, both from spending too much time in the sun. She wore a short black dress and the way she sat with her legs crossed showed plenty of her long legs. She seemed completely out of place at the otherwise deserted bar.
Dan glanced around. She didn’t seem to be with anyone else, which seemed strange to him. Women like her didn’t wander around alone in Greek tourist towns out of season. He pondered that thought for a moment, and then stood up. There seemed to be only one way he would find out anything about this sudden and welcome distraction to the day’s less than enthralling events.
He casually walked down the bar towards the woman, who watched him curiously as he approached. He took the empty seat next to her and then casually glanced over at her, almost as if he hadn’t noticed she was there. “Well, hello there,” he said with a broad grin. The woman looked at him with only the slightest interest, but Dan was not deterred. “I couldn’t help but notice you staring at me from over here,” he went on, “but that’s okay: if I was you, I’d be staring at me too.”
The woman raised her eyes to meet his and her expression was matched by her tone of voice. “Is that really the best you can do?” she asked disdainfully. Her Californian accent was immediately apparent. “I’m sitting here on my own in this bar and you think you coming up to me and hitting on me with an arrogant line like that is going to work?”
“It seemed like it was worth a shot,” Dan replied, riding the insult like a heavyweight boxer sidestepping a punch, “especially since we’re both American. I’d hate for you to be drinking alone so far from home.”
“The cockiness didn’t work so now we’re trying for the sympathy vote, hmm?” came the snapped reply.
Dan blew out his cheeks. “Is this how you get all your dates? By waiting for them to come and say hi and then ripping them to shreds?”
“What makes you think I’m looking for a date?” she asked dryly.
Dan shrugged and glanced around him. “Well, let’s see,” he began. “You’re in a bar, on your own, you’re dressed up and you’re sitting up here on display for all to see, practically screaming for attention. I’d say that would mean you were looking for something.”
She gave him a wry grin. “You’re half right,” she told him. “Only it’s not a date I’m looking for.”
“What are you looking for, then?”
She gave him a measured gaze before she coolly replied, “You.”

6 - Business Proposal

“Me?” Dan asked after a momentary pause as her statement took the wind out of his sails. “You don’t even know who I am.”
“You’re Daniel Fox, the archeologist. The man who’s just passed out in the corner is your brother Sebastian.”
Dan looked at her suspiciously. “So who does that make you, then?”
“My name is Katherine Whitlock.”
Dan shrugged. “Is that name supposed to mean something to me?”
“I doubt it,” she replied. “I’m not a celebrity like you two.”
Dan laughed at that. “I’d hardly call myself a celebrity.”
“In the right circles, you are,” Katherine replied. “It’s your work that brought me here.”
The laughter left Dan’s voice. “My work?” he asked. Katherine reached into her bag and pulled out a tatty looking paperback book. Dan cocked his head to the side and looked at the cover. It read ‘Modern Myths and Fables’ by Daniel Fox. He rolled his eyes in disbelief. It was the same book Samaras had had in Athens. Seeing it then had made him angry; now all he could do was laugh at the girl.
“Oh my God,” Dan sniggered. “Please don’t tell me that piece of trash brought you all the way out here.”
“Why not?” Katherine replied. “It’s a good book.”
“It’s garbage,” Dan shot back.
“You wrote it,” she pointed out archly.
“Yeah, I wrote it because idiots like you lap that kind of crap up. Atlantis; Lemuria; the Loch Ness Monster, it’s all a load of recycled nonsense that people can’t get enough of.”
“That may be true,” Katherine replied, “but if it is, then why are you here investigating one of your own ‘pieces of crap’?”
Dan’s eyes narrowed. “What makes you think you have any idea what we’re doing here?” he asked her in a low voice.
“Oh, come now, Mister Fox, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to put the pieces together.”
Dan rolled his eyes. “I think you might have got the wrong end of the stick somewhere along the line, here,” he told Katherine. “We’re on an archeological expedition. We’re not looking for Atlantis if that’s what you’re thinking. You want Graham Hancock if that’s your thing.”
“I didn’t say anything about Atlantis.”
Dan shook his head. “Whatever you think we’re doing here, you’re wrong.”Katherine held up the well thumbed book in her right hand. “Page two hundred forty seven,” she said quietly, reading the expression on Dan’s face. “You can tell me I’m wrong but I know from that look I’m not.”
Dan pushed his hands against the bar and stood up. “I’m sorry,” he said to Katherine, “I’ve obviously made a mistake here. You enjoy the rest of your evening; I’m going to look after my brother.” He turned away, not waiting for a reply, and quickly made his way back over to where Sebastian was snoring away, his head lolling down on his chest. Dan reached down and shook his shoulder.
“Come on, we need to leave,” Dan told his brother sternly, but all he got in response was a series of grunts. Dan let out an exasperated sigh and shook Sebastian again. This time Sebastian raised his arm and waved his hand as though he was swatting away an irritating fly. “For God’s sake,” muttered Dan, looking down at his incapacitated brother.
“Need some help?” came the soft female voice from behind Dan. He glanced over his shoulder and saw Katherine standing there, looking down at the stuporous Sebastian. He glared at her. “Not from you, thanks,” he said darkly, as he leant down and tried to lift his brother to his feet, but it was to no avail. The best he could manage was to push him back into his seat. Dan slumped down in the opposite chair and let out an exasperated gasp.
“I’m really not sure what I’ve done to deserve such a hostile reaction,” Katherine said as she perched herself on the arm of Sebastian’s chair and looked at Dan.
“You’re involving yourself in our business, which makes you nosey, and I don’t like nosey people,” Dan told her flatly.
“I can see there’s no beating around the bush with you,” Katherine observed.
Dan glanced around the near empty bar and then looked back at Katherine. “Look, why don’t you just go away? I’m sorry I came and talked to you. It was a mistake. I need to get my brother back to our place when he wakes up and I don’t need you making things more difficult than they already are.”
“I didn’t come here to make your life more difficult. In fact, I came here to make it substantially easier.”
“And how are you going to do that exactly?”
“I’m willing to fund your expedition and provide you with the technical resources and equipment to complete your study.”
Dan blew out his cheeks. “This is reality, lady. Strange women do not come up to guys in bars and try to buy their services. I think you’ve been watching too many movies. Now will you please just leave me alone?”
Katherine was undaunted by Dan’s unwilling response. “I want to hire you. I need your help and I’m willing to pay you well for it.”
Dan put his head into his hands before looking up at Katherine. It seemed pointless trying to argue with her anymore so he simply stated, “That’s not how we work, I’m sorry.”
“I’ve wired one million dollars into your offshore account in Jersey. You can call them and check if you like,” she added, seeing the startled look on Dan’s face. “If you get me what I want, I will wire in another nine million.”
“I hate to break it to but we’re leaving in the morning and I don’t think we’re going to be back any time... well, ever,” Dan said, his head reeling from alcohol and the sudden rush of unexpected information. “If we’re both talking about what I think we’re talking about, I can’t do a lot for you, no matter how much money you throw my way.”
“I’m aware of your problems with the Greek government,” Katherine told him. “I can help you with that. All I need is your consent.”
“And if I still say no, do we get to keep the million dollars?” Dan asked incredulously.
“Yes,” Katherine said calmly. “Think of it as a charitable donation. I’m a fan of your work and I want to see you continue.”
Dan looked up at the beautiful, mysterious woman who sat opposite him, calmly regarding him. “Are you for real?” he finally asked. “You’re not some kind of psycho stalker or something?”
Katherine stood up and looked down at Dan. “I’d advise you to check your bank account,” she told him. “If you and your brother are interested, meet me for breakfast at the Megisti hotel at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.” She gave him a little nod. “Good luck getting him to bed.” With that, she walked away, and Dan turned to watch her make her way swiftly from the bar. He looked back down to where Sebastian was snoring away in the chair opposite him, and shook his head.
“What the hell was that about?” he wondered aloud.

7 - Breakfast Brief

“I’m never drinking again,” Sebastian moaned to himself as he stared down at the glass of freshly squeezed orange juice as though the glass was filled with fresh blood.
“I think you’re still too drunk to be officially hungover yet,” Dan observed, looking into his brother’s bloodshot eyes.
They were sitting on the deck of the Hotel Megisti, overlooking the harbor. Between them was a lavish continental breakfast laid out on the table, along with fresh fruit and coffee. It was almost eight, and they had been expected when they had arrived ten minutes earlier. Sebastian leant forward, holding his head in his hands. “I think my head is going to explode,” he said feebly. Dan grinned at him and helped himself to a bread roll from the table.
“A bit of food and some coffee and you’ll soon be feeling better,” he reassured his brother.
“I’m going to be sick if I eat anything.”
“You were already sick four times last night,” pointed out Dan. “Do you know how hard it was getting you back to the hotel?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Sebastian said.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Dan replied chirpily. “Just think, in a couple of hours you’re going to have the Greek police knocking on the door and taking you to the airport. I’m sure they’re not going to be as accommodating as this.”
“God, I hope I feel better by then.”
“Me too,” agreed Dan, “although having a million dollars sitting in our bank account helps to ease the pain of being deported.”
Sebastian looked up at his brother with a pained look on his face. “I can’t believe I missed all this last night. You make it sound like something out of a James Bond movie.”
“It pretty much was,” Dan said merrily. “Beautiful, mysterious woman approaches me in a bar with an intriguing offer and a huge pile of cash. How are we supposed to say no to that?”
“You know we aren’t supposed to leave our hotel, don’t you?” Sebastian told him. “This is only going to piss off the Greeks even more.”
“If it wasn’t for the money, we wouldn’t be here, believe me,” Dan said.
“I’m glad it attracted your interest,” came the voice from the entrance to the deck. The two brothers looked up to see Katherine standing in the doorway. She had her hair tied back in a ponytail and wore a long, flowing white dress with thin brown belt around her waist that accentuated her curves. The two brothers stood, Dan sharply, Sebastian unsteadily as she walked over to greet them.
Katherine shook Dan’s hand. “Nice to see you again, Mister Fox. I’m glad you made it.”
“Thanks for the invite.”
“I trust you checked your bank balance?”
“I did. That was very generous of you.”
“Not at all.” She turned her attention to Sebastian. “How are you feeling?”
“I’ve been better,” Sebastian replied grudgingly. Katherine grinned. “Ouzo will do that to you.” She sat down and the brothers did likewise. She looked between them. “It’s strange, you know,” she observed, “from everything I’d heard about you two Sebastian was supposed to be the level headed one and Dan more of the fool. I have to say that hasn’t been my impression so far.”
“Thanks,” Sebastian said. “I just had a bad day yesterday, that’s all.”
“In more ways than one,” pointed out Katherine as she leant forward and rested her elbows on her knees, locking here fingers together in a businesslike manner. “Let’s see if we can’t get today off to a better start.”
"How did you find us here, Miss Whitlock?" Dan asked.
"Katherine, please."
“How did you find us?” Dan repeated. He had no intention of making small talk, and Katherine quickly stopped trying.
“Through your backers,” she told him. “It wasn’t hard. People with money know other people with money. We talk.”
“You have money, then?”
Katherine arched an eyebrow at Dan. “Do you have many people throwing millions of dollars at you?”
Dan shrugged at that. “Okay, that’s a fair point,” he conceded. “I’m still not one hundred per cent sure why you did that.”
“It’s perfectly simple. I want you to find the Eye of Andromeda.”
“That’s what I thought,” Dan said despondently. “I also thought I made it clear last night that Eye is a nothing but a myth.”
“Not according to your book,” Katherine pointed out.
“I told you, that book is a load of crap. It’s a work of fiction spun around some ancient legends. The Eye is a fable, like Atlantis,” Dan said emphatically.
“Then why do you happen to be excavating in exactly the area you purport the Eye to be and why do the papers filed at the Greek Interior Ministry state that one of your objectives is to find the Eye as an artifact of historical significance?”
Dan was shaking his head even as Katherine spoke and as soon as she had posed her question he answered her back. “The truth is we were using it as a cover to excavate early Minoan temples. In case you didn’t know, there’s a lot of tension in this part of the world between Greece and Turkey. That big lump of land over there,” - he pointed out across the harbor - “that’s Turkey. If we find something big, something that could become a tourist attraction, both countries are going to want it and they’re both going to be breathing down our necks. We don’t want that, which is why we used the Eye as a cover story. Nobody takes it seriously which is why everyone was leaving us alone.”
“But the Eye is real,” insisted Katherine.
Dan shook his head. “It’s not. The stuff you’re reading is just legends, half of which I’m responsible for. The book you’ve got is the first book I ever published. It contained a chapter on the Eye and that’s where most of the rumors and stories about it come from. The fact is, I wrote that story to help sell the book. People lap that kind of thing up. It doesn’t mean it’s true. There’s no science or fact behind the story. It’s just that: a story.”
“The Eye is real.”
“You’re not getting it, are you?” Dan said with a dismissive wave.
Katherine glared at him. “It’s you who isn’t getting it,” she said firmly. “I don’t know how many time I have to tell you that the Eye is real.”
“Listen, lady...” Dan began, but he felt his brother’s hand plant on his forearm even as the words left his mouth.
“Our host seems pretty insistent that she knows something about this Eye,” Sebastian told Dan. “Maybe we should hear her out before deciding if this is worthwhile or not?”
“I can tell you now it’s not,” Dan snapped back. “She a lunatic. She might be a rich lunatic but she’s still a lunatic.”
Katherine chuckled. “This is a little bit more like what I was expecting from you two,” she said with a broad smile.
“I’m glad we don’t disappoint,” Sebastian told her, not taking his hand from Dan’s arm. “Now, what exactly is it that you know?”
“Before I begin, I need you to understand that everything I am going to tell you is in the strictest confidence and may not be used by you or any other competitor. If it is, then I will withdraw all funds from your offshore account, not just the money I deposited.”
“You can’t do that!” Dan protested.
“I can and I will,” Katherine assured him coolly. “When I enter into business with someone I expect a certain level of professionalism. If it is absent, I ensure they are suitably punished. Make no mistake about that.”
“You must be a lot of fun at kids’ parties,” Dan said dryly.
“I don’t joke about my investments, Daniel,” Katherine replied.
“You’re clearly serious about your work,” Sebastian observed.
“I am,” Katherine confirmed, “and I expect anyone working for me to be equally serious. Now, shall we get down to business?”
The two brothers glanced at one another. As objectionable as Katherine seemed, there was something undeniably intriguing about her confidence and the notion that she knew something that she clearly believed to be tantalizing.
“Alright,” Sebastian said. “We’re on board.” He felt Dan’s arm tense under his grip but he squeezed his fingers tighter before his brother could speak and continued. “Let’s hear what you’ve got.”
Katherine sat back as a smile of self-satisfaction spread across her face. “Excellent,” she said. “I’m glad you’ve seen sense. You’re going to be a huge asset.”
“I usually get people telling me I’m a huge ass,” Dan told her dryly.
“Hopefully not this time,” was the sardonic reply, before Katherine’s tone shifted to a more serious nature. “The Eye is real. You're just looking for it in the wrong place.”
“How do you know that?” Sebastian asked.
“I’ll come to that,” Katherine told him. “The Greeks built temples to honor their gods. The Eye was, or is, a temple built to worship a star, specifically Alpheratz in the constellation of Andromeda. It’s the brightest star in the constellation, representing the head of Andromeda, which is where the Greek designation for the temple came from.”
“Why would the Greeks build a temple to a star?” Sebastian asked. “That’s more an Egyptian trait, or Mezoamerican. That’s not something the Greeks would have done.”
“I don’t believe they did build it,” Katherine replied, leaning forward again and becoming more animated. “I believe they discovered it, or rediscovered it to be more precise, and renamed it. I think the real temple is much older than any civilization you associated it with.”
Dan and Sebastian glanced at each other. “Was that in your book?” Sebastian asked Dan, who shook his head slowly. Sebastian turned back to Katherine. “You said we’re looking in the wrong place? You don’t think it’s at Megisti?”
“No, I don’t. I think the sunken temple you are investigating is not the temple of the Eye itself. I think it is one of four cardinal markers related to the true position of the Eye.
“Each one of the markers is one hundred and twenty miles north, south, east and west of the temple of Andromeda, which lies at the center, forming the outline of a bright star. Megisti is the southern most marker.”
“That would put the temple somewhere smack bang in the middle of Turkey,” Sebastian pointed out.
“Yes, it would,” agreed Katherine.
“That would mean the Greeks couldn’t have built it.”
The two brothers looked at one another again, this time with a new spark of interest.
“Okay, you’ve got our attention,” Sebastian told Katherine. “Now you’re telling us you know where the Eye is located?”
“I suspect I do, and I have evidence to prove it.”
“Evidence?” asked Dan, suddenly intrigued. “What evidence?”

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