Sample Chapter: This Broken Earth

I thought I would post a sample chapter of my latest novel.  It is one I have spent some time with and is also one in which the voice is right.  I would like to set it up by saying that this novel is told through the voices of all of the characters.  Each chapter represents the voice of one of the characters and the reader is taken through the story through each person’s point of view.  Some of them are not reliable narrators, others are secret villains, and we find out that some heroes are full of irrational fears.

The chapter I am sharing with you today is the voice of Amy Lawrence.  In the previous chapter, she knocked our hero Clayton Potter on the head as he was trying to break in to her house.  She drug his unconscious body across her floor and put him on her couch to think about what to do next.  What follows is her chapter:

Yeah, so I was just sitting in my house minding my own business when this skinny nerd decided to break in.  I suppose I couldn’t blame him, what with the world all gone crazy, but a girl’s gotta defend herself.  I dragged his sorry self into the house and then bound him all up with duct tape.  Handy stuff.  I pulled him up onto the couch in the living room because he was kind of light.  I decided that when he woke up I’d just have to figure out what to do then.

I wish dad would have come back.  He went off to Europe before the war broke out and that had been like forever ago.  He picked a heck of a time to go on a business trip, but he worked for BP so I guess he had to go.  I gave up on him coming back a while ago.  The food had run out, I had gone through all the stores in the safe room and I had been going to that convenience store on the corner for a while.  I was tired of being afraid.  

Sometimes I heard screams in the night.

That nerd had a backpack with nothing really of concern inside.  Just some odds and ends that really didn’t help my hunger pangs.  I mean… beans?  I suppose I could eat them, but eew.  I looked in the mirror and thought that if I really cared about this guy or he was someone I knew I would probably do more to fix myself up.  Oh yeah, no water.  I hadn’t had a shower or a bath in a long time.  I never did get used to my own body odor.  Ugh!  We won’t even talk about shaving.  I felt so cave girl.

Besides, this dude probably was just looking for something to eat when he tried to break in.  I ran upstairs, dug through my closet and found the red aluminum baseball bat my dad used to use when he played that church league.  It had a sort of heavy feel to it.  I looked at what I had on, and decided that what I wore to bed would not be a very menacing look, so I changed into jeans and put on an American Eagle hoodie; the blue one, not the white one.  I looked in the mirror, put a ball cap over my head and tied back my hair all business, bore my teeth (Oh, I needed to brush) and then ran downstairs to sit across from the nerd until he woke up.

He moaned a second or two, then he lay there.  I think he probably needed sleep.  I really smacked his head good in the door.  It was kind of an accident.  I didn’t really mean to do all that.  I just got scared and kind of went overboard with the broom.  He had caught me in the middle of sweeping the hardwood floor.  I had to have something to do or I’d go crazy.  I was just about going crazy already.  I’d been cooped up in this house so long I didn’t even know what month it was anymore.  I knew that it was, like, summertime because it was so hot.  I had all the windows upstairs opened up.  Man, a house really starts to smell funny when no one lives in it and the power is out for a while.  Who knew?

I had come home from OU for the summer, like, last summer.  I lived at the Kappa house and had pledged the year before all the nonsense happened.  Dad was always a little worried about his little girl pledging to a non-Christian sorority, but that was what I wanted.  At the time I was so concerned with image.  A lot of good that did me now.  We won’t even talk about how I got home.  That was a nightmare.

Sometimes I’d feel aftershocks from the big one.  It felt like somebody picked up the house and let it fall down suddenly, and usually it happened when you were trying to sleep or when creepy looters were hanging around outside your house.  I had to go into the safe room once when that happened, and then when the noise stopped I came out to find the place in a mess.  Good thing they couldn’t get in to where I was or I’d be in real trouble.

Worse, they could have had that Volos virus everybody was talking about on the news before the world went sour.  I think it was kind of like TB but you were contagious for like three weeks and then it did not respond to any vaccines or antibiotics.  I was a pre-med major before school was cancelled forever.  I would have been a really good doctor, too.

The nerd’s head was soaking my couch with blood.  Now was the time to see how good I could be in a pinch.  I ran into the kitchen and pulled out the first aid kit from the cabinet and then ran back in to gently lift the guy’s head up.  Yeah, just a superficial wound, but the head bleeds worse than anything.  I pulled out some gauze and held it on the cut applying pressure.  He moaned again, then he shifted against the duct tape but it held.  I held the tape dispenser between my knees and pulled off some coach’s tape to fasten the gauze in place, then I took one of my mom’s embroidered pillows and propped up his head.  I didn’t think she would mind.  She didn’t mind when she left my dad for that other guy I can’t stand.  I was only five but I just remember that he smelled funny.  I had not spoken to her since that day I turned sixteen and she called just to “catch up”, whatever that meant in her bizarro world.

I grabbed the baseball bat and darted over to the recliner to sit across from him and watch him carefully.  He’d be waking up soon and I’d have to put on the show (like I had before) so he wouldn’t think I was soft.  I wasn’t soft.  I used to be a Little Axe cheerleader, for crying out loud.  We were all business.

(This text is copyrighted and shall not be reprinted or reproduced in any manner)

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

3 thoughts on “Sample Chapter: This Broken Earth

  1. Good stuff! I’d begin with the line “Sometimes I heard screams in the night.” It’s really intriguing and immediately sets up tension. It would also set up a nice bit of symmetry with the penultimate line, “for crying out loud.”

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