Should I keep working on this?

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DaHeckIzDat
Posts: 1223
Joined: April 9th, 2015, 1:41 pm

Re: Should I keep working on this?

Postby DaHeckIzDat » September 2nd, 2020, 7:29 pm

Here's a rewrite of chapter one. Same story, but I'm going at it from a different angle this time.

Lightning flashed outside the museum’s floor-to-ceiling windows, briefly illuminating Nathan Henwick as he hobbled past them as quickly as he could. His cane clicked loudly against the marble floors.
“Where is he?” a voice called from behind him. “Did anyone see where he went?”
“Damn,” he whispered.
“You three, look in the Egyptian wing. We’ll take the dinosaur room.”
Footsteps echoed through the high ceilinged room. Nathan paused, looking around frantically. Dinosaur skeletons stood tall and proud all around him, but a fleeting shadow was the only glimpse he could spot of his pursuers. There was no way he could outrun them. Hide. He needed to hide!
“Any sign of him?”
“No. Keep searching. It’s almost time!”
Just a few more minutes. If he could avoid them that long, they’d be too late. He spotted a cardboard cutout of Timmy Triceratops propped against the wall nearby. Not a good hiding place, but he didn’t have time to find a better one. Leaning heavily on his cane, he made his way toward it as quickly as he could, and—
PAIN!
Nathan crumpled to the floor with a moan as his right leg buckled beneath him like a wet noodle.
“I think I heard something over there!”
No, no, no! Nathan thought, dragging himself toward the cartoon dinosaur as quickly as he could. He was so close. They couldn’t catch him now, not when…
“There you are!”
Nathan stopped, setting his head on the floor with a sigh of defeat. Heavy footsteps approached him, and he looked up to see a large man in an ugly brown and yellow sweater standing over him.
“My God, Nate! What are you doing down there?” he demanded.
“Just admiring the lovely pattern on the floor, Mr. Finkle,” Nathan said flatly.
“Sarcasm. Yes, lovely. Did your leg give out again?”
With a groan, Nathan rolled onto his back and set to work massaging the cramps out of his right leg. Thirteen years he’d lived with this injury, and it still managed to take him by surprise every time. Well, he thought with a spark of hope, maybe he had delayed them long enough to—
“Well, come on then,” Mr. Finkle said, taking Nathan under the arm and hoisting him to his feet. “We should have just enough time to get to the break room before it starts.”
Damn it.
Algernon Finkle was surprisingly strong for someone who spent every day with his nose buried in dusty old books, a reminder of the years he had spent with Nathan’s father before settling down to run the Elder Ridge Museum of History. Despite the plump belly he had acquired, he was still able to haul Nathan’s lanky teenage body through the museum with ease. Nathan’s cane scraped uselessly on the floor behind them, held in his limp grip. He didn’t fight. He had lost this battle.
Soon they arrived at the museum’s employee break room, where over a dozen people were gathered around the tiny flat screen tv by the wall. A few of them greeted him cheerfully, and one even ran to get him a chair. Nathan ignored all of them. Why couldn’t they just let him be miserable?
“Aren’t you excited?” Paul the janitor asked. “How long’s it been since your old man left? A year?”
“Two,” Nathan answered as acidically as he could.
“It’s starting, it’s starting!” Connie the ticket lady exclaimed.
The room immediately fell silent.
“Quiet, everybody!” Mr. Finkle commanded.
A pit formed in Nathan’s stomach as the commercials ended, and the logo for Century News flew dramatically onto the screen. That faded, revealing a man standing on the beach of a tropical island, the waves pounding savagely against the sand behind him. Thick storm clouds choked the sky, turning the sea a dark slate gray.
In the distance, Nathan could just make out a tall, jagged shape rising out of the water.
“Welcome back,” said the anchor. “I’m James Capel, and you’re watching Century News. Tonight, we’re reporting to you from Lord Howe Island, where famed archaeologist and anthropologist, Roderick Henwick, claims he has made the discovery of a lifetime!”
The other museum workers shifted excitedly, muttering to each other. Nobody noticed the sour look on Nathan’s face.
“Behind me, you can see Ball’s Pyramid,” Capel went on, pointing to the shape on the water. “A mountainous island consisting of the remains of an ancient volcano. It’s there that Henwick claims to have made his discovery.”
Lightning flashed in the clouds above him, mirrored perfectly by the thunder outside the museum.
“Details are scare, but rumor has it that Henwick has found an artifact that proves the existence of a never before heard of ancient civilization! We here at Century News have managed to get Mr. Henwick to agree to an interview, and…”
A fierce wind blew in from the sea, spraying the reporter with saltwater and nearly throwing him off his feet.
“…and, uh, as you can see, it looks as though a storm is rolling in.” He glanced at the sky. “We’re here in Henwick’s camp. Let’s get inside and speak with him before things get ugly.”
He hurried away and the camera followed, panning over to a large tent pitched further up the beach. Rain began to fall, and Capel held an arm up to protect his well styled hair. The wind was coming more frequently now, shaking the thick fabric of the tent with every gust.
“Looks like they’re in the middle of a hurricane,” Mr. Finkle muttered. “Odd. I haven’t heard any reports of one.”
“Mr. Henwick?” Capel shouted as he neared the tent. “Mr. Henwick, I’m James Capel from Century News. I’d like to ask you a few questions about your discovery!
Capel swept open the tent flap, and froze. It was empty. A table stood in the center, the papers on top of it taking to the air as soon as the wind roared inside. Several candles sat strewn about the place, melted almost to nothing, their wicks still glowing weakly. What wasn’t there was Roderick Henwick.
Despite himself, Nathan leaned forward, frowning. There was a half-finished mug of coffee sitting on the table. His father never left coffee unfinished.
“Um, well,” Capel stuttered, “it looks as though Mr. Henwick has, uh, stepped out for a moment. We’ll take a look around and see if we can find him. Until then, um, why don’t we go to commercial and—”
The wind roared louder than ever, and Nathan had just enough time to see the entire tent get violently ripped from the ground before the screen went black.
“Looks like they’re having some technical issues over there,” another reporter said, popping up to take his place. “We’ll check back in with James later. For now…”
But Nathan wasn’t listening. He stared at the tv, unblinking, emotions tumbling over one another inside his head. That wasn’t the campsite of someone who had stepped out to find a tree to pee on.
That camp had been abandoned. Quickly.
“Figures,” Mr. Finkle snorted. “I keep telling Rod, you can’t trust technology. But does he listen? Nooooo!”
“I’m going home,” Nathan said, standing up. His leg spasmed a little, and he winced.
“Wha- already?” Finkle asked. “But you haven’t seen your father yet!”
Nathan paused, then rubbed his leg. “Storm’s bothering me. I need my meds.”
“But…”
“Just record it for me. See you all tomorrow.”
They let him go without comment, and Nathan began the long but familiar trek through the museum. Past the museum’s mummy on his left, the ancient city dioramas on his right, and through the hall of medieval warfare, until he came to the double glass doors that led outside. Rain was coming out of the sky in buckets, and Nathan paused just inside them to let out a weary sigh.
“Why can’t I be happy for him like they are?” he whispered.
Nathan was drenched within seconds of stepping outside. Brushing his brown hair out of his eyes, clutching his cane so it didn’t slip, he set off for home. He and his father’s house was just down the street, an easy five minute walk for everyone else. For Nathan, though, he was lucky if he could make the trip in fifteen. Tonight would be even longer, having to carefully hobble through the dark and the rain. Everyone at the museum would have been more than happy to give him a ride, but they knew better than to ask. As pointless a ritual as it was, this was his way of proving—both to himself and to everyone else—that even with an injured leg, he could do things on his own.
The foul weather turned out to be perfect for stewing on angry thoughts. Two years. Two years of living on his own, knowing that his father was off galivanting across the globe, having adventures making discoveries that would put his name in history books for centuries. Two years of not receiving a call, not a single damn postcard, only hearing from him when he appeared on television.
Nathan had been happy for him. Where had that happiness gone? The pride of simply having a world famous archaeologist for a father? Now there was only bitterness, as cold and sharp as the rain that pelted him tonight.
When he finally made his way up the driveway of his house, Nathan had worked himself into a fine temper. All he wanted was to dry off, flop down on the couch, and grump about all of the—
The door was open.
Nathan froze, a chill running down his spine. Had he forgotten to lock it when he’d left this morning? The wind could have blown it open and…
No. He took a step closer, eyes widening when he saw water glistening on the floor in the dim light. Footprints. Somebody was in his house.
Swallowing, Nathan hesitated. He didn’t have a cell phone to call the police with. Their house was still connected to a landline almost as ancient as the dinosaurs at the museum. If someone had broken in, the only way Nathan would have to go inside to call the police.
Reaching out with a shaking hand, he gently pushed the door open the rest of the way. Was the trespasser still inside? There were a trail of prints leading in, but none leading out. Nathan stepped inside. The footprints led from the entryway to the hall, toward his bedroom and his father’s office. He followed them, scarcely daring to breathe. The hallway was dark, but Nathan paused when he saw light coming out from under a closed doorway. His father’s office.
Slowly…one step at a time…Nathan crept down the hallway as quietly as a crippled boy could. Reaching the door, he gently pushed it open just enough to see inside.
A man was standing with his back to the door, hunched over his father’s writing desk. His clothes were soaked, and he was breathing as if he’d just run a marathon with bricks tied to his shoes. He was looking at something, though his body kept Nathan from seeing what it was. Nathan leaned a little further forward, pushing the door open just a tad more, and—
SQUEAK! went the hinges.
With no hesitation, the man spun around. The sleek metal of a handgun glistened in the light, pointing right at the half-open doorway. Nathan’s breath caught in his throat as he found himself looking down the barrel of a loaded gun. He waited for the bang, hoping the burglar would at least have the decency to kill him painlessly.
“Nathan?”
Nathan froze. That voice…he would have recognized it anywhere. But that was impossible. He blinked, raising his eyes for the first time to the trespasser’s face, and his leg nearly buckled again in shock.
“DAD?”


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