Juin Charnell

“After Shock” opener

     “Thompson is gone.”
Perri sat the phone in the cradle. She heard it, repeated it to Antoinette, and should have been giddy with excitement for being right; but all she felt was defeated for also being wrong.
I did this, she thought.
“It’s my fault,” she said, plopping on the edge of Antoinette’s bed. “I shouldn’t have been all gung-ho. I knew something was up.” She punched the bed.  “My gut doesn’t lie. But I didn’t think it was about an escape.”
Antoinette moved slowly towards the bed. Her body and mind ready to just sink in the waiting tub of hot water, to wash away the blood, sweat, bruised muscles and pain of the last few hours.
“You got me out,” she said. A tentative hand on Perri’s shoulder. “It was bad. Badder than you know and about to get a lot worse.”
Perri just stared at the carpet. It didn’t matter that she had ‘saved’ a bunch of civilians or even Officers, she fucked up and she needed to fix it.
She stood up abruptly, letting Antoinette’s hand slip from her shoulder, not noticing the tears pooling in Antoinette’s eyes.
“I need to go back in,” she said, a rush of adrenaline coursing through her, still not looking at Antoinette. “I’ll check in on you later. If that’s okay?”
Antoinette hesitated for just a small beat.
“More than okay,” she said softly, but her arms wrapped tightly around her body.
Perri was already moving towards the bedroom door, ready to hurry back to the prison where she worked. Where, last than 24 hours before, the inmates had laid siege to one of the cell houses and used innocent civilians as hostages.
Moments before that phone call, she’d felt like she could have crawled into the bed with Antoinette and slept the day away.
Her eyes fell on the .22 on the nightstand.
She saw Antoinette follow her gaze.
“I’m a bouncer in a bar next to a Federal Penitentiary, remember.”
Perri just shrugged.
As she closed the door, her adrenaline pumped harder and she got angry.

     Perri stood outside the car, looking up at the house. Only the upstairs light was on in Antoinette’s bedroom. She was torn. She just went through a traumatic ordeal and I’m running back to the scene of the crime, she thought.
The phone call she took.
They only told her that Thompson had escaped, no one said she needed to come back in.

     She drove slowly back to the prison. She didn’t want to get stuck in some ditch in the country. With each plop of snow on the windshield spreading out into snow crystals, she tried to think of the connecting lines that lead to this escape. She knew if they didn’t find Thompson on the grounds, the local law enforcement agency would need to get involved and possible the FBI and as selfish as it sounded, she might not have a job when this ended. She was moving on coffee fueled energy and she needed to get as much out of it as she could before she passed out from exhaustion.

Make a decision and watch your life move forward

My favorite quote is “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Goethe

For the past two years, I have been stuck finishing “The Coven”. My idea of stuck had ranged between not knowing how to integrate the future, current and past elements of the story. Then I read “Wool” by Hugh Howey and it became a little clearer. Not completely though. I read “The Beam” by Platt and Truant which was more of my style since my background as a screenwriter lends to that visual narrative so I comfortably moved my story towards that flow. And yet again, I was stuck. It wasn’t that I was unclear about how to move the story forward, what the ending would look like or shifting between multiple viewpoints, I could so those things all day but that continued to move me into problems. This all lead me to Isaac Asimov’s classic story “The Foundation”. These multiple writers and their stories showed me how to use the writing style I was looking for without compromise.

I have long since stopped beating myself up because I don’t write everyday. I, and you as well probably write everyday, just not in a creative manner. I can honestly say that all the writers I have read have informed my writing even when it is just a memo. Just because you aren’t getting paid for the writing you are processing daily, don’t discount it.

I still truly believe that whatever you can do as a writer will help you grow as a writer be it reading others work or challenging yourself to actually finish what you start. Continue to move forward. I am not Stephen King or James Patterson or Kathy Reichs, I admired their prolific writing but I count myself lucky that I still have and use my imagination. That’s what moves us forward as writers. Keep dreaming, keep writing, keep designing what the world can look like through words and maybe someday we’ll be there.

 

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