So for those of you who care about the book I'm writing, I actually know where it's going now! The random writing exercises that sparked ideas have finally become a full-blown storyline. I know every major event in each of the three acts! I know how it ends!
Unfortunately the very first part I had written about John had to go. It just didn't fit in at all with the new direction my story is going. So forget that ever happened! This is how my novel starts now... enjoy!
What do you think?Looking below he observed the trees like miniature scale models, their wire branches and painted foam leaves all green and orange and rust. Summer was slowly releasing its hold on Mother Nature and passing her off to autumn. Although he couldn’t feel it through the glass window of the aircraft, John imagined the crisp fresh air. The delicious crunch of fallen leaves underfoot. The intoxicating aroma of apples and compost and wood. The landscape was rejoicing in one last beautiful burst of color before the dead of winter struck with its icy fist.
John pulled his gaze away from the slow-moving forest sprawled out beneath him. He fiddled with the armrest and found the switch to recline his seat, smoothly lowering himself into a more comfortable position. He laid his hands neatly on his lap and closed his big brown eyes. John allowed himself to sleep.
He was exhausted after all. The last few years had been spent on an important mission for the Church. Not many young men were qualified to go into the Unknown. Members of the congregation weren’t permitted out there. The Unknown was exactly that—unknown—and people tended to fear what they didn’t understand. It was located beyond the forest trees that gently nestled Society and all of its good, sociable people. In the Unknown lived the Unspeakables who had rebelled against the Word. At first John had feared them. At first. But after some time there, fear turned into understanding.
He remembered his first day there. All of John’s life he had been taught that the Unknown was a dark, dreary wasteland. The stuff of nightmares. The setting for many a childhood ghost story told around the firelight. But everything he had heard had been wrong. He had been surprised to see it was a vibrant and booming metropolis. He had never seen buildings so big, architecture so refined, with lines and curves so daring. He had never seen such bright lights! Such vivid colors! It was like the Mecca of Society back home, only bigger, broader, and brasher.
“It’s not what you expected, is it?” said Bishop. He had accompanied John out that day. To get him started on his mission. “Do you feel like we’ve lied to you?”
That’s exactly how John had felt, but he knew he couldn’t accuse Bishop and the Brethren of lying. “It is different than I had imagined,” John said judiciously, not wanting to offend.
Bishop laughed. “But do you feel like you’ve been lied to?”
John only stood there. He had flown miles away from Society—ready to spend two or three years defending the Church and all he’s ever known—only to have his escort plant seeds of doubt into his mind. He didn’t know what to say.
But Bishop continued on without him. “Don’t look with your physical eyes, Brother John.”
John wasn’t sure what Bishop meant by this. He squinted his eyes a little. He tilted his head. He thought of those optical illusion posters where if you stared long enough out of focus you were supposed to see an entirely different image emerge from the paper. His schoolmates always giggled excitedly when they saw it. “It’s a rocket!” they would say. John never saw a rocket.
“Sure, on the surface it’s a spectacle to behold, isn’t it? Glitzy and glamorous in a worldly way. But look deeper. Look with a spiritual eye, Brother John. Look! Don’t you see it?”
Bishop was excited now, grabbing John by the shoulder as he towered beside him. “Look at it all! See the sin! See the filth, the moral decay, the bankruptcy! The murderers that reside in here. The pedophiles, the narcissists, the nymphomaniacs. The prideful, greedy, envious, wrathful, lustful, gluttonous, slothful sinners that slide on their bellies and crawl through the mud. Don’t you see, Brother John? Don’t you see? It’s the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah right before your very eyes!”
John gawked at the city. He knew he should see it the way Bishop did, but he wasn’t sure if he did yet. Perhaps he wasn’t as faithful as he should be. He tried so hard to be. He worked so hard to keep his demons at bay.
“We’ve told you it’s a dead and barren place because it is! Look past the illusion of grandeur! Don’t be fooled by the magician’s tricks! What can grow here, Brother John? What? Can faith grow? Can love grow? Can obedience, and honor, and discipline grow? No! Nothing can! There is no dirt—no soil! All cement and stone and brick and plaster and above it all vulgar neon lights! But not sun, Brother John! This light doesn’t nurture! This light doesn’t give! It takes, Brother John. These Unspeakable Sodomites think they have it all, but they have nothing! They have nothing!”
Bishop stopped suddenly and began to sob. “Nothing,” he repeated quietly, “Nothing.”
John watched as the flushed red of his religious leader’s cheeks slowly faded to the original pasty white. He listened as the loud, quick breathing calmed down. He waited until the tears had dried. It was silent except for the roar of the city. After what seemed an eternity, Bishop spoke again.
“It’s up to you to do the impossible. You must make good things grow.”
Bishop hadn’t stayed long that day. He showed John his living quarters, gave him a map of the city, and left him with a special blessing of strength and valor…
John opened his eyes and put his seat upright again. He could feel the aircraft descending and he knew he must almost be home. Looking out the window once more, he saw rows and rows of houses and steeples and cul-de-sacs and roundabouts. He saw neat little gardens and willow trees and hedges. He saw women with babies and men with dogs and children playing hopscotch.Here was his glorious Society—his wholesome home. He smiled at the sight of it and caught his reflection in the window. His smile looked strange. He knew the Unknown now. The Unknown knew him. He was homesick for it.