Day10 & 11. Wordcount (3755)
Wasteworld is my scifi fiction novel/universe.
Summary: In the future an AI virus caused humanities reliance on cutting-edge technology to become its downfall. Twelve years later the equilibrium that formed afterwards is at risk of falling apart.
Day 10 & 11 complete! Huzzah! These days were both difficult. I wrote both days but really struggled to find motivation and make proper time, or use the time effectively and often got distracted. It didn't feel the best. I think its the recurring issue of sub-par planning, and the issue of feeling stuck in a boring chapter that isn't doing the job I wanted. As a result the word count for both days is about half of what I expect.
On writing day 11, I did decide to just stop where I was and jump slightly ahead to something I did know about. That was a smart decision because I could at least focus and write about that next section as I had thought about it often. Jumping around the story is probably something writers do a lot to maximise their time, and if you know and write the ending it probably gives extra motivation to get there.
You can read both days below the photo of my dog.
Wasteworld - Day 10 & 11
Chapter 10 (cont)
“Fine,” she agreed. “Congratulations”
They emerged into a long corridor, a few metres wide and filled with darkness and red emergency lighting. She was beginning to hate that colour.
“You guys hear that banging?” It was louder now but still faint.
“I hear it.” The sound was rhythmic and steady.
“This place hidden under the ground, I just don’t understand it.” Chris grabbed his pack, opened it and pulled out a drone. “I’m going to start mapping this place and see if I can’t figure out. There’s power, that’s more than you can say for the rest of London.”
Then with a slight hum the drone picked itself up and began travelling along the corridor, it moved slowly and carefully. Intermittently a red laser appeared, then the drone found a corridor and turned along it.
Lacey moved along the corridor before turning back to Anthony. “I’m going to check out that sound.”
The man turned to have a quick conversation with Chris, before striding up to meet her. As they moved along the corridor, they passed a door. Anthony gave the handle a firm tug, but the door only shuddered in place.
“Watch my back,” she muttered, before sizing up the door. She kicked out and the door broke open with a smash. She carried the momentum into the room, readying her weapon as she did so. It was empty. The room was carpeted and clean white panels lined the wall. She eyed the carpet; it looked fresh, there were no wear marks, not even from the door opening and closing.
She moved over to another wall and inspected the plug sockets. The switches were immaculate, the sockets not scratched or dented.
She met his eyes with Anthony. His back was stiff and eyes sharp, but he shrugged at her questioning expression.
They progressed along the corridor and she busted into the next room they found. This one was again spotless. Spotlights were tucked into the ceiling but they were off. The room was dark. Her headlamp lit up the floor but she couldn’t even spot a ball of fluff.
The next room was the same, almost. This time there were marks on the walls. Maybe furniture had rested here.
This place was shaping up to be a conspiracy theorists wet dream.
“Somebody was living here?”
“At some point, it looks possible.”
At the end the corridor branched into two directions. The banging sound was still audible but still faint. There was a vent of some sort on the wall.
“Anthony, put your hand here.”
He looked at her suspiciously, but did so. “There’s a draft. Some kind of air filtering system.”
The air was still cold however. Not freezing but certainly not comfortable. His eyes widened. “The sound is coming from the vents. Maybe it’s something is breaking down.”
They split up and continued down separate corridors. There was no way to guess the layout of the place, or figure out where a corridor might take her. She kicked down a few more doors but each time the rooms were empty or looked to have never been used.
Maybe it was some secret headquarters but the virus prevented it ever being used. Or a government-owned hacking station; there were a lot of plug sockets available in all of the rooms.
She was employing a strategy she often used when in unfamiliar places, following the right wall. If she kept following the right wall, eventually she would traverse the entire place, find an exit or get back to where she entered. It was a strategy for figuring out mazes, but it seemed appropriate enough to use.
There were so many doors that she stopped checking them, instead she would cut a mark with her gauntlet, so that if she ever passed this way she would know, there were no other landmarks to draw from.
She encountered 2 dead ends over the next couple of minutes, but what looked to be a 3rd dead end turned into a stairwell. It deposited her in an end corridor, which was empty and dark like all the rest. By herself she felt her pulse begin to quicken, as if expecting something would happen. The floors were carpeted and that helped to soften her footfalls, but she learnt long ago that the best way to be in the suit was ballsy, to take risks and trust she could handle it.
Her mind wandered back to Anthony and the scientist. It surprised her how sudden it had been, she allowed her guard to drop. She should've expected things like that with the Technocrats. One time Helen had told her the technocrats suspected much more than they knew. That was making a little more sense now. Richard probably suspected something as soon as he figured out the location of the distress signal.
It was typical, they loved their secrets. Loved being behind the scenes manipulating things. She didn’t trust Anthony. He would complete the mission but she doubted he would help her if she needed it. If she killed him the technocrats would figure out. They would have her suit cam footage for a start. Even if she deactivated it the suit would leave clues, she could break his neck...if it came to that...but Andy would figure out that it was her from the size of the impressions on the skin or some other wizardry. If it came to that, it would be risky.
Her shoulders were starting to ache a little, so she tried rolling them in the suit, she followed the right wall around a corner and stopped.
There was a body in the middle of the corridor, face down. She approached cautiously, but it wasn’t an elaborate trap. She assumed it was a woman, by the size of the body and the hair and she was certainly dead. There was a horrible stench of burnt hair. She could see a inch wide hole in the back of her head. Around the wound the skin appeared bubbly and blackened.
A spear that could cut through metal and burn people. Kills everyone it finds...eventually. There must be a second machine. The robot in the tunnel ran away. It didn’t have any weapons. It wasn’t a conclusion exactly bourne out of evidence but it made sense. Maybe the machine from the tube tunnel was just like all the others, broken and confused and not sentient in the slightest.
Still, a spear? She doubted it was using a spear.
Lacey stood, scanned behind her and then carried on. A few turns later she came to a door that was ajar. It had been broken into, by the scavenger crew she assumed. She pushed the door open with the butt of her rifle and it wobbled open with a creak. A rucksack leant against one wall and a cigarette butt sat in the carpet, there was a dark stain on the wall where it had been stubbed out. A small sign of habitation seemed at odds with the rest of the surroundings.
Her motion tracker suddenly started beeping. On the heads up display she saw a flashing disk gradually move towards her. At least she assumed so, she had no idea exactly how the corridors fanned out.
She turned and exited into the corridor, checking both ways before she moved along the wall. On her display the blip appeared to turn and was approaching closer still. In fact she could hear it; a constant sound, no footfalls.
She swung around the corner, aiming her gun. Her breathe eased out. It was the drone. It’s red laser light searched her face and then in nimbly flew past her and too a left turn.
“Fucking thing,” she muttered, before taking another route.
“Chris, just ran into your drone a floor down, it find anything interesting?”
“Yes. You’re on the second floor. There’s a stairway down to a 3rd level at least. I’ll direct you. I’ll try and direct you at least.”
“Roger that. I found another body as well. Woman, stabbed through the head.”
“Through the head?” came his cautious reply, she grumbled an affirming sound, then turned to follow his instruction.
It was only a few turns before she reached the stairwell, but it would’ve taken her follow the right wall strategy a long while to get here. She had to admit Chris’ toys had their uses.
“You find anything else up there?” she asked, activating her comm.
“Just a lot of empty rooms I’m afraid. Not a lot going on up here, I’m heading down to the second floor. Anthony, meet me where we came in and I can guide us down.”
“Roger that. This place is a maze, of not a whole lot.
The stairwell was wider than the others. 3 or 4 people could easily pass abreast she guessed. She made her way down the steps, becoming once again of aware of a faint banging sound, this time coming from her left side. It was disorienting. It was clearly a sound passing through vent systems, creeping up on her from this side and the next.
She stalked into the hallways and there was another body, illuminated in red light, a male. The body lay on its back, blood marked his clothing and had spilled onto the carpet, darkening it. The blood glistened in the bright torchlight as she knelt down, the body appeared to have been stabbed through the chest, that is where the blood was thickest. The smell was a mixture and pungent.
The man’s arms lay upon his chest, she carefully reached out and turned one of his hands over, the skin was smooth and plasticy looking, burnt by something. She imagined him getting impaled and futilely grabbing at the ‘spear’, probably letting go immediately due to the heat.
With one hand she pulled the body sideways across the floor “Sorry pal.” Where he lay there was a inch wide mark through the floor. Damn, right through. She wanted to test how deep but there individual digits on the caughtlet would not fit.
She noticed two other burns on the floor, and rubbed at them. Turning her attention back to the body, she took his head and turned it towards her. The eyes. His eyes had been burnt out.
Fuck! She stood and searched the corridor both ways. Hands beginning to feel slick and sweaty inside the gauntlets. This fucking machine was really fucking creative.
“Got another body on the third floor, this one is pretty grim. Guy got his eyes burnt out.” she turned and continued along the corridor, gun hoisted and ready to aim.
“His eyes?” Came Chris’ strained query. She wondered if the eyes were burnt out post mortem. She shook her head to banish the thoughts.
In her shoulders she could still feel where the metal began to crumple and twist inwards, pressing and piercing as the machine squeezed and pulled. She wasn’t sure which approach was worse. The twisting, rending attacks she encountered back in Norfolk or the cruel creative ways this machine killed people.
She kicked open another door from the corridor. Inside she paused, this room had a bunch of desks lining one wall, a few filing cabinets in the corners and a single swivel chair in the middle of the room. It was a long room, she moved through and observed the desks; she could see wear marks from repeated use, marks in the carpets from feet and presumably chairs. At the end of the room there were impressions on the carpet where furniture had once sat.
She leveraged one finger on a drawer and pulled it open; it wasn’t locked. But it was empty, inside all she could see were bits of fluff and a few torn edge of paper. Someone had been here at some point, perhaps quite a lot of people.
Despite being fully encased in J-35 suit, she felt the temptation to raise finger to her chin. She smiled faintly, then the smile faded. This was an intriguing place, an anomaly of sorts but it wasn’t her goal. She left the room and entered another corridor and moved quickly along, taking right turns as she saw fit.
She quickly ran into a dead end and backtracked. At the intersection she went carried on, and followed this corridor until it it reached another intersection. She was about to head right, but then a green glow caught her attention.
She turned quickly, thinking it might be the drone or the machine but it was none of those things. She continued along, the green light was faint and weakly battled the red lighting that flooded the hallways, she peered around the corner and saw an exit light above a doorway.
She quickly headed for the doorway, and pushed it open with the butt of her rifle. The door was of the swinging variety and she entered a corridor that was pitch black save for a single red light above the door.
“I’ve found a way off the 3rd floor. No idea where it leads to you.”
“Roger that Lacey. Drone is beginning to sweep the 3rd floor.”
She hurried along, the hallway bent to the left, and then began to lead her down a level of steps. The corridor was opening up, she was on a stairwell that was dropping down from the ceiling into a much larger room. She cast her headlamp around and over the barrier; the room appeared to be about 4 stories tall. The lighting here was sporadic, she could see small emergency lights above doorways and a few on the walls but the room was still dark with thick shadows all along the floor.
The headlamp glared brighter on the metal work as she set it to main beam. Carefully she made her way down the steps; they were metal and appeared to stand in one edge of the room.
[I’m skipping a little bit of chapter 10 because so far it’s felt slow and I’ve really not enjoyed writing. I’m skipping a little ahead in the story to get somewhere I know I can/want to write about]
The knocking had stopped now. Lacey continued along the short corridor, at the end she could see turned left. Maybe the machine had gotten confused or lost? It was infected with a virus afterall. She stood with her back against the concrete wall, took a deep breath and spun around the corner, gun ready.
Ahead of her a metal door glared light back at her. She dimmed the headlamp on instinct, an old reflex. The metal door was taller than she was and had a small glass window. Something glinted at her briefly.
“Who’s inside?” she yelled, sensing movement on her tracker. “C’mon. Show yourself or I’ll shoot.”
Her tracker flashed at her, and a face appeared through the small window. It was a woman. Her skin was the colour of milky coffee, her eyebrows appeared fiercely groomed and a small pimple marked her cheek. Whether it improved or harmed her looks was hard to decide.
A hand appeared and brushed away a strand of blonde hair, dark eyes fixed hers.
“You’re not one of mine dear. Who do you belong to?” Something about that voice was familiar to her, although it was dampened by the thick doorway.
“I’m your rescue.” She took a step closer to get a better look.
“Is that so. Somebody radioed for help did they. Tell me darling, are any of my people still alive?”
She recognised that arrogant, lilted voice. Manchester. This woman had been in Manchester before, she could swear it.
“They’re all dead. Inside and out I’m afraid.”
The woman barely seemed to give it any thought. “And you’ve come all this way to rescue me?”
“A call for help is a call for help. Are you hurt?” She smiled slightly.
“Oh darling I’m not hurt. Don’t you think I’d tell you if I was hurt. I know what you’re after, darling.”
“Oh, and what would that be?”
“That metal killer of course. I saw it with my own eyes. Would’ve killed me but I locked myself in here.”
“Are you Voltram?” she asked.
“I know why it came here as well.”
“Who are you!” she heard her voice getting louder, and quickly checked behind her.
The woman sighted. “I’m Cindy, darling. You don’t think Voltram would come here himself do you?” She smiled coyly. “ No darling, this is my gig. I know you recognise me, I remember you too. It’s in the eyes isn’t it.” The woman locked eyes with her once again, but otherwise remained confident behind the glass. Lacey had never heard of this ‘Voltram’ guy before today, but she was surprised this Cindy remembered her from such a chance encounter.
“You’re not my rescue, darling. My rescue is on its way, but you’re not it, darling. I know who’s paid for your services. You should’ve stepped to me, I would’ve gotten you something better than that old thing. I guess the technocrats are struggling.” Cindy arched an eyebrow at her.
With a fist she smacked the doorframe. The sound echoed out and the door shook.
“What do you know about that fucking machine!”
“Language, darling. You don’t expect me to answer you with a mouth like that?” Even so the woman’s tone began to harden.
Lacey’s suit hit the glass this time. It cracked and a few shards of glass fell inwards. Still,
“Tell me! I’m your one chance lady. The technocrats have killed any survivors. You won’t get out of this place alive.”
“Am I surprised? No. That’s what they do. They’ll stop at nothing to get what they want. They’ll get what’s coming to them darling, make no mistake.”
“Tell me what you know about the machine.” Her teeth grated against each other.
Cindy ran a manicured finger across her lip and pouted. “I’ll tell you what darling. Cindy can take care of herself, but I’m stuck in here. If you get me out I’ll tell you what I know about the machine, and if you get me to the surface I can share something better. I knew about this place didn’t I darling? And imagine it was right under the technocrats noses.” Her eyes widened at that last part. Apparently she felt she had something worth sharing, and if she found this place she probably did.
She looked long and hard at the woman. Despite Lacey’s suit the woman was not phased, she stood arms akimbo awaiting a reply. “Okay it’s a deal. I’ll get you out, and you’ll tell me about the machine. I don’t care about the rest. My only goal is to kill the machine.”
“Very well darling, myself I would let that one go, it’s a very nasty one. But it’s up to you.” With a grunt, the woman pulled at one of the bars locking the door and managed to slide across.
“Okay. Move away from the door. No further than that.” Lacey took a breath, quickly checked around one more time, put her rifle down and gathered herself.
She threw herself at the door with a huge crash. She could hear the door protest, feel the impact flow right into her bones, no matter the suit padding. With an awful groan the door creased and creaked in its frame.
She took more deep breaths, backed up and threw herself once more. This time with a screech the metal twisted and bent and the door began to fall away from the frame.
With both arms Lacey thumped at one edge of the door. Each time it opened up a little more. With a snarl she smacked it a final time and the gap opened to a few feet. The sound of metal on metal rang in her ears.
Quickly, with a snatched breath she flung herself around, grabbed the rifle and checked the corner. Nothing. She turned back to see Cindy squeezing through the gap. She wore high waisted grey trousers and a long navy duster coat. To Lacey she appeared like some comical pioneer or ship captain.
Lacey leveled the gun at her. “Now. What do you know about the machine.”
“You won’t shoot Cindy darling, I know that. You’re not one of them are you?”
She stepped in the woman’s path; although she was mostly right. “You better tell me what you know.”
“And I will. Walk with me. Let me tell you what I know.” The dark skinned woman angled around Lacey and her bulky suit and turned to look over her shoulder, as if impatient. She turned, tracking her with the gun.
Cindy sighed. “I saw the machine break into a number of storage rooms. It’s strong. It used this peculiar lance to cut through the locks. I had never seen anything of the sort, darling.” The woman began to move slowly down the corridor. Lacey had no choice but to follow, but she kept her gun squarely aimed at the woman.
“This facility was owned by the government. They could hide tech off the books. I know some of that tech was of an experimental nature.” She looked back and gave a knowing glance. “The machine broke into several storage blocks. C-3 through to C8. Doesn’t it seem strange that it chose only those storerooms darling, when there are so many to choose from? Somehow it knew what it was looking for. It seems curios to me.”
“What was it looking for.”
“That I do not know. But I saw it carrying a metal container, if I had to guess darling I’d say that it was a couple of feet wide. Had an awful lot of smoke trailing of it as well.”
“You don’t know what was in it?”
The woman shook her head, a delicate gesture, her blonde updo waving slightly. “I couldn’t say for sure, but you only have 5 places to look. After that, it ran away. I thought it had found me, but apparently it was something else that had...disturbed it.” She paused and looked down the corridor which led to the atrium. She seemed to hug herself beneath her coat.
That's all she wrote. Tomorrow is the first rest day so I'm hoping to do a little bit of planning (but no sit down writing) and enjoy the day.
Total word count: 33544