One of my goals for the year is to put a book that I’ve been working on into draft form by the end of the year. I’ve written about eighty pages so far, and I was going at a fantastic clip of about five to ten pages a day for a couple weeks until our computer blew up. That was four years ago, and it took about two weeks to get the computer back up and running. In that time, the drive died, the story got lost, and a couple of the critical questions I was trying to resolve became even bigger.
This last December, the book came back to my mind, and I went through and I read the eighty pages. I was reminded of a few things:
- First, I love to write. I love seeing words formed into imagery and meaning that goes well beyond what simple letters on a page could ever mean.
- Second, I love this story. It’s a hard story (you’ll see that in a minute), and it’s dark, but there is a real story here.
- Third, I love this story. That’s different than the previous. The first love is a recognition that this is a creation that is coming from me. It’s mine. It’s something that I’ve agonized over and brought forth. In that sense, it’s the love of a parent for a child. You love your child because they are yours.
The second love is something beyond that. This is the love that comes for a child you’ve watched grow and watched struggle. This is a love that comes from the understanding that what you have is genuine and good. I love this story not only because it’s mine, but because it is meaningful. In short, where this not mine, I would love it still. This is a story that would call to me, and I like to think that I would read it if I found it on my own.
The book came from a dream, written about previously here. The post is password protected, and I would tell anyone about to go back and read it that while that dream was the genesis of the idea, what has come from it is far different. And that’s a good thing. What has begun to rise from the memory of that dream is something infinitely better. Well, that’s my opinion anyway.
I wanted to throw out the introduction for you as it currently stands. There are still a lot of questions, and surely much that will change over time, but this is a start.
The elevator cage closed with a crash, and he heard the audible click of the lock snapping together.
Peter stared blankly across the crowded area. No one spoke aside from the occasional whimpers and worries for what was below. He could hardly believe that he was here.
His family had tried to keep him from the Pits, but he had heard the whispers.
“We just can’t keep him any longer. It’s either him or all of us,” his dad had muttered on quiet nights when Peter was supposed to be asleep. “But he’s our son…,” had been the somber reply. “I know….”
Those words haunted Peter now. I know….
Still, even hearing those whispers, he had hoped that the words were nothing more than the half-spoken fears of parents figuring out what to do. How to keep him. He had never expected that those words would ever amount to anything more than that.
With a crunch, the cable began to pass through the gearbox and the elevator descended. The metal guides screeched quietly against the rail as the car dropped through the shaft. A few people began to openly cry, though most could do little but stare mutely at nothing. Peter could hear their silence.
I know…. An unspoken—and broken—promise that no matter what, no matter how hard, he had that trust; that commitment that he’d be safe.
The car continued to creak as it fell deeper down the shaft. Peter noted the soft clicks the wheels made each time they passed over a seam in the rail. It was impossible to know for sure, but they had to be several hundred feet down by now, if not more.
The pits were said to be several thousand feet below ground, constructed from salt domes. In certain places, salt would form a dome deep beneath the surface of the earth, and engineers had learned to carve those domes out. Often, the domes were used to store oil, but they hadn’t been used for that since the Crash. Most of the domes weren’t much more than a few hundred meters in any direction, but there were some truly massive domes that were much larger. During the Crash, these had been hastily converted into Pits.
He envied most of the others in the car. He could tell that many were at least with others. Those they loved. He could hear the gentle assurance of husbands comforting wives, mothers comforting children. The last he had heard from his own mother was her crying in her room and his dad saying it’d be alright. Like the other times, he was supposed to be asleep then, too.
Peter’s trial had been swift, his public defender making little defense and no one standing up to claim him, not even his parents who had simply dropped him off with the Dredgers and then quickly left. The judge had asked him if he understood what it meant that no one had claimed him. Peter didn’t bother to look around. “I know.”
I know…. The words had condemned him. A verbal recognition that not only was he completely alone but that he had only one path forward.
The Pits. Into the black.
As a child, his mother would often tell him that sometimes he needed to step into the dark in order to see the path in front of him, that sometimes fear of the dark would make it so that he was too scared to try anything or to do anything. At first, he had believed completely in those words, trusting that he would see. Then, as he grew older, he had begun to doubt. “How can I see?” he’d ask.
“Trust me. When the time comes, you’ll see. When it really matters, you’ll know.”
The car continued to drop down the shaft. Peter had long since stopped paying attention to the sounds the machines made as they crunched the cable through the gears, instead listening to the tense conversations around him. He could feel the pressure in the car, and although no one moved and he had plenty of room to stand, he could sense the crushing weight of earth and emotion.
The air in the car had grown thick, musty with the scent of fear and worry, as though every passing second added to the dark. The blackness had never scared him, and the truth was that he didn’t know any better to let it. The world outside of his parents had always been one of deep shadow and unknowing, and he had long grown used to the idea that hoping beyond the immediate future was short-sighted at best. But within that circle of safety, the world was bright and open.
Until it wasn’t.
The elevator came to a sharp halt that sent Peter and the others grasping for support. The door slid open loudly, crashing against an unseen wall.
“Out! Out now!”
The voice was harsh and loud after the stifled elevator car. Peter and the others slowly moved out of the car onto the hard earth of the Pits.
“Over there for sorting!” called the voice, and Peter moved with the group forward.
“Men over there, women and children that way!”
Peter stood still, though those around him moved out. Soon he was alone.
“You there! I said go that way!”
Peter just stood there.
Pounding footsteps approached him, cursing him. “I said MOVE!” Peter felt the blow long before it landed, but he was still surprised. He crumpled to the ground as the man continued to yell at him.
“That’s enough, Cain,” said a quiet voice.
Cain stepped back, and Peter felt a hand on his shoulder. It was firm, but gentle. “What’s the matter, son? Did you not hear the directions?”
“Yes,” replied Peter. “Yes, but I don’t know where to go.”
The man muttered softly. “Look at me…. Ah,” he said as understanding set in. Peter felt the touch of the man’s hand change. The gentle grasp softened more. The voice took on a feeling of regret. Almost pity. “Well, this is an easy one. Cain, move him over to Processing.”
Cain roughly grabbed Peter, set him on his feet, and pushed him forward.
“Sorry, kid,” the man called. I know, Peter thought as he was led away.
Some time later, Peter was thrown into a trench, not quite dead yet. His body was sore, the pain not quite high enough to turn everything numb, but far too significant to ignore. As his life came to an end, he remembered his mother’s promise—When the time comes, you’ll see. When it really matters, you’ll know.
And he finally did. As he died, he finally saw that the world had no place for a blind boy. No use for him. I know… was his last thought. Then everything truly went black.