Time of Isolation, Chapter 3, the Beginning

Before I introduce this week’s post and the beginning of Chapter 3, I’d like to comment about one of my thoughts when I began my first book. Let’s be honest, none of us like conflict, unless we are watching some action movie or play, especially in the workplace or at home. There is enough of it in the world to keep us more than occupied, so keeping it out of our personal lives is important. Most of us are quite happy with the ways things are (in our personal world) and when change comes we have a tendency to fight it. Even when one realizes that this change could really mean an improvement. Old habits die hard. So it is with these thoughts I wrote book one in the Discovery series, (The Ones Before). It was later that I discovered that it is conflict that drives stories, drives the novel you may be reading at this very moment. And no it’s not a bad story, and later when I learned about conflict I realized it is throughout this first novel which is approximately 400 pages in length. The problem with this word is the fact that we probably don’t realize the full impact that it has.

This made me begin to think about this, (conflict) and realize that when we talk about conflict within a story that it applies on so many levels. In Time of Isolation it begins right on those opening pages and continues throughout the novel. Conflict can be as simple as an argument with yourself on how to handle a certain situation, all the way to wars between nations and beyond. So whether we want to admit it or not we face conflict in our own lives every minute of the day, and probably don’t even realize it. It can be as simple as “where will I go and eat lunch today”, or “can I get this done before I have to head to that mandatory meeting that’s in a few minutes”, or listening to the traffic reports and know you have to find an alternate way home. followed by that important decision. So I learned my lesson and since that first novel (which is unpublished at this time) you will find all levels of conflict in my story lines. Now let’s look at what took place last week.

At the end of chapter two we find Shayne exhausted, but what he has learned cannot wait, and he wonders why it has taken so long for him to be contacted. Yet, one cannot go back in time (oh if it was so) to correct some error that could change what he’s learned. In a way when something important, or critical is learned it always seems that meetings are what follows, and here it will be no different. With assembly called he passes on what is important to all and then heads to the meeting area to talk to the instructors and leaders. And with this being the end of chapter two we are now ready to begin the next chapter, (The trilogy is available from your favorite EBook retailer if this method of presentation moves much too slow for you. Each is priced at $5.99 USD and all are over 300 pages in length.):

He had gone over in his mind, as he was walking back to the compound, what needed to be done. But fatigue had clouded his mind, and while he had some ideas it was important to use the whole team to lay out a plan of action. Once he entered the common eating area he signaled the leaders to sit at any of the many long tables. “I’ve just spent the night with the leader of the council. I can see from your questioning looks as to why I did such a thing, since you and I know that we rarely see anybody here let alone someone from the ruling class. In fact, as you know, I have only seen one here in my lifetime up until last night. I figured that most likely it would be bad news, something like, they had finally decided that we were to be closed down as the costs of running something like this, even though it’s not much, was not worth keeping it in operation. In fact I had a confirmation that the other cities have already shut down this operation and we are the only one that is remaining.” Letting that soak in for a moment before continuing he then said, “Fortunately for us that was not the reason for the visit or the request that I return to the chambers of the leader – I was given yellow.” He could see the reaction from the group when he had given them the color. Watching them he could see them looking at each other and with concern in their very beings showing through he said. “Yeah my very reaction – I know that many of you have relatives, and loved ones living in the city as I.

They in the city do not understand what it is that we do here, and as you know I have a sister and her family there also. We, like you, and yours, are very close although we do not get to see each other very often. I find it necessary to live here to maintain the edge that we must have if we ever have to use these skills that are taught here. And now, I for one, will be happy that I have done just that. Getting back to the color, when I was given that, I dropped everything, even the conversation that I was having with this official and immediately went to see this Sione. I did not know him, but for your information, he is the head of the council. He relayed to me that within the last coupe of annuals that four of our sister cities have vanished, period.” At this point he paused to see how that had affected them. He could see disbelief in their eyes and actions. Something like this had never happened. They couldn’t even remember when one city had disappeared. Four was unthinkable, and to have them disappear in such a short time brought worry to all of them. “This information can be passed to everyone here with the admonishment that it must stay here. No one outside of this compound will be allowed to know this. So gather your teams and students and give them this information and start preparing for an exit from the city. We do not have much time, and we do not know which city may be next. I am not opening this for questions at this time. I want this information out to the teams as quickly as possible. I need feedback and ideas. That’s all for now, Skylar, I need you to remain behind.”

He watched them as they quietly left. It was obvious that they were in deep thought about what had been revealed. Looking back at the tables he saw Skylar waiting patiently to see what he wanted of him personally. He headed over to the table where Skylar sat and joined him by sitting across from him. “So what are your feelings on this?”

“Are you sure what you have presented us is accurate? No, if you went and were shown the information, and I think I know you well enough, then, it probably is correct as far as it goes. If what little we know is true, then I have to agree I think all of the cities are vulnerable.” Looking down at the table and thinking a little before he continued Skylar said, “Okay I did not see the data as you, and I know that you gave us a very short version of what was found since as you say you were gone all last night. That must have been some session. Hmm, so what is the plan? I mean I have so many questions, and very few answers. I guess the important one is, are we ready to face what this threat represents? So what is it you want me to do?”

“As I said I need to get some sleep, but this will not wait so with you second-in-charge here, you need to get moving on some type of plan. I said this would involve everyone and that is the way it must be. I feel with this unknown threat that all of us will be needed to come up with some solution. I talked long with Sione and he said that they on their end would be attempting to find a way of changing and improving the defenses. We on our side must find out how they found out, and somehow neutralize the threat, and as I said we do not have much time. Of course we are assuming that the tribes are responsible, but it is the most logical conclusion. Plus without any additional assistance from the other cities, we overall, are a small group and there’s a big world out there. Here let me give you this.” He then handed Skylar a stack of papers and continued, “Normally they, the ones in the city, do not use paper. But Sione knew that we did not have the devices here to read the information that way and had this printed out for us. Read up on it, this is everything that I know at this point. I should be back at it around mid-day and at that time I’ll join you. Once you read through this stuff I think you will agree that our time is very short.”

With a troubled look Skylar asked, “How much of what is in here can I reveal?”

“Everything. We do not have time to play games here. And who knows any one of the members here may have something that we would not have thought about. Right now, as you will see, we are lacking any real hard facts. But the conclusions from what has been gathered are hard to dispute. Okay then, I’ll catch you a little later, or maybe sooner, if I am unable to sleep.” He then bid Skylar a goodbye and headed off to his cabin to try and catch a few hours of sleep.

After Shayne had left Skylar remained sitting for a little while. He scanned the many pages, and as he did he became a little more alarmed. As Shayne had said the information was sketchy, but the conclusions made in the report appeared to be correct. Included with the papers was a map showing the cities and when he studied this he saw that the ones that had disappeared were north of them but on a direct line to their city, which had the name Sequoyah. Again if accurate, the times between the cities disappearing were shortening tremendously, and if the timeline shown here continued, it would not be long before another city vanished. Could they act in time to prevent it? When he truly thought about it the answer was probably not, as there just wasn’t time. Smiling, although it was a grim smile he said softly. “Yeah, time was something that we had on our side. We wished for something to happen to go and try ourselves against the real world, and now with this crisis we have it.” Shaking his head he continued, “So now what? Now that we have gotten what we wished for, now what?” He didn’t have an answer for that one. So sighing he got up and headed out the door. There was a lot of information that needed to be passed around and sitting here thinking about it was not going to get it accomplished.

The next few hours he moved from group to group, passing on the information and stating that after the evening meal that there would be a gathering there in the eating hall to discuss further what their actions would be. And yes, what Shayne had stated was true. Absolutely everybody would be involved – from the rawest members up to and including Shayne who is their leader.

Then Skylar thinking about how the area was laid out began to go over in his mind the shortest route around the facility. Except for the mated couples, strict discipline and separation was maintained. There were barracks for the single males, and barracks for the single females, and these were located on opposite sides of the compound. Between these two locations sat the mated couples’ cabins. During the days and of course during the night exercises they worked side by side, but the idea of cohabitation between unmated members were discouraged, as this could lead to problems at a critical time and put more than just the couple at risk. Many of the exercises they were involved with could cover many weeks at a time. One group would establish a village in their compound area within the wilderness that had been created within. They would try as best they could to appear to be no more than any other of the many tribes and villages that existed in this world. During the exercises a second group then would become a rival tribe and attack the first to see how well the first group had set up their camp, taking in the factors of location to the necessities, and defensibility, followed by how well they guarded their area, and then how well they would fight to protect their site from a rival village. The simulations were to be as close as to real as they could make them.

Some of the older teams of two had, carefully in the past, gone out into the real wilderness and observed tribes as they lived, fought, and died. Everything had been recorded so that not only would the observations made by the teams be known, but also there was a visual record that went with the narratives. These observations were something that periodically they would perform. So that any changes in the way the tribes interacted could be viewed and studied. Yet, again, something had changed, for the cities now seemed to be the targets, and very easy targets. Skylar hoped that other cities had picked up the alarm and were doing something to improve or change their defenses. The report overall had concluded that what had been working in the past was no longer. If rapid changes were not made, then there would be no cities left, and they and their way of life would be gone forever. What had happened to make that first city vulnerable? Then, what was it that revealed the others that had fallen? What was it that the primitives had learned that allowed them to penetrate the veil that had hidden them from their sight until now? As he thought about this the biggest question of all entered his mind. How had they succeeded in bringing down the cities so that not a word could get out that they were under attack? These people were not technologically advanced so how would they know what to do to make sure that nothing ever got out of the city once they attacked?

 

Before he knew it Shayne was standing next to him appearing blurry eyed. “Shayne, you know after reading what you handed me, and then going around and bringing all up to date with this data, I’ve become more alarmed by the minute. There appears to be more going on than when you first start putting the pieces together. Oh and did I mention it, you look like hell.”

“Thanks, I feel that way too . . . and yeah, you too. It’s the same with me. I really am worried. From what I can see, it has become easier for these primitives to get inside our cities, and to keep anything from getting out to warn the other cities, they have to be well organized. I mean we know that they can organize for the hunts, and attacks on other tribes. But this is something far beyond such a thing as this. Our smallest cities are larger than five of the tribes combined. Of course if you were to look at only the fighting element of these tribes then it would increase to probably twice that many. We have seen over the years that a couple of tribes would get together to put down a particularly troublesome group, but rarely more than that. It’s like they can only stay aligned a short time before they begin to fight each other. These actions show a change and one we know absolutely nothing about. Because of this, we now are paying the price of this ignorance. I had really thought that we really were keeping track of what the primitives were doing, but this has left me knowing that our intelligence gathering is truly lacking.”

“Yes, that’s obvious. But we were unaware that the program that we are under no longer exists in the other cities. There is no way that we could cover this whole world from here. It is, or was the responsibility of each city to provide intelligence from their local area. It now appears that as time went on that such a thing was no longer considered necessary, except here. So now we are paying the price of complacency and of dropping our vigilance.”

“I couldn’t have said it better. I never realized that we were it either. I’ve been sending out reports as required as long as I’ve been in charge. And I know my predecessor did the same. Who would have guessed that this information was going nowhere, and it had been a waste of time to submit these reports?” Shaking his head Shayne continued, “Now what? We are up against something unknown, and obviously quite dangerous. How are we with our small group going to be able to defeat what is causing this? If we had other teams from the other cities there would be a better chance of solving this. But it’s just us.” With that stated it shook him to his very core. He had always thought that there would be additional help from the other cities if some major crisis developed. Well, a major crisis had developed and there would be no help, absolutely none at all.

Now deep in thought the two walked the compound heading for commons to make contact with others. It would be a few hours yet before they met at the meeting after the evening meal. Looking around they could see the serious worried expressions on all that they passed. With the weight of decision lying upon them, the afternoon drug by slowly, but eventually it was time for the meeting. This was to be a fact-finding session, attempting to come up with some ideas as to how to tackle this with such a small group overall.

* * *

Another problem that most of us face lies with the lack of sleep when something critical has happened in our lives, or will be happening. Sleep evades us and we toss and turn in our beds staring up at the ceiling, rolling over looking at the clock next to us wondering why only a few minutes have passed. Followed by maybe getting up heading to the bathroom, before returning to bed and trying once again. In a sense we can see this with Shayne as he returns from his attempt at sleep. His mind is too active and eventually he returns and together with his second they begin to head out among the teams. Next week I present the middle part of chapter 3. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

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Time of Isolation, End of Chapter 2

Once again before I begin this week’s post I’d like to state that this is the last chance to view, and if you like, to nominate the novel, Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown. The Kindle Scout campaign is now at its end. Please follow the link and check it out. Again, I thank all who have read the excerpt, and those who plan to.  https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/QINQQURWHJS3

Last week I stated that it can be scary looking back are one’s earlier writings, and this is quite true. Yet, at the same time it can be satisfying when I read it once again now years later. Personally (no surprise here), even after all this time I find it to be a good story that doesn’t sit still but continues to move at a good pace.  There are a number of characters introduced and you simply learn who they are by what they do. No going into; well this is what she or he does. It’s kind of like when we go into an office and can tell the position of somebody by where they are. When you do this there is no knowledge beforehand, only what you learn on the fly, and that’s life. And it should be reflected in novels since they do have a tendency to mirror life.

Between the end of last week’s post dealing with the first half of chapter two, to this week’s post presenting the last half of the chapter (again the early chapters are short in comparison to how I write now, and later in this same book) there is a natural break which isn’t reflected here but is in the actual novel. So if the shift seems abrupt it’s simply because that break isn’t obvious here. I use the standard three stars to show this kind of break. There are instances where there’s an additional space added to show a simple time break.

So last week we find the secretary to the council leader finding himself completely out of his element. First off once he’s entered this new area (to him) he finds he’s uncomfortable. From here it goes from bad to worse as he leaves the city behind and enters this simulated wilderness, and with it being night making the area appear to be more ominous. Then he’s abandoned by the one who brought him into the living area. This is bad enough, at least he feels that way until he meets the leader, and finds he’s an open book to this one who then throws him further off-balance. His natural reaction (besides being defensive) is to get away from here as quickly as manners will allow. Yet he has a job to do, but isn’t sure he can succeed. Almost giving up he finally is able to give the leader what he needs to return with him. And it is here where we left off. So with this brief introduction, (Brief? Really?), is the end to Chapter Two:

Back at his cabin now after being with the head council member all night, he remembered that as he had begun his walk to the council chambers if the quoting of such a high emergency color had been appropriate. After all, there was only one color higher and that was black. Between blue and yellow there were also two others with green being the one just above blue, and brown just below yellow. White was all clear, and red the first towards emergencies. So the order began with white, then red, blue, green, brown, yellow, and finally black. When Sione brought him up to date as to what had been happening he knew that it could have been very easy for this Sione to have used the final emergency color, yet, by not doing so showed him that maybe this councilperson might actually have some common smarts. Something that appeared to be lacking in most politicians and one of the many reasons he normally tried to avoid them.

Four cities gone! What had happened? At least this Sione knew who to turn to, to find out. He and his teams were the only ones equipped to live outside the cities, and having heard that his teams were the last to exist in any of the cities left him sad. Had the cities progressed so far in both their ego and ignorance to think that something like this could never happen? The answer was obvious to him, yes. Now it would fall on him and his teams to try and find out what was going on, and who was responsible. He suspected by the way they disappeared that it had something to do with the primitive tribes. Somehow through a failure or something similar one of the cities became known, and once known was then destroyed. And if some of the tribes had united, these combined tribes would be a force to reckon with. Since they had to survive in the wilderness, and the many skirmishes that happened continually between them, they were a strong wily enemy, while the cities would be a weak easy target. Once a tribe got beyond the outer defenses then the rest would fall quick with barely a whimper. This enemy would barely raise a sweat. Then by seeing how the cities were hidden, these primitives would seek out other such areas. And each time one was found they would learn more and it would become easier. In truth the facts supported this. There had been a large amount of time between the disappearance of the first city and the second. But then the times became shorter and shorter as the third and fourth city vanished.

It was time to bring in his second and then get some sleep. He knew with the information that he had that there were to be many sleepless nights ahead of them. Time was short, and the longer it took to find out what was going on, the more chances other cities would fall. So heading back out to the middle of the compound he rang the bell with three short rings signaling assembly and waited. Within a few breaths the compound filled with the students and teachers of the wilderness. He waited until the restlessness left the crowd and silence followed. Looking around at his teams he felt proud to be a part of them. Now they would be tested to the fullest. Had there been enough done? Or would he find, like the cities disappearing, that they were lacking. Looking around at the gathering crowd he said. “After generations of work here where everything was just simulation and scouting, we now are to face a real test.” He could see the smiles on their faces as they anticipated actually doing something. “I would like the leaders and trainers to remain here. The rest of you are dismissed, and shortly after I talk with this group they will pass on to you what we have discussed. Be prepared, our time is short, and our very existence may come down to what we learn and do. Other than that, it is all I can relay to you at this moment. This will involve everybody, so there is no need to fear that any of you will be left behind. Thank you.” He turned and headed for the common eating area where the teams would meet as a group. As he left he saw that the trainers and leaders were following him and the rest heading back to whatever assignment they had before the call to assemble.

* * *

A call to action. As is in most places a certain number of rings, or other such signal lets all who are there know what action to perform. I don’t know about you, but being up all night isn’t something I enjoy. Yes, like most of us I’ve had to do such for the job I worked at the time, with my longest shift being thirty-six hours, followed by a four-hour break then back for another twelve. What kind of job requires this, you ask. At this time in my life I was a wildland firefighter, and was part of the initial attack team. The first unit on the scene, which was only minutes away, reported the wildfire at two to four acres and running. The unit I was a part of sat completely on the opposite side of the district and was part of the second dispatch. When we arrived “on scene” the wildfire was already hundreds of acres in size. Three days later it was in the thousands of acres.

Of course the issue with this much time between rest periods is how it affects your ability to think and to recognize developing situations around you. In a sense Shayne knows this and this is part of the reason for calling the assembly. And as we wrap up chapter two we see the ones who lead heading for the meeting area with no knowledge of how desperate their situation truly might be. Next week is the beginning of chapter three with more information becoming available. Have a great week, and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Time of Isolation, Chapter 2, the Beginning

Before I begin the introduction to this week’s post I’d like to remind everybody that I’m on the home stretch with my Kindle Scout campaign. Seven days left to read the excerpt, and if you like to nominate. Once again here’s the link, and thank you in advance to all who have or will participate:  https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/QINQQURWHJS3

In Time of Isolation, there are no vehicles, so everything is done on foot, (You learn why in book 2, Desperate to Survive). This means if a city has grown over time, and most do, then the distances become greater, and the time to reach those destinations mean more time lost. And if we add to this the fact that most of us are only familiar with the areas we travel every day then the old phrase found on maps in antiquity would apply, “There be monsters!” As you learn in book 3, A Taste of History Past, there is a general layout to these cities. Yet as cities grow they have a tendency not to follow the original plans. I believe the term is “Urban Sprawl”.

And since this city has been identified as one of the larger cities, this probably applies to this one. So the secretary to the council finds, as he makes his way through the unknown part of the city, that even with signs he has gotten misdirected a couple of times. Even though the route had been laid out for him back in the council chambers, what is on a map versus what one faces on the ground will always be different. With the delays Sayvon finds it nighttime making it even more difficult to trace his way to his destination. How many times have we personally become lost or misdirected watching the day heading toward its end knowing the last thing we want to do is to locate our destination in the dark. Signs become unreadable, landmarks disappear, and even the streetlights seem to shed less light, leading to frustration, and many times causing us to give up and try to find our way back out of the mess we’ve found ourselves in.

Then you, through whatever luck, find yourself in the area where you’ve been trying to reach only to be blocked by maybe a one way street, or in this case a wall. You can see your destination. It is tantalizingly close, but still unreachable. Yet, in Sayvon’s case he knows that even if he finds his way into this wilderness he doesn’t know if he can really face it or not, and the darkness doesn’t help. And with this introduction is the first half of Chapter two:

Sayvon had gotten lost a couple of times, as this was part of the city that he had never been in before. It seemed to be much older than the portion he worked and lived in. In fact one of the major signs he had come across stated “Old City”. It seemed to be poorer and more run down, but that could be an illusion since you could see the age in the buildings. The pathways and sidewalks were worn and narrow in comparison to the main city, and as dusk approached it appeared that even the lighting was dim and dingy making the area appear to be unsafe. Yet he knew that it was illusion since there was little crime. At times he would pass couples arm and arm paying him little or no attention. And then there seemed to be many children running around playing their many games. He with his nervousness just pushed on until he reached the edge and saw one of the signs pointing him in the proper direction. It was fully dark by the time he had reached the area and was immediately blocked by a wall that had to be twice his height. Why the wall? Walking along the wall, it just seemed to go on forever.

Eventually he reached a small door that had a light above it, and what he guessed was a monitoring device. Looking closely he saw what appeared to be a summoning device. It showed little use and left him wondering if it actually worked. So he pressed the button and found that his initial assessment was accurate. The button had not been used in who knew how long, and was resisting his effort to push it in. Finally it seemed to loosen up enough and appeared to function. He waited what he considered was adequate time and with no response tried again and he decided to knock also. Again waiting for what seemed a long time and again without response he gave up and started to leave, then jumped when he heard the grating of the door sliding open. Turning around he saw a youth, but one who was dressed strangely. There seemed to be an air about him that made Sayvon really look at him. He couldn’t place the difference but it was there. The youth stood there silently waiting for Sayvon to say something. “Ah, I’m Sayvon; I have been directed by the head of the council Sione to seek out Shayne. I have something for his eyes and ears only.”

The youth only nodded, and then signaled Sayvon to follow, turning around and immediately headed back inside expecting Sayvon to follow him. Realizing that was what the youth wanted he finally got himself moving and as he entered the compound the door closed behind him with a heavy thump causing him to jump and cringe. It sounded so final. Then the sounds within the compound started to assail his ears. It was too dark to see, and he found himself stumbling as the youth, sure footed, continued and was actually outdistancing him. The youth seemed to have an easy flow to his movements like he was a part of this world and not the one Sayvon had just come from. There seemed to be a confidence, a quiet confidence that spoke of tests and trials that had been overcome. What is this place anyway? Who is this youth? He had never said a word or offered him his name. Again why did this place even exist? From the signs he knew that the area was not a secret, yet in all of his life he had never heard of it or what its function was. One thing for sure he was learning quickly.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he could now see that they appeared to be walking on a dirt path that led up to some small structures just ahead. He then noticed that the youth leading him was barefoot. The structures in the distance seemed to be lit, but the light emanating from the windows were weak and seemed to flicker. Why was that so? He was so out of his element that he could not come up with any satisfactory answer at all. Eventually he was led to one of the units in the center. Here the youth that had brought him here pointed to this one building. On the door he could barely make out the name Shayne. That was all it said. There was nothing to identify that he was even the one in charge. Why was that so? It was something else that did not make sense. Turning around he saw that the youth was leaving and heading towards one of the other buildings leaving him alone. Were they all this way here? Shrugging, he went up to the door and started to knock only to have it open. A man stared at him seemingly sizing Sayvon up immediately. Sayvon saw someone who was only a little taller than him, but his skin appeared to be brown, and if he guessed right this man had to be lighter than he in weight. There seemed to be no fat on this man at all. Didn’t he eat? The next thing that registered was this man was not young. There were streaks of gray in his dark brown hair, and he also had facial hair . . . something that was never seen within the city at all.

Smiling Shayne said in a soft voice. “Come in, come in! I don’t get too many visitors from the city here at all. And to have one from the council is so rare that it has only happened once in my lifetime.” He then signaled Sayvon up the short set of wooden steps and inside the small building. Once inside he saw why the lights seemed so dim and flickering. Instead of the lighting that was powered by the power units of the city, what was here appeared to be lamps and candles. The lamps had some type of clear oil inside of them with a wick and a chimney. Everything within glowed under the flickering yellow light. Nowhere that he looked could he find anything of the city. The furniture was rough and seemed to be made from natural things. Even the cooking appeared to have been accomplished over an open fire type conveyance. As his eyes continued to search the room he found nothing in it that was familiar. Then looking back at his host he realized that the clothes he was wearing also appeared to be made by hand. There absolutely was nothing of manufacture here. It appeared that someone’s hands had made everything here. Then noticing the floor he saw what appeared to be an animal skin laid out like a rug. Stammering he asked, “Is . . . was that real?”

Smiling Shayne said, “Of course. It at one time was a living animal. By watching you, I believe that you have searched this whole area and, I assure you that you will not find anything that you commonly use in the city. Everything you see was either living or was constructed from natural materials. You see, here one must be able to live in the wilderness beyond. That means that what you take for granted does not exist here. So one must learn to use what is available. If you do not then you have no business here.”

That last statement seemed to be directed at Sayvon. And in truth if it wasn’t, it would have been easy to interpret it that way. This Shayne had a way of looking at a person that appeared to look to your very soul, judge you, and then if found wanting, ignore – or at least give no signs of trust. Why had he agreed to come here? He was so far out of his element that he was even at loss as what to say. He again stammered, “Sir, I have been sent by Sione to have you report to him immediately.”

“Sione? I am afraid that name does not seem familiar. I assume he is of the council since I can see on your shirt the badge identifying you as the underworker to the council. Who is he anyway?”

Somewhat affronted by this revelation and question, he became indignant. “He, sir, is the head of the council!”

Laughing Shayne said, “Did I ruffle your feathers? You must remember that here you and your city do not exist. We do not keep up with the policies or politics, and who may be in charge at any certain time. As I said earlier it is rare that any city member visits here, and rarer still when someone from the council puts in an appearance. So why would it matter to us?”

Sputtering now with a deeper indignation Sayvon said. “Because it is the generosity of the council that has made sure that your section still exists. If it were not for them keeping it alive, then like in the other cities you would not have been able to continue!”

“Is that all? Gee, and to think that because of the council, which, by the way, this operation has cost them little to nothing, that I have a job. Gee, I just don’t know what to say.”

To Sayvon the sarcasm was so thick he could have cut it. “It . . . it’s true! We are the only city left that still allows this to continue. With just a stroke of a pen you and your section could be gone like everywhere else.”

“It’s the other cities’ loss. And if this council were stupid enough to eliminate the only section that could give them intelligence on what is happening outside of the cities then it, in the end, would be their loss. Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve not even offered you anything or a place to sit. Where are my manners? By the way, are you finished with your worthless threats? And can you tell me why you are here, especially since it is after dark. You have me curious, as no one comes here after dark.”

One thing for sure this Shayne had continued to keep him off balance since he had arrived here. He thought that his political savvy and the ability to spar verbally were pretty good. But he was finding out that he was no match for this Shayne. There was nothing he could use as a weapon against him. It just seemed that he did not care, and it appeared that he was being toyed with. Not by some amateur, but someone who appeared to be more amused by his attempts. Something like a cat playing with a mouse, and he was that mouse. It made him more uncomfortable. To be out of his league here was an understatement. How did one attack someone who seemed not to care? “Look, I know it is unusual for someone from the city to come here. In fact I did not even know that this existed until today. As far as what you do here I don’t know that either. But I was sent to get you. Sione, who is the council head, said that it is urgent, and to not wait until the morning when it would be daytime here. So I am here because of that request. At least you could honor it and come back with me and find out what it is he wants to discuss with you. I was told that this had to be a face to face meeting, and he directed me here.”

Again laughing Shayne said, “You fool. Here, other than what you saw at the gate into this place, there is nothing of the city, which means that there are no devices or such that allows me to talk over the airwaves to anyone. If anyone wants to talk to me they have to talk to me in person. So you, thinking that it will show some importance, by showing up here to talk with me really means nothing or anything at all. Yes, there is a part of this facility that has those capabilities, but they are mobile units – off limits except during training . . . normally shut down and inoperative. Here, everyone learns that it is important to have direct contact. There is much that can be learned from another when you do that. For instance you are both extremely nervous and have a fear of this place. Plus I can read that you have an overblown view of yourself, where you work, and whom you work for. It is there for any to read.” Then shaking his head he sat down in a chair that was next to a table. He signaled for Sayvon to do the same.

Now sitting across from Shayne again he asked himself, who is this person? He surely did not have any proper respect for the city and its leadership. So why would Sione want to speak with him? Personally it appeared to be a lost cause. Shrugging his shoulders he then said, “I see that I have wasted my time and yours. I will go back and report to Sione that you are not interested.”

“Interested in what? You have yet to even present anything other than the leader of the council wants my presence. With so little presented you have yet to give me a reason. For all I know he wants to show me off to some of his political friends. I do not have time for such nonsense.”

What Shayne said was true. He had only said that the leader of the council wanted to see him. But since being here he had been so out of his element that he had been completely off balance. He had never faced anyone like this – someone who could read him like an open book. After all he had prided himself in the ability to hide his true feelings and motives. Yet here before him was someone who had just proven that premise to be false. “Look, I was sent to get you. There is an emergency and he, Sione, felt that you and your teams were the only ones who could help.”

“Ah, now that’s better. Was that so hard? What kind of emergency are you talking about here anyway? I haven’t sensed anything unusual happening within this city . . . not that I get into it very often.”

“Nothing has happened to our city, but that does not mean that something isn’t going to happen.”

Curious now Shayne asked. “And what do you mean by that statement?”

“Look I am not at liberty to say, but I was told that if I was unsuccessful that I was to say yellow.”

That stopped him. Yellow was the code for most serious. Once he heard that he did not say anything else. He stood up, grabbed a coat and headed for the door. “Aren’t you coming? After all you needed to get me to come along. So I’m coming along. Lead away!”

Shocked and still off balance, this sudden change left him even more unsure. “Okay, you’re not planning on doing something are you?”

Shaking his head Shayne said. “Now what would give you that idea? You gave a color code and it answered my most immediate questions. I will now go see your Sione. So lead away. And do not worry I’ll protect you from the dark.”

* * *

For the first time Sayvon has entered into a world that he doesn’t understand. All the things he takes for granted doesn’t exist here. And to be truthful this new lifestyle makes him uncomfortable. So much so that he is completely off balance and out of his element. He has never met anyone like Shayne, and the complete darkness that surrounds the buildings unnerves him. Yet, after what appears to be failure, and to his surprise, Shayne has agreed to see the council leader. Next week will be the end of chapter 2. Have a great week, and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Time of Isolation, End Chapter One

Time of Isolation is an early book, actually my third, with length of over 300 pages. And as I’ve stated in an earlier post looking back can be embarrassing as a writer. Still I have plans of putting the trilogy out again as a single novel sometime in the future, (Which means the combined trilogy would by around 1000 pages in length). So in a sense it gives me a chance to work some minor revisions into the story and clean it up a bit. As I present it here I’m actually making slight changes from the original published edition. No not enough to change the story or to make it so different that there is nothing in common. During the time of writing Time of Isolation I was still developing my methods of writing, and chapter lengths that became more consistent later. For example, this first chapter is about eight pages long, whereas now my chapters generally run twenty pages. Yet where it breaks is a natural place to move forward and on to the next chapter.

In a sense it’s scary to come back to one I’ve self-published four years in the past (It normally takes me about a year to write a novel. This includes the actual writing followed by the revisions and editing process.). I looked at the prelease date and it is the year 2012. I guess the other side of this is the fact that it gives me a chance to see my personal growth in my writing. And to be honest that is probably most important. If there had been none then I probably should pursue something else. Yet if you were to compare this to the one I presently have running on Amazon Scout, (Here is the link. Please check it out and see if you like nominate it: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/QINQQURWHJS3) you’d see a big difference in the writing. No this story isn’t bad or is the world the fictional characters live in two dimensional. Truthfully everyone who has read the trilogy and reported back to me has enjoyed the story, (In fact I’ve received a rating of five stars on book 2.). Simply stated it would probably be better if written now as I work on the beginnings of book ten, and look ahead to number eleven.

When I look back (and revise) the first two I’ve written (Part of the Discovery trilogy) I know how far I’ve come as a writer. I really do want to get these out, and I’ve worked hard on the revisions I’ve done, but neither are ready for prime time. After the last complete edit and revison I thought maybe this time, but immediately realized, when I began them again, that two of my protagonists in this story were immediately out of character, meaning simply “more work, more rewriting, more revision, more editing” to one I’ve probably been through at least a dozen times already (We won’t even talk about book 3 which was written much later but with the work still needed on the first two I’ve not tackled it yet). So with these thoughts I present, Time of Isolation, leading to the end of chapter one:

When the information reached the council they immediately called an emergency session. When one city had disappeared off the grid it had been a major concern – but now with four gone it had become something unthinkable. They knew that they were vulnerable to the primitive tribes and clans that existed here. But so far they had just warred among themselves, more concerned with each other. As far as these tribes and clans knew, the cities did not exist, and if they thought that they might, it was more legend than reality. So what had changed? Why were their cities disappearing?

Because of the low populations, they knew that there was no way for them to fight or go to war against these people. So instead technology had been developed that blocked the cities from view. It required a lot of power to maintain the illusions that they created. So most of the funds and work, went into maintaining and upgrading the power units. They even had created large backups just in case something happened to the main units. Over time they had been able to create both holographic images of the lands around them to give the illusion that where the cities were located was desolate useless lands – to further the chance that the primitives would not be interested in investigating the areas. Plus a minor force field that required a device worn by the citizens to be able to pass through. With all of the city’s needs existing inside of these protections there was very little reason to leave. They also kept devices in the cities that allowed them to monitor the few entrances and exits into the cities.

They had depended on these protections for generations and it had always worked. So they had grown complacent. Because of this complacency they had few that could even fight, as it had never been necessary in the past. Yet something had changed, and now the cities were disappearing. With no hard evidence they did not even know why. So with the loss of this fourth city they, the council, had almost panicked. They spent half a day uselessly arguing back and fourth coming up with no answers or solutions. Until finally the head of the council called a break realizing that until they had some answers there would be no solutions. Sione, the council head then summoned the underworker to the council Sayvon to his side and said, “Sayvon, I need you to get in contact with Shayne. Have him report immediately to my chamber. We need answers and we can sit here all day debating and still have nothing in the end. Do not waste any time, I am calling a recess when I go back into the council meeting area. If necessary give him the code color yellow. It will let him know that this is most serious.”

“Where would I find this Shayne, sir? This is someone I am unfamiliar with. In fact I do not ever remember this person ever mentioned at all.”

“Not surprising really. You see he is the leader of what we thought was a program that we would never use. He has been before us many times a long time ago, imploring us to keep what he works on, his life work really, alive. I must admit that there were a number of times we almost cancelled his section, but that is old history. You will find him and the ones who work for him at the edge of the city close to the wilderness that lies beyond. The compound is actually blocked off from the city and those who live within this compound are trained from their youth to be what they are. They usually work in teams of two, and if siblings so much the better. Here, if you look at this map of the city they are located there.” Taking Sayvon to a picture on the wall he flipped a switch, which then revealed the map. He pointed to an area that seemed almost unused. There appeared to be no major structures, nothing to indicate industry or farming, just a few minor structures and that was all. It could have been one of the many parks, but was so far out of the way that it would be one that no one would ever have need of visiting.

Looking closely at the map Sayvon asked, “I don’t really see how you even travel there. And why would anyone want to live and work there anyway?”

“Understand this, if anyone is going to solve this puzzle and what is happening to our sister cities then it is he or one of his teams. Remember we have become a people that have depended on our machines and as such probably could not survive on our own without them. Shayne is a throwback to an earlier time when we were just beginning to bring our machines on line. He and any of his many teams could survive out there in the wilderness and among the primitives. Something neither you nor I, and I suspect the rest of this city, or any of the other cities could do. You see we are the last city to even allow this program to continue. So he and his teams may be our last chance to keep what we have. Or become like those other disappearing cities leaving not a trace of whom we are or what we did behind. I suspect we are dealing with a change within the primitive world. And somewhere along that line they have learned of our existence and worse have found a way to penetrate our illusions and protections. We are not a warrior race, and I suspect that we are an easy people to conquer if an attacking army can get past our protections. So please hurry, and if you look closely you can see that you actually have to go this way, away from this compound before you can work back to it.” Then pointing again at the map he traced out the route that Sayvon would have to take. “Now here you should find some signs that actually will direct you to the compound. The signs will simply say The Wilderness Space.”

Sayvon shuddered at the thought of having to go into a space like the wilderness outside the city. He was a citizen of the city and had no wants or desires to be even close to a place that simulated the wilderness. But he had been given a directive and he would follow it to the best of his ability. What Sione had relayed to him worried him more than this trip he had to take. Now once he found it could he convince this Shayne to follow him back? He had never been given that code color before. The highest he had ever used was blue. He did not know that there was one higher than blue until now. Now he wondered if there was any that was higher than yellow? He did not know. While he looked at the map he also realized that it would take him the rest of this day to reach this compound. It would be dark and if this area simulated the wilderness what was in there? He never considered himself brave but now had no choice but to face this unknown.

* * *

As we come to the end of Chapter One this city and the leaders are left with a mystery that must be solved, and solved as quickly as possible. With no information coming from the cities that have gone dark nothing can be discussed, nothing can be concluded, nothing can be done. So the leader sends his secretary, for the lack of a better word, to fetch the only one he feels could assist them in their dilemma. Yet, for Sayvon the thought of leaving the city is a worrisome thing. He is a man of the city, and thoughts of leaving it and heading into the wilderness scares him, and leaves him more than a little nervous. Still he is dedicated and will do as asked. And it is here where we close the chapter. Next week we’ll begin chapter two. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Time of Isolation, the Beginning

While I’ve posted excerpts of this book in the past, that is all it has been. I thought since I have a campaign running with Amazon Scout and the unpublished book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, (As a reminder the book is now running a Kindle Scout campaign to see if they will publish. And once again, here is the link to the site – please check it out. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/QINQQURWHJS3) that it would be fun to look back at the first book in the Survival trilogy, (Yes all three books are available as EBooks and are titled, Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past). I haven’t decided whether like “Unexpected”, where I presented the whole book over time, I would do the same with this one. I guess, in the end it will be how you the readers of this blog respond whether it ends up being a few chapters or the whole thing. Now a few thoughts before we get into the actual novel:

For me when I begin a new story a few things must happen. First off I must have a title. Once I have the title then the story that follows is clear. Many times I have the opening scenes running through my mind, and usually I’ll write a paragraph or two to keep the important parts of the beginning with me. With just that bit of information I can immediately drop back into the story. Still, until I can see the end then nothing will go forward. I guess this is similar to taking a trip. We all have a starting point – usually our home – and a destination in mind, before returning home. And so it is with me. Until I see the ending or destination – not that it can’t or won’t change – then I cannot start that journey into a new fictional world.

An example of this is a new manuscript that is awaiting in the wings (not written yet). The working title is, And the Rains Came. I’ve had the beginning locked in my mind and written for a while, but no ending. In the recent past I finished first draft on a novel titled, A World Apart, and felt that when this one was added to what needed to be revised and edited that I had better leave writing anything new until I tackle those four novels. Yet, once this one was complete, (A World Apart), the ending to, And the Rains Came, hit me. Now I have the beginning and the ending with only the journey between the two to write, leaving me in a quandary as to what to do. Do I write the new one or do I begin the tedious work of revision?

For this one, Time of Isolation, the idea for this novel came from a dream. It was one I had more than once, but not often enough to be called a recurring dream. Still what I saw in that dream stayed with me, the imagery being that strong. And while the overall direction of the book did follow that dream sequence, some of what the landscape and overall storyline did not. In that dream I saw a force of primitives with what would be called Iron Age weapons moving as a horde destroying all that is before them. And somewhere still far away from them lie an advanced city, unknown and hidden. With their advancements they could see the horde and the fact it was moving towards them. I can see two of the leaders discussing the situation with no conclusions made.

Here it jumps in time and location and I am (all this was third person in the dream. I was an observer.) now in a new location. I watched as a young warrior and merchant boldly (same individual) approach and then cross the rock bridge into the horde’s base. Unknown to the horde flying high above him was a mechanical bird that was monitoring everything he did. Far away and in a portable monitoring unit sat his sister who was in constant communications with him through small devices he wore and the mechanical bird was the unit that allowed that contact to continue.

Part of the reason for this bold attempt was to learn of the future plans of the leadership, and to rescue many who were captured and locked away in the cellars. At night he would head down to those cells unseen and quietly talk with the prisoners with plans on releasing them and making an escape. And that was the dream. So as I present this first part of, Time of Isolation, you now have the background of where the story originated, what I could see, and how it intrigued me enough to make it, not only one novel, but a trilogy. Of course with this in our minds we now think we can anticipate the story’s direction. Yet once we begin we find none of these elements from that dream. We open the story with an introduction. Too small to be called a prologue, it sets the atmosphere and direction for the story:

Rumors continued to come from the North, followed by silence. Not the types of silence of a temporary kind, but of permanence that spoke of never hearing anything again. It was as if what always had been never was. How could that be? Theirs was a peaceful advanced society. Even though overall they were a small population, and quite spread out, their ability to communicate between their settlements eliminated any one settlement truly feeling isolated. But as the time flowed by them, one by one those lights and voices disappeared and were heard or seen no more. Each extinguished without an outward cry. Each without a sound leaving a darkness behind that was complete. Like when one turned out the lights at night or extinguished the candles or lanterns. There should have been something explaining why, anything would have been better than the deathly silence. It was time to act. It was time to find out what had happened to their brothers and sisters. What tragedy had befallen their people? How were they to go about it? So far any that had traveled in that direction were never heard from again. Something needed to be done, and somehow the puzzle that lay before them had to be solved, before they in their city also became no more.

Chapter 1

Sampson hurried along the thoroughfare trying to move as fast as his overweight body would allow. He needed to find his supervisor now. Unfortunately she was located completely on the opposite side of the communications complex. While he was in charge of his section, an underling, the news he had needed to be brought to Shana’s attention personally and could not be sent over the circuits. So by avoiding eye contact with the many others he passed, and breathing quite hard from the exertions, he continued to move with strong determination. It had happened again. This was the fourth time in the past annuals, and he was shocked when it had happened on his shift, with his team. Just what was going on? Finally nearing his destination he found that he was raising a sweat. He just hated sweating, but this time he had to endure it as well as making this contact with his boss. He had never liked Shana, but knew that he could never become a supervisor of her level. First, he was not one born into the proper order, and second he knew that he could never match the intelligence necessary to oversee such an operation as this.

Finally reaching her entrance he stopped, caught his breath and tried to calm down. These meetings were rare, and he preferred it that way. Then gathering his courage he entered and encountered Susan, the one who ran interference for the boss. Again he had never liked her either, as it seemed that she always put on an air of superiority around any who were lower or worked under Shana. “Susan, I need to have a conversation with Supervisor Shana, and no before you ask, this cannot wait.”

Looking down at him she said, “Who are you to just barge in here? You do not have any right to demand anything, ah . . . let’s see . . . underling supervisor Sampson. Do I have it right?”

When she said these things it seemed as if she was attempting to get something out of her mouth such as a bad taste. Shaking his head he could tell that things were going from bad to worse. But what could he do? What he had was critical and they had been told that if another incident happened that he, or any of the under supervisors, had to go to their supervisors immediately and inform no one but them. He wasn’t even supposed to inform the underworkers for the lead supervisors. It was to be for their eyes and ears only. Carefully holding his anger in control he gritted his teeth and said. “Yes, you have it right. I must see Lead Supervisor Shana now without delay.”

“Without delay? What is it that could be so important from your minor position that could even require a minute of Supervisor Shana? Her time is always filled, so, if you please, make an appointment and come back later. You are interrupting my work and I for one will not allow you to interrupt hers. Now get out of here before I report you!”

About this time Lead Supervisor Shana hearing the loud conversation in the outer office went to investigate. Catching the ending conversation from her underworker, and seeing one of the under supervisors from the communications section, she became curious. Underworker Susan catching the gaze of Sampson turned and saw Shana there and started apologizing for interrupting her work and that she had everything in control and this minor supervisor was just leaving. Why is he here? Then she saw that under supervisor Sampson was looking intently at her. She also knew that he had never liked her, so again why was he here? Looking directly at him Shana asked. “Under supervisor Sampson may I inquire, why are you here?”

Again looking directly at her, he was at a loss for words. The directive had been explicit, nothing could be said to any others just his boss. “I have something that must be given to you, but only to you.” He stammered.

“What’s so important that it couldn’t be communicated over the circuits?” Then she saw a troubled look on his face, and indecision there. Yet at the same time a look that said that he would not give up on this.

“Ma’am, this has to do with the most recent directives that said that if a specific circumstance or event happened that I or any of the other under supervisors must report in person, immediately without delay, and I for one am not going to violate such a mandate. I am here as it requests.”

Shaking her head, she had really never liked this under supervisor. She had never liked people who had let themselves go like this. He seemed fat and lazy, and seemed to be the type that used the rules and regulations strictly as written – never bending or thinking outside what was there, one with little imagination, yet one who did what was necessary and kept his underworkers to task – one which caused as little friction as possible. “Which of the many mandates would this one be, under supervisor Sampson?” With so many coming out she never had time to read many of them anyway, depending on her staff to keep her informed.

Now what, Sampson thought, the mandate had been specific. No one but his supervisor could hear what he had to say. Then he remembered that if there was a situation like this that he could specify a color to let her know. Now if only he could remember the color. Blue! Blue was that color. “Ma’am, ah color it blue.” Was all he said.

When he stated the color, she immediately paused. He had given her a code color that reflected an emergency of some kind and could be private and for her eyes and ears only. She then turned to her underworker and said, “Under Supervisor Sampson may enter.” She then turned around and went back inside of her office wondering now what could be so important for him to have used that code. She didn’t have to wait long as he entered her office right behind her. “I don’t have much time, what is it that is so important?”

“Ma’am, do you have this room secured for silence? The directive said that before this information was to be given that all security features must be activated.”

Sitting back down at her desk, she motioned him to a seat, and then pushed a few buttons. “Okay, I have activated the security. Again what is it that required you to use the code word?”

Not quite sure how to continue he hesitated and then said. “Ma’am we’ve lost communications with another city. It has gone silent without warning. We have tried for the required amount of time to reestablish contact, but like the others it is like it never was.”

Silent and shocked at what had just been relayed to her, many questions went through her mind. Was it just a temporary loss or is this going to be like the others? Which one this time and what truly was going on? If it were confirmed then this would be the fourth city lost. She slumped her shoulders and then asked, “Which City have we lost contact with?”

“Terra ma’am. It is one of our larger cities and had many a backup, especially in communications. But without warning it went silent and we have been trying now for hours to reestablish contact, but all we get is silence and static.”

After minor supervisor Sampson had left she sat for a short time defeated by the news. Something was happening to their cities, but with no information there were no answers. She knew that right now she would have to drop whatever had been planned for the day and head out and find the other department heads to see if the information that she had been given was confirmed there. If so then they would have to inform the council. Four gone now, that’s a frightening thought. Just what’s happening to them? If they were being destroyed, why are there no refugees – again if a disaster had befallen them why no contact? Yet, when one looked at the order of loss, it appeared that something else was going on.

* * *

So immediately we start off with a mystery. (If we were to look at that dream sequence we can immediately sense the background where this opening originated.) From this city word has gone out that another has quit transmitting, has gone dark. If this had been only one then no reason to worry. But this is number four. A lesson I learned many years ago was a comment, (and I cannot say whether I read it or heard it) from an established author who stated, when one starts a novel that what is going on is critical to drawing in the reader. He stated that he always begins his novels in the middle of some action. Not at the beginning or the end. By doing this it immediately draws the reader into the story wondering what’s happening, and leaving questions in the reader’s mind that must be answered. So the next time you pick up a book see if your favorite author does this, as you can see I do. Next week I continue with Time of Isolation. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

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