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Last Son Of Earth – Part 1

This week marks the beginning of an epic journey for Speculative Faith fans. Better put, it is a exploration…an adventure in which the destination is not fully known.
| Apr 23, 2013 | No comments | Series:

This week marks the beginning of an epic journey for Speculative Faith fans. Better put, it is a exploration…an adventure in which the destination is not fully known.

But first a confession.

Over the past few months I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts about a variety of subjects related somewhat to the theme of speculative fiction and faith. However, as a fiction writer I must admit I’ve been getting a bit weary of writing topical discussions related to speculative fiction and its relevance in our world. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy discussing those things – I do. Rather, I think the creative writer in me is dying to write…well…speculative fiction and not just talk about it.

So, here’s what I propose.

Tuesdays are going to be a bit different for Speculative Faith fans. Instead of talking about speculative fiction, we’re going to write some together. Each Tuesday, if you choose to join me, I’ll be posting a new chapter of an ever growing speculative fiction story I’ve been batting around for a few years called “The Last Son of Earth”. It’s an idea, a concept really, but the story has never fully been fleshed out and I have no clue where it will ultimately take us.

I’ll be writing a chapter every week. You’ll be helping me write it by adding your comments and ideas about what has been written and what will be written. Week by week, chapter by chapter, the world of our combined imaginations will begin to grow.

Serial fiction is nothing new, of course. Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Alexander Dumas thrived in writing serial fiction. I don’t expect our story exploration to be anything nearly as polished and timeless as they have accomplished in their works, but it will be a fun way to explore the emergence of a story and let you “peek into the process” a bit.

I imagine the short story will take a few months to complete in its first draft form…but it may take longer. I’m not sure how far we’ll get with it, but together we’ll have some fun.

And so, without further ado, I present to you my first installment of the first chapter of the Last Son of Earth.

 

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Prologue: The Parting

 

“Stay,” Alana pleaded, desperate for her husband’s answer to be something other than the one she knew it was. She had known for a long time this day would eventually come. The telegraph he had received this morning confirmed her worst fears. Tonight was it, the Restoration would make a stand and her husband would lead the charge. Over the years she had hoped, even fooled herself into believing, that somehow this day would never come. Now, here it was, and there he was, packing feverishly to leave her and their only child behind – likely forever.

She watched helplessly as he retrieved a sweater from his locker and moved back to the bench where his container waited to be filled. Every item was another nail in the coffin of their life together.

Alana moved in close and took hold of his arm, pulling herself against him in hopes of capturing his attention. Anything to slow the moment down.

“Justin, stay with me,” she repeated softly. “Please. You don’t have to do this.”

Justin dropped his sweater on the bench and turned to his wife. He took her pale face gently in his hand and she allowed herself to get lost in his chocolate eyes once more. It was remarkable how much she loved this man. When they had first been assigned to each other she had left all thoughts of love behind. But he was perfect, he captured her heart quickly. Now, she couldn’t imagine life without him.

“Could you really love a man who lived in a lie?” he asked.

“At least I would have a man to love.”

“I cannot keep silent about who we are – about what has been taken from us all. The time has come, Ali, you’ll see. ICON has hidden our true past. Once that is exposed, others will follow the Restoration’s lead. The truth will lead us to freedom.”

“No! You speak like a fool,” she snapped, pulling a full step away from him, “and you will die like one and I will be left alone with the shame of it. To oppose ICON is a death wish.”

“If I stay nothing will change, Ali,” Justin reminded her. “We will both be reassigned and I will lose you anyway.”

He was right, of course. There was less than a year left before the census would determine how the populace would be rearranged. Every four years the men, women and children would be randomly reintegrated into new family units by a system designed to ensure the greatest diversity of thought and keep the roots of family unit shallow. It was, according to the District Masters, the only way to keep allegiance to ICON first in the minds of its citizens.

“I’ve made plans for you and Alden to be kept in safety. There is a hidden Restoration stronghold deep below ground. The Red-Eyes will not find you there. After I leave, Talon will lead you there if you choose. Wait for him. I’ll come back for you when the war is over.”

A knock at the door reminded Alana they were out of time.

“Sir, the gathering is ready,” a strong voice called through the door.

“One minute,” Justin replied. Moving quickly, he reached into his locker once more and retrieved a wooden block hand carved on all sides with curious markings Alana did not recognize.

“This is for Alden,” Justin said handing it to Alana. “If I don’t return, make sure he gets it when he is old enough. Tell him the answer lies in the stars. And tell him, I love him.”

Alana nodded nervously, her eyes welling up with tears.

Justin took her in his arms and embraced her tightly for a long moment. The crude leather and steel of his battle armor kept his heartbeat at a distance. Then, he kissed her gently and moved quickly to gather his things. Everything felt rushed and wrong. Not at all the way she had wanted the parting to go.

“Justin,” she called out after him as he picked up his container and headed for the door.

He turned back to catch her gaze one last time.

“I’ll be waiting.”

Justin smiled proudly.

“I’ll find you.”

Then, he was out the door and he was gone. Gutted, Alana sat on the bench and cried for what seemed an eternity. Her duty as a citizen of the district was to report any signs of disturbance. But her loyalty to her husband and her child tore at her concience.

When she had cried her last tear, she spotted the telegraph machine in the corner of the room and she knew what she had to do.

 

————————

 

In a control room across the district, a signal was received and transferred to a supervising ICON officer. It was deciphered and passed along to the District Masters. It seemed an uprising was at hand. If it was a war they were after, the iron fist of ICON would be ready for them.

Story matters. As the balder half of the Miller Brothers writing duo, Christopher is convinced that his receding hairline is actually a solar panel for brilliant thought. While the science behind this phenomenon is sketchy (at best) one thing is undeniable – his mind is a veritable greenhouse of crazy story ideas. Oh, he's also the co-author of three award-winning youth fiction novels (The Miller Brothers) and newly released novel based on a video game and a pair of children's books. Their books are written for kids and adults who aren't afraid of adventure. His hobbies include dating his wife, raising three children and providing for his family through copywriting, web design and launching a free to read platform for novelists called BookJolt.com. One day, Chris and his brother hope to delve deeply into the realm of interactive fiction.

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Galadriel
Guest

An interesting beginning 

Yvonne Anderson
Member

This is an intriguing idea, Chris – I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops!

bad_cook
Guest
bad_cook

Frankly, I don’t like it, characters or premise.
Alana is the stupid stereotype of a weepy, hysterical “little woman,” and Justin is kind of a jerk for just dismissing her emotions, even as unfounded or over-the-top as they are. I want to punch the both of them, but especially Alana for ruining my gender for me.
Big-bad government can be done, but these methods are stupid even for blatant villains. The importance of family is emotional connection and stability, and taking that away tends to just make people depressed or emotionally unstable or crap like that. Even bureaucracies and atheists know that.
Stylistically, I don’t like the melodramatic overtones. It makes me want to punch the characters all the harder.

Leanna
Guest
Leanna

I agree with bad cook that the characters presented in this segment aren’t very sympathetic, I don’t like them either, but I’m guessing Alden is going to the actual MC. Or have you not decided?

Evil totalitarian governments are inevitably at least a little silly. Most dystopian settings break down if you think about them too long, but I still enjoy them. 😀 The set up for Hunger Games is ridiculous but it works really well as the background for the story that is told. I’d go along with a government that breaks apart families every 4 years for story’s sake.

Paul Lee
Member

Serial fiction in short instalments works well for me.  I want to experience deep and intricate stories, but I find it hard to concentrate long enough to read even a short story in one sitting.
 
So, we have dystopia, perhaps with a steampunkish element.  The redistribution of families is done in the name of “diversity.”  I think there must have been dystopias written during the Cold War era where family was crushed in the name of unity.  Nowadays, conformity is an easy vice to give the antagonists, since diversity is universally lauded.  So, this dystopia reflects our time, showing that enfoced diversity is really the same thing as enforced conformity.
 
I wonder if this theme will show up in Alana’s internal conflict.  The sate — ICON or whatever — teaches diversity but wants her to conform, to betray the conscientious, free will of her husband.  Right now, Alana’s internal struggle suggests a conflict between duty and moral obligation, but this conflict is rather weak as it stands, because there is no conflict for us.  If Alana ends up turning her husband in (although I’m sure she probably won’t), we’ll think she’s a scum-bag, plain and simple.  The fact that she’s tempted to turn her husband in makes her somewhat unsympathetic.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, especially at this early stage.  We haven’t even seen the hook yet.
 
I’m looking forward to following along! 🙂

tulpawisp
Member
tulpawisp

I hate to comment on your post again, but…you keep saying stuff that I like.  0.o

Caleb
Guest
Caleb

Look forward to character growth!!!

Lauren
Guest
Lauren

First, I feel that as a woman, I need to mention that Alana’s character didn’t offend me at all! 🙂 Actually, I liked the tension between her and her husband. I think I see more “warrior women” in speculative fictions than wives who just don’t want their husbands to get killed.  I wonder if Alana has had previous husbands (for that 4 year period) and if losing one of them effects her feelings.  Actually, come to think of it, how committed would either of them feel too each other if they’ve grown up seeing families reconfigured every four years? And how will that affect Alden? Will he even know anything about his parents?

And I think anarchy vs. oppression is a very pertinent discussion that I haven’t seen addressed very often in fiction!

If you’re playing around with historical names, maybe that  could help rename ICON. Call it Parliament or George or Red Coats? Or maybe that’s where the “red eyes” are tied in? Just a thought.

And the English major in me has to say that something about “smiled proudly.”  It just . . . I don’t know . . . feels weird. I’ve probably just had that “adjectives are bad” speech pounded into my head too many times 🙂  But there, I got that off my chest.

I’m looking forward to next week’s portion! Great idea to post sections of a story this way!

Evan C.
Guest
Evan C.

OOOH COOL something to help with YAAY

clinthall
Member

I’m into it. Creative ideas and a great twist at the end. I’m sure you’re after constructive criticism, but if you don’t mind, I’ll probably sit back and enjoy for a few weeks to see where you’re going first.

Literaturelady
Guest
Literaturelady

Wow, great job Mr. Miller!  An intriguing beginning, and I personally love stories where the populace rises up against tyrannical government.
 
Okay, my suggestions (infinite 20-years-old wisdom :-)) are:
 
1. Honestly, I’m tired of stories with prologues.  Why can’t it simply be the first chapter?  In all fairness, I wrote a prologue on the first draft of my saga, but then realized (with the help of Rachel Starr Thomson) that the information would be more intriguing if woven through the story.  Just something to consider.
 
2. Where, specifically, is this setting?  The word “locker” made me envision a sports-locker room.
 
3. Just out of curiosity: why tell this prologue through the eyes of a female protag?  This is something I wonder about: why members of one gender picks protagonists of the opposite gender.
 
Again, great job with this story!  I’m looking forward to more!
 
Oh, and thanks for asking for our help!
 
Blessings,
Literaturelady
 
P.S. What ICON stands for…how about something like Immovable Concord of Nations?  Something with “International” or “Nations” sounds like it would fit.

Evan C.
Guest
Evan C.

International Control of Nations
International Charge of Nations
International Culprits of Nations
is your bro helping with this 1?

Alassiel
Guest
Alassiel

I liked that it started with a prologue, because a prologue can be more melodramatic than a first chapter. Frankly, it was the melodramatic nature of the first sentence that made me want to read it. I have a thousand things I should be doing and considered coming back to it later, but now I’m here typing this instead.
I like the dystopian tyrannical government splitting up families in the name of diversity. It feels very relevant in this age.
I don’t have any suggestions yet. I’ll see what I can come up with as the story progresses.

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