It came to my attention this afternoon that aside from the bit I posted for my NaNo profile, I have yet to post an actual excerpt from my NaNo novel.
So here it is.
This is pretty much the climax of the whole thing. Clarke escaped from the Googleplex (they were holding him because he knew some things he shouldn’t have known) and is now fleeing through one of the marshes that surrounds the complex. The Googlemen are basically Google’s hitmen thugs. Socrates is the name of the guy who has been feeding Clarke all the inside info on Google.
Please ignore how crappy this is, it’s unedited.
He crouched there as quiet as he could possibly make himself, his lungs burning as he tried to suppress his hurried breathing after running for so long. Even the coming together of his two eyelids as he blinked seemed excruciatingly loud to him as he sat squatted among the willows, the heavy rain catapulting down around him in a cacophony of water hitting already saturated land.
The next few minutes were terrifying—every second he expected the beam of one of the Googlemen’s flashlights to come upon him crouched there in the darkness, every second expecting some sort of violent confrontation. It didn’t help his nerves that the wind was utilizing the tall, wet willows as vocal cords, emitting low passing moans that sounded more like a dying dog than that of the howls one often assumes one would hear during a large storm. Clarke was soaking wet by this point, his shirt clinging so coldly to his body that it was almost painful, but this pain was in a way a welcome feeling as it reminded him that he was still alive, still able to get up and run when and if that became necessary.
When he dared move again he was as cautious as he could be, keeping his feet planted in the crushed willows and cold mud as he leaned forward inch by inch, his numb fingers parting the willows in front of his face in as organically a manner as he could manage, allowing himself to peer out and see if any of the Googlemen were still in the general vicinity. No sound met his ears but the moaning wind and the near mechanical falling of the rain onto the marsh; no light met his eyes but the dully reflected moonlight that was able to pierce the thick clouds in the sky shining off of the wetness all around him.
He knew he couldn’t trust his vision, his glasses being lost in the mud as he had ran from the Googlemen, but he assumed could trust his ears and his good judgment. There was no sound of anything human out there anymore. Moving millimeter by millimeter he worked to lift a foot from the muddied wallow he’d created for himself, making a mental note to remember to fluff up the willows when he departed, lest this obviously human-made depression in the marsh be spotted by a Googleman. As it was, he was taking enough of a risk attempting to flee via the marsh in the first place. Anything that went kiting through the willows was apt to leave a relatively noticeable crease through the usually undisturbed plants, and no doubt a trail of footprints to boot. However, in this rain Clarke surmised that any footprint he were to leave would be quickly swallowed up by the near liquefied ground beneath him, the marsh combined with the rain effectively erasing his trail as he made it.
At least, he could hope this would be the case. That was all he had left to do at this point.
His footing stabilized, he gradually drew himself to a crouching stand, too afraid still to stand upright but too much in pain to remain fully hunched over. The air was black as pitch around him, not even a subtle glow of an indigo night sky above the marsh was apparent. Everything was too clouded over; even the moon’s light hung like a dust covered lamp in the sky, its efforts to pierce the clouds too weak for it to act as an effective light by which to navigate, the dim beams lighting only the wet fringe of the willows that surrounded him on all sides.
Carefully—very carefully—he began to move again, every muscle intent on disrupting the willows he had nested in as little as possible. He had only to make it to the lake and he’d be free. Free forever.
But a step or two outside his protective nest, his ears picked up the sound of something hurrying through the willows behind him. Faint at first, slow but deliberate—and then in an instant the noise picked up and seemed to be joined by other noises from all sides around him. He had made not a sound—or so he thought—but yet they had found him. They had hunted him down, an unknown amount of the brutal Googlemen that had been dispatched hours ago to seek him out. He tried to remain quiet, but panic overtook him and he was moved by some blunt force of fear within him to move as quickly as he could, regardless of the consequences.
“Hey! Over there!”
The shot came a split second after the shout. Had Clarke not been anticipating this he would have surely been killed on the spot, but as it happened the bullet missed him as he preemptively had ducked out of the way.
He broke into a sprint—or as much of a sprint as he could get up to running through a marsh during a rain storm. The suction of the mud around his feet was agonizing, making him feel as if he were in one of those dreams where, no matter how hard you tried, you could never run fast enough from whatever it was that was coming to get you, or could never move fast enough to prevent yourself from being later than you already were to wherever the dream selected your presence to be desired.
He sloshed wildly as he attempted to run, the mud grabbing onto his feet, onto his ankles, pulling him down when he was making every possible effort to walk across it. He felt one shoe succumb to the mud, a hearty slop of a sound hitting his ears as he pressed onwards, too concerned with his life to worry about what possible hazards to a naked foot may lie in the marsh. He could almost feel them closing in on him from behind. The frantic shouts of the Googlemen were something he had been all too familiar with from his time in solitary confinement. He had heard them then as he heard them now, but it certainly was of a different feeling knowing that the shouts were for him, that these highly trained men were seeking out him, each one of them armed with god knows what weaponry, each one trained in the art of knowing how to murder another human being in less than fifteen seconds.
Clarke had no time for these thoughts now; now his thoughts were solely on finding the lake. The marshes in California were expansive and not very well kept, Clarke knew, but he also knew that they were riddled with lakes. Socrates had told him, perhaps in his greatest blunder, that this particular marsh held a particularly large lake…no, not a lake but a tributary…a river that bowed outwards like a lake near the middle of the marsh but eventually returned to its river-like slenderness as it wove through the patches of willow and lily pads until finally emptying out into the Pacific Ocean.
The ocean. That’s what he wanted. That’s what he needed. That was his survival now, reaching the great blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Never mind the hazards that such a journey would entail; as of now his goal was to reach the first leg of that journey, the first leg being the lake.
He was stumbling wildly now, feeling the tear of the bitterly cold mud at his bared ankles. The suction pulled at his jeans; had they been another centimeter around at the waist they would have surely been sucked the way of his shoe, but as it stood they were simply being yanked downwards, but not enough so so that he would lose them. His movements grew sloppier as his body, no longer able to ward off the coldness of the night despite his intense physical activity, was slowing down, becoming number and clumsier. But he couldn’t give up. He couldn’t let them get him. He turned his head in time to catch a search light, its hot white beam alarmingly close to him as it jutted through the tangle of willows he’d left behind.
The beams were creeping up all around him now, some of them shining in front of him as the Googlemen slowly over took him. Where was the lake? He could hear it, he could even smell it, smelling the placid, still water through all of that water which fell actively from the sky and bounced off of the plants around him. Through his near blindness, caused both by his horrible nearsightedness under his lack of glasses and the unrelenting raindrops falling into his eyes he thought he could make out…yes…a clearing! Ahead of him to the right! He couldn’t see the lake per se, of course, but what appeared to be a large area devoid of willows, a blacker shape against the blackness amongst the wet plants and muddy banks, could be nothing other than the lake he had so actively been pursuing for the past several hours.
Manically he dove through the willows at an almost inhuman speed for how exhausted he was, allowing himself the emitting of a hysterical yell, a yell of near triumph and of near freedom. It was doubtless that the Googlemen behind him, who were pressing up against his lead with an alarming closeness, heard this yell, as it was followed by a series of frantic shouts from the hunting group behind him.
He heard another shot ring out but was too focused on getting to the lake to take any sort of evasive action. As it was it didn’t matter, as the shot was a wild one and the bullet had no chance of hitting him even if he’d decided to stand up and be still. He was so close, so tantalizingly close…the only reason he had time to even contemplate how close he was to freedom was because the willows and mud and rain and slickness were preventing him from reaching his destination with the speed that his mind, body, and desire to live all wanted him to reach it.
But in another instant he was there, right on the bank, and it was as if time stood still as he took a running leap into the black pool of water that shone in the dulled moonlight like a well of ink. He was airborne for less than a second before hitting the water, and in another split second he was under.
It was then that he felt the shot.
As saturated as his clothes were, they didn’t prevent him from bobbing at the surface for no longer than half a second, the wet folds catching pockets of air as he dove towards the water, acting like over-effective sails in keeping him at the surface. One of the Googlemen must have seen—several of the Googlemen must have reached the edge of the water just as he’d taken his dive, as it registered simultaneously with the fact that he had been shot the fact that he could actually feel the warmth from the beams of their flashlights.
The sudden onslaught of sharp pain in his right shoulder, back behind his shoulder blade, made him expel all the oxygen he had taken hostage with him as he flew through the air towards the water. His lungs empty, his clothes finally saturated, he began to sink. He was barely aware of this and yet it was tantamount to his escape as being forefront on his mind. If he sank, his frantically worn through mind reasoned, they wouldn’t find him. He could sink and stay at the bottom until they left and then he could resurface and swim to the ocean, swim to freedom, by the light of the day.
By the light of the day…
By the light…
Today’s song: If We Ever Meet Again (feat. Katy Perry) by Timbaland