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[Author note] As some of you know, I am currently working on what is technically a horror novel, but has grown into a cross between a ghost story, a spy novel, and psychological thriller. I’ve been working on it for around the past two years, and it’s come a long way from faint scrawls on the back of scrap paper.
I’m driven in this book to subvert standard tropes, to make the stereotypes that’ve been heard before fresh, hopefully more entertaining, and (as is my want), more realistic.
Below, you’ll find an entirely unedited excerpt from the first chapter. This is the raw product, as it first came out of my head and bled onto the page. One day I will publish the final version of the exact same passage here for comparison to give an idea of just how much things can change. And believe me, it will change.
It might be beyond recognition by the time any of you see it again, but for now, and without any further ado, I humbly present an excerpt from my upcoming novel: <i>Disjuncture</i>.[/aesop_content]
Nadette Wähner let out a long breath and told herself to relax.
“EOCAD Test Unit 001 is online,” she reported. “Opening the container door.” Touching another button on her tablet, she keyed in the authorisation code and looked back up at the main view screen. The satellite image was grainy, but she could barely make out the doors of the metal container swinging ponderously open as Glass’s helicopters hovered around it. Letting out a deep breath, she looked to the director, who nodded curtly.
“Let ’em out.”
“Yes ma’am,” Nadette keyed in the next code. “Releasing EOCAD external restraints one through three.” Her fingers flicked over a series of buttons, and again she wished that they’d managed to get a camera inside the container working. But recording anything spiritual was extremely difficult, however, and the EOCADs were no exception. They had a tendency to play havoc with electronics, which was all the more reason her drones were such a triumph.
“Activating EOCAD GPS systems. Bringing it up on the main screen,” her fingers danced, and small green dots popped to life on the screen, jumped around for a moment as the locator chips she’d installed in each of the drones calibrated themselves, finally settling on the dark bulk of the container. “GPS online. Releasing EOCAD external restraints four through six.”
“Deploy,” Savauge ordered, and Nadette nodded without looking up.
“Releasing EOCAD external restrain seven,” she brushed her fingertip across CONFIRM and let out another long breath. “Deploying EOCAD Beta Unit 001.”
“Captain, the unit is now active.”
“Understood, sir!” Glass’s voice crackled over the speakers.
“Send Delta out.”
“Activating EOCAD Beta Unit 001 Delta,” Nadette tapped one of the little green dots, waited it for it to light up, then tapped the snow just outside the container.
Obediently, the green dot began to move.
“Captain Glass, EOCAD Delta has been ordered to leave the container,” Colonel Taggart said. “Can you confirm?” Static. “Glass, do you copy? Do you have a visual on EOCAD Delta?”
“Negative,” the transmission of Glass’s voice was thick with interference. “Got a bit of wind picking up here though, kicking up the snow. Hard to see anything. Bringing the chopper around for a better angle.” Taggart frowned, but nodded.
“Maintain safe distance, but proceed.”
“Yessir.” The satellite image flickered, becoming a blocky, incomprehensible wash of grey and white for a moment, then cleared up just as Glass’s helicopter moved to hover just a few dozen meters in front of the container’s doors. Delta’s green dot glowed between the two.
“Glass, do you have a visual?”
“Still nothing,” came the reply. “Nothing’s come out of the container at all.”
“Activate your GPS, captain,” Savauge ordered, speaking over Taggart. “You’ll see exactly where you should be looking.”
“We have, ma’am, we’re looking at Delta’s marker and it’s not there.” Taggart shot Nadette a look, and she shook her head.
“The GPS is working,” she said. “There’s no sign of any interference. Everything is still reading green.” Taggart frowned, looking to Savauge, who nodded.
“Power down the unit,” he said. “We’ll start again, and-”
“Sir?” Glass’s voice cut him off, and there was an edge to his voice that made something in Nadette’s gut curl. “Sir, do you read?”
“Go ahead, captain,” Taggart said, turning back to the screen. “What is it?” Static, then silence. “Captain?” Silence.
“Bring Blythe’s team in,” Savauge said quietly to a communications officer, just loudly enough for Nadette to hear. “Now.”
“Captain Glass?” Taggart tried again. “Do you read? Captain, respond.”
The green dots suddenly danced across the screen, disappearing and reappearing all over before vanishing entirely.
“Blythe’s unit en route. ETA three minutes.”
Nadette stared down at her tablet as the screen began to flicker, as every screen in the control room began to flicker. Flashing with white-grey snow or black bands.
“Dr. Wähner, what’s going on?” Savauge turned to her, but Nadette didn’t look up.
“I… I don’t know,” she tapped her tablet’s screen repeatedly. “We’re too far away for any type of spectral interference.”
“Then what kind of interference is it?”
“I don’t know, ma’am.” Nadette admitted, something cold churning inside now. “This… this shouldn’t be happening. This can’t be happening, we’re protected against-”
“Well, it clearly is happening, doctor.” Savauge straightened, looking quickly around the room before her gaze stopped on a young man with tousled blond hair. “You – you’re from IT? Figure this out.”
“I can’t, ma’am,” he said. “I can’t even see what’s happening with all this interference.” Other chimed in with thoughts, and conversation melted into a sudden cacophony that rose in the control room. Colonel Taggart trying to hail Glass, Blythe reporting that he was on approach, everyone trying to find out what was happening, but Nadette could only stare at her tablet and the single, flashing word that had suddenly appeared there.
“Director Savauge?” She said, quietly, then raised her voice and called out again. “Director Savauge?” The American turned to Nadette, who held up the tablet for her to see.
“What the…” Savauge’s eyes narrowed as she stepped forward to take the tablet from Nadette’s shaking hands.
A sudden silence fell on the control room, and Nadette looked around as each of the screens, one by one, went white and a single word in simple, black, font began flashing on them.
“Colonel Taggart?” The director’s eyes were fixed on the large screen as she broke the silence, almost absently handing the tablet back to Nadette.
“Do we still have communications?”
“We do, ma’am. Seems to be purely visual thing.”
“Good.” Savauge licked her lips. “Tell Lieutenant Blythe to hurry.”
“And lock this place down,” Savauge added, almost as an afterthought, eyes still glued to the mainscreen. “I don’t want anyone in or out.”
“Ma’am?” Nadette wrenched her eyes away from the screen.
“As of now you have two jobs,” Savauge said, her voice calm, quiet. “The first is to find my drones.”
“The second?” Savauge didn’t wait. “I want everything you have on her on my desk. Now.” She pointed to the screen, finally turning away from it to look at Nadette, who nodded, numbly, as the word “MOLLY” flashed incessantly on every screen in the room.