I watched reality shows… well, okay, bits of them… to see if I could pick up some bits and pieces to make this one feel authentic to readers who watch them.
Not that I’ve never watched a reality show before, but I do have an allergy to the format in general. But that’s neither here nor there.
So far, this story is heading toward novella territory, over 17,500 words (or roughly 70 paperback pages). It’s a near-future yarn, in which your living room television is augmented by feeds of the actual emotions of the actors. The main character snatches victory from the jaws of defeat with the help of an unexpected friend, Galore Holland. Her death triggers a great deal of difficulty for the protagonist, Chad Miklos. It may cost him everything… or catapult him into even greater fame.
There might be more going on. I’m still writing. But here’s a little excerpt from the rough draft, as Chad flees a party at which his agent, Isaac Chen, has been haranguing him in a most unwelcome fashion:
I got into my car and told it to take me to the coast.
“Would you like…” the feminine voice of the computer started.
“Shut up. Most direct route to the nearest coastline. Top speed.”
Under me, sixteen electric motors thrummed like sixteen Satans playing bass fiddle, four on each half-axle. The late great supercars of the past couldn’t match the acceleration of a GMMS Peregrine. The car whipped down the wide driveway so hard my vision blurred. It wove through the city streets and up onto the highway without stopping; the red light had been conquered in the last generation with the death of manual drive. Top speed, though, was limited by road and conditions; the computer topped it out at 275 km/h in the patchy rain. I pushed the sliding top open and adjusted the seat as high as it would go. The wind bellowed in my ears as my head cleared the roof. The raindrops slammed into my face in waves, like swarms of bees stinging the flesh raw. My eyes narrowed down to the thinnest slits possible in self-preservation. All I could see was the red blur of the Peregrine’s hood and smears of green from passing trees through the raindrops caught in my eyelashes.
I rode like that all the way to the coast. I let the car idle for half an hour in the parking lot of a nameless beach overlook, watching the waves. I had no idea where I wanted to go from there, so I told it to take the scenic route home, reclined the seat, and went to sleep.
I dreamed of sitting in the bushes with Galore, on the ruins of an old parka, drinking cheap tequila out of a paper bag.
“Just don’t forget me,” she said, and I woke up in my dark garage gagging. The car was off but the computer was always paying attention. It rolled the window down in time for me to puke on the concrete floor.
The show must go on.