Sunday, September 1, 2013
A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: Sleepwalkers, Chapter 10
Everything has been leading up to this, right from Chapter 1. Even before I created the character of Wizard, I knew Paul and Co. would need somebody in Mount Weather who was in a position to help them - and to risk her own neck in the process. And even as I re-created Shara's character to make her Paul's nemesis, I knew she'd be the one who finally got a shot at General Hawthorne. The question is whether Shara can actually take her down. She hasn't put enough thought into her plan; that's obvious already, and you don't know the half of it yet. But who can blame her for rushing? Every moment she delayed put Wizard in more danger; and even though Paul seemed to be safe, Shara couldn't guarantee he'd stay that way. So she tried to balance the risk to her loved ones against her need for a viable plan. She just didn't get the mix quite right.
Originally, I meant for her showdown with Hawthorne (and Wizard's run from the Peacekeepers) to pass more quickly: Sleepwalkers would have finished with ten chapters instead of eleven. But the more I wrote, the more I realized I still needed to write, in order to do justice to this part of the story. So I split it in two. That's why Wizard's cliffhanger is kind of weak: "Yikes! She's running into an unknown room!" But haven't I given you enough big cliffhangers already? ;-) Especially the one I wrote for Shara at the end of the chapter. Of course, she'd have an easier time if she wasn't so damn moral, but she won't let those sleepwalkers die if she can save them. And let's face it: even if she was alone in the office with Hawthorne, she'd still be unarmed, un-armored, and half-dead. How could she hope to compete against an able-bodied raving paranoiac with a gun?
But on a lighter note, here's a story I've been looking forward to telling you. While I was writing Chapter 10, Wizard and Shara's resourcefulness rubbed off on me. I had accidentally locked myself out of my bathroom, and I didn't know how to get the door open without taking it off its hinges (That's something I know is possible, but I could never do on my own, and I'd have been really embarrassed to call a certain someone to come lend a hand).
The doorknob has a little hole in the center that leads to the locking mechanism, and when I was a kid, I was able to pick that sort of lock with a bent coat hanger; so I tried that again. Unfortunately, either I've lost the knack or else this lock is set up differently than the ones I picked as a kid. The coat hanger got me nowhere. Then I tried the old credit card trick you read about and see in movies. It doesn't work.
I thought again about calling that certain someone and braving the inevitable embarrassment, but Wizard and Shara were fresh in my mind. I knew they'd be able to solve the problem on their own; and since I'd created them, I should be able to solve this problem on my own. So first I studied the locking mechanism on my bedroom door (being careful not to actually lock that), and I saw that I'd need to squeeze something in between the latch and the jamb in order to push the latch back. Then I looked around myself and asked the same question Wizard did: "What do I have in here that I can use?" My eyes lit on a pair of curved fingernail scissors. The blades were thin enough to fit between the latch and the jamb, and the the sharp edges were hard enough to dig into the latch and give me some purchase. Well, folks, I used those damn fingernail scissors to force the latch back and open that bathroom door by myself! It might seem like a minor accomplishment to you, but it made me proud as hell. I'd lived up to Wizard and Shara's standards of resourcefulness.
One further note, and then I'm done for the day. I researched elevator shafts in preparation for writing Wizard's escape, just to make sure they had ladders she could use. They do. However, I didn't try very hard to make her entrance and exit from the shaft believable. That was on purpose. I realize there are plenty of people dumb enough to try a stunt like that in real life, but I'm not in the business of helping them.
*The photo at the top of this post is a still from Kill Bill, Part 1 - which is incidentally another story that was meant to be a one-off but eventually got split in two.