A Slice of Valence Drive, Anyone?

Overall status update: I don’t think I’m going to try and publish Valence Drive. There’s such a gap in my voice and writing ability between what I’m working on now and what I’ve already written that I think I would do better just moving on to the next project. Or someone could rewrite it for me. Working on Critical, a 1950’s Dieselpunk take on Les Miserables, and hoping to get that one finished soon. (most likely won’t get it done in time for NaNoWriMo. Not sure how I’m going to work that)

But, I don’t want to completely ditch Valence Drive. I like it, though not enough to finish it. So, I’ll be posting chapters here for you.

Part of it’s been rewritten, part of it is still raw enough that it needs work.

I’m also working on some new ideas to market my novels. If I can get the equipment I need for it, I’ll be letting everyone know.

Part One of Valence Drive

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Ringing the doorbell for Dr. Churchill was terrifying. He swallowed hard with his finger hovering just in front of the doorbell. The wrought iron fence along the second story decks had stared at him, yes, stared at him, as he made his way up the front yard to the front door. Exotic plants Dr. Churchill had never seen surrounded either side of the path. They had watched him too, he surmised.
Dr. Churchill gulped down his fear, straightened his jacket, and rang the doorbell. Then he had to gulp down his fear again. The sound of the bell echoed with the sound of a horror film.
The door opened without a noise. “Dr. Churchill! I’m glad you could make it.” A man who had been molded from the richest cookie-cutter beckoned him in. “I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show up.” He laughed and ushered the doctor in.
“Well, thank you for the, uhm, invitation, Mr. Ballast.” Doctor Churchill gazed up at the chandelier in the front entryway.
“Please, call me Gerard. Mr. Ballast sounds like my work followed me home.”
“Oh my.” Dr. Churchill froze in the front entryway.
“It’s not that bad.” Gerard strolled up a step to a sideboard set with decanters, glasses, and an ice bucket. “I just find I need to differentiate between what’s expected of me at work and what I’m allowed to do at home.” He glanced back at his guest, who was staring at a chandelier in the front entryway. “Oh, that. My wife and I purchased that the last time we were in France. I don’t like it so much, but happy wife, happy life, am I right?”
“It’s the biggest collection of crystal I have ever seen.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, coming from you.” Gerard offered a glass to the doctor.
“Coming from me?” Dr. Churchill repeated. “Oh, right. Well, I don’t deal so much with crystals and precious stones. Fossils are more intriguing to me than any polished piece of earth.”
“I like that attitude.” Gerard pointed at the doctor as he lead his guest to a sitting room. “It’s your area of expertise that I need the most right now.” He took a seat in a large leather recliner and offered the matching couch to Dr. Churchill.
“Well, if you wanted to know about genetic paleontology, I’m sure our research facility would have been more accommodating.” Dr. Churchill took a seat and immediately placed the untouched glass on the coffee table in front of him. “I’m not sure what I can do without any equipment or visuals.”
Gerard shrugged and sipped his drink. “I’m just wanting a casual progress report on the project I’m funding.”
“Progress report? I-I think the lab would be necessary, then. I can’t really describe the progress we’ve made without something to show for it.”
Gerard waved the formality away. “I get long reports filled with scientific jargon every time I write a check. I’m interested in what you have to say on it.” He took a sip of his drink. “Unless you’d rather spend more time in the office.”
“Okay…” Dr. Churchill glanced around the room, “What do you want to know?”
“I want to hear your enthusiasm.” Gerard leaned forward in his seat. “As a genetic paleontologist I thought you’d be pleased to head the dinosaur genome project.”
“Of course I’m very excited to be leading researchers in this project.” Dr. Churchill’s voice rose. “Just in the course of finding enough segments from various fossils and remains has lead to several patents, not to mention the sheer joy at seeing so many fragments come together into something we can use. It’s the closest we’re ever going to get to time travel, if I can be so bold.”
“Usable prehistoric DNA. Micheal Crichton would be proud.” Gerard swirled the ice in his drink. “It’s Jurassic Park come to life.”
Dr. Churchill shook his head. “Crichton got it all wrong. It’s poor fiction to say the least.”
Gerard raised an eyebrow.
“Well, in order to complete the gaps in the DNA fragments, the scientists in Jurassic Park used frog DNA. Would never work. Every species they created in the book is the ancestor of a bird, not an amphibian. Or even a reptile, for that matter.”
“You seem to have thought this through.”
Dr. Churchill laughed nervously. “I have a doctorate in paleontology with a double specialty in genetics and dinosaur physiology. I could have proved him wrong in my sleep.”
“I stand corrected. Now, the latest report says that you’re in the last leg of piecing together genomes. Is that correct?” Gerard’s eyes practically glowed in the lamplight.
“We are. In just a few months we’ll have the first completed strand of dinosaur DNA. Your years of funding this project wouldn’t have been in vain.” Dr. Churchill announced. “I can’t imagine how many more decades we would’ve needed if we didn’t have your funding or this ideal location.”
Gerard turned his attention to the view behind the doctor. The city of Alpine rose up from his backyard and moved with the glow from a thousand lights. “I love Utah. The people here save so much just out of the idea that somehow, at sometime what they have will prove useful to somebody.”
“Erm, yes. The access to Thanksgiving Pointe and their fossil specimens have been crucial in our research.”
“Good. That’s just splendid.”
“Of course, you’ll be there when we unveil the image of the completed strand. I’ll see to it that you’re recognized for your efforts.”
Gerard considered this with a nod. “You know what would really make a statement? Start incubating the strand once it’s complete. I’d like a sample of it. Call it a token entrusted to me for my years of support.”
“Why would you want a strand of Velociraptor DNA? Wouldn’t a plaque be more appropriate?”
“Well, sure, if I were like every other multi-millionaire philanthropist collecting trophies.” Gerard chuckled at his own joke. “But I’m wanting more of a direct result of the great work of you and your team.”
“I suppose there wouldn’t be any harm in having a sample ready for you.”
“Excellent. I knew you were someone I could rely on.”
The conversation drifted to lighter arenas. Eleven o’clock chimed on the grandfather clock before Dr. Churchill could excuse himself.
After seeing his guest off, Gerard finished his drink and made his way upstairs to his bedroom and sat down at one end of the queen-sized bed.
His phone rang. He picked it up to see the name of the woman who used to occupy the bed he now sat on. “It’s a little late for you to be calling, Nita.” He lay back down on the bed.
“Oh, don’t give me that, you were always a night owl.” Nita’s voice dripped with smugness. “Anyways, I’m just calling to let you know that I’ll be stopping by tomorrow with my brother and his trailer to pick up the last of my things.”
“That’s what I meant. I justfinished replacing all the furniture you’ve already taken.”
“Oh, really? I guess my lawyer didn’t get as much out of you as he should have. Oh, well, I’ll be by tomorrow around one. Marissa says hi.” The phone clicked off before Gerard could say anything.
Gerard took two deliberate breaths as he pulled himself upright. Then he threw his phone at his dresser. The sound of glass breaking shook him from his anger.
Of all the things that could have broken, he told himself, it had to be a picture of that woman holding hisdaughter. Nita’s smile underneath the shards of glass mocked him.
Anger drained from Gerard’s face to form an expressionless mask. He picked up the entire mess and carried downstairs to the kitchen. With a pair of scissors he cut the picture in half and dumped his ex-wife and the broken frame into the trash before pouring himself another drink.
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