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Thread: Trying to get published.

  1. #1
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    Default Trying to get published.

    I have been writing a story and I got to the point where I have had family read chapters of it. After several iterations of editing and reviewing, my family wants me to submit a chapter to a publisher. So. Let me know what you think and remember you can't be any more brutal than an older brother and sister.

    Copyrighted material follows:

    2020, 2021 All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author, except as permitted by US and international copyright law.



    Disclaimer:
    This is a work of fiction. Names of people, characters, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination and used in a fictitious manner. Some references to real places, incidents, and historic events are mentioned, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary. Any opinion or meaning beyond the simple use of those places, incidents, and historic events exist only in the mind of the reader. Opinions expressed by the characters, are the opinions of the characters and not the author or the publisher.


    Chapter 6


    Rick watched the house, like he had watched the house for weeks. Waiting. Weighing. Deciding. He knew his presence in that house would change everyone's life. Just like his had almost two years before, but it was something he needed to do. He needed to contact these people.


    They came for him in the middle of the night. Black bag over the head and his whole world came to an end. Rick didn't remember getting hit over the head, but he did remember waking up in a cramped holding cell, pulling a shroud off his head. There were 20 or 30 other people there and through the worst headache he had ever experienced, he could see others pulling sacks off themselves, looking around, talking in hushed tones.


    He wondered if the echoes of their voices would be silenced, or that smell of fear, or the look of dispare on their faces. No. those will be with him for the rest of his life, because he knew he sounded like that. He smelled like that. He looked like that.


    “Focus, dude.” he told himself.
    “Focus” as he brought himself to the present.


    It was cold enough that night to see his breath, so he took care to breathe through his shamagh, slowly so his breath couldn't be seen. He picked a place slightly higher than his brother's house, just to the South, where the moon rose and set to Rick's right. That way the moon wasn't in his eyes, but wasn't behind him and light up his silhouette for all to see. Amazing how training and habit took over. He could still hear his DI yelling at him not to “hide” at the side of a tree. People tend to notice, when the trees grow people shaped lumps at their bases. “Down for 20”.
    “I wonder where that bastard is now?” Rick asked himself, his mind wandering.
    “Lots of voices in my head, tonight. Lots of voices.”


    “Focus, dude.” he told himself.
    “Got to stay focused” as he brought himself to the present, again.


    He watched as one by one the lights go out in the house below. He knew the routines of the house. He should. He had been watching the place for weeks. He knew who went to bed at what time, who stayed up and watched TV. Who snuck down stairs for a midnight snack. Tonight was the night. His brother Mark, and his wife Lisa were in bed. The house was empty. His nieces on their planes back to school. The holidays over and everything returning back to normal.


    He slowly got up from his nest. Staying on all fours, he policed the area. He replaced the leaves, scattered twigs and ruffed up the area around his nest. He took a quick survey his surroundings, and saw nobody was watching. Nobody was out for a midnight stroll. No stray dogs. Nothing. Nobody. He replaced the blackberry vines that shrouded his nest and made his way to the house. He picked this night, because there was no frost on the ground. It would be tough to explain a neat set of tracks that wound around the views of the outside cameras, leading to an obvious nest spot. He will have to talk to his brother about camera placement and overlapping views.


    Being under the watchful eye of cameras for so long, gave Rick an almost sixth sense about where they were, where they were pointed, and where the hidden paths he needed to walk could be found. He was sure that had saved him on several occasions in the camp. The guards would appear out of nowhere and snatch up someone, who had just minutes before leaned against a wall to catch their breath, or keep from falling. Or the boy who just a few weeks after arriving at camp, kicked a stone down to his workplace. They made him swallow that rock and laughed as he choked to death on it.


    “Focus, dude. Focus, dude.” he told himself.
    “We are almost there.” His mantra returned him to the present, again.


    He had run out of food the day before, waiting for a frost free night. That was barely an inconvenience. After months of starvation, what was another missed meal or two? He remembered being so hungry it hurt even after eating. He remembered his hair falling out, his teeth loosening. Of course the teeth were probably more to do with the beatings, than starvation, he mused. Sometimes the guards would withhold food for days, and lay out a feast, such as it was. More torture. They knew people would gorge on the food, roll on the floor for hours with painful cramps and throw it all up. They would even take bets, who would lose it first. All torture.


    “Focus, dude.” he told himself.
    “Got to stay focused. Just a few more yards.” as he joined himself to the present, again.


    Rick finally reached the door; the ghosts asleep, the glamour at bay. He knocked at the door. Knocked again, and again. He could hear voices coming from inside the house. He was about to knock again, when the porch light came on, the hall light came on, and his brother's voice behind it. “What do you want?”
    “Open the door, you idiot! It's me!”
    “Rick?!” “You are supposed to be dead.”
    “Obviously I am not. Can we do this inside?”


    The door opened and there he was. Six feet One inch tall, thin. Almost painfully thin. Long hair and a full beard. Rick was dressed in jeans, a wool shirt, a knit cap, scarf, tucking his glasses into a shirt pocket


    Rick pushed past his brother and walked into the hall way and stopped at the foot of the stairs.
    “Turn off the damn lights!”
    “Don't turn on any lights, until you draw the drapes. All of them.”
    “Why the secrecy?”
    “How the hell did you get here?”
    “What are you doing alive?”
    “Where the hell have you been?”
    “Shut-up and move!” Rick urged, as his brother toward him
    “These questions and more will be answered as soon as you close that ****ing door and draw the ******* drapes!” He hissed.
    “All right, all right” His brother went from window to window, and shut the drapes and the shades, one by one.
    “You know the sun doesn't come up for a few hours so there is no chance of you bursting into flames until then”
    “This isn't the time for jokes.”
    “What the hell happened to you? You look like ****.”
    “Honey” The voice from upstairs called down.
    “I called the police like you said”
    “Oh God.” They both said in unison.
    “Tell me you aren't a member of the party”
    “Everyone is a member of the party. Just some are better placed than others” His brother replied.
    “Which are you?”
    “Not so well placed.”
    “Good. That means the police won't be here for at least an hour.”
    “When they come, just tell them some drunk was beating on your door, and left before you could figure out who it was.” “Can you do that?”
    “Simple enough.” His brother, Mark said.
    “Is there a room we can go to, that isn't so exposed?”
    “That would be the basement.”
    “No. That's the first place they will look. How about your office, behind the kitchen?”
    “How do you know so much...” Mark started.
    “Honey, who are you talk... Oh my God!” Lisa almost screamed. “Who are you? We don't have anything worth stealing...”
    “Honey, it's Rick. Don't you recognize him?”
    “My God. You look like hell.”
    “Thanks. I hear that a lot. You should have seen me before I put on all this weight.”
    “What the hell happened to you?” She asked.
    “Do you want anything to eat? Drink?” Remembering her manners.
    “Both, if you please. Nothing big. Coffee.”
    “Of course”
    They moved to the office. It was a small room behind the kitchen, originally included in the floor plan as a pantry, but Mark expanded it and turned it into an office. It was located on a short hallway on the way to the garage and across from the laundry room. There were shelves up to the ceiling sparsely populated by books and the occasional trophy or chachki. The shelves used to contain many more books, if the dust outlines were any indication. A nice oriental rug over a short pile carpet was in the center of the room. A desk occupied one corner facing out into the room and a couple chairs with a side table and lamp between them, completed the set.


    Rick walked around the room, looking at shelves, the wood, the carpet, and clearly stalling for time. Finally Rick perched on top of one of the chairs almost facing the door. Too light to properly sink into the soft cushion, he looked out of place, sitting there. The lamp beside him, made Rick look more like a cadaver, than a person, as it weakly lit the room.


    “What happened, Rick” Lisa asked.
    As he was about to answer a “Ding!” could be heard from the kitchen and Lisa went out to check on it. Leaving Rick and Mark staring at each other in uncomfortable silence.


    “What happened to my wife, Mark?”
    “She was killed, the night you disappeared The police said you killed her.”
    “They did, huh? ”
    “What about my son?”
    “He was arrested a couple days after you, and was shot while trying to...”
    “Escape. Don't these bastards ever come up with something original?” Rick completed
    “Of course. So that's it, then.” Rick said as he lapsed into silence.


    What did happen, Rick” Mark finally asked.
    “Let's wait for Lisa. These type of things should be repeated as few times as possible and I don't want to have to re-live them any more times than I have to. Living through it was enough”


    Lisa returned with cups of coffee, some microwave egg rolls, and a few other things from the kitchen.


    Rick unbuttoned the sleeve of his shirt and pushed it back above the elbow, exposing a tattoo.


    “What I am about to tell you needs to be told. Needs to be told to as many people as possible. It needs to be told so it lives on, beyond you or I. So people are warned.


    People are told about reeducation camps, but how many of these to you see?” Showing them the inside of his arm. The tattoo ran from about 3 inches above his wrist toward his elbow, in simple, almost scrawled lettering. The lettering was not straight or even. It curved off, to the inside of his arm and got smaller as it got closer to his elbow.
    “Did they make it crooked like that on purpose?” Lisa asked, her eyebrows furrowed in concentration, as she tried to absorb the meaning of the tattoo.


    “No.” Rick said, as he stood and put his hands behind his head.


    Even though the pushed back sleeve now partially covered the last character, the tattoo straightened out and centered in full view, no longer running off center and curving to his elbow. The edges became crisp, and the lettering lined up evenly at the same height. There in green-black ink about three quarters of an inch tall “28125 A” was printed in his skin and easily read. His brother and his wife looked at the lettering, not understanding the significance.


    “This is how the guards see the identification number. When they enter a room or address you, or come near, the prisoners stop what they are doing, stand and put their hands behind their heads like I am now. Failure to do this quickly, results in a beating, at best.”


    He sat back down, smoothed out the sleeve and re-buttoned the cuff. As if nothing were out of the ordinary, he stirred some sugar into his coffee, inhaled the steam, and took a long sip. Letting the warmth relax the muscles in his throat so he could talk. It spread warmth in his belly, Rick relaxed a little and closed his eyes as he continued.


    “They came for me. It was before dawn. Way before I used to get up. I remember a loud sound from the front of the house, some shouting, bright lights and nothing until I woke up. That's when my nightmare started.” He took another quick sip of coffee.


    “ I was in a holding cell of some sort, with about twenty or thirty other people. Every so often, the door would open and another hooded person was thrown into the cell like... like...” Rick paused.
    “sacks of flour?” Lisa offered.
    “No. Sacks of garbage. People treat food much more gently. We were human refuse.”
    Rick continued “After a while they loaded us into the back of a truck. No seats, nothing to hold on to. They didn't care. They just crammed us in, closed the door, and took off. I don't think they cared if we made it to where ever we were going.”


    “Remember, these are not re-education camps. They are death camps, like Auschwitz or Dachau.” Rick said as he chewed the corner off of an egg roll.


    We were in there long enough for the air to get stale. We were in there long enough that people had to sit down. So we took shifts, because there wasn't enough room in the container for us all to sit. We were in there long enough that people started to fall asleep on their feet. We were in there long enough that people had to go to the bathroom. There were no bathrooms there. There was nothing. We beat on the sides of the truck. Nothing. Finally the inevitable happened. We were there long enough that we didn't notice the smell any more. When we finally arrived, there were a couple people in our truck, that would not wake up. They were alive, but wouldn't wake up. They were shot, right in front of everyone. Just shot. My first task was to take a couple of these people and throw them onto a pile of people, who had also been shot.


    They herded us into a hallway, told us we stink and then hosed us down with cold water. We were then told to strip off our clothes. We were all together. Men. Women. Children. They hosed us all down again.
    We were marched down the end of the hallway which opened up into a chute and we pressed together even tighter. I looked around and saw many of these chutes with many people being processed. They asked my name. They took my watch, I wasn't wearing a ring, but I am sure they would have taken that as well. I was then cuffed, and hung up on my toes, where they shaved off all my hair and beard. They searched me”


    “Searched you? You weren't wearing anything. What were they going to search?” Lisa asked.
    “Body cavity. Girls have an extra one. They weren't gentle” Rick said.


    “That's horrible” Lisa mumbled.


    “Remember. These places aren't Re-education camps.”
    “While I was hanging there, they gave me that tattoo and lowered me to the floor. They gave me very tight fitting pants and a shirt I couldn't button closed. Laughing at me saying not to worry, the clothes would grow onto me.”


    You remember, when I played Santa one year at your church?
    “I remember. The kids pulled your beard and poked your belly.” Mark said.
    “Yeah. Those days are over. I am not the jolly person, I once was. I am a third of the man I used to be and you are seeing me AFTER I have gained thirty pounds.”


    “Sounds terrible” Lisa offered.
    “You don't...” a knock at the door, interrupted their conversation. Lisa went to the door and Mark pushed on a shelf of the book case and the whole section swung in.
    “Get in. It latches when you press it closed.” Mark whispered, handing a cup and plate to Rick. He too disappeared down the hallway to get the front door.


    Rick was alone, holding a half filled cup of coffee in one hand and an empty plate in the other, standing in front of stacks of books piled neatly against the back wall. Petrified and unable to make a sound, Rick stood like a statue, willing himself invisible.


    The guard paced up and down the row between the pallets. Each prisoner standing, feet slightly apart. Hands clasped behind their heads. Tattoos showing. Rick stood with the others, willing himself to become invisible, fighting the urge to even so much as twitch. The guard passed him, stopped and turned and the sound of his club hitting flesh could be heard as the only sound, echoing in the room. The prisoner behind Rick fell to the floor under the blow.


    “I did not give you permission to move!” as the next blows landed.
    “I am sorry, sir!” the prisoner replied
    “I did not give you permission to speak!” as the guard delivered more blows.
    Pointing to the unconscious prisoner, the guard told his two assistants “Remove this prisoner”
    With that the three left. Prisoner 29387 A dragging between the two assistants. The gunshot rang out shortly after. How many? Hundreds. Rick known as prisoner 28125 A saw hundreds if not thousands die in that camp. He survived.


    “...And you say this person left before you answered the door?” queried the stranger as they made their way into the office
    “Yes, sir.” Rick replied.
    “How did you know he was drunk?”
    “I don't. Really. I just assumed, who but a drunk would be out on a night like this?”
    “Yes. Who?” Said the officer. “So you and your wife decided to make coffee and a meal?”
    “She was so upset, we needed to do something to calm her down.”
    “What about the cameras I saw coming in?” the officer asked.
    “I don't think those even work, any more. They are mostly for show.”
    “Show” the officer said.
    Another voice interrupted. “Sir, there is another call, sir. A stranger walking after curfew about a half a mile from here.”
    “Maybe our drunk?”
    “Maybe, sir.” the other officer replied.
    With that the officers left. Mark and his wife closed and locked the front door, and returned to the office, where they found Rick, behind the bookcase, standing with a cup of coffee in one hand, empty plate in the other, Eyes closed, almost silently chanting, “I am not here. I am not here. I am not...”


    “Rick! Wake up, bro. They are gone.”
    Mark turned down the light further and Rick took his seat. The trio staring at each other. Sip coffee. Stare. Eat a little something. Stare. Sip. Stare. Finally Rick continued.


    “Remember. These aren't re-education camps. They are death camps. Prisoners are worked to death, starved to death, beaten to death, tortured to death, and sometimes just for the hell of it, guards will just kill someone for no reason at all. Either way, nobody makes it out of these camps alive. That is why you have never seen one of these tattoos.”


    “The first work detail I was on, was digging a twelve foot, by forty foot trench about six feet deep.”
    “My second work detail, was to gather the bodies of those prisoners who died during the night and put them in one of the trenches. That detail became an almost full time job. When someone starves to death, they die of something else. The body becomes so weak, it can't fight off infections, disease, or anything. It's a horrible way to go.
    I would start in the morning gathering the dead from the barracks, and then I would visit the work sites to gather the fallen during the day.”


    “I gotta know. How did you escape? Mark asked.


    “Oh that comes much later.” Mark said.
    “The guards were right. I shrunk into my clothes. I shrunk to the point, where I had to tie my pants up, because they had become too big. I don't know how much weight I had lost, but for the first time in my life, I could see all my ribs and my skin was drawn tightly over my bones. So tight, you could see the muscles underneath. I was so weak.


    Maybe that is what the guards noticed. I couldn't lift the bodies very well, anymore. In fact, I wasn't looking much different than the bodies I was taking out to the trenches. Not much different at all. One day, the guards found me, beat me a little, and tossed me into the can. It's where they punish prisoners for what ever infraction they dream up. Mostly it is another place to kill prisoners. It is a piece of corrugated pipe about thirty inches in diameter and about four feet tall. It has a conical, hinged lid over it that locks into place. In the summer, the sides get hot enough to sear skin. In the winter the sides are cold enough to freeze it. You don't get any food or drink in the can and there you stay until they remove you a day, couple days, maybe even a week later. What ever comes out of the can doesn't live very long. The body can't heal when it is starved, and the can deeply injures people. I was in there a day, when I was awoken by hammering on the top of the can. At first I thought it was some new cruelty inflicted by the guards. I looked out and saw hail stones about the size of golf balls falling all around. The clouds were an ominous green-black. It was a while before I figured out what the roar was. Even longer before I figured out it was getting closer.”

    “Tornado”
    “Yep. Tornado. Oh, how I prayed it would take me up. Put an end to this quickly, and my prayer was answered. Something sheared the top of the can almost clean off. I had to pull it back and hold it down. The next thing I know, I am looking up at the tops of the trees outside of the camp. I got slapped around pretty hard as the can hit the tree tops, and I finally came to rest in the middle of someone's corn field.”
    July 4, 1776 - November 4, 2020
    RIP USA

  2. #2
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    Good read
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

  3. #3
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    Good stuff, CU. Hope it doesn't become a prelude to what may lie ahead.

  4. #4
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    It's easy to self-publish on Amazon. I'm working on my 4th and 5th books, plus a screenplay adapted from my first book. Lots of info at KDP (link), if you don't mind dealing with Amazon.

    The hardest part is marketing. Good luck, CU !

    Last edited by TheCitizenPatriot; 11-22-2020 at 10:02 PM.

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