Excerpts from my new novel The Revisionists
My new novel The Revisionists is coming in March. It's the story of Cal Trove and his invention of technology which can alter reality itself, change history. He brings his friends from his college days to his island dominion where he is surrounded by hundreds of his employees who are devoted to him utterly. Cal is excited to unveil Revision. He wants his friends, all of whom he says are the smartest people he knows, to help him alter all of reality.
He seems to have no clue what the consequences might be.
The following excerpts are flashes forward from the main story. The first opens the novel. The second comes a bit later.
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Victor Wardlow stood in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, his long coat hanging low against his knees and the sleeves dangling to the wrists. It was too warm for the coat, and he twitched and pulled at the sleeves and the collar because it itched. His mouth hung slack and he stared at the fountain. The one with the faces on it. The various faces change and keep changing. The faces followed a pattern of slow motion staring, smiling and pursing their lips while a stream of water shot from a hole in the monument as if the giant faces were spitting at everyone. He stared at it because it was real.
He was sure of that much.
Millennium Park had become his favorite place in the entire city because it was real and the same as it always had been. He was sure.
Kids and families laughed and danced in the pool of water between the two monoliths with faces. It was just enough for them to get their feet wet. They splashed around and kids laughed.
None of them seemed real, though.
He watched a woman with blond hair grab her little girl and lift the tiny human up in her arms. The little girl laughed and clapped.
It wasn't real.
Victor looked down at his right hand. The newspaper he bought was still there. The paper was real, but the things on it were not real. Hardly anyone bought newspapers anymore, but such a thought didn't matter. Nothing mattered. Nothing was real.
On the front page was a story about a new spacecraft leaving from the space center in Florida to the space station. It was the next aspect of the Space Shuttle program. Standing there, watching from the VIP gallery, shown in a photo next to one of the vehicle launching, was the elderly John F. Kennedy, the man who had started the entire space program with a speech all those years ago. Next to him was his son, the current President entering his third term, was JFK, Jr.
Victor scowled and wiped his head.
That wasn't right. None of that was right.
Words and images flashed through his mind.
Texas. Book Depository. Jackie. A convertible. Oswald.
More images flashed. Images of a space shuttle. A space shuttle falling apart not long after take off.
More words, too.
NASA. O-Rings. Cold.
He stared once more at JFK, Jr., too. Third term? Presidents weren't supposed to have third terms, right? He was pretty sure. He remembered. Then he got more flashes.
A private plane. Underwater. Martha's Vineyard.
He let out a low moan and threw the paper down. The wind took it and blew it into the water. He watched the water soak through the images and dampen the paper. His mind felt that way a lot late. Like things seeped into it and covered the pictures.
It wasn't real. This wasn't real. He had been feeling like this for a while now. When was the last time he thought things were real? Years now. Others looked at him like he was crazy when he tried to tell them. He tried to tell them the space shuttle blew up in 1986. He tried to tell them about Dallas in 1963.
They had tried to lock him up. The gave him medication. It stopped the memories, for a while, but they came back during the night in his dreams and he left that place. Lived on the streets now and his head hurt.
It felt like his head was going to explode. Maybe if it exploded, he would let out these memories and things would go back to normal.
He had been planning for a while. It took months of panhandling and robbing people and getting the money together to buy all of the stuff he needed to make things right. It took more months to push it aside and assemble the pieces to create the thing he wore around his waist and chest that would make things right. It would let the right memories out.
"NONE OF THIS IS REAL!" he screamed.
Victor threw open his coat. Several of the men, women and even the children screamed when the saw the thick belt and vest he wore beneath. Before anyone could do anything, Victor Wardlow blew himself, and dozens of others, to pieces.
Connor Drisson sat in his office on the fiftieth floor of the National Bank Building overlooking Central Park. He had worked a long, long time to get here and get his view. Most of the time, in years past, he loved the view. Today, though, something was wrong. He knew it was wrong, but everyone else went about their day as if nothing was different.
He looked down at his computer and could find nothing about airplanes smashing their way into the Twin Towers. All of the stories were about a massive terrorist plot broken up by the FBI and the U.S. military response which had taken out Osama Bin Laden and all of his men.
Also, for some reason, Saddam was still in power. He remembered, certainly, the image of the vicious dictator hanging by his neck. He knew his nephew had gone off to war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan looked like it would end up being the longest conflict in U.S. history. None of this was there in the news, now.
He was working downtown when it happened. He was sure of it. He remembered how the planes hit. He remembered coming out of his office, staring up and seeing the smoke, with people asking questions all around. Then the image of people jumping or falling. All of it. Running in a panic down the street when the buildings collapsed.
This morning, though, when he stood outside his apartment and looked east, he saw them standing there. Bright and shiny and as if nothing ever happened.
His head hurt.
He looked through the computer screens again, but there was nothing. Just information about the CIA finding information overseas and the FBI getting involved and INTERPOL and other organizations. Then the military responded and people being arrested. It was massive.
The funny thing was, he remembered all of this, too.
One minute he remembered everything he read here just fine. Yes, this was the way things went. It was a glorious moment for law enforcement, the military and the President. There had been a huge surge of patriotism, flag-waving, and then things just went back to normal. The insane coverage of sharks on the east coast resumed the headlines and dominated the rest of the summer.
He remembered that, too. He had canceled a trip to Florida.
Except, he also remembered going to Florida. He remembered wondering if there would be a flight and the absence of planes in the sky.
His head hurt so bad. It felt like it was going to split open and splatter all over the desk and the wall. He had taken pills, but his head still hurt so bad.
He felt like he was going crazy. So many memories at the same time. He rubbed his temple. He looked out the window.
Nothing out there seemed real. Not anymore.
People walked past his office. Someone waved to him and he waved back.
He had to stop the pain. Nothing made sense. Nothing made sense at all anymore.
He stood, pushing himself away from his desk and stared out the window again. It was gorgeous. Blue sky. Gentle breezes. That was how he remembered it on the day the towers came down, too. The towers that were no longer down.
He grabbed his chair and went to the far end of the office. Then, after a moment, he ran forward, throwing it with all his might. The metal wheels hit the window and the glass exploded outward. Had the towers come down, he wondered if the glass would have been stronger. Immediately, the wind blew in and tugged at his shirt.
He walked to the broken window and looked down. People on the street scattered as the glass and chair cascaded down. He hoped he didn't hurt anyone. Not that it mattered. Nothing mattered. This wasn't real.
He lifted his head and looked over the green of Central Park. It was beautiful. So much beauty in such an ugly city. Ugly world.
He stepped off the edge.