Saturday, November 1, 2008

Part I, section 1 (The first 1000 words)

[I'm not worried about grammar or spelling at this point. It is all supposed to be about word count. I'd be interested in feedback on plot and character development.]

Part I

He awoke with a start, disoriented from crossing the space that fills the void between dreams and reality. He rubbed his eyes and looks around the dimly lit room. The glow of LEDs and computer screens lit the walls with an eerie glow of red, green and blue. His eyes came to rest on the monitor glowing in front of him. On the screen in front of him was something that made his heart jump. The Answer! It must be a dream. He had run these calculations so many times that the appearance of negative results had become routine, expected. After hours of churning through billions of calculation, the computer was displaying a diagram on the screen was evidence that the calculations had been successful. He lurched to a standing position in front of the monitor, the chair wheeling backward in an uncertain trajectory, both hands pressing his head as if struck with another in a series of painful migraines. "Just dreaming", he murmured to himself, eyes tightly shut as his heart beat slowed from the thunderous pounding the revelation had started. He had been working on this problem for so long the hope for a solution had faded long ago. It had been months since the last major breakthrough. He had been at the end of a series of experiments that were looking more and more improbable the farther he pushed the parameters. But with the denial that came with many addictions, he had decided to run another analysis with the variables set well outside of what he believed was reasonable. It had taken hours of computing time, but the answer in front of him told him that it had payed off.

He went to the window, pulled the shade aside, and stared out into the dimly lit surroundings. It felt like dawn should be showing, but it was clearly still a ways away. The light of a partial moon outlined the trees across the empty meadow beyond a crooked fence. The faint shadow of the nearby barn sliced across the unkempt grass surrounding his trailer. A look at his watch told the truth - 3:45 a.m. His head felt clearer, and his belief in the reality of the situation solidifying. He turned to look once more at the glowing monitor with its unexpected display. He walked over to the desk and flipped the switch on the lamp that hovered over over a disorganized pile of papers and note books. The open notebook on top of the stack contained the scribblings and notations of what would have seemed to him to have been alien all but a few years ago. Now he glanced over the equations with a weary familiarity that had come from years of intensely focused study. He checked the underlined figures with the inputs list on the screen. Yes, they checked. He looked again at the three-dimensional graph that rotated slowly in the results window. It was just has he had imagined, although the reality of seeing it there in front of him had yet to full sink in. Had he missed something? A long line of assumptions had to be verified. A new set of eyes on the problem. Who could he trust? He pulled a cell phone from his back pocket, flipped it open, and began scrolling down the contact list. Marshall would have to look at this. He was the one who had put him on this line of investigation. He would surely be the one to tell if it was right. Before the first ring could escape, he snapped the phone shut. He should probably wait for office hours. The relationship was strained enough as it was without 4 a.m. phone calls. He looked up at the portrait resting on the self next to a precariously stacked pile of journals and books. "Hang on baby, I'm coming."

At 8 a.m. Sam was seated across the disorganized desk of Marshall Robinson, Chair of the Physics Department at the University. Marshall, who's PhD thesis on the theoretical possibility of stable inner dimensional worm holes, had attracted Sam attention, was leaned backed with the printout just inches from his nose. He looked young enough to be a student, but the glasses, tweed jacket, and wall full of certificates spoke otherwise. "Are you sure these are right," he asked, sharing Sam's initial disbelief at the apparent outcome. "I've run it twice," Sam replied. He had been unable to go to sleep after the discovery, and had filled his time waiting for Marshall's office hours by running the simulation again while surfing through the wasteland of late night talk show reruns and infomercials. "With or without the algorithm tweaks we talked about last week?" "With". "Both times?" "Yes, the very definition of insanity", Sam replied, "doing something twice and expecting different outcomes." Einstein's quote didn't seem to include computers, which always seem to behave in unexpected was. The more complex the algorithm, the more unexpected it behavior could become. "This whole thing has been insane from the beginning, Sam, only now you have results that say otherwise." "You think this is right," Sam asked. "I can't see where it is wrong," replied Marshall. "We could have someone else look it over, or you could just move on to the experimental phase," Marshall suggested, "but I think you should publish first. This is pretty major." "Who is going to believe an out of work computer software engineer made a major breakthrough in theoretical physic," Sam asked, "even with you as a co-author?" "Science is science Sam," Marshall replied. "If you publish, it will also get the experimental physicists in the game." "I've already got the plans for that," Sam replied. "If the theoricals are correct, I've already got a line on the experimental. That is what this was all about in the first place." "Well, you've move past the point where I can help you. Let me know how this turns out," Marshall said with an air of resignation as he handed the papers back to Sam. He had been suffering Sam's periodic visits with patience and interest. Over time Sam had gone from an over inquisitive nuisance to a knowledgeable and capable theorist without much guidance from him. He seems to grasp every new concept quickly, and applied well known principle in ways he would have never have thought of. More than once he had asked Sam to enroll at the University and make their relationship a more conventional teacher and student one. Sam had shrugged him off and continued on his narrow and dogged focus on worm holes. Now that he was really on to something, it was clear he was only interested in knowledge as a way to achieve something. He had his own agenda. He really did wish him well, but couldn't imagine him getting far. Of course, he hadn't expected him to get this far either.


Imagitext said...

One lady who wrote 200,000 (I think) words last year said not to combine words like can't or I've. I think you could even get away with splitting myself into my self. I'm not saying that I saw all this stuff in your writing I just wanted to tell you. I like it. By the way I got 900 words this afternoon. It gets easier does it not?

Eldon and Janeil Olsen said...

Fascinating. I wonder if all novelists start out with an outline like that. Only suggestion I have, keep the tense consistent. For example, "He rubbed his eyes and looks around." Should be rubs his eyes and looks around, or he rubbed his eyes and looked around.

Another one, change to: "He felt his head clearing, and his belief in the reality of the situation solidifying."

Do we get to read Lynn's too?

velvetelement said...

Sounds great Ken. I couldn't do what you and Lynn are attempting. I wish you both the best of luck and look forward to reading the rest.