I’ve never had writer’s block. Nope, not even once. I sit down, usually at a computer, but still, occasionally with pen and paper, and write.
What I do have, is Writer’s Fear. If several days go by without said ‘sitting down,’ I am afraid that once I do, nothing will happen, that I’ll just sit there. So what do I do? Everything else: clean house, walk the dogs, run for food and booze, get drunk early and watch anime… anything to keep me from facing my fear.
I’d put off writing for five days this week. I’d a great weekend of several thousand words, even into Monday and Tuesday, I’d figured out Maya’s time-lapse, inadvertently introduced Emma Miller… and did everything I could to not touch Nichole (the laptop I do 99% of my writing on) until this (Saturday) afternoon. Finally, fearfully, with only one partial scene in mind, I began. That was four and a half hours ago; 3k works ago. Chris, Cat, and Anton are in a small armored column on their way to Miramar Air Station, and Maya finally killed someone in San Diego. It was so easy! I’m over 60k words, and not even to the Big End… which just makes the Fear worse.
Will I be able to do this tomorrow? My family’s coming back from vacation, so I should wash our bedding. The weather’s getting better, and I need to paint the trim of the entire front of the house. After Mass tomorrow morning, I should stay for Adoration for at least an hour…. I should… I should…
Fear. It’s a horrible, corrosive disease.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
“She went home?!” Anton yelled at Cat over his right shoulder in the MRAP. “No! Tell her to get to a public place! And where’s her home?”
Cat didn’t know the address, but she described the location while she typed into her phone. Anton keyed his mic and sent that on, presumable to another unit around the campus. Their convoy of four was headed east, to the Miramar Air Station, Anton had said. Chris had wondered about that: nominally still controlled by the US Marine Corps, he supposed the emphasis would be on ‘nominally’ at this point.
“Why there?” Cat had asked as they’d climbed in.
“Lots of active and passive defenses,” Anton had replied once they were underway. “And if things go totally south, I can put you two onto a plane. At gunpoint, if necessary!”
They both understood he wasn’t kidding.
“What about Emma; and, for that matter, everyone else at the University?” Cat continued. “I hope you – and your army – isn’t just going to let Maya… feed?”
He looked back at her again.
“Do you really think so little of me, Cat?”
“I did… once.” She was sorry for hurting him. “But I don’t now. I… I’m glad you weren’t so heroic when we were dating!”
“<Always with the backhanded compliments!”> He muttered in Spanish, knowing Chris understood. “As tempting as it is to shut that place down for a few days, until this is over, all that does is isolate people into the homes. Too easy for her to pick them off without anyone the wiser. Ideally, I’d love to corral all the students into either Warren Field or the North Campus Rec area: set them up in tents and park infantry around them…”
“But that’s not happening.”
“So what is?” Chris asked.
“Like I said, earlier: there’s a terrorist loose in the city. Besides the army and policia, sorry, police, we’re also using the smartphone alert system to push the message about to everyone in and around campus. I wanted to include her picture, but was afraid – ”
He abruptly stopped talking as his right hand went to the receiver in his right ear. Chris could tell he was not happy.
“<Copy,>” he muttered in reply. He made a fist and pounded, once, on the dash before him before turning again. “A fireteam in a Hummer just got to Miss Miller’s place. The front door was wide open. No signs of any struggle… but…”
His eyes fell. Cat gripped Chris’ right hand a little tighter, afraid to ask. Anton swallowed and looked back up.
“They found a desiccated human corpse. The Corporal said it reminded him of those girls they found in the high Andes, from Inca times.” He sighed. “I’m sorry, Cat.”
“Emma! Oh, Emma…!” Cat cried, but knew this was not the time to fall apart.
“No sign of Maya at all?” Chris asked. Anton shook his head.
“All army units have her picture. The men on-site are going door-to-door to ask if anyone saw or heard anything, though.”
Their little convoy left the main, civilian road and drew up to a gatehouse. They all stopped. Mexican soldiers, and US Marines, went from vehicle to vehicle, carefully checking everyone’s face. Being the only female, they lingered on Cat, and her half-Japanese features, looking down and back to her several times at the pictures they had. Anton said nothing, pulled no rank. This was too serious. After just about ten minutes, they were waved through.
“Now what?” Cat asked.