Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Writings # 32 - Unraveling the Plot

Welcome to my weekly "Wednesday Writing" post. These weekly exercises serve as motivation to ensure that I spend at least 30-60 minutes each week doing some creative writing. In the ideal week, I will write every day. But at the very least, I will do at least one writing segment which I will share here on my blog.

I intended the "wednesday writings" to be individual exercises or stories but since April, I have been continuing the same story thread and doing some general free writing using the same characters and continuing the plot. There are some definite continuity issues in the overall course of the story, but I have slowly come upon a cohesive plot (which will require significant editing of earlier editions to make them valid). You can find the entire story by clicking through the following chronological links:
  1. Morning Machinations
  2. Communication Between Friends
  3. Daydreaming Decisions
  4. Off to the Park
  5. Driven
  6. Coming Home
  7. Revealing Photographs
  8. Just a Dream?
  9. At the Tower
  10. Caught
  11. Revelations
  12. Lunchtime
  13. The Watch
  14. Visions
  15. Escape
  16. Evan (part 1)
  17. Evan (part 2)
  18. Evan (part 3)
  19. Formulating a Plan
  20. Testing the Boxes
  21. Betrayal
  22. Julie
  23. Out of Time
  24. A Problem of Paradoxes
  25. Taking Charge
  26. The Chase Begins
  27. Friends Reunited
  28. Freedom?

I always appreciate critiques, suggestions, comments, etc. This writing is certainly unpolished and free form but I'm always up for comments to help improve things or just get general feedback on the story.

This week has a fair amount of monologuing as Dalton explains a variety of safeguards he's put in place. His comments are left intentionally vague to be more threatening/frightening to the listeners...but I hope they still flow well in the writing. Let me know.


Unraveling the Plot

Gabby stood in the kitchen thinking through the situation. She mechanically pulled out some bread and cheese and began making a sandwich while mulling over details in her mind. Dalton sat handcuffed to a dining room chair in the next room. And yet, he seemed just as smug and confident as ever. She didn't understand it.

New voices from the dining room shattered her concentration and she raced through the door to see Evan and Julie standing beside the table. Gabby did a half skip over to Julie and pulled her into a tight hug. Both girls worked to hold back tears. For a few moments, there was silence. Then Dalton cleared his throat sharply.

"Well. Yes. Now that we're all back together. One big happy family. Let's discuss what's to be done."

Gabby slowly released her embrace on Julie and turned to look at Dalton. A thin smirk was stretched over his face. His boney fingers were interlaced and his hands set gently on the table in front of him, set slightly off to the side due to the handcuff pulling on his wrist. To her left, Evan pulled out a chair and sat at the table. He looked up at Gabby and nodded, a soft, kind smile on his face. After giving a stern glance to each of the men at the table, Gabby slowly pulled out a chair and sat beside Evan. Julie pulled the chair from the foot of the table around to sit next to Gabby.

Gabby looked expectantly between the faces at the table. Carlisle's face looked tired and worn, yet his eyes still shone with a strong brightness. Evan's face was calm and gentle but Gabby could see a small hesitation in his eyes. Dalton's face was the most troubling to Gabby. He still smiled with the thin smirk of a man who had just pulled off the crime of the century and was prepared to reveal his genius. His eyes had a fierce fire that made it hard for Gabby to hold his gaze.

"Well Dalton. You've made a gigantic mess of things. I'm not sure what we should do with you."

Evan shook his head to amplify his disgust for the situation. Before Dalton could respond, Carlisle broke in.

"I'm still not sure I understand or believe everything that Walter told me over these past few minutes. It all has the breath of truth but if all he says is in fact true, then what has happened has caused more than a 'gigantic mess' but may have actually disrupted the very fabric of time. For all we know, the universe could be unraveling around us."

Dalton chuckled and looked at Carlisle.

"You always had a flair for the melodramatic. That and your incessant paranoia was always so frustrating to work with. If it wasn't for your amazing genius, it's likely that I wouldn't have put up with your overcautious and eccentric nature. And yet, here we are. I assure you that everything I've said is true. And I also agree with you that Evan has grossly understated our current situation. Of course, that's because he does not yet have all the same details as you do."

Gabby looked over at Evan just in time to catch a wash of confusion shimmer in his face before he pulled his face back into a tone of calm resignation. He glared at Dalton.

"What do you mean? What details don't I have?"

Dalton chuckled again then leaned forward and winked at Evan.

"Do you really think I would come all this way, knowing you would follow me, without making some concessions for my safety and success? Upon arriving here, it was a shock to find the devices failing to function properly in this time. I tried to convince Carlisle here of the situation and obtain his help. He was hesitant and rather suspicious. We had worked together for a number of years at the university, but my proposal failed to persuade him.

"I knew that time was of the essence if I were to succeed. For although I had a time machine at my disposal, I was in a time crunch as I knew you, Evan, were close behind me and looking to discover and stop my plans. With that in mind, I saw a way to manipulate you into helping me. Knowing your attachment to our dear Gabrielle, I simply worked myself closer and closer to her. I am sorry my dear, but it seemed the best way."

Gabby felt her skin crawl as Dalton looked at her and attempted a compassionate, sympathetic smile as he outstretched his hands in her direction.

"I used Gabby to send cryptic information to Carlisle knowing that eventually Evan would reveal himself. Once he did, it was easy enough to get a message to him telling him that I had life-or-death leverage over dear Gabrielle and that Evan would do well to work with her to repair the machines and then bring her to me so I could free her from my grasp.

"Little did I expect that Gabby would take it upon herself to go gallivanting through time and attempt to stop me on her own. Still, everything worked out in the end and here we all are."

Everyone sat in silent for a moment, staring back and forth at each other. Finally, Gabby spoke.

"OK. That's great and all, but you didn't really tell us anything new. What are these new details that put the, what was it you said? The fabric of time in danger?"

Dalton leaned back in his chair and sighed. He attempted to bring his hands up to his chin. His left hand jerked to a stop midway up, the handcuff chain pulling tight. He glanced at his wrist then laid his hands low on his chest, interlacing his fingers.

"As I mentioned to Evan, I have created certain events that I can use as leverage against you. Most recently, I have created an explosion that destroyed Carlisle's home and along with it his personal laboratory and all of his notes. He has my assurance that his cooperation will ensure my reversal of this past destruction."

"But all you're doing is creating paradoxes within paradoxes."

Carlisle rose to his feet and paced the room.

"Your contingencies state that our future behavior will cause you to go back and reverse the action of the past. Every action will rip a larger hole in the very nature of time. I admit that what you've done has created a huge loss to me. I have years of research in that home. I am sure that some of it will be recoverable from some of the less damaged hard drives and possibly some of the notebooks. But were you to go back and undo what you have done, it would completely alter the chain of events and create a paradox. For, if I agree to help you based on the destruction, and then if you go back and remove the destruction, then this very conversation will not occur."

Carlisle stopped pacing and leaned forward, his palms flat on the table and his back bent such that he was staring eye to eye with Dalton across the table.

"Thus, no matter how much it pains me, I cannot accept your offer."

Dalton sighed.

"You yourself have always been a paradox my friend. On the one hand, you are taken to whims of fancy and major risks. On the other, you have always been completely logical and analytical to the point of near paranoia. Let me assure you."

He paused to look at everyone in the room and fan his hand from side to side at each person.

"Let me assure each of you that what I am suggesting is not only possible, but it is proven. I have already created a number of such contingencies and, as Carlisle suggests, paradoxes. With each of these, I have played out the events in a number of ways and then reversed everything. In each case, the world returned to normal."

"But what about our experiments in the lab?"

Evan was staring intently at Dalton.

"Our experiment with the fish caused a complete implosion in the area surrounding the event. If a family of insignificant fish can cause an event of such magnitude, how do you propose avoiding a cataclysm?"

There was silence again. Dalton shook his head.

"It's difficult for you to believe and fully understand. But there are ways to travel through time and cause events that had not happened previously. This in itself may cause a paradox. Upon returning and removing the event, another paradox is possible. Strangely, what I have found, is that this compounding of paradoxical events has thus far avoided a cataclysm, as you put it. I haven't even seen evidence of the sort of disruption we encountered with the fish or with any of our other experiments."

"What other exp-"

"It doesn't matter."

Dalton waved his hand to cut off Evan's question.

"The point is, I have proved it possible to allow for the creation of a paradox without undesirable consequences. Perhaps I have simply been lucky. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that all of my events have dealt solely with our small group of time travelers. Perhaps by compounding multiple paradoxes into a single timeline, I have unwittingly unraveled an otherwise knotted thread of time. Whatever the reason, I have determined a method by which I can manipulate events past, present and future to fit my needs."

Dalton stopped talking to let what he was saying sink in. Gabby felt the air grow tense around her as each of them thought through the implications of Dalton's claim. She watched as he picked up his glass, swirled it softly so the ice tinkled together and then took a slow, deliberate drink, swallowing slowly as though savoring the liquid. Then he sat back in his chair, tilted his head to the ceiling and closed his eyes. Gabby wasn't sure what to expect and looked to Evan or Carlisle to ask the next question. Instead, Dalton spoke again.

"So, my dear friends, you may be wondering what I have planned. What all of this is about. Naturally I have no intention of outlying my entire plan to you. I may be confident but I'm not foolish. What I will outline is the leverage I hold over each of you."

Dalton opened his eyes and looked at everyone in the room, staring each person down as he addressed them.

"Julie, I'm afraid I had no intention of using you at all in this game. Your involvement has been an unhappy surprise. As such, I had planned nothing specific for you. I trust, however, that having you imprissoned in my home will provide some motivation for you. Beyond that, I can only hope that you will behave properly for the sake of your dear friend Gabrielle and the knowledge that any foolishness on your part will deprive her of my future service to her.

"Gabrielle, I have dealt rather harshly with you but I fully intend to make it up to you. A few weeks ago. Or rather, a few weeks in my own past. Some time in your future, naturally. I conducted one of my earliest successful experiments in paradoxes. I traveled back in time to a moment approximately one year ago in today's past. I found your mother and made some modifications to her normal diet. Modifications which included certain drugs which brought on a particularly violent stroke. I monitored the moments of the next few days until finally I found the news that she had died. Returning to my own time, I found that the truth was in the historical documents. Except for the single photo album I had taken with me. Your own wedding album Gabrielle. In which a number of pictures show your mother's smiling face right beside you on that happy day. I provided you the album, through Evan, of course, as proof of these events."

He paused for a moment, watching as Gabby's lip trembled. Then, anticipating her emotional outbreak, Dalton continued to explain the situation.

"For you Carlisle, you already know that I have destroyed your home and your various notes and experiments. What you don't know is this. Three days from today, you will die at my hand. In fact, I've already killed you. In my own past, I traveled to a moment three days from now and killed you while you slept. You may find it interesting in terms of paradoxes to know that I killed you while you slept in your own bed in your own home. So, to add to the deliberation about your home, you should also think about your own life.

"Of course, Evan already knows about your death and will certainly confirm the news. It was Carlisle's death that brought you raging into my office. And it was then that you discovered the leverage that I held over you. The leverage that I continue to hold. On that day, you learned that I am holding your dear bride Gabrielle prisoner. I forced you to repair the device, which you did wonderfully. Unfortunately, you modified my plans slightly by triggering the device and sending us swirling back to this time. Once here and back in contact, I presented you further information about your dear bride and her condition."

Dalton paused for emphasis and glanced back and forth between Gabby and Evan.

"She hadn't yet told you she was pregnant. Fortunately, I had a snippet of video on my camera phone to verify her condition. But that in itself wouldn't convince you to help me. No, I knew that certainly wouldn't tip the balance. You were always too smart for your own good. Too confident of your own skills. Too sure of yourself. Mostly, this worked in your favor as you came up successful again and again. I couldn't risk you getting all heroic. So, I showed you-"


Evan held his hand out to Dalton and looked at Gabby. Dalton continued.

"I showed you the other videos I had on my phone."

"Stop. Just stop."

Evan stood and looked back to Gabby.

"Don't listen to him. He's contained. We're safe now. There's nothing to worry about."

"Are you sure Evan? How can you be so sure?"

Dalton slid his chair out and stood. He fiddled with the handcuff and a moment later, he raised both his hands and flashed them along with a broad smile like a successful magician.

"I'm afraid my dear Evan that there isn't much you can be certain of anymore."

Evan stared silently across the table. Everyone stared back at him. Gabby reached up and pulled on his arm.

"What is it Evan? What did he show you?"

Evan looked down at Gabby, opened his mouth and closed it again. Then he looked back at Dalton and narrowed his eyes. Dalton spoke the words Evan couldn't find.

"I showed him three separate videos."


Gabby felt Evan shudder. He stumbled a half step forward and leaned slightly against the table.

"Just let it be. She doesn't need to know."

"I showed him three individual and distinct videos of his lovely bride. Dying."

Evan fell into his chair in a slump and sobbed softly, tears walking down his cheeks like tired hikers on their way back home. The tinkling of ice echoed through the room and everyone watched as Dalton slowly swallowed down the rest of the water in his glass.


logankstewart said...

Quite a chilling image you've got there with the last paragraph or two. Great job.

Phoenix said...

I want to punch Dalton so hard... in the face...

You must be doing your job as a writer well because this chapter got my blood boiling!

Okie said...


My 2 main complaints with this section are: 1) Dalton gets too long winded with his monologuing -and- 2) I need to get more of a reaction from the group amid the revelations....physical/emotional/verbal outbursts of some kind