I will apparently end this crazy month the way I began it, running on very little sleep and forgetting to update my word counts. My story will be longer than the 50,000 words that I’ve set myself as a target, but I seem to have moved my focus away from the challenge itself and more towards the story in my head. It keeps getting bigger and I’ve been struggling to keep up as it evolves.
I mentioned at the beginning of the month that I’m not a panster, but as my novel moves away from the basic plotlines I had set out and becomes something different, I can understand why people start this with nothing in their head but a single place or character to work from.
The biggest development in my world, in the London of 2067, is The Failed Rebellion. It was a day that became historic as thousands of people decided they didn’t like the idea of a ‘Big Brother’ government being able to see them wherever they went thanks to Identity Chips implanted into the arms of the population. These Chips were to act as a passport and medical aid, and although beginning as a voluntary procedure, the bill to make them compulsory had been quickly passed not just in the UK, but world-wide as well.
Here’s a small extract from Sentience where in Kate (the protagonist) discovers that Michael (mentioned here) is a Street Walker, a resident of London living without government; homeless, jobless and unchipped.
The world became a haze of ash coloured smoke to the chorus of thousands of people calling out in pain. Kate coughed on the smoke-filled air, eyes watering as she looked around. It was London, falling in and out of focus like an old film. There were bodies everywhere, arms pressed against her own. She was suffocating.
On the cobbled stone below, red drips smeared and stained as people dug stainless steel into the skin on their arms. Men and women from all over the capital united in protest.
We stand together, to stand alone. Unique and Untraceable.
Kate felt for the small metallic square in her own arm and pressed a hand against it. This was ’45, St. James’ Park. The Failed Rebellion. The day when nearly a quarter of London’s population had removed their own IdentChips for the entire world to see. For hours they had gathered outside the Palace, silent and reserved while the media had documented it all, transmitting to stations internationally. The country had held its breath, and then they had all produced a small razor blade and cut into themselves.
Kate’s vision began to clear as she watched the man standing next to her. He was stoic, expressionless, his eyes looking at something on the horizon over the heads of those around them. His own blade was still lax in his right hand, the skin of his arm intact.
He was a young man, his freshly pressed suit splattered with blood and tears. The crowd was relentless, more voices one by one added their suffering to the collective as millions looked on. But the man beside her was as silent as she was. His hair was shorter here and gelled back against his head. His eyes, while dull, were the same clear blue as before.
“You were there.” Kate found herself whispering. “You’re a Walker.”
She watched as Michael, slow and precise, brought the blade to his arm and pushed down. His blood fell soundless to the ground and Kate heard him hiss. He bit his lip against the pain, moving the steel up and over the Chip site. When metal hit metal he dropped the blade and pushed into the wound with his fingertips.
Kate looked away. There was nothing she could do here. This wasn’t part of the program, she knew that now. She was inside Michael’s own memory, with no access to the console or the backup of the main control room.
She was a witness here, nothing more.
When she risked a glance back at him, Michael was holding his Chip between his fingers, staring down at it. Kate leaned in. They were an older model, the small engravings clearly visible even in the darkened focus of the memory. They would have suffered numerous malfunctions, heating up at sensor points and triggering minor palpitations at high altitude…
This idea of a population divided wasn’t planned, and has added a nice secondary plot point with its own conflicts for my characters to encounter along the main arch of the story. Now that the end of NaNo is but days away, how is everyone else reflecting on their stories? Anything surprising in there you didn’t expect?