Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Beginning 886

Desk lamps and computer screens lit the newsroom in a modern gloom as a gray-haired reporter surfed up foreign news that would be rejected by the editors and a lone janitor emptied the paper waste baskets of the previous days drafts and rewrites. Tablets and smart phones sat, charging, waiting for the morning news. Crickets chirped from the corners. The life of the newspaper dwelt in the print shops and the truck bay, in the hands of deliverymen and ink-stained wretches.

Without warning, the newsroom came to life. The electronic brains of the newsroom awoke and a single document appeared on each device.

Urbi et Orbi -- To the City and the World, I Steve Harrow bring greetings. Be not afraid. Be happy. The children of man have left to explore the stars. Look to the heavens for we will reveal its wonders to you.

* * *

Brian McVallance, Chief Editor, tore a page from the humming press, read the quote and shook his head. Aliens? he thought. Higher beings from outer space? This phone hacking shit had gone further than even he had thought.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

The gray-haired reporter read the message again. He hated fellow reporter, Steve Harrow's sad attempts at humor.

The document was closed.


Suddenly, a shout was heard from one of the computer technicians: "Willy, not only are you grounded from the computer for a week, but this is the very last time I'm bringing you to Take Your Kid To Work Day!"


Within seconds, the phones buzzed and the computers blinked with another message:

Try Out How Your Life Can Change with INcrEAsed Libido! Click here to increase your sexual power and size.

Another message soon appeared:

Free* 30 Second Pre-Qualification MORTGAGE Application

And another:

The messages continued to arrive incessantly and without warning. The gray-haired reporter tried his best to keep up, but it was no use. The messages came too fast. He stared at his computer, helpless and confused.

--Lebowski's Rug

Vote for me STEVE HARROW and we will explore these wonders together. Otherwise I'm going to blow the world to star dust.

Have a nice day!

One janitor, undercover FBI agent code name Doomsday had spent three months cleaning the newsroom waste recepticles waiting for Steve Harrow to make his move. Doomsday swung into action as he comandeered the closest computer terminal, knocking its user from his chair to the floor with a nice, neat tasser shot to the arse.

Doomsday was about to have a GREAT day.

--Wilkins MacQueen

The janitor leaned over the old man's shoulder. "This your message of doom?"


"You really done it?"


"How'd you break in?"

"My secret, Ron."

Ron the janitor nodded as he replaced the trash bags. The old man had done what others had hoped to do for thirty-some years. He'd broken the code, beaten the dragon at his own game, taken the citadel. And tomorrow the whole world would see "Star Wars" the way the fans wanted it, and George Lucas could go right to Hell.


Dave Fragments said...

A hacker!
Yes, the system was hacked, worldwide.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

This opening paragraph seems like it's trying to convince us that nothing interesting will happen if we read further.

Evil Editor said...

P1, S1: Delete "paper."

S2: ...waiting for the morning "staff"?

S4: Insert the word "now" before "dwelt"?

P3: The children of man have left to explore the stars. isn't clear to me. Does it mean The children of man who left to explore the stars have returned.?

What does "its" refer to in the last sentence? The heavens? Should it be "their" wonders?

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Few hard copies exist in the newsroom today. I'd get rid of the reference to previous day's paper drafts and rewrites.

That dates your piece. Intrigued but need to flow with the times.

May the Force be with you. See what I mean?

Good luck, potential here. I'd change crickets chirped to to Ipods or phones chirped or something.

Update the language. Like the concept.

Dave Fragments said...

This opening is giving me lots of trouble and I'm beginning to see why.

vkw said...

The first sentence is 44 words long. I suggest sentences no longer than 22. And, beyond that rule of thumb, please consider reading the sentence out loud. If you still have breath, unlike a wayward fish gasping for breath on the tile floor, then maybe you don't need to change it. Otherwise, please do.

Desk lamps or harsh overhead lighting?

I do see some problems here with tablets and smart phones charging vs. thrown away drafts and rewrites.

Also, does anyone ever leave their phones to charge at their office? Even their office phones? I don't think so or at least highly unlikely. I am not sure about smart tablets. I don't have one. Would love to find out.

So -

Only the silent light of computer screens lit the the newsroom as a single, gray-haire reporter surfed for foreign news. Potential stories more often than not that would be rejected in the morning. His only companion a janitor listlessly emptying the waste baskets and a chirping cricket.

The newspaper's life had passed from the newsroom to the the print shops, truck bays and the delivery men.

there was no warning when the newsroom sprang to life. Computers and tablets awoke as a single message flashed onto their blue screens. ......

Anyway, my too many coppers for the day.

It's okay but I've seen much better writing from Dave. I have high expectations for him.


Eric said...

These days, even print media doesn't use that much paper (and that janitor had better be recycling). "Previous drafts and rewrites" exist only on an InCopy server somewhere. And the whole point of having a tablet or smartphone is to take it with you so you won't have to wait to come into the office to get today's news. VKW's rewrite clears up a lot, but it probably wouldn't hurt to chat with a reporter or at least read up on modern newsrooms if that's going to be your setting. It doesn't ring true to me and I'm not even a reporter.

If the same thing pops up on all the screens in the office at once, that just means it's time to call the network admin to come clean off whatever virus we got and update the firewall.

Undoubtedly your reporter has received his share of long documents from crazy people claiming to be from outer space. What makes this message stand out from the several hundred other loony emails this newsroom gets every day?

(That's assuming the hook is indicating that your story is going to be about actual space travel rather than about sysadmin Steve Harrow's sad descent into mental illness.)

Dave Fragments said...

After looking at it while doing the rest of the story, I came to the conclusion that P-1 was too long. The janitor is gone. EE's changes are all done.

The cricket stays because it's a plot point.

Steve Harrow is not a reporter. He is not crazy. He is sending the message to explain how the world almost ended from Moonbase Alpha.

Go back to Face Lift 649 (2009) for an old and creaky description of what this story is about, sort of.
New Beginning 623 (April 2009) is the old opening.

Back Then it was 22,000 words and I cut that to 9,500. That was a few years ago. The basic story is the same but the so many excess details are gone. the tone of the story has changed. The characters are tighter and more distinct and the number of characters has dropped by seven.

Harrow is the only person who "controls" the nannites BUT the military handler wants cyborgs to wage war. The nannites don't want this and will spread to everything and everyone if released.

They all are a little crazy.

I'm trying to establish a tone of voice and although your rewrite is good, it's not the right voice. My version isn't there yet either. It will be when I'm done.
BTW - one of my last edits is to read the story out loud just to hear it with my own ears. I find all sorts of stuff hiding from my eyes.

I see what you mean. I don't specify the year but that is a two edged sword for me to fix.
The message is a hack. The same hacker got into the VLA in New Mexico and uploaded the cyborgs to a secret moonbase equipped with nuclear missiles.

I understand. See above.

Stacy said...

Yeah, I think people would be writing more on their computers nowadays, rather than by hand. It's an interesting set up, though. I'd read on.

Beth said...

Why do you need to tell us the gloom is "modern"? The computer screens, tablets, and smart phones tell us that.

Dave Fragments said...

Night lights. Blame it on my night lights.

I always kept night lights in the hallway, kitchen and living room so I wouldn't hit walls or furniture when I moved around the house in the dark without my glasses.

Recently, as I moved to fluorescent light bulbs and LEDs, those lights have changed into tiny green and blue twinkly things and red pilot lights...

Two surge protectors, TV, cable box, sound amplifier, disc player, battery-operated-light-ready-light, sleeping computer, computer charger and phone charger. It's not dark in my bedroom anymore. Unless the power goes off and then I lay awake and stare into the dark with a cranky flashlight cranking all night!
That's the long way of saying that I don't need the word "modern."