Author Topic: First 5 - Revelation J - Adult cross-world portal fantasy  (Read 175 times)

Offline haphapner

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First 5 - Revelation J - Adult cross-world portal fantasy
« on: July 06, 2022, 05:15:42 PM »

“I am created from fire. I will not prostrate myself to one made from clay.” – The Holy Quran 7:12

Chapter 1

Sit with me and hear a story, the story that I feared to write. Visit with me, a man unhinged, who can no longer distinguish delusion from reality.
Be my confessor. Hear this irreverent tale. Grant me absolution for my sacrilegious alteration of history.
The story began around a decade ago during my last deployment in the long American wars in the Middle East.
Imagine, if you can, a parched ocean of sand and gravel - wave upon wave of relentless indistinction, populated with flies and fleas, wild beasts and mirages.
In that mysterious, ever-changing landscape, roads move, dunes move; only the stars remain the same.
For time out of mind, the Jordanian Steppe has recreated itself on an almost daily basis. It has no use for the politics and borders of men, no use for oil, no use for war.
The steppe was my little spot in the Iraq war. A place that only a poet could love. Odd how poets never write about heat-warped air or shivering nights, the constant grit in your teeth or the postnasal drip – or the fleas and flies for that matter.
#
I called in the unit Situation Report as normal, “Max visibility. Undisturbed desert. High glare, hot f**king sand everywhere. No sign of activity or life.” Dust devils, small eddies of air filled with dirt, danced past kicking up swirls of fine sand as they continued their journey nowhere.
We’d been out here wandering in circles for the better part of a day searching the same small patch of desert.
“Roger that Alpha Unit. Continuing grid search.”
“What the hell are we looking for Commander?” I bent down and picked up a hairy scorpion with a gloved hand. I think I’d seen it earlier in the day.
“You’ll know it when you see it, Alpha. Out.”
I flicked the scorpion away. It righted itself and scurried off. Hard to say which one of us was more indignant about the situation.
Against protocol, but per orders, I instructed the unit to become even more vulnerable on the open desert. “Ok, fan out further! Grid-search this area again; this time in 100-meter sections. Report every two minutes. Watch your backs.”
“Why didn’t they bring us in Choppers, LT?” One of the guys asked over the comm.
“Too visible, too much attention.” I muttered. Muttering was my go-to when irritated. I had picked that up from my grandfather who had raised me after my parents died in a car crash when I was three. Many a time I had come up on him muttering in the dairy barn. “Damn thing broke again.” Or “Damn hose kinked like the hind leg of a mule.”
“What was that grandpa?”
“Nothing, Hayk. I’m frustrated. That’s all.”
This tour of duty felt extra lonely knowing he wouldn’t be around when I returned.
Another unit member called out, “We got the soldier scholar on point. We’ll find whatever the hell it is. Then we’ll get some beers to wash this desert away. Ain’t that right, professor?”
I had grown used to their playful banter at my expense. For the most part, it showed their affection for me.
“A beer sounds good about now. It’s like a gawd damn convection oven out here.” Another quipped.
I shook off my nostalgia refocusing on the mission. On the battlefield, we officers had to maintain a razor’s edge balance between camaraderie and command. My team loved to poke fun at me, but they did what I said. No questions asked. The flip side of that razor is bearing things you disagree with but not sharing them with the enlisted men. They needed to see me as one of them, but not one of them. I was the leader responsible and accountable for their lives and the outcome of any mission. I did not like driving them two hundred miles into wilderness for no known reason. Anything could happen.
I laughed. “How many times have I told you not to call me professor!” They all hooted.
“And what we lookin’ for LT?” Jensen asked over the comm. “Or do you prefer physicist farmer?”
“We’ll know when we see it,” I bellowed over the distance choosing to ignore the quip about my education. “Anything not normal!” then I added, “Get focused! Stay focused! There could be mines out here or EC in that ravine.” We called enemy combatants, EC as shorthand.
I chuckled to myself, “What is it with these guys and their attempts at alliteration? Physicist-farmer.” I scuffed at the rocky ground with my boot. “Bunch of English major wannabes.”
“Ain’t nothin’ out here but flies and fleas.” Jensen was my complainer, but one of the best in the unit – disciplined and steady in a fight. He lived by process and protocol. “At least the wind should knock ‘em down a bit,” he hollered.
Command had deployed us to this god forsaken spot on the backside of a camel’s ass for recon. Satellite flyovers had indicated an anomaly, a dead zone of about a square mile without anything. Images showed it as normal desert, but other more sophisticated readings indicated abnormal activity – “investigate and report back”, that phrase drove our entire mission.
Me? I had one mission. Ten years in, I’d thought about re-upping and going for full retirement. But I’d been running and fighting long enough. It was time to find a new life, a new way of being. This war was stupid; it had cost me everything that I treasured. I wasn’t there when my grandpa needed me the most. They’d flown me home to see him put in the ground. They gave me a few weeks to lease out the farm but then right back here. Fighting who? For what?
Much to my grandpa’s chagrin, I had joined up on impulse. I’d been one of the youngest doctoral graduates ever at MIT. He had been so proud, a PhD in Physics at twenty years old. Later that fall, the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked. I joined the Marines. Thanks to training and deployments, I never had another meaningful conversation with the most important person in my life.
I had joined up to fight terrorism. I was in on the original hunt for Bin Laden at Tora Bora in the Khyber Pass region of Afghanistan. When his trail went cold and U.S. Afghan policy shifted to nation building, I redeployed to a fresh, new war in Iraq. They dangled the added benefit that Osama might have moved here.
My background in physics made me the perfect leader for a newly funded Marine unit focused on weapons of mass destruction. And here I stood in the middle of god damn nowhere, looking for a metal door in the ground or a god damn cave.
This made-up war felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I would fulfill my commitment, get through these next couple years and go home. Clean slate. Clean start. Telling the truth to myself, I was a little worried that I’d pushed my luck a bit further than wisdom would have it.
The thought of pressing my luck snapped me back to reality. It was dangerous out here; we had a mission.

Offline susan-louise

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Re: First 5 - Revelation J - Adult cross-world portal fantasy
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2022, 11:24:15 PM »
I loved this and you hooked me from that poignant opening line.  With economical brush strokes, you sketch a convincing MC. The writing is taut, crisp and as disciplined as your military characters. I was wanting to read on when I reached the end of your five pp.  I can imagine an agent loving this.  A few tweaking suggestions in text. Best of luck.

“I am created from fire. I will not prostrate myself to one made from clay.” – The Holy Quran 7:12

Chapter 1

Sit with me and hear a story, the story that I feared to write. Visit with me, a man unhinged, who can no longer distinguish delusion from reality.  you have hooked me with this opening
Be my confessor. Hear this irreverent tale. Grant me absolution for my sacrilegious alteration of history.
The story began around a decade ago during my last deployment in the long American wars in the Middle East.
Imagine, if you can, a parched ocean of sand and gravel - wave upon wave of relentless indistinction, populated with flies and fleas, wild beasts and mirages.  Love the images and metaphors.
In that mysterious, ever-changing landscape, roads move, dunes move; only the stars remain the same.
For time out of mind, the Jordanian Steppe has recreated itself on an almost daily basis. It has no use for the politics and borders of men, no use for oil, no use for war.   (repetition is effective, although it could jar by "no use for war."  Perhaps consider "no use for oil or war.?)
The steppe was my little spot in the Iraq war. A place that only a poet could love. Odd how poets never write about heat-warped air or shivering nights, the constant grit in your teeth or the postnasal drip – or the fleas and flies for that matter.  All lovely and evocative
#
I called in the unit Situation Report as normal, “Max visibility. Undisturbed desert. High glare, hot f**king sand everywhere. No sign of activity or life.”  I had to read the first phrase twice "called in" but realise it is a military term Dust devils, small eddies of air filled with dirt, danced past kicking up swirls of fine sand as they continued their journey nowhere.  Scene building is beautiful and I feel I am there.
We’d been out here wandering in circles for the better part of a day searching the same small patch of desert.
“Roger that Alpha Unit. Continuing grid search.”
“What the hell are we looking for Commander?” I bent down and picked up a hairy scorpion with a gloved hand. I think I’d seen it earlier in the day.
“You’ll know it when you see it, Alpha. Out.”
I flicked the scorpion away. It righted itself and scurried off. Hard to say which one of us was more indignant about the situation.
Against protocol, but per orders, I instructed the unit to become even more vulnerable on the open desert. I'd start a new line for dialogue here “Ok, fan out further! Grid-search this area again; this time in 100-meter sections. Report every two minutes. Watch your backs.”
“Why didn’t they bring us in Choppers, LT?” One of the guys asked over the comm.
“Too visible, too much attention.” I muttered. Muttering was my go-to when irritated. I had picked that up from my grandfather who had raised me after my parents died in a car crash when I was three. Many a time I had come up on him muttering in the dairy barn. “Damn thing broke again.” Or “Damn hose kinked like the hind leg of a mule.”
“What was that grandpa?”
“Nothing, Hayk. I’m frustrated. That’s all.”  I read this twice, wondering if the backstory intruded on my reading. One might possibly delete the recreated dialogue with H and grandpa...because all it does is gives us the lieutenant's name...just an observation 
This tour of duty felt extra lonely knowing he wouldn’t be around when I returned.  you convey poignancy without melodrama well
Another unit member called out, “We got the soldier scholar on point. We’ll find whatever the hell it is. Then we’ll get some beers to wash this desert away. Ain’t that right, professor?”
I had  (just a suggestion...contractions might work better here...) grown used to their playful banter at my expense. For the most part, it showed their affection for me.
“A beer sounds good about now. It’s like a gawd damn convection oven out here.” Another quipped.
I shook off my nostalgia refocusing on the mission. On the battlefield, we officers had to maintain a razor’s edge balance between camaraderie and command. My team loved to poke fun at me, but they did what I said. No questions asked. The flip side of that razor is bearing things you disagree with but not sharing them with the enlisted men. They needed to see me as one of them, but not one of them. I was the leader responsible and accountable for their lives and the outcome of any mission. I did not like driving them two hundred miles into wilderness for no known reason. Anything could happen. "no known" jars.. how about no given reason or no apparent reason?
I laughed. “How many times have I told you not to call me professor!” They all hooted. banter and rapport between officer and his men is convincing and well shown.
“And what we lookin’ for LT?” Jensen asked over the comm. “Or do you prefer physicist farmer?”
“We’ll know when we see it,” I bellowed over the distance choosing to ignoring the quip about my education. “Anything not normal!” then I added,  the tag here impedes flow.  It's obvious he is adding a phrase...“Get focused! Stay focused! There could be mines out here or EC in that ravine.” We called enemy combatants, EC as shorthand.
I chuckled to myself, “What is it with these guys and their attempts at alliteration? Physicist-farmer.” I scuffed at the rocky ground with my boot. “Bunch of English major wannabes.”
“Ain’t nothin’ out here but flies and fleas.” Jensen was my complainer, but one of the best in the unit – disciplined and steady in a fight. He lived by process and protocol. “At least the wind should knock ‘em down a bit,” he hollered.
Command had deployed us to this god forsaken spot on the backside of a camel’s ass for recon. Satellite flyovers had indicated an anomaly, a dead zone of about a square mile without anything. Images showed it as normal desert, but other more sophisticated readings indicated abnormal activity – “investigate and report back”, that phrase drove our entire mission.
Me? I had one mission. Ten years in, I’d thought about re-upping and going for full retirement. But I’d been running and fighting long enough. It was time to find a new life, a new way of being. This war was stupid; it had cost me everything that I treasured. I wasn’t there when my grandpa needed me the most. They’d flown me home to see him put in the ground. They gave me a few weeks to lease out the farm but then right back here. Fighting who? For what?
Much to my grandpa’s chagrin, I had joined up on impulse. I’d been one of the youngest doctoral graduates ever at MIT. He had been so proud, a PhD in Physics at twenty years old. Later that fall, the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked. I joined the Marines. Thanks to training and deployments, I never had another meaningful conversation with the most important person in my life.
I had joined up to fight terrorism. I was in on the original hunt for Bin Laden at Tora Bora in the Khyber Pass region of Afghanistan. When his trail went cold and U.S. Afghan policy shifted to nation building, I redeployed to a fresh, new war in Iraq. They dangled the added benefit that Osama might have moved here.
My background in physics made me the perfect leader for a newly funded Marine unit focused on weapons of mass destruction.  So the backstory really works.  It's long enough to give us a flavour for his past and short enough not to hijack the narrative.  And the next phrase is a lovely segue back into the "now" And here I stood in the middle of god damn nowhere, looking for a metal door in the ground or a god damn cave.
This made-up war felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I would fulfill my commitment, get through these next couple years and go home. Clean slate. Clean start. Telling the truth to myself, I was a little worried that I’d pushed my luck a bit further than wisdom would have it.