The next day, on his morning commute, Travis spent the time planning the first chapter of his story. For before he could start writing, he had a few decisions to make.
The first one was about the protagonist. He had earlier decided that the protagonist would be an engineer employed at Energised. But now he was having second thoughts. He was thinking that the way the prologue had shaped out, it would be better if some detective would be the protagonist.
Which brought him to the next question. How would the detective be a part of the story? What incident, or series of incidents, would bring this character into the events happening in the story? Also, would it be better if he had two protagonists, one engineer and the other a detective?
Travis quickly rejected the last idea, as it would be too much work for him to do justice to two characters in one month. So he was back to where he had started. He decided to do what he would always do in situations like these, methodically analyse each alternative and select the best.
He began with the option of making one of the engineers working at Energised as the protagonist. The engineer could be assigned to internally investigate a sabotage attempt. This would be the starting point of the character's journey. As far as the detective went, Travis reasoned, the same event of attempted sabotage could be used to introduce the character into the story.
Where the two differed, he reflected, was in the variety of situations you could put each character through. The engineer could be convincingly written into situations which are of a more technical nature and require knowledge of how Energised's invention works. The detective would, on the other hand, be favourable for any situations requiring use of logical thinking, as well as other situations such as following a suspect, or having a network of informants spread throughout the city.
Travis would have continued but at this point the train reached his station.So he temporarily switched off thinking about NaNoWriMo (this had become somewhat of a habit over the course of past few weeks) and began to think about the work he had planned for the day.
Thankfully, workload for that day (actually that whole week) was not heavy. So again Travis was able to leave for home a little early. On the journey back, his thoughts resumed their course.
The more he thought about it, the more the detective seemed to be the better candidate for the protagonist. He also realised that he would need an engineer as a supporting character anyway, to supply the detective with the necessary technical information and news about Energised from time to time. So, by the time he reached home, he had made up his mind to have the detective as the protagonist and the engineer as a supporting character.
This done, he turned his attention towards the antagonist. Who should this be? Should he go with the earlier idea of having a Power Monger as the villain? Or should he try something different? Here also, he realised, many options were possible. Also, the mention of 'The Puppeteers' in the prologue had opened the door for portraying virtually and character in the story as a villain. So, he decided that the Power Monger and the Government official from the prologue would be present in the story in a negative role. Whether either of them was to be the main villain or not, was a question to be worried about towards the end of the story, when he would start tying the loose ends.
This brought him to the next job to do before starting writing, that of assigning names to the characters. This was one thing about writing a story which Travis always hated. It took more time than needed. But realising that he would have to do it whether he liked it or not, Travis decided to come up with names for his characters before starting the story.
His method of choice for doing this was to use one of the many name generator sites that are available on the Internet. After a moment's thought, Travis decided to use one of those sites which, in addition to the character name, also create a basic personality of the character. This was mainly to obtain some inspiration about how he should construct the characters. After about fifteen minutes of wading through random names, Travis came across two that he liked. He immediately noted them down, along with the characters they would be attached to. He had decided to refrain from naming the shady Government official and the Power Monger from the prologue as he thinking about creating a plot twist involving these two characters.
With this out of the way, his thoughts turned to what the opening scene should be. Should it be the press conference which Energised was going to organise? Or should he start with an attempted sabotage and save the conference for the ending. In the end he decided to go with having the press conference at the end so that he could use the earlier parts of the story to build suspense and mystery around it.
That still did not solve the question of the opening scene. Should it be an attempted sabotage, or should it be something different. He felt the attempted sabotage would be better, as it would put the reader in the thick of things right from the start.
Now he had to decide how he should actually begin the story. Should he depict the act of sabotage itself? Or should he start directly with the police interrogating Energised Inc.'s employees? He decided to go with the first option, so that he could build up some suspense. Also, as an added bonus, it might help a little with the word count. So he began.
It started like any other day at Energised Incorporated. But it ended like none other.
He stopped. The sentences had created the desired effect of implying that something unexpected was about to happen. Which was good. But before he could continue, he realised that he had not yet decided exactly what kind of sabotage it would be. Should it be some kind of hack? Or should it be some kind of assault? Or should it be something else, like an attempt to kill someone? His methodical mind started analysing each possibility.
Portraying the sabotage attempt to be a hack would mean he would have to make it believable somehow. Even though he had not mentioned it, the reader(s) would assume that post Apocalypse, cyber security must have been considerably improved. So, was there any way in which the hack would look like something that could have happened in spite of the heightened security measures?
After thinking for a while, he reasoned that it was possible if he were to somehow establish that even though cyber security had improved, the computer hackers were still a threat. Like the cyber security firms, they had also upped their game and with sufficient perseverance, could neutralise any security software. The assault option he ruled out because towards the end of the prologue he had already mentioned that Energised Inc.'s security had been beefed up. It would be difficult for the readers to believe that anybody in their senses would think about attacking the premises in such a situation and draw unwanted attention to themselves. At the same time, it occurred to him that the attack could also be used to trick people into believing that one thing is happening, when actually, something else is going on behind the scenes. By a similar argument, even the third alternative seemed to be a good one.
The more he thought about the last two options, the more better they seemed. He finally decided to go with the last option, as it would add more to the suspense.
This lead to the follow-up question. Who should die or get severely injured? He decided that victim would be someone high up enough to cause a sensation, probably one of the founding members, so that he would be able to create sufficient doubt in the minds of the readers. Now he had to assign a name for the would be victim.
Here again, his online name generator helped him out by giving him a suitable name. This done, he began writing.
It started like any other day at Energised. But it ended like none other.
Oscar Johnson was very happy today. It was the first working day of the new year, and he was returning from a well deserved (and well enjoyed) vacation. There were close to three months till the big press conference, and he was feeling confident that would be able to finish at least a fortnight early. All their hard work of the previous years was about to pay off. They were three months away from creating history.
For Oscar was one of the senior researchers working on the Project NL1, which had resulted resulted in the proof of concept nanogenerator mesh. This had paved the way for future work, leading to the development of what the rest of the world would soon come to know as the nLight1. And the nLight1 was soon going usher in a new era of electric appliances by being the first piece of consumer equipment that was powered by nanogenerators and was self-sustaining.
They were in the final stages of testing now. If all goes well, thought Oscar, we should be starting production within a fortnight. The only concern he had was about their sales forecasts. Had they underestimated or overestimated the demand for nLight1? We would find that put in three months, he thought, as he made his way towards Terence Planck's office, to finalise the production schedule for the first batch of nLight1.
Terence Plank was one of the founders of Energised. It was he who had initially proposed to explore the concept of nanogenerators as a means of self-sustaining electricity production. In the early stages of his illustrious career, he had done pioneering research in manufacturing processes for Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (or MEMS, as they are called). This work had later been used at Energised as the starting point for development of an efficient and low cost method for nanogenerator fabrication. Without him, Oscar reflected, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible for them to reach the position they were in today.
Climbing the staircase to the first floor, Oscar made his way along the corridor and was soon at the door to Terrence's office. Here he got the first indication that something had happened. For the glass door to Terence's office was ajar and the blinds were drawn.
This was not like Terence at all, though Oscar, as he knocked on the door. When he did not get any reply from within, he pushed it open and stepped inside. And no matter how hard he would have tried, nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to see.
There, seated on the chair with his head tilted slightly backward, was Terence. His eyes were closed, as if sleeping. Thinking that the unplanned nap was the reason he did not hear the knock on the door, Oscar went up to the chair and slightly tapped Terence on the shoulder. Imagine his horror, when, Terence, instead of waking, slid forward onto the table, his head landing partially on the books on the table. With increasing dread, Oscar slowly reached forward and felt Terence's hand. It was cold.
He looked at Terence's face with a growing feeling of dread. Terence's lips had turned blue.
Then he held his hand in front of Terence's nostrils. He felt no air on his fingers.
There was no doubt about it. Terence Plank was as dead as a door nail.
Here Travis paused to review what he had written thus far. The story seemed to follow smoothly in the few opening paragraphs he had written. For now he needed to decide how to explain the murder he just wrote about.
For one, should it be a shot taken from a long distance from a high powered rifle? or should it be something more refined, like an assassination? Or maybe he should make it look like someone broke into Terence's cabin and killed him? Or did he just die of natural causes?
Of these, Travis decided to ignore the rifle alternative for now, as he wanted to use it later. The break-in option also he rejected, as that would mean contradict with the earlier fact that Energised were also under a tight security cover. Similarly, death due to natural causes was also ruled out, as it did not generate the necessary amount of suspense.
This left him with the assassination. This would work, he thought. Now the question was how had the assassin done the deed. Had he gotten into the office and killed him? Or had the assassin been someone been poisoning Terence over an extended period? Or was Terence poisoned on the way to office? Of these, Travis felt the last option to be the best suited for his purpose.
Also, he realised, this was the right time to introduce the main protagonist, who was sent to Energised Inc. to investigate the crime. Travis paused briefly to jot down the thoughts and ideas in his notebook and resumed writing.
At the stroke of noon, Detective Riley Slater entered Energised Inc.'s plant situated on the outskirts of London. Five minutes later he was at the scene of the crime.His colleague, Detective Joe Talbot had already arrived a few minutes earlier. When Riley entered, Joe was just starting his interview with Oscar, who had found the body. Deciding to go over the crime scene later, Riley decided to join Joe in the interviewing of the witness.
"So, Mr. Johnson," began Joe "could you tell us how you found the body of the deceased?"
"It would be better if you would not omit anything." added Riley. "Any small detail could go a long way in helping us crack this case."
"Sure, detectives. I will try to tell everything I can remember."
And then Oscar once again repeated the events of the morning, starting with his coming to office, going to meet Terence regarding the production schedule, finding the door to the office open, and then entering the room and finding Terence's dead body. Riley and Joe, the good and patient detectives that they were, lit him finish before they started asking questions.
"So Oscar," began Joe, "was it unusual for Mr. Plank to leave the office door open?"
"Yes, he was kind of particular in these matters. He preferred the peace and quiet the it afforded. Also, he preferred natural illumination wherever possible."
"You mean to say that the room was soundproofed?" asked Riley.
"Yes sir. All the senior management's offices are." came the reply.
"What about the time of arrival?" this again from Riley. "Did Mr. Plank usually come this early?"
"Yes. Being an environmentally conscious person, he commuted by public transport, and liked to avoid the morning rush."
"Okay. Did he have any enemies that you know of? Or any persons who might benefit from his death?" Joe asked.
"As far as I know, Terence was single and had no family. His parents had died when he was young. As far as enemies go, there were those emails we had gotten some weeks earlier..."
Both Riley and Joe were aware of what Oscar was referring to. Two weeks ago, Energised had gotten emails threatening dire consequences if they went ahead with the launch of nLight1. At that time, they had been regarded as a scare tactic employed by the Power Mongers to stop the launch of nLight1. But now it seemed that whoever sent those emails had meant business. Maybe the death of Terence was just the beginning.
The remainder of the interview consisted of the standard fare of questions like remembering any suspicious looking persons in or around the facility, behaviour of Terence in recent weeks and so on. But unfortunately, Oscar and the rest of the people they interviewed were unable to provide anything useful to the detectives.
After this was done, Riley went to take a closer look at the crime scene. Like Joe had said to him earlier, he too did not find any signs of struggle, or a suicide note, or any clue that could point them in the direction of the murderer. But they decided to seal off the room for a few days, in case the investigation pointed them back towards the office of the dead man.
The next day, the medical examiner, Dr. Small, asked Riley and Joe to come over to the morgue. He had obtained a good idea of what the murder weapon probably was and how it had been used. Half an hour later, they were in his office.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡyZ8evS76Uc
"So doctor, have you found the cause of death?" began Joe.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡajnZvpMDkt
"Yes, it was as you suspected. He was poisoned."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡOZir2nbbfE
"And any idea around the time this would have taken place?" asked Riley.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡBjAc0L75up
"Yes, the time of death was five minutes before ten o'clock in the morning."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡQfiBzwxAUu
"That would put it just a minute or two before Oscar came looking for him." said Riley, "If he had walked in a little earlier, could there have been a chance of saving Mr. Plank?"861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡtVHTLHt01N
"Probably not," replied Dr. Small. "The antidote of the poison needs to be administered inside of five minutes after the infection. And death occurs approximately half an hour after the infection."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡLYKLQiBIq4
"So the poison was administered at around nine thirty in the morning." concluded Riley.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡT7PanfHmAO
"Yes and no." replied Dr. Small, and seeing the confused look on their faces, added. "In this case, there were trace amounts of the antidote mixed with the poison to delay its effect."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡygGt71OKTG
"Oh! And how much would this delay be?" asked Riley.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ4u1zCzO4Tf
"I would say about fifteen minutes, give or take a few. I will be able to give you a more accurate figure once I run some tests."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ6XZ47DxRii
"Okay. And any idea how the poison was administered to him?"861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDNoCxLTXO9
"Yes. I found a small puncture mark on the side of his neck. Probably from a needle or something similar."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡhUqJG67koT
Here Travis again stopped to think for a while. He had so far avoided mentioning about the poison, in order to conceal his utter lack of knowledge about them. But now it was necessary to write more about it, as the reader would probably be curious to know more. A way out, he reasoned would be if he had the doctor and the detectives know about the poison from a previous case, so that a very detailed description could be avoided, and he could get away by simply mentioning a fictitious name and a one or two lines on its working. A little thinking soon gave him the inspiration he needed and he continued writing.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDkGgbYV9Ii
"Do we know what poison was used?" 861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡOtjUDQLara
"Yes we do, Joe. It was StrangleHold."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡoQ2KjRiIOU
Both Riley and Joe exchanged glances. 861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡBIcvv5zRgG
StrangleHold had been a product of a secret biological warfare experiment, the details of which had been declassified only recently. Being law enforcement officials, they knew that it was a deadly mixture of chemicals and plant extracts which slowly caused the wind pipe to disintegrate (hence the name). The fact that the killer had access to such a well guarded weapon implied a very powerful and well connected adversary.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDNFKnI3x4u
"There is one mildly interesting thing I think you should know." said Dr. Small, as the two men started to make their way towards the door.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡabKCMtkMo1
"And that is?" asked Joe.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡCUxHOkcnNS
Travis stopped to think whether this was required. He had added the last piece of dialogue just to make things a bit more interesting, but was now unsure about how to proceed. Since Terence Plank was supposed to be a much older person, something interesting related to old age would serve the purpose, he thought. So after a giving thought to what happens to persons when they grow old, he continued.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡOwhUSrVmoz
"Mr. Plank had some false teeth."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡi1rZkj1AZ9
"That is to be expected for a man of his age. How is this supposed to be interesting?" asked a confused Riley.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ7W94r4J2Km
"One of them is missing. And no, it did not fall off." replied Dr. Small, seeing that Joe was about to jump to that conclusion.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡG6PEktH07w
"How do you know?" asked Riley.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡozWkR5bntS
"It was one of those fixed dental implants. From his dental records, I found that it had been put in two years ago. That is hardly long enough for it to fall off on its own."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjBWggbjYsC
"We'll keep that in mind." said Joe, puzzled by this latest bit of information. "It might be nothing, or might mean something."861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡTK6ScC5gVO
And thanking Dr. Small for the information, the two men exited the morgue.861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡemgQ7ZwRhy
Travis decided to end the chapter here. He was still unsure about how he would utilise the false tooth angle. But he let it remain. In the worst case it would come across as an unsolved mystery.
He read the entire chapter. Satisfied that all was in order, he saved his local copy and published the issue. 861Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡHKwPLCrN3I
As he went to sleep that night, his mind was busy thinking about the different possible ways in which he could take the story forward.ns 126.96.36.199da2