Imagine the scene – build the tension …
So, here’s a short bit from the novel in progress, ‘Silent as the Dead’.
An armed gunman is stalking a young girl in an underground car park. Outer doors are locked. Two cops outside. Backup (ARU) running late. What do they do?
DC Bola Odunsi was a good cop and he knew it. He’d had a few wobbles, sure, particularly after DS Steve Banner’s murder and the ensuing DCI Wilder debacle, but he’d got over that. He was on the good guys’ side now, and proud of it. He and Tess worked great together and Bola had a lot of time for his tenacious, sassy partner. Thing was, there was an armed guy in the building and his sense of … well, rightness, wouldn’t allow him to rank Tess lower than himself in the safety and due diligence stakes. That meant she stayed outside while he went in for the girl – if there was a way in.
But it wouldn’t be easy. Tess wasn’t one to hang fire and he’d have to insist. They were standing at the rear of the apartment block, by the concrete ramp which led to the electronic car park door.
Which was shut.
Their heads were close together. Bola said:
‘You can open these from inside. Button to open, button to close.’
Tess looked the metallic slats up and down. ‘Helpful.’
Bola made a frustrated face. ‘What I mean is, if she can get to the door and hit the button, she’s out.’
Tess shook her head. ‘He’s in there, close. He has a gun. He’ll pick her off as soon as she breaks cover.’
‘Maybe he won’t shoot her. Maybe he just wants to put the frighteners on.’
‘We don’t know enough about what’s going on here, Bola. We can’t take that chance.’
‘So what, then?’
‘I’ll talk to him.’
Bola shook his head. ‘Uh uh. No way.’
‘Then we check with the boss.’ Tess thumbed her radio.
Charlie’s voice: ‘Go ahead, Tess.’
Can you feel the tension?
I suffer from that annoying condition called bruxism – where your teeth clench involuntarily during the night, rather like the Clashing Rocks (The Symplegades or Planctae?) which tried to crush Jason and his merry bunch of Argonauts during their quest for The Golden Fleece. Sometimes my tongue fills in for Jason and his crew and blood is spilled. It’s annoying to say the least. The other problem, apart from potential tongue injuries, is the headache which greets me after a particularly bad night of unruly clashing. It’s not a headache as such, more a skull-ache. Painkillers don’t touch it and the only thing to do is get on with the day and let it fade gradually (or not, as the case may be).
And so, it is with imaginable joy and delight in my heart, dear reader, (yes, and head) that I sit at my desk this grey morning in the Royal County to continue writing ‘Silent as the Dead’.
But lessons can be learned from infirmity, right? Jason could either have set course for Scylla and Charybdis, the legendary sea monsters, or the Clashing Rocks. Not much of a choice. From Jason’s dilemma we gain several colloquial idioms: having to choose between two evils, between a rock and a hard place, between the devil and the deep blue sea, and many more. So Jason was going to face difficulties whichever direction he decided to sail.
Writing is a bit like that. Should the plot move this way, or that way? If that way, then what happens to X or Y? If this way, then Z needs to be revisited and rewritten.
Anyway, Jason got some unusual help in the end. A bit of a Deus ex machina situation if ever there was one – I mean do gods really rise from the deep in real life to save us from danger? Am I to expect a tap on the window from Hermes this morning? That’s a whole new question and this is turning into a Ronnie Corbett story so maybe it’s time to stop.
Don’t worry, my bruxism isn’t due to my being an author. Writing isn’t that stressful.
(… continues to sound of gnashing teeth …)