Continuing to do NaNoWriMo here with Operation: Endgame, although I fell a little behind on my word count in the past week (I have just hit 25,000 words which is about 25% of the book.) I am hoping to make some of that up over the next few days though.
I have posted several scenes from the beginning of this book. If you would like to read them in the order they are in the book, here is the breakdown in order:
*Prologue: Meeting Jake
*Chapter 1: Margaritas
*Chapter 1 continued: Notification
*Chapter 2: Condolences...below
And PLEASE remember....this is ALL very rough draft!!
May 15th, Present Day
Numb. That was all Cassie felt…simply numb. Cassie peered into her coffee cup and wondered if she should be feeling something more. Today was Chris’ funeral. She should be feeling more than this overwhelming apathy about everything going on around her. She stood here in the same kitchen where she stood every morning holding her coffee cup wearing the same periwinkle blue plaid robe that she wore every morning. Shouldn’t something feel different if Chris was really gone?
That was part of the problem though. She still couldn’t believe that Chris was really gone. Colton had arrived back in the States and back home about twelve hours after Jake had arrived. He verified the same things that Jake had told her. Chris had crashed his jet. No one knew exactly what had happened. The PJ’s had gone in and retrieved his body eighteen hours after it happened. No one would tell her where, how, or why. The only intel she could get was that Jake’s crew had something to do with the recovery and that Colton had identified what was left of his body.
Cassie looked across the island into the living room where Julie and Penelope were milling around handling the details and the lists for the funeral and the reception afterwards. Cassie could see Julie checking things off her never-ending lists. She could hear their murmuring voices although they were so low, that she couldn’t hear what they were saying. From the glances that they kept giving her, it was probably a good thing that she couldn’t hear what they were saying. They obviously were discussing her. Could they tell that she wasn’t feeling anything? Did they understand this never-ending numbness? Cassie couldn’t, but for now she was okay with it. She didn’t want to feel because, when it happened, Cassie knew that the pain was going to shred her. For now, Cassie felt like she was living life in a fog, and that was really okay.
Julie came and joined her in the kitchen. There was a plate of muffins on the island in front of her that someone had brought in this morning. Julie pushed the plate towards her. “Cassie, you need to eat something.” Cassie started to shake her head no, but Julie wasn’t going to let her off the hook that easily. “Cass, you haven’t touched anything in days. It’s going to be a stressful day today and you don’t want to pass out at the funeral. Just eat half a muffin and I will leave you alone.” Julie was looking at her with such concern in her clear green eyes that Cassie couldn’t refuse; besides she had a good point. Cassie didn’t want to pass out at the funeral.
“Okay.” Cassie scooped up a muffin and pointed towards the French doors. “I am going to go sit outside while I eat it, okay? Just yell if you need me for anything.” She glanced towards where Penelope was still working in the living room and scurried out the doors.
Cassie sat down at the bistro table where just five days before the three of them had been drinking margaritas and celebrating life. How had so much changed in such a short amount of time?
Cassie heard the doorbell ring inside the house. It had been ringing non-stop for days now as friends brought food and flowers. She knew one of the girls would take care of whatever it was. If Cassie was a good person, she would get up and handle some of this herself, rather than leaving it all to others to handle, but she just couldn’t bring herself to care.
As she had that thought, Penelope stuck her head out the door and said, “Cassie, there is a delivery here. They are insisting that you have to sign for it.”
Cassie looked puzzled, but stood and started towards the door. “Okay, I am coming.” When Cassie arrived inside she saw a delivery man standing at the front door holding a long rectangular box and a clipboard. She rushed over and signed by the X and looked questioningly at the delivery box. There was not a return address, so she turned back towards the delivery man and asked, “Where did this come from?”
He glanced down at his clipboard. “It says here that it’s from someone named Bernard Kleptofine.”
Cassie looked at him sharply. “Do you mind if I look?” She reached for the clipboard and looked down at it. “Weird.” She handed the clipboard back to the delivery guy with a scowl between her brows.
Penelope looked at Cassie questioningly. “What’s wrong? Who is Bernard Kleptofine?”
“He’s the bad-guy in Endgame, the video game that I worked on last year. He’s a fictional character.” Cassie grabbed the scissors out of the drawer and opened up the box. On top of a pile of Styrofoam peanuts was a small card. Cassie opened it. “It just says ‘Condolences’. It must be from a fan of the video game that heard about Chris.” She handed the card over to the girls as she reached into the box to pull out a heavily bubble wrapped oblong object.
As she unwrapped the object, Julie looked at her worriedly. “How would a fan get your home address?”
Cassie shrugged. “I don’t know. Until a year ago, it didn’t matter who had my address so I doubt that it would be that hard to track it down if someone wanted to. I am not exactly hidden especially with my University connections and the fact that this has been my address for a long time.”
Cassie reached the end of the roll of never-ending bubble wrap which revealed a very small, probably 1/3 scale, replica of a Thompson machine gun. “Oh wow. Look at this.”
Penelope looked even more perplexed. “Why would anyone send you a gun as a sympathy gift?”
For the first time, Cassie felt the first crack in her apathetic armor and her eyes filled with tears. “I collect them, and this is a gorgeous miniature replica. Look at the detail on this thing.” She held the gun up and inspected the details closely.
“I still don’t understand. Why would someone send you a gun for a condolence gift when your brother was just killed in action?” Penelope was becoming obviously upset by what she considered to be a crass gift.
“No, Penelope. You don’t understand. This is from one of the fans of the game. In one of my magazine interviews I talked about the fact that I collect Thompson machine guns. The reason that I collect them is because when Chris, Jake, and I were young, we played war games around the neighborhood constantly. The Thompson was our favorite weapon of choice. It’s actually a really thoughtful, sweet gift to remind me of fun times with Chris.” Cassie’s voice choked up when she said Chris’ name.
Penelope came up behind Cassie and gave her a gentle hug from behind. “You, my friend, are a very strange bird. You had to have the most unusual childhood of anyone I know, growing up with all the boys.”
Cassie looked at the gun with a watery smile. “It was the best childhood that any girl could ask for. I had three guys who loved and took care of me every single day of it.”
Julie came up and hugged Cassie from the other side. “So what do you do with a miniature replica weapon?”
Cassie extracted herself from their embrace and walked the gun over and set it on her mantle above the fireplace. “You put it in a place of honor to remember the good times.” She rubbed a hand over the framed snapshot that was sitting right beside the gun of the three of them when they were young. If she remembered right, the photo was taken about a year after Jake had moved in next door, so that made him eleven years old and the twins nine years old when the photo was taken. All three of them were in full camouflage regalia…full face paint and camo fatigues. Chris stood in the middle between Jake and Cassie and all three of them wore a grin that spread from ear to ear. Those bright white teeth and white eyes standing out against their smeared and running face paint. It was one of her most beloved photos of the three of them…the Three Musketeers. Now they were down to two.
These are my words so you are not allowed to copy, alter, or re-print them anywhere else without my permission. ;o)