This is the third #SaturdayScenes installment for my in-work Ghost Writer, book 6 of the Our Cyber World series. You may access the story summary and other sample excerpts through the table of contents.
Let me know what you think!
Vivian reluctantly accepted a non-fiction writing assignment to ghost-write Cynthia Spencer’s memoirs. Having learned she will partner with a photographer who will bring her some bad memories, she sets out to pack her bags…
Chapter 2, part 1 ~ Preliminary Findings
In a follow-up email, Mark suggests I check out Cynthia’s exploits, “as documented in YouTube.” He does so because he knows me well enough to conclude I haven’t watched any of it, on TV or otherwise. I haven’t done it for the same reason I haven’t read her review of my first and only novel. I don’t need the distraction. Mark gets this. For having met me only once, he gets me. In this instance, he doesn’t assume I hang glued to a TV or equivalent video streaming device, catching everything and anything that goes viral. Most of all, the time has passed when I cared about going viral. I abandoned that alongside my now defunct Hollywood legacy.
On YouTube I find not one, but three video versions of “Cynthia Spencer trouncing the terrorist assassins,” as one of their witty bylines proclaims. At first I take these for copies of an original, perhaps edited differently. But I soon realize my error. In fact, each video provides a different viewpoint of the attack. One video is shot in typical cellphone fashion, in portrait mode and with all manner of jitter and bounce. Another, also of poor quality, seems more consistent with video shot from a high definition camcorder. For the third video, the author proudly proclaims in the notes field that he shot it with his brand new digital SLR camera and a long telephoto lens. Of the three, it provides the highest quality and most compelling perspective.
I use a notepad to jot down some notes and sketch out the locations of the three cameras. After a few replays, I develop a solid notion of the location of the attack and conclude the three video shooters more or less lined up in a triangle formation around the incident. What are the chances of that? When was the last time three cameras captured an event like this? Maybe 911, but that was way different, wasn’t it? Out of the thousands of people around Manhattan, many stood a good probability of carrying a video device they could point at a rather glaringly visible subject. But Cynthia Spencer, walking in a mall parking lot, and three cameras, two of them if full hidef mode happen to aim in her direction?
Well, who knows? I shrug. In our age, everyone’s a reporter. Anything to get yummy content that can go viral and make you an instant celeb.
Whatever. I go on to review each video again, jotting more notes along the way. I then turn those notes into an outline in my word processor, and with that outline, I type up as full an account as I can muster. I write in third person, with an omniscient point of view, trying and by enlarge failing not to sound ponderous. I briefly consider whether to turn it into first person so I can portray the event as if Cynthia Spencer were telling it, but I conclude I should hold off on that until I interview her and get her thoughts on the incident. And her voice. Oh, yes, I need her voice to do any sort of telling that won’t seem contrived.
By the time I dot the last period, the word processor tells me I’ve typed up a little over 1,000 words. That feels nice, the most I’ve written in a single sitting in days, maybe weeks. More than that, at least until the euphoria fades, they feel like good words. True words. Maybe even solid. Not the drivel I’ve been concocting of late.
I paste the text into an email, ready to send it to Mark as assurance I’m already working on the project. And producing, dear Mark. Yes, producing, real words that count for something, thank you so much for the juicy bone you threw my way.
Before I hit the send button, I read the passage aloud.
On the morning of May 20, thirty minutes before noon, Cynthia Spencer walked out of a San Jose mall carrying two shopping bags. As she approached her Mercedes convertible two motorcycles sped to her location and came to a hard stop behind her vehicle. The two riders, clad in jeans, heavy boots, black leather jackets, and charcoal helmets, dropped their bikes and rushed to accost her.
Cynthia paused for a split second, then tossed each of her attackers one of her shopping bags. Momentarily blinded by the large bags, both attackers batted them aside. By then, Cynthia Spencer no longer stood by her car.
Where most people would use the brief moment of surprise to run away, she used the opportunity to climb onto a nearby car’s rooftop, from which she then jumped on her nearest attacker.
She landed on him, swinging around his back. Her arm curled around his neck and in a split second, she twisted his head and snapped his neck.
The other attacker froze long enough for her to barrel into his stomach, knocking him backwards. Without hesitation, she jammed her fist upwards, through the gap between the bottom of his helmet and his neck to land a blow on his Adam’s apple.
In another second he was stumbling backwards, grabbing for his throat with both hands, tumbling, falling, choking. He struggled to take off his helmet in a doomed attempt to gasp for air.
By now Cynthia had returned to the first attacker. She searched him and came up with a handgun and a spare clip. In another second, she was raising the gun, aiming at a gray van that would have stopped to complete her abduction, but which instead now swerved around the motorcycles and sped by while Cynthia emptied the gun’s clip, shattering the front windshield and exploding the two tires nearest her.
The van careened by, swerved again, and slammed into a light pole.
Cynthia extended her arm and pressed the clip release on the handgun. A moment later, she was loading a second clip and walking toward the van.
She approached it with caution that proved unnecessary.
Minutes later, upon their arrival on the scene, police would confirm two dead men inside the van.
In all, four dead assailants, dispatched in the span of less than ninety seconds.