ByMatthew Bailey, writer at Creators.co
Husband. Father. Gamer. Cinema Lover. Mix it all together, and there I am. I love all things pop-culture and coffee; but coffee is the best.
Matthew Bailey

I know that Moviepilot is a source for movies, comics, news, fandom and so much more, but through conversations with a very wonderful MP Staffer, I've decided that I needed to start writing again. More than just writing articles, I needed to get my manuscripts out again and pour through them. I have included the beginning of one in this post to gather your opinions and insight. But before you read the story, I wanted to give you the history of how it came to be.

Years ago, I found myself floundering through high school. I was disinterested and unchallenged but no teacher took the time to notice that I wasn't struggling because of a lack of intellect, I was struggling because I understood the material and needed new challenges. It wasn't until my Junior year when I took the ACT and received a cumulative 34. (which corresponds to roughly a 2200 SAT score). Word got around to my junior lit teacher, and she about tackled me when she found that I got a full 34/36/35 on the English, Comp and Reading sections respectively. She pulled me aside and asked me why I was nearly failing out of her class and many of my others? - so I explained.

How can you expect me NOT to fail, when not a single teacher has asked me that question until now? - in my junior year? - I'm failing because not once has any teacher brought something challenging to me. You show us material and assume that it's going to take me 3 weeks to comprehend it, and when I understand it in the first week: rather than asking how I'm progressing, you assume the lowest common denominator as being the majority of the group and we spend weeks over-analyzing everything because of the half dozen students who don't get it or are too lazy to try. So I quit. I quit a long time ago Mrs. R., and nobody cared to notice that I quit. They just assumed that I was one of the lowest common denominators and they moved on.

She sighed, and apologized.

You're right, we missed you. We probably missed lots like you, and for that I'm truly sorry. But I genuinely want you to excel and to see what you can achieve, because I think you're going to surprise yourself. We're going to call this marking period a trail run and next period I want you to transfer to my creative writing class. It's mostly seniors, but I think you need it more than any of them do.

So I agreed, and a few weeks later I was in Creative Writing. The first assignment was to write a story on a sound. It could be any genre, any form as long as it accumulated to about 2 pages worth of writing. I didn't know what to do, this was the first real challenge. It was always: write this, for this long, and make sure it's in 5 paragraph form with valid citation and a full bibliography and none of it can come from wikipedia.

So I sat at my computer that very night and opened up Microsoft Word and wrote these words:

These nine words began my descent into the deep, dark, seedy underbelly of literary snobism. I thrived on the grammatical ineptitude of others around me and laughed in the face of those who thought they could out 'literary' me...

Not really though. But truly those 9 words brought me to a realization about myself that I would never have found had I not been inspired in the first place. I wound up sitting at my desk that night and for nearly 3 hours I typed and brainstormed and at the end I came to the conclusion that I was nowhere near the end of this story that I wrote. 3,191 words in and I decided that I had reached the end of a chapter not the story itself, so I printed my 12 pages and turned them in simply entitled: Control.

I approached Mrs. R.'s room the next morning before 1st period and dropped off my paper explaining:

I understand that you only asked for 2 pages, but I wrote 12 and I don't expect you to read it all, but you can read the first 2 I just wanted it to all be together in case you did read it all.

Before she could respond I left the room onto my first class unknowing that she would spend much of her first hour prep reading my submission. Later that afternoon I walked into her class and slipped into my desk near the back only to hear her begin the class reading those first nine words. I looked up as she read through my paper verbatim in its entirety.

The entire class sat there listening to her read my words. I wasn't sure what was going on until she slid off of her desk in front of the classroom and said:

Your assignment was to write me a story in any form that starts with and focuses on sound. I gave this assignment last night, and what I just read was turned in by someone in this very class early this morning, and it went beyond my wildest expectations of what this student was capable of. He knows who he is and I don't need to single him out other than to say congratulations and I look forward to reading your manuscript in long form as a true novel.

And with that I was inspired and challenged to pursue my writing future. I spent all the time I could spare over the next two years as I repeated her class in my senior year as her student assistant during that class so that I could glean all that I could from her teaching and the several writing conferences that I was able to attend thanks to her.

That was nearly 12 years ago now, and after I attended my local community college, my professors once again didn't care and belittled my opinion and my writing which caused me to shuffle it into the recesses of my portable hard drive and nearly forget all about it until about mid-March when a wonderful Staffer, Dana, approached me through email and I was re-inspired to write again, and so this is the nearly 12 year old manuscript that I am pouring through again because I have decided that regardless of it's reception I am going to finish my story and see if I can find someone to publish.

So here goes, welcome to my novel: Control.

----- ----- ----- -----
Prologue

Behind him the noise escalated, intensifying as it neared. He couldn’t move to see it, but he didn’t have to; he knew what was coming. Closer and closer it came with each labored breath, louder by the second. Slowly looking up at the cold metal ceiling layered with interwoven copper and silver pipes, weaving together as if retelling his whole story in a confusing tapestry, he closed his eyes and thinks, Why me?

#

One

“Good Morning, Seattle. Today we are looking at partly cloudy skies with the possibility of a few showers during your morning drive time. We’ll have a high of sixty-four degrees by noon. No real road problems to report that will slow you down today, so enjoy your morning drive with this new song…”

Click. Connor sits up in his bed and lets out a loud yawn as his hand slides off of his alarm clock. Still half asleep he walks across his bedroom, shuffling through small piles of clothes on the bamboo wood floors. Stumbling into the bathroom he flips the switch and lights flicker on gently growing brighter. Connor leans over the sink, and gazes into the mirror at his half open deep blue eyes. He scans over his face and reaches up with his left hand and rubs his chiseled cheek bones and feels how rough it is.

“I should probably shave today.” – He mutters to himself.

Connor blinks a couple times and lets his hand fall back to his side. He pauses for a moment and yawns again and shakes his head slightly and turns back out of the bathroom.

Connor groggily steps back out into his bedroom and stretches his muscular arms up above his head and runs his hands through his wavy chestnut colored hair. Allowing his arms to fall back to his side, he walks over to the nearest pile of clothes. Reaching down grabs his Flash t-shirt and lifts it up to his face and takes a sniff. As he pulls it over his head, he smiles and rubs his eyes. Walking towards his bedroom door, he stops at the dresser and grabs the top pair of khakis and gets his left foot in just as the phone begins to ring. Hopping on one leg over to his cell phone on the nightstand, he continues to struggle with the khakis as he grabs it and answers.

“Hello, this is Connor.” – He says with another yawn.

“Good morning Connor. This is Samantha from RIPtech Industries. I am calling for Mr. Allen. He would like to speak with you. May I conference you through?”

“Um… Sure,” Connor answers confusedly. He looks at the clock radio that he just shut off and thinks - Good God he’s going to fire me…

“Good morning Connor. I hope I didn’t wake you, but I’m in the middle of another conference call with a few of our German partners and we were looking at the future of our programming resources and some of the upcoming projects. I know you weren’t planning on coming in early, but we would really appreciate it if you could come in and look over some of these projects. We could use your expertise on a few ideas.”

“Um… okay. I can come in, but isn’t this something that Greg should handle?” – Connor asks and continues, “and it will probably take me about a half hour to get there though.”

“Oh, that’s no problem. Gregory is here as well, but seeing as we’re talking about your specific division and your projects, we both thought it would be a good idea to get you in here to look at this before we get ahead of ourselves” – Mr Allen answers quickly, “please come in as soon as you can. We’ll be waiting in my office when you arrive, Samantha will buzz you right in.” Click.

Connor puts his phone back in his pocket and thinks to himself, what the hell was that? - as he finishes getting dressed and heads downstairs.

#

“Mr. Allen,” Samantha says through the intercom, “Will you accept a call from Mr. Ripley?”

“Yes Samantha, send him through please.”

“Good morning Nathan.” Mr. Allen answers.

“What’s so good about it David? You’re obviously not seeing what I have in front of me.” a raspy voice that belongs to the Global CEO, Nathan Ripley mutters.

“As a matter of fact, Nathan, I have something in the works that should negate the report that I assume you’re so worried about,” Mr. Allen says coolly.

“It had better work David, otherwise I’m hanging you out there on your own. I’m not letting you drag my company down because your idiocy.” Click.

Mr. Allen turns off his headset and looks at the middle aged man in front of him and asks, “You’re sure that Connor is the only one who has this knowledge?”

“He wrote the damn thing, and I don’t even understand how it works completely, so yes he is the only one.” Gregory answers as he shifts uncomfortably in his chair, reaching up to adjust his glasses perched on top of his slightly crooked nose. He blinks and continues, “I’ve never seen code like what he has given us when he joined the team, and if there’s anyone who can do what you want it would be him.”

Mr Allen turns his chair to stand. As he moves toward the window of the high rise building he grasps his hands behind his back as a sly smile begins to form in the corner of his mouth. Gregory sits there fidgeting with his fingers in his lap as the once blue sky begins to swirl with light grey clouds over the skyline before them.

#

Connor slides down the banister of the staircase, landing at the foot of the stairs. Turning the corner he enters the kitchen headed for the back door. On the counter, he spots his keys and wallet. Grabbing them, he leaves through the back door. Connor takes two steps away then turns around and unlocks the back door. Stepping back in, he reaches over the counter and grabs a banana. The wall clock above the kitchen sink reads 6:25, so he thinks, I better to get going. Connor closes the door again behind him and walks to the garage. He lifts open the garage door and looks at his beauty, his love, his green Pontiac GTO and smiles. Connors says to his car, “Hey there beautiful.” Connor runs his hand across the hood as he walks to the driver’s side door. He slides into the leather seats. The car comes alive with a low purr as Connor shifts gears and pulls out into the street.

Try to give you warning but everyone ignores me….

Connor shouts out, “I love this song!” as he rolls down the windows and cranks the volume as he drives tapping his hand on the roof of the car. The stereo blares as RIPtech looms in the distance. The building streaks into the clouds drawing anyone’s gaze toward it. RIPtech became the name for all technology when routing protocols were first introduced; making advances that were leaps and bounds ahead of any other company at the time. The company was built on the vision and persistance of David Allen and Nathan Ripley as they partnered nearly 20 years ago in a bar outside of Dallas..

Loud and clear, but nobody’s listening… call to you so clearly, but you don’t want to hear me… Told you everything loud and clear… but nobody’s listening… That was Nobody’s Listening by Linkin Park. Let’s get into the news on the hour with Rod.”

Connor turns down the radio so that he can once again hear himself think. Beginning to wonder again why he was asked to come in by Mr. Allen because he has never been asked to come in and talk about programming decisions.

“Maybe I’m going to get a promotion.” He laughs to himself.

Connor pulls into the parking garage and says “good morning” as he parks and walks past the security booth and smiles at Raymond. He gets to the elevator and is about to press the up button when the door opens revealing a beautiful woman reading the newspaper. Connor smiles as he steps into the elevator and can smell the lotus blossom perfume that she wears every morning. He can’t help but smile as her silky blonde hair flows over her bright blue eyes and she’s completely unaware that he is standing next to her.

“Good morning beautiful.” Connor says with a coy smile, “why’d you leave before I could say good morning?”

Katrina smiles behind her paper as she folds it back up, “I didn’t want to wake you up since I knew you were coming in later today…. Which by the way, what are you doing here? She asks turning to face him as she flips her hair out of her face.

Pressing the thirteenth floor button he steps back next to her and puts his hands in his pockets and answers “David asked me to come in this morning and look over some programming projects.”

“Really? Doesn’t Gregory usually handle that stuff? Why do you think he called you?” she asks.

“You’re asking the guy with the same questions. I’m not sure. Maybe he called me in to tell me that I’m fired.” Connor lets out a nervous laugh.

Katrina puts her hand on his arm and says soothingly, “Let’s hope that’s not the intention,” and smiles at him with a wink, “but I’ll by your sugar mama.”

Ping.

“That’s me. If I don’t run into you before you leave tonight, make sure to give me a call tonight and tell me about your meeting with David, okay?” She brushes past him as he holds the door open for her, kissing his cheek softly. She turns around and walks gracefully away as the doors close.

The elevator begins to rise again, bringing Connor to the thirteenth floor. Connor listens to the soft melody playing in the elevator and can’t help but wonder what’s going on.

Ping.

Connor looks through the crack as the doors open, and stares down a long hallway unfolding before him, lined with office doors and picture windows to the offices behind the doors. The elevator opens completely and Connor steps out. He walks slowly down towards David’s office. It seems as if everyone in the offices is looking back at him as he walks past. Connor becomes more anxious now; he starts to wonder if they know something that he doesn’t.

As he approaches the end of the hallway and David’s office, Samantha sees him, “Morning sweetie, glad you could make it in. You got here quickly.” She says with a comforting smile. Samantha has been with RIPtech nearly as long as both Nathan and David. She came from Dallas with the two men as they settled in Seattle. She brought her southern accent and the personality as everyone’s ‘mama’ as she liked to be called.

“Um… yeah, do you know what’s going on?” – Connor asks.

“I really don’t. Sorry darling.” Samantha answers in her gentle tone. “Go right in though Mr. Allen and Mr. Kent are both waiting for you,” she says. Connor walks toward the office door and takes a break, and knocks.

Connor hears Mr. Allen’s muffled voice say, “Come in. Come in.”

Connor opens the door and walks into the office. Connor looks around and notices that Mr. Allen’s office is bare; nearly empty aside from the large glass desk and a couple chairs in front, one occupied by Greg. David motions for Connor to come forward and have a seat in the extra chair in front of him. Connor sits down and looks between the two men. Greg avoids eye contact as he shuffles papers in front of him on his own lap.

“So…” Connor turns to David, “not to be too blunt Mr. Allen, but why do you need my input?” he asks hesitantly hoping David will get it over with fast.

“Please, enough with the pleasantries. You know it’s always been David. I asked you to come in and talk about the direction of your division.” David says almost as though it was practiced.

“Are you trying to fire me? Or demote me?” Connor asks as his heart starts to beat harder.

“Whoa, who said anything about firing or demoting? There is no need to get all worked up. I didn’t call you in to fire you. I called you in because we have a proposition for you that will require your specific skills” David answers calmly pausing for a moment to see Connor’s reaction was.

“What kind of proposition?” Connor asks inquisitively, Mr. Allen leans over his desk and Gregory places a few documents on the desk in front of them.

“This is strictly confidential; I trust that you can keep this between us?” He asks smoothly. “This job honestly requires you Connor, not just a programmer like you. Since you are, well… you, then you can see why I would call you in Connor. We’ve been hearing rumors coming from a few well placed sources within our main competitor, Fractal Components, about a new protocol that they have been designing. This software will seemingly put us out of business if it’s legitimate. Their software, Dolphin, is a self-adjusting system. From what I have heard it is near perfect. Dolphin analyzes its own network and functionality as it processes and transfers data and adjusts to compensate for problems within itself. Fundamentally it uses a sort of Artificial Intelligence but it goes a step beyond that as well it seems. I need you to access Fractal Components’ network and find out everything about Dolphin.” David stops and leans back again to let Connor absorb all of the information.

Connor is speechless, Ideas are running through his head so fast that he can’t decide what to say. “What the hell? Are you fucking kidding me? You want me to jeopardize everything that I’ve worked so hard to achieve in the past eight years on an impossibility! You want me to risk prison for corporate espionage for a company that barely pays me enough to live in the city?” Connor screams as he stands up and pushes past Greg as he fumbles with the papers in his lap, “Goodbye David!”.

“Connor! Connor! Come back here… We’re not done talking yet! I know all about your past, it’s why we hired you in the first place! Don’t make me do something you’re going to regret.” David yells after Connor.

Connor continues down the hallway not turning around at the calls from Mr. Allen. As Connor reaches the elevator David shouts through the open door, “Samantha get Duncan on the phone, NOW!”

“Is that really necessary David?” Greg asks meekly and offers, “I’m sure he will come back, you just need to find the right incentive. Maybe there’s something else that would encourage him to do this?”

David’s phone rings “Duncan? Yes, I need you to do something for me. I need everything you have on Connor Clarke.” David rips his headset off his ear and throws it across the room.

“I thought you said he would be easy to convince?!” David asked as Greg began to scoop up his pages of data.

“Well… you didn’t really ease into the offer, did you?” Greg answers, “I assumed you would work your way into the whole illegal act part of it.”

“Damn it!” David turns back to the window and tries to calm himself down as the clouds grow darker and darker in front of him. “…storm’s coming.” He mutters under his breath.

#

----- ----- ----- -----

Well, there it is. The first time I've let anyone outside of that class, and my immediate family read a part of my story. I'm going back through and editing it now, seeing as my word usage and technique have changed in 12 years. I'm at nearly 14,000 words and I still remember everything that I had planned in the story, but I'd love to get any of your input.

What do you all think? - I know this isn't normally what we post on Moviepilot, but I also figured that I can't pass up an opportunity to look for input from a writing community.

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