Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another Opium Excerpt


I thought I'd post another excerpt from my novel. As a set up for this scene, the main character, Edward, has recently been taken into custody by the Charismatics because of his behavior at a recent book burning. It's also important to note, because of one of his statements, that Edward is Jewish.



“How much have things changed at the lab?” Edward asked.
His friend Bill smiled a half smile. His weathered black face showing some of the life it once had. “We’re still doing research, but it’s nothing like we used to.”
“What do you mean?”
“Edward,” his friend said glancing around, “Do you really think we should be talking about this? Didn’t you just get interrogated a couple of days ago?”
Edward waved his hand in the air. “They can’t arrest me for asking innocent questions.” Bill just looked at him. Edward laughed. “Okay, maybe they can, but I think it’s alright.”
He glanced around as well. The street was well lit and fairly crowded. It was market day, and many of the vendors had yet to pack up their belongings for the evening. People walked around in their most colorful clothes, laughing and smiling as if all was right in the world. The vendors called out the names of their goods in loud voices trying to drown out the competition. Many of the items being sold were useless in Edward’s opinion. How many different types of prayer beads could one person own? Some of the vendors brought food items in from the country. There was nothing like farm grown chickens or milk from a hand-milked cow. Edward noticed a man in a black uniform two stalls behind them, looking over some fabric. As Edward watched, the man glanced up and looked right at Edward and his friend.
“Maybe it isn’t safe.”
Bill followed Edward’s gaze. He shook his head and sighed. “They don’t hide most of their research from the public, so we can talk about that. I wouldn’t talk about the top secret stuff anyway.”
“Bill,” Edward said, glancing back and noticing that the Charismatic was still behind them, walking slowly, seeming to make sure he was two stalls behind them. “Is there any real research still going on?”
Bill shrugged. “Sure, I guess. I mean, we really are doing research, some of it’s even scientific, but it’s only research that will help the government.” He laughed. “It’s really not a whole lot different than it was with the old government, just a little more philosophy and dogma thrown in.”
The two men stepped up onto the sidewalk as a car came down the market street. Cars were rare, so everyone stopped what they were doing and watched it go by. The windows were opaqued, but the car bore the gold cross of the Charismatics on the driver’s door, and Edward assumed on the passenger’s door as well. As if that were necessary. Only the religious drove, so who else could it have been?
“What do you mean about philosophy?” Edward asked once the noise of the street had returned to normal. No use in making it too easy on the Charismatic who was obviously listening in on their conversation with some sort of device.
Still he worried; maybe Bill was a traitor. Edward had seen it happen a number of times before. Even a few of his friends had betrayed people they’d known for years, decades even.
“Well, there’s one whole group that’s trying to determine what Jesus’ last words were.”
“How could anyone know?”
“Like I said, it’s philosophy, but it’s an interesting question. What would He have said before dying?”
“Ouch!”
“Careful Edward…that could get you killed.”
“I know, but I’m sure his last words weren’t ‘Damn the Jews,’ like so many people think.”
“What’s going on with you, Edward? I’ve never seen you this wound up before.”
“I guess it’s just…” Edward didn’t finish his sentence as he suddenly made out a face in the crowd, walking parallel to them, but in the opposite direction, and looking right at him. The face belonged to a man in his late twenties, who was tall and thin. The man smiled, and Edward saw there was a gap between the two front teeth.
“Edward?” Bill said.
Edward turned to face Bill, suddenly realizing where he’d seen the man. He’d been in the store the day the Charismatic had followed him. Not only that, but Edward was sure he had seen the man on campus before the Ascension.
“Everything okay, Edward?”
“Yeah,” he said, turning back towards the man from college, but he was gone. Edward turned and saw the Charismatic was still keeping pace with them. “I just remembered I need to get home. Adriana wanted to talk about something.” He had no idea why he was lying. The last thing he wanted was to see Adriana, and the last thing he could do was go chasing after phantoms with gap toothed smiles, but if this man might be looking for him, he might go to Edward’s home. It was a crazy thought, but Edward didn’t think the meetings were chance.
“I’ll talk to you later,” Edward said, turning and heading for home. The Charismatic stepped aside as Edward almost ran him over. He hadn’t walked this fast in a long time. It felt good. Edward turned around and saw the Charismatic talking into his radio. “Wonderful,” Edward muttered to himself. He’d probably get arrested for almost knocking the idiot down.


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2 comments:

Nikol said...

What do you think of Obadiah Shoher's extensive reply to Ed Said at http://samsonblinded.org/titles/edward_said_end_peace_process.htm ?

Jim Shannon said...

Hi J,

Great Snippet J. Why not post it over at my Friday Snippets wedgit? It doesn't cost anything. I've got my recent one up and running now.