Alive-Third Book Completed

I am happy to announce that I completed a rough draft of Alive on thursday. I will be returning to the story to add, cut, delete, edit etc and have a polished version ready by July at the latest. Once I have an edited version, I will then look into editing services that can give me impartial advice on the book. Then I will pursue an agent. However, I wish to take a break from it for a week so I can return to it with fresh eyes.

Alive follows Mason, a young black man in a medieval society who is bitten by a werewolf. After surviving an attempt on his life, Mason meets Ayda, the woman who bit him. Ayda offers him a sanctuary in a society that rejects their kind, but informs him that she plans to use their power to eliminate the people who discriminate against them. Torn between his conscience and a desire for vengeance, Mason must confront a society that wants him dead and a woman who wants to use him to wage war.

I am especially proud of this book since it began with one poem that I posted to this blog. I built on that on poem with others and was able to craft a full novel from it. It has demonstrated the value of blogging and the creative benefits that it can bring.  I am also debating doing a second part, since the ending to this first book is open ended.

Once Alive is completed, I want to begin working on a novel for Hazard.

Stretching Writing Muscles

As I continue working on Alive, I’ve tried to keep a set deadline for its completion. Like my previous books, I set my original goal as one page per day. A typical novel’s length is 60,000-100,000 words and I figured that Alive would be at least 80,000 words. One page is typically about 300 words. That would mean the book would take at least 266 days to write, plus the time I would need to edit it before I can start submitting it to literary agents.

A friend told me about National Novel Writing Month, which challenges writers to write 1,000 words a day. Although I didn’t officially compete, I set the goal of 1,000 words a day for myself and this allowed me to craft the first 15,000 words of my book in a relatively short period of time. I read an article by James Altucher where he says that trying to hit a new daily limit is like stretching a muscle. I stretched the muscle to 1000, but then fell back on 500. With simple math this means that writing the book will likely take twice as long.

However, I also don’t want to fall into the trap of writing only to hit a word limit. This could lead to rushed plot developments or poor dialogue that I have to spend a lot of time editing anyway. I finished my first rough draft of Elseworld pretty quickly but then had to spend plenty of time editing dialogue, plot holes, removing characters and completely rewriting the book from start to finish. Elseworld was a great learning experience but I also don’t want to use it as an excuse to stick to 500 words a day.

As I write Alive, I brainstorm the next few pages of the book. This allows me to have a clear idea of where I am going with the next 1000 words to hopefully avoid time consuming rewrites later in the process. I’m currently at 30,000 words and if I can commit to 1000 words a day I can have a rough draft completed by April. Alive feels like it will be longer than Elseworld, and I am predicting the rough draft will hit 100,000 words, which will need to be trimmed. The main areas I will trim will likely be the first thirty pages.

In some ways, Alive is a superhero story, about a regular person being bestowed with superhuman abilities. The origin story might be taking up too much time. The one time I got any personalized feedback from an agent, they advised that they were worried the story started too slow. Alive has a slower start, so I think it is a good idea to cut it down for the final draft. I don’t want to remove all of the content but I will likely reformat it into condensed flashbacks. Until then, I want to keep taking it 1000 words at a time.

Alive: Part V

Hello everyone,

This piece will conclude the Alive series. I have finished a draft of The Visitor, and plan to start editing it in two weeks. I want to let it sit for a little while so I can return to it with fresh(er) eyes.

*******

The six-foot thick sheet of glass fell to the ground,

The scientists already vacated the room,

But their scents lingered,

Forming a trail that I could easily follow,

There was a door on the left side,

I knew I couldn’t fit through it,

With one slap I tore down the brick wall around it,

Showering the ground with tiles and revealing a hallway that led to the surface,

I could see the scientists now,

Running as fast as their legs would carry them,

They were about fifty feet ahead of me,

While a line of armed soldiers were less than ten feet away,

 

I screamed as a barrage of bullets hit me,

With the scream coming out as a growl,

Bullets pierced my chest, arms, legs,

I fell to the ground,

Knowing what the soldiers would do next,

They kept shooting for a few seconds,

More bullets hit my skull,

Grazing the skin but failing to break through the thick bone,

I barely refrained from smiling as I heard the click of empty magazines,

 

My body was already expelling the bullets,

Slowly pushing them out to make way for new muscle,

The pain would persist for several hours,

My mind would block it out,

My body was ready,

I leapt off the ground,

Swinging my right arm in an arc,

My claws severed necks,

Cleaved skulls,

Lacerated faces,

Five hits,

Five soldiers dead,

 

One more problem to take care of,

I waited a few more seconds,

I could feel some of the bullet holes were healed,

There were just a few more to go now,

One bullet was still being dislodged from my left knee,

Tearing through nerves and veins as it made its way out,

I heard it hit the ground,

Then I could feel my muscles stretching to sew up the hole,

I planted my legs beneath me,

Feeling their strength,

Knowing that I was ready,

 

I pushed off,

Sailing over the soldier’s bodies,

Another leap,

Then another,

The gap between the scientists and I continued to dwindle,

I could only make out grey figures with my eyes,

But my nose and hearing showed me more,

Their coats flapping,

The rhythm of their steps,

Sweat on their skin,

The scent of food on their tongues,

 

With ten leaps,

There was food on my tongue,

I tore through the first scientist’s shoulder,

My teeth collided with one another,

Rattling my jaw,

Compressing bone and flesh,

The man’s scream was almost deafening to my ears,

So I brought my right paw onto his head to silence him,

I felt his skull flex under the weight before it stretched and crushed his brain,

As I raised my paw,

His head was a single splatter on the metal floor beneath me,

Three more to go,

They were all running at a similar pace,

Separated by only a few feet,

 

Five leaps,

One swing of my right arm,

Two more carcasses,

I wanted to take my time with the last one,

He was the mastermind behind my imprisonment,

I wanted him to stare into Frankenstein’s eyes before he died,

Two more leaps,

A claw tore through his Achilles tendons,

Sending him crashing to the ground,

 

I heard screams again,

So loud, so grating,

Worse than gunfire,

The mastermind kept moving forward,

Trying to crawl to safety,

I slid a paw underneath his chest,

Lifted my arm to effortlessly flip him onto his back,

 

He saw me now,

Red eyes,

Bloodstained teeth,

Five hundred pounds of fur-coated muscle,

The scent of urine became more pungent,

The screams died down to a whimper,

Tears mixed with sweat,

Forming a tapestry that I found deeply satisfying,

Not because of the smell itself,

But what it signified,

The mastermind now realized that I was not his pet,

I was his damnation,

 

My teeth tore through his face,

Penetrating his eyes, mouth and skull,

As I pulled my teeth away,

I could only make out a severed neck beneath me,

A macabre fountain that was decorating the ground with coppery blood,

 

The scientists picked this area because it was remote,

Now that would be their undoing,

The sun wouldn’t come up for eight more hours,

My new body would carry me far away by then,

To freedom,

To peace.

 

 

My Next Steps for Getting Published

Hello everyone,

As I stated in my last post, a rough draft of my novella is now completed. I want to take time away from it for at least a week before I go back and start editing it thoroughly. I am then aiming to have a polished version ready by December so that I can begin submitting queries for it. It is more difficult to find agents that accept novellas but I will try to go through agents first and if I do not have any luck with that I may try to submit parts of the novella into short story contests.

Another idea I have been considering is creating short stories that I can submit to contests. Being able to win one, or at least be a finalist could help to gain some exposure and get me closer to officially being published. It will be easier to get a book published if I have some other credits to my name. I am currently reading Stephen King’s short story collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and it has motivated me to pursue writing short stories as well.

sking

I am still awaiting some responses about Elseworld and if I still fail to get an agent there I may need to seriously consider rewriting it. I can always post the full story to the blog, in pieces, like Andy Weir did for The Martian and hope it catches on. However, the odds of that happening are very slim, especially since my average blog post currently gets less than ten views. The whole point of posting the story is to hope that my audience continues to grow with it, but it’s a huge gamble. If I end up posting most of the story on my website then many publishers won’t touch it at that point, since it is arguable self-published. Meanwhile I could potentially miss out on a chance to get published, in return for having very few people read my blog posts.

 

Update on My Second Book

Hello everyone,

I have previously discussed the conundrum of completing my second book, The Visitor. I have finished telling the story I want to tell, but the word count (54,000 words) falls short of an acceptable length for a novel. Most publishers want 60,000 – 100,000 words, and at least 80,000 for science-fiction. Very few publishers accept submissions directly, you normally need to go through a literary agent, who then helps you get a publisher. I could try to submit The Visitor to agents as a novella, but many agents do not represent novellas. Additionally, many publishers don’t accept novellas.  Keeping The Visitor as a novella would only make the difficult task of getting an agent even more difficult.

I am still trying to get Elseworld published but I worry that I have nearly exhausted the list of literary agents in America and Canada that accept science-fiction. I have rewritten and edited the book numerous times and can honestly say that I am happy with the book the way it is now. I’m not arrogant enough to think it’s perfect or that an agent or editor wouldn’t have a lot of suggestions, but at this point I am not sure of what else to do to make the concept and the story more appealing for agents. One agent advised that she thinks, editors will think, that the story starts too slow. Perhaps it is my ego but I truly liked the way the story started off and I worked hard to make it far more captivating than the previous opening I had.

Apparently, I still have a long way to go. I found the agent’s feedback very insightful since it also revealed how important marketability is for a book. The agent didn’t say that she thought it started too slow, she was worried about what an editor (at a publishing house) would think. Even if she liked the opening, she can’t represent a book unless she is sure it will sell. After all, reputable agents only get paid off commissions from book sales, so they need to spend money marketing a book and have faith that their years of effort will pay off. Yes, I said years. The timeline between getting an agent, and seeing your book published, can range anywhere from 18 months to 5 years. This is a statistic quoted by numerous writing industry professionals at a Writer’s Digest Conference I attended last year, and the professionals emphasized that new authors can expect it to take closer to 5 years.

When I was more naïve, I thought I would have my book published by the time I was 18, then I aimed for 22. Now I am turning 25 later this month and realize I might not be published by the time I’m 30. Maybe I need to re-write Elseworld  again before I can progress. Maybe I need to add 30,000 more words to The Visitor. Maybe I will do all that and still be an aspiring writer when I’m 50. There were plenty of people at the Writer’s Digest Conference older than my parents; still aiming to get a literary agent and publish their debut novel. That is a possibility but it is not inevitable. All I can do is believe in myself and keep working at my dream.

An Excerpt from The Visitor

Hello everyone,

I’ve been getting more rest to fight off a cold but I wanted to make sure I stay somewhat productive. Below is an excerpt from my second book, The Visitor, a story of inter-dimensional travel.

**************

Another cycle was complete. The teleporter successfully sent Adam from the lab to his home two months ago, and the tank came through the portal three days ago. Adam submitted every bodily fluid for testing and military doctors checked his vitals every night when the military came by for their closing sweep of the lab. For the moment, the teleportation didn’t appear to have any ill effects. Adam didn’t physically feel any different.

Mentally, he felt lighter and clearer than ever. He felt like a sprinter getting gold at the Olympics after years of trials and practice. Adam was never a good athlete, but it was the best metaphor. He was on his way to forging a legendary career, his name would never be forgotten by the scientific community, or the public. He would be a national hero.

“See you in three weeks Abel,” Dr. Rowan said as he extended his hand.

Adam froze for a few seconds, this was the first time Dr. Rowan offered a handshake. Adam doubted it was out of respect or courtesy, otherwise it would have come a long time ago. Dr. Rowan knew he would benefit from the work Adam did as a physicist and as a guinea pig. Dr. Rowan was simply the popular girl, showing some semblance of affection when Adam made himself useful. As much as Adam wanted to ignore the gesture, he knew it would be immature. He’d faced enough immaturity from the seniors around him.

“See you then, thanks for everything.” Abel said as he took the hand in his.

The other physicists followed, until Abel was left with Dr. Calvin as usual.

Cages of white rats normally flanked the left side of the lab, but the military removed them once human testing began. Adam had become accustomed to their scuffling in their cages, and the lab felt eerily silent without it. The only sound now was the air conditioning humming silently. All the tables were wiped down, and the teleporter was resting on one of them, waiting to be collected by the military. So much smaller than any bomb or missile, yet still more effective as a deterrent. It wasn’t just a weapon of war, it was a tool that would reshape the social and political landscape.

“Ready to go,” Dr. Calvin said as he hefted his bag.

“Yes, guess I could just teleport back home again.” Adam said.

“If anything, you should teleport me home. My body doesn’t cope with the long drives as well as it used to.”

“I’d have to keep your car then, how would you get back to work?”
“Good point,” Dr. Calvin said.

“I know they’ve tested you as well as they can but I always worry there could be some longer term effects of using the teleporter.” Dr. Calvin said.

“It’s been a few months for the rats now, still nothing there. Let’s hope my body doesn’t fall apart a few years from now.” Abel said.

“I’ll pray for you, metaphorically speaking.” Dr. Calvin said.

“Appreciated.” Adam said.

“On a serious note, I have some errands to run in the city. I was thinking of saving them for tomorrow since I’m dropping you back, but if you’re fine with taking the teleporter back I could take care of them today.” Dr. Calvin said.

“Sounds good to me.” Adam said.

He grabbed the teleporter off the desk and headed down the stairs to the testing area.

“I’ll call you once you’re through to make sure everything’s alright. If you don’t answer I’m going to send an ambulance to your house. I don’t mind driving you either.” Dr. Calvin said.

“I’ll be fine. It’ll be nice to get home early,” Adam said.

“Alright.”
Dr. Calvin took a few seconds to double check the coordinates before pushing the trigger. Adam took the time to savour the air conditioning, knowing that he would be entering a stifling home once he exited the portal. His eyes were closed when the portal opened, but he could see the white light filter through his closed eyelids, attacking the darkness as it made itself at home.

Adam opened his eyes to face his mentor, knowing that he wouldn’t see him again for a few months. Dr. Calvin was going to be tied up with speaking engagements once the project was officially announced in a few days. Adam didn’t have many engagements with news organizations, but he would be travelling to military bases to instruct the military on the use of the portal. Dr. Calvin assured him that this was standard, the youngest member of a group often received the least media attention. Dr. Rowan and the others might try to downplay Adam’s work but Dr. Calvin would be there, speaking with reporters, to assure the world that Adam made a valuable contribution to the project. Christmas break would be here soon and Adam could ring in the New Year as a world-renowned physicist. Things were finally falling into place.

“See you Dr. Calvin.” Adam said.

“Go home and relax Abel, you deserve it.” Dr. Calvin said. His smile revealed an unrivalled level of happiness.

Adam felt himself smile for the first time as well, and the smile was still on his face as he stepped through the portal. His smile vanished as he landed on the other side. There was no change in temperature this time. As Adam entered the hallway of his home, he could feel the air conditioning hitting his face and arms. Adam knew he always kept it off. Evelyn must have turned it on at some point, even though he had told her they couldn’t afford it. It was yet another thing they’d have to fight about.

Adam didn’t want to let the AC ruin his mood though, not after what he accomplished. He rushed towards the end of the hallway, making his way for the main unit to shut of the AC. As he glanced to his left he noticed that every piece of furniture in the living room was different. The worn black couch in his home was replaced by a brown one; the glass table in front of it was now marble. The television that normally sat on a table was now mounted on the wall, and appeared to be at least ten inches bigger. More importantly, the living room floor was covered in carpet, instead of wood.

Turning to his right, Adam saw the kitchen for the first time. The dining table was also covered in a plain white cloth, like the one in his home. The similarity ended there. The stainless steel fridge was an upgrade from Adam’s, and so was the marble countertop. Either Evelyn managed to get all of this changed today, or Adam wasn’t in the right house. Dr. Calvin must have made a mistake with the coordinates. Fortunately, no one was home.

It didn’t seem like Dr. Calvin called him yet. Adam’s hand shot down to his pocket and pulled out his phone. No missed calls. It had been at least one minute so far, Dr. Calvin said he’d call as soon as Abel got through. Adam was considering waiting for a call for a few minutes, when he heard footsteps from the floor above him. The steps were muffled at first but soon became more noticeable as they hit the creaking wood of a staircase. The staircase sounded the same as Adam’s, and if this home had the same layout, the staircase, was in front of the living room. Once someone reached the bottom of it, they would see him As Adam’s head swiveled to the stairs, he caught a glimpse of a family photo hanging above the television. Four black faces were staring back at him.

“David, is that you?” A woman’s voice said. It wasn’t Evelyn’s.

Adam didn’t need any further prodding. He dashed back to the portal, and reemerged in the lab. He nearly slipped on the lab’s metal floor, seeing Dr. Calvin standing on the upper level with the phone in his hand. Dr. Calvin saw him and abruptly hung up.

“Close the portal, now.” Adam said.

“I wasn’t joking when I said I’d call an ambulance. Why didn’t you pick up?” Dr. Calvin said as he reached for the portal.

“I never got a call from you.” Adam said. Adam didn’t consider himself athletic but fear and adrenaline allowed him to bound up the steps. Dr. Calvin pressed the teleporter’s trigger as Adam reached the main level and Adam looked back to see the portal disappear.

“Look.”

Dr. Calvin looked at the phone’s display, obviously surprised to see that Adam was telling the truth.

“You’re number is 905-876-2999 right?”

“Yeah, you sure that’s what you called?”

“Positive, I tried three times. Are you getting bad signal at your house?”

“Got a call there his morning. Reception’s fine at my house, but I’m worried that I wasn’t in my house just now.”

“I made sure they were the right coordinates. I guarantee it.” Dr. Calvin presented the teleporter to Abel, and it was his turn to be surprised.

The coordinates were displayed on one of the teleporter’s surfaces, on a small screen directly above the keypad. The numbers were right. Adam was in the right coordinates for his house.

“What happened?” Dr. Calvin said.

“The furniture was different. The tv was different, and there was a family photo in the house that wasn’t my family. That wasn’t my house.”

“Could it have been a neighbours? Maybe the teleporter malfunctioned and sent you somewhere close by? We’ve had this issue before, I thought we fixed it but,”

“No. I’m not best friends with them, but I’ve seen them before. Neither of them are black and that family photo showed a black family.”

“Someone down the street?” Dr. Calvin said.

“How long since we’ve had that issue?” Adam said.

“Nearly a year,” Dr. Calvin said.

“Right, since then, we have teleported people a few feet away and even from other continents. We’ve spent entire days testing it. Every time, people end up exactly where we want them to. What are the changes that the teleporter has malfunctioned now?” Adam said.

“Low, but nothing is 100% predictable.” Dr. Calvin said.

Adam wanted to believe that the teleporter didn’t send him to different coordinates. The teleporter was hours away from being collected by the military for use. The military would be trained on how to use the teleporters and they would be the ones taking the time to carefully survey each world, enlisting the services of a field of scientists like botanists and geologists to study every world’s climate. The government already considered the project a success and announcing a setback now could lead to the governmental council becoming an enemy, not an ally.

If the teleporter was working, then that would alleviate one worry, but also lead to an even bigger question. If the teleporter did send Adam to the right coordinates for his home, why did he end up in someone else’s house? There was one possibility, but Adam had a hard time accepting it. Yet it was the only one that made sense. It made even more sense as he considered one detail that he ignored until this point. A calendar was hanging on the fridge, but the fridge originally took all of Adam’s attention.

The calendar had a variety of notes attached to it, but Adam couldn’t read them from where he was standing. What he could read was the date, displayed in bold black lettering: 2010. Adam realized that the calendar could be an old one, but it didn’t make sense to have a six year old calendar displayed, with dates marked all over it. If the coordinates were right, then there was only one explanation for where Adam just travelled to.

“Adam? What are you thinking?” Dr. Calvin said.

“I’m thinking we just made another breakthrough.” Adam said.

#

Quick Update

Hello everyone,

I’m currently writing another piece for comicommand, which will hopefully be posted tonight or tomorrow on the site. I’ll then have it posted here after.

I have been posting more fiction to the wmoviegrapevine instagram. I started off posting short excerpts from some of my older poems, but then drifted towards non-fiction more since I started using daily life as more of an inspiration for my blog pieces and my instagram posts. I started returning to posting fiction pieces more often on wmoviegrapevine over the past week and have found that there has been greater engagement with this pieces: more likes and followers. I am nearly at 100 now, and was able to amass 20 new ones in a relatively short time.

Posting fiction pieces more also means that I have nearly exhausted the material from my poetry pieces. For that reason I want to start writing fiction pieces for the site more. I can then use these fiction pieces for the instagram posts and continue to build an audience. I think that this will also help me as I continue writing The Visitor again.

As I mentioned in my last update, I was caught up in vanity metrics for a while. I was paying attention to followers and likes, losing track of the main purpose of the account: getting more followers to the site. I have now installed Google Analytics but wish I had done it earlier. Now I can’t see if anything I’ve done with my social media since the beginning has helped to increase site traffic. All I can do now is monitor the traffic from this point on.

 

 

Managing Expectations

Hello everyone,

Hope you all had a great weekend. I know I did. Stretches of productivity, but also got to catch up on some reading, tv and video games. The best of both worlds.

I’m still stalled on working on my second book at the moment, but I am nearly ready to re-submit my Master’s Paper to the Howard Journal of Communications. Hopefully it will be published. I am also working on creating my own social media business, which you’ll hear more about in by the end of September.

Looking ahead to september reminded me of an event I tried out for, Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOMS). I did some modelling training in my final year of high school, but I never continued with it since I was going to be moving out of town to go to the University of Ottawa, and it would have been impossible to work with a Toronto agency from 5 hours away. My best friend was going to the audition for TOMS and his mom was kind enough to send an invite to me as well. The audition was going to take place on a friday night, so we all planned to meet up afterwards for drinks.

I left for the audition straight from work, clean cut and dressed in ironed and form-fitting clothes. I tried to get back into modelling when I moved back to Brampton but I was rejected by many agencies for being too tall or for having a “similar look” to a lot of other models on their rosters. I saw this audition as my way to possibly get back into modelling. I wasn’t deluding myself of having a career as a supermodel, but I figured that I could aim to secure a part-time job that could bring in some much needed money.

The audition was held in a lounge that had been reserved for the event. There was a desk set up where patrons would normally pay cover. After registering there, I made my way down a set of stairs to the main lounge area. Wooden floors and leather chairs were set up in the center. All around the central area, there were different stations. One for physical inspection of candidates, where two women met and greeted each person one by one. The next was an area with a box light set up, where the photographer guided each model through a set of poses. The final station was the one for measurements.

I was nervous at first, but other people in the waiting area broke the ice. By the time I was called up, I felt loose again. I got positive feedback on my body and my runway walk. So did my friend. I walked out of there thinking that we were both going to be accepted.

The generic rejection email arrived two weeks later.

I am used to generic rejection letters e.g. “we regret to inform you…” from my pursuit of publication, but I wasn’t used to receiving one after getting nothing but positive feedback. I realized that maybe I was being naive. It wouldn’t make sense for the judge to list all the things she didn’t like when she sees someone in person. That would only serve to make them miserable for the rest of the audition, starting a self-fulfilling cycle. Focusing on positives was a tactful move. I let go of my pride and figured this out about ten minutes before I started writing this post.

Once I got the email I did what I always do when I feel down, called my mom. Yes, I am that type of person. I wasn’t in tears but I was disappointed. I began to worry that maybe my stomach wasn’t toned enough. I do stay in pretty good shape but I was worried that my lack of an eight pack was what led to my rejection. My mom was able to talk sense in me, telling me not to think about it too much. Modelling shows and agencies always want something very specific: a specific height, body type, skin tone etc. Not fitting the bill is not always a sign of unattractiveness or inadequacy.

That was an important lesson for me, and one that I think applies to many walks of life. It applies to my attempts to get published: my book may be good but it isn’t what agents are looking for. You may be a good candidate for a job but you may not be exactly what the employer had in mind. Sometimes they might make an exception if you stand out enough. Sometimes an ideal, or the closest thing to it, is the only option for some people.

I always try to put a positive spin on failures. I don’t just follow this idea because I read it in a book, I follow it because it is the only option that makes sense. What is the alternative? Moping, accepting defeat and giving up. We’re better than that.

The Visitor-Part II

Hello everyone. Aside from trying to complete my second novel by the end of year, find a new place, guitar lessons and full time work… I am also trying to get an academic article published in The Howard Journal of Communications. I have a big round of revisions to make before it gets accepted so I’ll be busy with all those different projects for a bit. I still want to try blogging at least four times a week so here is an excerpt from my second novel, The Visitor.

******

 

“Can you hold it?” Adam asked.

“No, rats are an important part of scientific experimentation, get used to them.” Dr. Calvin stepped back from the cage and signalled for Adam to put his hand in and extract their latest test subject.

“I guess I wasn’t thinking about this part of the job when I signed up.”

Adam timidly put his hand in, having to snatch the rat by its tail as it tried to flee from him.

With the rat dangling from his hand like a loaf of bread, Adam walked over to the platform reserved for their next experiment. Once the rat was placed in its holding cell, he retreated to the observation deck with Dr. Calvin and the rest of the physicists.

The observation deck was an elevated surface on the bottom level of the lab, with stairs leading to its peak. Desks were stationed all around the platform, with Dr. Daniels and Dr. Calvin ready to take notes on the experiment.

The rat was housed in a four-foot wide cage made of transparent glass, allowing the physicists to have a clear view. The teleporter was mounted on a tripod directly in front of the cage. A hole had been cut in one of the cage’s walls to allow the teleporter’s front end to be pushed through.

The latest version of the teleporter had a removable trigger that allowed it to be controlled remotely. The trigger would be disabled if it was more than one hundred yards away from its target, but this range was more than enough for the physicists.

“Everyone ready?” Dr. Rowan asked as he prepared to push the trigger.

Ten nods later, the teleporter was activated with the hope that the rat would be teleported to the preset coordinates.

The distinctive light appeared in the enclosed cage, automatically conforming to the size and shape of the walls around it. As expected, the rat shied away from the light and its panicked cries escaped the cage to echo around the lab. The teleporter’s light would dissipate after an hour if Dr. Patel didn’t touch the trigger, but the group was praying that they wouldn’t have to waste that time waiting.

After five minutes the rat’s cries ceased completely, and it was now staring ahead intently. Although the light was alarming at first, its rhythmic glow now seemed to relax its subject. Ten minutes passed, and the rat finally took a timid step forwards. The audience on the elevated platform leaned forward with anticipation, blocking out the world around them. With each step the rat took, the further they leaned forward. Finally, the rat came to a halt less than an inch in front of the portal.

“Please,” Dr. Calvin whispered, as if the rat would hear him.

A few seconds later, the rat lunged forward and the platform let out a collective sigh of relief. If the test was successful, Dr. Patel would be returning from his post upstairs with the rat in hand, where Dr. Daniels was keeping the door into the lab open for him. Meanwhile, the rest of the group eyed the elevator to the bottom level of the lab, hoping there would be a reason to celebrate.

Dr. Patel and Dr. Daniels steps were heard as they made their way down the stairs and their peers were immediately worried. Instead of the hurried steps from an excited duo, the steps were slow and laboured. Unless they were walking slowly for the rat’s sake, Daniels and Patel wanted to delay the news they had to give.

The door to the lab opened, with Daniels and Patel out of clear view until they entered the elevator. Daniels and Patel saw their expectant audience as they boarded the elevator, and simply shook their heads to signal that the experiment did not go as planned.

By the time the elevator descended the scientists were gathered around it, personal space was not a concern. Patel held out his cupped hand. Dr. Calvin was the first to see and reeled away from the group. A string of profanity broke the silence as the others got their first glimpse.

It was obvious to the group that the rat may not have survived the experiment. During planning, the physicists reasoned that the rat may not teleport at all and simply be stuck in some sort of limbo. Or that the teleportation would have adverse short or long term effects on its body. Despite those expectations, no one was ready for what they saw.

The rat’s body was intact, but that was the only good news. Its skin looked like it had been torn off in some areas, with its head and most of its torso consisting of exposed flesh. Its eyes had melted, forming a thick white gel that was slowly dripping on the elevator floor. Dr. Patel hands were already painted red with blood from the rat’s exposed veins, but he continued to stare at the body. He was not in mourning for the rat itself, but he and his peers realized that they had a long way to go before their project would yield any fruit for a demanding government: A demanding government known to punish individuals who failed to live up to its expectations.