Monday, October 3, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 8

It's May seventeenth. I know this because the clock on the wall in the 7-11 said it was. This fact was also confirmed by the date on the watch I found hunting through the sporting goods store today. That means it's already been eight days. It's hard to believe it's been three days since I crawled out of the rubble of the Vera-Cross building. It seems that when it collapsed it didn't just fall in on itself like you see on TV. I suspect if it had, I wouldn't be here right now, wouldn't be laying on a therapeutic bed in someone's empty uptown apartment writing in my notebook under the dim light of two candles that smell of sugar cookies and pumpkin bread. No, I would have ended up a quickly forgotten red stain on the floor of what used to be a custodial closet, just another one of the hundreds of thousands.

The shock is beginning to wear-off and I'm starting to realize that there is no waking from this nightmare. Earlier today, as the sun was beginning to set and the evening rays were streaming through the countless columns of smoke, reflecting a kaleidoscope of light onto the piles of rubble, it hit me. It finally hit me that this is my new life, this desolation is my new reality. I had to sit down as a wave of emotions swallowed me bringing a toxic mixture of tears and nausea. I thought I was going to throw-up and pass-out at the same time. It was regrettably painful like an unexpected punch in the gut, but at least I was finally feeling something. It was the release from the numbness that I needed, a cleansing of sorts and the crossing of a gate that stood between two very different worlds. I realized then that it was time for me to say goodbye to the old and accept the new, no matter how bad it may be.

After searching for the last two days I have come to the conclusion that there is no one left in the city, at least no one left alive. I haven't been able to search the entire area but I've done enough walking and searching to realize that there is nothing here for me. Tomorrow I'm going to head to California and see if my mom is okay. I've checked every cell phone and land line I could find but nothing works, not even the internet. With no power or working phones in the city I still have no idea what happened or how extensive this mess is. For all I know, I could be the last person on earth. I fear the worst but hope for the best.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 4

It's been at least four days now. I don't know what's happening. I have yet to see or even hear evidence of a rescue attempt. I am beginning to lose any sense of hope. Where are the firemen or the police? Shouldn't there be teams of men and dogs hunting through this pile of rubble? Maybe they are. Maybe they are just so far above me that I can't hear them. For all I know they have given me up for dead—something I'm trying not to do myself.

Yesterday I found a flashlight, half of a power bar and some bandages in an old crushed up first aid kit clinging to a wall. No water though. Even just sitting here I'm exhausted. I've been thirsty before but nothing like this. I can feel my body shriveling up like a grape off the vine baking in the hot sun. I would literally give my right arm for a sip of cool water.

I'm trying my best to keep my mind occupied, occupied with things other than vaporized concrete and tangled metal but the walls seem to be closing in. Every once in a while I can hear the creaking of distressed metal, the crash and bang of unstable pieces succumbing to the uneven weight of broken chaos. I fear that soon enough one of the crash and bangs will be in this room and on me, which is why I have come to the conclusion that if I don't hear or see anything signs of rescue by the end of the day I am going to try and find a way out tomorrow. My leg is still intensely sore but it is becoming clear that if I stay much longer this room will be a tomb rather than a prison. If I'm going to die in this mess it's not going to be sitting here. No doubt this is already a tomb to who knows how many mangled bodies. I woke up last night, cold and frightened. I'm sure it was just my tired imagination but I swear I felt the cold hand of death on my shoulder. I could almost feel his chilled voice calling my name as he collected the souls of those rotting above me.

I can't think about this anymore. I have to find a way to think positive, to find some hope. Where is my sunshine?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 2

It's morning I think. I don't wear a watch and I left my cell phone on my desk upstairs. I can only imagine where it is now, no doubt crushed into a thousand pieces under the weight of smoldering concrete and twisted metal. I still can't believe I'm alive. I'm trapped in a small custodial closet in the basement of the Vera-Cross building. It was by pure dumb luck that I ended up in this stinking, moldy hole of a closet. When I heard the roar of the building collapsing I ran. I ran down the hall as fast as I could, but the power cut out before I reached the stairs and in my panic I opened the custodial closet door thinking it was the stairwell. It was pitch black and before I figured out where I was it was too late. The hallway collapsed, crushing the closet door and shooting a blast of scorching dust and debris my way, throwing me against the back wall. That is when everything went silent and numb. My last thought before losing consciousness was wondering who was going to feed my dog, James. Odd, I know. Here I was on the verge of a horrible, crushing death and I was worried about James. I have no idea how long I was out; an hour, two hours, two days? All I know is that I awoke to a heavy blackness, a silent void of smoldering nothingness. I thought I was dead and with the thick scent of smoke burning my lungs and the chalky taste of ash on my lips I could swear I was in hell. When I found the lighter in my pocket and was finally able to shed some light into the room my fears were confirmed. No, I wasn't dead, but I was in hell, stranded alive in the moldy basement of a large building under a jigsaw of twenty-one crumpled floors with a jagged piece of rebar embedded three inches into my leg. But it's okay because its morning I think and a lone shaft of dusty sunlight has found its way into my stale prison, a warm ray of life and hope. So now I sit, waiting for my rescuers, leg bandaged, sitting in a bloody pool, waiting to be found--a lone needle in a ten thousand ton haystack clasping onto this single amazing ray of life, of hope, of sunshine.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 1

To whoever finds this:

My name is Cassidy Ranger. I am twenty-one years old and I work in this building on the fourth floor for Hoffman & Wells. I was in the basement getting a printer cartrige when the building collapsed. I don't know what happened but I'm trapped here and I don't know how long I can make it. My leg was cut. I think it's bad but I'm pretty sure I stopped the bleeding. I've been calling for help all day but nobody has come. I can't hear anybody and I don't think anyone knows I'm down here.

If you're reading this it probably means I didn't make it. Please tell my mother, Julie Ranger who lives at 394 Grant circle in Bakersfield, Ca that I love her. Please tell her that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for leaving her, sorry for Kyle and sorry about the car.

I'm so cold. So tired...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Query Letter, Starting Early This Time

I am well into my next book and one of the things that I am doing that I wish I would have done with my first book is to start thinking about my query letter before I am finished writing. With my first book I didn't start thinking about the query letter until I had finished writing and was almost complete with editing phase. I think that was a big mistake on my part. I think as a writer one of the hardest things to do is to take a 90,000 word volume and condense it down into two paragraphs. It's difficult because you have spent countless hours mulling over details, developing your story and characters, and putting it all down on hundreds of pages. Now to squeeze that amount of work into such a tiny space, and doing it in such a way as to catch the eye of an agent, is beyond daunting. So in order to give myself the best chance for success with this new book, I started to think about my query letter very early in the writing process. Even before I have hit that milestone halfway point I have been spending time trying both in my mind and on paper to condense the story into a nice, neat little package, beautifully wrapped like a juicy Texas cheese burger just waiting for a hungry agent. I am determined to make the, "finding an agent" process much easier and more successful than my last endeavor. The query letter process for my last book felt much like being a city dweller being dropped empty handed into the middle of an East Asain jungle and told to find my way out. This time I am being dropped into that jungle with a backpack full of supplies and just enough training to make myself dangerous. Look out agents, I've got two paragraphs about a story that will blow your minds. I hope you're ready.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Season

This is a poem I wrote shortly after my son finished his flag football season. I think one of the hardest things to do as a father is to see your children try so hard and come just short. After writing this, I think I really came to realize that there are much more important things than touchdowns.

The Season
I paced along the sidelines, watching every game
Looking for my chances, to cheer out loud his name
I watched him run and dive, grabbing at a flag.
Sometimes he came up empty, sometimes he came up glad.
And every game once or twice, they'd let him run the ball
He'd twist and turn and run with might, sometimes he'd even fall.
And when the final whistle blew, to end that final night
I looked upon his face again, but saw no smile in sight.
Although he'd tried his hardest, and left the season sore
He hadn't met his goal that year, to cross the line and score.
My heart it started breaking as I searched in vain for words
To comfort him and tell him, "Ah scoring's for the birds."
But as I sat and thought that night, still feeling for his heart
The Savior reached inside my own, and whispered this to start,
Well done thou faithful servant, tell him this for me
He'd done just what I'd asked of him, let him know you see.
It really doesn't matter, how many points you score
What really counts in my big book is something worth much more.
Let him know I watched his games, each and every play
I saw his hands were clapping, his voice would always say,
"Good job, great catch Noah, nice try, good effort Brent
Great hands, nice grab Jackson, almost, we'll get 'em Kent."
He even stopped to help I saw, his foes across the line
Who'd fallen hard and wrenched too far, their tender little spine.
Now when at last his day is done, he'll stand before my face
My words won't turn to touchdowns, for points don't win this race.
You my servant Harrison, who didn't get to score
You spent your life in service, lifting others off the floor.
My hands will grab his shoulders, and pull him in so tight
And at that moment he will see, he'd played the season right.