(Public domain photo from pexels.com)
It's been awhile since I posted an update on my writing. This month I'm doing NaNo Camp with friends to get my word goal along. This is the beginning to a short novella featuring Zach, one of the guys from the modern-day spy story I've mentioned here before. I kept having trouble with the scene not going anywhere, so this month I just started it all over from scratch.
Pretty soon it was obvious what Zach and I were missing: God in his story. Wow. What a lesson to me as a writer. So here's the scene. Enjoy!
(All writing copyright 2018, Hannah Gridley)
The last thing Zach needed was a hurricane to barrel in and disturb his vacation. On the other hand, if it caused enough chaos, perhaps it would instead lengthen his time off. He certainly didn’t feel ready to face more grueling days of work, more time of spending every day looking over his shoulder and wondering which day would be his last. No morning runs on the beach, no sunning himself in the open and trying to pretend he could live life without fearing to show his nose in public. The job he signed up for wasn’t known for its safety.
He made a run to a nearby village for some extra supplies. He wouldn’t need much; he was renting a two-room beach shack from an acquaintance, and it was already equipped with sturdy shutters for the two windows and a strong storm door for the door. He had arrived there only two days before and had just gotten a little bit of sun and surf before the cloudy skies and heavier surf had alerted him to the changing weather. When he checked the weather reports, there was a great deal of chatter over how Hurricane Janis had gone overnight from a tropical storm in the Gulf to a churning Cat Three and changed course abruptly, as though a bull’s eye were painted right on Zach’s stretch of beach.
He sighed and picked up his satellite phone. His boss should know ahead of time that he might be delayed by the storm. The man answered on the second ring. “Yes?”
“I’m right in the path of the hurricane now. I might be delayed a day or two getting back,” Zach said.
“That’s fine. In fact, you have an easy month coming up. Go ahead and take another week off, and then you have an assignment in Brazil the third week, followed by one in Belize. Suppose you get your pal to give you the place for the whole month?”
Zach could hardly believe his ears. "All month, sir?"
"Yes. All month. Just make sure your phone is handy after that second week of vacation in case something comes up."
"Absolutely, sir. Thanks."
He took a deep breath after hanging up. That was unexpected. Would he be bored stiff by then? But the idea of a long rest was delightful.
His pal was quite happy to let him use the place for the rest of the month, and glad someone was watching it during the storm. For awhile, he kept busy finishing storm prep and making sure he had plenty of clean water ready. He was prepped for at least two weeks of essentials—very bare ones; he didn't waste time on other things—by early afternoon. Now what?
The beach grew more and more stormy, more and more lowering. Heavy clouds swung just above bended tree trunks, and large waves competed with each other in smashing the sand. It was oddly mesmerizing, entirely absorbing. Having nothing better to do, Zach lashed his hammock to the cottage's front support beams and settled in to watch.
After a long while, he grew sleepy. The storm was increasing in power, and even at times bits of spray from the waves splattered the hammock, despite the distance from the beach. Rain was coming in shortly, but Zach wasn't worried. He had all the time in the world now.
He generally spent his vacations in a place in Colorado that he had paid cash for awhile back and had not shared the location of with his boss. For this vacation, though, he had been told to keep his phone with him in case of emergency; he couldn't very well do that without revealing the location of his secret retreat, half rustic cabin and half bunker, built with his own two hands. Without building or finishing to do, he was at a loss. He had enjoyed reading before his days as a secret agent, but those books had been thrillers, and he simply couldn't stomach more war and death and devastation in the realms of fiction.
Perhaps this is a good time to think about God, a thought whispered. True. He had neglected God entirely in recent months. The destruction he saw too often among men had made him withdraw, distancing himself from life and becoming a loner. Being expected to lie and kill made him feel unworthy to even speak to God. He still believed in God, still believed in the sacrifice Jesus made and its power to cleanse his sins; but he felt unworthy still—if he intended to quit sinning, he would feel more welcome repenting. Who could repent with no honest intention of quitting? But he was owned, body and soul, by the boss he had agreed to work for. No way out except by death.
Not owned in soul. No man has the right to another man's soul, whispered the thought in his mind again.
Did that mean it would be better to turn in his notice and be "eliminated"? And yet that is a suicide of sorts.
All too long he had been avoiding this inner debate because of the massive ethical questions it raised, questions he had no way of answering.
You have the Bible.
Indeed he did. But he hadn't read it in years, shrinking from the condemnation he feared he would find there. Seek Him while He may be found...
The storm crashed hard around him. The rain splashed over him, wetting him to the skin, and yet he did not pay it mind. His thoughts were far away, as the whispers of conscience spoke to him and woke his soul once more to his Savior's Voice.
So...what do you think? Will Zach find what he longs for when he turns back to the Bible? Any guesses as to what caused him to sign up for a job that he can't quit?