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NaNoWriMo: The Third Week

Well, here we go. I'm at 38,467 words, but here comes Thanksgiving to put a huge dent in my writing time. (Also, one of the drawbacks to this approach is that I keep hitting chapters I can't finish because they need editing, and that might bring down the word count.) Here are the next five chapter titles: 5. The Caged Hummingbird 6. Hiding in the Attack 7. The Golden Hour 8. Contact with the Enemy 9. Deluge And here's another snippet of Altered Seasons:

Isabel was jarred awake by the sound of two hands clapping about a foot away from her left ear.

She sat up abruptly, and was rewarded with a jolt of pain from the back of her neck as she pulled her head up from the pillow on her desk. The thin, bestubbled face of Luke Roth, her supervisor for the morning shift, was looming over her.

“Sleeping on the job?”

Isabel did a triple-take. First she was horribly embarrassed at having in fact been caught sleeping on the job. One second later, while her face was still halfway done turning red, she thought I sleep at my desk because I can’t leave my damn post! HOW DARE HE and then she noticed the look in his eye and realized he was kidding. Figuring that witty banter was called for at this point, Isabel tried to think of some.

“I could sleep a lot better if they hadn’t taken the beds out,” was the best she could come up with. She gestured toward the end of the RV where the beds had been replaced by extra hard drives, giving her computer more storage space. For a moment, Isabel glared out the window at yet another beautiful, sunny Louisiana morning which had come to mock her for having to spend yet another day cooped up in this air-conditioned veal pen. Then she turned back to her computer and sent a file to Roth’s smartphone.

“Here’s the latest projections,” said Isabel. “They’re not good. We’re looking at a flow rate well over 2.5 million cubic feet per second. There’s a 96.2 percent chance the river crests over the top of the ORCS after midnight tonight, and a 62.5 percent chance the structure fails completely. That’s up from 96.0 and 61.4 from the 1 a.m. data. Have you heard if they’re going to open the Morganza the rest of the way?”

“Haven’t heard a thing.” At this point, the little microwave at the end of the table turned itself on, the light inside showing a single cup. Roth glanced at it.

“I set it to start at six minutes before seven,” Isabel said. “When it’s done, the alarm app goes off and wakes me up. That gives me five minutes to drink the chyq and get my brain back in gear before the data comes in.”

“That’s efficient.” Roth glanced under the desk, where there was a wastebasket with a dozen energy-bar wrappers in it. “Have you been living on those things this whole time?”

“Since Brian left. Speaking of Brian, when’s that replacement going to come?”

“It’s hard finding a qualified candidate. If we’re still here on Monday — which isn’t looking too likely right at the moment — and if Brian isn’t back by then, we’ll try to bring somebody in.”

Isabel was really starting to think it had been a mistake for her to accept this job. To the task of helping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers keep the Old River Control Structure standing, Eveland-Blades Consulting, Inc., had brought half a ton of computer hardware, two engineers, three supervisors and their in-house “social/interpersonal networking specialist,” a man whose job description consisted entirely of schmoozing with Lieutenant General J.L. Martineau and any other important decision-makers who happened to be in the area. On Monday, Brian Dalrymple (the other engineer) had taken a leave of absence so he could go back to Michigan and help his mother evacuate. He was supposed to have been replaced, but the teams in Greenville, Baton Rouge and New Orleans swore they couldn’t spare anybody. Which had left Isabel subsisting on chyq, meal replacement bars and about three hours of sleep a night in 30-to-45-minute servings.

She glared out the window again. The skies were still clear and cloudless. You would never imagine that six hundred miles to the north (and nine hundred miles, and twelve hundred miles) such torrential downpours were taking place that all her efforts here were probably futile.

“Has anybody told the general about the problem with the simulation?”

“What prob— oh. That thing you keep mentioning in your e-mails. Look, Martineau knows this structure better than anyone alive. He knows how much it can take. I wouldn’t worry about it.” Which wasn’t an answer… which was an answer. “You know, Isabel, you’re really being a trooper about all this.”

“Thank you,” said Isabel, not sure if Roth was being sincere or if he was trying to convey please don’t blow it by turning whistleblower on us.

“I mean it,” he said. “I kind of wish we had a provision for overtime pay, just so we could give you time and a half.”

“So do I,” said Isabel. The microwave’s alarm app started ringing.

If you enjoyed that, here's another snippet which has been on my mind a lot lately for some reason. Politicians Talk Shop

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