GRAY HAZE, my current work-in-progress, is an epic fantasy/sci-fi/horror novel, the first of a trilogy that I hope to publish in the next five years. I am about 10% finished with the second draft. Hurrah! Time to introduce the four protagonists: Osric, Amora, Malik, and Nicole. Why? Because you gotta start promoting early, right? 😉 Kidding; I’m doing this for fun.
This post will cover Osric and Amora, and next week’s will cover Malik and Nicole.
Amora Delgado was born on June 28th, 2019 in São Luís, Brazil. Since the book starts on April 12, 2041, she is 21 years old in the beginning and turns 22 as the story progresses. She is about 5’6, thin, but curvy, with warm tan skin, amber eyes, and wild brown curls.
In 2037, the year she graduated high school, her artistic dreams were crushed when her parents were killed in a car accident. She is the lone caretaker of her four younger siblings and works long, grueling hours at a local diner to survive. Her greatest desire is to be free to live a normal life. If she can just save enough money for a car, she can move west where rent is cheaper and jobs are more plentiful. But the universe might have other plans for her…
Excerpt (2nd draft, unedited):
She sniffed the collar of her dad’s college shirt and felt those old, familiar feelings swelling in her throat. The echo of her parents’ final bout of bickering accompanied the scent. She wondered how it still lingered in the fabric after a thousand washes.
As much as she hoped to get a car, she feared cars more than anything. Or, more accurately, she feared how cars could be used. Automobile accidents did not occur anymore. Not to anyone but her parents. And she couldn’t shake the suspicion that someone tampered with the car’s A.I. that day — that the accident was orchestrated somehow.
Grief and anger swirled inside her. She set the tablet down and listened to the wind. To her own beating heart.
Amora was greatly overwhelmed — more so than usual, if she could believe it. She felt like change was coming. Good or bad, she didn’t know.
She turned over, trying to find comfort under the blanket. Her pillow was flat. She sat up to give it a hearty reshaping.
And saw a dark figure on the ceiling.
Whispers filtered through her ears, tickling her eardrums like a breeze and penetrating her thoughts. The voices targeted the deepest level of her consciousness. She sat on her mattress, frozen in sheer terror, as the black mass crawled across the ceiling toward her, its movement like sticky tendrils detaching and reattaching to the lacquer.
Her breath escaped suddenly, forcefully, as though someone just slapped her on the back. As she tried to inhale, she smelled sulfur. The coating of putrid, rotten eggs in her nose and mouth made her ill.
She wanted to scream, but she didn’t have enough air. The figure stopped directly above her; its substance dripped hot on her shoulder. She didn’t move or react for fear of inciting the creature.
Save me. Someone. Save me.
She managed to close her eyes, positive on some level that she was dreaming. This was like sleep paralysis. It wasn’t real. The voices chattering her name were not real.
But the next morning, she found the black goo still on her shoulder. She didn’t know what to do, how to react. She stared at it in the bathroom mirror before peeling her dad’s shirt from her body and breaking into tears.Gray Haze; Chapter 3: Altered Vision
Osric Hayes was born in Albany, New York, on May 7th, 2015 along with his twin sister, Nicole. He is 25 at the beginning of Gray Haze and turns 26 before the end of Part 1. He is 6’2, blond, blue-eyed, and wears glasses in a time where they’re more of a fashion statement than a necessity.
Osric graduated high school at sixteen and, four years later, graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s in software engineering. He is a cocky, wise-cracking genius who must shoulder the fate of the world when Russia declares a cyberwar on the United States. As a senior software engineer in the largest tech company in the world, Osric is selected to head a team of robots and human specialists to create a virtual arsenal that rivals Russia’s — along with a sound defense system to save the entire East Coast from permanent darkness.
Excerpt (2nd draft, unedited):
After the brief conversation with his father, Osric went back to work, wholly absorbing himself in lines of code. His rage fueled his most productive afternoon in a while, and he was about to shut everything down when the code before him began to change.
Lines moved up, others moved down, and binary code appeared where it didn’t belong.
Osric hastened to find the source of the threat, running diagnostics and racing to erase the random numbers and letters appearing on his desk screen. He heard commotion outside his office but found this problem too urgent to ignore. If a virus had entered this program, months of work would be for naught.
A headache sprouted in the center of his forehead. “No, no, no, come on…” he murmured as he fought against the strain infecting his computer.
A deep, digitally-altered voice crackled from the speakers: “We are Legion.”
Osric’s fingers ached. He typed faster. But the virus was too quick, unfamiliar, and unpredictable. The voice, more distorted than before, repeated, “We are Legion.” Then his computer shut down.
He cursed, and his desk exploded, causing him to fly back in his chair. The underlying motherboard sparked and spit flame. He fled his office to find that every other desk on his floor was also exploding, while the strange voice echoed: “We are Legion.”
“What’s happening?” one of his team members asked.
A small Chinese girl yelped as her computer burst into flame.
“Oz, did the same thing happen to you?”
He looked at the first one who spoke, a girl his age with short brown hair and an upturned nose. He nodded. The emergency sprinkler system activated, and they were drenched in moments. He shouted over the ruckus, “Guys, we can figure this out. I’ll turn on the backups and see if I can find the source of this problem. If you want to stay, I’d appreciate the extra hands.”
Half of them left, half stayed. The fire department arrived, the sprinklers shut off, and they migrated to the floor below. Osric called Ted, his boss, and the backup computers were up and running within the hour. They worked near heated fans to dry more quickly, and after two and a half hours, Osric ordered pizza via drone, aware that none of them had eaten dinner. For most of the night, the only sound that filled the vacant office on the tenth floor was the thumpthumpthump of fingers on screens. Roberta ‘slept’ in a chair nearby.
We are Legion. What in the world did that mean?Gray Haze; Chapter 5: Security Threat
Which character do you find more interesting? Tell me about your own characters in the comments! What are you working on? 🙂