Strange Attractor

Possible beginning of my Sci-Fi book.
Avery Keller was an inch over six feet with unruly jet black hair that he kept cut short in the roman style. His dark brown eyes were large and expressive enough to soften the overall hard angularity of his chin and nose.

“You ready Avery!”

“Yeah, send it up.”

Making sure that his guide wheels were open he waited as the men bellow feed the sheet of plastic into the presses track.

“Come on guys!” Avery called down not bothering to conceal the impatience in his voice. Rolling his eyes he waited for what felt an eternity before he finally saw the clear sheet about the width of his spread arms making its way along the feeder track.

Holding out a hand he caught the leading edge and feed it down through the press itself. He was careful to make sure it was threaded properly before closing the wheels. With the press of a large green button he took a step back, counting in his head as the machine went through its start up.

Everything was good so far. The punch rolled forward. The gantry built onto the trim presses top shook as the cutting die impacted the stop with a thud and the wheels advanced the sheet to the next section of uncut parts. Avery waited for a few minutes to make sure everything was working properly listening to the squeaking idler wheels and the bass thump of press intermingle with a thousand other minute sounds to form an impromptu orchestra if you had the right sort of ears.

Seeing that everything was as it should be, Avery exhaled sharply and nodded once satisfied he made his way to the ladder stopping twice and leaning around the maze of parts reaching in and tightening a few more bolts or making one last adjustment. Fifteen minutes later he finally made it down the ladder and onto the production floor.

Greeted by a short stocky man, “You the man Keller, what did you do to fix it?”

Tearing his attention away from the machine finally Avery takes a moment to remember the question. “Oh…,” he finally responds, “I had to open up the polish rollers in the back. You had some orientation in your sheet…”

Avery stopped talking though when he noticed the blank look on his co-workers face.

“You know what, forget it,” The other man gave an impish grin. “Its fine, you fixed it, I’m glad and that’s all I need to know.”

Avery had to concede the point and nodded, “Just watch your width your sheet might widen up a bit as time goes on.”

Avery waved to the familiar faces that he picked out he made his way back to the back office.

He’d just gotten into the back when a short but attractive woman with her hair pulled back in a tight bun accosted him.

“You need to call your brother.”

“Huh?” Avery stopped and turned back.

Raising an eyebrow the woman shrugged, “I don’t know, he’s been calling like crazy says you need to call him. Something about an Uncle Bruce…he seemed…” The woman stopped midsentence when she realized that she was speaking to thin air. “Okay well I’ll talk to you later then.”

***

The phone at Bruce’s cabin rang twice before a breathless Doug answered, “Avery?”

“Yeah what’s up bro, what’s wrong with Bruce.” Avery had stepped into the shift office and was leaning over the cheap desk. His eyes reading a previous production log, his mind only half on the conversation.

“I don’t know, I just got down here, I called your house but you were at work…”

“Yeah, adults usually do that about this time Doug.”

“Hey now, easy Broseph easy.”

Avery was starting to grow impatient, his little brothers inability to be serious was what made conversing with him so difficult. “Look Doug I’m at work.”

“A asteroid came down or something.”

“A meteor.”

“Huh? No an asteroid…”

“No you mean a meteor, Asteroids are in space, they are called meteors once they enter the atmosphere.” Avery shook his head cursing himself, “You know what it doesn’t matter just go on.”

Doug was silent for a moment, “Are you sure? Is it okay for me to speak now?”

“Damnit Doug, I’m hanging up.”

“He called you, you know…” Doug spoke in a rush.

Avery held back and asked, “Who called me?”

“Bruce. Who else?  He said he called you last night but you didn’t answer.”

Avery had a vague memory of Claire nudging him saying something about the phone ringing. Guilt filled him. What if the old man had been in serious trouble, having a stroke or a heart attack Avery didn’t think he could live with himself.

“I’ve told him time and again to stop staying up at that death trap, he’s all alone up there and you know how he is.” Avery spoke in a rush, mostly to keep himself from crying. “Is he okay? Just tell me?”

“He’s alright physically.”

Something about the way his brother said the last word. How he put to much emphasis on the last word made. “So what’s wrong with his mind, is he losing it,”

“Maybe I don’t know, like I said I just got here, but this aster…I mean ‘meteoroid’ or whatever came in and took off the top of Winslow ridge. Looks like it burned up a lot of forest.”

Avery whistled, “Damn so if he’s alright, did the fire get the house.”

“Oh no… nothing like that.”

“So are you afraid it’s gonna come back?” Avery felt like he was missing something.

There was a gentle knock on the door, and a blading middle aged man stepped into the room, “Oh sorry I didn’t know you were on the phone.”

“It’s alright.” He indicated toward the phone cradled between his cheek and his shoulder. “It’s my brother, family emergency.”

“Oh that’s awful.” Crossing his arm over his chest the balding man shifted his weight, apparently content on remaining in the room.

Avery turned slightly to the side putting the phone back to his ear.

“…Avery are you even listening.”

“Yeah I’m here.” Avery couldn’t help but speak lower. Something about speaking on the phone around other people always but him on edge

“You need to come down here, he’s convinced that there are people on his land, he’s been shooting guns at night into the forest and talking crazy, you remember little Ronnie.”

“Yeah your buddy, the red head.”

“Yeah, we’ll he’s a deputy for the county now, and he called me. Apparently Bruce has been shooting some heavy weaponry full auto stuff, he said the neighbors said it sounded like a war or something last night.”

“Damn…really?”

“Look, man I’m really  worried. Something has him spooked. Maybe he’s finally lost it.” Doug sighed loudly the vocal equivalent of a shrug.

Doug worried, Avery felt that was some kind of a major breakthrough. Maybe he should head to the lake. Bruce had basically raised him and his brother after their Dad had died.

“Look its Friday, I get off at five I can head down then and we’ll see what’s going on alright.”

6 thoughts on “Strange Attractor

  1. jmpayer says:

    There’s some punctuation and grammar issues but mostly this is a pretty solid start. I’d suggest bumping up the descriptions a bit (what does the press do? What does the factory make? What’s his job?), maybe something about their family life, though that might come in later. Otherwise, it’s interesting and I’d like to see where it’s going.

  2. sam says:

    I had to stop reading at:
    “…Holding out a hand he caught the leading edge and feed it down through the press itself. He was careful to make sure it was threaded properly before closing the wheels. With the press of a large green button…”
    I felt like i had no idea what to picture from the very beginning to this point.
    everything you described was objects that are not familiar enough to not have more elaborate description… IF the actual size/shape/color etc of the “press” is important… I don’t know what to picture when i read the word “guide wheels” or “Track” or “clear sheet”

    i almost stopped reading here:
    “…Making sure that his guide wheels were open he waited as the men bellow feed the sheet of plastic into the presses track…”
    because I had no idea what this sentence meant…

    Also, in my opinion it’s uninteresting to start your whole entire story with a physical description of your main character… unless your character is some sort of inhumanoid, and we have to know that right off the bat.

  3. Sofie says:

    I had no idea what your character was doing (making? fixing?) with the press, so I would suggest to make that more clear. In my opinion, it would be even better to cut out the first paragraphs and instead start with a sentence of two to describe the setting and then have the conversation. It’s hard to relate to a character when you have no clear idea about what is happening. Good luck!

  4. smithreynolds says:

    I had to workto make it through the fixing of the machinery, due to spelling, punctuation issues. I did enjoy the voice though. There is a lot that needs clarifying, cleaning up. There was one sentence that started out “Avery waited for a few minutes”…and ended if you had the right sort of ears.” I thought this might have been the strongest bit for me. The phone call was very confusing, and the meteor asteroid thing was out of the blue and perplexing. If you work harder on clear communication, then I wouldn’t have to work so hard as a reader. What you have is, I kind of liked this guy. Slow him down and let me understand what the heck is going on.

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