Gary mused as his feet sloshed through the wet grass. The possibility of cloning his wife remained a thought in his mind, but it wasn’t an option. The process could bring her back genetically, but he would be an old man by the time she grew up.
He tripped and stumbled to a stop. Cold gray stones, haunting markers of death, loomed all around him.
The sound of a cars engine caught his attention. He jerked his head up, spun around and pushed strands of wet hair from his face. In the impending darkness, he scanned the field. A dark-colored vehicle, its headlights off, rolled to a stop under a misshapen oak about a hundred yards away. The engine shut down. No one got out. He squinted trying to get a better view of the sedan. Veins of lightning pierced the darkness, giving him a shadowy glimpse of the gas guzzler’s two occupants. Thunder boomed seconds later. The storm was close.
Gary pinched his lips tight. Inconsiderate fools. This was his time to be alone with her.
Over the last few weeks he’d seen a similar vehicle parked on the street near his house. Perhaps the man funding his research had gotten wind of his secret agenda and was having him followed. If the tactic was meant to scare him, it was working.
Ghostly shadows danced around him as tree branches swayed in the brisk breeze, adding to the foreboding nature of this place. A chill crept down his spine and his muscles tensed, but he plodded forward. Misty rain whipped across his unshaven face, driving the coldness into his bones. He blew into his hands to warm them. It shouldn’t be this cold, not in the middle of the summer.
Cresting a small hill, Gary saw her tree he planted ten years ago and quickened his pace. Mary called the aspen the happy tree because of the noise the leaves made in the wind, like a thousand clapping hands. But this was no happy place and the tree failed to thrive here, standing out like a misplaced stepchild among the giant oaks and maples dotting the landscape.
Gary stopped in front of a heart shaped headstone. Read the name. Memories flooded his mind. A solitary tear slid down his cheek. “I missed you. You remember this don’t you? Our first anniversary.” He paused as if expecting an answer.
Branches creaked overhead as the wind intensified. He extended a crystal vase toward her grave and smiled. “Lilacs. Your favorite. I hope you like them.”
Words Gary had spend hours mulling over were etched in the glass. In a steady voice he read them out loud. “You brought joy to my brokenness. When you said yes my heart danced. I will love you now and forever.” He gulped in air. “Gary.”
Pinching his eyes shut, he breathed in the flower’s sweet scent, remembering the same fragrance in her hair as he lay in bed next to her. “I know you disapprove of my research, but I’m doing it for you—sin is destroying the world, but I’m going to remove it.”
Dropping to his knees, he ran his fingers over each letter of her name. The mysterious car’s engine whirred to life, but the vehicle didn’t move.
Run you idiot.
Nerves frayed, he breathed in deeply to calm himself.
No. I need to finish this. I owe it to her.
Through chattering teeth he said his marriage vows, but omitted the last five words. Until death do us part.
Gary stood and turned his head toward the dark sedan. The lights flashed on.
Heart pounding, his chest lurching for air, he reached his car and his numb fingers fumbled with the remote. The high pitched car alarm exploded through the air.
His fingers found the right button and he sighed. In the silence a car’s engine revved, but a small hill blocked his view.
Are they coming after me?
He jumped into his car and smashed his head on the door frame. Stars exploded in front of him and he blinked back the pain. Groaning, he reached for the wound. “Ow!” He looked at his bloodied fingers, and the world went black.
His eyes burst open. A shrill sound bombarded his ears. He moved his head from the steering wheel and the noise stopped. The cemetery, he’d gone to see Mary.
A trickle of red dripped from his head and on to his leather seat. He cranked the engine and slammed his foot on the gas. His Lexus bolted forward, spraying gravel and dirt, as it fishtailed across the road.
Blowing through a stop sign his car continued to accelerate and reached over ninety down a remote section of highway. A gas station sign popped up over the horizon, giving him an opportunity to make a clean escape. The car went airborne over a small hill and thudded back to the ground.
He lost his grip on the wheel and his car careened across the road, spinning to a stop facing in the opposite direction.
Heart pounding, he sat gripping the wheel. He took a deep breath, drove into the parking lot and behind a building, watching, waiting for the dark coupe to fly by. It never did. He sighed and pulled a napkin from his glove box to wipe the blood from his forehead.
Fearful he still might be followed. He pushed the pace down a bleak stretch of highway before turning on to industrial boulevard. A faded yellow triangle full of holes obliterating the word END greeted him. DEAD remained, spared the onslaught of some angry man’s bullets. An ironic reminder of what happened here, why he hated this place.
12 thoughts on “The God Gene”
Hello, The God Gene author 🙂
First of all – I really enjoyed the pace of the story, I read it all and would keep reading 🙂
Just a few typos/grammatical things to start.
paragraph 3: car’s
paragraph 12: spent
last paragraph: onto
I think the first sentence is a little meh. I actually prefer sentence two – it is more gripping to me.
A solitary tear slid down his cheek. ~ Pretty cliche I think. I bet you could do something more
Sorry, I don’t really have much more to add – I enjoyed it and it was written well and I would keep reading 🙂
I will repair typos.
First sentences are a bane to my existence. I’ve changed it a hundred times.
I know the solitary tear is cliche. I wanted to contrast that with his blubbering all the other times he has come to the cemetery. I had something in a different version but took it out. Still trying to work it out. I will try to think of something else.
I would like to return the favor. What is your story.
oh I would like that. Mine is Crow Jane in YA.
I stopped reading after the 6th paragraph. Your title intrigued me and brought me to your book, but I was struggling to connect with the scene. It took me several reads to understand he was in a graveyard and I’m not sure why you didn’t simply state that, instead of using phrases like “Cold gray stones, haunting markers of death, loomed all around him.” My mind went – Cobblestones? Stone circle? Rocks? huh?
After that it felt very mad scientist / Jekyll and Hyde and cliched with the lightning and the dead body and the trying to bring her back to life.
I guess I would like to know why he wants to bring his wife back anyway. Why does he love her so much? It felt like a lot of telling and not so much showing or building emotion into the scene. That’s probably why I stopped reading.
I wanted to stop reading at: “Gary pinched his lips tight. Inconsiderate fools. This was his time to be alone with her.” Why? I felt this was a bit of an unbelievable reaction. It seems odd unless your character is some sort of control freak. Otherwise, I don’t understand how someone else pulling up to what I assume is a cemetery (though, even that was a bit vague.) You said: “He tripped and stumbled to a stop. Cold gray stones, haunting markers of death, loomed all around him.” I’m assuming the “cold gray stones” are gravestones, but I suppose they could be cobblestones?
I read on a little longer until I hit this: “Over the last few weeks he’d seen a similar vehicle parked on the street near his house. Perhaps the man funding his research had gotten wind of his secret agenda and was having him followed. If the tactic was meant to scare him, it was working.”
There were several things with this. 1. Gary says, “If the tactic was meant to scare him, it was working.” From his reaction upon first seeing the sedan, it didn’t seem like he was scared. He seemed annoyed (unreasonably so). 2. This bit is an info dump: “Over the last few weeks he’d seen a similar vehicle parked on the street near his house. Perhaps the man funding his research had gotten wind of his secret agenda and was having him followed.” 3. If you’re going to have Gary recognizing this sedan, he should recognize it the moment he sees it and you should have him showing fear not annoyance.
Another note on this, and maybe it’s important later in the book, which is fine but for me, opening with a character lamenting about a deceased loved one when I don’t yet know the character nor care about his loved one is a bit bland. I have no reason to care. I’d save that for later and maybe just start with him noticing the sedan, thinking it might be the same one that had been following him, feeling fear and all that good stuff.
My last note, it seems a bit cliche to have a scene in a graveyard with thunder and lightning, but so long as you do something interesting with it, I don’t see that being too huge a problem.
Thanks for sharing your work!
I read the whole excerpt. The opening scene is dark and spooky, the pace is good. It was somewhat disappointing that after the builtup of tension none of the threats materialized. Nobody came out of the car, nobody chased him.
Judging from the novel title and the dead wife I hope that the main theme is not about the futility of resurrecting a lost loved one.
As a sc fi fan I love reading about the imaginary science involved and I want it to be plausible and bold. If the plot evolves in line with this beginning the science may be too far in the background which may turn certain readers away.
I would drop “The possibility of” from the second sentence, first paragraph. Same with “the foreboding nature of this place.” In the sixth paragraph.
Also at the beginning “Explode” is used twice in a very short space.
Thanks for sharing your work and good luck!
I may move the cemetery scene to later. I believe I may take the first paragraph about the cloning out entirely.
You will see the people in the car are there to scare him and that is all.
His wife was killed by a serial murderer. He blames himself because he stayed at work late the night she was killed. In his mind he is the killer and needs to make up for it. He is not looking to resurrect her. His goal is to find the DNA of Jesus and use it to change human DNA. In essence he wants to eliminate sin from the human equation. Cure humans so serial killers will never exist.
His quest is to find the spear of destiny. The spear used to pierce the side of Jesus and extract the DNA.
Thanks for your thoughtful words.and suggestions
I read it all. I like the pace and suspense. I was having a little trouble with the layout of the scene in my mind: where was his car compared to the grave? He seemed to plod a fair amount of time before arriving at the grave, but suddenly he was back at his car and on the other side of a hill. Also, he had his “heart pounding” to begin a few paragraphs fairly close together; may want to modify one so it’s not a repeat. Plus, I kind of wish the car was doing something. Hearing the engine rev is ominous, but having the car barely miss hitting him before he makes it to the car would put some serious tension into him fumbling for his keys, etc. That might be a little too much contact for where you are (maybe you want to build up to that, or maybe it all turns out to be paranoia, etc), so take that with a grain of salt. Overall, excellent start. I’d read more.
All good comments.
The car is explained later.
Good catch on heart pounding.
I will add some scene layout.
Ooh yeah and “His eyes burst open” made me think they exploded on first read!
The second sentence is where to begin by me. It grips and launches the whole thing forward. The word “foreboding” is where I felt a bit off. The whole thing had a sense of mystery and somewhere that word made it sound very “telling” – just that word. That he was in the cemetery I think should be more flatly clearer. There is too much guessing for the reader. And let those guys in the car do something maybe light a cigar which Gary sees or something like that which makes it more involving. But I read it all though, the last paragraph needs a bit more elaboration I feel – did she die here? How? Or maybe thats the next set of words that you are yet to write. Maybe. But overall a good pace.
His dead wife is his motivation. She was killed by a serial killer on a day he stayed at work later than usual. He blames himself for her death. She was his first love. It is all explained later.
I’ve had a number of people say the same thing about the cemetery. I will make some adjustments.
I’m actually moving the cemetery scene to the end of chapter one I think.
Thanks so much.