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Welcome to the SIX DAYS OF ILLUSION, Day 2. Between now and Sunday, April 17th I'm talking about my new book the illusion exotic. If you missed Day 1, click here to catch up.
Today I'm showcasing Green, the second story in the illusion exotic.
In Green, a young pilot’s courage and fledgling skills are tested to the limit in the pitch black skies above a treacherous battlefield. In one terrifying moment, she will either lead her crew to triumph, or perish.
Green is one of two stories in the illusion exotic that began as simple writing exercises. The object of this exercise was to write about something few people have experienced and make it both understandable and enjoyable to a reader with no background in the subject. I picked something I knew well, flying a helicopter.
Not only did I pick flying a helicopter, but flying a combat helicopter at night, using night vision goggles, during a maneuver called "aerial refueling." Its when one aircraft flies closely behind another and, using a hose, receives fuel. During my time as a pilot, aerial refueling was one of the most challenge and exciting things I did.
I thought this would be an easy writing assignments. It ended up being one of the hardest. Initial feedback during workshop sessions wasn't great.
I must have rewritten it a dozen times. Finally, it morphed into the form you'll find today . But I had one final aspect to fix on this short story - the name.
I couldn't find a satisfying title until fellow DeadPixel author Hanna Elizabeth tinkered with the project. When she came up with the title, I felt like slapping myself. The theme had been there the whole time, staring at me.
One piece of advice to any author - find a talented group of writers you respect and trust. A good writing workshop group is priceless.
Here is a sample of Green. Enjoy.
A gauntlet of snow-capped granite slowly materialized to either side. Her brain feasted on the visual references, providing a jolting awareness of how high and fast she flew. As if on cue, turbulent eddies of air rolled off the peaks and jostled the helicopter.
“A little chop, crew.” Her voice cracked slightly, betraying rising anxiety. The turbulence, while expected, made her job even more demanding.
“Checklist completed,” the right gunner said. “We’re ready.”
“Roger,” the pilot replied. “I’m visual with the tanker. He’s at our 10 O’clock, 2 miles, high, and closing.”
The copilot glanced left in time to catch a dark blur zoom by in the opposite direction. Over a mile away, the giant tanker airplane appeared to scrape the canyon walls as it banked hard to swing in behind the helicopter.
“Tanker is 8 O’clock, three miles, and in a tight turn,” the left gunner informed the crew. The copilot knew the gunner poked his head out the window by the sound of the wind roaring across his boom microphone.
Okay, the pilot is going to take the controls anytime, she thought. There’s no way he’ll let me fly this.
The pilot remained silent.
“Tanker is at our six. Left gunner’s lost visual. Right gunner, you should see him now.” The roar momentarily stopped as the left gunner withdrew his head into the helicopter, but quickly resumed as the right gunner stuck his head out the helicopter’s opposite side.
“Got’em. He’s at our five thirty, two miles and closing fast,” the right gunner called.
She tried to breathe, struggling not to tense up. The long years of training were over, and now real consequences lay before her. This mission would last several hours, but its success pivoted on this one moment.
The helicopter needed gas, and only this tanker could deliver it.
“Tanker is half mile and bringing it in tight, almost on top of us.” The roar over the intercom ceased as the right gunner withdrew into the cabin and closed his window.
The pilot remained quiet, and off the controls.
He’s actually going to let me fly the refueling, she thought in amazement.
“Tanker is abeam, damn tight. Start your climb now. Co, call visual,” the right gunner called.
Her moment had arrived. The copilot pulled up on the collective, the power lever in her left hand. Her right hand nudged the cyclic, and the helicopter obeyed with a sluggish climb.
She briefly scanned across the cockpit, expecting the tanker to emerge a few dozen meters outside the pilot’s side window.
It didn’t. In the faint light, she saw the pilot grin around the tobacco bulging in his cheek. He pointed up. She followed his finger.
In the overhead window, an enormous shadow swallowed the stars as it passed directly overhead. Deep bass concussions, sensed more than heard, pounded through the rotor blades.
“Shit, he’s on top of us!” she blurted, but quickly regained her composure.
If you liked what you read, you can click here to pre-order the illusion exotic for only .99 cents. After 22 April the price goes up, so buy early and buy often. Please tell your friends by a like, share and tweet!
Check back to tomorrow for Day 3 of SIX DAYS OF ILLUSION and another story from the illusion exotic.