Good morning, you all! As I announced yesterday, the release date for “Base Duplicity” has been pushed a few days to Tuesday, December 3, 2013. The original release date was on November 29. When I set that date, I didn’t realize that it was Black Friday. I also didn’t want to publish on Thanksgiving week, when everyone would be distracted by the holidays. So I changed the release date by a few days. I debated what new release date to set. For a moment there, I had half a mind to settle for November 22. I could definitely publish then, this is not a matter of my inability to be ready. I just want to make sure that when “Base Duplicity” is published, that it is the best it can be. I’ve read much about how to publish, so I’ve heard rushing is a common rookie mistake. The new release date also gives my beta readers a bit more time. Who knows, maybe there’s a plot hole I haven’t spotted yet. I highly doubt it, but it could happen. Better safe than sorry.
I hope I’m not keeping you all waiting. To make the time shorter, below is the complete first chapter of “Base Duplicity”. Like the rest of the book, it’s gone through around hundreds of revisions. However, it may slightly change between now and the publication date. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Do clocks deliberately move slower when you really want it to be a certain time? Valerie thought as she looked at the clock on the wall. She was certain the poor clock was mocking her. There were only five minutes left for the last bell to ring, but for Valerie there might as well be half an hour left. She checked her wristwatch to make sure the classroom clock wasn’t malfunctioning.
Nope, it isn’t, Valerie verified. She was eager to leave her last class of the day. The teacher was already preparing by stuffing away her class materials and her laptop inside a messenger bag.
“All right, folks. Don’t forget to read the chapter on the functions that we went over today,” the teacher reminded them. They were in Pre-Cal. That was another reason why Valerie couldn’t wait to leave. The class bored her nearly to death. Valerie wouldn’t have signed up for it if she hadn’t been required to.
The bell rang at last. Valerie controlled herself to keep from jumping out of her seat and dashing out the door like a certain book hero she secretly liked.
“See you tomorrow,” said a girl from behind. Valerie turned to see her best friend, Bianca Olavarria, waving at her as she adjusted her backpack.
“See you too,” Valerie replied, and then turned. She dashed happily out the door.
Despite having a few literary heroes, there was no one Valerie loved more than the person she was meeting outside, someone waiting near the parking lot. When she got there, she saw him already waiting, his back towards her. Valerie walked towards him. He turned when he noticed her approach.
“Hi, Sunshine,” Bryan said, hiding his right hand behind him so Valerie could not see what he was holding in it.
“Hi, Bryan,” Valerie replied, blushing. She always did that when he used his pet name for her. Bryan revealed his hand, handing an envelope to Valerie. She grinned.
Gee, I got another love letter!
Valerie looked up at him, beaming. Her boyfriend, Bryan Peralta, was a born romantic, and she liked it that way. Even though it was 2013, Valerie was a rather old-fashioned person. She still loved to talk with Bryan on her smartphone for hours at night—just like virtually every lovesick schoolgirl out there—but she preferred to receive handwritten love letters, rather than e-mails or texts. What could be more personal than that? You could attribute it to her penchant for classic romances. She could never have enough of them.
Valerie and Bryan had been dating for over a year now. She marveled at having reached the milestone. They met during the sixth grade and quickly became great friends. The two slowly developed an attraction to each other. It wasn’t until four years later that Valerie felt sure enough about her feelings to ask him out. Bianca and their other bestie, Sam Hamilton, had helped. They had both been like, “Finally!” when Valerie and Bryan officially started dating each other.
Bryan admired Valerie as she put the envelope in her bag.
“Are you still up for our date?” he asked, looking at Valerie. His eyes were flashing the kind of affection that he reserved for her.
“Of course. It’s tonight at 6, right?”
“Yes. Meet me at the Monument Café.”
Oh! That was one of Valerie’s favorite places to go out. She and Bryan frequented it. The café had become their place.
“Unless you want me to pick you up,” he added.
“That’s fine. I’ll ride there.”
The two of them stood up from the bench. Valerie leaned forward so that Bryan could kiss her on the lips. Then they broke apart.
“You turn more beautiful every day,” said Bryan, stroking her dark brown hair and catching a strand, playing with it. The sky was cloudy that day, so the sun couldn’t bring out the red in her hair. “What’s your secret, babe?”
Valerie laughed softly.
“There’s no secret. I probably have lucky genes.”
“I’ll see you tonight,” he said, starting to walk in the direction of the parking lot. Valerie waved at him, unable to shake the joyful grin off her face. To anyone who happened to be looking at her, they would think she had a crush. Valerie knew better. After almost six years of knowing Bryan, she was sure she truly loved him. Life would now be unbearable without Bryan by her side. Valerie knew he felt exactly the same way about her.
Valerie looked at her watch. It read 3:51. Another day at Georgetown High School had gone by. Valerie adjusted her messenger bag and walked to her bicycle. She usually drove her ’95 Ford Escort to school, but it was currently being serviced. She’d had it since her junior year. Valerie didn’t mind riding the two miles home, though. The exercise was very welcome.
Maybe that’s my secret, she thought, exercise. She hadn’t considered it as a contributing factor to the beauty Bryan saw in her (Valerie thought of herself as average). It was just important for her to stay in shape, especially if Valerie wanted to continue ascending through belt ranks in her karate sessions.
Valerie rode home as she listened to Demi Lovato on her iPod. It was a nice Friday in April. Friday, Valerie’s favorite day of the week.
After walking a bunch of blocks, Valerie turned a corner into her street. Her house was a one-story building with a reddish brick façade. A small patch of sparse green grass and a few trees decorated the front, with a path leading to the garage on the right. Valerie knew it housed the family’s Chevrolet suburban. There was no fence bordering the front of the house. The neighborhood was quiet and pleasant, as far as they went in Georgetown. It wasn’t much to write home about, but Valerie liked it.
Valerie reached the front door and knocked. Seconds later, her mother answered.
“Good afternoon, honey. How was your school day?” Diana asked as Valerie stepped inside and put her messenger bag next to a sofa.
“It was really great, mom,” she answered. Muffin, their pet Yorkshire terrier, walked up to Valerie. He had been in the family for three years now, which was his actual age. Muffin had been a gift to Valerie from her brother, Gerard Lawrence.
Diana read the tone of glee that was apparent in her daughter’s voice.
“Ooh. What’s got your spirits so high?”
“I’m going on a date with Bryan later today.”
“That’s good. I hope you have a nice time.”
“Thanks. I’d like a snack right now, though. Did you make anything?”
Diana and Valerie walked to the kitchen. The former opened a cupboard, reaching it and then handing Valerie a bag of trail mix. Muffin followed after them.
“Have you got a call from the mechanic?”
Diana shook her head.
“Is dad coming over?”
“I’m not sure. He has a lot of work.”
Valerie clicked her tongue.
“I wish he would eat with us. It’s not like he’s the Police Chief of Austin. This isn’t a really big town.”
“What can I say? Martin enjoys what he does.” Valerie didn’t notice the slightly disappointed tone in her mother’s voice.
“He should take my brother’s example. Even though they’re both cops, Gerard sets time for us,” Valerie said, opening the bag and popping a few nuts and chocolate chips into her mouth.
“Now that you mention it, he didn’t come here for lunch. Maybe he’s got too much work,” said Diana. She looked out the window before exiting the kitchen with Valerie.
As she was heading for her bedroom, Valerie heard her mother yell. She dropped her half-full bag of trail mix on the floor, rushing to the living room.
Valerie arrived in time to see her mom crashing on the floor. A big man in a black polo, dark navy blue jeans, and a black ski mask stood over her threateningly.
The man withdrew a gun and pointed it to Diana. Before Valerie could do anything, a bullet pierced her mother’s back. As if in slow motion, she fell face-down, going limp.
Valerie’s body went numb. Part of her world was shattered, so she didn’t know how she summoned the strength to run. Almost in disbelief, Valerie saw the man turning his gun to her. Panic increased her heart rate. Without wasting time, the man shot at her. In the last second, Valerie moved out of the way. The bullet flew past the right side of her head. She screamed in fear, but continued towards the kitchen. She needed to get a weapon.
Valerie found a knife and grabbed it. As the tears started running down her face, she readied herself to fight. Although the fight in her was mostly absent.
The man came into the kitchen in a hurry. He spotted Valerie and smiled. His gun was raised. Valerie could only stare at him, frozen. His broad muscles and piercing stare made him intimidating. There was a triple-six tattoo on his right wrist.
Before Triple-Six could shoot, he was distracted by Muffin. He’d come running out of nowhere. Valerie growled in defiance, seizing her chance. She ran at the thug. The guy was a pro, though, and he was ready. Valerie only had time to knock the gun from his hand before he used his other one to grab the wrist in which she held the knife. Valerie tried to punch him. He blocked that. Then Triple-Six threw a straight punch so fast Valerie didn’t realize he’d moved. She took it straight in the face, sending her backward. The knife Valerie held fell out of her hand. She brought a hand to her nose, feeling blood.
The man picked up the knife she dropped. Valerie stood up, willing herself to summon her martial arts training. She watched as the man advanced towards her. He tried to stab Valerie, but she used both hands to hold on to his wrist. Muffin bit him in the ankle. That enabled Valerie to bend his wrists, disarming him. Then she hit him in the face with her elbow. The man staggered back, howling in pain. His nose started to bleed.
Taste of your own medicine, Doctor?
Not about to let him recover, Valerie spun around and landed a kick in his gut. Even with her superior—for her age and gender—strength, Valerie felt like she’d just kicked a concrete wall. The man didn’t budge more than a few inches.
Muffin was still holding on to Triple-Six’s ankle. He shook his leg to shove the dog aside. Valerie advanced towards the man. He analyzed her, and then he threw a punch. Valerie dodged the attack. Looking pissed off, he aimed another punch, and this time she blocked it. She threw her fist towards his face, but he swiped it back. Valerie caught a blow to her ribs, and she staggered back against the wall.
Triple-Six threw another punch. Valerie barely got out of the way. She heard the sound of the thug’s fist sinking inside the wall. He pulled it out, unfazed, and aimed a kick that hit Valerie in the back. She crashed on the floor.
Before Valerie could make a single move, Triple-Six lifted her up by the shoulders. He smashed her against the wall. Valerie gasped in pain.
The thug seized her by the neck. Valerie tried to free herself, to no avail. One of his hands went to his pocket, withdrawing a switchblade. The man placed the blade against her throat.
Trying not to panic, Valerie grabbed a ceramic bowl from on top of the oven next to her. She hastily smashed it against the man’s head with as much force as she could use. He yelled in pain and released her. She finished him with a palm strike to the face, which broke his nose further. Triple-Six fell to the floor, knocked out.
Valerie fell to her knees. She breathed frantically as the adrenaline started to fade from her system. She checked her neck, and noticed a small, superficial cut. It was just as harmless as a mild paper cut. There was very little blood. The pain on her side felt worse.
Muffin licked Valerie’s fingers, expressing his concern. She scratched him softly on his back, smiling. Valerie stood up slowly, wiping at her nose with the back of her hand. She then checked the man’s pulse to confirm he was alive. Even though she had every intention to kill him, Valerie was averse to taking a life. It was a rule she vowed not to break.
Doubled over slightly, Valerie walked back to the living room. She prepared herself for the harsh reality that awaited.
Valerie walked over to her mother’s side. The tears came back again. She picked up her mother’s wrist and felt for a pulse. Then she checked at the neck. There wasn’t any sign of life at all. Valerie sighed, trying to hold back more tears. She hung her head, her chin touching the place between her neck and her chest. Without warning, Valerie looked up and yelled “No!” in defiance, banging her fists on the floor.
Valerie pulled her smartphone out of her bag and called her dad, Martin. Being the daughter of the Georgetown Police Chief, she was sure he’d all but teleport to the house after he heard what happened.
Even after several rings, Martin didn’t pick up. Valerie wondered if he was too busy.
The battery icon showed that Valerie’s smartphone only had a few minutes of power. If her dad was not available, there was only one other person she could trust in this situation.
Base Duplicity Copyright © 2013 Ivan Kendrick. All rights reserved.
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