A Novel Idea

So it's National Novel Writing Month, a worldwide event that began in 1999 in San Francisco when 21 writers, who called themselves the “Office of Letters and Light” (uber cool name there) got together to make their longtime aspirations of writing a novel a reality. The idea is pretty simple: According to the official rules you should start a brand new novel on Nov. 1 and finish it by Nov. 30 - the minimum word length is 50 000 words. I'm of course breaking those rules. I've had a novel idea (hehe) kicking around in my head for a while now. I'm going to ask you guys if you think I should continue writing.... Below are the first 600 or so words of my story. Tell me what you think, tell me if it hooks you, tell me if you think its the most boring thing you've ever read, just please tell me something:

"Michael van Vuuren was exhausted. The bottle of brandy he had taken from his apartment lay nestled between the driver’s seat and the handbrake, long empty. The hangover he knew was coming had arrived with the first rays of light that warmed the autumn morning. He had been driving nine straight hours by then in the relative cold of night, soaked and shivering in the cab as he drove across the Highveld. No radio in the vehicle, it had been stolen years ago for the fourth and final time. He made do instead with the inky blackness of both the moonless night and his mind clouded by the heady cocktail of alcohol and adrenalin coursing through his veins. He had none but the road for company as he put more and more distance between himself and the scene of his madness.

The rural tracks, potholed seemingly in perpetuity by a combination of government indifference and the frequent flash floods which swept through the erosion scarred landscape ensured a constant jarring of the truck as he steered it, just faster than the speed limit, just slow enough so as not to raise suspicion, ever northward. Each bump and ditch sending searing tendrils of pain shooting up his back, long damaged from years underground, stooped toward the smoking rock-face on the gold veins of the South African reef. But now as day broke and the African sun began beating down on the old, aircon-less Landcruiser, it had become almost unbearable inside the vehicle. The blood, gore and brains on his shirt, in his hair and on his skin had dried and cracked and stank. The memory of the night before similarly crystallized into lurid snatches of betrayal, rage and unmitigated violence. He cursed the thieves who had stolen his radio.

He resolved himself to keep driving. While he had left Johannesburg many, many hours ago, his choice of route, calculated to evade capture, had made progress slow. He would not stop until he had crossed the Zimbabwe border. That great lawless land where cash (in foreign denomination) and whiskey could lubricate any official, purchase any passage, buy silence and ensure discretion. Where a man might hide… might disappear. In a glimmer of rationality, he knew that this was the only option for him. He would not rot in a South African jail. He knew that such an eventuality was hardly feasible in any event. He would die inside in a matter of weeks, days perhaps, surrounded by enemies and victimized for what he had done.

He stopped along the side of the road to piss, tires crunching on the gravel of the shoulder as he slowed down. He jumped down from the cab, walked a little toward the corn field, now barren, and relieved himself, enjoying even the slight breeze bringing some respite from the growing heat of the day. He turned back toward the Landcruiser and caught sight of himself in the dust covered truck’s windows. Christ, he looked like hell. He couldn’t cross the border like this and he knew he would have to find clothes and have a shower.

This posed a conundrum for Michael. How would he get clothes? He looked alarming to say the least. Bits of skull fell from his matted hair every now and then as he hit a particularly deep pothole and he was for all intents and purposes covered in blood. He hadn’t grabbed anything but the brandy as he had fled from his apartment the night. Michael had never been a smart man."


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