Chapter 5

Written by: vmerrill

Daniel turned once more to the report determined to let work clear his mind. Fuel smuggling was definitely on the wane since the government’s removal of the subsidy but not, however, off the radar screen. He sat for a moment, recalling his last conversation with Uchendu, and then suddenly thumped the desk. Uchendu’s strange formality – her tone – were all indications that something was wrong.  “Fool!” He’d been too busy with fantasies of Melanie, the way heat left its pink kiss on her face when she blushed. The smile she seemed to reserve for him.  And all the time Uchendu…..


Uchendu’s phone went straight to mailbox. Daniel texted an urgent message for her to call him and fought the chill of fear making his stomach clench. Fought also, the memory of what happened to women branded spies and traitors. Not one to depend entirely on his GPS, he pulled out the map, marked a route to Abuja’s university and then headed out to the Navara.


Daniel turned out of the driveway and on to the main road. He couldn’t help glancing over to where he’d last seen Melanie hard at work but her pickup and Dave’s truck were gone. He sighed, sorry to have missed another chance of seeing her, perhaps sharing a quick conversation.


Despite the urgency behind this trip to Abuja City, Daniel’s thoughts turned to his first meeting with Melanie. For some reason he’d never quite understood, women often threw themselves at him and he’d learned from bitter experience these sudden and often intense relationships ended just as quickly. Melanie seemed different. Feisty, yet strangely vulnerable with that clear, delicate skin, the child-like swing of her blonde ponytail and her genuine smile. Of course, he was aware of the way her gaze lingered a little too long, but that only made him more curious and, if he were honest, warmed him in other ways as well.


Daniel shook his head in an attempt to clear his mind for the task ahead. He increased his speed and then had to slow to avoid a small flock of pygmy goats herded along the shoulder by two young boys. Cattle egrets lifted in a blur of grey and as Daniel looked, he noticed the truck parked on Billy Gessup’s closed road. He realized the whole incident with the truck filled with Nigerian men, the way they helped Melanie, seemed odd.


Uchendu’s safety, stopping the smugglers – these were his first priorities but later, there’d be time to follow up. It occurred to him that he’d also be able to find out more about Melanie. Daniel recalled the scowl on Dave’s face when they’d all met for the first time and wondered what exactly the setup was between those two. One thing he knew for sure, Dave exhibited all the signs of a rival. A rival who would take great care of Melanie until he returned from Abuja. 


He gunned the Navara leaving huge dust trails spiraling in its wake.


Vivienne Joseph (NZ)


Welcome to a new author, Vivienne. This chapter has stepped up the intrigue and added a little emotion from Daniel's POV. I noticed that Melanie is mentioned in every paragraph bar one in which he thinks of another woman, Uchendu, his assistant. To me this keeps the women and the emotions in his life at the front of the story, relegating the smugglers as bit part actors to the backdrop of the main story. What happens now is anyones guess, considering how Dave seems hell bent on keeping Melanie away from the man of her dreams. Thrown in at the deep end, this author has written a terrific chapter. I hope we will be seeing more. Thanks Vivienne.
Hi Vivienne,  welcome aboard!  It was a pleasure to read your chapter.  It also made me wish I had signed up to write after you.  Lots of stuff for the next person to write about.  I haven't checked out your web site yet but plan to today.  I look forward to reading more of your stuff.
Dve has a shot with Melanie now that we confirmed Daniel is an idiot. Go Dave!
Based upon the pygmy goats and the presence of the city of Abuja, it would be fair to assume that you believe we're in Nigeria. We're actually in South Africa, so a drive between the two locales would pretty well put Daniel out of the picture for the rest of the serial. Such a drive would nigh impossible considerin' the conditions of the road, and a plane would be just as inconvinient and puttin' out of the plot. Just sayin'. This has been a bumpy serial indeed.
Pygmy Goats originated in Western Africa in the Cameroon Valley. They have since been imported all over the world, especially to North America and the UK where they are kept as pets. They are very adaptable to all climates and prized for the amount of milk they produce. I would suggest that they could easily be found in Thambazimbi. With regard Daniel's drive, I would think he has enough sense to drive to the airport and catch a flight to Abuja where his assistant seems to be in trouble. I wouldn't think he would take a week to do the drive if she is in danger. A few hours there and back I would suggest he is back in time for tea in a couple of days. Annette made good points about suspended disbelief and as writers we have to do this. We cannot always be absolutely correct with the details. Look at James Bond - do we believe all that we read - of course not. But what a jolly good read those books are. How many have been sold? Suspended disbelief is just about on every page Ian Flemming wrote. Long live imagination.
I disagree. Fully. You do not need to suspend reality to have an imaginative and compeling story. They are far from mutually exclusive factors.  I know the merits of suspension of belief. The thing is, if ya wanted a suspension of belief type of story, then it shouldn't have been set in a real life settin'. That's the kicker. We aren't in a make believe settin', we're in a location firmly in the real world. And if its set in the real world, folks will be confused and turned off by rampant suspension of reality. So it never hurts to take the extra effort. One can easily be creative, compelling, and fully set into the reality of the setting. Research ain't gonna kill ya.
I totally disagree with you. What on earth is fiction. Literature concerning imaginary characters or events - a pretense; a lie. A misrepresentation of the truth, accepted for convenience. (from the dictionary) And I also disagree with you - yes, the place exsists but the story is make believe. If I want to I could have anything happen I choose as long as the continuity of the serial runs smoothly from one chapter to another. Your supposition that if we want suspension of belief we should not set the story in the real world is nonsense. James Bond was set in the real world. I understand that there was a small flaw in the distance issue but come on, let's live in the real world. Where did "rampant suspension" come from if we are only talking about one issue. Apart from that I would'nt mind betting there are not many readers who know where these two places are and probably don't care. They just want to read a good romance story. I want to see one of the men get the girl and seduce her. What the hell do I care about the distance between two cities when there's sex on the menue? I enjoy reading good books and that will no doubt include many with rampant suspension.
Thank you for your kind comments! Sorry about the sus---pension of disbelief, I've obviously muddled up the distances in my rush to keep up with Daniel's heroic dash to save Uchendu. Maybe, the next chapter will 'tidy' this up a little. In my opinion, Daniel is not an idiot and  he is also not going to be a pushover in the romantic stakes. But I agree that Dave  could be the man to shine.  Also, I have grave fears for the truck full of Nigerians and wonder about Dave's brother-in-law's involvement (the road closure). I thoroughly enjoyed joining in this serial and can't wait for the next chapters. P.S. I write under the name Vivienne Joseph.
My 2 cents worth!  on suspending our disbelief.  Fictional characters are probably the greatest suspension of all.  The author asks us to believe a character not only exists, but has a life that is interesting enough for us to want to spend money reading about.  There are many, many fictional characters who are so real to us that they have actually become a part of our language.  What about, "Don't be a Scrooge."  Sherlock Holmes actually has a fan club and has had for over 100 years!  Would you recognize him if he walked down the street, especially if you were in London?  Of course you would.  Point is--he is a figment of Conan Doyle's imagination.  One of the main reasons we read is because we want to suspend our disbelief of reality and be entertained.  I write because I am putting myself in a state of suspended disbelief and creating the characters and story that others will read.  It is a contract between writers and readers.
First, let me say this - Vivienne, you've written a well-paced, full chapter that could lead us in all sorts of directions at just the right spot. You've shown the male lead to be noble, yet suitably distracted by the female lead to be the real deal. Your style is strong and clear and well-written. Second, I agree with Ray and Mrellan on the suspension of disbelief argument. Creating believable CHARACTERS is our number one goal. Without the ability to identify with - at least revere or revile - the persons we're reading about, everything else is lost. But that believability comes from within - and if you choose not to believe based on a goat, for example, then what you're saying is that you never wanted to believe in the first place. Which brings me to the third thing I wanted to say: As a community of authors, our goal is to build each other up along the road to publication success. Certainly, that building up includes some tearing down. But we need to be sure that we're tearing down in order to build up the person authoring the chapter at hand - not ourselves.It's much easier to get caught up in finding what's wrong than it is to see what's right. We're heading in to an era of The Story Mint where, hopefully, dozens of new and aspiring authors will be trying their hand at these serials. The readers will be harsh or kind as they will. It's our job to keep in mind that we're trying to help build up a fellow writer - the good and the bad, but always geared toward being uplifting.
Thank goodness for the voice of reason and understanding.
There is not tryin' to understand here. There's folks thinkin' in a vacum and tryin' to justify mistakes of one another. Even the writer of the serial admits that it was forgotten to be considered! I do my part to improve folks' thoughts and writin's by helpin' 'em think in a different way. I am not that much an anomoly that I only I would be dissuaded from a story that uses real locations but takes liberties that are beyond the scope of understandin'. We can lavish all the praise we want, but somebody has to state the facts. If I point somethin' out, for example, it's what I see that my reader's and writer's mind goes to instantly. To say that the setting the this sense is irrelevant is insane. Ya might as well be writin' the characters in the great, empty void. Characters are one thing, but ya know what helps make the characters big? The setting. The setting is what gives scope. The setting draws folks in just as much as the characters. What would Lord of the Rings be without its world? What would Star Wars be without its grand scale? Just another villan-hero journey. My point is, it will be looked upon by readers. There will be readers who would get to these parts and think 'that doesn't make sense...' and drag 'em *right* out of their immersion. Ya can't just discard these things. Ya can't just ignore 'em. Ya *have* to consider 'em. Ya *have* to be solid. Because without such, ya have no immersion. Just your chess pieces movin' along and talkin' 'bout those standard trope deals. Characters have their place, but *never* underestimate the power of the little and huge facts to wreck the immersion.
  <p>I've tried to sit this out, but I feel I should join the thread and try to provide some clarity. Before I go into the heart of this discussion, I want to congratulate Vivienne for joining us on Story Mint and Writers Pen. Your writing is readable and interesting. I enjoyed your phrasing, which moved the story along. As a story in its own world, I give it a very good grade. Kudos to you.</p> <p>Now, let’s analyze this thread. I don't know if anyone saw "The Invention of Lying," but I feel the writer’s concept hit that “fiction vs. honesty” nail square on. Without fiction, there would be no escape from the brutality of relentless honesty. Fiction lets a reader's mind roam into worlds they could never experience in any other way. Fiction lets the reader live another person's (real or made-up) experience. Our society, our religions and the very core of our scientific advancements began with "what if?"</p> <p>Nevertheless, EVERY work of fiction must root within some part of reality. Without those ties, the story becomes an amorphous work with no understanding or point. Sometimes, that fiction becomes fantasy because it contrasts reality. Without reality, fiction and fantasy can’t exist.</p> <p>When we have a set of fictional characters interacting within a place on our planet, we can suspend the belief that they exist, however, they are made to walk on this world, obey physical laws (to a degree, i.e. Superman. He had his own laws to obey.) Therefore, not counting super powers, the fictional characters must behave as we mortals within the confines of our world.</p> <p>Would we want Enda to sit at a table beneath a tree in a Turkish courtyard sipping tea and then walk outside (I did say outside from outside), climb into a rickshaw with fishing waders and hand walk to the Empire state Building for dinner. Of course, we would not. At that point, all contact with reality becomes nothing more than a dream. While dreams can be fascinating, unless we understand we are reading a dream at some point, all we get is confusion…and bored.</p> <p>Relating to this story, we all know it has been broken since Chapter one. It is rife with technical issues that are now irresolvable unless one of the characters wakes from their dream and tells us they sometimes wish they weren't quadriplegic. Every author should do their best to read all the previous chapters so they can keep the storyline moving, research the setting for accuracy if one is given (otherwise, if a place isn’t specified, who cares? That would be fantasy as well.), and don’t make confusing character names or descriptions.</p> <p>With that said, we have no more need to belabor this point. We need to simply finish this fantasy and move on. Maybe next time we will get it right.</p> <p>So, to quote a famous fictional character, I say, "To the future, and beyond!"</p>
It irks me when anyone says anything like "with that said, we have no more need to belabor this point." You may be finished with the debate and feel that you've defined the parameters of what's been discussed. That's all well and good. And you may have. But don't assume to know my thoughts or feelings on the subject, or seek to control them in any environment - which is what that phrase evokes for me.
That's cool!
I'm just waiting for someone to get it on with someone else but I guess that's romantic fiction
I challenge BdMattson to find two positive things to say about the chapter Vivienne posted.
Her sense of pacin' holds a respectable amount of promise, and she attempts very well to add hooks within the context of the story proper. However, I find it sad this even 'challenge' deal. It is missing the point of my entire post, and an irrelevant premise. I've already mentioned that ya can say the decent things about one's works, but that ain't gonna be the best at improvin' one's understandin' of more processes of thought then their own in their writin'. The more perspectives a writer can be aware of, the more likely one can not only improve but appeal to those readers out there. And that's always a bonus. I'm a medieval fantasy writer. I'm a university student with a very technical mind. I bring a unique perspective that most folks don't automatically go to. Both of these new writers in this chapter and chapter three have respected my comments in that they didn't consider such. Just because it ain't the opinion of y'all rest, doesn't mean it should be excluded, ignored, and barred out. It should be seen as a unique opportunity to enhance one's scope. Just reread my post for its actual point. One can learn a lot from this free givin' of a unique group of readers along with my own writin' experience. I but only remark in help.