Saturday, December 26, 2015

What Terrifies You? SAVING MIGUEL by John Bradford Branney

SAVING MIGUEL by John Bradford Branney. Click for Books
What really frightens you?

Does the boogeyman scare the living crud out of you? Do you have nightmares about lions and tigers and bears, oh my? How about that thing that hides under your bed? You know what I am talking about, that thing that has lurked under your bed since you were a small child. Yes, it is still there. Does it still spook you? As a grown up, will you let your arm drape down over the side of the bed or are you still afraid that the thing will pull you under the bed by your arm? What about Jason or Freddie Krueger? Both of them were quite frightening in the movies. What about the scare potential for the nightly news? There is some scary stuff on the news, and that is real!

Yes, I just added the nightly news!
There are stories on the nightly news that makes Freddie Krueger look like the Singing Nun! There are things going on in the world that can make your hair stand on end and unfortunately, these things are not make believe like Jason or Freddie!

Have you ever asked yourself why certain things frighten you more than other things? What is the secret ingredient that makes you terrified? What pushes your fright button? 

Some people believe that fright comes from those things that we perceive we have no control over. When we watch Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street, the victims seldom have control over Freddie or Jason and you as a movie watcher have even less control than those actors in the movies. I remember the first time I watched Nightmare on Elm Street. I was literally yelling at the television set at the clueless victims who always seemed to be doing the most idiotic thing possible to get killed. They were so dumb when it came to avoiding Freddie Krueger that you almost wanted them to get caught! I screamed at them to stay put and lock their doors, but of course, they had to go investigate what made that noise.                                                                                                                                                                  The actors did not listen to me at all. I had no
control over them or the script or the movie. Fresh meat, how sweet! I can still hear Freddie Krueger’s hideous voice growling.  

We do have some control over that thing that lives under our bed. What can we do? First, we should not drape our arm over the side of the bed! And what control do we have over our  spooky neighbors? It seems our only control over them is for us to move or hope they move or wait and see what they do next! The spooky neighbors could be harmless or they could be like Norman Bates in Psycho.           

Yes, we agree that there are real life things in this world that are truly frightening and depending on our experience, temperament, and lifestyle, certain things will frighten each of us more than other things. Let me meander back to the frightening events we see on the nightly news. When I first came up with the concept for my novel SAVING MIGUEL in 2011, the world was on the brink of economic
disaster. Global Economic Armageddon was on everyone’s minds. I have to admit, but this non-human, non-boogeyman called Global Economic Armageddon frightened the living daylights out of me, more than Freddie Krueger or Jason or anything else I could think of. I saw the possibility that my entire life’s work and savings could go up in smoke because of the greed of others. I was frightened by this possibility and I was not alone. To watch my family’s financial means disappear in a matter of days or weeks was absolutely terrifying to me. Global Economic Armageddon was more frightening than that thing under my bed or Freddie Krueger! Global Economic Armageddon could happen and I had no control over it!     

So, to help me cope with my own personal fear, I decided to write a novel about it, a novel that was both terrifying and hopeful. In the novel, I had to create a world that would exist after global financial markets collapsed, after hundreds of millions of people no longer had livelihoods and jobs. That is a a very frightening world, if you ask me! I modeled this world after the devastation in Communist Russia after the Berlin Wall fell, a world where the basic needs of human beings no longer existed and crime to survive became a normal way of life. I took that model and expanded it to the world-at-large.

Below is a scene from SAVING MIGUEL. In this scene, the head of the military and spy organizations for the Monarchy, Chief Security Officer Stewart had to visit the city without military escort after dark. Here is what happened.   

The noise from the collision with the gate had attracted seven homeless citizens who now walked down the middle of the street towards Stewart and his vehicle. Stewart saw these dark shadows approaching him and took a gander over his shoulder, pinpointing the location of his vehicle if he had to make a run for it. Stewart deftly chambered a round in his ten-millimeter semi-automatic pistol. When the seven shadows came closer, the tall one in the middle spoke first.

“Give us your valuables!”

“I don’t have any valuables,” Stewart replied, slowly backing up towards his vehicle.

The seven citizens continued to slowly advance while Stewart glanced over his shoulder, ensuring no one was behind him.

“Give us your valuables or we will take your life.”

“Now that’s an overused cliché, isn’t it, bloke?” Stewart replied. “I must apologize, but you can’t have either. I am keeping my valuables and my bloody life.”

Stewart raised the pistol and pointed it at the tall citizen, saying, “Lad, I strongly suggest you turn and walk away, otherwise you are going to have a bloody bad night!”

The citizen responded by holding up what looked like a tire iron and waving it in Stewart’s direction.

“That’s brill, just what I would expect from a doped up bugger,” Stewart asserted, “bringing a tire iron to a gunfight.”

The citizens did not appreciate Stewart’s attempt at levity, shaking logging chains and raising wooden clubs over their heads. Stewart made a run for it, sprinting for his vehicle while the seven citizens chased after him. Stewart had not run for his life in years and his legs were not working very well, but the adrenalin surging through his body made up for it. Once Stewart reached his vehicle, he turned around,

aimed, and fired the pistol at the closest citizen. The 180-grain full metal jacket bullet ripped through the citizen’s rib cage, penetrating his heart. By the time the citizen hit the pavement, his soul was already in hell. The loud explosion of the ten-millimeter pistol stopped the other citizens dead in their tracks. Stewart fumbled around in his pockets, desperately looking for his vehicle identification sensor.

Finally he found the sensor and jumped into the vehicle, firing it up.

The six citizens rushed the vehicle while Stewart threwthe vehicle into drive and stomped on the gas pedal. The powerful V 12 engine roared like a lion as Stewart turned the steering wheel and headed straight at the citizens. The vehicle hit the second citizen dead on, running completely over his body. Stewart then swung the steering wheel hard to the right, clipping the third citizen with the passenger side of the vehicle, knocking him down. Stewart aimed the vehicle for the fourth citizen and smashed into him head on, throwing the citizen’s body onto the front hood of the vehicle. Stewart drove past the three remaining citizens and screeched on his brakes.

Stewart jumped out of the vehicle just in time to see the three citizens running down the street away from him. Stewart took careful aim with the pistol and fired at the fifth citizen. He then quickly took aim at the sixth citizen and gently squeezed the trigger. The two 180 grain full metal jacket bullets raced through the city air at over thirteen hundred feet per second. The first bullet exploded into the back of the fifth citizen, shattering his T3 thoracic vertebrae and spraying shards of bone and bullet into his organs and blood vessels. However, the vertebrae only slowed the bullet down as it continued to corkscrew its way through the citizen’s body, passing through a lung and finally coming to rest on the inside of the rib cage, narrowly missing the heart. With a severed spinal cord, the citizen dropped to the pavement like a sack of potatoes, bleeding on the street and dying soon after from severe shock.

The sixth citizen fared much better. Stewart had rushed his second shot and only hit the citizen in the back of the shoulder. The bullet grazed the bone on the citizen’s clavicle and then came out of the flesh just in front of the shoulder. The drug-crazed citizen ran, completely unaware he had even been shot.

Stewart surveyed up and down the street, knowing that he had to get out of there and fast. Soon there would be more citizens showing up. Stewart shoved the moaning citizen off the hood of his vehicle. The citizen tried to crawl away, but Stewart came up behind him, aimed his pistol at the back of his head, and gently squeezed the trigger. The pistol belched flame and fury…

This was just a routine night in the city. Take away people’s livelihoods and this is what happens. But, in my novel SAVING MIGUEL where you find terror, sometimes you find hope.


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