So, I’m writing a novel using Ferguson as the backdrop. My story is going to revolve around a black plain-clothes St. Louis County officer who has to sneak into Canfield Green Apartments to locate a missing girl during the height of the riots back in August. While it will be based on many (thought not all) events I witnessed or took part in, the overall story and the specific individuals discussed will be fictional. I considered writing a non-fiction account of Ferguson in book form, but after 70+ entries on this blog, it would seem that I essentially already accomplished that goal. Anyway, I’m currently about 40k words into the novel so far. Getting everything up to snuff for release is going to take a little while. Below is a short excerpt:
After the immediate shock wore off that I was being shot at and my new friend had decided to ditch me, I too found that I was involuntarily running as a piece of concrete on the curb across from me spontaneously shattered. Fortunately, the gunshots ended as soon as they began. While I was thankful for the reprieve from bullets, the phrase, “let’s get that mother fucker!” followed by cheers of approval and anger dampened my spirits significantly.
About fifty yards away was a complex of storage units with manual drop-down orange doors. Together the units made up a short set of outdoor hallways. As I approached the set of enclosed structures I could see that some of the units had already been opened and presumably looted. I cut the first left into the area and identified a shed that was standing open. Without taking much time to think my sudden plan all the way through, I jumped into an open unit and pulled the door down with me. As the door slid the rest of the way down, I laid on the ground leaving myself just enough space to see underneath.
The group of four led by Trius came into the complex followed by several other sets of people who had decided to join in the festivities. I didn’t recognize any of the newcomers from before when Charles and I had been talking. Unfortunately, as the others moved on to the next shiny object, Trius and his crew proved to be much more determined to try and locate me. At one point, Micro’s foot came right up next to my eye, but despite the fact that he kept whispering to himself, “I’m going to fuck you up. I’m going to fuck you up. I’m going to fuck you up,” even he eventually moved on.
After a while, the group reconvened toward the back of the complex. My heart rate was completely out of control and I could hear my pulse as it ricocheted around in my head bouncing between my eyes. The fact that I was periodically holding my breath for fear of being heard wasn’t helping matters either. The heat and humidity within the storage shed was a sauna corresponding with the weather outside. The resulting pool of cold sweat that was forming beneath my head only served to accentuate the hot air everywhere else while accelerating and amplifying my discomfort.
After a few minutes of discussion, Trius finally said, “That mother fucker is long gone. Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
The group started to move on when Micro turned back and said, “Hey! Hold up. I wonder if we can get into some of these units.”
I exhaled exasperatedly and resisted the urge to audibly cuss. The only thing that stopped my impulse was the notion that blurting anything out, even breathlessly, would somehow be heard despite all the other noise in the air. Unfortunately, the entire group was now back in my row and was in the process of moving door to door, trying to see if they could lift any of the orange entryways. At this point, I was convinced that they were no longer looking for me, merely for whatever they could steal from inside the units. Of course, that wouldn’t matter when they inevitably found me anyway.
Finally, the shoes I now associated with Micro stopped next to my unit and I saw several fingers drape underneath the door and come dangerously close to swiping my face. With both hands, I carefully put my fingers on the various ridges that ran parallel up the doorway. Moments later, I was straining my fingers as the man outside kept applying increasingly more effort in hopes of forcing the door open. To be fair, given that I was only able to use my fingertips, it probably seemed like the door was about to give. It was.
However, as my fingers nearly gave out, I exploded to my feet and threw my weight into the door surprising the man outside. The sudden impact caused him to yelp and unexpectedly release the door in the process. With far too much effort I slammed the door back shut. Outside, the group had reformed and the discussion indicated that they knew I was inside. Now I was completely trapped. Crouching down hoping to make myself as small of a target as possible, I expected that the next course of action would be for Trius and company to begin shooting through the metal door that I knew was in no way bulletproof.
As the seconds drifted on and I tensed up expecting the worst, a series of three explosive thuds caused me to flinch. However, though I was caught off guard, I knew the moment I heard the explosions that they weren’t gunshots. Another volley of tear gas had been launched nearby. The violent thuds were followed with a hissing sound and an ever increasing high pitched wail I knew was coming from the LRAD device mounted to the Bearcat armored vehicles.
Trius and company cursed the gas and their footsteps running away was all the motivation I needed to throw the door back open. Unfortunately, doing so brought me right into the center of another white cloud but without the gas mask I had depended on before. I had expected gas to be in the area but I hadn’t expected it to be this thick this close. Naturally, I was hit full-on and began coughing uncontrollably. My eyes burned and began to drain like faucets, second only to my nose in fluid dispersal. My skin once again felt as though it was badly sun-burnt, but I only considered this a minor annoyance compared to the first set of complaints with no obvious way of escaping these problems.
All I could do was pick a direction at random, squint my eyes focusing on what little I could see through thick white smoke, and run in the general direction I hoped was a way out. As much as I would have liked to give up and run back in the direction of the advancing officers, I knew that Kiara was still out here somewhere. Every time I tried to picture the abducted little girl, she had my Samantha’s face.