Monthly Archives: March 2013

A brand new excerpt from “Cleaning Up: a Silo story”

The Sky used to be Blue - EBook Cover Art

Thanks to the several hundred folks who have already bought The Sky Used to be Blue since it was published two days ago. I am blown away! And thanks to Hugh Howey, whose generosity in sharing the world he created with the WOOL books is unprecedented.

Here’s a quick look at a scene from the upcoming Part 2 of the Karma series, Cleaning Up — a rough draft that I just typed up last night. You are getting a glimpse into the mind of a writer… this is how the creative process works. Just jump in and create something out of thin air!

Let me know what you think:

Now, we don’t watch the Cleanings. Now, we find it too terrible.

But the first time, we didn’t know.

I stood in the cafeteria with hundreds of others, curious to see what Andy would encounter once the doors opened into what looked like a toxic world of swirling dust and dead soil. I was worried for him, but not really afraid. It didn’t seem possible that they would send him out—let him out, since he had been eager to volunteer—simply to die. How foolish it seems now.

Rick stood beside me that day. We had left Athena, who was only two, in the nursery. I had worked out my routine by then—vague and mostly compliant with Rick, sharp and curious with Andy. Somewhere in between for my daytime job. I had left the laundry, where I first worked, and found a position as a teacher in the elementary class for the Up Top. Though I had to remain cautious about revealing my clear memory of the time before, it seemed safe to demonstrate that I had enough intelligence to teach five- to seven-year-olds.

It had been hard enough keeping my two selves separate when I had Andy to talk to. Now, I knew, it would be doubly difficult to do so. And doubly critical.

We didn’t realize what would happen to him. At least, I didn’t.

I hadn’t seen Andy since the day he was dragged out of the cafeteria, not yet afraid, just stunned at what was happening to him.

And now, I could see him. Though his face wasn’t visible through the reflective glass on his helmet, and his moves were jerky and impeded by the bulk of the protective suit they had put him in, I still recognized my friend.

I knew that when Andy made a slow, balletic but clumsy twirl, he must be awed by the view. And even thought the landscape featured only the usual menacing gray clouds of dust and the barren hills, it still must be thrilling to get a 360 degree view of the sky and the world—what was left of it.

He went to work right away scrubbing the lenses through which we saw the outside. A cheer went up after the wallscreen view cleared—and we realized that we had been looking through a grimy build-up of dirt and whatever else was flying through the air with those noxious clouds. Somehow Andy’s work with these ingenious pads—wool?—had made all the difference.

But I was less concerned with the cosmetics of our view than with his health. Though everyone believed the outside air to be toxic, this suit they had put him in seemed to be doing the trick. Andy showed no signs of distress. Perhaps after he had completed the brave task of scrubbing the silo lenses, he would be welcomed back in, penance completed, cleansed of whatever sins he was considered guilty of.

Rick was right beside me, his hand laid protectively on my shoulder. I was careful to keep both my expression and my body language neutral as the emotions raging through me swung from fear to relief to pride and then back to fear.

Andy had apparently finished his duties with the little wool pads, and had returned them carefully to the numbered pockets on his suit. He turned and started to walk away from the wallscreen, toward the brown hill in front of us. Somehow he seemed to be heading for the ruins of the tall towers I knew to be what was left of Atlanta.

My breath caught in my throat as I realized how naïve I had been to imagine a triumphant return into the silo. I would have given anything to have him safe back inside again. What had felt like a prison only moments before seemed like a blessed refuge compared to the wasteland Andy was now shuffling through.

Keeping my voice carefully neutral, I turned to Rick. “So what happens now?”

He looked down at me and shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know.”

As was so often the case, I imagined I saw something in Rick’s eyes that meant he knew more than he was admitting. But how could he know what Andy’s punishment entailed? Rick wasn’t part of the Sheriff’s staff. And no one had ever gone outside before.

I turned back to the screen to see Andy start to slow, and then stumble. What was wrong? Had the suit ripped? I couldn’t see any outward reason for his change of pace. Maybe he was simply getting tired.

But then he fell, clutching his thickly padded hands to his gut. It was all I could do not to scream. He tried to rise again, but could not. For a few feet, he crawled forward, even the awkward suit unable to conceal what looked like spasms. As my friend’s agony became apparent, and he drew what appeared to be very painful breaths, the mood in the immense room changed. What had first been curiosity, followed by celebration after the lenses were cleared of grime, became gasps of horror and disbelieving cries. Voices around me started to sound.

“No.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Is he…?”

Women began to sob and men clenched their jaws.

As Andy sank to the ground for the final time, I wept, ashamed and full of despair. How could I have let this happen to my sweet Andy?

Rick wrapped his long arms around me.

“Ah, baby, I’m so sorry. I know he was your friend.”

As Andy’s form, still encased in the bulky suit that was supposed to protect him, stilled at last, I nearly crumpled to the floor myself. Only Rick’s arms kept me upright. It was safe to cry now, as so many others were, stunned and horrified to witness the dead man lying in full view of the giant wallscreen and all the observers.

Only I had the irrational urge to scream at my strangely unreactive husband, to pound on the doors to the outside begging to retrieve the remains of my friend, or do something, anything, to change the outcome of his tragic last walk.

But I did nothing.

Announcing a new WOOL short – The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story

I am excited to let you know of another short story set in the WOOL universe… encouraged by Hugh Howey himself!

The Sky used to be Blue - EBook Cover Art

Part 1 of the Karma series, The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story is an 8,500 word short story based on Hugh Howey’s WOOL books, published with his permission.

Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn’t sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the others seem content—except for the ones who jump to their death from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones that are pushed.

After the doctor prescribes a special liquid and tells her to avoid tap water, Karma begins to remember a very different world. Despite the fog in her mind, she is convinced that something came before. Such memories are dangerous to talk about, or even to know.

She must figure out who can be trusted. The doctor… her husband… or no one at all.

Here’s what Hugh Howey, the creator of the WOOL universe, said after reading the synopsis of this story:

Hey Patrice, I LOVE this story idea! You have my complete blessing. I can’t wait to read it.

Let me know when it’s done!

Hugh

The Sky Used to be Blue will be available tomorrow! I’ll be uploading the URL as soon as I have it… watch this space for more news.

Announcement “The Sky Used to be Blue”

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Works in Progress

“I Dream of PIA” (for The Robot Chronicles anthology, available July 25, 2014)

3149/ 3000 words. 100% done!

"Sand Song” (a novella set in Hugh Howey’s SANDbox)

8,627 / 10000 words. 87% done!

"The Terminal” (a dark futuristic short)

2383 / 2000 words. 100% done!

“ROCKS 1” (the first episode in a dystopian series)

5675 / 10000 words. 57% done!

“Salt & Pepper Mystery #1” (Book one of a cozy mystery series)

22379 / 40000 words. 56% done!

Like Running

My Books

Karma of the Silo: the Collection (Karma Omnibus)
Karma lives in the Silo, deep underground. She lives with a man whom she barely knows and with a name she doesn’t remember choosing. When visions come to her about another husband, another way of life, and another world, Karma struggles to discover what came before.

Cleaning Up: a Silo story (Karma)
Five years have passed since the airlock slammed shut on the 4,000 souls condemned to live in the Silo. Karma can remember now that there was a time before--before she was locked into this cylindrical tomb under the earth. But all she can see of the outside are dead hills and the dark clouds swirling through what remains of a toxic world.

The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn't sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the other residents seem content. Except for the ones who jump to their deaths from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones who are pushed.

Last Walk: a Silo story
The kids are fighting in the Silo—gangs engage in battles between the Up Top and the Down Deep, with the Mids caught in between. There are too many young people without work. They ink themselves with primitive face tats and guard their territory against incursions from below or above.

Deep Justice: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma has endured twenty-five years underneath the earth. Her path in life—a path she never bargained for—has included marriage to a man she never chose, whose powerful position forces her to hide her memories of the time before.


Rising Up: a Silo story (Karma)
After a hellish three months locked in the private inner sanctum of IT, Karma and her family emerge, bloodied and forever changed. Rick is a man who is no longer in control. Mars has become the power in the Silo.



Silo Saga: SILO SECRETS: Daniel
Daniel is sixteen now, and he can count up to one hundred. He can go all by himself up and down the two levels of the Silo between his home and his job. Daniel knows he's not as smart as some people. But his mother told him he was smart enough to help her, so it must be true. He always believes his mother. His mother is a doctor.

Running
THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN... Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jerusha Hutchins, folksy charmer and blonde beauty, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party.

Till Death Do Us Part: a short story
Join Harold and Rosemary as they bring together their family and friends for a night of celebration before a long-planned trip... and see just how this journey ends. Mix a little Dorothy Parker and a little Shirley Jackson, add a twist of David Sedaris and a pinch of O.Henry, and out comes a satirical romp. "Till Death Do Us Part" is a 3,000 word short story. This is a sophisticated take on the way people fool themselves. More New Yorker magazine than Asimov.

The Terminal
To be published next week!





Looking for Lance
A pinch of Dorothy Parker and a twist of O.Henry go into the mix to make this Fitzgerald short a bracing sip of satire. There is a free sample of RUNNING, her best-selling Kindle political thriller, at the end of this story.

Jungle Moon
Another quirky short story from Patrice Fitzgerald about love and the ways people connect. When Felicia gets a special birthday request from her husband Herman, she can't believe what he's asking her to do. Will she say yes? This 3,000 word short story explores the nature of a happy marriage, compromise, and passion. A four-chapter sample of Fitzgerald's best-selling political thriller, RUNNING, is also included.

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