#NaNoWarmUp October 10, 2013: Haywood Franklin

For the record? Okay, for the record my name is Haywood Franklin, but my friends call me Hay. I joined the army when the war broke out, and I was instrumental in the plan that ended the war, along with my friend Jake and his girlfriend Cassandra.

I met Jake when we were in middle school, and he introduced me to Cassandra after they started dating. At that time Jake and I were working at his Uncle Tony’s pizza place, with Tony’s son Milo. It was a great job, but I lost it one night thanks to a stupid prank on the job. Tony was right, I should have known better. But they should have too. I begged Tony for my job back, and one time I think he was caving, but something made him change his mind.

Jake, Milo, and I, along with another buddy, Johnny, were in a band called Computer Anarchy. We were pretty good. Jake plays guitar and sings, I play guitar, Milo was drums, and Johnny was on bass. We played gigs at Tony’s, a bowling alley, a couple kids’ bar mitzvahs, and then after we recorded some of our gigs and posted clips online we started getting calls from places that paid more, like bars. At least sometimes we got tips at the bars.

We wanted to make a demo, but then Jake disappeared and the war started. I was recruited in the army and spent a few months training, then moved into the new army barracks, which is in what used to be the New York Stock Exchange building, in the commodities exchange pit — fifteen floors, all below ground. It’s the most secure place in the city.

I was amazed when I saw Jake and Cassandra. I knew she was making crazy predictions about New Jersey winning the war, and I didn’t know what happened to him. Milo had been killed in battle, and Johnny was on the first bus out of the city. I’m not sure where he ended up. The craziest thing was that for some reason Jake believed Cassandra, and I have never doubted Jake for a second. I had no choice but to work with them, even though I still didn’t want to.

Jake was looking for Milo for his video editing skills, but when I told him he was dead he remembered that Milo showed me how to edit Computer Anarchy’s videos and upload them. Cassandra said that basically Apollo gave her the gift of prophecy but when she didn’t love him he cursed it and said nobody would ever believe her. Someone, who I later found out was Hermes, told her that since Apollo could see the future too, it would be fun to get Apollo on tape telling someone about his prophecy, and then to show everyone in the City the video. Since the prediction would be coming from Apollo and not Cassandra, maybe the City would finally believe that we had to prepare for battle.

I had a much bigger role in preparing the City for the final battle. Now that everyone was taking it seriously, thanks to the Apollo video going viral, there were more army recruits than ever. I was in charge of organizing training in Grand Central Terminal and the surrounding tunnels. I was supervising guys who had been in the army for many years longer than I had. There were middle-aged vets who had served overseas, and I assigned to them anyone who wanted to fight for our home, from the crazy toothless homeless man to the sixteen year old kids who had spent the war years living in the tunnels, taking care of younger kids and having “turf wars” between their gangs. A black kid was the leader of the Tunnel Trolls, and his biggest rival was an Irish kid, the leader of the Night Ninjas. Both kids put aside their differences to fight together against New Jersey, the common enemy.

It was a bloody battle, and I don’t want to relive it. I’m just glad we won. If I never see another gun it will be too soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of other guys are trying to join the peace corps too. I’m glad we won, like I said, but I wish it never got anywhere near that point. Violence is a horrible answer, but the New Jersey mob factor didn’t give us a choice. Now I’m ready to try to make a difference in the world in a more positive way. I hear that there’s still a lot of third-world countries in Africa, and I don’t care what you want me to do, I just want to help. I will dig ditches, or learn how to give vaccinations. Please, just get me out of here. I need a change of scenery for a while.

This is an exercise written as part of NaNoWarmUp, a personal writing challenge in October to write 25,000 words as preparation for writing 50,000 words in November. This year I’m using the daily writing goal of 800 words to write ABOUT my Cassandra story from the point of view of other characters. In November, I hope to be prepared to start writing a new first draft of Cursed from Cassandra’s point of view, a more complete story after figuring out how other characters perceive Cassandra, her prophecies, and the Trojan War.