As part of my participation in My 500 words, I am posting what I write each day. All this week I’ve been giving a detailed backstory from one of the main characters of my novel, Sidewinder. Mundy Gilbert is sitting in a dark room, relaxed as he’s ever been in his life. Voices in the dark have been talking to him and he’s told his life story.
Mundy had been born on Channel, a hub of space transport referred to as a core world. Raised in a shelter, he took to the streets and feel in with a gang where he learned what a good thief he was. Picking pockets was his specialty and Mundy eventually ended up working for the planet’s biggest crime lord, Dean Handler.
Mundy sat in the dark room. He was sure his eyes were still closed as no light came through his lids. The voices were like what he might overhear in a quiet café at the next table, but they were talking to him. The bliss he felt, like waking up from a long nap was beginning to ebb away, and he tried to relax more to bring it back.
Dean Handler had given Mundy an assignment, plant some illegal drugs on a prominent celebrity preacher. This evangelist, Reverend Todd, had spoken against Dean Handler to the point where Handler thought it best to show what happened to people who did that.
In a pressing crowd, Mundy managed to slip the drugs into Reverend Todd’s coat pocket and move away. But before he could disappear, he was stopped. The Reverend had felt the package. He told his bodyguards to bring Mundy to a private room where they could meet.
Mundy sat in a small office in the transport authority building. It looked like a place where newcomers to the world may have been questioned. A tall man stood behind his chair and a woman sat by the door. Mundy held a water bottle they had given him, trying to be nice, but he didn’t open it. It took a few minutes, but finally Reverend Todd came into the room and sat at the desk.
“They’re holding our flight indefinitely,” he said, then he turned to Mundy.
“Well, son,” he said like he had known Mundy all his life. “I can guess who you’re working for. The authorities have the Zee. I doubt they’re going to be able to trace it, but we know where you got it, don’t we?”
Mundy shrugged and opened his water bottle. Reverend Todd leaned back in the chair, looking relaxed and ready for a long palaver.
Sitting in the dark room, Mundy remembered taking a drink of the water, trying to appear as cavalier as possible. How long ago was that? A year ago? Thinking of that water made him realize how thirsty he was now.
What followed with the pastor was a long talk. They had asked him his story, and at first he’d been tight-lipped. But Reverend Todd had opened up. Mundy let things slip and eventually they knew some things about him. Reverend Todd never used the name Dean Handler, but kept saying “your boss”.
Mundy got the feeling Reverend Todd thought he was hooked on Zee. He told them that his boss forbade it, didn’t want his skilled workers hopping out. And they talked more.
Reverend Todd talked about Jesus. Yes, Mundy had heard about him. He talked about love and charity and forgiveness. Mundy had been ready to go to jail for years, but the reverend said he would let him go. Mundy said he would take jail over anything, but they told him that he was a good kid. Christ forgave, and jail would teach him nothing but how to be more of a criminal.
At the end of the day, Mundy was back on the streets. He made his way back to his personal hideout. Days later, when he was sure he hadn’t been followed, he went to where Dean was.
It was late evening. Dean Hander was in his office. When he saw Mundy, he looked surprised, then cold. Mundy started to tell them that they had just let him go, he hadn’t turned him in.
Dean pulled a gun and pressed it to Mundy’s forehead.
“Did they give you anything?” he said. “Anything that would stick to you like a trace?”
Mundy’s heart pounded. He knew he hadn’t been followed. But could they have traced him?
“Did you eat anything?” Dean asked, holding the gun perfectly still.
“I just had some water,” Mundy’s voice broke.
One of Dean’s men Mundy didn’t know spoke up. “They can put an isotope in the water. Stays with the person for several weeks.”
Dean’s head jerked back to look at Mundy, and at that moment, the building shook. Every window blew inward and light poured in. Everyone was knocked to the floor and the gun landed in front of Mundy. He grabbed it and ran.