SAMPLES OF MY EARLY WRITING
Here I am at 13 months. Already planning a writing career, I am perusing the New York Times bestseller list.
The author, extremely young.
The author, age 11
Here I am at age 11. Poetry had taken hold, and I was obsessed with writing limericks. A limerick is a five-line poem. The first two and the fifth line must rhyme, and the third and fourth lines must rhyme in a different way. Few of my early limericks can be found anymore. Here’s a good one:
There once was a turtle named Sam,
who liked to eat strawberry jam.
He took it too far,
and consumed a whole jar,
then he burst at the seams and went BLAM!
Here I am a year later, age 12. I have moved on to writing novels. This is an excerpt from my earliest effort, entitled The Deadliest Night.
The author, 12 years of age.
THE DEADLIEST NIGHT (excerpt)
The S.S. Athena, 1025-foot, 45,000-ton flagship of the Majestic Line, was quadruple-screw and at best could make 33.5 knots. She was originally designed for all-passenger service, but now she served as a cargo-passenger liner. During this conversion, she had to undergo many changes, including the replacement of one funnel with a dummy, following a boiler explosion.
The main dining room was ablaze with light as the shoving-off party went underway. The floor of the dining room was littered ankle-deep with confetti and packed to full capacity with dancing couples. The huge thirty-foot mural hanging from the ceiling looked out gaily from the even larger velvet draping. Waiters were busy refilling champagne glasses, and passengers were happily downing them. Little did they know there was a fault undetected in the ship’s fuel tanks and at this moment gaseous fumes were being sent through the ventilation system.
It was 5:45 PM, two days after sailing. The dining room was again full, and more people were coming down the grand staircase. Mrs. Arthur Brooks, traveling with her husband from New York, was doing some last-minute shopping in the ship’s mall. Robert Little, a retired teacher, was writing a letter to his daughter in the writing room.
Then it happened. Combustion plus tremendous heat due to friction ignited the gaseous vapor. Within seconds the flames had entered the boiler, causing an explosion that blew the first funnel to pieces. Then the fuel tanks exploded, shaking the ship and terrifying the passengers.
Captain Jonlin was in the bridge at the time and was quick to close the watertight doors, but it was too late. The flames had already shot through the ventilation system.
The flames first came into the grand dining room. With a roar they shot through the vent and flared twenty feet from the floor. In seconds, the huge mural and drapes were on fire. Panicked diners crowded the exits, but were met with flames from the vents in the hall. The dining room now was flaming, and the chandeliers crashed to the floor. The fumes were too great, and those left sank to the ground.
Jonlin made a flash emergency plea to any ships in the area. “SOS. SOS. Any ship in immediate area. On fire. Emergency conditions. Boiler blown. Mayday. Mayday. Hurry. Athena.” After a while, through the static came: “Athena. Athena. Steaming toward you. At best be there in five hours. Triton.”
By now, the dining room was a furnace, and all who could escape had done so.
Robert Little, in the writing room, heard the explosion and went into the hall to see what had happened. When he turned around, the writing room was in total confusion. A column of fire was suspended from the ceiling. On his other side, fire was streaming in the hall. He grabbed a fire extinguisher from the doorway and, holding it in front of him, made his way down the hall.
Mr. Brooks, waiting for his wife who was shopping in one of the shops in the mall, was thrown to the floor by the shock of the explosion. When he got up, flames were everywhere. He ran into the shop and searched frantically for his wife. She was nowhere to be found. The shop was completely fire now, and he was forced through the exit.
Mrs. Stanley Roberts, a retired librarian from Chicago, was taking a nap in her second-class cabin. A tremendous shake rattled her room. Then, all at once, fire was shooting from the air vent on the side of the wall. She barely had time to grab her purse before her bed was in flames. She found herself in the hall, where she met Mr. Little and a few people he had with him. She joined him and together they made their way again.
Captain Jonlin, in the bridge, realized that the fire was coming from the ventilation system. He grabbed the lever that shut the vents from the outside and pushed the oxygen button. That ended the flow of fire into the rooms, but the ship was still on fire. To operate the sprinkler system would mean opening the watertight doors. With the doors open, the ship would surely sink. To keep them closed would allow the fire to go unheeded. Jonlin made the hardest decision of his life: to open the watertight bulkheads, knowing that the Majestic Line was going to scrap the ship anyway.
The doors opened. Tons of seawater flooded in. Jonlin switched on the sprinkler system. Little sprays of water spouted from the tiny nozzles on each ceiling, but they did no good. The fire had each room heated like a furnace.
The Athena began to sink towards the stern. Jonlin shut the watertight doors again, seeing that the sprinkling did no good.
By now, Mr. Little and his followers had made their way to the Promenade Deck. Here they waited, huddled in a tiny group.
More and more people emerged from the exits and joined Little and his group. The lifeboats were useless. The ropes had burned and snapped, leaving the lifeboats to fall, empty, into the sea. One terrified passenger jumped into the sea, where he sank and didn’t get up.
(Sadly, I cannot find the remainder of this manuscript. Perhaps it is a good thing. The story is almost too scary!)