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America Gone - Chapter Fifteen

by Vil


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

New Year’s Eve, 2019

And New Year’s Day, 2020

Jackson, Capitol County

“One hour to midnight,” Austin murmured to himself. He had donned a dark blue sweater and nice jeans, though any real celebration was supposed to be casual.

“Austin,” Luna began, peeking into his room. “It’s almost time.”

She, Alistair, and Abby had returned home yesterday after an extended visit with the Nightshade grandparents in southern Alabama, not far from the Florida state line.

“I know,” he answered quietly.

After Grandpa McHale’s sudden appointment to the War Department, it was decided that the Congress would be located further east temporarily. For at least a few weeks, Columbia, Tennessee would be a temporary capital. Tonight would be their last in Jackson for a while.

“I don’t want to leave Jackson,” Austin said quietly.

Luna moved to sit beside her son, wrapping an arm around him. “I know.”

“Even though Boston still stands…” Austin trailed off and leaned into his mother’s arms. “Jackson’s kinda become a new home to me.”

Luna nodded, keeping a tight hold around Austin. “Remember that song we’d listen to every year in September? On the eleventh?”

Where were you the world stopped turning that September day?” he quoted quietly. “Alan Jackson.”

“And where were we the last time we heard it?”

Austin smiled sadly and answered, “Park Street Church. Noon. Pot luck with some of your friends from work that went to church there. I remember that Mr. Madison thought it was a strange tradition.”

Luna allowed herself a quiet laugh. “What about the song do you remember?”

“I… Faith, hope, and love are all gifts. And love is supposed to be the greatest. But I don’t see--”

“Do you love Jackson?” Luna asked.

“I do,” he answered. “More than Boston. More than Nashville when we lived there before... There’s not a place I’d rather be.”

Luna nodded slowly. “I know,” she said quietly. “But think about it. We’ll be back here soon enough. Your grandpa even rented us a house there with some old stuff he had. We’ll be living there only for a few months, tops.”

“...doesn’t mean that isn’t too long.”

Luna sighed. “Emma said that, too.”

“Emma and I are twins. It’s normal for us to feel and think the same way.”

His mother rolled her eyes. “Finish packing, okay? You’ll be riding with Emma, your grandfather, Senator Prestons, and Esa.”

Austin nodded quietly as his mother kissed his forehead and then left his room/

__________________________________

“...I asked you to have a decision of some kind by now, William,” Prestons said as he drove the horses along the dark asphalt road. It was not too long after dawn and a few of the other wagon groups had left already; Smith and McCloy had left a few minutes after midnight, and Speaker Thomspon’s family had left an hour ago. “Sure, your party will vote on a candidate, and I will personally support you, but…”

“I know it isn’t ideal,” Grandpa McHale said quietly so as not to bother other drivers, “but I can’t rush this decision. Normally, geography isn’t important in a VP pick. It is now, especially if something should happen to me. None of us can afford a two-front war if we split even further.”

“He can’t pick me, he can’t pick you, and he hates his nephew,” Esa said. “The South would be reluctant to choose a Yankee. That means someone from Virginia, Kentucky, maybe Ohio.”

Austin and Emma listened, half intrigued, half entertained. Politics were simultaneously evil and enough to satisfy their funny bones, fueling them for just enough time to make it to the next day.

“You could always try Matthew DuBois,” Austin said jokingly. “After all, he and his brother want to kill each other, and he was a Rockefeller Republican, and he’s from Delmarva-- Yankee and Southern lands.”

The three politicians turned around to look at the intern, who merely stared at them in return.

Esa looked at Grandpa McHale and said, “Your grandson is a genius.”

Austin blinked. “...I am?”

“It’ll be painted as nepotism by Smith,” Prestons pointed out. “But other than that… Matt’s not a bad choice at all.”

“Are you three crazy?!” Austin asked bewildered.

“Shush!” whispered Emma harshly. “Not so loud, idiot.”

“Are you three crazy?” Austin repeated more calmly. “Matthew DuBois was a progressive Republican that received most of his popularity from words rather than actions. And he’s only a Congressman.”

“...he was a White House Press Secretary under Wilson during his first term, Austin,” Esa answered. “That was kinda his job.”

“And that’s supposed to--”

“What my other half means to say is that Matt may not be the best choice and that he really didn’t mean it. But, if you three think his joke has any grain of hope, he would appreciate it.“

Esa smiled. “If I ever make a presidential run, I know who I want my press secretary to be.”

“Thank you,” Emma said, quite happy with the Senator’s praise.

“That leaves three more questions,” Grandpa McHale said quietly. “Who will replace me in the Senate? Who will be the new majority leader? Who will be Smith’s VP pick?”

“Can we place bets?” Emma asked.

“Why not?” the old man replied.

“Ginger, Hayes, and McCloy. One week’s wages.”

Esa replied, “Ginger, Hayes, and Francis DuBois. One month’s wages.”

Austin said, “Two months wages on Percy Evans, Francis DuBois, and…” He trailed off and pulled a pen and scrap of paper from his pocket out, scribbling a name down. “I’ll keep this name to myself. I look forward to winning.”


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Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:47 pm
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Stringbean wrote a review...



Hey Vil! c:

You've got another good chapter here! I really don't see much of anything wrong with it lol, and there's a lot of good stuff here that I want to point out. And also, just a general note on your writing-- I can really see, following through this novel chapter by chapter, where you're improving! You've been doing better with setting up the-- well the settings, and with showing your readers the more personal, nuanced sides of the people in this story. It all makes for a more engaging, more layered read and skillful telling.

So now on to the specifics c:

Part One
1.

Austin smiled sadly and answered, “Park Street Church. Noon. Pot luck with some of your friends from work that went to church there. I remember that Mr. Madison thought it was a strange tradition.”

I like this. You've done a nice job of integrating a very natural, relatable memory of theirs without it seeming forced or being bogged down with exposition. The scene flows very naturally here and this bit adds a lot of depth to Austin and his mom, making the reader suddenly become aware of the fact that they have lives that have gone on long before what we've seen in the story. There's a lot more to them than that, and it's good to see that built upon.

2.
Luna sighed. “Emma said that, too.”

Though short, this is another potent line I think. Watching how Luna tried to guide her son to a more hopeful attitude up until this point, then seeing his sort of dead-end response, I can really empathize with her reaction here. Her sigh says a lot about how she's feeling, then the added layer to that and really their whole family struggle in this with Luna's remark about Emma. This line does a good job of framing her as the mother who's trying to help her children through emotionally and be strong herself.

3.
Small typo at the end of the last sentence of the first scene-- should be a period at the end.


Part Two
4.
Politics were simultaneously evil and enough to satisfy their funny bones...

That is the perfect way to put that, oh my gosh XDD

One small nitpick here too lol. Politics is a mass noun, so it'd get a singular verb, was :p

5.
“What my other half means to say is that Matt may not be the best choice and that he really didn’t mean it. But, if you three think his joke has any grain of hope, he would appreciate it.“

I wasn't quite sure at first who said this. After going a little further, I could piece together that it's Emma, but on the first read that's unclear.

6.
“What my other half means to say is that Matt may not be the best choice and that he really didn’t mean it. But, if you three think his joke has any grain of hope, he would appreciate it.“

Esa smiled. “If I ever make a presidential run, I know who I want my press secretary to be.”

“Thank you,” Emma said, quite happy with the Senator’s praise.

Nice touch of humor XD

Also shows Emma's character is a stronger way than usual I think.

7.
“Ginger, Hayes, and McCloy. One week’s wages.”

Esa replied, “Ginger, Hayes, and Francis DuBois. One month’s wages.”

Austin said, “Two months wages on Percy Evans, Francis DuBois, and…”

Oh dear, that escalated quickly XD

I like the bit of a "cliffhanger" ending here though with Austin keeping his VP guess a secret. It adds a nice little touch of lighthearted mystery.

Once again, a nice chapter! You've got some heart, a little bit of humor, also moving forward the main political plot-- it's a good balance.

I'm catching up! You're just one chapter ahead of me now XD

-Stringbean




Vil says...


I haven't even started 17 yet OwO



Stringbean says...


Ahhhhhh

I'm sure that has nothing to do with Dusk dragging you away from this XD



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Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:06 am
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starlitmind wrote a review...



HI HI I'm back to review! Let's get on with it! :D

Tonight would be their last in Jackson for a while.

“I don’t want to leave Jackson,” Austin said quietly.


AWW </3

Pot luck with some of your friends from work that went to church there.


I believe "potluck" is one word

“...doesn’t mean that isn’t too long.”


Aww, poor dude. I just wanted to point out that you used quite a few ellipsis in this dialogue exchange, so I kind of felt that the meaning and emphasis of them were lost. I'd personally recommend using less ellipsis!

Ooh, so reading on, I've noticed that you use them a lot throughout your story. In general, I think it'd be nice to use them only a few times so they keep their importance :)

Politics were simultaneously evil and enough to satisfy their funny bones, fueling them for just enough time to make it to the next day.


Well, I'm glad they feel so xD

Esa looked at Grandpa McHale and said, “Your grandson is a genius.”

Austin blinked. “...I am?"


Spoiler! :
Image


“What my other half means to say is that Matt may not be the best choice and that he really didn’t mean it. But, if you three think his joke has any grain of hope, he would appreciate it.“


I understand this is Emma talking, but since she suddenly joins the conversation, I think it'd be great to have a tag after this!

“Two months wages on Percy Evans, Francis DuBois, and…”


I believe "month" should be "month's" especially since you did that before

“I’ll keep this name to myself. I look forward to winning.”


WHAT WHY WHO IS IT AUSTIN

I've noticed that most of your chapters are heavily based on dialogue. And there's nothing wrong with that at all!! I just think it would be great if you could add more descriptions throughout this chapter. I feel like we are always reading about what is happening and events and conflicts that the reader never gets time to slow down and breathe, you know? So I'm just trying to say that I think more descriptions would really elevate this piece!

And that's it! Overall, another great chapter, of course, since you wrote it :P I am really enjoying how this story is progressing! You are great at writing about politics haha. I hope that helped! :D

Image




Vil says...


Thanks for your review!



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Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:39 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm back for some more!!

First Impression: Well this is definitely shaping up quite nicely. I am being dropped into too much politics. So far I'm loving where this is headed and in this chapter especially you've done a great job showing the family dynamic. That's always nice to see.

Anyway let's get right to it,

“One hour to midnight,” Austin murmured to himself. He had donned a dark blue sweater and nice jeans, though any real celebration was supposed to be casual.

“Austin,” Luna began, peeking into his room. “It’s almost time.”

She, Alistair, and Abby had returned home yesterday after an extended visit with the Nightshade grandparents in southern Alabama, not far from the Florida state line.


Oh dear I have completely forgotten who each of these people are except Austin...I think Austin is Emma's brother and Grandpa's grandson right? Or have I forgotten that too.

“Emma and I are twins. It’s normal for us to feel and think the same way.”

His mother rolled her eyes. “Finish packing, okay? You’ll be riding with Emma, your grandfather, Senator Prestons, and Esa.”

Austin nodded quietly as his mother kissed his forehead and then left his room/


That's a nice moment there with his mother (also now remembers who Luna is xD).

Also umm you've put a slash there instead of a fullstop.

Austin and Emma listened, half intrigued, half entertained. Politics were simultaneously evil and enough to satisfy their funny bones, fueling them for just enough time to make it to the next day.


Very interesting statement there....I don't know whether to laugh or not...

“What my other half means to say is that Matt may not be the best choice and that he really didn’t mean it. But, if you three think his joke has any grain of hope, he would appreciate it.“


Well that's a pretty neat condensation there...

“That leaves three more questions,” Grandpa McHale said quietly. “Who will replace me in the Senate? Who will be the new majority leader? Who will be Smith’s VP pick?”

“Can we place bets?” Emma asked.


Well she picked the perfect adult to ask that question from...also I heard rumors you're VP things were based on the hunger games....

Austin said, “Two months wages on Percy Evans, Francis DuBois, and…” He trailed off and pulled a pen and scrap of paper from his pocket out, scribbling a name down. “I’ll keep this name to myself. I look forward to winning.”


Did you just insert yourself in as Austin there? ;)

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: So not too much to say here. All I can say is umm....so far there is nothing that I think requires changing (except description but of course Imma keep saying that everytime knowing that you have valid reasons for it absence) and I'm really liking the plot so far. The characters also seems to have life for the most part and especially Grandpa McHale's been really fun to read about. He's my favorite of course. Looking forward for more!!

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry

Image




Vil says...


Thanks for your review, Harry! Always fun to read them.



HarryHardy says...


You're Welcome!!
Glad you like them!!




okay I think I need to grab some nachos
— BluesClues