I realize that 330 words, or thereabouts, is not really bragging material when it comes to writing a novel. However, given that I've been kicking around the idea of The Shadow Chamber for about a year and a half now without making any progress other than research and outlining, this actually feels pretty good. So, here's a draft of Chapter One of Nick Temple File No. 5, The Shadow Chamber:
CHAPTER 1: An Alpine Hike
Expulsion means execution. He uses the phrase as a mantra keeping time with his brisk, desperate stride through the rugged Balkan terrain. The final collapse of General Löhr’s Wehrmacht Army Group E has allowed the Partisans to renew their internal focus on those they suspect of counterrevolutionary tendencies. The small cadre of self-appointed, power-hungry political officers in the town of Priboj in what was known during the period of Ottoman rule as the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, have survived years of death and destruction at the hands of waves of German, Italian, and Slavic fascists. Now they turn their predictably paranoid attention to purging those they accuse of being internationalists, those who they believe would embrace Soviet hegemony over a newly independent and united state of southern Slavs.
Gavrilo Bogovic’s late father was a professor in the University of Belgrade’s philosophy department who openly supported the Imperial Russian view of Pan-Slavism and then sought clandestine support for the Soviet view of international revolution. For the members of the local Central Committee, Bogovic’s well-known pedigree makes him a natural target for their deadly political infighting. In biblical terms that the self-proclaimed atheists embrace, the sins of the father shall be visited upon the son.
Word of the impending denunciation of the twenty-five year-old Bogovic as a Trotskyite and an agent provocateur spread quickly. The meeting is set, the facts are ignored, the vote a foregone conclusion, expulsion will follow, and in the timeless tradition of barbarous civil wars, he will summarily hang, or be shot, or be stoned to death as the whim of the blindly vengeful Central Committee directs.
Bogovic scrambles up another rocky incline west of the Lim River, five kilometers north of Priboj. His goal, Split on the Adriatic, more than 250 kilometers away with nothing more than the Dinaric Alps between him and his one chance to escape, his one chance to live. Movement is life. Stopping is death. Expulsion means execution.