Dan Brown’s Inferno prologue – re-edited

Not quite sure why I have done this, but I have. After reading the beginning of Inferno a few days ago, with its strange language and weird mixture of fussy details and descriptive imprecision, I thought there was the kernel of something decent. The chase itself has potential, but Brown drowns it in crenellated towers and lampredotto and chthonic monsters and some nonsense about the Apennine Mountains. So I have given it an edit. I haven’t strictly rewritten it. Mostly added in bits of detail, where needed, and edited out unnecessary description, where it isn’t. I’ve tried to play up the chase aspect and tone down the language, without completely eradicating the effect.

I’ve cut out a lot of extraneous stuff: the whole section that reads – Beneath me, dizzyingly far beneath me, the red tile roofs spread out like a sea of fire on the countryside, illuminating the fair land upon which giants once roamed . . . Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Botticelli. – has been hacked and a small part has been taken and placed elsewhere in the narrative.

Anyway, I could get into what I have cut and why, but as this is meant to be a bit of fun with an hour of my time, I’m not about to get all Dan Brown on you and drown you with details.

Let me know which version you prefer. And if you prefer Dan’s original, don’t worry I won’t take it personally. It’s just a bit of harmless fun with my lunch hour (so it is bound to have mistakes in it). Enjoy!

The original is linked as a PDF here: Inferno_Prologue_KDD

I am the Shade.

I scramble, breathless, through the city, along the banks of the river Arno. Suddenly I turn and make my way north, beneath shadows of the Uffizi.

And still they pursue me.

I hear their footsteps getting louder. For years they have chased me, drawing ever closer. Their persistence has kept me underground… forced me to live in purgatory… laboring in the shade.

Now, I am the Shade.

I pass behind the palazzo and snake my way through the early-morning vendors that clutter the path. Then I cut west toward the spire of the Badia and slam against the gate at the base of the stairs. Without hesitating, I turn the handle and step into the passage. There will be no return. This is my final destination.

Although my legs feel like lead, I force myself up the spiral staircase.

Voices come from below. Pleading. Closing in.

They do not understand what is coming… nor what I have done for them.

As I climb, the visions come. I see lustful bodies writhing in fiery rain, the souls of gluttons floating in excrement, the treacherous villains frozen in Satan’s icy grasp.

Arriving at the top, I stagger into the damp morning air and make my way to the high wall. Peering through the slits, I see the city where I have made my sanctuary. Red tile roofs spread out into the distance. From here they look like a sea of fire.

Voices call out behind me. “What you’ve done is madness!”

Madness breeds madness.

“For the love of God,” they shout, “tell us where you’ve hidden it!”

And for precisely that reason, I will not.

I turn and face them. They stare deep into my eyes, and their expressions darken.

“We can force you to tell us. You know we have our methods.”

And that is the reason I have climbed these stairs – to avoid their methods though they do not know it yet. Although I am cornered, with my back against the cold stone, there is another way out. Without warning, I turn, reach for the ledge and pull myself up, until I am standing unsteadily at the edge.

They rush forward, wanting to grab my feet, but fear they will upset my balance and knock me off. I hear them beg, their voices desperate, but I know what I must do.

I inch my toes to the edge.

“Come down!” they shout. “It’s not too late!”

Can’t they see the future? Don’t they grasp the splendor of my creation? The necessity?

I will gladly make this ultimate sacrifice… and with it I will extinguish their final hope of finding what they seek.

They will never locate it in time.

How I long for more time… but even with my vast fortune, time is one commodity I cannot afford.

In these final seconds, I gaze down at the piazza, hundreds of feet below, and behold a sight that startles me.

I see your face.

You gaze at me from the shadows. I sense that you are mournful, yet understand what I have accomplished. You understand I have no choice. For the love of Mankind, I must protect my masterpiece.

Even now it grows… it simmers… beneath the bloodred waters of the lagoon.

And so, I look away from your face and contemplate the horizon. Ready to make my final prayer.

Dearest God, I pray the world remembers my name not as a monstrous sinner, but as the glorious savior you know I truly am. I pray Mankind will understand the gift I leave behind.

My gift is the future.

My gift is salvation.

My gift is Inferno.

And with that, I whisper amen… and take my final step, into the abyss.

Deadline missed – director’s cut

They say you should never change more than one aspect of your life at any one time, or at the most two: job, relationship, home; they should be changed sparingly, otherwise your stress levels will go off the scale.

Well, I’ve changed all three in the space of a fortnight.

Me and my girlfriend decided to end our relationship after three years together for reasons I won’t go into on this blog (’cause it ain’t nobody’s business but ours). I made a big thing of travelling with her to south-east Asia in a few posts on here and had put in my notice at work (a post I’ve been in for over five years). But I realised, once the relationship had ended, that the only reason I was undertaking this big trip was because of our relationship and not because I wanted a four month trip. Although it’s amicable and we’re friends, I knew that a big trip to south-east Asia wasn’t for me, because I felt it wasn’t the right time and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. So I decided to try and retract my resignation.

Unfortunately for me, the organisation I work for decided to have a recruitment freeze on exactly the same day that I put in for a retraction. Obviously my retraction was denied. There’s nothing I can do about this – I either whine about it or accept it. I have chosen to accept it.

Then there’s the little matter of having nowhere to live. Me and my girlfriend decided to put in our notice on the lovely flat we lived in near Highgate once we made plans to go travelling. When I changed my mind I was left without a place to live. Well, I do have a place to live, but it isn’t London. It’s in Spain, where my parents have a holiday home, and that’s probably what I’ll be calling home for the next few weeks/months.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I’ve missed my deadline.

I’ve had so much other stuff going on in my life that editing and correcting has been pushed to one side temporarily – at least until I can get a few moments of stability in my life.

Writing thrives on chaos, but my experience with The Gamblers tells me that editing works best with solitude, silence and stability. Spain will give me that, along with other benefits.

In addition to editing The Hunters and finalising the first draft of my second novel I intend to freelance as a graphic designer – specialising in covers and eBook layouts for self-published authors. But I won’t go into that here and now, because this is a post about missed deadlines.

The Hunters will now be released on Monday December 5, along with a short story collection called either The Beautiful Game or The Greatest Show in Town. Five of the stories feature the Stanton brothers, who will be the main focus of my work over the next year or so, but there are a few others in there too.

The December date gives me adequate time to edit, correct and create the eBook and cover (I do all this myself – one of the benefits of being a crayon-monkey, I guess) and not feel like I’m rushing like crazy. The last thing I want to do is write something I think works nicely and ruin it with a cack-handed editing job. I have enough self-respect and respect for my readers not to release something that is blatantly unfinished. So I’ll take my time and get it right.

December is also the perfect month to release new pieces of work. Santa’s bringing kids of all ages new Kindles, which if I do a decent marketing push gives my work a fair chance of making its way on to at least a few of them.

I apologise to those that expected to see The Hunters on October 1. Had things gone as planned that would have been the case. But, alas, things didn’t go as planned and I’m trying to deal with the situation as smoothly as I can.

But I WILL hit the December deadline, folks. You heard it here first, The Hunters goes on sale December 5 on Amazon for 99p and $0.99.