Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pulp Audition Sample

This is a two-page "Doc Savage" sample I wrote to audition for a company that publishes new adventures of public domain pulp characters from the 1930s and 40s. Doc Savage is absolutely NOT int he public domain and is copyright and trademark to his owners. This sample is purely that - to show that I could write in the pulp style tradition. I got the gig, btw.

Chapter XVI
The Iron Fortress

AT the wheel of the old truck, Doc Savage turned to the others. “Hold onto something,” he said.

Monk fidgeted with his pack. He was agitated.

“Gosh, Doc,” he yelped. “Maybe we want to rethink this?” His homely face wore a worried expression. The desert heat was magnified in the truck, making him sweat profusely.

Ham sneered. “Quiet, you hairy misanthrope! I want you to hear me laughing once Doc proves you wrong—again!”

If the bronze man was distracted by their banter, he didn’t show it. Small gold flecks twirled in his eyes as he focused on the gigantic wooden gate ahead of them. He put the truck into gear and poised his foot over the gas pedal.

Doc pushed down on the pedal. Hard.

The dilapidated truck lurched forward and began picking up speed. It creaked and groaned but did not fall apart. It was sound, despite Monk’s fears. If anything, they should make it to the gate in one piece. After that, no one among them knew.

The truck hit the wooden gate and the barrier came down in pieces around them. Then, the truck died several feet into the compound beyond.

“Everyone out!” said Doc. “Move swiftly, brothers.”

Monk, Ham, and Long Tom leapt from the truck. Suddenly, they could taste the excitement in the air; this is what they lived for. If there was danger, Doc’s men were there, asking for it.

Doc’s keen eras picked up far-off yelling. He surveyed the scene in front of him—it was worse than he had hoped. Lina Larson’s estimates were a bit off. The distance from the gate to the fortress itself was a hundred yards, easily. The girl was wrong by at least fifty yards.

The fortress was made of iron and steel. There was no doubt on that score. It rose from the desert floor like an armored beetle, exuding strength and fortitude. If Doc was the kind of man to swear, he would have sworn at the sight of it.

A loud cranking sound drew Doc’s attention. A lone turret high up on the fortress’ walls swiveled to face them. It produced the muzzle of a heavy machine gun. The gun opened up and spewed lead at them.

Doc crouched and tensed his muscles. “Go!” he shouted to his partners. “Cover Long Tom!”

They went.

Monk and Ham grabbed at Long Tom and began running towards the fortress. The machine gunners—presumably hired thugs—were slow to draw a bead on them and for a few seconds only the ground behind them felt hot lead. Then, the gunners caught up.

Ham swore as machine gun fire nipped at his heels and tore at the pack on his back. He was reminded of what the pack held and ran faster. Long Tom, sickly-looking and pale, ran as fast as the others despite the larger pack he carried—and the spool of wire that connected him with the truck. With the dust kicked up from the bullets, the gunners hadn’t seen the electrical wizard’s tether. Yet.

As Ham struggled to keep his own pack on his back, Monk swung his off his broad shoulders and dug inside it. He produced a grenade in his hairy hand and grinned wickedly at it. Kissing the grenade he pulled its pin with his ape-like teeth.

“Pineapple pie, boys!” he squeaked. “Heads up!”

He threw the grenade. It arced through the heavy, arid air and into the turret above. Came a loud noise. Then fire. Screams tore through the air.

Closer now to the fortress’ wall, Doc Savage spied the junction box Lina Larson had described to him the night before. He increased his speed, wary of machine gun fire from other quarters. Hands flat and slicing the air around him, legs pumping like pistons, he ran like an Olympic athlete. The sand below his feet barely showed Doc’s progress.

The bronze giant pulled up short of the junction box and quickly observed its size, placement and lack of features. If it wasn’t what Doc suspected it was, was hoping it was, he and his men were most likely trapped like rats. They would be very, very dead rats very soon.

Doc’s hands reached out and felt along the box’s edge. Finding a minute seam he dug into it and exerted pressure. There was an angry sound of metal bending and tearing and the junction box’s cover was off and on the ground. Doc’s keen eyes surveyed his prize.

“Long Tom! Here!”

The pasty scientist was nearly there. Running up to Doc with Ham and Monk just steps behind him, he smiled grimly at his run’s end. The he jerked backwards and fell down hard.

His tether was too short. He cursed the luck.

Monk drew up and leaped to Long Tom’s aid. Ham came up alongside. His sharp eyes, used mainly to intimidate rival attorneys, scanned the surroundings for enemies. For some reason, everything was quiet, save for the sound of the hot flames licking out of the machine gun turret. There may also have been soft moaning. Ham wasn’t sure.

“Get up, you idiot!” screeched Monk in his little-girl voice. “You got more line than tha—“

Doc Savage didn’t allow him to finish. He grabbed Long Tom and jerked him upright. Grasping the heavy bundling of wires extending from Long Tom’s pack, he gave a sharp tug.

There was more line.

Long Tom didn’t waste time. Pulling two rods from his pack, which were also wired, he leapt over to the exposed insides of the junction box and jabbed the rods into its works.

Sparks exploded from the box. A bright flash tore at their eyeballs. Long Tom jumped back.

From somewhere, Doc and his men heard a muffled explosion and then a hum. The iron wall of the fortress next to the box lifted up from the sand.

Then it stopped, only six inches from the desert floor.

Doc Savage reached into the space between the ground and the wall. Monk, Ham and Long Tom could see the muscles rippling across the bronze man’s back, could see the corded bands stretching and flexing in Doc’s arms.

Then, Doc lifted the wall.