When a reader breezes through a story, they get to see everything the writer, editor, and publisher has put into it. Not just the words, but also the imagination, excitement, research, artwork and the blood sweat and tears. But what you never get to see is what actually gets taken out – and there can be a lot!
We have our own cutting room floor that is littered with words, paragraphs, and entire chapters. Characters can get killed off or cease to exist before they are even born, scenes and destinations can alter, genders change, and whole story arcs can be bent to accommodate a new ending.
Today, I’m going to share one such story thread that never made it into This Green Hell (TGH). It’s about a character called Sophia. I’ll be honest with you – I like her, and though she never made it into TGH, she may yet turn up next time!
Deleted scene (unedited) from This Green Hell:
Alex slowly moved around the seated figure – it tracked him, just with its featureless head. ‘It can see me?’
‘Sure, she can see, hear, and sense you. And she is Sophia – a Sentient, OPerational, Heuristic, Interactive, Android – Sophia for short. Sophia is the first synthetic warrior with an embedded heuristic algorithm; means she learns by trial and error, just like we do.’
Alex smiled at his commanding officer. ‘Sophia, the Greek goddess of wisdom – I think you had a hand in that one, Jack.’
‘Maybe.’ Hammerson turned to the robot. ‘Sophia, this is Captain Alex Hunter.’
The silver android reached out its hand, and Alex took hold of it. He squeezed slightly. The android squeezed back with equal pressure.
Hammerson grinned. ‘Squeeze it harder, Alex; you won’t break her, I guarantee it.’
Alex looked briefly at Hammerson, shrugged and pressed down. The average pressure that can be mounted by a strong man is around fifty pounds per square inch, or psi. But, Alex’s phenomenal strength allowed him to deliver a lot more than that.
Sophia’s head tilted slightly. ‘Two hundred psi; you are powerful for a human being Captain Hunter.' With that she squeezed his hand, harder.
Alex applied all the pressure he could bring to bare. Enough to pulverize bones, and potentially compress steel tubing if he so wished. However, it was impossible to determine what effect it was having, as the slim, silver figure didn’t flinch – the android’s hand refused to crush or even depress. The pressure increased, and Alex felt the bones in his own hand start to compress, the veins in his arm stood out like thick chords and he ground his teeth together.
Alex groaned, and the pressure immediately stopped. He released the slender silver fingers and started to rub his hand, which was red, and throbbed painfully. He turned to Hammerson. ‘Thanks, that was starting to turn nasty.’
Hammerson shook his head. ‘Don’t thank me; it was Sophia who decided to let you go. She has a lot more hydraulic power than your enhanced physical strength. She could sense you were at the limit of your physical capabilities, and pulled back.’
Jack Hammerson fiddled a little more at the console and the red glow, where Sophia’s eyes should be, dimmed, as though they had gently shut. He came back to stand behind the slim figure, placing his hand on its shoulder. ‘This is no mobile battering ram, or simply upgraded portable computer – this is the future of warfare. These androids will be the combat soldiers on tomorrow’s battlefields.’
He led Alex to the door of the steel-lined laboratory, and paused at the exit. ‘Sophia will be joining you for HAWC training – that’s an order.’
From This Green Hell by Greig Beck, 2nd draft, 2010.
The Cutting Room Floor by GREIG BECK – 18 Dec 2012