WIPpet Wednesday: Francois’s Story

Hi there! Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday –K.L. Schwengel’s weekly blog hop which encourages writers to move their WIPs (works-in-progress) to publication by posting excerpts related to the date.

This month,I’m offering up a taste of my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. So, today, please allow me to introduce another of my Kifo Island Chronicles characters….

Let’s all give a gentle WIPeteer welcome to Francois Thierry!

Francois is a 45 year old scientist who has lived several years on Kifo Island. He is researching clinical aspects of dying, death, and grieving. He has always been reserved and detached, and he’s nearing the end of a quarter-century long study, and is, at the beginning of this excerpt, looking forward to wrapping things up, and moving into the next phase of his work.

However, life and death have come to have new depth and meaning…

And now, on to the WIPpeting!

WIPpet Math:

Today is April 16, 2014.

  • Today’s math…
  • 16(for the date) + 4(for the month)=20;
  • 20 +1 ( in honor of the one Palindrome Week of the year!; and because it finishes the thought…) =21.
  • Voila! 21 sentences!

“I didn’t ask for this!”

Francois stared at the tidy stack of research notes, and the blank space on the form; the place where he was intended to record, in specific detail, the circumstances of the death he had witnessed an hour ago.

He hadn’t asked that he be any part in this death, or any other, beyond his role as a clinical observer.

4,987 deaths, before this one. He’d recorded the manner and time of each, faithfully, objectively.

Only 13 deaths left to take account of, including the one fresh in his mind. He’d intended, when he sat down, to update the file, and tick it off his tally. But he couldn’t do it.

Francois squeezed his eyes closed against the tears that were blurring the print on the stack of files – pages that held nothing at all of the people they were meant to define.

He’d gutted real lives here, leaving nothing but statistics and the particulars that differentiated one from another. He kept only those that applied to his own research, as though they were nothing more than this.

He turned away from those pages, and thought of the old woman in the hospital bed, her breath growing shallow, the sorrow he hadn’t expected to share in. He hunched his shoulders against the pain, the memory – for the first time in his life, Francois truly felt the grief and permanence of death.

He couldn’t pretend she was nothing other than part of the running tab at the head of those notes, in his computer, on his phone… in his mind.

Francois wouldn’t sterilize her that way – he could still feel her struggle to breathe, to say everything she felt needed saying, the worries she carried with her through whatever passage she made, when her breathing stopped –

Worries that he couldn’t ignore, now. Somehow, through no logic this damned useless research could define or quantify, her worries had become his own.

What will happen next? Will Francois be able to finish his research progress, now that he’s emotionally involved? Will he regain his detachment? What affect will his emotional involvement have on him, as a scientist, and as a human?

Want more Kifo Island Chronicles posts?

These posts are the seeds of a project that will germinate over the next months, so input is especially valuable. No need to feel shy; I’m a friendly sort, and will keep my talons sheathed…for the most part.

Want more WIPpets?


And now I leave you with a song that echoes the sudden personal cataclysm Francois is currently experiencing…




    • Xina,

      I was intrigued, too, when Francois’ story began to emerge. As for me, I’m very sensitive to others’ emotions. I’ve witnessed the deaths of two people, and I will carry them with me forever…of course, they were both my beloveds, but I think I would be affected by any death.

      But Francois has lived a very different type of life than I have…

    • ReGi,

      Ultimately, he may see the point to that research…but his eyes have opened, and he can’t just pretend that he doesn’t see things differently, now.””It is a yucky position, but I think it’s one he needs to be in.

      I’m glad you posted your aversion to his judgment of his work. You’ve given me a new little piece of his resolution, and it’s going to make the story much more satisfying! =)

  1. After an episode of Cold Case last night, I can see how Francois was able to maintain such a clinical perspective… in fact, why he almost needed to maintain one. So… what made this lady different?

    How did she break through?

    • I haven’t seen Cold Case yet…when it started, I recall being very into the Law & Order franchise…and we didn’t get that channel, either.

      But there are definite reasons Francois could be so clinical for so long – and also definite reasons why his objectivity utterly collapsed with Case #4988.

      I’m not sure she “broke through”, though. She may have wriggled, or had outside assistance, or leaked, or found a place in his armor, that, like the bare patch on Smaug’s jewel-encrusted belly, was bare and vulnerable…

      Or, it might’ve been something completely different…

      OK, I lied up there. I do know. I’m just not saying. =)

    • Ruth,

      There is certainly something about her situation that makes this death different than any of the others. Francois simply can’t be detached in this situation – and that’s all I’m saying, for now. =)

  2. Great song. And great, powerful WIPpet. How could anyone witness so many deaths and yet remain so clinical about it? But I wonder what it was about this particular one that set him off. Did he have a special attachment? Did something in this woman strike a chord in him? Leaves a lot of unanswered questions…for him as well, most likely.

    • Kathi,

      He does have his reasons- both for how he could remain detached for nearly 5000 deaths -and why this one was different (and yes, it was). He has a surface idea of why it’s different, but it turns out that it goes much deeper than that, and may have far-reaching consequences…for him, and for others.

      And that’s all I have to say about that. *evil cackle; looks apprehensively out window, trying to spot monkey moonshadows because Tisira is still missing….*

      I’ve always loved that song, and it seemed like a perfect fit for where Francois was in this snippet.

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