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Reverb, Chapter 15 - LOLMac
u can has RDA
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lolmac
Reverb, Chapter 15
Well, here's something to get the weekend started -- this is the last chapter of this story (well, novel . . . ).

There is still an epilogue to come, but no further cliffhangers.  Those of you who have been waiting until it's finished can consider starting at this point; or wait till the epilogue is posted as well.

Anyone who still wants to make spoilery comments or discuss chapter 14, you can do so by clicking here.

Chapter 15 teaser:
Reverb

Chapter 15:  Direct Object


MacGyver sat at the big wooden table up in his cabin, hunched over the radio. He hadn’t fired up the stove yet and he was still wearing his heavy coat, although the cabin wasn’t all that cold in spite of having been left empty for a week. It had been designed to get the most out of passive solar heating, and he’d found several ways to improve the insulation. But the ambient temperature couldn’t touch or ease the chill inside himself.

Later, he’d have time to adjust to the drastic rearrangement of his mental furniture. Later.

Right now, he was listening to Nikki’s voice on the radio, in full tirade.

“MacGyver, what the hell is going on? You’re damned lucky I was still where they could get hold of me. I wasn’t expecting a radio check-in at all. Why didn’t you email me the – ”

“Nikki, the internet’s out.”

“Oh, for God’s sake. Don’t tell me your grandkids took your computer apart this time!”

“Nikki, watch what you’re saying for pity’s sake! They aren’t up here with me and you know that! Anyway, I can’t tell if the radio’s been booby-trapped or not, so I’m using the backup unit. Just in case.”

“Just in . . . you mean Felix Sandoval got up there? How?”

“I don’t know! I mean, I don’t know if he’s been here or not. But it makes sense. It’s what Murdoc would’ve done.”

“Oh God, Mac, get out now! The whole cabin could be a mass of traps!"

- - -

Chapter 15 is posted here, and the story actually starts here.

'Beth
August 2010

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Comments
lothithil From: lothithil Date: 28th August 2010 05:21 (UTC) (Link)
*POUNCE*
lolmac From: lolmac Date: 28th August 2010 05:26 (UTC) (Link)
*squeak*
draco_somnians From: draco_somnians Date: 28th August 2010 11:43 (UTC) (Link)
Oooooh, it's finished! :D

*bumps up the "To Read" list*

lolmac From: lolmac Date: 30th August 2010 23:47 (UTC) (Link)
*grins*
hermit From: hermit Date: 28th August 2010 14:19 (UTC) (Link)
WhooooHooooo!!
lolmac From: lolmac Date: 3rd September 2010 07:38 (UTC) (Link)
*blushes all over*

Thanks for the comments on ff.net! Sorry I'm so late in replying! *hugs*
hermit From: hermit Date: 4th September 2010 01:54 (UTC) (Link)
No problem, it's been pretty busy here as well.

LOVED the story. Have to admit I'm bummed that Murdoc really is dead, though. I was holding out hope (until around Chapter 11 or so, I think) that he was actually still alive, somehow. Of course he wouldn't - couldn't - be and that's okay. It's just that I love the character, and his interaction with Mac, so much, it was a bitter pill to swallow. :-)
lolmac From: lolmac Date: 4th September 2010 06:33 (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's true; there sure won't be any sequels featuring Murdoc.

On the other hand, since I also established that (at least in my Mac-verse) he didn't die until 1996, if I get a good juicy plot for a Murdoc story, all I have to do is set it earlier than that.

I actually didn't like Murdoc as a character until I got into writing this story. I found him, well, just too implausible. So I undertook to make him real, at least for me. And I ended up finding out what a damned fun character he can be to write, so I really did one on myself there!
hermit From: hermit Date: 4th September 2010 13:54 (UTC) (Link)
While I loved Murdoc in the TV series, that's mainly because I was already a fan of Michael Des Barres. In truth, Murdoc was always a bit too over-the-top for the character to ever be considered a real threat but, then, that was pretty much true of the majority of bad guys who 'threatened' our hero. ;-)
lolmac From: lolmac Date: 4th September 2010 20:10 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, lord, yes, those OTT bad guys. Part of my take on writing Mac is putting him up against bad guys who look more or less the same as the TV versions, but are actually grounded in reality -- and hopefully come across as real threats. Succeeding against a real threat means a lot more to me than triumphing over gibbering maniacs. And there's plenty of real evil in the world, after all.

Some of the series episodes, especially in the later seasons, did try to have more realistic villains, I think.

I knew almost nothing about Michael Des Barres until I started writing this story; now I'm a fan. I stole some elements of his own background for Murdoc's backstory, along much the same lines of how RDA's own background infuses into both Mac and Jack O'Neill.

If you don't mind my asking -- in this story, how did Murdoc work for you in terms of reality? Not just the Big Challenge of presenting a plausible solution to the Not Dead Yet business, but handling Murdoc overall -- tyring to make him seem genuinely dangerous and creepy, not just pompous and laughable.
hermit From: hermit Date: 4th September 2010 20:27 (UTC) (Link)
Don't mind at all! Your Murdoc is terrific. Believable, psychotic, yet... pathetic. As 'great' a villain as he was, he'd never be as great as he imagined himself to be (if that makes sense). Never besting MacGyver was truly what pushed him over the edge (no pun intended) and your backstory gave me a fascinating glimpse into where he'd been coming from. Clearly the guy was more than a bit unhinged, and that came across beautifully.

And isn't Des Barres awesome? The guy has been thru some shit - both good and bad - but he seems like a genuinely nice person. Quite talented, too!

Edited at 2010-09-04 20:28 (UTC)
idlewild_ From: idlewild_ Date: 30th August 2010 00:24 (UTC) (Link)
Can I spoiler review here? If not you can always gently remove the comment. ;)

I just had a fortune cookie, with the sort of fortune that was only entertaining if read with the implicit "in bed" statement, so wine would be preferable.

As I noted, I was smiling all the way through the first half of the chapter, and also chuckling at certain moments. Petra's five online identities - ah, the joys of smart kids. We have friends whose daughter figured out how to post videos of she and her sister in their horribly messy room on Youtube at age 8. It's a whole new world for parents of intelligent kids and you captured that beautifully. I liked Sam's tiny moment of collusion with Petra over the fifth identity. The way that even though they're smart kids they're still kids with all their crazy ideas about the world and insecurities and fears was fantastic. It was just such lovely warm family stuff.

You've been doing such a wonderful job with the generational conflicts. I really appreciated that even though of course we love Mac, Sam can see that his Dad has flaws and short-comings. And you don't get through this life without making choices that cascade on down the family line. Of course, having crazed killers threatening the whole family is an extreme example, but the bittersweet aspect couldn't feel more real to me. Also, I did laugh out loud about Mac being the one who slept around. He sure did... somehow when I was watching MacGyver the first time around as a child I totally blocked out the part where he actually slept with women he had a spark with. (Oh my god. You have no idea how much of a prude I was. Did two adults just get out of a bed naked on television? Well that doesn't mean they had sex... they could have just been cuddling!)

The second half... would it be smug if I said I figured Mac was the predator, not the prey? But I didn't figure out just how sneaky until after the revelation of the whole setup. I loved the bit with the fishing line... and felt that the whole full-circle falling from great heights was a very satisfying way to end things.

I found it ... poignant... (I have ellipsis fever tonight apparently. Forgive me.) that Mac has really seen so much and dealt with so much violence that he appeared to be able to quite calculatingly plan in a way that allowed for Félix's death, should Félix do the predictable thing and try to pull MacGyver over the edge. I can see from the precision of your writing in the scene that it wasn't that Mac desired Félix's death, but that he was able to be rather stunningly pragmatic about it. I guess as an audience member who can bug the author I'd love to hear more of your feelings about that scene, but I'm also content to leave it as read and puzzle through it in my own mind.

I'll enjoy reading an epilogue because, duh. But I think you did an excellent job in bringing all the strands together and wrapping them up, showing two different families and the legacies of, to be broadly simplistic, teaching love versus engendering hatred.

Dang, sad it's over, though, of course. Thank you for a wonderful story.
lolmac From: lolmac Date: 30th August 2010 14:54 (UTC) (Link)
Short answer: I think this is a perfect location for long spoilery discussions!

Long answer will have to come later, but will be provided most happily.

Ellipsis fever . . . such a mild case need be no cause for concern, I feel.
idlewild_ From: idlewild_ Date: 30th August 2010 23:35 (UTC) (Link)
Oh good! I hate to spoil in bad places. And I forgot to mention how amused I was by the photos of sparkly little waterfalls. Been there, done that (me with my point-and-shoot, two others of our party with their rather large DSLRs.)
lolmac From: lolmac Date: 30th August 2010 23:49 (UTC) (Link)
And I bet you didn't even have precocious tots providing sound effects during the deletion process, huh?
lolmac From: lolmac Date: 3rd September 2010 07:23 (UTC) (Link)
Another evening of making damned little progress on the epilogue, so I shall get something good out of the time by curling up for a longer reply.

So, Mac vs. Félix vs. Yet Another Damned Mountain.

I knew very early on that the dénouement was going to have to involve an Exciting and Tense Scene up in the mountains, dealing with height. I knew that even before I had figured out who Murdoc’s ‘heir’ was, but for a long time I had no idea just what would happen. It wasn’t until I had fully fleshed out Félix’ character, with that icky combination of cocky kid and batshit-crazy killer, that I knew it was going to end with him dying.

In the Mac-verse, of course, the hero isn’t allowed to kill anyone. Bad guys kill each other, or have fatal accidents, or die of their own bad-guyishness. With Félix, it had to be a fall from a height – especially since I had killed off Murdoc by simply shooting him. The pattern demanded the closure.

With that in the eventual offing, I started working on the very appealing idea that a much older MacGyver, after years of being lured into traps, gets a step ahead of his adversary and sets a trap for the trapster: out-Murdocs Murdoc, as it were. But this being Mac, he had to intend for it to be non-lethal – to use himself as bait (a role he knows too well) in hopes of getting his foe at enough of a disadvantage that he can take him alive, in spite of the presumed advantage of youth, and the definite advantage of armament.

My assumption was that Mac didn’t intend or expect Félix to die. He expected betrayal, but not stupidity and carelessness. When it happened, he couldn’t really be sorry, but he could be sorry that he wasn’t sorry. And being Mac, he wasn’t about to find the nearest couch and explain it all to his therapist (although I’ve encountered fics in which he pretty much did just that).

The ‘cliffhanging’ scene really picked up its spark when I decided to make the jump from Mac’s to Félix’ POV. I stick with Mac’s POV most of the time, so it’s a real departure; but I think the jarring effect of the POV change is effectively subsumed into the jarring effect of Félix’ POV itself, which is both fundamentally warped and a deliberately extreme contrast from what we had just seen going through MacGyver’s head. I liked it as a direct, visceral way of bringing the reader through what Mac was doing: luring his opponent onto his own home turf.

Mac not only has the advantage of familiarity, he has the extra bit of oomph from Félix’ assumption that the acrophobia is going to be a problem. Mac fights his acrophobia pretty much the way he fights any foe: he can’t kill it, but he won’t let it beat him.

And once you get inside Félix’ head, the unfamiliarity and its attendant disadvantages become (I hope) even more emphatic. There was a level of disadvantage that MacGyver didn’t know about and couldn’t predict, with Félix being even farther out of his depth than Mac could have guessed. The whole overly confident/batshit crazy element feeds into this.

So, in the end, not only does Félix do the predictable thing and try to kill his rescuer: he does the unpredictable (and dumb-ass) thing, and loses his hold on the rope. Speaking as a Very Smart Person, my perception of Mac, a Very Very Very Smart person, is that in spite of everything, he will always be inclined to underestimate how stupid people can be. Hence, he expects betrayal (the attempt to pull him over the edge), but not a lethal level of sloppiness (Félix loses his grip) (in more ways than one).

It hadn’t occurred to me that it might read as if Mac had set this up, and I might need to go back and tweak it – add a reaction shot of Mac realising that Félix lost his hold on the rope, or something like that.

This is why I love readers who comment in detail! That, and it makes my ego all fat and puffy.

So, um. My goodness. Nothing like writing a freakin' novel about writing a novel . . .
idlewild_ From: idlewild_ Date: 3rd September 2010 22:44 (UTC) (Link)
This is what you get when you have readers. It says something about my frame of mind that I read it rather more darkly than you wrote it.

Speaking as a Very Smart Person, my perception of Mac, a Very Very Very Smart person, is that in spite of everything, he will always be inclined to underestimate how stupid people can be. Hence, he expects betrayal (the attempt to pull him over the edge), but not a lethal level of sloppiness (Félix loses his grip) (in more ways than one).

That makes a whole lot of sense; also, I just always expect them* to lose their damn grip because physics is a bitch and adrenaline makes people sloppy.

Your ego should be well inflated, because you did a job to be proud of.

*You know. People dangling in narratives.
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