The first new character I thought about when writing a follow up to my novel Beneath the Surface was a soldier. In Beneath the Surface, it is the military that leads the way to a new world, but the reader only really sees one face from that side of things: General Randall. One man alone, however, could not change the course of human history. He needed bodies and he needed brains – people to back him up, to work through problems, to help him force his beliefs onto others.
So this led me to think about the people that stand behind those in charge. The regular people, who in this case were to find themselves suddenly removed from their normal lives and placed in a top secret location, in the service of a man who promises them everything. Would a regular soldier be able to say no to a request from such a man? Would he want to say no? To be offered unlimited physical strength, prolonged life and the chance to go down in history as one of the first to go through this change, paving the way for the rest of the world to follow in his footsteps. What would be the thoughts of one of these regular soldiers, being offered the chance not only to fulfil his ambitions but wildly exceed them too?
The soldier I have imagined when thinking about this character is male, young, good at his job, family orientated with brothers and father all in the military, and he is keen to make them proud. I imagined him looking up to older brothers who found their own glory in conflicts he was too young to see, and his father telling him, “Don’t worry son. Your time will come. There will always be other wars. There will always be other wars.” And what would it be like when the realisation finally hit – that the huge historic event he was an instrumental part of wasn’t actually as wonderful as he had been led to believe, but that it was too late to turn back.
“It had been five years since Lance had first arrived at the North Woods base. He thought about how excited he had been then; how impressionable, how ignorant of the possibilities. But that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – there had to be a passage of time between arrival and acquisition of knowledge. Experience had to be allowed to develop, within the base and under the guidance of the General. There was no way he could ever have known what the General was truly offering him. Only now was he really beginning to understand the true nature of The Project, and the rewards that would some to all of those who worked on it. That time was fast approaching.”