“12 days of writing: a subplot” – a writing exercise in Escape from Rochester setting

This is written from an exercise from Writer’s Greenhouse: Why did the protagonist fake those maps?

It is, I believe, a piece of background for Escape from Rochester.

It shouldn’t have been all that important. It was a school project. A project in Civil Engineering; this wasn’t exactly the stuff adventure novels were made of.

But there was something about the way Mr. Cecchini had asked that made Amber nervous. And the more she found in the old records, the more she wanted to hide what she’d found.

Mr. Cecchini wasn’t a proper professor anyway; he was an adjunct, and nobody was quite sure what had happened to Dr. Estrada. That was more than a little problematic for Amber, since Dr. Estrada was her adviser, and Mr. Cecchini seemed to be more than a bit distracted and not very good at the whole advising thing.

Amber thought it was probably the kids. His office was covered in pictures of kids and, while some of them seemed kind of unlikely, genetically, to be his, there was something to be said for adoption, after all. And when he looked at the pictures, he smiled. So, probably his, one way or another, even if there was no mother – or second father – pictured anywhere.

“So, for your project, you’re studying the layout of the entire University,” he said, every time she sat down. “With an eye to, to…”

And, every time, she would remind him, “to both see how it could be improved now, and how I would do differently if I were rebuilding from scratch.”

“And the sources you’re using are…”

And so on, every time. At first, Amber thought he was just a bit scattered, but as he began to pore over her notes, as he began to demand copies of her primary sources, she began to think something was up.

It didn’t seem like a good idea, faking documents for her final project, but, on the other hand, the rooms that she’d found on the oldest maps were kind of terrifying, and the underground roadways were even more so. There was swamp over there, and a river. Why was there a road there?

Was that what Mr. Cecchini was looking for?

And, if so, why?

Amber laid out the maps on her drafting board and, very carefully, began creating edited copies. Nobody needed to know about that road.

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