NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE: PUREX LEAK

New Chapter 1.

Today I published the new Chapter 1 on this site. The first chapter introduces you to a nasty psychopathic murderer, Dr. Tyrone (Ty) Rettig. Ty Rettig is the antagonist in both the novella as well as in the novel currently under review, NUCLEAR TIME BOMB. The novella takes place in the 1964-1965 timeframe and provides a backstory for the novel. I’ve made Rettig a despicable character. I hope you agree.

Click on the STORIES top menu tab and then click on NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE: PUREX LEAK. You will see a photo of the PUREX Plant at the Hanford Site near Richland, WA. It is where most of the plutonium used in US nuclear weapons was produced. Keep scrolling down to get to Chapter 1. There are some blank rows where I will name additional chapters in the coming weeks.

Please check it out and let me know what you think. As always, stay safe.

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Changes

Change in inevitable or so it seems. As I looked once again at the PUREX Leak manuscript, I found it lacking.

Originally, much of what is in the version of PUREX Leak published here were introductory chapters to the manuscript of a novel I am writing, Nuclear Time Bomb. The early drafts of that manuscript had chapters with actions in 1965. In those early chapters, I established conditions that created highly explosive chemicals being surrounded by intensely radioactive materials in PUREX Tunnel 1. I had been fascinated by PUREX Tunnel 1 for several years after learning of its existence while consulting with the government at Hanford.

I created Craig Campbell, a thirty-two-year-old chemical engineer working at the PUREX Plant as the protagonist. It was January 1965, a date chosen to coincide with when the last railcar was actually disposed of in PUREX Tunnel 1 according to the Dangerous Waste Permit Application Part A Form the US Department of Energy filed with the State of Washington.

But the bulk of the Nuclear Time Bomb manuscript took place in 2016-2017. That was when Dr. Essie Openwaters, a newly hired research scientist at a fictional Tri-Cities Laboratory, happened upon a memo that Campbell had written. The memo, carefully hidden in a surplus Atomic Energy Commission desk, described the bomb. That memo both threatened and upended Essie’s life as she struggled to protect a quarter-million people from an explosion she was convinced would be triggered by upcoming Hanford cleanup actions.

My developmental editor recommended removing the thirteen chapters that took place in 1965 out of concern that they detracted from getting readers hooked on Essie, the primary protagonist in Nuclear Time Bomb, as quickly as possible. She suggested using those thirteen chapters as a vehicle to get people to know me by publishing them on my website. It was another of her excellent ideas.

Hence, the novella, PUREX Leak, came into being.

But I discovered that I had a problem. While PUREX Leak contained elements of a decent tale, the form that I was releasing it in on this site was missing critical components required for a stand-alone novella.

So, I reworked it. I strove to better bring out Craig Campbell’s struggles, both with his sexual identity and with the dilemma of discovering that his boss’s inept actions could destroy a large part of eastern Washington. I endeavored to make Craig a likable but troubled protagonist.

In parallel, I needed to inspire readers to dislike and root for the literary annihilation of Tyrone Rettig, the psychopathic antagonist in PUREX Leak. Rettig also fills the same role fifty years later in Nuclear Time Bomb, where he strives to prevent Essie from learning what he did in 1965.

To that end, I have been restructuring what I had called “PUREX Leak” into an enhanced novella manuscript titled “Nuclear Nightmare, A PUREX Leak.”

This coming Wednesday, August 12th, I will release the first chapter of the reworked manuscript on this website. The new first chapter, Serve Me, begins to reveal the monster known as Ty Rettig to the reader.

Please take a look and let me know what you think. As always, thank you and stay safe.

Ho Hum

My wife and I are snuggled up like the proverbial bugs in a rug at our new home in Arizona. We purchased this house both for its breathtaking views and to interact with the enjoyable people who share our new neighborhood. This is, without question, the friendliest place we have ever resided.

It is a place where social calendars fill immediately leaving you to scratch your head deciding which events to attend and which must be sadly missed–there is only so much time in a day. It is a place where strangers wave to each other when passing on streets, where each small neighborhood has a park that hosts social events, where resident who enter the local cocktail lounges or restaurants are greeted by others, some they know and others who are interested in getting to make new friends.

It is also a place where the coronavirus slammed the brakes on what had been a lovely way to live last March.

Now isolated from the world within our small slice of Heaven, I have found time to work on my novels and novella. My wife sits at her desk in an adjoining room where she has learned several new computer languages, completed a number of artificial intelligence courses, and started building android apps. She’s quite brilliant.

We have also transitioned from dining out nearly every night to a new era of fending for ourselves in the kitchen. There we have come to learn that, in general, our home-cooked creations taste better and are more healthy than our former fare.

As you may have read, Arizona has now become a hot spot for COVID-19. The disease continues to spread exponentially as I write this. Some attribute its uncontrolled growth during the month of June to a lack of action by the state government. Others attribute it to the lax attitudes of some residents. I really don’t know. Perhaps Arizona simply provides a good host environment for the spread of the nasty virus.

Without delving into politics or finger-pointing, COVID-19 does raise a question in my mind.

It’s a simple question that I will not attempt to answer since I am an engineer with no training in medicine or psychology.

My question is, why so many people in this state have apparently decided not to take COVID-19 seriously.

I am sure that this pandemic will give birth to multiple works of science, history, and fiction. I hope that at least one of them gives me insights into my question.

Ho hum. Back to editing the novella.

Until next time.

Nuclear Time Bomb

A work of fiction

After umpteen iterations, Nuclear Time Bomb is ready for beta readers to review and provide me with comments. It is scheduled to go into editing so I would appreciate input from anyone interested in doing so.

NUCLEAR TIME BOMB (108,000 words) is a thriller that weaves national headlines about the PUREX Tunnel collapse at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford nuclear site into a tale of murder, deceit, and corruption.  Dr. Essie Openwaters, the twenty-one-year-old Kootenai Indian protagonist, struggles against conflicting bureaucracies within the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Washington in a race to stop the detonation of a hidden nuclear time bomb.

Childhood scars born of bigotry and hatred make Essie unable to trust others and prevent her from being a team player. But teamwork is a job requirement in her new national laboratory position. As Essie struggles with inner demons to succeed at her job, her life is turned upside down by her discovery of a fifty-year-old memo she stumbled upon in a surplus Atomic Energy Commission desk she was refinishing.

The memo warns of unstable chemicals and intensely radioactive materials that an incompetent PUREX supervisor improperly placed in Hanford’s PUREX Tunnel 1. Once disturbed, those materials will kill thousands of people and will render ten-thousand square miles of Eastern Washington unusable for at least a century. Essie’s covert investigation into the memo uncovers multiple murders, weapons-grade plutonium theft, and webs of government and corporate corruption all orchestrated by Ty Rettig, a psychopathic senior federal official committed to stopping Essie at any cost.

NUCLEAR TIME BOMB is a roller coaster of twisting and turning plots as Essie takes on everything that the Washington DC establishment and corrupt corporations can use to attack her while struggling to protect people from a nuclear time bomb whose existence she has been ordered by the White House not to disclose.

Note that while this is a work of fiction, the Hanford Site and the PUREX Tunnels are real, the latter having made the national news several times during the past couple of years due to the partial collapse of PUREX Tunnel 1 and fears of radiation releases.

Please contact me if you are interested. It will provide you with an entertaining alternative to sitting alone in your pajamas watching television.

Cheers!

The PUREX Tunnels

The PUREX Tunnels at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in eastern Washington have made the national news several times over the past 18 months due to a partial collapse of Tunnel One and steam escaping from Tunnel Two.

A 108,000-word techno-thriller novel currently in editing, Nuclear Time Bomb, weaves current and historical facts with fiction to create a web of murder, government cover up, and the unsuspecting residents of three Pacific Northwest cities being at dire risk.

PUREX LEAK is the prequel to Nuclear Time Bomb.

PUREX LEAK is a 31,000-word novella set in 1965 that tells the back story leading to Dr. Essie Openwaters finding a memo that alerts her to the pending explosion in PUREX Tunnel 1 due to the government cover-up of a leak in PUREX Q-Cell.

One Step Closer

Yesterday, I sent the manuscript for Nuclear Time Bomb to my editor in Texas for a developmental edit. Now I’m consumed with preparing query letters. There is a lot to do to prepare for publishing a novel.

Once again, I am seeking reviewers to provide me with feedback. Please contact me at w.michael.hewitt@gmail.com if you are interested.

Thanks for your interest.

Eyes Have It

I’m headed to a retinal surgeon today to remove the vitreous fluid in my left eye and replace it with saline. This will be the fifth operation on that eye since February when I had a cataract removed and multifocal lens implanted. Think twice about the multifocal lenses. They sound good–on paper. Yet my surgeon, who has performed over 100,000 cataract surgeries, told me that complications occur in three-quarters of the cases with the multifocal lenses. No so with the standard fixed vision lens. So far this year they removed the cataract, used a laser to fry a few blood vessels near the optic nerve, performed YAG laser surgery to burn a hole through the membrane behind the new lens, and performed lasik–all on the left eye since February.

Nothing–so far–has corrected the cloudy vision that occurred after the multifocal lens was implanted. Hopefully today’s surgery to replace the vitreous will fix that issue. Time will tell. In any event, think twice about multifocal cataract lenses. Not all that glitters is gold.

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FOR WANT OF A FRIEND

How would you feel if you were an impoverished 12-year-old Native American girl in a small northern town where everyone derided you for your ethnicity and your second hand clothing? You have no one to talk to except your Kootenai Indian father who hates white people and warns you not to trust anyone. You simply want someone your own age to share secrets with, to be your friend, yet scorn is your reward for trying. That is what Essie Openwaters faced as long as she can remember.

NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE

NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE, a gripping thriller featuring Ty Rettig, a psychopathic killer who will stop at nothing to carry out his his scheme and use his federal office to cover his tracks, is now available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook and as a paperback. Please give it a read and let me know what you think.

If you follow me and drop me an email, I will send you a free copy of FOR WANT OF A FRIEND, which will introduce you to Essie Openwaters. Essie is the 21-year-old heroine in my technothriller, NUCLEAR TIME BOMB, which will be published in early 2021.

Please contact me at w.michael.hewitt@gmail.com for your free copy.

Title Change

I decided to change the title of my upcoming novel from Nuclear Time Bomb to INVERSION based on an analysis of keywords buyers search on Amazon when seeking to buy books. IMPACT is currently undergoing copy editing and should be available on Amazon the first quarter of 2021.