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This is not a new story. It is, actually, a rewrite of a story I originally wrote in 1997, when I was fourteen years old. The original manuscript is long gone, but I've done my best to recall some of the more interesting twists and turns of the story, and reproduced them for you here. Please be aware that nothing you will read here will provide any type of spoiler to the story that is now being told through the Independence Day book series - this is just a glimpse at what a 14-year old girl called a story, and our humble beginnings.

Introduction:

It was late 1996, and I was 14 years old. I was obsessed with Days of Our Lives, Christian music and Mystery Science Theater 3000. By this time, I'd dropped out of school, so I had a lot of time on my hands, and I spent most of it writing, pouring my soul into a project called Montana Skies. I'd been writing that for a good two years, but it was growing a little stale to me, so I thought a change of pace might be in order.

It was never meant to be a permanent thing. I just thought that by putting MS on hold for a little while to try something fresh, I could gain some perspective. So, one thing led to another, and I came up with the idea of writing a murder mystery. I was not the most organized, nor the most thorough writer back in those days. I actually attribute my next project, Behind Closed Doors, with actually teaching me how to write, because I really came into my own then. But, I still tried my best with this new creation. I quickly came up with my cast list, forged a few tentative plans, and penned the first episode by Easter of 1997. There was very little structure to the story, and I did very little planning on it. I just sort of wrote and hoped for the best, which as you know, is probably not the best idea if you are working on an elaborate murder mystery. So yes, the original version of the story was probably not the best work I've ever done, but it certainly had its moments.

By the fall of 1997, the story had come to a pitiful-at-best conclusion, and I was ready to go back to MS with a renewed passion. However, my little murder mystery never quite died. Over the subsequent years, I thought about it off and on, wondering if I could do my idea a little more justice with the writing experience I have now. The idea always seemed a bit daunting, though. I obviously had a lot to rework. Almost none of elements to the original story have been salvaged for this version, but it has been great fun to reinvent the characters, rethink the plotting and come up with other ways to tighten up the dialogue, keep the reader guessing and give it the ending it deserves.

In this section, you'll find insights to the original version of this story - memories from writing it, a glimpse at the original cast and even the way it all originally went down. It's taken a bit of humility to share how silly and ill-conceived some of the original ideas were, but it's also a great way to remember our roots.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse at Independence Day, Version 1.0 as much as you enjoy the rewrite, and as always, peace and blessings to you.

Original outline (contains no relevant spoilers):

Connie/Jeff/Krista/Matt:

Sisters Connie and Krista could not have been more different. Connie was quiet, well-liked and family oriented, while Krista enjoyed more of a carefree and selfish lifestyle, which was quite scandalous to the 1946 version of Haven Park (hell, it would probably shock 1966 Haven Park as well!) Krista, openly resentful of her sister, did everything within her power to sabotage her, including sleep with her husband Jeff. Connie discovered this on the night she died and confronted Jeff. Shamed, he admitted the affair and Connie left the house in tears. When she didn't return home, Jeff became worried and consulted the police, who discovered her body the next morning. Jeff was immediately considered a suspect, but vehemently proclaimed his innocence. Krista, meanwhile, pretended to be shaken by Connie's murder, but she was secretly overjoyed, which led her boyfriend and partner-in-crime Matt Hunter to wonder if she'd somehow been involved - especially after it came to light that Krista threatened her sister just days before she died.

Jeff was released from police custody, as there was little evidence to hold him, and he immediately confronted Krista. She admitted that she told Connie about their affair "for their own good" and Jeff exploded, vowing to make her pay for indirectly causing Connie's death. His words would come back to haunt him a week later, when Matt and Krista's car broke down along a deserted stretch of road. Matt ventured out to look for help, telling Krista to stay in the car. Matt was attacked a mile down the road, as he cut through a patch of woods to get to a service station on the other side. Krista, growing concerned over the length of time Matt had been gone, got out of the car to look for him, and was soon targeted herself. A mystery assailant chased Krista through the woods before a twisted ankle caused her to fall. She begged for her life, but was killed via a rock to the head, while Matt lay unconscious only feet away.

Upon waking up in the hospital and being told Krista's fate, Matt immediately fingered Jeff for the crime, though he didn't know who'd attacked him, as it had been from behind. Once again, Jeff was placed in police custody, and once again, he proclaimed his innocence, but this time, his pleas fell on deaf ears. He was interrogated fiercely by Shane, but was soon released again on a technicality (the story sort of fell apart there). Much of Haven Park believed Jeff was a murderer, until he too was stalked and attacked by the killer. Matt, meanwhile, quietly faded into the background after lying about Jeff being the one to attack him. I can't remember how the rest of his story played out, exactly, except that he was rarely mentioned or seen again. Kind of anti-climactic, I admit.

Lance/Terri/Lucas/Kelsey:

Lance and Terri Englund were an unhappily married couple, as were Lucas and Kelsey Brady. Unbeknownst to their spouses, Terri and Lucas were having an affair...but the audience soon discovered that Lance and Kelsey were too...and that the child Kelsey just learned she was carrying may have in fact been Lance's. Convoluted mess, wasn't it? And it was about to get crazier.

Early on in the story (in maybe the 5th or 6th episode), Terri learned she was also pregnant. Confident the child could not possibly belong to Lance, she panicked and went to Lucas, who was overjoyed at the news. Lance was less than thrilled when he found out. With solid evidence of her infidelity, he lashed out at her, throwing her into a wall and telling her to "get rid of it", no matter what she had to do. Soon after, Terri miscarried, but kept this secret, as she rather enjoyed the attention her pregnancy garnered her from Lucas.

Meanwhile, Lance and Kelsey's affair came to an abrupt end when someone pushed Lance out of a seven-story window (and, as the poem to accompany the murder claimed, he landed with a thud) and Kelsey attempted to resume her marriage to Lucas as though nothing had happened. Lucas had little interest in this, telling her he knew about her affair and could care less, as he was already in love with another woman. Kelsey had no idea he was talking about Terri until she found a love note she'd written to Lucas in the pocket of his jacket. Infuriated, Kelsey went to confront Terri, and soon uncovered (though I can't remember how) that Terri was faking her pregnancy. She vowed to tell Lucas about this, but was killed before she got the chance. Lucas reacted as coldly to her death as Terri had to Lance's, and their relationship grew more twisted. One minute, he loved her, and he hated her the next. Terri continued to fake her pregnancy by stuffing a pillow under her clothes, and for months, no one was the wiser. However, one morning, Lucas caught her coming out of the shower without it and lost it.

Tearfully, Terri confessed that she'd miscarried months earlier, but didn't want him to hate her. This only seemed to infuriate Lucas even more. Screaming, "I'll kill you!" (wrong thing to say!), he chased her through the house menacingly, and Terri, convinced he was the feared serial killer and she would be his next target, pulled her gun from her purse. Lucas stopped dead in his tracks when he saw it, and tried to convince Terri not to pull the trigger. After saying the magic words of, "I love you, baby," he got her to lower the gun, then made a dash for it. Quick thinking Terri shot him in the chest, then freaked. Lucas died before paramedics and police could arrive at the scene (though it wasn't entirely clear who called them), and Haven Park assumed he'd been another victim of the serial killer...until the day of his funeral.

Terri, overcome with guilt, wrote out her confession to Lucas's murder, and took it with her to the service. When asked if anyone wanted to give a eulogy, she volunteered, taking the confession on stage with her. In the presence of her shocked brother, Reverend Brett, and the entire First Baptist of Haven Park congregation, Terri admitted her crimes. Her affair with Lucas, her subsequent pregnancy, miscarriage and deception, and the story of what happened that morning in his house. With four words ("I killed Lucas Brady"), Terri sealed her fate. She was apprehended in the church foyer and hauled away, to presumably spend the rest of her life behind bars, though it was never elaborated on.

Evan/Marnie:

As in this version, Haven Park knew little of what happened behind closed doors in the Blake home, but in the original sory, the truth was much more horrifying. Evan, a raging alcoholic, was violently abusive to town sweetheart Marnie, to the point of strangling her unconscious one night in the middle of the story. Marnie kept quiet about this, so not to damage Evan's upstanding reputation and piss him off even more. Finally, at the end of her rope, she confided in her friend Julia the horror she endured on a daily basis...and Evan was dead two weeks later, causing Marnie to suspect that Julia might have had something to do with it. However, Julia was institutionalized by this time, leading to wonder if Brett could have been the culprit, especially after he counseled her after the funeral and told her, "That bastard can never hurt you again, Marnie."

After Evan's death, Marnie was little seen outside of the church office, and she attempted to go on with her life, even rekindling a long-ago romance with Jeff. However, in the end, she was the first to discover the killer's true identity, leading to the dramatic climax at the end of the story.

Jill/Steve:

Sanctimonious Jill Dearman and her hen-pecked husband Steve were comedic recurring characters, designed to give the story a few lighter moments. Jill, an armchair detective, was forever bombarding Shane with her theories as to who the killer might be, each one more ludicrous than the last. Interestingly, she did come up with the correct culprit at one point, though by this point, she was largely ignored by the Haven Park PD. Her husband Steve, a resident at the hospital, was also a suspect in Jill's eyes, due to his being away during all of the murders...working.

The Dearmans never had a major storyline or place in the plot until the end, after the real killer had been unmasked. Steve proved to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed for no good reason - the only murder in which the audience was privy to the killer's identity.

Brett/Julia:

Neither had a very big part in the original story. Brett was mainly around to counsel Haven Park and preach funeral after funeral after funeral. Julia, meanwhile was prominent until the middle of the story. Haven Park's goodwill ambassador (as modern-day Julia is in this version), Julia was known for her charitable works and for being an excellent friend to all, including Marnie who finally confided Evan's abuse in her.

After a fight with Brett about what to do with this information (he believed she should let Marnie handle it herself, while she was adamant they consult the police), Julia found herself in the park the same night Jeff was attacked by the killer. Julia witnessed this attack, and as a result of seeing a person almost killed (though it was not known if she saw the identity of the killer or not), she had a breakdown and became catatonic. After this, she was shipped off to an institution and rarely mentioned again. Again, fairly anti-climactic, huh?

Shane/Patty:

Shane and Patty were happily married, and the parents of two children. They were also upstanding residents in the community, and active members of First Baptist of Haven Park, where Patty taught Sunday School and Shane served as a deacon. Their marriage was explored often, as Patty worried about the dangers of his job, and whether or not they wanted to add another child to the family.

Patty soon began receiving threatening letters, that she believed were from the serial killer, causing Shane to take a more active interest in the case than ever before. It was never determined just who the letters were from, but Patty was never officially targeted. In the last handful of episodes, Patty revealed to Shane that she was expecting their third child...and was soon taken hostage by the killer after their identity had been revealed. Shane, determined to save her, pulled a daring maneuver and ended up in the face of the killer, gun drawn. It was a tense standoff, but the killer ended up being the quicker draw, shooting Shane in the chest. However, as he was going down, Shane also got off a shot, which hit the killer in the head and killed them instantly.

Patty immediately raced to her dying husband's side, and they shared a tender moment, before the hero of the story died in her arms in the final scene. Yes, in the original story, Shane actually died! Can you believe that? How tragic is that? Guy finally caught his killer, is gonna be a dad again and goes down in the line of duty - something Patty had always expressed fear about! I mean, I guess it is dramatic and all, but wow. To me, it seemed unnecessary and the wrong note to end the story on, though I never bothered to revise it...until now.

The original advertisement poems:

Okay, these are utterly awful, but keep in mind I was 14 when I wrote them! And if nothing else, they were a creative way to get people into the story. It's taken a lot of courage to put these here, but here they are, in all their carefully edited glory (not that you could really get any sort of relevant spoilers out of these things...I prefer to say it's that the names have been obscured to protect the innocent!)

Poem 1:
The first murder was surprising,
But the second one will be
Another rocky blow
To the Parlato family

Poem 2:
*****'s death was brutal,
While ***** lay in the woods;
Now, watch a bad boy fall
Into his eternal-hood

Poem 3:
***** fell seven stories,
And landed with a thud;
And now an angry beauty
Will die, but shed no blood

Poem 4:
A pillow ended *****'s life;
Now she's with Lorelei;
You'll be shocked when our next victim
Goes into the water, but won't die

Poem 5:
***** saw who attacked *****
And now she cannot speak;
Watch as our latest victim
Is killed where he is weak

Poem 6:
***** drank the poison
That was hidden in his booze
As our next victim plays
A game that she will lose

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