How many possible B3s have there been? Was it seven? Maybe This World We Live In will have seven possible endings all its own.
But as of the moment, I seem quite settled into the idea of Mom mercy killing Charlie while almost every other character is there to witness it. I did briefly consider having Syl be the one to grab the shotgun from the LAWKI house, then Mom demand Syl hand it over, which Syl does (and which the readers assume is because Mom is so horrified), and then Mom shoots Charlie (having taken the shotgun so the killing wouldn't be on Syl's conscience).
But I remembered from one of the previous B3s that I should always keep things simple, and Syl to Mom to boom! is one step more than is needed.
What I'm working through right now are the consequences, and oddly enough, for the moment at least, the character most affected seems to be Alex (who's lying semi-conscious at the LAWKI house while this happens).
For starters, there are those safe house passes (I swear those passes are as difficult for me to deal with as the never ending volcanic ash). The clever twist ending I'd come up with had Alex telling Miranda to give the passes to Lisa for her, the baby and Julie (an idea Alex had previously rejected). Then when Alex is strong enough, they go to Mrs. Nesbitt's no longer existent house, and Alex discovers what Miranda already knows, that the safe house passes can't be found.
I think when I wrote the first Charlie dies version (less than a week ago, but you don't expect me to remember), the same thing happens. It didn't seem to bother me that Alex and Miranda go over to Mrs. Nesbitt's house, where Charlie has been buried alive.
Maybe now it's because I've blown poor Charlie's brains out, going to the house to look for something seems distasteful to me. So I'm thinking Alex keeps the safe town passes in an envelope taped to his chest, in which case, the passes are available, and Alex can act on his decision to share the passes with Lisa and the baby.
The other consequence I'm pondering is how Alex responds to Mom's killing Charlie. By Alex's heartfelt religious standards, this is a mortal sin. Miranda wouldn't see it that way, because she heard Charlie begging to be killed, and because it's her mother who did it.
But if Alex and Miranda get into a fight over this, it can't be cute and casual. Alex, under the best of circumstances, isn't a cute and casual kind of guy, and when it comes to a fundamental disagreement over the sanctity of life, I can't see him compromising or letting love and/or hormones overcome his strong sense of morality.
When I discussed Mom killing Charlie with my friend Christy, she pointed out there has to be at least some hope at the ending of the book. My previous ending for both versions of B3 has been positive- Miranda frightened of the future, but believing that there will be one. If the ending is the families split up, with Dad, Lisa, Alex and Julie going off to the safe town, while Miranda, Mom (with blood on her conscience), Matt, Syl and Jon take their chances in Pittsburgh (and you have no idea how much I wish Pittsburgh were a more glamorous choice)...well that's not just open ended. That's open ended and depressing.
So clearly there's some more thinking that has to be done. But that's the fun part of writing for me.
Or at least that's what I keep telling myself!