by U.B. Schultz
This is where you can find my works in progress and advice that I have for other writers.
Welcome to my first post! It's chapter one of Trial by Fire from the first superhero trilogy I'm writing! Enjoy!|
The crunching of leaves pierces the crisp autumn air like a needle. I bolt out of sight. Man, these guys are like hounds! I don’t understand why they’re chasing me. It might be because I’m the son of the cruelest man in town and I didn’t turn out like him or that I declined their invitation to join their gang.
My mom left my dad ten years ago when I was five. I don’t know why she left, but my dad blames me for it. He was a different man before she left, but now he’s always angry and drunk, and he beats me. I’m done putting up with him. I’m running away.
“You can run but you can’t hide Tarquin!” Snarls the portly gang leader. I think his name is Antonio. “Oh yeah?” I taunt from my hiding space in the bushes, “Then how come you haven’t found me?” “We’ll find you soon enough!” Bellows Antonio’s weasel-faced cronie. They’re going to find me soon. There aren’t many places to hide, and in a minute, they’ll have searched the whole area so I dart over to a tree and begin climbing, the rough bark scraping my shins. When I’m about fifteen feet up, the smallest of them, Tank, notices me and squeaks, “There he is!” Dang, it.
For a moment, I freeze. Then, I scramble down the tree, knowing it would be no good to keep climbing. They’d make sure that I’d fall and break my neck, rendering me defenseless or dead. I’ve seen it happen before when they wanted Bertram, a quiet young man known for his strength, to join them. He hasn’t been the same since. I land on my feet and try to get at least a small foothold in the situation. “Haha, you found me. I gave you a good bit of sport though didn’t I?” I fake a laugh, trying to hide how scared I am. Antonio and the rest of the boys look at me as if I lost my head. For a split second, I think I have some sort of foothold, but their shock only lasts momentarily as they close the circle around me, cutting off all forms of escape. “No one says no to the Pyrokinetics. I like you, Tarquin, so I’m giving you one last chance. Will you join us?” I look from face to leering face and make my probably last decision. “No.” “I thought that might be the answer. Boys, take him to the hideout and teach him what fire really is.”
I dodge as one of the ‘boys’ tries to pull a sack over my head, but two others are a step ahead, grabbing my arms and tying them behind my back. I struggle uselessly against my captors as the burlap sack goes on. The next five minutes are silent as they march me to where ever their hideout is.
When we reach their hideout, the sack comes off, and I am tied to a metal pole. The men take turns ‘roughing me up’ which basically means each of them brutally punch me so hard that it’s going to bruise for weeks if I even live that long.
Once I’m beaten senseless, they decide that they’re done for now. I heave a sigh of relief although it sounds more like a wheeze because my face is so swollen. The Pyrokinetics laugh cruelly. This is worse than any flogging my father could have given me.
I was used to pain sure. I practically lived with it, but it only ever had to live up to one man’s satisfaction, my father’s. When he was done, he let me go, but these men, they would never be done.
They’re sitting at a table playing cards. Their murmurs float through the stale air of what I can only assume is an abandoned ware house. Not so abandoned now. “We’re going to have to do it.” “We’ve already put it off too long.” My head is spinning, not only from pain
but with questions. Do what? My lesson with fire? Putting it off? “Someone’s going to have to do it.” This voice is gentle, deep, and whispery. It barely carries even though the air is still and quiet. “You mean you’re going to have to do it Phobe’.” “But I-” “Or we can have Shred do it. He’ll be a lot less gentle about it.” A beat. “Fine.”
One of the men break off from the group and stalks toward me. His face is pale. So pale that it almost looks grey. He’s scared. Nearly as scared as I am. He pauses and examines my face for a moment then draws back his hand as if to slap me. I flinch and he gently presses the palm of his hand to my face. “I’m sorry.” He whispers and everything crumbles to black.
It stays dark for a few moments and then there’s a tickling warmth at the back of my mind. I smell smoke, and feel sunlight, but I can’t see anything. A bitter, acrid taste fills my mouth, blood. Heat crawls up my legs and then everything explodes in a whirlwind of fire. My right arm feels as though it was being poked by a million white hot needles. Everything smells of pain, blood, and smoke. I hear a gunshot, the splat of blood on the floor and then, nothing.
|I run down the street as quickly as I can, trying to get home before dark. I stop at a crosswalk, panting,it’s sunset, the time when the monsters and creatures come out. I’m scared and sweaty. Not a great combination. The town is usually a beautiful and fun place to live but now at sunset, though breathtaking it hides an ugly secret. The light turns green and I walk calmly across the street, concealing my anxiety and as soon as round the corner, break into a full out run. I sprint all the way home. I sigh with relief, I barely made it home and the sun is sinking down over the horizon. I reach my hand in my pocket to pull out my keys and unlock the door but find an empty pocket and a hole. Panicked, I begin to knock on the door shouting, “Help! Let me in!” desperately trying to get my family’s attention, but they don’t seem to hear me. The sun sinks below the treeline and it’s pitch black for a few seconds and then the street is bathed in an eerie white light. I spot a figure in a black hoodie under one of the streetlights. Creepy, but not creepier than any monster could be.
Timidly, I call, “Hello? Could you help me get into my house?’” The person moves closer but stops a few steps away from the sidewalk, dangling my keys in front of their face. A wide frightening smile breaks out across their face and they say in gravely, croaky voice, “Aren’t you going to come get them?’
It's close to midnight. Something evil's lurking from the dark
I close my eyes and take a breath, then I open them to a scene I couldn’t even begin to explain. Grotesque creatures of every shape size and species. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
Under the moonlight. You see a sight that almost stops your heart
I stifle a scream in my throat before it could come out. I never should have stayed so late at the coffee shop. This mistake could get me killed or worse.
You try to scream. But terror takes the sound before you make it
I carefully pull out a flashlight, maybe the monsters are afraid of bright lights? That’s just wishful thinking on my part but at least I’ve got a little bit of protection.
You start to freeze. As horror looks you right between your eyes. You're paralyzed
I flash the light into the horde of creatures and the keys drop, clanging on the ground as a shriek rings from a bats lips. The monsters move closer, moving as one body, snarling, and growling. I’m done for.
'Cause this is thriller. Thriller night. And no one’s gonna save you.. From the beast about to strike
I’m paralyzed with fear and I can’t call out for help anymore because my voice won’t work. I quiver a little bit and step away from my doorstep, running to get over the fence to the back door, but the creatures have already thought of that.
Suddenly, an arrow flies and stabs one of the monsters through the head. “Stay away from the girl!” the distinct growl of a man rings out as yet another arrow flies taking out another monster. I sigh quietly, feeling a small spark of hope light up, but my heart sinks when the man says, “She’s mine.” The monsters clear a path to reveal a slender man in a cloak carrying a bow and holding a knife menacingly in his hand. He moves slowly and seems to have a limp but suddenly he moves with more swiftness then should be possible and in an instant he has cut my throat and I’m dead. Everything fades to black and nothingness.
A bright light pierces the dark and I wake up panting, in my bed, safe and away from the monsters. Still panicked, I survey my room and it finally dawns on me. It was only a nightmare. A nightmare that felt more real than life, I can still feel the knife at my throat... I think I’m doomed to die tonight.
I pull myself over the steep cliff ledge, and begin to find handholds on the sloping bank quickly. My muscles burn from the strain and my eyes are watering because of the wind. But I keep pushing myself. Today’s climb definitely beats any of the others I’ve taken, but right now I’m climbing for my life, so I don’t have time to reminiscence over this.
A gunshot cracks through the air, snapping me back to the situation. A gang of arsonists who’ve been terrorizing my home town are furious with me for having screwed up their last plan. The thing is, I couldn’t let them burn down the marketplace. It’s where most of us make or livelihoods, so this would have been devastating if I hadn’t changed out their chemicals they were going to pour everywhere for water. They found out it was me and so now I may get killed. The good news is, they have no idea what they’re doing. They aren’t even locals. The men have heavy English accents that makes it incredibly obvious.
The bullet pings off of the ledge about twenty feet below me as I scramble over the edge. I pause for a moment, panting, just to catch my breath, and run into the jungle. A resting macaw is disturbed as I run past. Ruffling its feathers, the bright red bird squawks indignantly and snaps at my bag. “Sorry little friend!” I call over my shoulder and jump onto a low-hanging branch.
I have to get to the highest ground as is possible. The Pyro’s may be slow, but there are about fifty of them chasing me so I need to get as far away as possible. A loud curse cracks through the air like a whip as I struggle up a large tree limb covered in green moss, tangled vines, and wait, was that-? It was.
Sitting innocently in the middle of a cluster of ivy is a bomb. I pick it up carefully, knowing one wrong move could trigger it. By now the gang is about a hundred meters away, so I put it in the pouch of my slingshot, pull it back, and it thwips through the air with a sharp whistle.
The explosive hits the ground with a soft thunk and combusts five seconds later. The arsonists were about fifteen meters away and were knocked over by the blast. I scramble across the branch and slip away into the dense tree tops. The green and brown canopy blankets my escape. The rustling of leaves in my wake causes a swarm of gnats to buzz angrily at their afternoon nap being interrupted. They buzz away in the opposite direction.
Moments later, I hear shouts of surprise and frustration. I smile. The rainforest floor is not a great place to be right now, what with all the deadly insects, poisonous animals and silent predators, and they just figured that out.
I see the girl I’m supposed to collect falling, falling, and falling. I guess Antonio’s lot got to her first. Smart girl though, making sure that they’ll never have her or what’s in her head. She is getting close to her death though, so I do need to bring her back to HQ alive.
I walk down the side of the building silently. Not wanting to attract anyone’s attention and grab the girl around the waist, halting her plummet to death. She’s panting heavily, and I would let her rest for a moment to catch her breath, but I can hear shouts, and we don’t have much time. “Can you stand?” I ask, my voice clipped and taught. She shakes her head, trembling. Heh, shock has probably made her temporarily mute, and it was foolish of me to ask. Nobody can get back up on their feet right away after a fall like that.
“All right then. Get on my back. Up you go.” I say this as I lift the girl carefully onto my back. She grips my shoulders so tightly that I’m pretty sure that my arms are going to be numb by the end of this ordeal. I walk back up the building carefully so as not to throw the girl into hysterics. I pull us over the rim of the roof of the building and we’re standing on top.
I hear the creak of a door opening and set the girl down. I spin on my heel to face the possible threat. I see a woman in a leopard print pant suit opening the door. She’s quite ugly really. There’s an entourage of men behind her. Dang. A bloodcurdlist. I notice her reaching into her pocket for something, and I’m pretty sure it’s not a blood vial.
“What’ve you got there witch? Blood? If you think you can control me, you’re wrong.” I snarl, blocking my charge from view. “You silly boy,” the bloodcurdlist laughs whimsically, “I wouldn’t dare try that with you. You’re much too clever. No. I have something much more effective.”
I tense, preparing for the worst. The woman smirks and pulls out… a knife? She must be more stupid than I thought! She throws it perfectly. The knife cuts through the air, whistling sharply. It’s almost as fast as a bullet. Deftly, I catch the knife and taunt, “You missed.” “Oh I never miss darling.” She drawls. I feel a tickling sensation in my palm and glance down at the blade in my hand. Blood is trickling down the smooth, steel surface. Great. Just great. I guess it’s the hard way.
I pull a smoke bomb out of my pocket with my good hand and toss it at the goons’ feet. Careful not to breath in the smoke, I put the girl over my shoulder, run down the side of the building, and disappear into the maze of streets and alleys. I can hear sharp voices and footsteps behind us as I sprint through Elbert Drive. “Where’d they go?” “They can’t have gone far!” “Yeah! He won’t last long! Mistress’ poison is fatal!”
I slide into the sewers and the voices fade away. It’s going to be one smelly trip to base, but it’s the fastest way there. Luckily, the water level is low so it makes for easy travel, otherwise, I would have been waist deep in sludge. In about fifteen minutes, we’re at the entrance. “Password?” The word rings out before I can even knock on the door. “Antonio’s Bane.” I breath. “Welcome back chief.” I flinch at the word chief as the door closes behind me. I’m not the leader. I’m just subbing in for him until he gets back.
I put the girl down gently on her feet. “Thank you.” She mouths as a few of the other kids lead her away. I shrug, and then, the world begins to spin. “Hey, can I get somebody to check out this cut?” A younger boy’s voice says as I crumple to my knees.
|As a writer, and an editor, there are a few great things you can do to really make your writing great and not tick people off as they read it. Here they are:
1. Always reread your work before posting. If you don't you may miss some spelling errors that totally change the meaning of your story, or grammatical errors that confuse your reader. Other times, there may be a description withing your story or piece of writing that doesn't make sense, such as saying it was dark, but then have the whole room described in detail and saying the sun shone off of a certain object.
2. When foreshadowing, don't make too obvious or obscure. If it's too obvious, everyone will have guessed the twist before it's time. If it's too obscure, than the twist will seem entirely out of the blue and that's just bad writing.
3. Don't be redundant unless it's supposed to add humor. I've read too many pieces where the author uses too many variants of the same word to the point where I'm about ready to just shut the book or put down the paper.
4. Stay on topic, unless it's supposed to create humor. If you are trying to set a mood such as a dark alley way and suddenly you say there's a bright pink butterfly, then your reader will be confused and won't know whether to think its menacing or a tea party.
I hope these help!
He was drunk. He was drunk again. My dad had been drinking everyday since I could remember, but it had never been this bad. Sure, there had been the time that he had almost jumped off a four story building for a girlfriend, but wasn’t nearly as drunk as today. Like the dutiful daughter I was, I always cleaned in the back of the apartment when he threw his big parties and had his twenty some odd lady friends over.
He belches loudly, and one of the ladies daintily giggles. “Oh David, you always do that at the right moments.” She was a blonde, curly haired temptress, and she was sitting in my dad’s lap . arms wrapped around his neck, and fingers entangled in his copper hair. My father, how was I even related to him, presented her with a small box, smirked, and whispered something in her ear. Then, they shared a kiss. I turn away in disgust as the other women guffaw like a brood of expectant peacocks.
I bet a ring was involved, a very special one. I can guess what’s coming next. “Veronica! Veronica” He bellows, words slurred, “C’mere! I wan’ ya’ ta’ me’ yor’ new mother!” I then hear a crash followed by glass rattling on wood. I sigh, setting down the plate I’m drying. Why am I not surprised? Quietly, I come into the dining room. My father is collapsed, snoring on the loveseat across from the table. The other women have vanished, and the blonde woman remains. Well, this is new.
She smiles and purrs, “Antonio’s sister, how long I have waited to speak to you. Veronica, I presume. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am Marda.” I blink. Antonio’s sister? Marda? Then, I say, remembering my manners, “The pleasure is all mine. Now, would you kindly explain why my dad is drunk beyond comprehension.” She laughs, a light, delightful sound that scrapes in my ears and turns sour, “Dear, this man is not your father, but if you must know, I’ve taken a fancy to David, but more importantly, I’m intrigued by you.You should not exist after all. To explain my fiance's intoxication, I be very persuasive if I want to, so I convinced him to drink a few more glasses than usual.” She smiles deviously as I try to puzzle out what she’s saying. “As for the rest, he proposed to me tonight, so I sent the whole horde packing, so I could enjoy a little family time.”
I had my suspicions about her beforehand, but this only raises them further as she casually flashes the engagement ring on her finger. I grimace at the smell of her breath in my face. What did she eat before now? Garlic? “Your brother is an odd man with little mercy. He killed all of your sisters for your real father. He was supposed to kill you too, but for some reason, sixteen years ago, he left you here on this drunkard’s doorstep. I work for your brother, and I have a message to relay to you. Antonio wants you to come home to him. He’ll give you a good home, help you to master your abilities and so on. All I need is a small vial of your blood, and we can be on our way.”
I recoil as she moves closer, like a tigress stalking her prey. “You lie,” I growl, “I don’t have a brother. Any chance of that died with my mother in the crash that killed her. I will not be manipulated by your honey coated words and empty promises.”
I watch as her face contorts from panic, to confusion, to cool rage. “Now let’s not be too hasty.” she says in a sickly sweet voice like poisoned honey, standing up and licking her blood red lips, “All I’m asking for is a bit of blood. Nothing more.” I fight back a gag and ignore my trembling hands that are slick with sweat. “Stay away from me you sicko!”I shout this with as much force as I can but it comes out more terrified than angry. I back away slowly, keeping as much space between me and the enchantress as possible.
Marda snarls, her anger turning her lovely features ugly. She reaches deep into the pocket of her leopard print pantsuit. Her hand clasps around a small vial of something dark red. She then uncaps it and empties its contents into her mouth.
I hear a low moan. And my father staggers over and stands by Marda. “Oh dearie,” She trills, “Would you please hold our daughter still?” “Yes mistress.”Mistress? Since when has my dad called anyone mistress? My vision is tinted red. My breath falls into an uneven pace. I need to get out of here before I hurt anyone or someone hurts me. I begin to run. I run out our apartment door and down the hall. Dad lumbers after me. His eyes are glazed over, and his movements are jerky and unnatural. “Bloodcurdle*” I mutter, recognizing the signs immediately.
I turn a corner and find one of her minions standing at the top of a stairwell. I quickly realized that I’m not going to be able to make it. Marda probably has her guards at every exit. Lucky for me though, it’s a hot night, so the managers have the floor to ceiling windows open. This is my only chance at escape. I take it.
I’m falling through thin air toward the pavement. Plummeting to my highly likely death. I know that this is probably better than having my life controlled by that slimeball of a woman, but in these probably last moments of my life, I ask myself, what was I thinking? I reach out my arms, grappling for a handhold. I’m about to accept my fate when someone or something, catches me.
*Blood curdle: The ability to control a living being by ingesting their blood.