Image #1146763 over display limit. -?-
A review by iguanamountain --- member of WYRM, in-depth reviewers and novelists.
The Delta Affinity
Delta 02 - Chapter 5 - Erika
Jonathan's survival test becomes more complicated with the introduction of a new character and the winter storm continues. This is long, but with a purpose.
>>> He stopped in his tracks and he breathed in and took in the fragrance of smog, unlike a natural smoke.
Combine into one action instead of the 'and' connect.
>>> He stopped in his tracks breathing in the fragrance of smog, unlike a natural smoke.
>>> From further distances,
Cut this phrase, the action is clearer without it. Start with: Jonathan thought it was a fireplace...
>>> Jonathan knew that something wasn't right with the weather and a normal person would either dig in or call it quits, but the smoke was unusual.
Can you change this to a real-time internal thought? Stay with Jonathan.
OR cut this sentence and and pick up the next paragraph, which starts with an internal thought. (?)
OK, Ember, I want you to see an experiment. Just in this chapter. I'm posting it below I did an Edit, Find & Replace, for 'and',and chose Find All. See the results: I did them red and bold... Sort of a visual-in-your-face!
- - - - - - - - -
Jonathan could smell smoke as he continued his travels out toward the second POI. He stopped in his tracks and he breathed in and took in the fragrance of smog, unlike a natural smoke. From further distances, Jonathan thought it was a fireplace or a campfire, but as he was coming closer and the wind changed directions, Jonathan didn't smell wooden tinder, but oily smoke. He stood on the top of an old tree stump as he breathed through his scarf, his body completely covered except for his nose, as he inhaled. The snow had only gotten worse, thick snowflakes falling down and piling onto the ground as the wind blew up the lighter snowflakes and obscured his vision. Jonathan knew that something wasn't right with the weather and a normal person would either dig in or call it quits, but the smoke was unusual.
Something's not right. Another gust of frozen wind shot a puff of the smoke in his nostrils, strong enough that he could smell it through the scarf that covered the bottom of his face. He looked around before rubbing his snow goggles of the snow and proceeding forward. He took careful steps forward, continuing the march as he patted his USP.45 on his belt. Jonathan wasn't sure what to expect as he continued forward. If he stumbled upon people, he would have to evade. With the winter conditions, he assumed it would be easy to go about unseen. He just needed to know.
There was a sound, a metal clamping down to his foot as he stepped off a log and onto the ground. The sound bounced off the trees and Jonathan looked around, trying to track its source. The steep incline to his left was nothing but snow and there was no trace of any metal. As he stepped again, the metal cracked and Jonathan knew it was under his feet. He drew his weapon and kneeled down before brushing the snow aside with his leather gloves and found a car door, crumpled and mangled from an obvious collision. Jonathan looked up to his left, trying to find any metal, but he knew it was pointless. He remained still, trying to listen for cars or traffic, but after a moment of nothing but the wind blowing, Jonathan knew that no one could be driving in this weather. It would be absurd.
Burning rubber? Maybe a car broke down, but it's not my problem. Jonathan figured worse case that it was a car broken down or evidence of a collision months if not, years ago. He shrugged it off and kneeled up as he checked his surroundings and moved forward, keeping the gun at his side and loosely walking in the direction of the POI, keeping the incline to his left.
As he turned the corner, the sight caught him off guard and he quickly took a step back, moving the gun in both hands and holding it ahead of him. Damnit. His heart raced to the excitement and shock as he leaned down and slowly inched forward. It wasn't a person, from what he could tell. The size and its motionlessness stood out. The glowing flames blew to the side, dying to the slightest breeze of frigid air. Jonathan eased over around the corner again, first scanning for anyone and then quickly turning with the weapon raised. It was a wrecked car, the rear side stabbed with a piece of metal forked in it. The hood was smashed and the windshield in pieces with a large tree branch stabbing through it. The fractured glass was painted in blood and the snow that fell on it was absorbing it and turning to a warm red colored mush. Jonathan didn't know what he was looking at, his mind only thinking that he may have stumbled on a murder scene. The weather made it unlikely, but at a second thought made him think otherwise.
He approached slowly, moving the gun to his sides while scanning around and making sure no hostile was present. There were no bodies or no blood trails. Perhaps with the rate of snowfall, Jonathan thought it may have been covered up. But he would have seen other signs before. From the indentation in the frozen earth, Jonathan looked to his left to see the trail in which the car had fallen, twisting tree branches and violently moving boulders and crushing bushes on its descent down. He looked back at the car and examined the passenger door open. Jonathan looked around again and then back at the hill to see if he had missed something. He stepped to the side and looked at the ground, kneeling down and letting his fingers sweep the snow. His fingers brushed the newly fallen snow aside as his fingers hit and traced a hardened layer of snow underneath. Its ridges and bumps outlined that of a boot and Jonathan looked around, trying to assure that no one was near. As his fingers outlined a footprint, Jonathan brushed all the snow aside and looked at the direction of the print. It was a step back toward the ledge and Jonathan squinted his eyes to try to make out anyone climbing up it, but with the wind blowing the snow, it was impossible for him to see that far.
No one would go through with that. He stepped up and walked toward the end of the car before circling around the torn metal and placing his hand on the trunk. As his leather gloves met the metal, the door of the trunk clamped down a bit. Jonathan stopped as he could feel the car move a bit on its own, almost like a nudge. His breathing quickened as he tightened the grip on the weapon and rotated his body to face the trunk of the car. Jonathan's left hand slid to the left of the trunk before his fingers wrapped underneath the opening. Warm air met his hands and began to melt the snow stuck to his gloves as he tightened his grip and opened the door, his gun pointed at the opening.
There was a gasp over the wind as Jonathan saw a young girl, around his age. She was wrapped in her coat and a thin blanket and was looking right at him as they met eyes. From the look of her eyes, Jonathan saw the remains of tears. Her beady eyes confirmed her fear and Jonathan was sure that she was shaking from fear and not the cold.
Damn. Jonathan didn't expect anyone to be in it, perhaps a clue to what happened here. But now that he was staring at her with a gun, he was certain that she was terrified.
He lifted the weapon up slowly, letting the weapon rotate along his index finger and raising his other hand up as well. "It's okay. I'm not here to hurt you."
"Who are you?" She didn't move, her eyes only blinking as snowflakes landed close to her face. Jonathan didn't know what to say, not that he didn't know the answer, but didn't know how to react.
"I'm Jonathan. I'm taking part in a Special Forces training program. I stumbled across here and found you. What's your name?" He asked.
She didn't move again, only kept her brown beady eyes locked onto his. "I'm Erika."
"What happened here, Erika? Are you hurt?"
Erika shook her head. "No, I'm fine. Just cold. My parents hit a deer on the road and the car slid down. I thought they were coming for me." She sniffled and Jonathan hoped she wouldn't start crying.
He lowered his hands and holstered the weapon to his side before looking behind him. "Your parents are up there? Are they okay?"
"My mom was knocked out, but my dad got her out. But the car was sliding and I was scared and I didn't know what to do. My dad tried to help..." She started sniffling more and Jonathan watched as the dried tears began to wash away to new ones.
Jonathan was eager for information. "When? How long ago?" But Erika shook her head as she couldn't hold herself anymore and the tears started streaming down.
"I don't know. Maybe ten hours ago?" Jonathan sighed before debating what to do. Part of him wanted to help her, but he wasn't sure if he could. Even if he called for help and utilized the emergency beacon, the storm would be too much for them to try to get them. Jonathan watched Erika cry as she readjusted herself on her blanket and looked at her pile of empty fruit snack wrappers, likely what she was eating to keep her energized. "Can you call for help?" She managed to get through her sniffles.
Jonathan shook his head. "If we did, they wouldn't be able to do anything. I would hope that your parents found help where they were, but no one could get to us with this storm." Erika sat up and crossed her legs as Jonathan continued to think. He watched the gusts of wind and knew that Erika couldn't stay here. Even if he had marked up top with flares, no one would be driving in the weather. He only had one other option, but he didn't like it. "I guess you'll have to come with me. Your parents are smart and they know where you are, but this weather has likely shut down everything. If we get to my extraction point, then we can get you to safety first. Can you walk?" She nodded her head and Jonathan set his backpack down before taking out some additional clothing, a sweater, socks, and an extra pair of gloves before tossing them to her. He quickly moved to the driver's seat and scanned the car remains for anything else, ideally a lighter, paper for fuel, or anything he could use for warmth, but the car was already ruined with dirt, snow, and bloodied glass.
The car shook mildly as Erika hopped out of the trunk, quickly taking off her winter coat and putting on his black turtleneck sweater. Jonathan thought it was an odd thing for him to have with him, likely concealed with his underarmor and clothing and out of his sight, but now it was useful for him to have. As Jonathan stepped out, he could see Erika fully, her short, straight, blonde hair collecting snowflakes as the winter storm continued to bury them both. Her tears stopped flowing down her white cheeks, red from the bitter cold air hitting them. Her eyes were wide and observant, looking at everything and reacting to every noise. Jonathan figured perhaps it was shock that was somehow delayed, but it had disappeared when she took a few steps around the car. She was staring at the descent that the car had fallen down and Jonathan wondered what she was thinking.
"I should be dead..." She spoke aloud, turning to look at him. She was worried, her eyelashes and teenage makeup smeared, but her voice drunk with relief. Jonathan walked toward her and watched as her eyes scanned him, likely looking for the gun he had put away. She had a right to be scared and to not trust him, but Jonathan knew that the same applied to her. Jonathan doubted that this was an elaborate setup by Matt Watson, especially if this was someone his age. But he didn't know her either, or more importantly, how she acted under stress or fear. Jonathan understood that survival was contingent on sanity and simple objectives.
He walked to her side and looked up the steep hill that the car had collapsed down and Erika turned and looked up at the hill with him. "No, death didn't mean to claim you here." He glanced at her to see her eyes back at him so quickly, frozen on him with what Jonathan wasn't sure was fascination or distress. "Before we set out, let's make this clear. I'm setting out to a set points of interest for extraction. You're invited to join, but we have to do so quickly. Once we get to the extraction point, then I can call for help and hopefully get you to your parents. Are you in?"
Erika only blinked before nodding her head.
With that, Jonathan kneeled down and took out the bo staff that he recovered from the drop site and handed it to her before looking at the car and the direction in which it fell. The excitement of finding someone had distracted him from his location, but now, he was able to relocate himself just by his surroundings. Visibility was getting worse as he gauged his location and set off. He waited as Erika slipped her jacket over his sweater and moved behind him. Jonathan debated pulling out his weapon again, but didn't see much use in it if he couldn't see far enough. Jonathan could trace his route by the wind mostly, as its direction was consistent to yesterday's and he remembered the news report. Although all he could see was white and distant trees, Jonathan knew he was in the right direction and would be able to verify it when the heavy parts of the storm passed by.
Jonathan felt something was wrong as he and Erika moved by a few feet from the car when he stopped and turned around. To his surprise, Erika was not with him, but instead, staring at the bloodied, frozen windshield with the tree lodged in the center. Erika was frozen by it, staring at it and not letting the snowflakes force her to blink. Jonathan watched her for a second before walking back to her side and standing in silence with her. The wind howled and the trees whipped and threw pinecones and fragments of branches in the snow below. As the wind began to pick up, Jonathan turned to face a motionless Erika, confused by her dead stare at the ruined, black 2004 Honda Accord. Jonathan couldn't help but guess that she was thinking about the crash and how lucky she was. He couldn't imagine what fear-tainted thoughts were running through her mind, but he was equally lucky that he didn't stumble upon her frozen body.
"I'm sure your parents are fine." He offered to her as he swatted at a snowflake that was too large for him to resist.
She nodded her head. "I'm sure they know how to survive in this weather, but what about me?"
Jonathan smiled to the question. "Maybe you are lucky, after all." Erika spared a fragile smile and Jonathan nudged his head to his right. "Can you run?"
It shows 'and' was used 105 times! Your narration is strung together with all those disconnected bits of action and description. This is FIRST DRAFT when you first wrote your ideas down. Essential to get the story out of your head and onto the screen, but THEN you have to polish and edit.
>>> Maybe a car broke down,
Note that you repeat ' a car broken down' in the next sentence.
>>> As he turned the corner,
The use of 'corner' belongs in a city, not out in nature. Gotta be a better way to say that. (?)
>>> eased over around the corner again
A 'corner' of what? A tree? A big rock?
>>> moving boulders and crushing bushes on its descent down.
You are missing the obvious thought that there must be a highway up above.
>>> examined the passenger door open.
...examined the open passenger door.
>>> as he tightened his grip and opened the door,
We don't call a trunk lid, a 'door'.
...he tightened his grip to open the trunk lid,...
>>> She was wrapped in her coat and a thin blanket and was looking right at him as they met eyes.
First view is incomplete. Hair showing & color? Is she wearing a hat, a hoodie?
He would be aware of a lot of information at this first view. (?) Plus too many 'and's.
Note: >>> ...as their eyes met.
>>> Jonathan didn't know what to say,
New paragraph. Jonathan's action
>>> She started sniffling more and Jonathan watched as the dried tears began to wash away to new ones.
You've stuck a Jonathan action in the middle of an Erika dialogue. I suggest cutting it. We know he's seeing her action.
Also: >>> She started sniffing more as new tears began to wash away the old ones.
>>> Jonathan sighed before debating what to do.
New paragraph. Narration of Jonathan's action cannot be in the same paragraph as Erika's real-time dialogue.
>>> "Can you call for help?" She managed to get through her sniffles.
Must be a new paragraph.
>>> She nodded her head and Jonathan set his backpack down...
See, these two actions do not belong together with an 'and'.
>>> and an extra pair of gloves before tossing them to her.
Feels awkward unless he says something. (?)
>>> He quickly moved to the driver's seat...
New paragraph, new action. Dump the 'and':
...driver's seat to scan the car remains for...
>>> As Jonathan stepped out,
Back out of the driver's seat, he saw...
>>> but it had disappeared when she took a few steps around the car. She was staring at the descent that the car had fallen down and Jonathan wondered what she was thinking.
New paragraph with real-time action:
>>> Erika took a few steps around the car. She stared at the descent the car had fallen down. Then go right on with her dialogue: "I should be dead..." Cut the ellipse.
(Jonathan does not have to wonder, because she tells him.)
>>> She was worried,
POV slip. Plus it's passive. It should be what he sees.
>>> Jonathan walked toward her and watched as her eyes scanned him,
New paragraph, new character action.
>>> Jonathan walked towards her, watching as her eyes scanned him...
Cut the 'and' and combine the two actions. You have to decide if they are part of the same moment, can they can flow together? Otherwise, they are two sentences or even another paragraph.
>>> I'm setting out to a set points of interest
(Note setting and set in the same phrase.)
>>> I intend to move to a set point of interest...
>>> With that, Jonathan kneeled down and took out the bo staff that he recovered from the drop site and handed it to her before looking at the car and the direction in which it fell.
Too many actions in one sentence.
...kneeled = knelt
...bo staff = bpw staff
>>> With that, Jonathan knelt down taking out the bow staff, recovered from the drop site, and handed it to her. Then he looked up at the direction the car had fallen.
>>> ... as he gauged his location and set off. He waited as Erika...
(He didn't set off, because he waited.)
>>> ...as he gauged his location and prepared to set off. He waited as Erika...
pine cones (two words)
>>> "How far?"
I wonder if she means that she is a runner...or not?
FINAL COMMENT: It looks like Jonathan is taking on a huge responsibility. This is a great complication and makes the story much more intriguing.
Nice plotting, Ember. The chapter needs a lot of polishing and lifting it up out of the first draft mode. The story is all there under a network of 'and's.
I'm anxious to see what you do with it.