Thursday, December 04, 2008

New Beginning 581

The bombs had fallen and the planes gone, but the fires they left behind still stretched toward the moon like brilliant orange streamers. The air raid sirens were silent. Instead there were the sounds of ambulances and fire trucks, shouting rescue workers and scraping stone, and a few cries of the injured. London huddled underground. Just another night.

Wilbur Birch stood near what had been the doorway of what had been St. Aubrey's church. The pews were gone; the left apse folded into the ground like a tablecloth slipping over the corner of its table. Bits of stone wall were still dripping into the crater. There had been a church on this site for nearly one thousand years. To the bombs, nothing was sacred.

A slap on the arm roused him. "Nobody's here, mate," said the man who had slapped him: a rough dock worker named Jones. "Houses just over yonder though. No time to waste."

Wilbur watched the dust settle, coating what was left of the woodwork in a film that made it look like it had been abandoned for years.

Better get over there, he thought. He grabbed his case and headed off across the rubble. If Wilbur Birch couldn't sell a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner today, he wasn't worthy of the title Sales Blitz Commander.


Opening: 150.....Continuation: Anon.

15 comments:

Evil Editor said...

If Wilbur knows that the man who slaps him is a rough dock worker named Jones, I would assume he's in familiar territory, and wouldn't need to be told the houses are over yonder. More likely Jones would say, "Better get over to Mulberry Street."

Sarah Laurenson said...

Interesting setup. I'd read more to see where this was going. Lots of London war books out there though and I'd want something about this one to be different and/or intriguing (preferably and).

I tripped on the first sentence with only one 'had' and that put me off stride when reading the rest.

The man slapping him and the part where he is identified as the man who just slapped him is redundant. There's only the two of them in the picture at this point - sides the distant rescuers and victims

Here are my suggestions for a little different feel. I thought about starting with the first line of the second paragraph, then changed my mind since you then describe the church. I had thought it might be nice to have him as an anchor POV for looking at the destruction and the fires, but it's not necessary.

The bombs had fallen and the planes had gone, but the fires they left behind still stretched toward the moon like brilliant orange streamers. The air raid sirens gave way to the sounds of ambulances and fire trucks, shouting rescue workers and scraping stone, and a few cries of the injured. London huddled underground. Just another night.

Wilbur Birch stood near what had been the doorway of what had been St. Aubrey's church. The left apse folded into the ground like a tablecloth slipping over the corner of its table. The pews were gone. Bits of stone wall still dripped into the crater. To the bombs, nothing was sacred.

A slap on the arm roused him. "Nobody's here, mate," said a rough dock worker named Jones. "Houses just over yonder though. No time to waste."

fairyhedgehog said...

I love whole of the first paragraph just as it stands, including the first line. I like the rhythms. I was wondering if I'd read it somewhere before - I think it reminded me of "To Say Nothing of the Dog".

The second paragraph flowed less well for me. I wonder if the repetition of "what had been" might go (unless other people liked it). The tablecloth image didn't work for me.

In the third paragraph I stumbled over the "rough dock worker" and the repetition of "slap".

I don't usually read historical novels, so my comments may be out of place. I'm interested enough to want to read on though.

pulp said...

It's one of the very few New Beginnings I fell into immediately and wanted to read more of.

Well, okay, the tablecloth image didn't feel natural, but it's not bad.

sylvia said...

I'm a little bit confused about what the dock worker is sending Wilbur to do. Are the houses fallen in for rescue work? Or empty and thus good for looting?

Having said that, I'd read on; I liked the sound of it.

Jeb said...

I'm with pulp, even to the tablecloth image.

I completely missed the second 'slap' reference. To suck me in that completely is a rare gift, author.

150 said...

You guys always manage to pull out stuff I'm unsure about. I love the minions. :)

Rather than the tablecloth thing, how does "like a sunken cake" sound?

Or am I just too eager to use a simile there, like a carpenter who wants to use his new hammer when he should be using his old drill? ^._.^

Anonymous said...

I missed the second "had" in the first sentence and wondered what Dave would think. (Use of such is anathema; perhaps he'll be along soon to 'splain it better.)

I really liked London huddled underground. Just another night. (even with the frag)enough to suggest you move it to the beginning of the para. !?

I do know what an apse is, but the term caused me to pause and the simile didn't work for me. If you want to project the image of desecration, I would mention the tabernacle or the altar as I think those terms are more well-known. I would read on.

Meri

BuffySquirrel said...

'Had' is only anathema to Dave. Most other readers like being oriented in time.

Mostly I thought this opening worked well, although there's no great sense of danger or urgency. I agree with Jones--why is Wilbur wasting his time with an empty church when people are probably trapped elsewhere?

"rough dock worker" is the worst sort of telling, though :). Unless it's absolutely vital at this point in the story to have that information, I'd find a better way of working it in--perhaps later. Show us he's rough, don't tell.

BuffySquirrel said...

Mind you, "London huddled underground" is a bit wasted buried down there. Why not open with it?

London huddled underground.
The bombs had fallen and the planes gone, but the fires they left behind still stretched toward the moon like brilliant orange streamers. The air raid sirens were silent. Instead there were the sounds of ambulances and fire trucks, shouting rescue workers and scraping stone, and a few cries of the injured. Just another night.

Jeb said...

Buffy... Sweet!

talpianna said...

"Left apse"? There's only one per church:

a domed or vaulted recess or projection on a building especially the east end of a church; usually contains the altar

I think you probably mean "left side of the apse."

Evil Editor said...

Actually, I think the reference is to the apse hole, though the technical term is the rectum.

150 said...

Rectum? It blew 'em to bits!

talpianna said...

MOM!!! Evil Editor talked dirty in church!!!