Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Beginning 799

Summoned by email, I attended. Tim the Tinker's studio had that smell one finds in anterooms of hell. The sulfurous vapors, the sweaty stench of smelted metal, the pungent smoke of undying coals, the doorbell that chimed the Anvil Chorus and the phone that rang the Descent to Nibelheim from Das Rheingold. I should have demanded trumpets announcing the path to Valhalla, the Rainbow bridge that leads into the skies above.

The big man stood at the anvil, back to me, bare to the waist except for his leather apron, his muscled back and heavy triceps flexing with each stroke of the hammer.

"Don't look. You'll spoil the surprise." He spoke over his shoulder and returned the metal to the fire, waited a few seconds and struck it again. I picked up a longsword with a fine double fuller blade and gave it a few swings. I always tested Tim's swords.

"It's not like I haven't seen you beating off before," I said, annoyed at his back.

He opened his mouth, but all I heard was "Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann!" from Wozzeck. It was his cell phone this time, with a ringtone that stunk even worse than Das Rheingold.

After listening a moment he cried, "What? Your tiny hand is frozen?" Covering the phone with his hand he whispered to me, "A single secret tear from her eye did spring." Back to his caller he went on, "Sweet name, you who made my heart... yes, yes, sweet daughter of love... one fine day we will see... now farewell, without resentment." He closed the phone and grinned at me. "Women are fickle!"

I swung the sword and lopped off his head. He should have known by now that if there's anything I can't stand, it's opera in English.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Paul Penna


Evil Editor said...

P1: The phrasing of the last sentence could be interpreted to mean that Valhalla is the rainbow bridge. Thus you might change it to: ...heralding the rainbow bridge that leads into Valhalla.

Also, I don't get "I should have demanded..." "I half expected..." would make more sense to me.

Why undying coals instead of dying coals? These coals don't die?

Somehow the email reference seems out of place with the scene, as does the last sentence, but apparently that's the point.

Anonymous said...

A little heavy on the detail in that first paragraph. I'd take out one or two of those images.

Angela Robbins said...

this was strange and weird, in a way i liked. when i saw the author i was not surprised!
i like the anachronism of the email and the blacksmith references. makes me think this is a deliberate flavor of the story.
and since I'm immature like a 13 year-old boy, the beating off part made me laugh.

word verification:

prebrat, a synonym for tween or pre-adolescent

vkw said...

"attended" to me, implies an event rather than a meeting of two. Perhaps more people are going to show up, but if not, I would change it to "went".

"sweaty stench", I would change that. It's a bit too much. Stench is fine.

EE is right about the rainbow bridge. I knew what you meant but other readers may not get the reference.

the 2nd P is long; you may want to consider two sentences.

the 3rd P. May I suggest, "Don't look. You'll spoil the surprise," he said over his shoulder. He continued striking the metal. Annoyed, I picked up a longsword with a double fuller blade and gave it a few practice swings. I always tested Tim's swords.
. . . .

It needs some trimming "double fuller blade" is just as good as "fine double fuller blade."

I was put off by the first paragraph because I found it ostentatious. If I am in a middle of a book and an author throws in lines about Anvil Chorus and Descent to Nibelheim Das Rheingold, (meaning I have to either guess at the meaning or stop and google,) then I will do it. If, on the other hand, I have to google an author's first few lines then I find another book. Clearly, I am not educated enough for your novel.

I did fine the paragraphs interesting enough to continue, but if there was much more of the "showy" language, me and the book would part ways. I read novels for entertainment, not to be intellectually challenged.

Anonymous said...

For a beginning, there are too many cultural references that are out of place. I don't know why they play Wagner in Hell, or why this unnamed creature wants trumpets announcing the path to Valhalla, which in my understanding isn't part of Hell. I don't know why a blacksmith is called Tim the Tinker because you'd think he'd be called Tim the Blacksmith, wouldn't you, and tinkers are pot-menders, not swordsmiths.

All this confusion right at the start would put me off the book. But if this were in the middle, and I already had a frame of reference and understood who these people were, I'd be OK with the writing. The undying coals were a nice touch.

Ellie said...

I agree with arhooley that the first paragraph is a little too laden with description. It feels like a bit of a slog by the end. Especially since the second paragraph offers nothing but description, no action.

The rest of it was quite nice and I would definitely read on.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I like the anachronism of email with the blacksmith forge, but I'm not sure the first sentence is the best place to put it.

Why not cut that first sentence, start with the description, and then have your narrator say something along the lines of "Hey, Tim. Got your email."

It's putting the punchline at the end of the joke instead of the beginning.

Dave F. said...

Thanks for the comments. I just got home and this being posted is a pleasant surprise.

I should say that this is a 1011 word short story (horror) about a Christmas Gift that (shall we say) keeps on giving. There isn't much more to the story than that. It's why I made it so vivid and why I pushed it.

EE,-- I need "skies above" because this guy ends up working in outerspace at the end of the story.
-- I agree with "half expected".
-- Undying is another matter. Embers die. The fires of hell are undying (quote: ...fed With ever-burning Sulphur unconsum'd ...). The narrator is ungrateful and pissed off. He's annoyed to start and he's bitching about being summoned in a very passive/aggressive way.

Yes, I really threw the reader into the middle of the story.

-- I want "attended" because it implies that the speaker didn't want to go to Tim's place. It is his birthday and its December when your cheapskate friends and relatives skip your birthday and get you one gift. He doesn't want to go hang out with Tim. He wants to be alone in his private pity party.
-- I have to think about paragraph three.
-- Double-fuller is a type of blade and it should have been hyphenated to indicate that. Sorry, my bad.

-- In Wagner's world of THE RING. Nibelheim is hell. Sort of.
In addition, like I said to EE, something happens that sends the main character into outerspace. I'm playing with perceptions. When the blacksmith turns and presents a one-of-a-kind, very unique gift to the main character, the character feels like poo-poo warmed over. Tha makes the reader look at the narrator as a jerk and Tim as a nice guy. Of course Tim isn't. He's tricked the narrator.

And I'm not cutting anything out because there are only 1011 words.

Please don't feel bad about that because I will tell you all where you can read this story before Christmas. It's been accepted. Your comments do matter to me because regardless of if I change the story or not, I get to think about what you say and that always improves writing.

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate them.

_*rachel*_ said...

You might separate the second paragraph into two sentences; I was trying to read it as a list.

Did you mean that last line to have Freudan overtones?

Dave F. said...

I thought about
"It's not like I haven't seen you beating off before,"
for a long time. I finally decided that I wanted the narrator to say something that sounded childish. Again, when the Tim the Blacksmith turns to face the narrator, he is holding a gift and saying Happy Birthday which is not expected. Yes, Freudian.

Paul, I forgot earlier:
I can sing (or hum) all of those lines from Opera. Great continuation.

Dave F. said...

This story was accepted by an anthology titled "Christmas Fear - Spooky Stories for the Holidays." It will be posted for sale at in a few days or so. I'll keep checking and post on my blog when it appears.

I apologize. It went to print so fast that I couldn't make any of your fine changes. I got the acceptance, signed the contract and poof, it was at the printer.

5th November 2010