Wednesday, March 02, 2011

New Beginning 838

He hid among a cleft in the shoreline, a restive shadow in the blackness. An outsider often made an outcast, this night he exacted retribution.

Three partially sunken ships blocked the narrow channel opposite, the funnels and decks eerily illuminated beneath the shifting colored streaks of an intermittent aurora. The closest ship angled forward and opened a gap just wide and deep enough at high water for a u-boat to enter, a u-boat he would guide. Past the block ships the channel opened into the broad depths of Scapa Flow, the hallowed North Sea anchorage of the Royal Navy.

He did not think himself an enemy and cared nothing about the new war with Hitler, no matter what others believed. But some betrayals required an answer and he responded in kind, the only way he knew.

An oilskin sack at his feet held a few possessions but he decided no reminders and buried the skin in a shallow space scraped barehanded among the rocks. Afterward he took a small bite from a cloth wrapped piece of dried currant cake, his wife’s favorite, briefly alive in the joy and pain of her memory.

The disembodied low churn of diesels wafted on the breeze and two flickers of light signaled across the water. He replied with a covered lantern and approached his skiff at the water’s edge.

A lorry noisily downshifted into a turn on the coast road behind and he froze, plainly illuminated in the sweep of the vehicle’s headlights. The lorry gained speed toward a nearby hamlet and he feared the driver noted his presence and would warn harbor defenders before the u-boat navigated the channel.

Panic and uncertainty clutched his throat but he refused to turn back, clambered into the skiff and pushed away from the safety of the shore toward a fateful rendezvous and the next, last portion of his life.

"I can do this," he thought, his mind racing like an irrationally out of control steam train, "because that's how I roll, because I have one speed, one gear. ... I'm different. I have a different constitution, I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man, and Adonis DNA. Dying's for fools, dying's for amateurs, I'm too smart for that. It's perfect. It's awesome. Every day is just filled with just wins. All we do is put wins in the record books. We win so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it's scary. People say it's lonely at the top, but I sure like the--"

* * *


"Cut!" Spielberg threw down his cans. "Goddammit! Somebody give Hanks another call. I knew this would be a huge mistake."


Opening: Gunther Prien.....Continuation: Anon.

11 comments:

Evil Editor said...

P1. "Within," not "among."

I'd go with "would exact" to avoid confusion.

P2. Change "the funnels" to "their funnels."

P3. Get rid of "and he responded in kind, the only way he knew."

P4. Hyphenate cloth-wrapped.

P5. Not crazy about "disembodied."

P6. I'd cut the last sentence to:

The lorry gained speed toward a nearby hamlet; he feared the driver had seen him and would warn harbor defenders.

P7. I'd cut this to:

Panic and uncertainty clutching his throat, he clambered into the skiff and pushed away from the shore toward the next, last portion of his life.

Anonymous said...

Nice writing, but perhaps a little too much...?

Angela Robbins said...

I thought the writing was good and kept me engaged.
The Sheen continuation was fricking fantastic, too!

Dave Fragments said...

My only comment is why is the man's name never revealed?

alaskaravenclaw said...

Way too much description for an opening. Cut 3/4 of it and you're there.

Ink and Pixel Club said...

I think this opening is trying too hard to be mysterious. If the character's name is not a big secret, just use it. Since he's the only person around at the moment and we're seeing the scene from his point of view, it's kind of distancing not knowing his name. You don't have to explain the exact nature of the betrayal right away, but don't go out of your way to write around it either.

"An outsider often made an outcast" seems overdramatic and doesn't help me understand who this guy is, at least so far as the opening goes. It's telling us about him rather than showing. If it's important, find a more natural way to let us know about his place in society.

"He did not think himself an enemy" Maybe "enemy"should be "traitor"? I had to read this over again to figure out why the character might have reason to think of himself as "an enemy."

No reminders of what? It's help to know, especially since the next sentence has him doing something that clearly reminds him of something specific, so it wouldn't make much sense if he buried his possessions to avoid being reminded of his past and then did something he almost certainly knew would remind him of it.

I feel like the current cake reminding him of his wife should be a bigger moment. It's obvious that his wife is dead and I'm going to guess that her death has something to do with why he's seeking retribution, so there's no need to be mysterious about it. If he feels like the memory makes him, briefly alive," what he's thinking and experiencing should be described fully, not summarized in one sentence.

I like a lot of the imagery here, though some of the prose is a bit overwrought. Consider going beyond just sight and sound to fill out the scene. Is it cold? Damp? What does that dried currant cake taste like?

vkw said...

The continuation was perfect. My warning to the author is that the continuation worked.

Don't get me wrong, it was good, interesting but it didn't get me hooked. There is no meat to it. I'm skimming to the end trying to get to the point of the story - substance.

Cut some of the description and tell the readers what is going on.

smcc said...

The original is rather purple, but a good ruthless trim will do wonders for it.

The continuation is a bases-loaded home run during game seven of a Mets-Yankees World Series. Beautiful.

Sarah said...

Fantastic continuation!

Author, I think this could be good but it's rather over-wordy right now. One thing that might help - I notice you keep stopping the action to spell out your character's inner thoughts and feelings. It's slowing down what ought to be a suspenseful action scene to a crawl, and feels a bit overexplained.

Can one hide "among" a cleft? Wouldn't you hide "in" it?

It's a bit odd that he decides "no reminders" and then eats some cake that reminds him of his wife.

That said, I'm okay with leaving him anonymous for now. I didn't even notice it as I was reading.

A suggestion for your revision:


The oilskin sack held a few possessions but he had decided: no reminders. He buried the skin in a shallow space where he hid among the rocks of the shoreline.

Three partially sunken ships blocked the narrow channel opposite, the funnels and decks eerily illuminated beneath the intermittent aurora. The closest ship angled forward and opened a gap just wide and deep enough for a u-boat to enter. A u-boat he would guide. Past the block ships the channel opened into the broad depths of Scapa Flow, the North Sea anchorage of the Royal Navy.

He did not think himself an enemy and cared nothing about the new war with Hitler, no matter what others believed. But some betrayals required an answer and he responded in kind, the only way he knew.

Two flickers of light signaled across the water. He replied with a covered lantern and approached his skiff at the water’s edge.

A lorry noisily downshifted into a turn on the coast road behind and he froze, briefly illuminated in the sweep of the vehicle’s headlights. The lorry gained speed toward a nearby hamlet.

Panic clutched at his throat as he imagined the driver warning the harbor defenders of his presence. But he couldn't turn back. He clambered into the skiff and pushed away toward a fateful rendezvous and the next, last portion of his life.

BuffySquirrel said...

U-boat not u-boat.

There doesn't seem much wrong with this, except that it isn't emotionally engaging.

batgirl said...

Some of the word usages struck me as awkward - is 'restive' really the word wanted, for instance?
Has potential, but definitely needs trimming.