Monday, April 16, 2012

New Beginning 938

"Prepare ye the Way of the Righteous for Satan is at Hand," read the sign lying on the far side of no-man's-land. The surveillance cameras surrounding the demon infestation blinked on and off. Two squads of soldiers began calling machine gun posts on the perimeter. Lieutenant Colonel McFaddis listened to the reports.

"Sir, we traced the glitch to one of our own stepping on a frayed wire," a soldier said. He barely got the words out as heavy machine gun fire echoed across no-man's-land. The stench of death, skunk, feces, and shrieking demon's halitosis filled C&C.

"The Hell you did," McFaddis said. He dashed from the tent to see a twelve-foot tall demon in no-man's-land. During the glitch, a demon broke through one barrier and was in the middle of no-man's-land. The lumbering creature had fast enough reflexes to knock the RPGs to the side and its armor-like scales protected it from shrapnel. It roared at C&C and pointed to McFaddis. McFaddis braced his Ruger Tropical rifle against a stanchion and blasted the demon between the eyes with a .458 Lott. It went down like a dead elephant and dissolved into foul, stinking putty.

McFaddis turned to the soldier. "That look like a glitch to you?"

Sweat formed on the soldier's brow, his eyes wide in the dim light. "Sir, I--I was told--"

"Is that the guard who told you?" McFaddis nodded at a guard nearby.

"Yes sir, he said that--"

"Shut up, Simmons." McFaddis took a step forward before unloading the .438 into the guard. The demon dropped like a dead man into a pool of pink slime.

"Sir, how--how did you know?"

"Back to work, soldier," growled McFaddis. He didn't need any inquisitive soldiers getting close. Not tonight. No, if this crazy plan of Helixartnys had any chance at all, the idiot man-apes must never suspect his demonic nature. Better nip this in the cradle.


The soldier turned. Before he could speak, he was almost cut in half by the blast of the Lott.

"Men!" roared McFaddis, "get that traitor's carcass out of my sight!"

One of the men hesitated. "Traitor, sir? Simmons?"

McFaddis lifted the rifle. The apes weren't making this easy.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Khazar-khum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

"Yes!" shrieked Chris. "Die, motherfuckers!"

"What have I said about language, young man?"

Chris turned away from the computer, his huge brown eyes dripping with contrition. "Yes, mother."

"I told you what would happen. And now it is the next time. Go upstairs and get into bed."


"No buts, young man. You were warned."

Defeated, Chris slumped up the stairs, not even pausing to relieve himself before flopping on his bed. "it's not fair," he mumbled into the pillows. "I bet the human kids don't get punished for swearing!"


Evil Editor said...

I find it hard to accept a creature with reflexes so good it can knock rocket-propelled grenades aside also being described as "lumbering."

Do RPGs explode when they hit something? If so, I would expect knocking one to the side to be less effective than getting out of the way.

Am I supposed to be familiar with the term C&C?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Same advice as always, Dave: Cut half your words so we can see the story.

Anonymous said...

Large, big white piles of Cocaine and Coffee...

Huge and sticky Condoms for Crustaceans...

Dave Fragments said...

I find it hard to accept a creature with reflexes so good it can knock rocket-propelled grenades aside also being described as "lumbering."

ooops, I agree. I took out lumbering and rewrote the sentence.

C&C was lazy shorthand for Command and Control. I changed it all through the story.

This story was the cathartic release of anger at a friend who has ranted and raved for three years about the new subway extension in Pittsburgh (my hometown). It does connect "dahntahn" with the sports stadiums and casino and required a monstrous drill to tunnel under the Allegheny River. I wrote the story and shoved it in his face with the request that he quit his complaining. Many naughty words were used in that request and several body parts speculated on...

That being said, I now have to clean up the story and send it off to an anthology or website.

Evil Editor said...

According to Wikipedia, the abbreviation for Command and Control is C2. Also, based on their definition it wouldn't be something that would fill with smells or that a demon would roar at. They define it as either the exercise of authority by a commanding officer or as certain systems withing a military system.

sarahhawthorne said...

There are some timing issues that make the action hard to follow. In the first paragraph you say soldiers "begin" calling but by the second paragraph, they've already sorted out what happened. When McFaddis dashes out of the tent, he sees the demon already in no-man's land, but then in the next sentence the demon uses a glitch to break through to no-man's-land.

For that matter I'm unclear what the "glitch" is since you only mention the cameras malfunctioning. Is there another kind of electronic barrier?

PLaF said...

Why not capitalize “ye” as well in the first sentence?
I’m confused about the sign. “Prepare ye the way of the righteous” means “get out of the way, the righteous are coming.” Because the sign is on the far side, which I take to be the demon side, do the demons think they’re righteous?
Strong? Yes. Terrifying beyond all reason? Yes. Righteous? I don’t buy it.
The location of the Lt. Col. is also confusing. Is he on the perimeter? Inside C & C? No-man’s land?
Ditto for the soldier who talks about the glitch.
What is the glitch?
Though it’s a bit wordy, I like the action and the “demon infestation” premise. I’d skip the skunk. It diffused the tension in the scene and made me laugh.

Dave Fragments said...

Sorry EE, I should have said I completely removed C&C or C2 from the text. My original comment made it sound like I simply replaced the abbreviation with the words.

Sarah, in my mind is a whole set of defense systems which are glorious and deadly in my mind but confusingly mentioned. That's not good, huh? I have to fix that after my trip to the Post Office today. Taxes before writing.

And as for the glitch, I see a bunch of rewriting in paragraphs 1 and 2.

The easy part of this answer is that I will change "glitch" to blinked on and off and fix the description of the no man's land. That makes it easier to understand. Also, I'm fixing McFaddis' location better as I rewrite for Sarah

The harder part is theological. John the Baptist says "Prepare ye the way of the Lord" and that is he language I used. One of those odd people you see wandering the streets with signs and sandwich board warning of the Second Coming. I don't see that wording as wrong in the context of "the end of the world is coming in that Satan is rising from Hell to try one last time to destroy the world before Jesus Christ comes on clouds of glory for the Day of Judgement."
There's more apocalyptic religion in this story than is apparent in this opening. McFaddis is going to end up one of the servants of the fallen angel running this little foray from Hell. That's probably a lousy explanation of what I'm doing later on in the story.

The Author said...

My main thing: Using the term "no man's land" too many times in quick succession.

I know that's what it is, and I don't know what to replace it with. But it's one of those things (and it applies to any overused word) that bothers me in the same way as the lack of pronouns.

"As John walked down the street, John realized that John's shoes were making a sound that frayed John's nerves..."

You get the idea.

Dave Fragments said...

Thanks for all the comments.

BuffySquirrel said...

Why wouldn't demons think they're righteous?

Dave Fragments said...

I agree.

My demon is still the Tempter. He offers a deal for McFaddis' soul and McFaddis doesn't even see it as temptation. He falls.

Milton's Lucifer is certainly convinced that he is right and is behaving wisely in his rebellion. Go read his monologue that begins "Is this the season? This the clime?" and climaxes with "Tis better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." There is no cower or self-doubt in him.

Go read Taylor Caldwell's "Dialogues with the Devil" to see the brothers Michael and Lucifer discuss the fate of mankind. Caldwell treats them as equals -- one brother damned to hell and the other brother a defender of the faithful. Both feel they are righteous.

And I hope that readers realize that the concept of "Lucifer" the fallen is somewhat the kin of the Greek Prometheus , bringer of light and knowledge to mankind and for that crime sentenced to death, day after day. Now that might be blasphemous if I really believed all it implied (I don't), but in literary terms, quite the backdrop and the stage for drama. It's an interesting comparison in that Prometheus is thought nobel and Lucifer is thought evil.

Sorry for the repost but something went very wrong in the first version...

PLaF said...

Buffy: Ha! Great question! I've pondered the implications all morning!
Do demons think they're righteous? Vengeful, powerful, destructive - but is righteousness
their underlying motive? I might be tempted to read something that explores that possibility. Might even be tempted to write it.
I'm still not sure I'd use "righteous" in the opening line because it confused me more than hooked me.
If the Lt. Col ponders the question after reading the sign, I would be tempted to read further.
Thanks for the paradigm shift!