Friday, March 28, 2008

New Beginning 474

She raised her head from her forearm in a slow arc, screening her barely open eyes both with the fall of her hair and the shadows across her face from the dying fire. The slight movement allowed a cold draft into the warm sleeping bag and helped to jolt her to full awareness. She breathed slowly, shallowly, thinking I’m Still Sleeping thoughts and hoping the thing stalking her campsite was fooled, even as her fingers shifted to close about the grip of the pistol. It was just a small noise, but a chilling one nonetheless. Something from out of nightmares. Something she’d hoped never to hear again.

It came again, the slow scrape of a clawed foot, something like fingernails on chalkboard crossed with the whine of a rusty hinge. A noise you didn’t forget. An image you didn’t forget. Iron claws on granite, a creature that should have been impossible… They weren’t supposed to be able to follow her here.

But one had. Now, the question was what to do about it before the graindall decided to attack.

But the graindall that had decided to follow her, the graindall that would soon decide to attack, had another thing coming.

Because iron claws on granite might be one frightening sound, but the screams of animal fury welling up and about to explode from she who had just returned from the land of Still Sleeping made the fingernails on chalkboard granite-walking sound of the graindall seem like a sonic vacation destination.

There would be some scraping sounds this night. Yes. And they would be chilling. But they’d be coming from the sleepy psycho bitch who had just started her period and who was, this night, looking for something on which to release her wrath.

That testosterone-loaded graindall was soon to be . . . fucking toast.

Opening: Writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: Robin S.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

I know her other inner voice said. Nailclippers!


Even as she sat up, covering the pistol with a fold of the sleeping bag and the bend of her elbow, she realised it was too late. The attack had begun.

Slowly, at first, quietly, with only a hint of what was to come. She covered her ears with her hands, feeling the cold weight of the barrel against her skin. If only she'd remembered to pack ear plugs.

The graindall warbled deep in its throat, then began to sing "Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool". Perfectly in tune. Perfectly in time.

The horror.



"Jesus Fu--!" Eric fell to the ground as pain exploded through his kneecap. Not again! He thought he'd made enough noise this time not to be mistaken for a bear or something. Being a campsite guard was no job for someone like him. Especially in Texas, where even the Girl Scouts pack heat.


She lifted her fingers, shifting her grip from the pistol to the book that was warmed by her body and the sleeping bag. He had found her, in spite of her many precautions. Her plan formed slowly, quietly in a mind that was aware of the injustice.

The iron claws scratched, drawing closer. In an instant, the book sailed through a slow arc, striking the graindall between the eyes.

"You didn't pick my continuation for Novel Variations Three," she screeched. "You begged for my posts, you bastard, and this is the thanks I get."


She reached into her backpack and pulled out a frilly pink make-up bag. No way in hell was she going to be discovered the following morning with her entrails wrapped round a tree, looking like shit...


Evil Editor said...

screening her barely open eyes both with the fall of her hair and the shadows across her face from the dying fire.

I don't see that she's screening her eyes with the shadows from the fire. Shadows would be caused by something solid between her and the fire. Also, screening suggests intentionally doing it, yet the fall of her hair seems more coincidental. If she's tring to block the fire's light, she might screen her eyes with her arm.

I'd delete "from" from the next to last sentence.

It was just a small noise

One could assume this refers to her fingers gripping the pistol.

If you're going to say the sound was "something like..." I'd just go with the rusty hinge. Using two sounds seems more like you're trying to be precise. And nails on a chalkboard is overdone.

Whether you want to use "something like" when you've used "something in each of the last two sentences I don't know.

The "image" you don't forget--is this something she sees? Has she seen it yet?

Possibly you can do without "about it."

Bernita said...

The continuations are my-God-brilliant.
Found her waking movements in the first sentence mildly confusing, and don't think you need the chalk/hinge similes.
They distract and are somewhat cliche anyway.

writtenwyrdd said...

Ouch! Duly and deservedly thrashed! Those continuations are hilarious.

I'd love to make noises about how I didn't look at this at all before submitting it; but in fact I did look at the thing, albeit briefly, and thus have no excuse for the cliches, extra verbiage and visual/aural confusion.

EB said...

I like the imagery of the opening, but it's a bit over-written. Like EE, I'd simplify a bit: lose the shadows but keep the fall of hair; pick one sound not two (I like the hinge personally). I, too, thought 'small noise' referred to her gripping the pistol, particularly because you then paint an aural picture -- which seems at odds with a small noise.

'I'm still sleeping thoughts' is a bit vague particularly in light of your other details. I got hung up on pondering the phrase. Aren't sleeping thoughts dreams? Or is this like trying to see what you look like with your eyes closed? I digress...

I have absolutely no idea what a graindall is, but I'm intrigued by the suspense you've created in the opening so I'd read on.

Whirlochre said...

This has a lot of potential - but the creepiness is acreep with too many images.

If this was ever made into a talking book, I'd hate to be the sound effects guy who had to come up with the noise you describe. Is it foot? Fingernail? Hinge? Or iron claw?

So - pare back the duplicates and save mention of fingernails for the Graindall's arrival in the flesh.

Wes said...

Dang, Robin. Seems like you've been listening to Dolly Parton's "PMS Blues".

Robin S. said...


I haven't heard that song, but I have been female for a while now. Heh Heh.

Bernita said...

Meant to add that "iron claws on granite" is a lovely line.

Anonymous said...

I too was confused by the excessive descriptors. I'll bet your re-write will have the tension and suspense you've attempted here. I hope to have the chance to read again. Didn't we discuss ellipses? ? ? Maybe the noise description could be inserted earlier (into para 1) and then repeated in para 2? Based on what's here, I'm thinking a graindall is like a BigFoot? Not my kind of story, but with if the suspense factor is made stronger I might read more.


writtenwyrdd said...

I tossed this into the ring when EE had no continuations. It's really the idea for a story and there literally is no more written than you see here. But the concept is Beowulf meets a kick-ass woman. Probably a paranormal romance or urban fantasy.

Whirlochre said...

No. It's no good. I can't sleep.

I keep thinking about Jimmy Osmond and Dolly Parton knocking out a duet.

Now I'm up, though, it seems to me that this has mileage beyond an EE continuation salvage plan.

Stacy said...

Robin, love, you nailed it. Great continuation!

I really liked this. I do think it needs some editing, though. A full paragraph on her waking up is maybe too much.

Stacy said...

Oh, I definitely think you have something there, writtenwyrdd.

Anonymous said...

"The slight movement allowed a cold draft into the warm sleeping bag and helped to jolt her to full awareness. She breathed slowly, shallowly, thinking I’m Still Sleeping thoughts and ..."

These two sentences seem to contradict each other. Is she jolted into full awareness or still half asleep? I was suspicious after that point so I wasn't buying the sound description in the next para. I wanted to argue that fingernails on a chalkboard sound nothing like a rusty hinge. Maybe that's just me but, like the other commenters mention, I'd pick one or the other. Then you broke into second person telling me I wouldn't forget the image you couldn't convince me I was seeing in the first place. Jesus, I sound bitchy tonight. Sorry, it's probably just me. It's been a long week.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention... I loved the continuation, Robin. Totally fucking hilarious. Perfect, even.

Anonymous said...

Nice one, Robin. But... Fucking toast? Man, that's gotta chafe.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Ah. Beowulf = Grendel = graindall.

The still asleep thoughts line threw me because I jumped to thinking the creature was psi and could read thoughts.

A bit over-described, but the right place to start :o)

Wow, Robin, you're on a roll, aren't you?!

McKoala said...

I thought this was sinister, but a bit busy at times.

Never wake up Robin. Note to self.

Brenda said...

I really, really like this. I'm currently reading a rare paranormal by Gena Showater (I don't tend to read paranormals, but love hers) and this pulled me right in. Some tightening up and you'd be golden. The tension is definitely there, and it's a great action scene to open with.

Robin - you rock. That was damn near *magical*.

Robin S. said...

Et tu, iago?

Have you been mind-melding with HRH?

talpianna said...

Phoenix said: Wow, Robin, you're on a roll, aren't you?!

No, I think it's more of a sesame seed bun...