Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Beginning 711

Vikram Shankar squinted down the long metal barrel. Framed squarely in the sight, not two hundred feet away, the big cat sat on its haunches, its lower jaw drooping, exposed ribs rippling under a creamy mat of chocolate-striped fur.

A sweet shot.

Vikram’s right finger closed over the trigger. He inhaled slowly, deliberately. Too seasoned a hunter to let the thrill overcome judgment, he took his time, savoring the anticipation.

The nasal whounk-ing of a snow goose flying overhead pricked the cat’s ears, and the heavy-set head swung toward the sound. With pounding heart, Vikram exhaled.

The sight bead wavered. He glanced down, and realized his left arm had begun to tremble.

Shit. Not now.

He willed his arm still, but it jerked -- wide -- then jerked again. The barrel danced in front of him.

Something -- whether the movement or some slight sound Vikram made -- drew the cat’s attention. It rolled into a crouch, facing Vikram’s blind. Sunlight bouncing off the snow caught its blue eyes and they glistened like tanzanite as it peered into the camouflage.

He held his breath. The cat's eyes narrowed: it seemed almost to smile as its gaze met with Vikram's. He couldn't take the shot, and his prey knew it.

Still crouching, the cat took a dump on Vikram's roses, hissed toward the blind, then turned and hopped back over the fence when it heard old Mrs. Lancry calling its name.


Opening: anon.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

"Here Pooky, here Pooky, come to mamma you naughty cat."

Shit. Damn it.

The blue-haired woman came out of nowhere and swept the Tabby up in her sinew, gnarled hands. Another bird flew by, uncaring about my ruined hunt.


I guess I'm going to have to go back to hunting man again. Not nearly as much fun but hey it is what it is.

--Vivian Whetham

Mother (Re)produces. said...

I don't know what kind of feeling you're trying to invoke, but your description of the big cat:

"creamy mat of chocolate-striped fur"

has me reaching for the chocolate mousse.

Blogless Troll said...

I like this, especially if the cat's a genetically engineered saber-tooth tiger in North Dakota. My only nit is why doesn't Vikram have a scope?

Jodi Ralston said...

Love the continuation.

Interesting snippet. Well paced and you painted a nice picture throughout except for one niggly bit (about the exposed ribs--couldn't picture what you were getting at). However, I am definitely not your audience. I'm not against hunting, but I can't feel the tension over a guy who wants to kill an animal for fun but can't kill it because his arm is trembling. I just can't get into the hunter mindset to enjoy this unless the stakes were higher--such as, it was a man-eating cat or it was his source of food or it was eating his lifestock.


Chris Eldin said...

Not a book I would read, but I thought this was very well-written.

Bernita said...

Good job.

Dave Fragments said...

I didn't think that Vikram was nervous, I took the shakiness as some physical or nervous problem.

On the one hand, I think it's a little fat. On the other hand, I think drops the focus from Vikram to the cat. For instance exposed ribs rippling under a creamy mat of chocolate-striped fur -- lean, mean and hungry but wouldn't it work better to make that Vikram's observation? Not os much a sweet shot as a first-class trophy.

And possibly just rearrange the thrid paragraph: Too seasoned a hunter to let the thrill overcome judgment, he took his time, savoring the anticipation. Vikram’s right finger closed over the trigger.

And in the next paragraph maybe rather than "and the heavy-set head" use "distracting the cat" instead.

And as someone who suffers with involuntary movements, the profanity "shit" or worse, serves to release the tension that the involuntary movement sets up and stop the muscle from shaking. You are describing one of two things: either deep concentration that gets the muscle back under control, or the sudden release of adrenalin that screaming vulgarities releases and that adrenalin stops the spasm.

It's like the cold water of a diver's reaction to stop a racing heartbeat. When you say he wills his arm still, what is happening in reality is that he is breaking some physical/mental pattern that feeds the shaking and that will stop the tremor.

There's really nothing wrong. As it is, it keeps my attention. But I have a sparse writing style and I see some fat.

And just for the record, I don't hunt (never enjoyed being cold that much) but I can see the reason for hunting when the deer eat everything in my yard from day lilies to hedges to buds to vegetables and sometimes bark. They are ravenous beasts but then, so am I without food.

_*rachel*_ said...

I'm not sure about this. I can't see anything bad; I'm just not sure whether or not I like it.

I'd reword the chocolate part.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Fun contins!

Thanks, all. I've edited this bit a couple of times and am still not completely happy with it.

EE: No commentary from you? *pout*

Chris: Not a book I would read
But I was going to enlist you as a beta reader! You owe me...

Jodi: For the record, I'm anti-hunting, too. I think I've tried so hard to strike a balance to not come down either way in this story, I may have erred on the wrong side :o)

BT: It's just a plain-vanilla white tiger, not one of the toothy guys. They don't show up till the middle of the book. Re: scope -- I almost gave him a scope, then decided since he knew he would be pretty close to the tiger, he would go the more basic, traditional route.

Bernita: It's great to see you back to blogging and commenting. *Hugs*

Dave: I really like your observations on the involuntary muscle movements. Thanks!

Evil Editor said...

Vikram Shankar Anagram: Mr. Ravi Shankar.

Well written. Is there a reason you don't ever call the cat a tiger?

I assumed the guy was in the early stages of Parkinson's.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Ah, you've discovered the secret, anagram-atical, da Vinci-less coded message already. Curse your Holmesian powers of deduction, EE...

Hmm. Yes, you and the neighborhood kitty contins do point out nicely that actually calling it a tiger might be helpful. I do two paras later, but no reason not to clue the reader in sooner. I love you guys.

Vikram has hunted here before and has, unbeknownst to him, that pesky prion disease. The tiger does, too (hence the drooping jaw, which is hopefully that Sixth Sense, aha detail moment on a reread).

And MR and Rachel both pointed me to the yummy juxtaposition of "creamy", "chocolate" and "sweet", making Tasty Tiger the newest flavor in the Ben & Jerry's line.

Blogless Troll said...

A big game hunter would probably refer to the tiger he's hunting as a cat, especially if it's interior monologue stuff. But he'd also have a scope, no matter what. I'm sure there are people who hunt big game without a scope on their rifle, but it's the exception. If it's a major/minor point down the line that he doesn't have a scope then cool, but if it's just a detail it sounds off.

Evil Editor said...

Oh yeah? And would he also refer to a wolf as a dog and a Allosaurus as a bird? If a lion and a leopard are both charging at you and your fellow hunter, would he say, "You shoot the cat, I'll shoot the cat."?

Blogless Troll said...

I don't know.

Jodi Ralston said...

Phoenix: I got to thinking about it, and I think my comment came from the fact that he seemed to get joy from the actual killing, not the hunting (i.e., stalking, pursuing, tracking, etc). I'm more apt to go along for the ride with a fictional hunter, if it didn't seem like his main joy came from the killing--not hunting--of an animal for fun.


none said...

The problem for me is I'm glad your hunter can't shoot the cat, regardless of the reason. That doesn't build reader engagement with the protagonist.

Chris Eldin said...

Phoenix, you *are* the devil in disguise. I DO want to be a beta! I am begging you!! Publicly!! (Okay, well, a bit hidden in the comments, but still...)