Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Beginning 815

March 9, 1916

“Well,” says the Devil, “I haven't seen them in ages, you know.”

You shift in your seat, uncomfortable. At your wrist sits an untouched glass of gin and tonic, a napkin topped with haphazard silverware rearranged by the movement of your hand. A white tablecloth that you suspect may actually be yellow, and cleverly hiding it. And across from you sits a gentleman who reclines in his chair with the ease of a snake.

You bite your lip. “That isn't to say—but you still remember the story, don't you?”

“But of course,” he says, lifting a gracious eyebrow.

There is a locket at his breast, an oddly feminine thing for a man of his beauty to be wearing. Small and ovular. The sort of thing that would hold a miniature of a beloved nephew—not too precious, not too invaluable, but somewhere in between, something vaguely intimate. There is a warning glow about its dull brassy tarnish that tells you that you don't want to know what is inside.

You shift your eyes away, to the silverware at his wrist. Carefully, you swallow. In the scratched reflection, his eyes are a thick, solid, swirling golden yellow. No pupil to speak of. Only brass.

He coughs politely in his throat. You rip your eyes back up to his face.

“You know what I am,” he says, business like, folding his long fingered hands atop the table. “You know what I have to tell you. Therefore it should follow that you know what I require in return.”

"Oh, I know what you are," you say, and repelled by his evil arrogance you grab the plate of curled butter at your wrist and you throw it at him and his eyes widen as the churned milk melts and covers his skin and his flesh begins to burn, and now you have vanquished him, because since your childhood you have been taught what to do in such a circumstance: Butter the Devil you know.

Opening: Askance.....Continuation: anon


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

You know that you will agree to his terms. And he knows that you know.

"Very well," you tell him, your eyes drawn back to his perfect manicure.

"To defeat Pancho Villa, you must build huge warehouses and fill them with tools and building materials. His men will be drawn to these strongholdings from where you can gather them up and enslave them."

"It will be done," you say, and find you are assuring yourself as much as you are him. "And your price..."

"You will send your people to these places, and what they receive there will have instuction so obtuse that their profanity will drive them to my arms. But they must never know of our agreement. You will call these places Home Depot."


Evil Editor said...

"...who reclines in his chair with the ease of a snake" doesn't work for me, but only because I have no idea with how much ease a snake would recline in a chair.

" oddly feminine thing for a man of his beauty to be wearing." This implies that the type of man who would wear a feminine locket is a man who isn't beautiful. I'd remove "of his beauty."

"...not too precious, not too invaluable, but somewhere in between," There's not much in between, as "invaluable" means pretty much the same as "valuable." I assume you mean, not quite precious, not exactly worthless.

"businesslike" is one word.

I'm not sure we shouldn't enter this conversation a bit earlier so we aren't in the dark so long about what they're talking about, specifically, what or who "them" is in the Devil's first comment.

Anonymous said...

This opening worked great for me. I like the starting without telling us anything. Sure, it leaves us in the dark, but I was very interested to read on.

The word "beautiful" implies more feminine in my opinion, so I was a little confused when the author said that it was surprising for the devil to be wearing a locket after saying he was beautiful.

Otherwise, really great opening!

Askance said...

Thank you for the feedback, EE and others. I really appreciate it. :)

And I laughed SO HARD when I read this. Awesome job, Anon~

Dave Fragments said...

I read this earlier and then had to do house chores. On coming back to it, I discovered my unease. This is second person. This works and good luck. Second person is hard to do well. Good start.

You don't have to over-describe the devil. He goes over the top all by himself.

batgirl said...

I also stumbled over the image of a snake reclining in a chair, and the locket not being for a beautiful man. The to-and-fro over the value of the locket went on a bit more than necessary, and 'ripping your eyes' was a jarring metaphor - I wasn't sure whether it might be literal, given that this was the devil.
Other than those minor points, I found this an intriguing and well-written opening. Good work!

none said...

Damn those feminines, they get everywhere.

Anonymous said...

I thought the quality of writing here was better than we've seen in a long time. Only nit-the beauty reference. Nice flow, nice imagery, it reads like you know what you're doing.

Stick and Move said...

I found the same issues with some of the imagery that others mentioned; like you're trying just a tad to hard to be clever.

I'd keep reading to see if the writer finds a groove; I don't know that I could read an entire novel from a second person POV, but I don't know how long it goes on in that POV, so I'd read until it didn't work for me anymore.