I haven't posted anything on here for a while now, but the comments I got on my last post were very helpful so I've returned. This isn't a final draft or even a full story, just some random messing around. Let me know what you think and any ideas for improvement.
Thanks so much for your time =]
Far below the cities’ twisted spires and crumbling heights lay a girl. Wretched, she lay in the gutter, her matted hair hung across her face undulating with each shallow breath. She slept, barely evading the ever beckoning death waiting behind her subconscious. Little did she know that at this very moment the whole city, no, the whole world was desperately searching for her. However, fear had kept them from checking the darkest and most secluded corner of their world: the city of Furor.
Crow, as they call her, awoke. She climbed out of her gutter and ventured into the city. The morning cries set her pace- not the dutiful sermons heard in the east, but the ever present moaning of those who had regretfully awoken to another day. As she had done every morning for as long a she could remember, she waited in line at the mission for her morning porridge. But as she approached the building, her heart sank. The doors were shut and a panicked mob was starting to form. Their cries us despair hung in the air, unanswered.
“How will I feed my family?”
“If you wont feed me, please, at least feed my children!”
“This city is dead! Where can we go?”
A deafening screech shattered the air, and the mob scattered. The screech dulled to a low crackle and booming voice spoke,
“Citizens of Furor, I am speaking to you over the emergency intercom system. If you haven’t recognized my voice, this is the mayor speaking. There has been another outbreak of Madness. This time it’s in the second quarter. The infected have broken out so I highly advise those who cannot fight to either barricade themselves indoors or evacuate to the first quarter. There will be safe houses available for each class. Please remember to give precedence to half-bloods. Thank you and may the holy Pax be with you.”
The citizens were dumbstruck. They stood silent and still, dreading the future. A future which all of them heard of, but none had seen. They trembled, as their minds filled with ancestor’s ghosts. The last outbreak had completely wiped out the city and the pureblood had still not been found.
Before the crowd could scatter, a crash was heard and then a deep rumble as the nearest tower began to collapse. It crashed though two other towers before smashing to the ground in front of the mission. Underneath the moss laden stones, a sickly thick pool of blood started to form. Crow snapped out of her shock and into survival mode. The crowd seemed to fight her as she struggled to get through without falling under the stampede.
A barricade of guards had formed in front of the gates leading to the first quadrant. The mob pushed forward, causing those in the front to plummet into the river separating the two parts of the city. Then the guards began to fire into the crowd, desperately trying to gain control. The mass stilled as the guards cracked open the gate; only allowing enough space for one person to pass at a time. One of them spoke,
“As it has been decreed by our majesty The King: In times of turmoil, the government shall only provide protection to those living in the three higher quadrants.”
Cries were heard and the mob began to advance but quickly retreated as the soldiers raised their barrels.
“For any of you beasts that didn’t understand me, get the hell away from the gates! There isn’t enough space to house your worthless bodies. Move!” He banged the butt of his gun against the cobblestones, “Move now! So I can get back to my family!”
A few robed figures withdrew from the front of the mob, spewing curses as they ran back down the road.
“Anyone else?” The guard demanded.
One by one, the crowd filed through the gates. Each one pausing as they passed to allow the soldiers to check their ID. Some begged their way through by promising they were at least part human and that their IDs were at home. Finally, it was Crow’s turn. She brushed back her hair from her eyes, trying to look as civil as possible. An ID wasn’t the only thing necessary to be deemed “part human”, the guards were judging them on pure appearance. Those denied entrance before her were all wearing rags and, like her, had tried to hide their matter hair. She closed her eyes sending a quick prayer to Pax, then walked through the entrance trying to look as regal as possible.
Something was wrong. Maybe she had tried to hard, or held her breath or not paused for long enough, but she felt the guard’s eyes searing into the back of her neck.
“You there, stop.”
As he reached out to grab her arm, she ran for it. Black hair writhing in her wake, she dashed till she was downed by a rock to the skull. Soldiers surrounded her, dragging her back to the gate. Laughing, they turned towards the first quadrant. One turned and sneered,
“You are definitely not human.”
Crow took a few moments to rub the aching bump forming on her head, then began to sprint towards the only safe place she could think of: the chapel. She could almost taste the madness in the air. It was slightly metallic and salty, like blood. Running through the streets was becoming more and more difficult. Buildings crashed down around her as the sane struggled to fight back. Where were the knights? They should have been here by now. She gasped, tripping on a fallen lamp-post, and tumbled to the ground. Letting out a cry of pain, she reached down to feel her knee, blood. Not good she thought, they can smell me now. I have to get away. Crow strained to regain her balance, then steered herself towards the church. The very atmosphere was crushing her, pressing her into the ground, taking the air from her lungs and the very life from her body. Just as she had reached her limit, the churches’ golden dome came into view. It gleamed, reflecting the setting sun’s crimson rays.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement. Far down the street to her left was a small pack of mad. They had also caught sight of her and were rapidly closing the distance between them. Having no other alternative, she ran towards the church, hoping Pax would perform some sort of miracle to save her. Crow reached the doors throwing them open as she sped through the entrance into the center of the chapel.
She desperately scanned the room, looking for a weapon, but found none. So she turned to face her fate. The mad reached the door, then slowed. They knew they had the advantage so there was no point in ending her quickly. They would enjoy watching each drop of her blood fall to the floor with a sickening splash, as they listened for her last shallow breath. Those infected with the madness, relish all that is un-human; seeking to indulge their deepest desires and quench their most powerful thirsts. To be infected, is to lose all sense of right and wrong. It allows, ideas that should have remained as nothing more than senseless thoughts, to be brought into the world as actions. Madness is the manifestation of the darkest, most secret corner of the human mind.
The pressure had become too great to bear. Crow fell to the floor, her legs collapsing under her, as the mad formed a circle around her. Saliva dripping to the floor, they pressed closer. She raised her eyes to the stained glass windows to make her final amends, witnessing what she thought to be her final sunset. Crow closed her eyes and accepted death.
JB made me do it
There’s a lot to take in here in such a relatively short piece – particularly the ‘mythic’ background since the events take place in an alternative world. So it’s not easy to take the reader along with you – expecting them to absorb quite a lot of detail for such small return (in this case less than 2500 words of story – although I’m guessing there’s much more to come).
But you do a fairly good job of placing us immediately in the action - and introducing the main character without resorting to giving us a brief biography like some writers feel obliged to do. A lot is left to the reader’s imagination, which shows you give us some credit.
You use dialogue well – again giving us snippets of speech suggesting the people’s unrest rather than long, rambling conversations used to feed background material. And I like the way you follow certain bits of dialogue with just the one word - ‘Silence’ – a clever way of conveying the mood of despair and hopelessness.
I also liked the line
The morning cries set her pace- not the dutiful sermons heard in the east, but the ever present moaning of those who had regretfully awoken to another day.
But some of it does need trimming down -
The citizens were dumbstruck. They stood silent and still, dreading the future. A future which all of them heard of, but none had seen.
You tell us how the citizens are acting in the first short sentence – then show us exactly the same in the second (no need for both) and the third sentence is a bit clumsy (how can you ‘hear of’ a future?? – ‘been warned of’ perhaps makes more sense??).
But overall I enjoyed this – give it a little retouch here and there, do away with some of the clichéd plot elements and replace them with something a little more unexpected perhaps and I’d say you have a promising opening for a great saga.
PS - you'll probably get a wider readership and more feedback if you post this in the Short Story section.
Thanks so much! I think I'll try posting it on the other forum.
So basically I need to work on spreading out the information a little bit more and not repeating myself. And in the second sentence you mentioned, I was trying to hint that the generation before them had all died. Which hopefully connects to the two next sentences.
They trembled, as their minds filled with ancestor’s ghosts. The last outbreak had completely wiped out the city and the pureblood had still not been found.
But I guess that didn't work so I'll find a more simple way of putting it.
Thanks again! I'm really glad you liked it because I've never written a short story before, only essays.