Monday, August 29, 2011

Here we go again

If you've read any of this blog, then you will have noticed that it comprises of two things: excerpts from the fiction I write, and me complaining about how hard it is to write fiction.  Depending on your point of view, you may or may not be pleased to know this post is another piece of fiction.  Then again, you might never have read any of my other posts and may now be thinking "What on earth is this person gibbering on about?".

What I really should start doing is varying this blog a bit - start complaining about American drivers, fat people and other things that aggravate me.  But I don't want to come across as some cut price Jeremy Clarkson, so I will avoid doing that and stick to the fiction.

So onwards to the point of this post: right back at the start of writing this blog, I mentioned a story I'd started back in 2006 called Infinite Diamond.  A few weeks ago, I was heavily into finishing two other stories, Satisfaction and GhostWalker, both of which I've now finished and posted the first few chapters of on here (if you go looking, beware that Satisfaction is VERY rude).  I wanted to take a break from writing, but then I opened up Infinite Diamond and started reading...  It's really not that bad.  It's rough, it's literally in it's first draft but still, it's got potential.  It's also about 60% complete.  It would be a crime to leave it incomplete, surely?  I might as well get a first draft complete.  That way, if something happens to me, a least the concept would be captured, if not the final words.

So I'm going to have a stab at completing the first draft.  Not reviewing what I've done previously, but finishing an imperfect story.  Saying that, I did review the prologue last night and that's what I'm posting here.  It's only 1,200 words so I thought 'What the hell?'.

I've found I'm better writing fast paced, short books, running in at about 80,000 words.  That's the target for this one too.  It's still some way off completion but with the way I've been writing in the last few months, I reckon I could have a draft complete in a month.  If I do, that means I would have 3 complete 80,000 word stories, all of which are completely different in nature and style.  I think that's something to feel reasonably happy about.

Anyway... Here's the prologue to Infinite Diamond...

The man ran as fast as his weary legs could carry him, his breath as ragged as his peasant clothes.  The dark, muddy track that he followed was heavily rutted by cartwheels, and he slipped and stumbled as he ran, but it did not slow his escape.
Thunder rumbled in the distance, and the recently passed storm had left the earth beneath his feet treacherously wet.  Branches tore at the man’s rough clothes as he stumbled to his left and rolled along the hedgerow, before resuming his desperate course.
A gibbous moon emerged slowly from behind low, scudding clouds, reflecting in the long deep puddles that lay ahead of him.  The pale light shone on his face, giving his skin a pallid glow that echoed his fearful expression.  This was a man running for his life.
He did not let up his pace, even as each breath he took became shorter and more painful; his exhalation hung for a moment in the cold night air as though he were steam train driving on in desperation.  He was young and fit, but he was pushing himself beyond endurance to escape the fear that pursued him, and with every step his stamina was beginning to desert him.
He jinked around a large puddle ahead of him, seeking firmer ground so as not to be slowed.  The thunder rolling across the horizon to his left continued to sound its death knell, and as it faded another sound took its place.  He pulled up quickly, stopping for a moment.  He bent down, hands on his knees trying to breathe quietly, straining to listen beyond the rush of blood in his ears and the laughter of Mother Nature.
There it was – the unmistakeable bass sound of hoofbeats.  Somewhere behind him, not too far away, a horse was galloping towards him.  He gave a short yelp and resumed his desperate course, but it was all too obvious that he was going to be caught by his pursuer.
The horseman was hunting with intent, driven by an anger that tore at him from within.  He wore a knight’s tunic, all black save for a white lion on the right breast.  He wore no helmet, but had on the gauntlets and boots from a suit of armour, and a heavy coat of chain mail glinted beneath his tunic.  His mount was a black stallion and wore no armour; it was a animal being ridden for the speed of pursuit and it snorted fiercely as the rider drove the beast forward towards his ever closing quarry.
The fleeing man was exhausted, his race run, but still he did not stop; driven on by fear and fast fading hope, he began to run again. The sound of the horseman closing on brought panic rising in his throat, and he could not stop himself from glancing over his left shoulder to glimpse a sight of his nemesis.  It proved to be a fateful mistake.
His boot landed on a smooth, wet rock sitting in the middle of the track.  It was slippery with mud and his foot turned as he landed on it.  He yelled out in agony as his ankle turned over, sending him stumbling forward.  He fell into the mud, splashing into dirty dark water.  In moments he was pushing himself to his feet again, but the fall had allowed the rider to close to within killing distance.
The horseman was no more than thirty yards from the fallen man and without slowing he released the reins, reached behind his back with his right hand and drew an arrow from the quiver strapped across his back.  He never took his eyes from his quarry as drew a heavy bow from his left side, notched the arrow, raised the bow, drew it back to its full weight and let the arrow slip.  It flew true and landed square between the shoulder blades of the running man, who cried out and fell forward, splashing down into ground.  This time he did not rise, but lay prostrate, his head turned to one side, his breath laced with cries of pain.
The rider whipped by the stricken runner, and wheeled his horse around before dismounting in one swift movement.  He sheathed the bow, and drew a long sword from a scabbard hanging on the horse’s saddle.  He strode up to the fallen man, his face filled with hatred.
“Get up,” he ordered, standing over the prone body.  The man on the ground didn’t move; only his shallow groans suggested there was still life in him.
“Maybe you need some encouragement,” snarled the knight.  He grabbed the shaft of the arrow rising from the man’s back and tugged on it.  The man screamed in pain, agonisingly lifting himself with his elbows to try and ease the pain.  The knight quickly slipped his foot under the fallen man’s body and kicked him onto his back. The arrow shaft snapped as he rolled over and he screamed again as he fell back into the mud.  Their eyes met, one gaze full of hate, the other swimming with fear.
“Why?” the swordsman demanded, putting the tip of his sword to the fallen man’s throat.
“You know why,” the man on the ground answered, his teeth clenched with pain.
“Your betrayal will cost you your life, you fool,” the knight said.  He drew the sword up, wrapping both hands around the hilt, ready to plunge it down.  “Make your peace with God,”  he hissed, “for you are about to face Him.”
He drew his gaze from the fallen man’ face to his chest, to where he was about to drive his sword but as he did, his eyes narrowed in suspicion.  He suddenly lunged down, grabbing at the fallen man’s left hand.  He prised back his cold dirty fingers to reveal a small, dark disc of metal.  The knight took it and stood up, examining it.  It was warm to the touch, and in the centre was a recessed button.  His eyes flicked back to the fallen man, who now had a defiant look on his face.
“They are coming for you, Luyten,” the man on the ground said.
“You will not live to see them,” Aaron Luyten spat back.  He raised the sword and thrust it down with one hand, stabbing the fallen man through the chest.  He let out a loud moan, and grabbed at the blade, clutching it.  Luyten twisted it, feeling it crunch against his victim’s breastbone, and he saw blood from the man’s hands run down the blade as the keen edge of the sword sliced his hands open.  Then, with a last gurgling breath, the hands went slack, and life slipped from the fallen man.  Luyten waited a few more seconds, his weight resting on the hilt of the sword before he drew it back from the lifeless body.  He looked down to his hand and thumbed the button in the centre of the disc.  It popped back up flush with the surface of the disc, and he then slipped it into his tunic.  He turned, leaving the body in the middle of the track, and walked back to his horse.  He glanced up at the distant storm as a sheet of lightning illuminated the horizon.  He knew the dead man, Second Lieutenant Chase Crawford, was right.  They were coming, there was no doubt of that.  But thanks to the murder he had just committed, he would be ready for them.

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