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Amine
October 9th, 2010, 08:44 PM
Prelude to the Percussion

A war is a horrendous thing, full of vicious pain and deep terror, brutal betrayment and sorrowful loss. It makes avid believers into wary skeptics, the forever faithful into the ever traitorous, corrupting and bending, morphing life. No one but those who witness it first hand truly understands the utter agony of war. Only those who have experienced war with all five senses could ever, possibly comprehend. Feel the warm and cold blood on your skin, smell the pungent smoke that smothers your will to live, see the wretched land that you single handedly killed, hear the dying screams of the innocent, taste the acrid bile mixed with blood. Otherwise your just fooling yourself, saying that you know what hell is when you’ve been living in heaven your whole life. Saying you know what pain is when you’ve never been hurt.
And after the war is over, in your mind it’s only just begun. You can’t turn a corner without seeing a snippet of eternal damnation. You can’t breath without choking, can’t blink without crying. Your hands feel the blood, that badge of satanic shame. You can’t wash it off, you can scrub your skin raw but it’ll always be there. No one can see the blood but you, and it’ll stay there like a tattoo you never wanted.
I know, I understand, I’ve felt, smelt, seen, heard and tasted that terror. I’ve walked with death, strolled through hell and been hurt so many times my body and mind is one big scar.
I’m not the only one, and I wont be the last one.
Let me tell you our story, the story of the survivors. We made it to hell and back. We lived that terror. We did it. And we never want to go back, we never want to remember.
And we never want to forget.




Chapter 1
Name of Your Heart


What makes us who we are? What makes us the people others and we see, our identities, what created our souls, our morals and values?
Our environment, our parents, our peers… they all mould us like clay into who we are.
That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
I like to think that I’m fully responsible for my beliefs and character, but I know that that’s not entirely accurate.
True, I have learnt many important lessons from my parents.
‘You never know love until it bites you.’ That woman said those words to me, the first parental sounding thing that’s ever left her mouth.
I suppose I should call her mother, but I wont. I never did and I never will. I think in the beginning she tried, tried to be a good parent, tried not to fail again. But she failed at not failing. She didn’t hurt me, not directly. But she didn’t necessarily love me either. She never hugged me, she never comforted me. She was less a mother then a keeper, one who sheltered me and fed me, did my laundry, but didn’t know me. Like a master to her pet. I was her faithful dog that she kept pinned outside with a bowl of food and water.
I guess I should both thank her and spit on her old rotting grave, if it weren’t for her I never would have been caught up in the massive mass of hell, but if it weren’t for her I never would have met them.
Those amazing, wonderful people who were just like me. They made up my whole. My existence. My life. Without them, I’m sure I wouldn’t have ever made it alive, or at least with my mind. Did you know zombies exist? They walk the earth in living bodies but theirs no soul behind their eyes. They have no purpose, no meaning, they're just there. Their souls have been killed within their bodies, killed by war. I didn’t know, not until I was drafted. I was surrounded by the living dead there. Their blank eyes have been seared into my brain like after staring into a bright light.
Luckily, we all escaped with our minds intact, more or less… of course it’s impossible to keep all of your insanity and some of us held it together more then others, and those few that fell hard always got back on their feet.
Their names, like mine, were discarded along with our normal lives. They too were given to the hell by those they thought they love. Their parents.
I was drafted when I was a little girl, hardly six years of age, taught to hold a gun while learning to read. Taught to stab an unknowing man while learning to write my name. I excel at everything I’m taught. I didn’t know whether to be a scholar or an assassin when I grew up.
I met them over the course of a year, on my tenth birthday, when six military units dispatched their best child soldiers to be footmen in the biggest invasion on the southern sector since the beginning of the Crimson War.
Fighting, fighting, fighting. Killing, killing, killing. We were machines, built to destroy. It was difficult to keep a hold on reality, that thing like silk strands in our fingers, slipping away as we drifted on the clouds of insanity.
Luckily, they helped me grip my hold on reality and throttle it. I wouldn’t let go, not ever. If I were going to live through this, I wouldn’t let myself succumb to the intoxicating thoughts of mental freedom called lunacy.
Them. Those people. My family of friends. None of us were blood related, but we had a bond that sank deeper then familial ties, like wire through flesh.
Each one of these children- no, these soldiers- held whirlwinds of inner torment inside smashing them apart within, tearing at them, cutting them open and making hell out of there minds. Each one had defenses against pain, had shields, masks.
I met Tick first; she was the tiniest thing I’d ever seen. With her pixy cut brunette hair and her heart shaped face. She was as old as me but kept her childish look even through the war. Yes, she was indeed as old as me, but five times as deadly. She was wicked with a knife, able to down ten grown men without any one of them knowing what hit them. She wielded the blade like an extension of her thin nimble arms, like a long, sharp, deadly fingernail that bit like the most ferocious lion. She had a few quirks, a god complex and a vanity that towered over all. That hid her insecurities and torments, after witnessing her brother’s torturous death and having her mother shun her from her life. Her eyes were wide and innocent, but behind them she might already be planning your death, or planning how to keep you alive. Only Amber could see through her…
Speaking of this blessing to come into my life, Amber, and her spiky blond hair, wry smile and bright blue eyes that saw through any lie, digging through minds with the ease of a hot knife through butter. She was skilled with a gun, able to shoot a mouse from over one hundred feet away. Her aim was exceptional if you didn’t get that from the earlier statement. She was sharp, a quick thinker. If anyone were going to keep a death grip of realism, it would be Amber. But even she had her quirks, claustrophobic to the extreme, so much that she couldn’t even go in a foxhole. She held an air of craze and mild violence, goofy and always ready to ruff up a bastard. But that masked her overwhelming fear and… curiosity of death, terrified of going into battle but longing to be close to that mysterious death once again, for Amber loathed not knowing or understanding.
But she’s not the only one of us with a phobia, Cocoa, a shy girl with the most beautiful chocolate hair in existence, was terrified of fire and yet she was absolutely obsessed with it. She loved it and hated it, a pyromaniac with a terror of being burnt. And she wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box, but she kept it together and knew enough to fear. I think there are several types of intelligence. Cocoa was slightly airheaded, but I believe that’s a mental barrier against pain. Because understanding is torture. After her mother was murdered, she allowed herself to be oblivious. On the outside she wore a childish girly airheaded façade to protect her from the inner understanding. She looked stupid, dumb, and unknowing, but she sometimes knew far, far too much and things made way to much sense. But she always wanted to be ready for anything, prepared and mentally equipped.
Then there’s Hush, the sneakiest con artist ever. He could convince you he was a rabbit in five minutes than tell you he was a frog and you’d believe that too. He could even lie past Amber. His fingers were so sticky, glue couldn’t pick up as many ‘acquired’ items. I found him annoying in a way an older sister thinks of her little brother. He teased and picked, but he was a lovable thing nonetheless. His right hand was missing two fingers, so he had to retrain for years to shoot with his left hand. He was ambitious and dedicated, and very, very loyal. To us, but even more so to his brother Fly.
Fly was an equally annoying guy who was one of the worst fighters ever stuck in a war zone, a sitting duck. But he was the best damn doctor I’d ever met, and at the time he was only nine. He could heal everything and anything, from simple paper cuts to head wounds to bruises to broken bones. He was so compassionate; I figured he couldn’t last in this hellhole. He was a little kid in essence. No matter how old he grows he would still be childlike and loveable, innocent and clear. This was not a mask, this was him. But even children have fears and anguish. But he didn’t break, so I guess there’s a shell around that marshmallow interior after all. On his neck was a self-created tattoo saying ‘Hell’ in Korean, him and his brother’s native land’s language.
And on the topic of hell, no one knows it better then Jake. He’s the most important thing in my entire insignificant life, the heart of my soul, my moonlit night-light, the battery that kept me working.
His hair was black like the darkest midnight, eyes darker still, with that glazed sheen over them. He was the most diverse in weapon competency, a professional at any arm handed to him. As well, he was a skilled engineer and an even more masterful spy.
And that’s all to say something. Yes indeed, because Jake cannot speak and cannot see.


“Come on Coal!” I sighed a breath tinged with annoyance at the sound of my own chosen name. My birth name still lingers at the back of my mind, partly forgotten, like a dream. My name now at least symbolizes something. Black and dark, but able to burn into the warmest fire, instead of a name someone you hardly knew labeled you as at your birth without your permission.
I glanced halfheartedly to where Tick sat impatiently by a wise old oak tree, her foot tapping the ground in an incredibly domestic fashion.
We sat near the top of a cliffy mountain range, our military unit’s camp many miles away. Now, after around ten years, give or take a bloody gory year, we were leaving. We didn’t care what it took, what we had to do, we weren’t going back there. Never.
We would go AWOL. That word was scorned upon by most, ‘only weaklings go AWOL’ but if you’d seen what we have, done what we’ve done, you wouldn’t think it so cowardly to run away from it. Not all chickens deserve to be roasted.
I stood up, my joints aching from too many years of meaningless killing, an activity to age you by years. I looked around me, my family waiting for me.
Surely our superiors were looking for us now, seven of their best soldiers mysteriously missing as well as their belongings, it’s definitely something to cause alarm.
I nodded, my resolve deeply embedded in my core. “Yes. Let’s go.” I wouldn’t let these people down; I owed them that much for simply being there for me. I felt that determination burn bright inside me, a fire of courage.
I overviewed our group, taking a head count, then walked over to Jake who sat several feet away from us, eyes gazing at nothing, hands folded tightly.
I touched his arm lightly and slid my hand into his, letting him identify me. My skin tingled as his fingers tightened around mine, warmth flowing through me. His hand held my hand strongly but not too tight, and looking comforted by my touch.
“We’re leaving Jake.” I said, helping him up. I used my shoulder to lever him to his feet on the rock covered round.
We fell into our usual pattern, me beside and slightly in front of Jake with my hand brushing against his arm to direct him; Amber at my side and Fly at Jake’s with Hush and Cocoa in tow with Tick bring up the rear.
We walked, no, we slinked across the open plain, eyes ready, looking for any movement.
Amber’s raptor-like eyes scanned the land, gun at ready, trigger finger flinching at simple noises.
With no obvious threats, we calmed a bit as we entered the forest. We took comfort in the tree’s dappled shadows, allowing us camouflage. Being hidden always made us feel safer, like the prey we were.
The ground was wet with dew and leaf mold, the canopy thick with small breaks allowing the sun to filter through. The grass was thick and ferns clustered around tree stumps and trunks that were painted with numerous rainbow mushrooms that none of us dared eat.
Jake stopped abruptly, almost making Cocoa run into him.
“What is it Jake?” I frowned at him, knowing full well the expression was lost on him.
He cocked his head, glassy eyes narrowed. Then he put his fingers to his pale lips and we all fell instantly deadly quiet.
Finally he swished his hands through the air, wiggling his hands through the air downwards, simulating a waterfall.
Then he shrugged, face in a universal expression of curiosity. He gestured to his blank eyes, animating the action of sight.
“No, we don’t see any waterfalls.”
His eyes narrowed quizzically. Then he ran his hands through the air horizontally, dragging it through the air, with the question mark face.
“No, no water at all. Why?”
He touched his ears with a frown. Then he pointed to us and shook his head in confusion.
“Of course we can’t hear it, you moron.” I chuckled. “You’ve got freakin’ super hearing.”
He glared at me, or at least in the direction of my voice. Then a small smirk twitched at the corner of his mouth and his eyes glittered with that all to infrequent full-face smile of his.
I grinned at him, and I was saddened to know that he couldn’t see it, so I lifted his sensitive fingers to my mouth and let him feel it.
I let his hand fall back to his side, and pushed him forward to get him to walk again.
As we walked, I began to notice that the magnificent tropical forest was thinning out, less trees and ferns and more rocks and dirt.
It made me feel exposed, the sky staring at us and no trees to hide under. I kept on obsessively glancing around us, but my every action was warranted.
Soon, we too heard the steady rumble of river water, a lion amongst the quiet forest.
“Jake, do you hear any camps?” Fly asked nervously, his grey eyes darting around like a distressed animal. His ginger hair was sweaty and matted from the brilliantly deadly sun.
Jake paused, listening, then shook his head confidently.
The Hurricane Force from the west preferred to set up temporary camps around running water to drown out the sound of the tanks and aircrafts, and to ambush unsuspecting travelers. Luckily Jake’s heightened hearing should be able to distinguish any suspicious sounds.
We continued to walk, the trees become even more waned and the rocky ground was gradually getting more and more sandy.
Finally we rounded a bend in the cliff’s base, and came face to face with River Lieblos.
I’d heard of it, mostly horror stories of entire patrols being carried away by its savage currents and people falling from its treacherous shore side rocks. In most cases the real killer was human stupidity, but at seeing the crashing water I could believe that even the most prepared and smart warrior could be dragged away.
That in mind, we pressed against the cliff side, giving as much berth between us and the devil river as physically possible without becoming one with the rock.
Then Jake froze, body rigid. ‘Get down!’ His sign language was broken out of panic, but we got the message.
We all dropped to our knees, then easing into an army crawl position behind a largish pile of rocks from a recent landslide.
Soon we too heard the crunch of two pairs of heavy boots in the lakeshore pebbles.
“Where the ‘ell could those damned kids be?” They recognized the gravelly, smoker’s voice of their CO, Major Goroach.
“Crap.” Hush breathed, hand itching to his gun, but Fly stopped him with a hissed whisper.
“I don’t want to kill them.” Fly glanced at his brother. “I mean- he was our Major.”
Hush paused then reluctantly let go of his gun.
Jakes breath hitched as the footsteps neared.
Don’t make us have to kill you, don’t make us have to kill you… I pleaded internally. I had no personal relationship with the Commanding Officer, but I really disliked ending lives, it made feel too… in control. Godly. Powerful. It made me sick.
The footsteps stopped about a meter away and then another deeper voice growled, “I think I see something over there.”
They got closer, and we all lay pancake flat to the cold, hard ground.
I heard Hush take a deep breath and stand up, putting a dazed look on his face like a mask, slipping into a new character as easily as changing clothes.
“Major?” He slurred, stumbling forward. “Thank g- god you’re here.” His eyes twitched in fake pain and his breathing turned ragged.
“Where have you been Captain Heights?” The Major hissed, one wrinkled and scarred hand on his gun.
“Me an the others were captured sir!” He stumbled a bit more; tipping to the right like a drunk, nearly falling if the Majors partner hadn’t caught him.
“Where are the others? Are you hurt?”
Hush coughed, biting his lip so a bit of blood dripping down his chin. “T- they took them! I think they killed Tick, but the others were alive! I’m sure of it! You have to save them!”
I heard Tick hiss under her breath. Tick and Hush didn’t like each other much, they were too much the same in personality, they clashed.
“We will son, we will. Are you hurt?” He repeated.
“They bashed my head against a rock, other wise I’m ok…” He toppled over again, eyes rolling into his skull.
“Damn, we gotta get em back to camp.” The Major turned to his companion. “I’m going after the soldiers, get em back to camp Captain Shile.”
I heard the Majors boots crunch away, then I heard a snap and the sound of something heavy hitting the ground.
I stood up, helping Jake up as well, cautiously emerging from our rocky hide out.
Hush was pulling an unconscious Captain into the bushes, looking damn proud of himself.
Our little con artist.
Tick marched up to him and cuffed him lightly. “Make me dead wouldja’?”
“Right then, let’s go.” I grinned, getting horribly optimistic.

ArcThomas
October 10th, 2010, 01:23 PM
I PM'd you my response.
I felt a lot of what I had to say was opinionated and not real advice.
maybe part 2 if one is demandingly delicious. ~ sorry I wont read part 2. Two much edited that I think you wont appreciate.

"What makes us the people others and we see, our identities,"
finish with a '?', remove others.
"What created... our values?" **

Right about;
"...isn't it"
I decided this might be a more interesting read, if we were reading the perspective of a child. a poor, inocent child. {remove "That's" would execute that notion. just an opinion}

"But she failed at not failing." - no period. ' ; '. followed by new paragraph.

"She was less a mother then a keeper, .." - of a mother. Than.

"I guess I should both thank her and spit on her old rotting grave, .." -
now this is unnessisary and unature. I woudl perfer to hear;
"I gues I should have thanked her, but I would sooner spit on her grave.[period]
or
"I would just as soon spit on her garve, although I feel like I own her an apology."{PERIOD}

You know.. I'mm PM you this one too.
I feel there will be more of this

Stephanie J.
October 10th, 2010, 02:49 PM
Hi...I see some good writing here, but to be honest, I have to look for it...because some of your most interesting sentences are then diluted with a succession of weaker supporting statements. The latter aren't needed, in my opinion; the former are strong enough to stand on their own.

Speaking of being wordy, long story short - I would suggest cutting as many words away as possible. Let me give you an example, my edited version of your prologue. The sentences I think you could cut out are in red, added words are in bold:

A war is a horrendous thing, full of vicious pain and deep terror, brutal betrayment and sorrowful loss. It makes avid believers into wary skeptics, the forever faithful into the ever traitorous, corrupting and bending, morphing life. No one but those who witness it first hand truly understands the utter agony of war. Only those who have experienced war with all five senses could ever, possibly comprehend. Feel the warm and cold blood on your skin, smell the pungent smoke that smothers your will to live, see the wretched land that you single handedly killed, hear the dying screams of the innocent, taste the acrid bile mixed with blood. Otherwise your just fooling yourself, saying that you know what hell is when you’ve been living in heaven your whole life. Saying you know what pain is when you’ve never been hurt.
And after the war is over, in your mind it’s only just begun. You can’t turn a corner without seeing a snippet of eternal damnation. You can’t breath without choking, can’t blink without crying. Your hands still feel the blood, that badge of satanic shame. You can’t wash it off, you can scrub your skin raw but it’ll always be there. No one can see the blood but you, a tattoo you never wanted.
I know, I understand, I’ve felt, smelt, seen, heard and tasted that terror. I’ve walked with death, strolled through hell and been hurt so many times my body and mind is one big scar.
I’m not the only one, and I wont be the last one.
Let me tell you our story, the story of the survivors. We made it to hell and back. We lived that terror. We did it. And we never want to go back, we never want to remember.
And we never want to forget.

Below, I've pasted what the edits above look like now, how your most compelling sentences leap out much more clearly:

A war is a horrendous thing, full of vicious pain and deep terror, brutal betrayment and sorrowful loss. It makes avid believers into wary skeptics, the forever faithful into the ever traitorous, corrupting and bending, morphing life. Only those who have experienced war with all five senses could ever, possibly comprehend. Feel the warm and cold blood on your skin, smell the pungent smoke that smothers your will to live, see the wretched land that you single handedly killed, hear the dying screams of the innocent, taste the acrid bile mixed with blood.

And after the war is over, in your mind it’s only just begun. Your hands still feel the blood, that badge of satanic shame. You can’t wash it off, you can scrub your skin raw but it’ll always be there, a tattoo you never wanted.
.
Let me tell you our story, the story of the survivors.

Revising and chopping away words can be painful, but for the sake of your best words and sentences, is worth it.

SilverMoon
October 10th, 2010, 04:32 PM
Hi, Amine. Stephanie gave you some excellent advice. I found your story to be very inventive. In your prelude I didn't know where you were heading, though I was quite taken in by your effective use of language. The prelude: I now see how it benefits your story after having read your opening paragraph:


What makes us who we are? What makes us the people others and we see, our identities, what created our souls, our morals and values?
Our environment, our parents, our peers… they all mould us like clay into who we are.

You open with the phylisophical which grabbed my interest. Though, take note of what I've highlighed in red. A cliche, which takes away from what is otherwise a very complelling introduction.


I was drafted when I was a little girl, hardly six years of age, taught to hold a gun while learning to read. Taught to stab an unknowing man while learning to write my name. I excel at everything I’m taught. I didn’t know whether to be a scholar or an assassin when I grew up.

Excellent! Now, you've really got me.

Important. I would suggest you creating line breaks between paragraphs. Would make for a much easier read. Give justice to your story.

I'd suggest going over your ending. Tinkering around a bit in order to make it a bang of a closer. It stands well as is but can see you streching even more. You've got the language.

A good read and I'm looking forward to Chapter Two. And welcome! I see you're new here. Good people in these digs and lots to learn and teach. Laurie

Amine
October 10th, 2010, 09:19 PM
Thank you all for your advice and I will definitely take it all into consideration as I work on thoroughly editing this piece. I appreciate your criticism and I hope I can make this all the more enjoyable to read.