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Gonzalothethird
May 15th, 2012, 11:33 PM
I finally get to post something! This is a weekly series I'm working on with the intention of three stories a week. Each story are three different perspectives. Its been a long time since I dabbled in fantasy, but I was strongly urged to work on this series. I welcome all critiques and suggestions!

Emergence 1 – Leone

He outstretched his hand to touch the wind, feeling the warmth slithering through his hands as he surveyed the lively Lake Koocanusa. Tiny waves grazed on the lake’s surface, compelling him to kick off his boots, pull his socks off, and take heavy strides down to the water and accept a respite from his long travels. He rolled the cuffs of his slacks to his knees and slid into the cool lake; the slimy rocks tickled his feet. Leone flung the air from his fingers and crouched, swirling his hand and creating circular ripples in the water. Wiggling his toes, he had forgotten how water felt. He looked down and could imagine the white line separating British Columbia and Montana over the surface of the green water, the green water twinkling underneath the afternoon sun. He raised wet hands into the wind and absorbed the soothing chill at his fingertips, running them into his long black hair to share the cool. A smile trickled off the side of his lips. It’s been a long time for such peace. It’s been a long time he’s been to such scenery.

But the smile was suddenly gone.

The truth was he would enjoy serenity by himself, a saddening recollection—to bask in nature’s beauty alone. It was enough to compel him to turn around and put his socks and boots back on and dry his hands against his black slacks. He picked up his backpack and tightened the straps across his chest. He pulled the hood of his sweater just over his eyes, and like the past fifty-seven days, he walked south in solitude.

Montana welcomed Leone in the manner Canada had: depopulated. Then again, he didn’t know where population, or perhaps civilization, continued to stand. His eyes gazed into skies to the west, and high over the bare trees, the grassy hills, towering over the mountains, he saw the disintegration of life. Like he had seen throughout Canada, he saw black clouds rising from the earth where great battles once took place. It’s these marred battlefields he tried to avoid, to forget the reminder of when the world was abandoned.

Leone felt the nudge of his metallic pendant of the Holy Cross. He may not have to see the wastelands, but he carried the reminder at all times no matter how hard he tried to forget it—the pendant pulsed like a living entity and he could hear their cries.

With hands holding the bag tight to his body, he kept his head low to shield the rays of the sun, counting steps in the sand while not straying meters from the lake. Two steps became four steps, four became eight, eight became one hundred. The game wasn’t particularly droll, but he was limited in the pleasures of true enjoyment. He often broke counts to glance past the brim of his hood in hope to encounter another being, to assure himself life still existed.

Just as he lowers his eyes, a cloud of dust rose above the ridge close to two hundred meters ahead. A gentle roar rumbled the ground. Leone stopped and gazed into the orange dust climbing into the sky attempting to visualize what was barreling down on him. It wasn’t a roar; it’s an engine. Not moments later, a large pick-up truck leapt over the ridge and scrambled the earth; as it landed the shocks and spoilers croaked in pain. He wanted to smile, long days past without interaction, to welcome remnants of civilization, but when he searched the souls of the passengers he sensed urgency and desperation.

The truck spotted Leone and shifted directions to the skidding of tires, driving madly to his position. Leone watches the driver tug on the steering wheel and the truck dramatically changes angles, sliding to a stop twenty feet away. Four men burst out the truck with weapons: assault rifles and shotguns. Their denim jeans were torn and battered; plaid shirts were unkempt, pockets ripped clean off; their boots were dirty with blotched stains and tears. The driver approached him. His thick black beard seemed to connect to the black sunglasses that shielded his eyes. He had an old navy blue hat with the old Denver Bronco’s logo.
The driver cradled his shotgun and paused, examining Leone and his mismatched attire.

“Odd place to travel,” he said. Leone could see wears of exhaustion in the man’s blackened eyes.

“When you believe there’s nowhere to travel,” answered Leone, “It may not seem so odd.”

“Nowhere to travel,” repeated the man. “Ain’t that the truth.” His tired eyes scanned the beach, over the water, to the western trees and to the black clouds in the distance. He shook his head at the scarred country. The man’s eyes settled onto Leone’s backpack. “What’s in the bag?”

“Necessities.”

“That’s good to hear because we’re in need of some necessities.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Leone. He cautiously removed the backpack to show his compliance and tossed it to the driver, who bent his head in confusion for a stranger to willingly relinquish belongings. “I pray they’re of use to you.”

The driver didn’t know what to say, but a gradual nod informed Leone he was grateful. Extra clothing was in the bag and the driver bounced his head to mull over the value of the gift. His gruff hands searched the bottom of the bag; he shook the backpack to see if there were hidden compartments with goodies. But an expression of intrigue showed in his face. He had a hard time believing this stranger was roaming nowhere with just a bag full of clothes.

“How do you survive without any food?”

“Special metabolism,” smiled Leone.

“Metabolism…you’re pretty upbeat for someone who’s losing his belongings.”

“It’s just nice to see other living souls.”

“I guess. You know, I’m sure it isn’t this bad elsewhere.”

“Fifty-seven days without interaction and my first encounter has me forfeiting my belongings. It is good to meet you, but I sure hope it isn’t this bad anywhere else.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry,” apologized the man. He gave out a hefty sigh and made to turn away, to leave this poor traveler alone to whatever fate waited him, but the twinkle of Leone’s pendant caught his attention; a trinket he could use. He slung the backpack over an arm and repositioned the cradled shotgun. “How about that necklace you got there?”

“I don’t think you’d want this,” warned Leone, his tone lowering into sternness that alerted a warning into the group’s hearts.

“Why not?” asked the man while his friends were positioning their feet to aim their weapons. “Believe it or not, that thing there will do somebody good back home.”

“I don’t think it will.”

“Well, I’m sorry fella, but I’m obliged.”

The driver approached assertively toward Leone and thrust his hand to grab the pendant. Leone closed his eyes and turned away in an apparent submission as well as knowing the outcome for what was about to transpire. When the man’s fingers touch the metal, his hand bolted away from the pendant as if he were electrically shocked, and let out a terrifying cry and collapsed to the ground in violent shakes. The weapon thuds to the sand and the sunglasses fly off. His friends aimed their weapons at Leone shouting in unison which made them harder to discern through the gibberish he was hearing. They wanted answers, but they wanted their friend to get up, too. He showed his hands to calm the driver’s posse, kneeling over the shaking man. He put his cold hands onto the forehead of the disturbed man and said soft words. Seconds later, the driver opened his green eyes and his body relaxed.

“You’re a Seraph!” he exclaimed. When the words left the man’s mouth, the other men lowered their weapons and suddenly pleaded for forgiveness, sharing prayers for their misguided aggression.

“I am,” smiled Leone.

“And…and in that trinket…those were…”

“My prisoners.”

Kenneth J. Ester
May 16th, 2012, 02:30 AM
I'm no expert for editing, so there may be a lot of that kind of stuff I missed. Someone else can look at that more than I could. :o) There was one thing however that stopped me in mid-reading, and that is the last thing you ever want your reader to have to do. ....

Leone closed his eyes and turned away in an apparent submission as well as knowing the outcome for what was about to transpire. When the man’s fingers touch the metal,

I kind of stopped and wondered how he could turn away and yet the man could still touch the pendant. Also, to me, turning away would be more like he was brushing the man off rather than being submissive. It took me a second to realize that I think you meant he turned his head away. You might want to clear that up.

As for the story and the writing.... I loved the character. The ending lines.... “And…and in that trinket…those were…” --- “My prisoners.” ... I loved that part the most of all. The idea he held prisoners inside of the pendant (or the souls of prisoners) is awesome! That alone would have made me want to keep reading the book. But also, to be honest, and this is just my personal opinion and others may very well disagree, I thought a big portion of the story got a little boring before the truck appeared. I know you need to set the scene and set up the character and his personality a little, but I think you would be a little better off cutting out just a little of the needless info. The feeling of the water and such. Description is good, and that might not bee too much, especially for the middle of the book, but I am a believer you want to grab the reader a little quicker. Either make something happen much earlier or bring the good or evil of something sooner or something. This of course is more important at the beginning of the book than anywhere else. If you send the first so many pages to an agent, you don't want to take a chance that they will read three paragraphs and feel nothing important is happening or being explained and toss the pages aside for the next writers stuff before they get to the hook.

But that is a minor flaw and only my personal opinion. I could be wrong in this case as I was arguing with my wife as I read much of it. lol Other than that, I think you are a pretty polished writer and I could enjoy your book.

Gonzalothethird
May 16th, 2012, 06:59 AM
These are great points.

The "turning away" is part of a few passages I left in because of indecisiveness in how to reword the scene in general. So what you're suggesting is point on! I barely just got off work and this was what I came up with as a quick fix.

"Leone closed his eyes and turned his head away in an apparent submission--he had no desire for a confrontation as well as knowing the outcome for what was about to transpire."

I think I can conjure a few other alternatives now that I can sit back and work. As for the pacing, I kind of saw that it would be perceived as slow pace, lol, I knew it was coming, but I was banking on the second short story to up the speed. (And I hope it succeeds in doing so) The original intention for the beginning was to portray a believable scene, a normal scene in the respects the reader would wonder what the story is about without blatantly saying, "this guy is an angel." But again, I did wonder about the pacing ahead of time and I will certainly consider reevaluating my approach. Thanks for the input!