PDA

View Full Version : Scene 5 - All new - Violence - 2200 words



archer88iv
March 21st, 2013, 04:23 PM
This is the direct sequel to Scene 2, posted yesterday or the day before. This character has appeared in only two scenes thus far. I suppose my biggest concern is whether or not this is too early to drop the "other shoe," found in the last part of the scene. Let me know what you think.

===

Yves was past his prime and the hours-long descent to the sixth level of the Mine told on him. They did stop for a breather, once, on about the third level, but it was of no use: the restless fear that infused every part of the temple kept them from rest. Thorne carried the elder doctor’s pack in addition to his own once Dr. Cole had been satisfied that it contained no weapons of any kind. At last they emerged from one of a thousand twisting, gut-wrenching corridors into a greater chamber, one in which the least whisper might echo for an age, and for a moment they were still. They were a single point of light in the center of a boundless darkness. They had reached the sixth level.

“This was a storeroom,” said Cole as they emerged into a vast cavern. They stood upon a dais which was the only dry ground in the otherwise flooded chamber. The water was unnaturally still, like black glass, and chilling to behold. Unperturbed, Cole forged ahead, and immediately sank to her waist beneath the now-rippling surface of the pond. “The floor is littered with casks or barrels of some kind. They have shifted over the course of thousands of years; we suspect seismic activity. We aren’t certain yet whether the chamber itself was flooded deliberately or by chance.” Patterson and the rest hesitated behind her. She turned, said, “This way. Just another mile or two,” and pushed on.

The water was warm, unlike the air above it. It also turned out to be pure and clear, much to Thorne’s surprise, though he did not dare replenish his canteen within the Temple. His worn boots got little purchase at the bottom of the pool, but the stone was firm. For the space of an instant, he was caught up in the mystery of this place. What purpose had it served? Who had built it? How could ancient man have completed an undertaking so astonishing? But those thoughts were forgotten when a sound in just the wrong place fell on his ears. He gave a low, warning hiss that Cole understood immediately, and she raised her hand to call a halt, turning in her track to look back at Thorne.

“Norris,” he whispered, nodding toward the empty space off to their left. Torches danced across the surface of the water and revealed nothing: if he was there at all, he was much too distant to be revealed by their meager light. Thorne moved from the rear of their column to a position just abreast of Yves, and he gestured toward Cole’s pistol, a hefty dragoon revolver. “Is that loaded?”

“Five rounds.”

Thorne nodded. It was standard practice, of course, to leave the first chamber empty. They continued through the chamber and, little by little, Thorne became aware of a faint, blue shimmer beneath the water up ahead. Silence became the enemy, with every tinkling splash taking shape in his mind and every fluttering shadow concealing the shape of a murderer. He clenched his fist, let his nails dig into his palm just so that he could feel something real, something corporeal in this chasm of madness. Then a moment of hellish lucidity intruded upon his mad musings as a blue flame loomed before them at the bottom of the pool.

It was the find. There, beneath the rippling, crystal veil of the pond, lay one of the casks Cole had mentioned. Unlike the others, which could be seen only dimly beneath the water, this one was revealed in the light of a supernatural flame. It lay on its side, broken open, and burning, azure sand spilled out of it, glowing from within. A soft gasp sounded within the chamber and Thorne realized after a moment that it had been his own. The oath passed his lips unbidden: “By the black wings…”

Cole’s eyes snapped toward him for a moment and then back toward the find: she shared his assessment. “Get it loaded, Yves,” she said. “You three: bring the stretcher. No, not like that…”

Yves and his assistants had brought down a collapsible army stretcher borrowed from the Regiment. Apparently, there intent was to use it to haul the find back to the surface. Yet more apparently, none of them had the faintest inkling how to un-collapse a collapsible army stretcher. Thorne started toward them to help, but a splash echoing out of the distance made his hair stand on end and he froze in his tracks, listening. He did not have to wait long.

“What is it?” screamed a voice in singsong anguish, mocking the question inside him. “What is it, my darlings? You wonder, don’t you!” The mad voice shattered and echoed from a dozen directions within the chamber, leading Yves and his assistants on a fruitless search as they spun left and right, their torches slashing the empty dark in search of the speaker. “I know what it is. I can tell you. Then you can go and leave it here, and the world can sleep safer for it. Leave the Devil’s fire in its grave!”

“Norris, you are unwell,” said Cole, her hand dropping to her side. Thorne moved to cover her flank, hissing at Patterson to bring him into formation with them, back to back to back with Yves in the center. “We came to help you. We’re going to see that you make it home.” Under her breath she ordered Yves to hurry.

“No, get away from the light,” said Thorne almost before the words had left her mouth. “Yves!”

The crash of steel into water sounded in the cavern as a heavy maul plunged into the water barely a breath away from Yves and his team. The aged doctor gave a cry and staggered back, and even as he was falling a shadow sprang toward him out of the darkness, a knife upraised and flashing in the light of the Devil’s fire. Thorne surged toward them through the waist-deep water, but his movements were slowed by the pool. Patterson’s pistol was not, and it roared twice in the darkness, flashing blood-red as a pair of bullets thudded into the crazed scientist, but he never faltered. He was not quite a step away from Yves when Thorne reached him at last, catching the dagger on its downward plunge. Norris’ eyes were crazed, bestial, and foam stained his lips as they struggled, the long trembling in his hands bare inches away from Thorne’s throat.

There was a sickening crack and Norris’ arm hung at the wrong angle as Thorne took the knife from his hand, but even shattered bones were not enough to stop the assault. The scientist gave a cry like a jungle cat and his good hand tightened around Thorne’s neck, but even in his madness he was terribly overmatched: Thorne’s hands wrenched his head to one side and a snap echoed through the chamber before the researcher’s body slumped into the frothing, reddened water. Thorne stood, motionless, over Norris’ broken body. It was with no small shock that he realized he felt more calm, more in control of himself, in that moment than he had during the whole of their descent into the Mine. He had just begun to draw a deep breath, seemingly for the first time since midday, when Norris, somehow, spoke to him.

“I cannot see,” gasped the dying man, the foam at his lips tinged pink. His eyes were milky as he gazed up into the blackness that surrounded all of them. “…Leave it,” he said again, and he died.

Yves, trembling and pale, vomited, and Cole reached out to steady him. The three students stood paralyzed by all they had witnessed. When Yves was able to stand again on his own, Cole moved toward the flame in the water, but Thorne put out an arm to hold her back. To his surprise, she did not protest.

“The stretcher, gentlemen,” said Thorne to the junior researchers. “We’re taking Norris’ body back. Now, if you please.”

Evening had fallen before they crossed over the Brow into Granger and left the Temple behind, and Thorne was bone tired. Something about the Mine served to sap the strength of anyone foolhardy enough to venture inside, and it did not discriminate between lords and peasants nor scholars and traitors. He stood by the lean-to shack that housed Granger's one and only wireless transmitter and listened as the operator there tapped out the news of Norris' death. The signaleer's hand was quite nearly too quick to follow, but Thorne got the general idea: the professor's madness, his crimes, and the circumstances of his demise were omitted entirely. His loved ones would be told only that there had been a tragedy, and that the victim had been their father; husband; brother; friend. Even forgetting the man Norris had murdered that morning, it was far from the first mysterious death in the Mine.

Supper had been served long ago, but he might have found a crust of hardtack and a ration of grog had he the desire to rise and go to the mess tent. Instead, Thorne watched the dull, brown sky while the desert choked beneath a hot, ragged wind. His hands were still black with dried blood. He pressed his fingertips into the sand and he could feel Norris' flesh beneath them, along with the twin holes punched by Patterson's .455. One was just below the left lung, and the second had passed straight through the shoulder, shattering the man's scapula before tearing its way out. It was not the first life Thorne had taken, nor was it among the least needful, but it had been the first in a long, long while.

How long had it been since he had written a letter? To his mother? To any of his former comrades? To any of those who still wrote him, posting their missives in the blind hope that he was still alive, somewhere? Perhaps some of them knew for certain, having been told someone foolhardy enough to ignore the Iron Duke's command, or, in a moment of weakness, by the Duke himself. Thorne had never told anyone. In seven years, he had not written even one letter, and he could not start now, even to send his condolences to Norris' wife and children. Anyway, he had a strong suspicion that anything he sent would be destroyed long before it reached its destination. The Duke was nothing if not thorough, which made him a good friend and a terrible enemy. Thorne could no longer say which.

So he wrote there in the sand, in the shaded silence of the evening. The words were never right. Each time he started, he wiped the words away.

My condolences to...

In this, your time of grief...

When a loved one is taken...

Norris was...

I am sorry.

I did not want him to die.

I am not a traitor.

He should have killed...

His fingers raked through those last words as the wireless set banged to life again. It was a less practiced hand this time, and nervous, but slow enough that he could follow each word perfectly:

Found it. Attack tonight.

Thorne did not have to think about the implications of what he had just heard: his years of service to the Iron Duke had forged and honed new instincts within him so that what he did next was as natural as a lion’s roar. A hard kick splintered the bar that held the door shut and the man hunched over the wireless hardly had a moment to turn before Thorne had thrown him out of the shack and into the desert night. Part of the wireless set’s covering had been stripped away, but none of the parts looked to have been damaged yet; Thorne hoped he had acted quickly enough to prevent any sabotage against the transmitter. He turned his attention to the agent now sprawled across the ground and shouted in surprise when his face became visible: “Yves!”

The professor-turned-spy drew a derringer even as he lay on the ground and fired twice as Thorne dove behind the paper-thin walls of the shack. “Treachery!” he shouted, struggling to reach his feet while keeping the pistol pointed toward the doorway. “Sabotage! Traitor!”

The wireless set had not been hit, and neither had Thorne, but a wave of sickness washed over him as he realized how this would end. There was shouting and the sound of boots outside as the nearest patrol of the Duke’s Own 71st responded to Yves’ cry of alarm. The white glow of torches played across the shack and Thorne dropped to his knees, placing his hands behind his head. A soldier leveled a rifle at him and screamed at him to get away from the wireless, to lie face down in the sand. Thorne knew his name. The furious look of betrayal in the man’s eyes was like a knife in his stomach, and Thorne’s knees were weak as he struggled to obey. Another man bound his hands behind his back and dragged him up to his knees once more so that their lieutenant could drive a punch into his mouth. Thorne spat blood.

“I knew it,” said the officer, his voice laden with contempt. “It was only a matter of time before you showed your true colors.”

archer88iv
March 25th, 2013, 06:14 PM
Updated ending added above.

Narnia
March 26th, 2013, 02:36 AM
This is good. I only have a few suggestions.

1. The first paragraph is hard to work through.


They stopped once, for a few minutes, in what was believed to have been a guardroom in ancient times, but the restless fear that infested every crevice of the Temple kept them from rest.


At last they emerged from one of a thousand twisting, gut-wrenching corridors into a greater chamber, one in which the least whisper might echo for an age, and for a moment they were still. They were a single point of light in the center of a boundless darkness.

These two sentence especially. I would suggest breaking them down into separate sentences instead of one long train of thought.

2. Why only 5 rounds? Usually you want to keep a round in the chamber for additional ammo. Is this something special they do?


3. I like this:


So he wrote there in the sand, in the shaded silence of the evening. The words were never right. Each time he started, he wiped the words away.

My condolences to...

In this, your time of grief...

When a loved one is taken...

Norris was...

I am sorry.

I did not want him to die.

I am not a traitor.

He should have killed...


But i'm confused by the last line. Are you meaning to imply the doctor should have killed him instead?

Overall great but I didn't get sucked in until about the third paragraph. I think if you change the first one a little it will be a much smoother read.

archer88iv
March 26th, 2013, 04:49 AM
That's a good point. I have been trying to emulate sort of an archaic syntax--say, late 19th or early 20th century--but sometimes I get things much, much too twisted, and much too detached. Have updated the first two paragraphs above.

archer88iv
March 26th, 2013, 04:52 AM
Oh! Also, a question for Narnia:

The reason she has 5 rounds loaded is that it's an old-style revolver and the hammer rests on the primer of the cartridge in the first chamber when the weapon isn't in use. In practice, this can result in an accidental discharge and... [boring trivia redacted]

Anyway, my question is mostly what sort of gun you visualized. If it was an automatic instead of a revolver, I may need to go rework that.

Edit: Just reread that sequence and nowhere does it refer to anything other than a "pistol," which provides an incomplete visualization, of course.

Second edit: Updated paragraph pasted below.

“Norris,” he whispered, nodding toward the empty space off to their left. Torches danced across the surface of the water and revealed nothing: if he was there at all, he was much too distant to be revealed by their meager light. Thorne moved from the rear of their column to a position just abreast of Yves, and he gestured toward Cole’s pistol, a hefty dragoon revolver. “Is that loaded?”

Narnia
March 26th, 2013, 05:37 AM
Yves was past his prime and the hours-long descent to the sixth level of the Mine told on him. They did stop for a breather, once, on about the third level, but it was of no use: the restless fear that infused every part of the temple kept them from rest. Thorne carried the elder doctor’s pack in addition to his own once Dr. Cole had been satisfied that it contained no weapons of any kind. At last they emerged from one of a thousand twisting, gut-wrenching corridors into a greater chamber, one in which the least whisper might echo for an age, and for a moment they were still. They were a single point of light in the center of a boundless darkness. They had reached the sixth level.

Yves was past his prime and the long-hours descent into the sixth level of the Mine told on him. (hours-long makes me pause to think too much)

They did stop for a breather once, on about the third level but it was of little use. The restless fear that infused every part of the temple kept them far from comfort. (Trying to work around saying the word rest with restless to start the sentence. Could also rework to say: The chaotic fear that infused every part of the temple kept them far from rest.)

Thorne carried the elder doctor's pack in addition to his own but that was only after Dr. Cole had been satisfied that it contained no weapons of any kind.

At last, they emerged from one of the thousand twisting, gut-wrenching corridors into a great chamber. It was one where the (smallest/faintest) whisper could echo for an age.(Least just doesn't flow.) For the moment they were still. There was a single point of light in the center of a boundless darkness; they had now reached the sixth level.




“This was a storeroom,” said Cole as they emerged into a vast cavern. They stood upon a dais which was the only dry ground in the otherwise flooded chamber. The water was unnaturally still, like black glass, and chilling to behold. Unperturbed, Cole forged ahead, and immediately sank to her waist beneath the now-rippling surface of the pond. “The floor is littered with casks or barrels of some kind. They have shifted over the course of thousands of years; we suspect seismic activity. We aren’t certain yet whether the chamber itself was flooded deliberately or by chance.” Patterson and the rest hesitated behind her. She turned, said, “This way. Just another mile or two,” and pushed on.

They stood upon a dais which was the only dry spot in the otherwise flooded chamber. (I wouldn't say ground because a dais is raised platform)

Unperturbed, she forged ahead, and immediately sank to her waist beneath the now-rippling surface of the pond. (You don't need to change this but I think it reads easier that way)

“The floor is littered with casks or barrels of some kind. It looks as if they have shifted over the thousands of years they have been here. We suspect seismic activity. We aren’t certain yet whether the chamber itself was flooded deliberately or by chance.” (Phrased They have shifted over the course of a thousand years makes me wonder if she saw them shift. I think you have her making an observation.)

Patterson and the rest hesitated behind her. Cole turned and motioned them forward, “This way. Just another mile or two,” (It was unclear if you meant Patterson or Cole. I made the conclusion it was cole.)

Narnia
March 26th, 2013, 05:38 AM
Thanks for clarifying the type of gun. That makes much more sense to me now.