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Abby
August 29th, 2014, 11:42 PM
Hi all, would love it if you could give me an opinion on this so far, and also suggestions on how I might get the girl away from the beast in an interesting and believable way. Thanks! :)

The girl ran and ran through the dirt, on and on until she felt the cold night air would burst her lungs. Painfully aware of the rising dust clouds that marked her progress and the crackling of the dry grass underfoot she tried to make her tread lighter, willing herself to be silent. Moonlight turned her eyes into shining coins as she snatched a glance over her shoulder, she could see no sign of him but it gave her no comfort.

Her breath was coming in short harsh whoops, each intake tearing her throat into fresh ribbons of pain. She stopped for a moment to try to calm it down and instantly her left calf muscle locked in an agonising cramp. No, No, No, not now! Hot tears sprang from her eyes as she kneaded her leg with one dirty hand, the other pressed to her mouth to stifle her cries. She had to keep moving, if she stayed here she would perish. He would have no mercy, he had her scent and he would catch her, and when he did only the Gods could save her. Be that as it may every ounce of her was screaming for rest and her exhausted body just refused to take another step. Stopped here like a rabbit in the moonlight she was easy prey, but there was no alternative. She needed to rest or she would die, no one could keep up this pace forever.

She was in a small clearing leading to the edge of a wide stream, in the gloom she could just make out the flat glaze of the water and the cloud of drifting flies above its surface. Silently she dropped to her hands and knees and scuttled towards it, hoping against all odds to find a hiding place where she could rest up and wait for him to pass. As she crept closer to the stream the springy moss turned to wet sludge under her feet and then she was suddenly knee deep and gasping as the icy water took hold. Her rudely awakened senses scrambled for a means of survival…there! Just beyond the water’s edge on the far side of the stream there was an area of deeper gloom, she couldn't make it out yet but it could be a cave...if she could just reach it before he saw her maybe she could hide out there until he was gone. She launched her slight body as silently as she could into the water and glided through it neck deep, her toes propelling her across the river bed, arms sweeping like wings towards that dark haven. As her outstretched fingers gripped the ledge she allowed herself one swift look over shoulder and froze.

The beast stood at the far side of the stream, its great furred back steaming as it stood swaying in silhouette against the night sky, its eyes punching tiny red pin pricks in the dark, marking its prey. It turned its face up to the sky and drew in a great wet rasping sniff of the night air, tasting her scent, but it didn't follow. Darshi realised with dawning comprehension that it couldn’t follow her into the water. She thanked the Gods for small mercies but her situation was not good. Her teeth had begun to click incessantly and the pain in her chest was almost unbearable. She was too small and too weak; if she stayed here she would not survive the night.She remembered tales of men many times stronger than her who had perished after their ships had dumped them into icy waters…the water here was shallow, but if she stayed in it long enough the result would be the same.

Luckily the dumb beast didn’t know its depth in the dark, but how long would it be before he realised he had her trapped? There was always a chance that he might turn back, she thought. The water was a problem for him, maybe he would give up and search for an easier meal. Maybe. Then again, if he had half a brain he would realise that she would have to leave its cover eventually, all he had to do was wait it out. Frarks weren't the brightest of creatures but what they lacked in brains they made up for in ferocity, and he had her scent. As long as he thought there was a chance he wouldn't give up until he had her, to think anything different would be playing right into its bone crunching jaws.

The Frark was still there, its silhouette like a nightmare image projected on the sky. It reminded her of a game father had played with her every night by candlelight, he would make his hands into shapes which grew large on the wall behind the glow and she would guess which animal he was playing. Sometimes it was a horse, with little ears made from the crooks of his fingers, sometimes a great lizard with snapping jaws. He would make no puppets now, Darshi thought sadly. Wherever he was he was better off than her, no more pain can befall the dead.

Keeping her eyes on the beast she hoisted herself into the shallow cave. It was only just wider than her head but quite deep, she wiggled in as far as she could and allowed herself to relax. The Frark was still there, swaying. Hal had once told her that Frarks hibernate in certain conditions, she had laughed and walloped him at the time, sure he was pulling her leg as usual like big brothers do, but now she wondered. Maybe they did hibernate in a way. It had been there for some time now, swaying. Maybe after a period of stillness it went into a kind of paused state…awake enough to stand but not really there. If she were to leave the cave and climb the bank, would it hear her?

She raised her hands and felt slowly along the roof of the cave until her fingers snagged on a loop of root. Gingerly she pulled and got a face full of powdery dirt as the root came away bringing in the ground above. Darshi looked to her left and saw the swaying beast still hadn’t moved. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and yanked as hard as she could. Dirt pattered down on her bare chest and legs and the root grew slack in her grip. Something scuttled across her face and she squeezed her lips and eyes together as tight as she could, fighting with all of her will to stop the panic from taking her senses. After what felt like an age at last the dirt stopped falling and Darshi felt cold night air stirring the hairs on her arm. She opened her eyes and saw stars like diamonds in the velvet night sky, it was a beautiful sight. She took a deep breath of that cold night air and turned her head. The swaying beast still stood, oblivious.

Miles-Kirk
August 30th, 2014, 02:55 AM
I like the story concept, it captures the readers attention and imagination, as we do not know what a Frark is, why it is chasing her, and where is she and why? So all this is done brilliantly. The little flashback about her Father was a great way to bring in a bit of the characters history into such an isolated event.

The only criticism I can make, personally, is to do with certain words being repeated throughout quite often. This is more of a personal pet hate. The ones I noticed most is that you use 'sway' to describe the motion of the Frark and you used 'gloom' and 'deeper gloom' fairly close to each other. Again, like I said, it's more of a personal vendetta.

Depending on the way you want the story to go numerous ideas are possible for her to get away:

-Another Frark could attack the current Frark leaving Darshi able to escape.
-Someone rescues her.
-She could go all Rambo and use the roots she pulled down to garrote the Frark.
-Finds a causeway beneath the water.

I think you need to ask yourself do you want her to run, fight, or be rescued?

You should keep writing and see where it goes, I am looking forward to reading more.

Abby
August 30th, 2014, 10:17 AM
Thanks Mile, I'll get rid of those repetitions. I started this without any prep and now I'm not sure where I want it to go. I want her to escape but I've got her into such a tricky spot that I'm not sure how to get her out of it in a believable way. The simplest way would be for her to climb up through the hole she's made and creep away while the frark is in it's slumber state, but I'm worried that would be a bit of an anti climax.

MysticalMind
August 30th, 2014, 04:29 PM
Those two huge paragraphs are extremely daunting. Your opening is reasonably descriptive but you need to find a way to break the paragraphs up more effectively. Each paragraph should contain one or two ideas only. How you elect to divide up the paragraphs is at your discretion. As an example, the description of the beast would be a new paragraph.

Abby
August 30th, 2014, 05:09 PM
Is that any better?

MysticalMind
August 30th, 2014, 09:13 PM
It looks much better. But don't take my word for it. As for the girl getting away from the beast in an interesting in believable way maybe the sludge masks her scent? The girl is in the dark so if the beast can't see her and if she is covered in sludge then the beast can't smell her either. All she has to do is remain still and quiet. Also, you mention the name Hal: Hal had once told her that Frarks hibernate in certain conditions
However the reader doesn't know who this person is at that point in the story. It's just a random name.

Abby
August 30th, 2014, 09:48 PM
Thanks for the idea, will have a think! Hal is her big brother by the way, I did mention that briefly I think :)

MysticalMind
August 30th, 2014, 10:20 PM
Before I posted that reply did a search for the word "Hal" in your initial post (with a space after it to avoid words such as "shallow") just to make sure I hadn't missed anything and the word is only used once. And it is mentioned that Hal is a brother only after the instance of "Hal" is used.

Abby
August 31st, 2014, 07:48 AM
Before I posted that reply did a search for the word "Hal" in your initial post (with a space after it to avoid words such as "shallow") just to make sure I hadn't missed anything and the word is only used once. And it is mentioned that Hal is a brother only after the instance of "Hal" is used.

Hal had once told her that Frarks hibernate in certain conditions, she had laughed and walloped him at the time, sure he was pulling her leg as usual like big brothers do, but now she wondered.

MysticalMind
August 31st, 2014, 10:47 AM
Hal had once told her that Frarks hibernate in certain conditions, she had laughed and walloped him at the time, sure he was pulling her leg as usual like big brothers do, but now she wondered.

Yes, that's the instance I found. What I'm saying is his name appears out of the blue before the reader is properly introduced to him. In my opinion you could do one of two things:
1. Just mention she has a brother without mentioning his name because at the time his name isn't important
2. Or maybe reword the sentence so it says: Hal, her brother, had once told her...

Abby
August 31st, 2014, 11:26 AM
Hmm, maybe, not sure about that one but will give it some thought. I wanted it to read like a thought or a memory so to introduce him formally would disrupt that flow I think. I don't know, I'll have a think about it. Thanks for you input though, much appreciated :)

altoid967
September 14th, 2014, 11:38 PM
It reminded her of a game father had played with her every night by candlelight, he would make his hands into shapes which grew large on the wall behind the glow and she would guess which animal he was playing. Sometimes it was a horse, with little ears made from the crooks of his fingers, sometimes a great lizard with snapping jaws.

I like how you've compared the current situation to a child's game gone sinister.

You've really got a good thing going: vivid description, suspense. It feels like there are countless directions in which this could go. The first thing that popped into my head when I read of the Frark going into a pause-like state was, is it hibernating as the brother suggested was possible, or is there an as yet unseen force that is able to control the monster?

I hope you can find the inspiration to continue. I would love to find out what happens next!

Abby
September 16th, 2014, 11:15 AM
I LOVE that idea altoid967! :)

Mat
October 16th, 2014, 08:12 PM
I absolutely love this! A brilliant (in my lowly opinion) start, really engaging. I can see the problem with deciding which way to take it, it leaves itself wide open at this point. If it were me, I'd have your protagonist rescued, although maybe by someone whom she wouldn't want to be rescued by. Perhaps a mercenary/slaver type character? Just my opinion, but I think making the Frark under some kind of power would detract from its daemon-like appeal. Now please ignore this and carry on!

The Defenestrator
October 16th, 2014, 09:32 PM
For a beginning section, I care about one thing above all other things: does it draw me in to the action? DO I CARE?

The answer for this piece is yes. Being chased is a great way to hook the reader, make them want to read to answer the questions they have in their mind.

So, suggestions...

1. Maybe the reason the beast won't enter the water plays into the escape. It could be another beast under the surface (like an alligator kind of thing) or anything like that.
2. The beast seems to track by smell; perhaps an assault of some strong smell allows her to run away and not get pursued. (Skunk defense!)
3. Maybe our hero finds something in the environment (this plays into the previous two) that can act as a weapon or a powerful deterrent to drive away the beast. Maybe she finds a tar pit or something and uses it to trap the beast. Something like that.

Abby
October 17th, 2014, 10:15 AM
Thanks for the great suggestions :) I haven't touched this or written anything for weeks but I will try to give it some thought and add to it very soon :)

MzSnowleopard
October 25th, 2014, 07:22 PM
Wow, this one grabbed me and pulled me right in with the girl. This was well done, vivid and most importantly- it made me care about her survival. I didn't catch much description of the frark so my mind filled in with some type of bear-like creature because of the hibernation.

My one issue is with this part: She was in a small clearing leading to the edge of a wide stream,

It doesn't sit right with me since we know that she's been running. Perhaps word it as

She 'came to' a small clearing leading to the edge of a wide stream,


my suggestion on continuing this story- definitely keep writing it. Perhaps the creature can't or won't cross bodies of water? Maybe this is why it's appears to be hibernating- it's hesitant because of the water?. A solution could be for her to cross the stream.

IMO being rescued is old-hat, I am a fan of women and girls saving themselves.

What I want to know is: why was she there? what events lead to this run for her life? And how did she happen upon this beast that it caught her scent?

Yes, indeed, you should finish this story.

just my 2 cents

Gargh
October 25th, 2014, 07:57 PM
If the Frark can't chase her into water, why? Does it not like it, or is it really destructive for it? Is it all water, or only water from a particular source? Can she use the water to get away, is it enough to deter the Frark that she's wet? This is what I do myself when I'm painted into a corner; ask a gazillion questions. I'm almost compelled to write like this, I enjoy the reverse-engineering that makes it all fit.

My personal instinct, before she entered the cave, was to suggest she remove her outer clothes and leave them floating in the water to confuse the Frark and then she could slip away under water and downstream. This would cause its own set of problems that you may not want though. If you want her to be a bit calculating, there could be something else in the cave, like a rabbit or pig or anything warm-blooded. Again, if she wraps it in her clothes this could be enough to distract the Frark with a moving scent as she boots it out of the hiding place and it runs off scared. She survives, but we learn a bit about what she will do to ensure that! Whatever you choose here, it will set the tone for her character.

I've imagined the Frark as having bad eyesight, and a conk like a star-nosed mole...?