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Bait (working title) Chapter 1 (1 Viewer)

BluntAshwater

Senior Member
This is my first post on here, it's the first chapter of the novel I'm currently working on. It's a second draft, although it's still nowhere near as polished as I would like it to be. All constructive criticism appreciated and I shall return the favour :)

Dante sprinted down the narrow alleyway. His feet pounded off the wet, black ground. Rain, sweat and mascara joined forces to impair his eyesight. The adrenaline was doing a poor job of hiding the blinding pain surging from the weeping gash in his side. None of this mattered; Dante knew that stopping for a rest was the same as slitting his own throat. Stumbling out of the end of the alley, he noticed a derelict petrol station. With his energy drained and no sign of his pursuers, he decided to find a hiding place. After quickly scanning the surrounding area with his dark eyes, he slumped against the petrol pumps. His trembling frame lacked the energy to grip his sword properly. It fell to the ground with the sickening noise of steel scraping concrete. Dante fought a losing battle against his rapidly closing eyelids and eventually passed out.


He was awoken by a savage grip around his thin neck. His eyes snapped open as his face twisted into an expression of raw terror. With his eyes still in REM he caught broken glances of a large man wearing a red plaid shirt and faded jeans. His face was as worn and creased as his clothes, instantly betraying his age. To his left stood a smaller man wearing a tracksuit which was covered in disgusting, crusted stains. His nose was a deep shade of scarlet and his eyes were glazed over. It seemed he was present in only the most physical sense of the word. Behind them, sparks flew as a frail looking girl messed around with some kind of generator. The smaller man leaned closer to Dante, as if inspecting him. The sides of his mouth curled in disgust as he spoke in a calm, gravelly tone.
“Jesus, It's another one of those vampire freaks. They're as bad as the cannibals. Better kill him before he causes any more trouble.”
As he spoke, the foul odour of stale whiskey swept over Dante. The man raised his weapon, which looked like the cruel love child of an axe and a hammer. Plaid shirt firmly lowered the weapon with his free hand.
“Not yet! He might be able to tell us something about the Deviants. Grab his sword; we're taking him back to base.”
The smaller man sighed in disappointment and picked up the sword. Plaid shirt spoke once more, this time in a slower, relaxed tone, “Can we use the generator Treats?”
The girl (presumably Treats) replied,
“Yeah. It's too heavy for me though, you'll have to carry it.”
Plaid shirt released his grip on Dante and turned towards Treats. “No Problem,” he then glanced towards Dante and said, “Keep an eye on him, Duncan.” Dante was passing in and out of consciousness as Duncan roughly hauled him to his feet. Duncan had a sneering grin on his face; he was obviously enjoying Dante's pain a great deal.
“Start walking Dracula,” Duncan commanded. He pulled Dante towards him with a jerk of his arm and whispered, “I can't wait to get some information out of you. I really hope you don't co-operate. Fun is pretty hard to come by these days.” Dante's world began to spin. The lighting was becoming dimmer and brighter in sporadic, surreal patterns. He noticed that Treats was keeping a watchful eye over the exchange. Her forehead was furrowed with concern. Dante's mouth curled into a crooked smile.
“What the hell do you have to smile about?!” Duncan spat. His outburst caused Dante's smile to spread even further across his pale face.
“Just taking comfort in the thought that you're all as screwed as I am.” The blow from Duncan's skeletal fist was too quick for Dante to see. It collided with his chin, causing a nauseating crunch. He instantly blacked out.


Dante sluggishly stirred into consciousness. Before his sight kicked in, he could hear several different voices, becoming increasingly loud as he came to. His retinas slowly began to take in his surroundings. He was in the back of a truck. Three mattresses were squeezed against the far wall and several candles littered the floor. Treats, Duncan and Plaid Shirt were sat around him, engaged in discussion.
“It could be worse, at least we're definitely the good guys!” Treats said optimistically.
“That is probably the faggiest thing I've ever heard,” Duncan retorted.
“It's important to stay upbeat in this kind of situation,” She replied.
“Christ, how did we get stuck with this kid?” Duncan complained.
“At least she's not as reckless as you,” said Plaid Shirt.
“Exactly. Thanks Fyfe!” said Treats, as her eyes lit up gratefully.
“Can't we put a gag on her or something?” Duncan sighed.
“That's a bit kinky,” Fyfe smirked.
“You guys act as if you're not one bad decision away from being eaten alive,” said Dante, as his brain finally kicked into action.
“Hey, you're awake! At least Goth kids never change. They still know how to suck the life out of a room,” said Duncan as he approached Dante and knelt down beside him. He took a long swig from a bottle of whiskey. He seemed to be contemplating the right question to ask.
“So, what's your story kid? You don't seem as screwed up as the other Deviants. How come we found you alone? We've only ever seen your type hunting in packs,” he asked, in a much kinder tone than usual.
Dante thought back on the events of the last 24 hours. Remembering it was painful but he realised he had no other choice if he wanted to stay alive.
“I'm Dante. I used to run with a group but they turned on me. I tried to stop them from doing something terrible. Guess they thought I had too much of a conscience to be trusted,” he replied thoughtfully, “They've reached the same stage of hysteria as the cannibals now.”
Duncan drank deeply from his bottle once more, seemingly deep in thought.
“Dante? Even for a goth, that's pretty pathetic,” Duncan chuckled, “Hell, at least you know when to stop. I saw a bunch of those freaks torturing a couple in Raigmore, beside the Hospital. Had 'em chained to a bus stop. One of them was setting the chick's clothes on fire with an aerosol and lighter. You don't even want to know what they did to the guy.” Treats squirmed uncomfortably on the mattress. Fyfe opened his mouth to speak but before he could, there was a loud knock on the side of the truck. The vibrations shook Dante's slender arms.
“Damn, we'll have to leave this until later. Can you fight kid?” Fyfe whispered.
“Sure,” Dante said eagerly, “But wouldn't it be safer to stay in here?”
“No. Sounds like there's only one of them out there. If we don't kill it quickly, others will come,” Fyfe replied ominously. He handed the sword to Dante and opened the shutter as quietly as possible. Dante hopped silently onto the ground behind the truck. Fyfe lowered himself down afterwards, gesturing to Dante that he should take point. Peering around the corner, Dante could see nothing but the oppressive darkness which engulfed the battered grey truck. Fyfe had a puzzled look on his face but remained vigilant, slowly scanning the environment with his shotgun raised. Suddenly, there was movement near the cab of the truck. Dante could hear footsteps increasing in pace, but could see nothing. He raised his sword and began walking towards the sound. A face, completely twisted with rage and torment emerged from the sooty night. Dante reflexively slashed at the creature's neck. Waves of crimson waste erupted from the ragged stump as the severed head hit the ground with a hollow thump. Fyfe recoiled as his eyes burned from droplets of blood hitting his retinas at high velocity.
“Christ's sake, did you have to decapitate it?!” he whispered angrily.
“I... I didn't exactly have a lot of time on my hands to think it through,” Dante stuttered defensively, “Let's just head back in.” As Fyfe locked the truck's shutter, Dante sat down on the mattress beside Treats. Despite his best efforts, he couldn't stop a nostalgic smile from creeping across his blood-stained face.
“Umm...why are you smiling, Dante?” Treats asked apprehensively as she passed him a towel. Dante turned to face her.
“Oh, sorry, it must look pretty creepy. That cannibal was my headmaster at high school. I never thought I'd get the chance to do that to him,” he joked. Fyfe paced the trailer nervously.
“Alright guys, we should probably get some sleep. We're going to need to move camp tomorrow. There have been too many attacks in the past few days,” he said. As if on auto-pilot, Duncan began to extinguish the candles. As the last few flickered out, jagged shadows waltzed along the dented metal. Dante shared a mattress with Treats. As soon as he lay down, his exhausted body succumbed to sleep.


Dante's rest was invaded by several uncomfortable dreams. Some of life before the crisis broke, some of what may have happened were he not so fortunate. The most pronounced was the memory of life just after the crisis had exploded in the sleepy Highland town. He remembered reading about the sudden, brutal attacks carried out by previously upstanding members of society in the local newspaper. Before long, the town centre was a desolate waste with a morbid carpet of corpses soaked with congealing blood. At the time the situation had reached fever pitch, Dante was at his friend Shade's house. A few hours earlier, they had been looking at conspiracy theories on her outdated computer. The most popular theory involved the compulsory cancer suppressant that the government had issued 2 years before the outbreak.
“That doesn't make any sense. How can this be good for the government?” Dante asked skeptically.
Shade ran her fingers through her jet black hair, apparently deep in thought. Her black lips formed a ridiculous pout as she responded, “Maybe they didn't realise until it was too late. I remember those psychologists kept babbling about the possibility of brain damage. Haven't you wondered why we aren't turning into raging cannibals?” Dante was distracted by a scraping sound coming from the window. As he pulled the curtains back, he saw the headless figure of his headmaster, clawing furiously at the filthy glass.
 

NathanBrazil

Best Seller
Friends of WF
I'm enjoying the read but the first thing that struck me were a fair number of "ing" adjectives and adverbs. We just had a discussion about rules. And I believe in moderation, that these are fine. But over-used they tend to stand out and muck with the flow. Also important are those that don't add anything.

This part of the line stood out to me. The pain is blinding. The gash is weeping. And the blinding pain is surging. Just something to keep an eye out for.
blinding pain surging from the weeping gash in his side

Another possible choice here is "Duncan sneered".
Duncan had a sneering grin on his face

"were sat" should be "were sitting"
Three mattresses were squeezed against the far wall and several candles littered the floor. Treats, Duncan and Plaid Shirt were sat around him, engaged in discussion.

I've got more but I'm out of time. I'm half way through and I'm enjoying what I've read so far. If you have time, add the line breaks through the middle of this piece. It will make it easier to read.
 

NathanBrazil

Best Seller
Friends of WF
Ok, finished. I have to admit that I was stalled when I hit the dialogue between Fyfe, Treats and Duncan. My first thought was that this was a D & D world somehow encroaching on the modern world. And these were indeed the bad guys that were intending to torture info from Dante.

But this seems more like a post apocalyptic piece with zombie-cannibals. Not totally clear on that because in the last scene we see a headless cannibal tearing at the earth. The tags for the thread confirm this. The sword threw me.

I was intrigued in the first half but once I hit the dialogue in the truck, I didn't really like the direction the story took. It's a tough piece to write without falling into the trap of cliche. We've been inundated with Zombie pieces.
 

BluntAshwater

Senior Member
This does indeed take place in a post-apocalyptic world, it has absolutely nothing to do with D&D. The sword shall be explained in due course (remember, this is only chapter 1).

I realise that Zombie pieces are cliche, although these are not technically Zombies, I can understand why your cliche alarm is buzzing. I wanted to put a slight twist on the old formula by using a psychological reason instead of viral or supernatural. I have also tried to mix things up a bit by setting the story in the Highlands of Scotland instead of the rather tired setting of the U.S.

Thanks for the input. If you wouldn't mind, could you explain more clearly what you didn't like about the direction post-truck dialogue? I would like to improve this in any way possible.

Anyway, you've been pretty helpful, thank you very much for reading :)
 

NathanBrazil

Best Seller
Friends of WF
BluntAshwater- That's good. The scene setting and the psychological twist. Anyway we can get hints of that in the 1st chapter. The sooner the better.

Alright, the transition between seeing these as bad guys to "We're the good guys." feels too sudden.

I'm expecting a toughness born of necessity. They don't trust this guy. They've kidnapped him to get info about the deviants and suddenly it feels like their buddy-buddy with Dante. I would slow this down. You've got an opportunity for some good character building before the attack. An actual interrogation room scene could help toughen up their image. Maybe there's a good reason not to trust Dante and they need to be careful.
“It could be worse, at least we're definitely the good guys!” Treats said optimistically.
“That is probably the faggiest thing I've ever heard,” Duncan retorted.
“It's important to stay upbeat in this kind of situation,” She replied.
“Christ, how did we get stuck with this kid?” Duncan complained.
“At least she's not as reckless as you,” said Plaid Shirt.
“Exactly. Thanks Fyfe!” said Treats, as her eyes lit up gratefully.
“Can't we put a gag on her or something?” Duncan sighed.
“That's a bit kinky,” Fyfe smirked.
“You guys act as if you're not one bad decision away from being eaten alive,” said Dante, as his brain finally kicked into action.
“Hey, you're awake! At least Goth kids never change. They still know how to suck the life out of a room,”
 
In the dialogue, I noticed quite a few replacements for "said". These break up the story more when they're used in profusion than just using "said". Other than that, I found this to be very entertaining. I can't wait for the next installment :)
 

ArcThomas

Senior Member
I liek the theme, the genre, the story itself. not quite a publishable work. But i like it, and with editing You'd have something great!
I'll message you some of my *proofing* so it doesn't clog the thread.

I figured I'd edit this in
Sorry for ignoring the prior posts of advice before messaging you my 'proofs'
lol, a lil repetitive at point to point/
 
Last edited:

ArcThomas

Senior Member
Had to double post. needed attention.
IOn the dream. Shade should not actually be the friend she is rememebring! liek a dream. Shade is a nother friedn he had made since, but int he dream he remebers her in place of his true friend. Then as time goes on you can reveal other such nonsense liek that.

You know when you remeber something witht he wrong person in it. but sicne your asleep you pretend its all normal. ahah :D how u like it?
 

BluntAshwater

Senior Member
Ahh, thanks for pointing out the fact that the interrogation is missing! Can't believe I forgot to put that in, what an idiot :p
Interesting idea ArcThomas, I'll mess around with it and see if it works. If it does, I'll let you know :)
Chaos, do you think this could be improved by just using "said"?
 
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