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Character Introduction Short Story (1461 words) (1 Viewer)

JStoudt

Senior Member
This was a little idea I had to try and drum up some interest for the novel I'm in the process of editing/publishing. Many people have given me the advice to start my writing career by writing short stories. Of course, I only got this advice after I wrote one and a half books of a five book series. Instead of coming up with a new idea to write short stories about I decided to do several short stories featuring characters who will play a major role in my series. Sort of like a reverse J.K. Rowling. Thanks for checking it out and any thoughts, criticisms, encouragement, etc. is welcome.




"Back off!" Samuel shouted, but the wild dog seemed emboldened today. Its jaws snapped together inches from his pant leg. Samuel leapt back, fearing another lunge which never came. Instead, once the way was clear the dog broke towards the fire.

Before Samuel could think of a way to stop it, the dog tore apart his carefully constructed roasting spit and made off with the half cooked snake he'd been preparing. He cursed in his native tongue while the dog beat a hasty retreat down the hillside.

Was it really worth following? He didn't even need food and considering how it was now coated in saliva and dirt, there was no way he was eating anything he recovered. Yet the injury to his pride from being outsmarted by a canine needed mending. That alone was reason enough to teach this animal a lesson.

His mind made up, Samuel scrambled to pick up his sword and gave chase.

The sandy brown fur was not easy to distinguish from the parched earth. Luckily Samuel caught sight of a bushy tail among the low tuffs of grass. He sped off after it, closing the gap with each step. Just when he thought he was going to be able to catch up, the dog's tall pointed ears swiveled back and it peeked over its shoulder. Seeing Samuel in hot pursuit, his furry nemesis spurred into another gear.

Now it became a fair race. As he ran, Samuel smiled at the absurdity of it all. Here he was cutting a swath across the outback simply because one of the few animals out here not trying to kill him needed a meal more than he did. Not only was he getting further and further from his camp, but he risked stepping on scorpions or snakes with venom enough to put him out for a day. Though he wouldn't die from it like a human would, nothing could reduce the pain until his body full recovered. Twice already this had happened, and he sure as hell wouldn't allow for number three if he could help it.

The gap between them remained a steady fifty yards with Samuel's gains on the straight-aways disappearing to the dog's superior agility around any obstacles. His amusement crept towards frustration as they ran over what felt like miles.

With his mind so focused on the dog's behind, Samuel failed to take full notice of the rock formations they were headed towards until he lost his target around a short escarpment. He skidded to a stop, observing the red cliffs rising above him. It didn't seem a place he wanted to charge into unknowingly. As he was well aware, confining himself in a tight space would leave him vulnerable to a slew of predatory beasts possibly lurking around any corner.

He thought about giving up his chase here, but having come so far he resigned to at least journey down the passage a short way before turning back.

A chill rushed up his spine the moment he stepped fully into the natural corridor. Its high walls blocked both light and warmth from the sun. In shadows the rocks appeared a rustic brown which concealed their many nooks and crevasses. Samuel pulled his arms in, afraid of mindlessly dragging a hand across hidden stingers or fangs.

The passage twisted ahead of him and he decided to brave one look around the corner in slim hope that the dog was still within reach. Each footstep echoed in the otherwise silent chasm until Samuel was sure every living creature ahead would be alerted to his approach.

He glanced over his shoulder just before reaching the bend. Some part of him screamed this was all wrong and he should flee, but he stayed the course if only to prove that weak self of his wrong.

Slowly, he stuck his head around the corner, slipping just one eye past the jutting crag. His imagination had painted a far worse picture than what he observed. The passage opened up into a round space closed in on all sides by steep cliffs. At the far end was a shallow cavern perfect for escaping the rare but violent storms. There he spotted his furred thief chomping away on his dinner. There were no avenues of escape and Samuel could have had his revenge, if not for the three other dogs which gave him pause. Another adult and two pups joined the first in enjoying his catch.

Samuel stood rooted to his spot watching the perfectly happy family of four share in their meal with his mind traveling back to another time. Instead of four mutts he saw a King, a Queen, and two princes in a grand banquet hall. All around them servants bustled and musicians filled the air with upbeat melodies to accompany the heartfelt laughter of their guests. He continued to watch the animals as they finished their food and turned to lounging or playing.

The larger, older pup pushed his brother around the circle, nipping and scratching his sibling without mercy. Samuel grinned, knowing in the end it would benefit the little one. His older brother and parents wouldn't always be there to protect him.

For a while he spied on in secret, reminiscing all the while until the darkening sky caught his attention. Seeing how late it had become, he sighed and turned to go, leaving his thoughts of the past with the dogs in their den.

On his way out the passage felt even colder. The warmth of his daydreams faded quickly as the cold stone sapped the last of his high. He was halfway to open ground when he felt a tremor radiate through the earth behind him. In a flash, his long fingers slipped the sword from his belt.

He spun, already aware the monster wasn't in the passage with him. No, this creature's target was the trapped family of dogs.

Samuel rounded the corner in haste and laid eyes upon the beast. At a glance he could not estimate its length for it coiled and wound around itself. As for its girth, the massive serpent looked wide enough to fit a wagon wheel inside its belly. The red and brown rings about its body provided excellent camouflage even for the size. A triangular head rose a few feet from the ground with both slit eyes trained on its prey.

In the far corner Samuel could see all four dogs huddled under the overhang. Out front the parents opened their mouths to show their fangs which surely paled in comparison to the snake's. Samuel doubted if they could even pierce its scaly hide. He rushed forward with a mighty cry, hoping to at least cause a distraction so the dogs could escape.

The snake took notice and turned its pointed head towards him while a black forked tongue tasted the air in front if its mouth. Samuel halted his charge a few dozen feet away once he had its attention. Without knowing what the snake could do he did not want to get too close until he judged its speed.

Once it looked away the dogs made their move, bolting as one for the single exit. The serpent split its attention between them and Samuel and for a moment it seemed they would get by. Samuel prepared to make his retreat once they were clear but the snake chose to ignore him. Had he blinked, he would have missed the impossibly quick strike. Foot long fangs sank into the smallest dog as he tried to catch up with his family. The snake pulled back and with one massive gulp swallowed its catch whole. It was over before the poor pup could utter so much as a whimper.

"No!" Samuel cried. He could only watch in horror as he saw an entirely different scene. It played out before him as in all his nightmares. He stood staring helplessly from afar as a different kind of monster charged at his brother. Twin daggers tore into his brother's flesh and the bodies of a thousand fleeing soldiers swallowed him. And those eyes. Those piercing evil eyes he would never forget so long as he lived.

Suddenly he snapped back to the present. The creature turned his way while a lump squeezed its way down the coiled body. Samuel met its stare with a hatred burning in his gut. Veins all over his body stood out as he lifted his sword to its nose.

"Come," he said. "This world has enough monsters already. It won't miss you."

His serpentine adversary drew back in preparation for a strike. Then, if only for a moment, the beast appeared to open its mouth and smile at him.

Samuel froze. The beast struck.
 

hvysmker

Senior Member
Instead of coming up with a new idea to write short stories about I decided to do several short stories featuring characters who will play a major role in my series.
*** I agree. It is a little late in the game. It can't hurt, though. You can get to further understand the characters as well as try out new story sections.

Before Samuel could think of a way to stop it, the dog tore apart his carefully constructed roasting spit and made off with the half cooked snake he'd been preparing.
*** half-cooked. Confusing without the hyphen. It could mean half of a cooked snake.

He cursed in his native tongue while the dog beat a hasty retreat down the hillside.
*** Is "in his native tongue" necessary to further the story?

He didn't even need food and considering how it was now coated in saliva and dirt, there was no way he was eating anything he recovered.
*** This early in the story, assuming it's meant to stand alone, the not needing food is confusing. In other words, is he human?

The sandy brown fur was not easy to distinguish from the parched earth. Luckily Samuel caught sight of a bushy tail among the low tuffs of grass.
*** I'd say, too many "the"s in those sentences? In this case, I'd drop all three of them. Try reading those sentences without any "the"s.

He sped off after it, closing the gap with each step. Just when he thought he was going to be able to catch up, the dog's tall pointed ears swiveled back and it peeked over its shoulder. Seeing Samuel in hot pursuit, his furry nemesis spurred into another gear.
*** Good mental image.

Not only was he getting further and further from his camp,
*** farther. Farther is a measure of distance.

Though he wouldn't die from it like a human would, nothing could reduce the pain until his body full recovered.
*** I stand corrected. He's not human. fully.

Twice already this had happened, and he sure as hell wouldn't allow for number three if he could help it.
*** Weak sentence. Try, "It had happened twice before..."

In shadows the rocks appeared a rustic brown which concealed their many nooks and crevasses.
*** Comma after "shadows"?

Some part of him screamed this was all wrong and he should flee, but he stayed the course if only to prove that weak self of his wrong.
*** THAT this was wrong?

Samuel stood rooted to his spot watching the perfectly happy family of four share in their meal with his mind travelling back to another time.
*** Confusing. Maybe something like, "While watching the happy family share in their meal, his mind travelled back to another time."?

Instead of four mutts he saw a King, a Queen, and two princes in a grand banquet hall.
*** Comma after "mutts"?

All around them servants bustled and musicians
*** Comma after "them"?

For a while he spied on in secret, reminiscing all the while until the darkening sky caught his attention.
*** Comma after "while"?

On his way out the passage felt even colder.
*** Comma after "out"?

At a glance he could not estimate its length for it coiled and wound around itself.
*** Comma after "glance"?

In the far corner Samuel could see all four dogs huddled under the overhang.
*** Ain't no corners. "At the far side"? Comma after "corner"?

Out front the parents opened their mouths to show their fangs which surely paled in comparison to the snake's.
*** Comma after "front"? I'd drop the second "their"?

The snake took notice and turned its pointed head towards him while a black forked tongue tasted the air in front if its mouth. Samuel halted his charge a few dozen feet away once he had its attention.
*** I'd drop that "once he had its attention"?

Without knowing what the snake could do he did not want to get too close until he judged its speed.
*** Comma after "do"?

Foot long fangs sank into the smallest dog as he tried to catch up with his family.
*** Foot-long

It was over before the poor pup could utter so much as a whimper.
*** Confusing. Dog, not pup.

Suddenly he snapped back to the present.
*** Comma after "Suddenly"?

What, no finish? Good story, JStoudt, except you need more work on your commas. That's one reason I advise newer writers to start with short stories. It's easier to correct such errors on a short one than halfway through a novel. I believe novels are best written when your grammar is mostly perfected. From my experience, it can never be perfect, though. I've been writing fiction for some ten years now and still make such mistakes. It's the reason I post on these sites.

Charlie
 

SwitchBack

Senior Member
No bad. It is interesting. I can't add much to what was said above.


Though I have one thing - instead of saying he cursed in his native language, make him curse.


Yours --- He cursed in his native tongue while the dog beat a hasty retreat down the hillside.


"Merde," scrambling to his feet, Samuel rushed forwards intent on salvaging his dinner. He missed, his feet slipping in the sand, and the dog bolted past him. With a yipping bark, sounding too much like a laugh to his ears, the dog began the long climb down the hillside.
 
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