PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
This is the first chapter of a story is started writing a few years ago and posted on another forum like this one. It was received fairly well but interest in it was going by chapter 14 or so.
Please let me know what you think about it. If you like it, there will be more coming soon.
Chapter 1: Firepower
Matt stared at his computer screen, idly scrolling down Facebook and alternating between internet tabs. It was 3am and he couldn’t sleep. He tried to put the fact that he had an exam in a few hours at the back of his mind. At the moment, he was watching a re-run of Mock The Week online.
Then he heard a thud. And then the house shook, briefly but noticeably. He was sure he heard it from the garden. He threw off his headphones and flung the window open. Sure enough, there was something there.
Matt crept down the stairs, hoping his parents hadn’t woken up.
He padded out into the garden in flip-flops, making his way towards the object. It looked like a glowing red crystal, thin with a pointed tip, sticking out of the ground. It seemed to glow brighter as he got closer to it. As he stretched out his hand to touch it, he also began to hear a whistling sound.
And then it was gone.
The next thing Matt knew, he was lying in his bed. Pale morning light shone in his eyes. He turned over to look at his clock. 8:45. “Crap!”
He dashed out of the door, not even stopping for breakfast. But he didn’t feel hungry at all. He felt great. Really, really great. He wasn’t even thinking, ‘Damn morning exams!’ as most other kids in his class were thinking right now. In fact, he felt like he was going to get to school in time and ace that exam.
* * *
“Late…” a girl said bitterly to Matt as he sat down at the desk next to her. Cassie.
“Meh, I can catch up.” Matt started to write quickly on his answer paper. Very quickly.
“Whoa.” The word escaped her mouth. She had never seen him move so fast in his life. She had never seen anyone move so fast, ever.
Soon he began to draw the attention of the students around him with his scratchscratchscratchscratch. The normally hard-faced examiners widened their eyes.
* * *
Matt finished first and spent the rest of the exam with his hands cupped behind his head.
“What was that about?” Cassie said to Matt as they left the exam hall.
“What was what?” Matt said, tongue pressed to the side of his cheek. Others stared at him.
“You know what I’m talking about.” Cassie said, sounding annoyed. He was taken aback. “Have you been taking something? That was impossible.”
“I don’t think it was impossible, but it certainly looked improbable…” said someone quietly.
Cassie ignored the person and glared at Matt. Then her eyes narrowed.
“No! Say it louder, why don’t you.”
“You cheater! You cheated!”
“Alright, that’s enough from you,” Matt grumbled, putting his arm around her neck and covering her mouth. “Let’s talk about this in the library. Come on, Joshua. Nothing to see, everyone…” A sickly-pale, dark-haired boy behind him followed the pair sheepishly, leaving behind bemused students who crowded around the scene of the outburst.
* * *
“Alright, what is it? And why does Joshua have to be here?”
Matt blinked. “He’s my best friend.”
“I barely see you two together,” Cassie replied dryly.
Matt looked over to Joshua, who was taking books from a shelf some distance from Cassie and Matt. They sat in padded chairs, facing each other. He shrugged. “I trust him more than anyone else. If I’m going to tell you my secret, he has to hear it first, too.”
“Whatever. Go on.”
“I heard something land in my garden early this morning. It must have made a real impact because my house was shaking.”
“Really? I didn’t feel anything this morning.”
“It was really early. You would have been asleep. Anyway, I look out my window and see this glowing red thing. I think I touched it and I think I absorbed it. It was weird. And then-"
“Sorry, but what are you talking about?” Cassie looked confused and slightly annoyed. “What does this have to do you with you suddenly being able to write like that? The drugs are messing with your mind.”
“I’m not finished yet,” Matt said, sounding annoyed himself. “And I didn’t take any drugs, though I couldn’t remember what happened next. The next thing rembered was waking up a few hours later and feeling really good. I felt like I could do anything! You should have seen me walking to school.” He motioned with his hand. “Voom!”
Cassie looked to a bemused Joshua, who shrugged his shoulders, and then back to Matt. She stood up and scowled.
“I don’t know what you’ve been doing, but I’m going to find out and report this,” Cassie said coldly. She walked out the door.
Matt looked at Joshua with raised eyebrows. “What a freak.”
Joshua only nodded as he stared pensively at an open book.
* * *
Two shady figures dressed in trench coats stood in the school’s bike shed. One of them stood at about 8ft.
“We might get caught here,” said the shorter of the two with a squeaky voice.
“It does not matter if we get caught,” the other said in a voice that seemed to be shadowed by many despairing sounds. It was deep, fitting the menacing stature.
“Okay, so how many do I have to kill?”
The other held up a finger. “One. Just one. However, you must make yourself known.”
“But why? We will compromise the-”
“I will explain later. Do not fail me.” The figured faded into thin air.
* * *
“Matt…” Cassie muttered under her breath. She wasn’t actually going to doing anything about Matt. She just felt stupid that she was duped like that, and with Joshua being witness. But there were unanswered questions, and Cassie was sure Matt didn’t actually take anything weird so he could pass the test. There was simply nothing that could do that and she knew Matt well enough that anything like that would be out of character, despite his eccentricities. Matt’s story was also preposterous. She shook her head. She had revised so hard while Matt just messed about in lessons.
She was snapped out of her thoughts by shrill giggling on the bench opposite her. The girls sitting there were far away enough and so engrossed in their inanity that they didn’t notice Cassie’s look of contempt. More idiots. She picked up her bag and turned to leave for her next class.
As soon as she turned, she heard several screams. She turned again to see the commotion and saw what looked like a scarecrow wearing a trench coat standing in between her and the other girls. Where did that come from?
It stepped towards Cassie, leaving a trail of straw. It was infinitely terrifying with its glowing red eyes and its sheer implausibility: talking, walking scarecrow. She couldn’t move.
“You’ll do. Yes, I’ll kill you.” His squeaky voice only made him slightly less scary.
She could believe anything, now. Even Matt’s stupid story.
* * *
“What’s going on?” Matt said. He looked with horror at the strange thing that had a hold of Cassie across the field. (Very) Quickly he bounded up to it.
“Hrmm, who’s that?” scarecrow said. Matt’s chest started to glow red as he got closer. The scarecrow’s eyes seemed to narrow in on it.
“Put Cassie down! You… Um…”
“As you wish,” scarecrow said, throwing Cassie back. She landed with a groan and a light thud. “I think I’ve found a more interesting target.”
Scarecrow took a swipe at Matt but he ducked out of the way.
“Too slow,” Matt said, ducking further swipes. They came in fast but he was faster. Joshua watched from a distance in wonderment. “Can’t touch this.”
“Stop moving about and fight like a man!”
“You’re one to talk, you’re a scarecrow!”
Scarecrow continued to swipe at Matt, groaning as he missed each time. Matt laughed, oblivious to Cassie crawling away with a pained expression.
“That’s it.” Scarecrow backed off and grabbed Cassie by the neck. She groaned again as he lifted her up. “You better stop that, boy, and fight properly. Or I'll kill her.”
Matt dropped his cheerful expression. “Crap,” he muttered. He looked into those glowing eyes and saw in them the strength of his presence. He couldn’t avoid him but he couldn’t fight him. At the same time, he couldn’t just leave her.
“I can snap her neck like a twig,” scarecrow said, chuckling.
“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you, Matt,” Cassie said, slightly choked by the grip. Matt remained still, looking to scarecrow and Cassie.
“Matt…” Joshua whispered from behind Matt.
Matt swallowed. “I… I’m sorry, too.”
“Heh,” the scarecrow said coldly. “Coward.” He tightened his grip. Cassie began to choke.
“NO!” Matt exclaimed, extending an arm. For a moment he seemed to glow all over and then a ball of flame erupted from his outstretched hand. It hit scarecrow and engulfed him in flame. He shrieked in pain and then vanished. Cassie collapsed onto the floor and Matt ran over to her.
“Are you okay?” he said, helping her up.
“I’m okay,” she replied quietly. She looked him in the eyes. “Thanks.”
I think you and your story have potential, but it seems rushed. You write dialogue very well, but I didn't feel a release of tension. A least a little bit of a release of tension would be good because if it becomes too tense for reasons other than the plot I tend to slow down or stop reading. Have you watched Fate/Zero? The first episode was interesting and the artwork was detailed, but the writing part was distracting in my opinion. I think your story is kind of like that (not that the writing part was distracting, but hopefully you get what I mean). It has potential to be a good or great young adult or adult novel or short story if you finish the sketch. The genre, I suppose, depends on how dark you want to make it. If you post your story again message me and I'll read it again for you. Keep writing
great issue king!
looking forward to more of this
just surfin the interweb
i agree it is fast paced and i think you could have taken your time with it more with the intro
fuck life. day one friends turn on you. thats my life
Sailor Candy Moderator
Year-end cleanup. Closing threads with no activity since 2013.