Monday, August 07, 2006

New Beginning 49

“I’m lost—and I’m being followed,” Catherine mumbled. “Wonderful.”

The throbbing of her heart could not drown out the crunch of footsteps approaching from behind on the snow-covered sidewalk. She fought to get her breathing and heartbeat under control as branches swung above her like bony fingers in the wind. It was getting dark, and she had nothing to defend herself with, not even a set of keys to jab into a stalker’s eyes.

The unbroken solitude she’d once enjoyed on this impulsive stroll far from campus had turned into an adversary in this deserted section of town. Catherine pushed away dark hair buffeting past her face and anxiously glanced at the homes crowding both sides of the street. Tall, stilted-looking things with sagging rooftops. They seemed to huddle together for shelter from the early winter wind, but the thought of approaching those bleak houses was even more chilling than the sharp air biting into her skin.

The crunching steps accelerated; she quickened her step in response, only to slip on a patch of ice, ending sprawled in a hedge. She struggled against spindly branches hooked into her wool sweater. The crunching stopped beside her. A hand in a brown mitten grabbed her wrist.

Fear, then relief. It was only Harold, in his Gingerbread Man costume. He stepped aside, retaining his grip on her wrist, and revealing that there was someone behind him. Harold said, "Do you know the Muffin Man?"

"The Muffin Man?" Catherine asked. Then she noticed that their costumes were drenched in blood.


Opening: Lori Lapekes.....Continuation: Jox/Gareth Bendall

13 comments:

MaryKaye said...

While the situation is catchy, the writing seems a bit overblown. And--just a personal comment--if Catherine dies at the end of this scene I'm not going any further. I know that's standard in some forms of suspense, but I'm sick of having my sympathies engaged with the point of view character only to see her die.

"Buffeting" means "serving a buffet." "Buffetting" means "striking blows" but doesn't really go with "past".

Nice grasp of place and season, though; with some polishing it could work very well.

Cheryl Mills said...

I really like the descriptions in this opening. The bony fingers of the branches, the houses huddled together. What didn't work for me? Her mumbling (out loud) that she's being followed. Who does that? "Let me tell this creepy guy behind me that not only do I know that he's following me, but let me also inform him that I am lost! Jump me right here, creepy guy!" I also don't think you need 'anxiously'. Anxiety is shown in the piece.

Anonymous said...

This opening seems to be intended to convey a sense of dread and danger, but I'm completely unconvinced that Catherine is worried.

If it were me, I would start with the description of the surroundings, and Catherine's increasingly anxious observation that she's lost in a deserted and spooky-looking part of town.

THEN she hears the crunch of a footstep behind her.

No need to state the obvious, "I'm lost and I'm being followed." (Sounds too much like 'I've fallen and I can't get up.')

She drew a sharp breath, all senses suddenly alert. Was someone following her? Or was it just a harmless local on an errand? No, the steps were matching her pace too precisely. Her heart pounding, Catherine scanned the surroundings for some safe place to run. Nothing. No lights, no people, and her without a weapon of any kind, not even a key to jab into an attacker's eyes. Why the hell hadn't she paid attention to where she was going? She stiffened her shoulders in what she hoped was a confident way and lifted her chin, praying silently that she was wrong about the reason she was being shadowed.

Or something like that.

This is fun!

Anonymous said...

"The throbbing of her heart could not drown out the crunch of footsteps approaching from behind on the snow-covered sidewalk."

Can "throbbing" be implied as a sound here? It just seems like a word out of place to me.

Also, I agree with Anonymous #1 about starting with the description.

I like it, though. I don't think the scene is overblown. The detailed description puts me in the scene very nicely and I like that. Is it cold in here? -JTC

Bernita said...

A bit over-writ with a few cliches.
The description of the houses was very nice though.

Anonymous said...

I agree that skipping the first line is a good idea. I don't think it's overblown. I think it's a fairly accurate description for a college student out alone in the dark. I'd read further.

zornhau said...

An instant skimmer. T

oo much telling, not enough showing. If she's weaponless, show her checking her pockets, or glancing around with for a stick.

Also, she's not taking any action other than to be worried, and to muse on how her quest for solitude has turned nasty.

Why isn't she considering her options? Picturing the route ahead? Visualising how she'll cope with the encounter? Etc?

Lynne said...

This is one where the continuation makes a serious point - get on with it! The only real action happens in blue. Plus it was hilariously disturbing...

PicAxe said...

The woman in jeopardy scenario is hard to write, because it's been done so-o many times. Some very good description description here--houses huddled, winter wind, sagging rooftops, etc.

I would read on, but I'd be looking for something to happen real soon.

(From this short piece, I have the sense Catherine will go to one of the houses, be safe, and meet the romantic albeit reclusive hero.)

I did like it though . . .

Anonymous said...

"If she's weaponless, show her checking her pockets, or glancing " . . . around with for a stick.

Also, she's not taking any action other than to be worried, and to muse on how her quest for solitude has turned nasty.

Why isn't she considering her options? Picturing the route ahead? Visualising how she'll cope with the encounter? Etc?"

It's because she is female, zornhau. It puts her right in character. -JTC (ducking)

Got another error, sorry if I spammed, EE.

Frainstorm said...

Love the description of the houses, gives me a very vivid image.

This is so minor I should barely bring it up, but what are we here for: See if you like a minor change to this sentence, moving the bony fingers analogy: "She fought to get her breathing and heartbeat under control as branches like bony fingers swung above her."

Minor, I know, but it just reads better for my ears. Do what you want with it.

And good luck, I really like it.
John

pacatrue said...

I think I am with other commenters in that the second half of the opening (by the author) with houses and hands and the like is very good, but the exact opening didn't catch me and didn't seem exactly consistent. Try reworking keeping what's really good and scratching the rest.

Nut said...

LOVE the 'muffin man' part.