Friday, April 22, 2011

Hollow World Book 2 Chapter 1

So, after a hiatus and some deliberation, I decided that Hollow World was good for the first Part, so I present you with the first chapter of Part 2. Now to write more.


Graham looked himself in the mirror, noting how much his face had changed in the nearly three months since he had escaped from prison on that fateful day. His salt and pepper beard looked unruly, hiding his angular chin, and his eyes were deeply sunken into his weather beaten face. Lines creased his forehead, perhaps from squinting into the setting sun so much. He propped the mirror against a fallen log and picked up a bar of soap, trying to remember the last time he had washed his scraggly hair. Dunking his whole head into the frigid pond, he rubbed the soap between his hands, developing a rich lather that he spread over his face and through his hair. He set the soap aside and dunked his head again, running his hands through his hair to get all of the soap out. Bending down, he adjusted the mirror before reaching for his machete, and thinking better of it, picked up a rusty pair of scissors instead. He trimmed both his hair and his beard, and with each snip of the scissors, more of his former glory returned to him. He was Graham now, but he could still look the way he once had.

This done, Graham walked back into the camp he currently called home. Winter was just beginning and by the look of the steel grey sky, its first storm was fast approaching. He sensed the presence of more Others looking for a place to stay for the winter, coming in from the far east, some from as far as Florida. He looked out at the pitiful housing that his current seventy-two soldiers occupied, and realized how inadequate it was. He called them together, and despite their weariness from the previous nights battle, the promise of more blood invigorated them.

While the rest of his soldiers sharpened their weapons and found another car they could use to open the way, Graham sent eight off to find a larger community that could be used to house the growing army. Six of those eight came back with no prospects, one did not come back at all, having fallen prey to a pack of hungry dogs, but the final one found a neighborhood that would fit their needs. The scout was shot by one of the occupants, but Graham had seen what he needed to. The defenders were few and would scatter easily, or fall to his weapons. He picked up the machete again, a guttural growl rising in his throat. A nearby woman heard him and repeated the noise, only louder. Soon the sound was echoing across the lake, every mouth taking up the call.

Seventy men, women, and children poured out of the camp, pushing an SUV, the keys in the hands of Graham. Just like the night before, this community was gated, but they had brought along a door opener. The red Suburban was pushed into place against the door and he called his soldiers back. So far, not a single shot had been fired, but once he blew this gates open, he was sure that would change.

Pressing the button, he felt the warmth wash over him as the fuel in the vehicle ignited, scattering pieces of glass, paneling and thick metal gating. A piece of windshield flew by, slicing open his cheek before embedding itself in the chest of a nearby woman. Another woman fell as the vehicles drivers side door fell on her, but she stood back up, her right arm dangling uselessly, and switched her shotgun to the other hand. Graham shouted, and once again, his army took up the call as they surged forward, over the burning wreckage of the Suburban.

The crack of a gunshot sounded and he watched as another of his men fell, but the sound had drawn the attention of the remaining soldiers. One fired back, hitting a second floor window, causing glass to rain down on those in front as they clawed at the door, trying to get in. Another of his fellow soldiers cuffed the one who had opened fire, and Graham could hear the argument that ensued. At least some of his troops had listened to him, he thought as he pulled his own handgun, a luger he had picked up the previous night, and shot both men where they stood, bickering. He had told them to try to keep the destruction of their new homes to a minimum. A nearby window exploded outward, the glass shredding the man that had been standing in front of it. He fell, and was soon trampled as his troops poured in through the opening, disregarding the broken glass that tore at their flesh.

House by house they moved, and as they neared the end of the second block, they encountered the largest pocket of resistance yet. People occupied two houses, across the street from each other, and they picked at his undisciplined troops from either side as they got stuck in between, trying to enter the building. Watching as almost half of his soldiers fell during the skirmish. It took him directing his soldiers around to the back of one of the houses to end it, and he watched as the people in the remaining house fled under the onslaught of almost thirty soldiers toward what appeared to be a church. He sent word to his soldiers to let them make it. They would have their last stand in the temple, and he would show them who they should worship.

The new Gods will not save you, Graham thought as the howling of the army from the east, nearly two hundred armed adults, reached him from beyond the building. Graham smiled a yellowing smile, and ordered an advance on the church. They would flank the temple, burn it to the ground if need be. A shot from a broken stained glass window whizzed by him, felling a nearby man wielding a shotgun. Another soldier picked up the gun and continued on.

A vision of a large hole in the rear of the structure appeared to Graham and he laughed deep in his throat and nodded. As his soldiers continued to push on, a loud report was heard from the other side of the lawn, and a plume of smoke could be seen rising in the distance. His new troops had brought a cannon, and despite the fact that it had missed the first time, he was certain that the building would not be so lucky the second time. He ordered a halt to the advance and ordered his remaining twenty-seven soldiers to open fire. Pieces of brick went flying as bullets struck the side of the building, keeping the defenders pinned down, and giving the cannon a chance to reload. The report sounded again, and with a high pitched whistle, a civil war era cannonball crashed into the back of the church, leaving a gaping hole amidst a swarm of screaming people. Ignoring him, his soldiers, swarmed over the church. It was over in a matter of minutes, and the neighborhood was his. He dispatched all of his troops back to retrieve the supplies from their former camp, while he stayed behind.

Silently, he watched as the church burnt to the ground, the steeple bell ringing its last toll as it crashed to the earth and split in two. The new Gods won’t save you from my war, Graham thought as he chuckled to himself.



J. A. Platt said...

I caught up! And boy I wouldn't want Graham and his guys after me.

Graham looked himself in the mirror for perhaps the thousandth time since that fateful day nearly three months earlier. Since we haven’t seen him looking in the mirror a lot, this sounds out of place. Maybe something about how much his face had changed in 3 months?

Bending down, he retrieved the mirror and his machete, carefully grooming himself with its newly sharpened edge. A machete? The fact that he’s shaving at all seems to indicate some remnant of social norms, but the machete is almost cartoonish and reads like he wouldn’t care if he cut himself up, or care enough to shave.

…found another car they could use to open the way… I like the implied ruthlessness here. Graham’s people can use the cars because he only cares about overall numbers and winning.

The scout was shot by one of the occupants, but Graham had seen what he needed to. Can he see everything they see? This could be something interesting to explore. What happens when there are a lot of others? How does he control which ones he sees through?

A nearby woman heard him and repeated the noise, only louder. Soon the sound was echoing across the lake, every mouth taking up the call. Awesomely creepy!

Similar injuries showed up among the rest of his soldiers, but none were grievous, and soon they were charging through the still burning wreckage of the Suburban. This description of the fight feels very distant. I don’t know if it’s a product of Graham’s detached POV, but it reads like he’s telling someone about a battle instead of standing in the middle of one. Some small details of the people they’re fighting or descriptions of the things that do concern him could be good here.

J. A. Platt said...

Gah. I almost broke google trying to put this in one comment. Here are my other notes:

…who were soon clawing at the door, trying to get in. In the last Graham chapter his guys had guns. Why would they charge the door if they can shoot back? Or do they lack coordination with guns? And then why do they have them instead of knives or bats?

his troops pouted in. poured.

House by house they moved, finding many empty, but encountering small pockets of resistance. Another place where more detail would be great.

…his reinforcements I didn’t get the impression he had held any of his guys back at the beginning of the fight.

The cannon had missed, but they would reload, and they would take no prisoners. Are his guys manning the cannon or the defenders?

He dispatched his troops, all of them, back to retrieve all of the supplies from their former camp, while he watched as the church burnt to the ground, the steeple bell ringing its last toll as it crashed to the ground and split in two. This could be two sentences to give more punch to the bell breaking.

The new Gods won’t save you from my war, Graham thought as he chuckled to himself. I’m very curious to meet the old gods.

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