In answer to the daily prompt For Posterity: Your blog just became a viral sensation. What’s the one post you’d like new readers to see and remember you by? Write that post.
I guess this changes as time goes by. At this time, I would like new readers to want to buy my – yet unpublished – books. And that comes with having a strong first scene, a compelling first chapter. So for today’s prompt and also because I’m doing the exercise of editing a first draft, I’ve completely rewritten the first scene of one of my stories. I’m giving you the first 500 words or so hoping that it’s good enough to entice you to read the rest.
She opened her eyes… and wished she hadn’t. A wave of nausea washed over her leaving her sickened and shivering uncontrollably. Despite the bright sun, the world was cold. And there were no sounds, not even that of her sobbing. Yet tears ran down her cheeks, tracing a path in the sticky blood that, she knew, covered her face. Her hands compulsively clutched at her skirts. Her dress was soiled with blood and the remnants of her meal now. It stank so much she might throw up again.
She needed to move: somewhere in the logical part of her mind, she knew that but she couldn’t compel her body to do so. It would mean opening her eyes again. That she wasn’t capable of yet. Breathing slowly, she tried to calm down her racing heart. But terror wouldn’t let go. She must stop trembling like a defenceless little girl. Why wouldn’t her hands stop gripping at a useless piece of clothing? She had to move. Now!
She tried to stand up but caught her feet in the stupid length of the dress. Frustration mingled with fear. Some anger too: a well-known feeling that one. It was almost soothing now. She held onto it: it allowed her to breathe more easily.
The voice came through as if they called her name several times, but she could barely hear it. It was as if the man – it was a male voice – spoke through layers of cotton. Relief. Someone had come to help. And fear again. She’d seen the bodies. All her companions were dead.
Why? Who? How? Panic overwhelmed everything. Reaching for her neck and the comfort of her mother’s pendant, she almost screamed. That, too, was no longer there. Nausea threatened again. She gagged. Taking shallow breaths, she pushed back the sensation that she would throw up.
“Take this.” The man spoke again, closer this time. She tried to get away. But a hand took hers – not unkindly – and placed what felt like a gourd in it. “It will help settle your stomach.” She didn’t want it. “You are terrified.”
The compassion in the man’s voice angered her. Yes she was terrorized. Who wouldn’t be? She had witnessed a massacre. She thought. She didn’t remember much. She wasn’t even sure how or why she was still alive when everyone else looked as if they’d been ripped apart by the monster from over the mountains. The picture this conjured made her stomach roil again.
Reluctantly, she opened her eyes. The world seemed to wash over her; even though she was kneeling she swayed. The man held onto her tight preventing her from falling. He still clutched her hand around the gourd, his dark blue eyes trained on hers. She shook his hold, the gourd and its content dropping on the floor.
“What do you want?” She asked holding onto the anger rather than the fear.
“I mean you no harm.” Of course! As if she were going to believe him. “I didn’t orchestrate this, I swear to you.”