The Chimera Path, Chapters 1-3

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Asmodeus, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. So, I'm getting pretty close to my final draft. And these are the first three chapters that I'll be sending to agents and publishers.

    I need to know if they hook the readers in the right places. *puppy eyes*




    Black clouds burnt the air and water drowned the earth. It was the worse rainfall in years and a sense of panic shook the trees and sent animals fleeing sodden to their dens. Through the graveyard was a slide of mud and water, made all the stranger by the stillness of the man within it. In the morning cold that brought no shivers, but simply burned the flesh, Nathan sat against the headstone and awaited the shudder that would break him.
    He could not stay in the church. He had left as the coffin was carried in; the half-dead passing the dead and fleeing into winter. Perhaps his father was looking for him, but the storm would hide him for now. Out here, beyond the church, the green deep had flooded the world and only the tops of gravestones remained, like masts, with the names of the dead swooning. He felt himself sitting at an incline to the world, a tunnel of elm and marble stretched before him.
    Here he had come down, sinking to a crouch to suck cold air and hold back the tears.
    Nathan’s cousin, Michael, had been five years older than him - a huge gap as a child. He remembered Michael’s dresser drawer, full of coins, and how his hair was always messy and long enough to touch his shoulders. He remembered the time in the field with the rifle. Michael had laughed as Nathan shot the top off a water bottle and Nathan had copied everything his cousin did that day and on the way home had vomited in his parents’ car, bloated with crisps and coke. But though he hung on Michael’s every word, Michael still looked at Nathan like all the others: uncertain, sympathetic, as if there was something wrong. Perhaps there was, for Nathan’s shyness had been excruciating as a child. He could never give what he wished of himself and anything he did communicate was tempered first by doubt and second by frustration. Whenever the family went anywhere his identity took shape in the monologues of his mother, such that if she left the room Nathan would become a shell, staring and disabled. Michael was the only cousin who seemed happy to play with him when there were no adults around to qualify his silence or lend him context.
    Michael had not been special, but Nathan remembered the day in the field, shooting the rifle; and that was enough.
    Now the body in that coffin was a nightmare, pieced together from the reports of his father and uncle – relayed to them in turn by the police. Nathan’s cousin, Michael Swader, was bound for the grave a spoiled corpse, things removed, holes in the bone where the chains had been threaded. Violations after death, his body sliced open first by his murderer and again by the coroner.
    He pressed his back to the headstone as the wind hissed through the elm alcove and brought more rain. He could not cry. But his heart ached and he covered it with his hand, asking why? Why had Michael’s heart been removed? What reason could someone have to chain Michael’s body up and plunder from it? Nathan could not admit these things into his life; he could not marry this mutilation with his family. How could he think of Michael, when Aunt Melanie bemoaned the weather and straightened the straps of her handbag? Or when Grandpa Joe spoke with Uncle Eric of the old times in Ireland? And all the frustrations that his mother recalled in him, how could they share the space where that vision hung: the vision of Michael defiled?
    He heard himself breathing, swallowing air as if it was the weight to hold him to this world. Then he scratched his scalp, pushing through brown knots to feel his brain, living, filled with thoughts, whilst his cousin’s was broken in two. They had found a part placed in each of his suspended palms, like a bloody offering. And this was Michael – this the image that would abide.
    The police had said nothing more. They had caught the murderer, freezing and delirious on the streets of Sleaford, a few miles from where Michael’s body was chained in his house. The arrest had been made, the murderer jailed; but there were no explanations given, no sense to what had been done to the body. The murder itself had become like the boy Nathan, left in a room without context, drawing looks of only pity and bemusement.
    His hand splayed on the rain-soaked ground, imagining the slits on Michael’s wrists – those too added after death like the other mutilations. In the air behind him the final hymn stirred. He could not tell which one. His family were singing, no blame nor anger in their voices. And beyond the trees everything was flat and absent, the level vista of Lincolnshire skewered by church-spires. Coffins holding entrails, things dark and abhorrent crammed inside, away from the world. Their acceptance of all this was as puzzling as the act itself. He felt his head coming between his knees, his body crumpling. Between the trees a sculpted figure stood, chained upon its feet with blood-soaked torso, hands grasping the bloodied halves of its cerebrum.
    Then in the next moment, Nathan focussed. Between the trees was a woman, dark haired and slender. She was walking across the thyme patches, almost floating as her stride negated the terrain, and through the rain her indigo coat was like a smoke trail. Crossing his path, he saw the silver glint that broke the woman’s colour, her hand pale as it gripped the pistol. And as quickly as she had painted herself upon his world, she was gone, moving behind the headstones. She was approaching the church and the hymn was drowning her quickening breath.
    Nathan would always look back on this moment, for in his act was a violent and unexpected clarity.
    He pushed himself to his feet, head-first into consequence, and almost had to run to keep up with her, stooping whilst she moved upright. Through the jagged alleys of the gravestones she led him into the church’s shadow, and as her top slipped further from her shoulders and billowed from her naked waist, the gun became more pronounced. From darkness she was entering the light of flesh and metal.
    Nathan moved faster, closing with her as she circled to the east side of the church. And from there he called out, “What are you doing?”
    The woman glanced, her eyes matching her coat, exotic blue. The wind carried a cinnamon perfume between them as she continued onwards.
    “Wait! Stop!”
    He flinched as the gun lifted. Beyond the barrel the church’s east window caught the light in myriad hues; and behind it silhouettes, dozens still and one moving.
    The priest.
    “No, don’t do this!” The woman took slow aim at the priest and the coat slipped further, air biting her shoulders and making them shiver. He stepped closer. “Stop it. Talk to me.”
    She was just as tall as Nathan and, he imagined, just as strong. Her build was athletic, her top unbuttoned to flutter in time with raven hair. She was a creature of blacks and blues, a dark beauty amidst the graves.
    In comparison, Nathan Morgan kept to greys and browns. He was a half-man who almost dropped behind the winter gloom as he approached her. His coat held the scent of nightmare sweat, while his looks were marred by cuts and bruises. Beneath the hanging strands of his hair, one eye was swollen; yet this was just his newest injury – one he had received before coming here – amongst countless others. A cargo of sore ribs and bruised limbs made him wince as he faced her.
    She made no response. The silhouette of the priest shifted as the hymn reached its last crescendo. He was moving to the lectern for the closing prayer, where the bullet would take him. The gun tracked. The finger tensed on the trigger. Her shoulders no longer shook with the cold, but with the lone tremor of rage. But he touched them all the same, one hand on each as he tried to calm her. “It’s okay.”
    The gun twisted suddenly between his arms, hair and coat splashing aside as the butt of the pistol connected with his cheekbone, just below the eye. Nathan cried out and staggered, but the woman kept coming. The pistol struck the back of his shoulder, delivering another bolt of agony. He brought his arms up, one coiling around her own, the other at the side of her head. There was no choice but to grab a handful of hair and twist. But she moved against expectation, coming forward instead of recoiling. Her knee connected with his ribs and knocked the wind from his body.
    In the next moment he was falling, but he kept his grip and pulled her with him. Landing in a tumble, they rolled across the sodden grass where the smell of the ground joined the metallic taste of blood. He twisted to guide his weight on top of her, keeping hold of the gun hand and struggling to grip the other. In a second his palm was against her face, pushing it into the grass, and his thighs were clamping her torso.
    A pause of seconds, bodies straining, breaths caught and pain in blossom, till at last the woman cried out and dropped the pistol.
    With the weapon gone the dynamic changed. Nathan became aware of himself and the woman straddled beneath him. Through the haze of pain returned his awkwardness and he knew he couldn’t stay like this. Removing his hand from her face, he pulled with the other and rolled her away, falling down between the woman and the gun.
    “Calm down. Please!”
    She stayed there on all-fours, her gaze furious as blood trickled from her split lip. He thought she would pounce, resuming violence; but it did not come. Her body heaved for air as she ignored the pistol and watched him.
    “Just fucking calm down!” Nathan shouted.
    The breathing quickened as she braced against the anger, her body ebbing heavier till a longer sigh eased her over the threshold. She sat back on her haunches and covered her eyes, staying that way till her final gasps brought her to silence. Then her shoulders sunk and, after searching the ground for a moment, she looked at her muddy hands and yelled her first word. “Fuck!”
    “Wh… what are you doing?”
    As quickly as rage had become her, now sorrow crept in to replace it. “It was him.”
    “He made me.”
    “Why are you…?”
    Light crested the church and pierced the dark clouds overhead. Nathan could only scowl helplessly as a colder wind came to sting his eyes.
    “He made it happen…”
    “What are you talking about? You know Michael?” Nathan asked, his tenses flawed amidst the cold and pain. But the woman’s gaze was twitching between things, barely registering, as if her surroundings were a greater distraction than the man before her. A sharp line of black was formed by her eyebrows, shadows cast over soft cheekbones and the lips he had bloodied.
    “I can’t stay here.”
    Nathan went to speak again as he rose, but then his name was called. Recognising the voice, he jumped to his feet. “Dad…”
    Nathan’s father stood by the corner of the church wall, looking thinner than ever in his brown pinstripe. As the final hymn ended he approached, scratching a beard as rusty as the grass. “I was looking for you,” he barked, clearly annoyed.
    “I’m sorry, I… I had to get out.” Nathan moved towards his father, the gun shimmering in the grass between them.
    “What happened?” His father squinted and Nathan brought a hand to his cheek to cover the blossom of a bruise.
    “I fell over. I…” He turned to involve the woman in his lie; but she was already gone. Beyond the north side of church she was striding away at the same pace with which she had entered his life. The indigo coat pulled tight and with one hand she brushed hair from inside the collar, letting dark strands cascade down her back. Stepping high over the thickets, she made for the car park.
    He should have called to her – he felt he was supposed to. But instead Nathan allowed her to leave, a vacant spectator, wondering if he had really heard the name that was spoken.
    “Was that Evelyn?”
    Nathan turned sharply as his father stood beside him to peer at the woman. “You know her?”
    “One of Michael’s girlfriends, I think.”
    The woman wrenched open the door of a dark green sports car and the exhaust roared as the engine started up.
    “Anyway, are you coming back, Nath?”
    “Yeah, I’m coming.”
    As Nathan watched the sports car pull away, his father returned to the church whilst buttoning his jacket. Nathan followed but moved a little slower. Stooping down in the grass, he plucked up Evelyn’s gun, gripping it by the barrel and dropping it into his coat pocket.


    “How’s work?”
    The pain in Nathan’s cheekbone was moving to a sharpened point and he rubbed it as he looked at Mrs Cartwright, a teacher who’d worked with his mother, just as Michael’s killer had. She looked like all the other mourners: a grey complexion refusing tears.
    They were hovering between two chambers: one where they stood with food, one where they sat with drink. They could still hear the rain, no matter how much they talked, like a sound of static all around them. Moisture covered the windows to hide the Lincolnshire field and, to suit the weather, the pub was nautically themed. It was no wonder the people inside felt adrift; and none so much as Nathan.
    “Fine. Working hard,” he answered with a minimal smile.
    “You work with the challenging children, don’t you?”
    “Adults too. There’s over twenty homes in the trust. We move between them.”
    “Difficult work, but rewarding I suppose?”
    “Yeah, when you’re not getting punched.” Nathan held up his empty glass. “I’m just getting a drink.”
    Lines had formed in the adjacent room, people moving for the buffet whilst others stood by the wall to talk. There was one distinction here, one thing that made it a wake rather than a party and that was the lack of eye contact. People spoke then looked down, as if ashamed. He wondered if they knew how wretched it was to hold such a ceremony and follow such a terrible death with this. Nathan wanted screaming, vows of revenge, violence and sacrilege. Anything but this veil of joy.
    There was some laughter, like the creaking of the great ship. At times people would speak to Nathan, old faces emerging between the nautical relics to ask him similar questions. He had rehearsed his lines well. Everything was fine in Cornwall. He enjoyed his work with the children. He was happy he’d moved.
    The loudest voices were the Irish ones, like old sea-dogs in the corners, soothing the fires of Michael’s passing with their stoic drawl. Uncle Eric, Grandpa Joe, Billy and Guy – they all spoke as if they’d witnessed these things before. They had met Samantha, the young teaching assistant and friend of Nathan’s mother, at previous gatherings and now it seemed her mutilation of Michael was no surprise to them – just the final chapter in her well-commentated tragedy.
    There were some tears, of course, but those who wept were not seen, instead comforted in the green-hued corners or escorted outside. The truest sorrow was stowed away or jettisoned from this place and Nathan felt they wanted rid of him too – the brooding ex-lover of the woman who had caused all this. Like the stuffed birds and fish mounted on the walls, eyes of dead horror followed him as he walked.
    By the time he reached the bar, Nathan was curling his five-pound note deeper into his palm and hoping it would cut him. Though his body reeled with injuries from that mysterious woman in the graveyard, a part of him wanted the pain again. It was somehow more real, purer than all this. Evelyn’s pistol was warm against his ribs, nestling in his inside pocket where he had kept it for the last four hours.
    His mother was also at the bar, fishing a teabag from her cup. She was a practical woman who kept her slight body in constant motion. Tears had weakened her skin and her hair was paler than last year, the same half-light quality that Nathan carried. “Are you okay, luv?”
    “Fine.” He leant across the bar to give his order. Then, rolling his injured shoulder, he straightened and felt the nervousness in her stare. Though his mother had directed the lives of countless generations of school children with resolute confidence, there was always a paradoxical desperation when it came to her own flesh and blood. The look was not one of concern, but something more vindictive. Nathan had run out of the funeral and it had made her feel terrible.
    “I’m fine,” he repeated, almost snapping.
    His mother went back to her tea. “They loved your speech. Carmen said to me, ‘I don’t understand it, but I like it’.” She touched his arm in her own amusement while Nathan sipped his drink. The blood was pulsing around his swollen eye. “Oh, where’s your father gone? He’s always wandering off.”
    “Don’t know.”
    “Are you sure you’re okay?” There was also expectation in her stare. She expected love and transparency – expected him to be someone else. It was always a melee in her eyes and this was something else that Nathan had inherited.
    “I just needed some air. I fell over.”
    “Is everything okay in Cornwall?”
    The glass came down on the bar, not quite a slam – he never could make complete gestures in the presence of his parents. They had never wanted him to move. They had wanted him to stay here, with Samantha.
    Perhaps if he had done so, all this would never have happened.
    “Michael was murdered,” he hissed through his teeth.
    She touched his arm again. “Samantha was never the same after they put Carson away. The police are doing all they can to help her now.”
    At the mention of Samantha’s son, the glass trembled in Nathan’s grip. “And what are we doing?”
    “Have you spoken to Hannah yet? She’s always asking after you.”
    The weight of the pistol shifted in his pocket as he took a breath. Outside, the wind changed, upping the pitch of static and rattling the windows. He looked to the small table where Aunt Miriam, Michael’s mother, was collapsing in a fresh fit of tears. She was dark-featured, fading into black as his own mother faded to grey. Her grief was swallowed up as the other cousins closed around her.
    “This is sick.”
    He snapped his head towards her, on the verge of rage, but then he was interrupted by a sight that replaced the burn with a hollow feeling in his gut. Father Weston, the priest from the funeral, arrived at the bar to place an order.
    “A fine spread you’ve organised, Mary,” he said, touching the shoulders of Nathan’s mother. Father Weston was a man like velvet, a once sturdy body in soft repose. His remaining family had passed away while Nathan was young and ever since his voice had become humbled and nostalgic. He was one of the best whistlers Nathan had heard and a figure of calm through all his youth in Lincolnshire.
    It was strange to compare this memory with that of Weston behind the window, a silhouette in the sights of Evelyn’s gun. It was as hard for Nathan to believe he had saved this man’s life as it was to think anyone had reason to kill him.
    “And well done on your speech, Nathaniel,” the priest added with a gentle smile. Nathan returned it then placed his elbows on the bar, letting a moment pass before he spoke across his mother.
    “Father, when’s the last time you saw Michael?”
    “Oh, last month I think. It was before the children went back to school.”
    “Was he okay?”
    “The same as ever,” Weston replied, fishing a handkerchief from his pocket and unfolding it slowly. “He had the same troubles as any young man. Always a very serious boy.”
    “What kind of troubles?”
    “Well, he never did say, really. He was rather vague to be honest.”
    He blew his nose whilst Nathan’s mother picked a hair from her cardigan. “He always did have a lot on his mind.”
    Nathan seemed to be watching himself from the outside, aware of how unlike him it was to ask such bold questions, especially around his mother. “Was it something to do with Evelyn?”
    His mother shook her head before taking a slurp of tea. “I don’t know what he saw in that girl.”
    “Yes, as I recall,” Father Weston’s melodious voice answered, “He mentioned an Evelyn. He seemed rather taken with her.”
    “He brought her to Charlie’s baptism, do you remember?” his mother scowled. “That was the only time we ever saw her. Didn’t want anything to do with us.”
    “And did Evelyn know Samantha? Did they have something to do with each other?” Nathan heard his voice rising, his body language agitated.
    “I’m afraid I don’t know, Nathaniel.” Weston sipped delicately at a glass of Guinness. “I spoke to Evelyn herself a few times, but I can’t say she made much sense. Evelyn Carter – that was it. Do you know the girl?”
    “No, wait,” Nathan interrupted, closing his eyes as he tried to concentrate. “Did this trouble involve Evelyn and Samantha?”
    “I’m sorry, Nathaniel.”
    As Father Weston shrugged, Nathan’s hand was taken softly by his mother. “What’s with all these questions, luv?”
    Suddenly his eyes were wetting. He blinked and looked away, aware that his interrogation was drawing stares. “It doesn’t make sense. Sam didn’t even know Michael.”
    His mother put her arm in Nathan’s, smiled to the priest, then led her son away from the bar. “Do you remember that little pub on the way to Grantham – the Fox and Hound? That’s where me and Sam used to have our get-togethers after school. It was Michael’s local too, and Evelyn’s. I think that’s how they all met.”
    Nathan let himself be led, deflating everything like he had been brought up do, allowing things to drop for the sake of appearances. It was his teenage years all over again. It was certain that Weston knew nothing and his obliviousness gaped now like all the holes in Michael’s body. The gun pressed against his bruised ribs, pinned between himself and his mother.
    “Now, do you remember Pete and Angie?” she asked as she pulled him towards a grinning couple.
    “Yeah, hi,” Nathan mumbled, and outside the wind changed direction, causing a short pause in the static before the rain began a fresh assault. The pub listed to the other side.

    Evening was swallowing the sun and though the rain had ceased it would be pitch darkness by the time he got back to Cornwall. Nathan stood amid the small tables and soft lights of the Fox and Hound and stared at the back of Evelyn Carter. She wore the indigo coat again and was pressing an ice cube to her lip as she sat. It was a power and an apprehension he felt, to see her here; as if their fight in the graveyard had somehow sustained itself through all of yesterday to arrive here at endgame.
    But she was clearly the victor. On the small table two drinks sat: one for herself and another in a tumbler. Ice, the effervescence of coke but the tinge of a spirit - just as Nathan liked it.
    “Navy rum and diet coke,” she said without turning. “I’ve heard it’s what you drink.”
    The twinkling lights of the slot-machine played over Nathan’s face and he kept one hand in his coat pocket, running his fingers along the cool barrel of the gun. Smith and Wesson imprinted on his fingertips above the texture of the black grip. Giving no answer, he watched her put the ice cube back in her glass then reach into her coat for a packet of cigarettes. A silver Zippo lighter sparked defiantly, but no one in the pub seemed to notice. He almost smiled, smelling her again: cinnamon in the smoke.
    “So is this a truce?” He circled and took a seat, making her laugh.
    “I’m sorry about that. But it was fun, wasn’t it?”
    The Fox and Hound was quiet at this time, its patrons sedate in the chambers of the honeycomb, lone couples or old men, each with their own wrap of darkness.
    “I’m sorry about Michael.”
    “No you’re not – you’re angry. That’s why you were in the graveyard.”
    Her voice was as sharp as her actions yesterday. He could hear the restlessness and the way she smoked was just as impatient. But with the mention of the graveyard and the memories it raised, she looked away with a flush of shame. “You should go.”
    “Because you’re just like Michael. You won’t let this go.”
    The answer cut an ache in his heart, confirming his suspicions that this whole thing was something more than tragic madness. “I just want to know why.” His voice almost broke as he said it.
    “No one else does.”
    They could sense each other’s frustration. Evelyn looked just as downtrodden as he, their mutual grief for Michael unwanted by those around them.
    An hour ago, Nathan’s family had gathered in the kitchen with a natural sense of timing. His parents could feel his readiness. Nathan had come down from his bedroom, the stairs smaller each year, dwindling from the massive height he had fallen down as a child – his first memory. Passing a single painting, fairies and trolls in revels, he’d entered the kitchen to find his father with the newspaper, returning to it whenever his mother stalled the goodbye. She told Nathan to drive safely, to watch out for other cars, for other people, to be careful on the motorways and stop every two hours, to remember his fuel and his water, to call them when he got home. He had seen the helplessness in it. She knew as well as he did how silly it sounded; yet the warnings spilled from her lips regardless.
    A desperate love, unconditional and unrestrained. This was what resonated from the walls of Nathan’s childhood home, left after all the rage and resentment of his teenage years. Like whispers lingering at the edge of a blast, only this love remained.
    Why did it pain him so to know he could do no wrong; that this love would be here, like the cloying warmth of the womb, whatever the fortunes that befell his life? He hated it. He had to leave. His mother’s arms had wrapped around him and he’d shaken hands with his father, who walked him to the car, pulling weeds from the drive as Nathan drove away.
    He had barely spent a day back home before deciding to leave early and track down the indigo woman.
    “What are you smiling at?” Nathan asked as he caught Evelyn watching him again.
    “You look as bad as I feel.”
    He realised he must have looked a state. He had gotten the news of Michael’s death about an hour after a night shift had put him in A&E. Neither showering nor eating for two days, his black eye from Evelyn was just part of a tapestry of blemishes. His dishevelment and her beauty – these were the things that set them apart from the grey faces of Lincolnshire.
    “How did you know about the drink?” Nathan asked as he gripped his glass, rum and coke swirling like amber
    “Samantha told me. She said you used to drink it when you were together.” Sitting at a right angle, Evelyn ran a hand through her hair, letting him watch. “I guess we’re both suckers for blondes.” With another smile, she pressed her lips around the cigarette.
    “And Michael?”
    She shrugged. “Three’s the magic number.”
    With that the pieces came together and the triangle took shape. Nathan could not deny the rush of excitement he got from the thought of it, any more than the exhilaration he had felt when he first saw Evelyn wield the gun. His cheeks flushed as Evelyn adjusted the folds of her coat, her foot brushing his jeans as she crossed her legs again. “I hate this place. So fucking boring.” She twisted to lean closer. “Tell me something. Something different.”
    “Yes.” Her blue eyes were set on him.
    Something different. He had longed for such, as perhaps Evelyn once had. For a moment he pictured them: Evelyn and Samantha, together, with Michael. How could his half-life compete with something like that?
    “Like what?”
    “Michael and Samantha told me about you: a psychologist. Did you come here to dismantle me?”
    “I only studied for a year. Don’t worry.” His glass froze an inch from his lips and he looked at her over the rim. “What else did she tell you?”
    “She never told me why you left. Just that you were unhappy? Is that true?”
    There was flutter of relief in Nathan’s chest, but it was just one feeling among many. There was something about Evelyn that made him want to respond, to answer her challenges rather than avoid them like he did with others. “Is anyone?”
    “Not people like you.”
    “People like me?”
    “Yeah. You only experience happiness in the moment, get sad if you have too long to think about things. A constant flow of blood, that’s what you need. Someone to beat you around and take you places.”
    “Is this what Samantha told you?”
    “Yeah, that’s what she told me.”
    “And what do you need?”
    “I need people like you. I need them to tell me something different.” She wouldn’t let him dodge the question. Like the cigarette, her resolution was something altogether out of place. Inside the honeycomb Evelyn was jarring, disjointed, a colour unto herself. She did not blend with the darkness around her, but instead her hair and indigo clothes sat on top of the fabric of this world. A blackness rich with the hue of other lands: the silvers of the Orient, the gothic brown of Europe. She shifted her position again, leaning out from his space, one hand sorting the strands of her hair.
    It was a while before Nathan spoke. “I’m… cruel to my parents. And I don’t care. I used to think I could reason my way out of it, like they did. They used to say it was my hormones (angst, y’know?); and I used to say it was their repression of me or their refusal to accept certain things. But that’s not it. I… enjoy being cruel to them. I love being part of something so flawed, so… tragic. They’ve been through so much and… I love being more than that. The biggest problem. I…” He looked at her again, scanning her face. “I’m a terrible son, and I’m happy that way.”
    Evelyn was almost laughing, her upper lip covering the lower as she sucked at the split. There was a glimpse of her tongue, a film of blood on it. “You think you wasted your childhood – all that brilliance?”
    Nathan emerged from his thoughts and starting toying with the beer mat. “You ask a lot of questions.”
    “I’m a journalist, Nathan. I thought you would’ve found that out before you came here. And besides, growing up with my family, you had to stay on the offensive.”
    Before the blood could rush to his cheeks, he creased the beer mat and looked up at her. “Now my turn: what were you doing in that graveyard?”
    This time Evelyn pawed her drink and moved it to the centre of the table next to his, before looking away. There was a crunch of glass as the bartender threw another bottle in the bin, then the toilet door opened and sterile light loomed into the room before vanishing again. “Why do you ask?”
    Nathan laughed despite himself, scratching the back of his neck. “Well, I thought I had a right to know. It was my fu-, I mean, it was my....”
    “Let’s talk about something else,” she interrupted. “Come on: tell me another thing. Something different.”
    Looking down, Nathan pondered this odd diversion as he brushed moisture from the sides of his glass. “Alright. Today I went to my cousin’s funeral. He’d been killed by my ex-girlfriend, his heart and brain ripped out and his body chained to a wall. And at that funeral I met a woman who showed more emotion than my entire family put together. She was my cousin’s girlfriend, and I had to stop her from killing a priest. She knows something about why Samantha killed my cousin, and… I’ll fight that woman again if she doesn’t tell me what’s going on.”
    A man passed their table and glanced at the cigarette, while at the bar an Alsatian yanked on its master’s lead and barked at the shadows. The tense silence hung between them and this time Nathan did not look away.
    And though smoke came trembling from her mouth, her face was like ice. “I see why you gave up the Psychology course.”
    He lost neither eye-contact nor his smile. He would fight her again – restrain her if he had to. After all, he had done it before. He had inflicted pain to get what he wanted. Looking through the window, past the hanging baskets, Nathan checked that Evelyn’s sports car was still boxed in by his own rusting Vauxhall. “Are you going somewhere?”
    Their eyes met again. “What are you doing in Cornwall?”
    “Well,” Evelyn took another slow and sensuous drag, “That depends on whether you give me back my gun.”
    Nathan adjusted his coat, his old brown coat that now held a piece of her inside. “I think I’ll hold onto it for now.”
    In the silence that followed, Evelyn’s front finally buckled. As if losing the energy to keep up their exchange, her eyes watered and her words became barely audible. “I’ve lost two lovers. All you’ve lost is a pair of memories.”
    “Then tell me what you’re doing.” Nathan came forward. “First the priest, now someone in Cornwall? What…?”
    “It was a mistake.” She closed her eyes. “I was angry. I… He made me do it.”
    “Thaddeus?” Nathan saw her look up sharply. “You said his name in the graveyard.”
    “He said it was either me or the priest. If I didn’t kill him then… what happened to Michael would… to me…”
    “Slow down.” Without thinking he touched her wrist and it seemed to calm her slightly.
    “Michael confessed to the priest – told him too much. Thaddeus said the old man was a loose-end, and…” Her tears broke and Nathan took hold of her wrist.
    “Evelyn, how do you know Thade?”
    Her eyes shifted as she focussed through the tears. “Thade…” she echoed weakly, “How do you know his nickname?”
    Something had stirred in Nathan, but at a stage so early it was barely visible: a trace of menace and of the strength that lay beneath his fatigue, awaiting resurrection.
    “He’s my friend, in Cornwall – well, my manager. We work at a…”
    “Don’t trust him, Nathan,” she said suddenly, gripping his hand upon her own. She seemed more beautiful than ever in her anguish. “Don’t believe his lies. He’ll trick you like he tricked Samantha… and me.”
    The other customers barely noticed her – even the Alsatian seemed oblivious to her presence. She wept in shadow as the lounge music changed, soft strings beckoning moonlight from the latticed windows. As she sobbed, Nathan’s life of set points strung together was finally broken.
    “It’s the Chimera Path,” Evelyn sobbed. “They made her kill Michael.”
  4. Had to read this twice. The first time I was a bit groggy and kept tripping over the words. XD


    I liked this story, some of the imagery in the first chapter (ie. coffins filled guts) really made me a bit squeamish, but that's a good thing. I enjoyed reading the exchange between Evelyn and Nathan- it reminded me of a few scenes from 'Charade' (that's a good thing).

    I hope this gets published, because I really want to know what happens next!

    Ok, for a longer, more in-depth answer, I really did enjoy the sense of how you described people in the context of how they fit into their surroundings, how Evenlyn seemed to be transparent, or how she was a collection of this and such colors. And I like this Thade.

    Now go put down more.
  6. Marvelous, you've edited it since the last time I read it (quite a bit) and I think it's been very effective.
    It has a vivid, yet not massively dull character description that I can picture in my mind's eye.
    Great word choice that I found especially catching in their conversations and actions.
    In my personal opinion, it did well at catching my attention with the opening setting.
    I'm very interested to read more.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. I like it! The imagery was spot on, and the characters were believable and interesting. It really draws me in, and ending the chapters you are sending in with a cliffhanger like that would, hopefully, draw the attention of anyone you query. I really don't see many major problems with your writing, and I agree with Tegan. I really want to see this published. I want to see what happens next!
  8. No asskissing, but it's good. Have to say the conversation at the end between Nathan & Evelyn was my favorite part.

    For some reason I wanted the two first paragraphs to switch place. To give it a start, though this is not a novel.
  9. Alright Asmo first of all, you have a fantastic talent for the pen. Secondly your story does flow rather well and I was entangled by the graveyard scene no doubt. Your choice of wordplay is exquisite and even in parts where I was waning interest your wordplay kept edging me to read as well written sentences twist my mind into conjuring up the images of the scenes.

    I'm not one hundred percent sure but should not there be a period after "Mrs" in chapter two, line three?
  10. Hmm ok.. so good praise all round.. unfortunately I think I may be about to break that chain ^^;

    It was good.. but I had some problems myself..

    The main thing was that i the first chapter.. and for a large part of the second I didn't really feel like I knew much about Nathan. For about half of the first chapter I thought he was a young boy, until he started fighting Evelyn that was the point at which I kinda twigged he couldn't be too young but I was still unsure of his age until part way through the second chapter where I started to get a feel for how old I thought he could be. I dunno I didn't really get what he was like until we started getting some of the conversations in the pub.

    I also found myself rereading certain parts a few times because things seemed to be revealed in an odd order. The fact that we seem to get given the facts about the (supposed?) killer of Michael in a very sporadic and somewhat random manner. I didn't realise it was a woman until chapter two (prompting me to read back to chapter 1 to make sure I hadn't missed anything or missread something) and then Samantha was mentioned quite a lot but he relationship to Michael was unclear and the fact that she was Nathan's ex seems to just be dropped in in chapter 3 when I kinda felt I should have been told earlier or it should have been saved for a big reveal.
    Mostly the thing with Nathan was that I felt I should know him more before Evelyn turns up in chapter one. Just basic stuff, but I really didn't get a feel for the character at all at this point.

    I'm not really sure what to make of how I feel, I guess it wasn't so much that I didn't know things, but more of I felt I didn't know things I should have. It felt kinda like there was important information missing which kinda seemed to get in the way of me visualising the whole setting.

    However this is not a genre I've really ever been a huge reader of and so these may all be positive things for it. Just letting you know how I felt about it.

    Also some extracts that confused me a bit (probably cos im a spazz)

    his tenses flawed amidst the cold and pain. I dunno this just seemed like a really weird thing to say.. it was after a line of speech that seemed entirely normal to me so..

    Mrs Cartwright, a teacher who’d worked with his mother, just as Michael’s killer had. So Samantha had worked with his mother? This kinda felt like a reference to something I wasn't told..

    “She never told me why you left. Just that you were unhappy? Is that true?”
    There was flutter of relief in Nathan’s chest, but it was just one feeling among many. There was something about Evelyn that made him want to respond, to answer her challenges rather than avoid them like he did with others. “Is anyone?”
    “Not people like you.”
    “People like me?”
    “Yeah. You only experience happiness in the moment, get sad if you have too long to think about things. A constant flow of blood, that’s what you need. Someone to beat you around and take you places.”
    “Is this what Samantha told you?”
    “Yeah, that’s what she told me.”
    “And what do you need?”

    I had to re-read this dialogue a few times.. for some reason it confused me a bit, I didn't seem to be able to figure out who was speaking each line.
    mostly because of:
    “She never told me why you left. Just that you were unhappy? Is that true?”
    Which was then responded to with:
    “Is anyone?”
    I dunno.. I.. that doesn't seem quite right to me...

    Anyway just my observations, I'm probably being pedantic with most of this and/or a retard, but I thought you'd want me to say everything I thought. I hope it's useful.

    By the way, the end of chapter 3 did grab me, I agree with Torst the conversation between Nathan and Evelyn in Chapter 3 was definitely the best part. Personally i think this would be because I felt I was starting to get my head around the main character. But also it did make me want to know more.
  11. Fair point about the age. I can fix that.

    The "tenses flawed amidst the cold and pain" comes right after the question: "Do you know Michael?" Nathan should have asked the question in past tense, because Michael is dead. But he asked it in present tense, forgetting himself for a moment.

    The slow revelation of Samantha as the killer is deliberate - a piecemeal explanation of why Nathan feels so broken by all this. I'll have to get some more feedback on how other readers respond to that technique.

    And yep, you've found an error. The line was originally. “She never told me why you left. Just that you weren't happy? Is that true?”
    To which Nathan responds: “Is anyone?” - i.e. "Is anyone happy?".

    Turning it into "you were unhappy" stops the next line from making sense.

    Good catch.
  12. Glad I could help.
  13. Okay, as I don't actually know you, Asmo, I'll be taking a totally unbiased opinion from the top and writing this as I read. I'll apologise for nitpicking, though, as I'm a perfectionist when it comes to the written word.

    Second sentence in: "It was the *worst* rainfall in years..." Not the 'worse rainfall'.

    Good opening description - detailed but not an info-dump. Keep it as it is.

    It's all fine until "he covered it with his hand, asking why?" Small grammar notice - the entire sentence is not a question. Either "he covered it with his hand, asking 'why?'" OR "he covered it with his hand, asking why." Personally, I think the former, as it creates a pause in the flow for the keyword of the sentence and adds emphasis.

    And after this, "plunder it". The "from" is superfluous, as plunder is not actually a direct synonym of "steal" which is clearly the meaning you were aiming for. I'll elaborate on this if you want.

    The part of the narrative following this point is fascinating and exciting; well thought out and chillingly constructed - good work. :3

    "the gun became more pronounced" - something about this line doesn't sit well with me. It's a bit awkward given the subject. Try changing the term 'pronounced' to something else.

    No other notes for this chapter.

    In Chapter Two, the retrospective feel in the opening few paragraphs works well. The paragraph beginning "there were some tears, of course..." loses my interest, on the other hand. It's a personal taste thing - you drift off into unnecessarily flowery phrases which I don't feel fits the mood of the overall concept (from what I've read so far, of course).

    "Luv" is also a tad unnecessary. "Love" will do - I understand the need for the colloquial spelling in the interest of characterisation, but the two are the same word - and it is the only word you do in this manner for the character.

    I like the dialogue in this section, it reads well and each character has a distinct voice.

    "Suddenly his eyes were wetting" - a tense issue here. "Were wetting", as a passive description, doesn't seem to flow well to me with the otherwise active dialogue.

    Okay, the pub name - usually the initial 'The' is also capitalised as a feature of the title, makes for a bolder statement. Also, "The Fox and Hound" just sounds better than "Fox and Hound". If this was a minor typo, sorry for focusing on it.

    On to Chapter Three, nearly done and I'm enjoying it so far! :3

    "He almost smiled, smelling her again: cinnamon in the smoke." this is a wonderful line, and I love it.. I also like the overall brief description of the pub - simple to visualise. Well done.

    Pet peeve of mine you're entitled to not care about if you choose - BRACKETS. Do not use brackets, especially not in character speech. People do not speak in brackets. Brackets are like stage whispers, and no one in real life uses them. Hyphen it if you want to keep it clearly separate from the clause.

    Excellent twist, though. Nicely paced. The plot unfolds well and I feel a connection with the characters I should.

    OVERALL: Very good and gripping, with a few little tweaks needed here and there.

    And I've just reminded myself to mention... Keep an eye on your formatting.

    I hope at least a little of this ramble helps. :3 Good luck dude! Hope everything goes well~!
    • Like Like x 1
  14. >_<

    Oops, that was a copy-paste error. The "why" is meant to be in italics.

    Indeed it is. >__<

    Fair point - I'll think about that,

    Heh. I changed that last night. I don't even remember writing the word "wetting". It's godawful, I agree.

    Yeah, good catch. I thought I had done that already.

  15. Enjoyed it for the most part. I'm one of the club who liked the conversation between Nathan and Evelyn the most.

    The only issues I had was needing to reread some of the dialogue again and the revealing of Samantha as Micheal's killer. Its not that I have anything against using her but unlike other people I gathered from the first two chapters that Micheal's killer was not known yet. So it was kinda of odd to suddenly have her labeled as the killer. Eitherway I just ran from it and am looking forward for whatever comes next.
  16. Ugh... Very well written. I have only been able to get through most of the first chapter, and I have to say that the descriptions are overwhelming my senses. At some points I have trouble seeing what is going on, but all in all, its great. My only problem was that everything was detailed and described in a too vivid sort of way.
  17. Wheee <3 I'm just going to ramble about what I thought :D && what I reallyreally liked :D
    Hope you don't mind Asmupuu :)

    This was AMAZING @_@
    It was that OMG, this book is INSANELY AMAZING I will never put it down until I finish it no matter what.
    Which is great, because if the first couple paragraphs aren't this amazing, I wouldn't read it if I picked it off a shelf :D
    But I love the imagery :3 It's just breathtaking, as if we're really there, but at the same time, sort of detached.

    Reading the first couple of paragraphs set a really interesting atmosphere. It was like I suddenly felt cold and scared. I always use the arrow keys on the laptop to scroll down, so my fingers were trembling, too. And as I kept reading, I felt more and more compelled to read out loud.

    OMG @ this line
    It made me like squeal xD It was such a good, like suspenseful line, and then, "moving behind the headstones" just pulled the suspense along instead of dropping it right at "she was gone"~ I don't know if you were going for an effect like that, but I really liked it :D

    <333 Loved this :D A great use of words ;___;

    For some reason~ over here I felt incredibly sad~ as if I was feeling some kind of pain from the character's feelings or something like. >__< It's nice though :D

    OMG OMG :D That line is so cool @___@

    ;___; Wow, Asmupuu, wow

    Wow, Asmupuu, as always you amaze me <3
  18. And now presenting... the opposite of Sakura.

    This was from a literary consultant I met at a festival.

  19. 0.o

    I dun't like that review.

    Seriously, I prefer Sakura's review.
  20. Actually this appears pretty positive to me. She never said 'this novel is shite, go home, dickhead,' only provided some very constructive feedback. She asked some very insiteful questions about characterization and scene and pointed out awkwardly constructed paragraphs. She gave you some great focal points to work on when you write your next draft-which will make it even better than before.