Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
“Ah, modern conveniences.” The man
now stood, hands on hips.
It was a
Seven‑Eleven [MH2] city ‑size
supply truck, piloted by the worst driver Vickie
had seen since she’d been in driver’s ed.
The driver seemed to
be almost gleefully running men down, and the soldiers had to be quick to stay
out of his way.
“This is our chance,” the man said
“You can’t possibly mean…” Vickie stared at the oncoming truck. “If we get even close to that thing we’ll almost surely be killed!”
“If we stick around here, the probabilities are even greater.”
started regrouping almost instantly after the demented truck driver had passed , raising their
rifles for a shot. As soon as the
truck passed the couple,
their aim would be clear …
The truck careened down the street.
No sign of the two
The man hung next to her, his hair blown
the wild speed . His face
was impassive. Wonderful.
Here she was, barely hanging on as a madman truck driver tore up the streets of
Middle Yemen, and this guy looked like an ad out of GQ.
Vickie reached out a foot to kick him in his complacency, but the wind caught it and threw her off
Her grip was torn and she felt herself falling.
She rolled off the truck and into something hard. Ooof. Dazed, she sat up and looked around.
He stood, nonchalant, against the night sky. His hands were open on his hips, his legs spread and stable, like the
of some great tree. Vickie felt
the her heart beat hard, and some how she didn’t think it was from running. Slowly,
so he wouldn’t see how she was trembling, she rose.
He moved aside then, and pointed. Behind him stars twinkled in the sweltering heat, glittering off the gentle swell of black sea.
“It’s a port
didn’t say a word, just
“Is that where we’re going?”
she cried, trying [MH4] to kick him in the rear but missing
by several inches of now wished‑for height. “Put me down. I can walk !
Just put me down!”
He did finally put her down in the hold of a large ocean freighter. “This ship is bound for Boston
harbor. You should be able to get home from
there. Stay here until the ship is under way .
Then go to the captain. Use my name.
He’ll see you to safety.”
“Wait a minute,” she called as he swung out through the hatch. “What is your name?”
He barely glanced back over his broad shoulder. “Cliff.”
Great. [MH5] ‘Hello,
captain, yes, I know I haven’t booked a passage and you don’t know me from
Adam, but, hey, it’s okay. Cliff said so.’ “
Vickie felt her way through the barely‑ lit hold to a crate , where she sat.
“That’s sure to get me the red carpet treatment. Cliff!” She swung her legs carelessly against the
crate, consciously letting go of the tension of the past two days. She had been fortunate, after all.
He loomed up in her memory as big as he had loomed in her sight. She rarely gave in to fantasy, but, after all, she would never see the man again. So she let her mind play over her first astonished sight of him, the dim lighting cutting deep grooves in his sleek torso, of the feel of the weight of his body on hers, his hand, tangled in her hair, his mouth, sweet on hers, his tongue…
“Hello, young lady.” The pleasant baritone voice
did little to calm Vickie’s nerves. She whirled, ready to fight or flee.
A slim, middle aged man faced her. “Please,
come with me. Cliff has arranged …”
“You know Cliff?”
she broke in, excited. Now maybe she would learn something about her fantastic
“Of course. It was Cliff who brought me here. I am
Prince Kulinahr. But please, we must …”
We must hurry and hide
ships leaving Misr are searched before clearing the harbor. Come, Cliff has
Kulinahr led Vickie between crates, bales and bags to a largish crate marked with stencils
SAMPLES —DO NOT
DROP”. One side was open. “Quickly , come
in and help me close the crate.”
, tired lines etched
unshaven face ; lines
that weren’t in his official photographs. His suit was dusty and torn on one
Kulinahr picked up the lantern and
looked closely at
the bottom corner where
they had closed the crate. He gave a small sigh of satisfaction and pulled hard on a thin white cord . A pungent smell crept through the crate. “Pepper.” said
“Fahrrad uses dogs in his clearance searches, ostensibly to search for drugs. Pepper
will block their sense of smell for days, yet it’s harmless.”
Vickie sat carefully on the rough wood
sat down opposite her . Then he turned
out the light.
[MH1]Saw, felt, heard are filter words that distance the reader from the POV character and so the story. Cleaner to cut.
[MH2]Although fair use allows artistic fictional representations, this name wasn't really necessary.
[MH3]While anger and resentment make good conflict, it can also make the heroine look petty. These days I like to save anger for the high points.
[MH5]Swearing is good emphasis, but too much can numb the mind. I like to get inventive with my swears.
[MH6]This, and the several paragraphs which follow, is backstory, that is, stuff that happens before the opening of the story. There's a rule of thumb that all backstory should go no earlier than page 30 so I hacked it out and made it its own scene later. In doing so I sacrificed some information that was needed for grounding the reader in the current setting. What can I say? I'm still working at it ☺
[MH7]The problem with backstory to me is that it has a real "wah-wah-wah" feeling, that is, it pulls the reader out of the action with a "Thank you, Ms. Exposition" You know, the friend who, at the start of the movie leans over and says, "You think that's the hero but he's really the villain." and you want to smack them.