Friday, October 12, 2012

Hot Chips and Sand 11-15 First Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes 
All rights reserved 

She saw [MH1] a hoardThe horde of men, also in quasi‑military uniform, rushing toward them, brandishing had screeched to a stop. Though they brandished their rifles and machine guns, but not firing.  They were still trying and tried to look aggressive, but notthey weren’t succeeding horribly well. The reason why was barreling down the midst ofstreet behind them.
“Ah, modern conveniences.” The man had stopped, and now stood, handspulling her to the side of the narrow street. He planted big fists on his narrow hips and grinned at the oncoming truck.
It was a Seven‑Eleven [MH2] city size supply truck, piloted by the worsta driver Vickie had seen since she’d been in driver’s ed.  The driverwho must have stolen it. He 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 to her.
“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.”
He was right. The soldiers started regrouping almost instantly afterregrouped the moment the demented truck driver had passed, raising their. Their rifles raised for a shot. As soon as the truck passed her and her rescuer, the couple, theirmen’s aim would be clear.
The truck careened down the street.  No sign ofCursing and wailing rose from behind. Vickie knew they’d been surprised to see the two foreigners remainedgone.
“This is insane!” Vickie She clutched the small hand‑holdshandholds with a death‑grip. “This is insane!” she screamed between gritted teeth.
The man hung next to her, his hair blown backartfully by the wild speed.  His face was impassive.  Wonderful. , his eyes sparkling and his grin almost rakish. Programmers on a pogo stick. 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 balance. 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.
Vickie realized that sheShe was not nearly as injured as she expected to be about the same time she realized why.  Thebecause hard thing she hadshe’d hit was the man, who was a lot less hard than the pavement would have been.  He hadHe’d apparently jumped as she fell, and pulled her into the concussion‑absorbing roll that had saved her life.
But she’d have bruises. She stared in disgust at her arm, where even now purple flowers were starting to blossom. Stupid translucent skin.
“Get up.”
Any warm and fuzzy thoughts Vickie might have begun about him were instantly squashed by her anger.  “Now wait just[MH3] “Oh, give me a second…!”  Still sitting on the ground, she!” She scooted around on her butt to face him.
He stood, nonchalant, against the night sky. His hands were open on his hips, and his legs spread and stable, like the trunktrunks of some great tree.  Vickie felt the herVickie’s heart beat hardstarted hammering, 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!”?” Vickie exclaimed.  said.
The man didn’t say a word, just nodded.
“Is that where we’re going?”
The man simply grinned before shouldering her.  “That’s where you are going.” The man shouldered her.
“Wait!” she cried, tryingShe tried [MH4] to kick him in the rear but missingmissed 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 with Kul until the ship is under way. Then, 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.”

Chapter 2
“Cliff.  Great. Simply lucking fuvely[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 leaned against a nearby 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.
Col. Hafez Fahrrad was the name on the cover letter.  She had done her usual thorough research and had discovered he was presently the dictator of a Middle‑East dot on the map, Middle Yemen by name, recently comingboss’s face. But she’d never imagined it would lead to power in a particularly bloody coup.
At their first meeting, her hair had marked her out.
Fahrrad had stood as if transfixed, eyes flat and glassy.  “What an unusual color,” he had said, reaching out a finger to touch a curl.
She had pulled back, appalled, and slapped his hand away.  She still could see his expression, as if he were there with her in the dark hold.  He had been furious, his eyes sparking with anger at her effrontery.  But then he had controlled himself, and had actually smiled, with a toothy, gold‑capped grin and a slight bow in apology.
Vickie had felt certain that he was trying to weasel his way back in her good graces, although she had thought at the time it was to get a better price for his data system.
“Here at Fitzwater Software and Consulting, we generally work in database design and implementation, Col. Fahrrad,” she had told him.
“Ah, yes.  That is what my advisor had told me.  But what I want is not so different, isbeing kidnapped. If it, my love?”
Terms of endearment in the business environment always grated on her.  This one made her wonder if Fahrrad thought all Americans sounded like old Bogart films.  If he hadn’t been a client, she would have made an issue out of it.  As it was, she asked politely, “And what are you looking for?”
“I would like a security system.”  His slow, sensual grin had not endeared him to her at all.  It really looked more like a leer, ruler of a country or not.
“For the government headquarters?”  Vickie had remembered from her readingfor a chance escape, and then meeting that he had infiltrated the Middle Yemeni palace, then staged a coup months later.  Then Fahrrad had slaughtering all the people loyal to the original ruler, Prince Kulinahr, and the Prince himself.  She supposed he would want to make sure no one would pull the same trick on, Cliff…
“For the entire country.”
That had set her back.  She knew the technology involved in guarding a bank or building was commonplace, but a whole country…?  “I’ll have to check with the vice‑president on this, Col. Fahrrad. Unless you’d like to speak with her yourself?”
“No, sweetheart, I much enjoy working with you.”  Again that oily grin.  She shuddered even now, remembering it.
Men had kidnapped her two days later, as she left work for the night.  They hadn’t said a word; their guns spoke for them quite clearly.  She had kept her head enough to leave her brief case on the sidewalk, unobtrusively.  They hadn’t seen her do it, and she had hoped it would alert the other people leaving work that something had happened to her.
One of them had pushed her into an old model car with a missing muffler.  She smiled at that.  Apparently they were trying to blend in.
She had started suspecting the Middle Yemen connection when she realized half her kidnappers spoke Arabic, the other half English.  Later, she overheard a conversation punctuated quite frequently by Col. Fahrrad’s name.
She had no doubts left to her fate, however, when they had arrived in this place of sand and sweltering heat and dank buildings, and they had produced her present, comfy outfit, which they had requested, quite nicely if you didn’t consider the rude manner in which they had pointed at her and  the guns they had used to point with, that she put on.  Then they had burned her own clothes.
“Hey, I might need those,” she had protested.
“Not with the Colonel, Madam,” the bilingual one had answered her.
With that motivation, Vickie found the opportunity to escape soon after.  Perhaps they thought she wouldn’t attempt it.  Well, she was modest, but she valued her life more highly than modesty.
They had gone into the city to celebrate, leaving one behind to guard her.  The remaining kidnapper was relieving himself in the next room, and she simply let herself out.
Unfortunately, three of them had returned early and surprised her in the lobby, where she had stopped to stare at a large sculpture of what looked like a curled‑up triangle.  It had seemed so incongruous, over-pretentious art in Motel she had started laughing, and the three kidnappers in the lobby had pointed and come at her, running.  She had then begun the flight which had brought her to that truck of a man.
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. came from her right. She whirled, ready to fight or flee.
A slim, middle aged man faced her. “Please, Ma’am, comemiss. Come with me. Cliff has arranged…” for—”
“You know Cliff?” she broke in, excited. Excitement overrode her fear. Now maybe she would learn something about her fantastic rescuer.
“Of course. It was Cliff who brought me here. I am Prince Kulinahr. But please, we must…”—”
“Prince Kulinahr?”  So the original Middle Yemeni ruler had escaped Fahrrad’s murderous schemes.  And it was due to that man, the one who had saved her life.  “Tell me how you know Cliff.”
“Yes, soon, soon. “Prince Kulinahr? The ruler of Middle Yemen?”[MH7] 
He gave a short bow. “No longer ruler, I’m afraid. But alive, at least for the moment. We must hurry and hide now. . All ships leaving Misr are searched before clearing the harbor. Come, Cliff has made arrangements.”
Kulinahr led Vickie between crates, bales and bags to a largish crate marked with stencils—“SAND SAMPLESDO NOT DROP”. One side was open. “Quickly, come. Come in and help me close the crate.”
TogetherShe ducked inside with him and together, they swung the side of the crate closed.  VickieShe heard Kulinahr fumble in the close darkness, then. Suddenly a small, battery powered lantern, sitting in one corner of the crate, illuminated the cramped confines. Vickie saw grim
Grim, tired lines etched into the former ruler’s unshaven face;, lines that weren’t in his official photographs. His suit was dusty and torn on one side.
Kulinahr picked up the lantern, and looked closely atran it along the bottom corneredge where they had closed the crate. He gave a small sigh of satisfaction, set the lantern down, and pulled hard on a thin white cord.  snaking from the same corner as the lantern had occupied. A pungent smell crept through the crate. “Pepper.” said Kulinahr, straightening. He straightened. “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.”
“But how do you know “And Cliff?  And how did he managed to arrange for all this? How? When?”
“Yes, yes.  This“I will become clearexplain as soon as we leave the harbor. But right now we must be silent.”
Vickie sat carefully on the rough wood.  of the crate’s floor. Kulinahr sat down opposite her.  Then he and 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.

 [MH4]Usually you only need either a "she said" or a "she did" to identify dialog, not both.

 [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.

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