Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
relieve the pressure
“What has happened?”
“I’ve got a splinter in my…my…well, you know.”
Vickie heard[MH2] a
rustle, then steps. Kulinahr touched her shoulder. “Here.
Sit on my jacket.”
into a rich silk fabric. “Are you sure? I mean, this seems a pretty
expensive suit coat.”
“Yes, I’m sure. This suit will never receive another U.N. delegation, but I think it should continue a useful life. Now, quiet, please.”
Vickie took the jacket and arranged it into a seat pad. She folded her legs into a half lotus and opened herself to
was happening. Dimly she heard shouts of dock workers and
the clank and roar of machinery, as
if the outside were wrapped in cotton. Even farther, just
over the threshold of her hearing , was the
incessant rush and slap of water.
A low thrumming of engines began under her.
Then a series of clanks and bangs
start of the police inspections.
Kulinahr tense, and she barely breathed. The sounds of heavy[MH3]
boots on metal stairs mixed in with shouts of men and pants and
yelps of dogs. The sounds advanced and receded as the
teams went back and forth between stacks of cargo. Then the sounds
seemed to recede
and vanish. Vickie let out a gush of air
, relieved that they’d gone.
she clamped her lower lip with her teeth.
snuffling of the dogs
approached. Vickie tried to make herself as small and quiet as
dogs came closer, whining and snuffling in their eagerness.
felt herself relax, but Kulinahr’s warning touch held her still.
closerand cringed back when a set
stopped right outside their crate.
Kulinahr tightened his grip on Vickie’s wrist ,
the only thing that saved them from being discovered
a moment later.
crate dropped back on the deck[MH4] .
, on her hands and knees , waited. This time she did not move a muscle, even when the banging retreated, even when
it stopped altogether, even when she heard the boots clang back up the stairs. She
remained frozen until, at last, she felt the ship move under her ,
when she gingerly sat down. ‘Now
I know how a deer feels in hunting season,’ she thought.
[MH5] Hiding in the woods, never able to show their snouts. Sneaking out only to eat.
Of course thinking of eating
reminded her of her own empty stomach.
Kulinahr slid himself
to where Vickie was sitting. He
spoke in a low voice. “I believe they are gone, but we had better wait until we
are in international waters before we present ourselves.”
Vickie nodded, then realized he couldn’t see her. “How long?”
twenty minutes. Then another hour or two to leave the area would be
She sure hoped no longer than that. Her stomach was starting to make a nuisance of itself. She tried to ignore it. “What was all that
“Fahrrad evidently knew I was still in the country.”
him pause, and mutter
a phrase in Arabic. “That was his special police. They are deadly. It is well
Cliff planned this escape, for I think Fahrrad has spies among even my most
loyal militia. Although
they would have found us had we
shifted in this crate.”
“We’re lucky you found that
“Luck was not involved. The strap I held on to is not standard equipment for a crate; not on the inside, at any rate.”
“How’d it get here, then? Oh, don’t tell me. Cliff.” That man again.
“Yes.” Another pause. “He would make a most formidable enemy.”
“Could you tell me more?”
This time there was a longer silence. Finally, Kulinahr said, “I am concerned that you would not understand, right now. And I am tired. We will meet after this trip and discuss it, yes?”
Oh, sure, let’s do lunch.
“Maybe. Why don’t you get
some rest, then, if you’re tired.”
She settled back into the dark silence. The rocking of the ship lulled her into closing her eyes, although she was still too tense to sleep.
The escape had been close. She had been athletic in her youth, but had let all that slide in favor of sitting in front of a
20 [MH6] hours a day with diet Mountain Dew
and popcorn for her constant
companion. That run up the
stairs had really taxed her.
Her stomach growled. How much time had gone by? She started to shift her position but abruptly froze when the crate creaked. Gingerly, she settled back against the side. Where was that coat of Kulinahr’s? Lost when the crate had done its rumba, probably. She could sure use it right about now.
‘Although I suppose I could use this lunking
T‑shirt I have wrapped around my head to sit on. It probably has just as much
material as Kulinahr’s coat. ’
She pulled the shirt
her head and was folding it when she felt something hard , apparently
embedded in the material. Carefully, she moved her fingertips along the shirt,
searching for some opening. When she
found nothing, she methodically turned the shirt inside ‑out and
tried again , revealing a
small , hidden
Her stomach growled again,
her current situation.
By the sound of the engine they would soon be
in international waters . Time to
face the captain of this vessel. Well,
Cliff’s name had certainly struck a chord with Kulinahr. She hoped
it would be equally effective with the captain, for Kulinahr’s
sake as much as for her own. If
anything, he was in more
than she if the captain
should decide to return them to Misr.
Several hours later,
and Kulinahr sat in
a walnut paneled room with ankle ‑deep
Persian carpeting, a dusky
gold spy glass and a huge relief globe. Vickie saw only the delicate pink shrimp in shiny red sauce disappearing one by one into the thick
ruddy lips of the man opposite.
What I’d like to
know ,” he said flicking a bit of sauce from his bristling mustache , “is
what this Cliff of yours looks like. May
know him, may not.
A lot of people named Cliff, after all .”
Vickie sighed as the last of the shrimp vanished into the captain’s mouth.
It was strange how in two days she had not missed eating at all, but in the last two minutes she had
become ravenous. Pavlov’s dogs had nothing on her. Ring the shrimp and she
[MH1]One of the rules is to make it more important to the POV character. It gives storytelling more tension and impact. This change takes the pepper-sprinkled crate and smacks it in Vickie's face.
[MH3]feeling her companion's tension and barely breathing herself is good showing. But experiencing Vickie's bursting lungs with her is even better.
[MH4]Again, I started out writing the actions, which is good. This adds tactile, concrete information, even better.
[MH7]This is a bit of foreshadowing I stuck in. Overtly she's ambivalent about him. He's a romantic rescuer but treats her like a sack of cat litter. But this shows that underneath it all, she's comforted by him.