Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
“Only if you keep chattering.” He swung
out of the door and issued some orders in a stream of Arabic. The group split, some to the street and some back into the building.
“If we’re quiet, we should be able to escape undetected.”
“Yes, but where are we…going?” She
addressed the last portion[MH1] to his rapidly retreating back. “Wonderful ,” she muttered[MH2] . “When I want to walk, he treats me like a sack of potatoes. On a gravel ‑filled roof he leaves me. Great.” She took a tentative step onto the roof proper, and realized Webster’s definition of pain didn’t really do it justice.
“Excuse me,” she called hoarsely. She waved after his distant form. “Oh, yoo‑hoo!” Tears came to her eyes as she took another step. “Quietly, he says. Fine. I’ll scream very quietly.” As she
walked gingerly [MH3] over the coarse gravel, she jollied herself on. “You can do it. C’mon, you live through Pinlow’s code reviews, you can live through this.”
Shouts from the
street below signaled their discovery.
“What?” She blinked
She snapped her attention away from his powerful form, her mind clicking into automatic. One
‑hundred fifteen, no clothes, but two days, no eating, maybe one ‑hundred thirteen, and the run up the stairs, that counted for something, maybe one ‑twelve, oh, except for the T‑shirts, yes, well, he’d know more about what they’d weigh than she, so make it an explicit assumption, so still one ‑twelve, but no clothes, anything else?.. no?.. okay. “One ‑hundred twelve pounds, naked. So how far away is the next…”
It’s becoming a habit,
’ she thought as he lifted her again, this time by the waist. ‘I’ll never finish a sentence again without flying through the air. ’
,” he cautioned.
“To what?” she retorted, but it was too late. He built up speed
in four paces, hit the edge of the roof, and jumped.
[MH5] It was like
coming in for a landing at an airport flanked by the ocean. You don’t see any land at all until you’ve almost touched down. For just a moment, you think you’ll land in the water.
slightly, then more.
“Hold onto my neck
,” he commanded. His tone pierced the ringing in her head and she
struggled around his body
to hang on his back, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck.
With both hands free, he pulled easily over the ledge.
At the same time,
assailant climbed over the top of the fire escape.
Vickie found herself
deposited on an asphalt surface this time. ‘Must be moving uptown, ’ she thought. A sharp smack and the sound of a body hitting the tar brought her head up. Two more men had come over the top, but the first one lay on the roof, out cold.
She watched, fascinated, as the big man made a graceful leap, kick, turn, thrust, all
motion fluid and flawless, felling the two smaller men. He waited a moment for the last of her kidnappers to reach the roof. When no more came, he peered cautiously over the edge of the fire escape, then at her.
They’ve gone to get reinforcements. We’d better move.”
“Don’t you ever stop to… no wait! Put me down!”
didn’t pause at all, scooping her up as though she were a sack of kitty litter. Bundling her in one hugely muscled arm, he swung over the side onto the fire escape, leaping down the metal stairs three or four at a time. Vickie hugged his naked shoulders and hid her face in his neck , breathing his scent.
He ran easily, covering ground fast
. It was not fast enough.
The shouts were in Arabic, but Vickie didn’t have to know the language to translate, “There they are!”
There were four new ones, men she had never seen. They wore some kind of army uniforms, like the ones out of Mission Impossible. These four carried guns.
Vickie’s rescuer swore again, then charged. The soldiers unslung their rifles
before they could shoulder
them the big man had bulled into the first one, sending him ricocheting into the two next to him. The fourth one fell under a heavy fist.
The man wheeled and dived for
the doorway. Vickie drew back , alarmed. It was all that saved her from a set of cracked ribs because the man careened into her , unslowed.
The tattoo of machine gun fire stopped her.
Vickie darted a glance around the corner.
The man jerked her back. “There are two dozen more coming
around the corner,” he whispered furiously, simultaneously pounding his massive shoulder against the old wood door. It did not give.
Vickie huddled in the doorway
. Feet hitting the pavement rang closer .
Her rescuer gave one tremendous lunge at the door
, which creaked but did not break. His face contorted, and he slapped his palm against the old wood. “Damn.”
The roar of a truck racing up the narrow street
raised both their heads. Vickie glanced quickly at the man , then looked strangely at him. He was grinning like a banshee. “Come on ,” he ordered her, grabbing her by the wrist.
Seeing as their lives hung in the balance, Vickie generously decided to postpone making an issue of his caveman tactics.
In stead, she concentrated on keeping up with his long‑legged stride without tripping herself up. She noted with consternation that his feet, though also bare, were not giving him any trouble on the uneven surface of the street.
[MH1]One of the things I edit for is to make my language more immediate, which generally means more casual.
[MH3]Another thing I search for are all examples of Verbed xxx-ingly. Most often these can be improved by replacement with a single strong verb.
[MH5]This is a pacing choice. In the middle of all this action, this one thing scares the stuffing out of her. To get that across I had to take it out of the action, literally suspending time.
[MH6]Here’s an example of show/tell. Breath in scent is telling. Describing the scent lets the reader experience it.
[MH7]There’s been a movement to closer and closer POV. This is to get more inside her skin, to experience the bodily feelings she is.