Friday, October 5, 2012

Hot Chips and Sand 6-10 Second Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand

Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes 
All rights reserved 

“Only if you keep chattering.” He swung her up over the top of the roofline, leaped over next to her, then turned and squatted behind the crumbling brick and pushed her into the same position. From there they could quite clearly see the men below, who were arguing and pointing in all directions.
“What now?” she whispered as another man stepped into the courtyard and began issuing something that sounded like orders in a stream of Arabic. The group split, some to the street and some back into the building.
The man rose to a crouch. “If we’re quiet, we should be able to escape undetected.”
“Yes, but where are we…going?” She was talking to his rapidly retreating back. “Wonderful. When I want to walk, he treats me like a sack of potatoes. But a gravel filled roof? Gone.” 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 inched 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.”
Nearing the other side, she caught the flick of a rope with the corner of her eye. Her head jerked away from her feet and in that moment of distraction she stepped on a sharp edged stone. She stifled a shriek. Her foot recoiled automatically, throwing her off balance. She stutter-stepped trying to recover, trod heavily on a stone sharp as an awl, yipped and went down with a clatter. Stones dug into her flesh like full body nougiesnuggies. A groan escaped her throat.
Shouts from the courtyard and feetthe pounding in their directionof feet coming closer wasn’t the best news she’d had all day.
The man’s long fingers wrapped around her upper arms with a strong grip and he pulled her upright. She met his blazing eyes, swallowing hard. He opened his mouth and she was sure he was going to carve her into hamburger. “How much do you weigh?”
“What?” She blinked.
“Not only did I miss my throw to the next building, your friends have found us. I’ll have to jump, carrying you.” He paused, and breathed deeply. Vickie tried not to see the massive chest expand. “So how much do you weigh?”
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? No?  Okay. “One hundred twelve pounds, naked. So how far away is the next…”
He snared her by the waist and started running.
It’s becoming a habit, she thought. I’ll never finish a sentence again without flying through the air.
“Hold on.”
“To what?” she retorted, but it was too late. He built up speed, hit the edge of the roof, and jumped.
They flew over the street, suspended in time. Vickie looked around. She saw nothing but empty space in all directions. Her arms wrapped around his neck in utter terror. It was like coming in for a landing at an airport near the ocean. Stomach swooping as the plane descends, you’re certain you’ll sink.
She’d decided there was no next building after all when they slammed into the side of it. Dazed, she focused on his hand, gripping the crumbling roof ledge.
It slipped.
Which was when the first clang of bad guy foot hit the fire escape below them.
HoldClimb onto my neckback.” His commanding tone pierced the ringing in her head.
She struggled crawlingDangling in space, and he wanted her to move? Her stomach was permanently in her throat. Still, she twisted around his bodyarm onto his back, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck.fiery from the strain. The sting from a half-dozen little cuts surprised her. The dull throb of bruises blooming all over her body, not so much. Slamming into buildings would do that.
But better dazed, cut and bruised on the back of a truck of a man than the past two days of enforced captivity at the hands of Middle Yemeni madman Hafez Fahrrad. [MH1] 
With both hands free, hethe truck pulled them easily over the ledge.
And metAn excited yip sounded from nearby. To her left, just jumping off the fire escape onto the roof, was the first bad guy climbing onto the roof from the fire escape.
Vickie found herself dumped on an asphalt surface this time. Moving uptown, she thought. A sharp smack and the sound of a body hitting the tar brought her eyes 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 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.
“He’s gone to get reinforcements. We’d better move.”
“Don’t you ever stop to…no wait!  Put me down!”
The man scooped her up as easily as if she were a sack of kitty litter—as sexy too. Bundling her in one hugely muscled arm, he swung over the side onto the fire escape, leaping down the metal stairs in great stomach-dropping bounds of three or four at a time. Vickie hugged his naked shoulders and hid her face in his neck.
And breathed in his scent. Warm, masculine, it was skin and sweat and a hint of spice.
The sting from her cuts and aches from her bruises faded to nothing at that deeply male scent.
He ran easily, covering ground fast, but a group of mennot fast enough.
Men in fatigues careered around the corner into the street behind them. The shouts were in Arabic, but Vickie didn’t have to know the language to translate, “There they are!”
 “Damn.” The big man spun to his right and Vickie was unceremoniously dumped into a darkened doorway. She“I don’t know if we can lose them.”
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 fourkhaki and leather. They carried guns.
Vickie’s rescuer swore again, then charged. The soldiers unslung their rifles and Vickie’s heart leaped into her throat.
But before they could shoulder and aim the guns, the big man bulled into the first, sending him ricocheting into the two next to him. A heavy fist felled the fourth.
The man wheeled and dived for Vickie’s doorway. She squeaked and jumped back. It was all that saved her from a set of cracked ribs as the man plowed into her.
She shoved at a wall of muscle. “Are you trying to smash me flat…?”
The tattoo of machine gun fire stopped her. She ducked a trembling glance aroundstarted to peer out but the corner. man jerked her back.
The man jerked her back. “There are two“Two dozen more are coming.” He spun and slammed his massive shoulder into the old wood door. It did not give.
Vickie huddled in the far corner of doorway, ears on the ring of running feet hitting the pavement. They were coming closer, closer. She moaned, hugged herself. She did notdidn’t know what the dictator Fahrrad wanted with her, but it wouldn’t be good.
Well, actually, she had a pretty fair idea what the Middle East dictator wanted, considering their first meeting, and it was only partially her programming skills. But no time to consider that now.
Her rescuer gave one tremendous lunge at the door. It creaked loudly and Vickie could almost see it bow inward, but it did not break. The man’s face tightened, and he slapped his palm against the old wood. “Damn.”
The roar of a truck racing up the narrow street turned both their heads. The man started grinning like a demon. “Come on.” He grabbed her by the wrist and propelled her into motion.
Seeing as their lives hung in the balance, Vickie generously decided to postpone making an issue of his caveman tactics. Instead, she stumbled alongside him, concentrating on blocking the pain so she could 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. She suddenly realized that she only heard the slapping of their feet against the roar of the truck, and cut a quick glance behind herHers were sore and sticky from both tar and bloody cuts, and she’d have given up her daily Diet Mountain Yellow for a pair of shoes or even a nice smooth paved road. Well, for day or two anyway.
Her breath rasped in her ears but the slap of feet was no long underscored by thudding boots. She cut a quick glance behind her.

 [MH1]Here’s where an editor’s perspective makes such a difference. Eliza wanted to know what Vickie was experiencing--were her feet cut? Bruises? In answering those questions I found the opportunity for characterization (better Cliff than Fahrrad!)

 [MH2]This is because I’d stripped all the backstory out of the first thirty pages. But when I did that, I hadn’t adequately given the setting, that they were in a foreign country.

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