Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
“I wish we had one of Cliff’s ropes
,” Vickie said when they got to[M4] the roof, eyeing
the distance between buildings. “Somehow it looks a lot farther away during the
John simply grinned. “I think I can jump it. I’ll go over and subdue
then let you guys in to disconnect the computer.”
“Well I’m not
Tess spoke firmly. “John is in prime condition, and Vickie, he’s made
you into another muscle maniac. But I can’t.”
Tess ran back down the fire escape as John
contemplated the distance. Then
he backed up, ran a few steps and flew across the narrow alley, hitting the
roof of the hotel.
Vickie compressed her fear down into her body,
roiling sensation gave her the extra
strength she needed. She didn’t
pause, just ran, hit the edge and jumped.
Her legs were more powerful than she remembered. She sailed across the open space, not looking down, not thinking of anything but the man she hadn’t trusted enough.
Then she was landing on the other side and [M6] John grabbed her
shoulders. “Good going! Let’s find Cliff.”
They found the hatch to the fourth floor, removed it and dropped into the dimly‑lit corridor. Vickie had
corridors in her worst nightmares , but
always at the end strong arms had plucked her
John and Vickie ran from door to door, listening.
expected, this floor was empty. John had explained that the whole hotel had probably been
taken over by Fahrrad and his personal guard, which the ambassadors had estimated
to be a couple dozen strong. In fact, this had probably been Fahrrad’s retreat all
as a cover. Fahrrad would not be expecting
anyone to crack his hide‑out, as he did
not know about Cliff’s previous visit.
The stairway door slammed open
, followed by
a long, loud string of Arabic curses .
Vickie and John pressed themselves into the shadow of the stairs.
Then a voice spoke in English, one Vickie remembered well. “Once the palace is rubble, kill him.”
hand, to stop her.
Irrationally, she evaded him and ran lightly
up the stairs.
She got to the landing
the door just
swinging shut. Now John called softly after her, but she ran
for all she was worth up the remaining flight. And after hundreds of flights on the stair
machine, she was worth quite a bit.
How long now?
She turned to the left, her hand pausing over the glass knob.
She swung to the
right, grabbed the yellowed doorknob and
slammed the old wood door open . She heard a groan as she caught the guard on
Vickie rushed into the room and stopped abruptly.
The last time she had seen him here
had commanded the room. Now he lay in the corner, blindfolded, gagged and
trussed up tighter than Houdini.
wait too long. The guard had recovered and was coming at
her. She stared at him, unable to move.
John ran in
just then, took a quick look, and smiled, shaking his head. “He’s out
cold,” he whispered. “Maybe
you train faster than Cliff.”
waved her hand no. “I’ve only used a rifle once, a handgun never. Look, there’s no time to be elegant about this.
Go find the console and smash it. Hopefully it will
stop the explosion—but if not, the palace has been evacuated . I’ll look after Cliff.” John nodded and left.
[M10] to the prone man
in the corner. She tried to untie the
blindfold, but her
caught in the knot. This was no good. She searched the room quickly for a knife or
but found nothing. She even looked in
Cliff’s waistband, blushing. Still nothing. One minute to go . She wondered how long it would take Kulinahr’s
reinforcements to arrive.
Once the minute was up, Fahrrad would almost certainly come to see if
Cliff’s sentence had been carried out.
[M1]This is backwards. Cause (John's plan) should come before effect (parking a block from the hotel). I also had to change the rest of the paragraph so I cut it.
[M3]Very apparent in this chapter that I've changed as a writer. I've chopped swathes of description for short snappy action.
[M5]The only way this would make sense would be if Vickie were an unreliable narrator, which she's not. If she says it, she means it.
[M6]Again, the difference between "telling" what's going on and showing it. Bonus, it reminded me that a jump that far will have an impact. Much more real.
[M8]I've been editing this over the better part of a year and frankly, I don't remember if I set the character up with an inability to trust her instincts. But I like it :) So I expanded on it here and left myself a note to add it in the beginning if it doesn't exist (and if it works with the story overall).
[M9]The impact here is Vickie's reaction to seeing Cliff trussed and helpless. That's romance. But the rest of the scene has a sort of haze over it. Where's the guard? Where is Cliff? Not every detail needs to be painted but the important ones definitely need to be clear.