Instant prologue: just add crit and edits

I put my first bit of work for my crit group to dissect. I looked for obvious errors, then set it loose in the wilds of other writers and waited. Within a week, five people posted. For your perusal, I will post my first draft as it was submitted to my crit group. Once I’ve gone through my edits, I will post the updated version. Said version will be re-submitted to be sure I’ve gotten what needed done. Sometimes when you crit, you’re so tripped up by certain aspects you miss others.

Here is the first draft:

Rose tripped over an overturned dresser drawer, the duffel in her hand skidding across the floor and dumping contents like a breadcrumb trail toward the doorway. Leaving it behind, she skittered through the bedroom and into the upstairs bathroom, crawling quietly into the bathtub. Making herself as small as possible, she hid behind the shower curtain, every tiny sound echoing through the empty house. No heater hissed, no pipes clanked. Only the dull thunk of boots against worn carpeting, the creaking stairs as her pursuer came closer, the hiss of his jacket as it brushed the door frame when he passed. Just as she breathed a sigh of relief, his steps neared, slowed and stopped just as his heels clicked against the thick white tile. The surprisingly loud click flooded the room with the overhead light and Rose shrank back, trying to stay out of sight. Why hadn’t she hidden under the bed? She could have run when he came into the bathroom. Instead she was stuck inside with no way out.

Slowly he advanced, every step echoing until he snatched the shower curtain away. Rose cowered, arms wrapped protectively around her body. He lashed out, grabbing her arm hard enough she cried out. There would be bruises in the morning. Putting all her weight behind her, she tried to keep her backside against the shower wall. Another thick hand grabbed her other arm and hauled her up to her tiptoes, his breath hot on her cheek when she turned away. He inhaled, short stubble scratching tender skin. Her head hit the shower wall and a tear slipped free, the whimper uncontrollable as she forced her mouth further from his.

A figure loomed in the doorway, shadows darkening his skin. Its spine stood out, the skin sunken around the processes and between his ribs. It paused on all fours, its back too long, its arms to narrow and its legs bent at strange angles. Her eyes locked with ebony pools and she shuddered.

“Help. Please,” she whispered, watching the strange being cant its head and lean closer.

Her aggressor turned to face the creature. “What the fuck is that thing? Some kind of fucked up dog?”

Its face was too human as it loped into the bathroom and looked up at the man. Its dark eyes swiveled from him to her and back again.

The man dropped her, turned toward the creature and puffed his chest. Brandishing a knife from his belt, he advanced. The creature pulled back, brow drawn and cheeks pulled taut.

Rose summoned her voice. “Run!”

The angular face turned to her just as the leather-clad man struck, drawing a started cry from the creature. Its face contorted in rage and it took a pair of steps back, rising to its full height. Its arm oozed thick black from the thin gash across his bicep. With a hiss, it grabbed him by the throat and snarled in his face, long canines bared and glistening in the light. The creature grabbed the robber’s arm, twisting it back until it crunched and the knife dropped from his hand. A shadowy forked tongue traced the man’s neck as he spit obscenities. The noise stopped when sharp fangs touched skin. Despite fighting the creature before, the robber now held very still. Rose crawled over the tub edge and grabbed the weapon, every movement slow to avoid the creature’s attention.

With a crush of strong jaws, the man’s howls echoed against tiled walls. The creature’s mouth closed and its throat moved, swallowing as the man first struggled and then went limp. Dropping the lifeless body to the floor, the creature turned to Rose and crouched down, red-black eyes watching her intently. Long ebony nails clacked as they settled against the stark flooring, its hands between its feet. Rose shivered, expecting it to attack. She clutched the knife, the hilt against her solar plexus.

Instead of coming toward her, the creature circled the corpse, snuffling his neck and shoulder. Giving a quick glance back at Rose, it nosed the head toward her in a macabre offering. When she didn’t respond, it picked up an arm and hauled it toward her. A squawk of terror rose from her throat and she violently shook her head. With its brow drawn, the creature took a large bite of flesh, then shook the limb at her. Rose screamed, turning away from it and covered her head with her hands. The knife clanked against the tub floor and settled near the drain. A heavy thunk was all the response she received. Rose peeked over her shoulder at it. With a shrug, the creature hunkered down and licked at its hands like an overgrown cat, the ends of its tongue cleaning the crevice of its nail. When she shifted, its long, pointed ears flicked but it otherwise ignored her. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt her. She stared at it, watching as it worked from one finger to the next. It made a face as the pungent scent of human excrement filled the small space, but returned to its grooming.

Something was familiar in its face. Despite the hard angles, she could see human features. As if sensing her stare, it turned and looked at her, watching her for a moment before returning to its tongue bath. Something in its eyes reminded her of someone she knew.

No. It couldn’t be.

Slowly reaching out to him, she called him by name.

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About Carrie Fulk Vaughn

Carrie Fulk Vaughn (C.V. Madison) is a licensed massage therapist, author of LGBTQIA, Urban fantasy, horror & romance. Gamer geek full of Mountain Dew and schadenfreude pie. Twitter addict. Ball jointed doll collector.

Posted on October 24, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Interesting. I would definitely like to read more. I have a question regarding the positioning of the creature: when it grabs the robber by the throat, does it have hands? I (maybe wrongly) assumed that since it was on all fours that it had paws of some sort. I tripped up a little on how it was positioned and what it was doing.
    Aside from that, very visual, with a striking sense of immediacy in the first paragraph.

  2. This is the third draft. The first draft of said story was… well, terrible, frankly. It’s better suited to flashbacks and later related history. Anyway–

    Yes, it has hands. The creature is humanoid. I need to do better describing it. I’m just worried I’m describing too much. I’ve been told a prologue should be no more than two pages. I’ll be posting the revised prologue once I’m happy with it. Unfortunately, it needs more emotion out of Rose, according to my crit group. I’m just not sure how to show it. She’s a reactive character as opposed to internal thoughts or whatever when she’s running. I don’t know. Maybe I’m over thinking it.

    I’ll stop rambling.

  3. No, it’s good so far. A good portion of horror is confusion; think of H.P. Lovecraft. He intentionally gave conflicting accounts of what the creatures in his books looked like, so that the readers mind wouldn’t know what it was dealing with.

  4. That’s an interesting way to look at it. And it isn’t like I can’t describe the demon again in another chapter.

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