Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Once Upon a Time... linkup: Fear

This prompt hangs around like a plague in my writing world. Maybe it is because I deal with fear so much in my own life, or maybe because a good character always has something they fear and overcome. But, either way, it is back for today.

Today's snippet is found in my novel, The Last Scribe.

Word count: 427
Ó Pure Grace

My heart is pumping so hard it hurts, a fierce arrhythmic pattern that deafens. My legs feel like jelly. I’ve been sprinting so long, and beating up this hill is torture. Grass whips at my ankles, tangling my feet, tripping me. I fight for balance as I race the pace of my pulse. I can’t fall. Not now.
I glance behind me at the charging horses churning up the plain, manes whipping in their faces, trappers beating at their sides, the knights poised and ready in the saddle, crossbows aimed, heavy swords lifted high, bloodthirsty shouts splitting the air. Blood rushes to my head. I feel as though it is going to explode if I keep going. But I have to. Arrows whiz past me, strike the ground only inches away from the path I run, and ricochet into the air. I jerk away, gasping, my lungs scorching as though I breathe fire. I don’t know why they shoot. They want me alive, not dead.
But dead is the only way I can be delivered to them. If I’m not dead, I may as well be.
Fear, sickening fear, slides through my bones and into my belly. It is familiar. I have lived on fear as long as I can remember. If it were not there, I would worry. My feet fly on, hitting loose rocks, sharp weeds, tearing up the grass and mud beneath me. Slipping is not something I can afford to do. I try to squint through the blur of colors around me, but everything is jumbled haze in my eyes. The only thing I can make out is the stark blue sky above me and the dark line where the Woodland juts a wild head into it.
The forest. Where I am going. Safety.
I taste blood on my tongue and again a nauseating wave tears over me. My lungs are nearly bursting, screaming at me to stop running. I can’t. I know I can’t. My hand goes to my belt, where the scroll is tucked. Sweat makes the leathery parchment cling to my skin. It is safe, so far. And I have to keep it so.
The bolts get closer, hiss past my ear, and bounce off the ground. One shaft buries in the earth beside me, so deep I can’t see the arrowhead. I hazard a glance back at the Sargon knights, terror unloosing inside me, rearing its ugly head in my face, telling me I might get hit anyway, that it wouldn’t matter, and they might kill me after all.

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  1. Whoo, nice sense of adrenaline you've got going there! Wee tip from me, though - try using shorter sentences and less concrete images some time. It really helps up the confusion aspect, as it makes the lack of cohesive thought felt when terrified more tangible to the reader.

    Great extract, though!

  2. Ah, loved the piece! Definitely agree with Charley's comment. You DO have adrenealine pumping there, but a little more jagged writing would shake the reader up too. Up to you! Where does this bit come in the book?

    And I'm SO sad...I was hanging out for your link up, but I thought maybe you were skipping this week (sorry, don't know why I thought that), so I did WOE instead. Darn! I'd have prefered to do fear... Oh, well, I'll try for next week! I like it when you give a heads up about what the prompt is. My evil mind can plot early... xD

  3. I very much enjoyed this!
    I shall have to join in next time as I've not the time now. but it looks like fun!