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Old 11-16-2009, 03:49 AM   #1
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CAVITY - help/advice appreciated

Enclosed is the first chapter of my novella which has the working title, Cavity. I haven't written for the last 10 years so feeling pretty rusty. Any help/advice/feedback will be greatly appreciated. Even if you think it's terrible, I'd still rather know so I can improve.

CAVITY - CHAPTER 1

So this was the Kansgaart Sval, famous for its parched, red earth. As she swung her legs off the quad-bike, her eyes took in the patches of withered grass and the trees that had long ago existed as baobabs or, as they were once affectionately known, monkey-bread trees. An uneasy stillness hung heavy in the air as she sank to the ground, her gaze passing over the land that had so captivated her father.

"Rachel?"

The man’s voice, soft as it was, cut through the depths of her thoughts.

"What?"

"It's time to go."

She adjusted the volume on her headset before standing to dust down her bare knees.

"Give me a few minutes more, Chad."

"No way, the light’s fad-"

Rachel flicked a switch on her earpiece. A faint crackle, then silence. Wiping her brow with the back of her hand, she checked the direction of the setting sun with her watch before striding off. A wisp of hair scratched at her forehead as she forged ahead.

All the signs were good. Some 35 metres ahead she made out a dip of land surrounded by a cluster of withered trees. This indicated an old water hole. But she'd no need for such markers. Something was waiting to be discovered. That much she could sense.

The wind changed and a stale stench burst into her lungs. Rachel stopped, hesitant to move forward – and yet too stubborn to retreat. In the distance the trees threw off dim pools of shadow, casting a copper sheen on the ground. What pushed her now was the desire to trace her father’s last steps.

Rachel pushed herself forward, ordering one foot before the next over the dead land. Heavy boots scuffed the dirt, scraping over the last patches of grass. Concentrating on the rhythm of her boots pounding the earth again and again, her mind soon switched back to the task at hand.

Eyes trained on the ground, she searched for anything unusual: changes in soil colour, texture, moisture, or inclusions. As she approached the dip of land, the soil gradually darkened and felt less abrasive underfoot.

There, almost hidden between a cluster of decomposing stumps, was a small opening.

Rachel hurried to examine the cavity which was about the size of her palm.

Kneeling, she reached into the back pocket of her shorts, pulled out a thin silver tube and twisted one end.

A narrow beam of light illuminated the opening.

As she pushed the torch in further, a trickle of sweat traced a path down her nose. Following the curves and hollows of her face, the droplet slid to her chin and then fell - silently - into the underground passage.

Rachel craned her head down - her eyes taking a few seconds to adjust. She steadied the light and gazed at the underlying cavity. Her lip burned and she licked at it with small, cooling flicks of her tongue. This was the place. The exact location.

Snaking her arm inside the narrow opening, she broke off chunks of dry earth. The wind was still as she reached down, her hands brushing over the debris of ages past. A surface texture of grit and stone was mapped out gingerly by her fingers.

Rachel eased her arm in further.

It was deeper, embedded into the left wall. She flexed her fingers and leaned in as far as she could go. Her hand started to shake. Almost against its will, her hand gripped the cold and broken shaft jutting out from its bed of soil.

She pulled it free and brought it to the surface before releasing her grip. The shaft of bone was thick with dirt. She examined it under the strong beam of torchlight, pressing her finger along the smooth shaft to remove the surface grime. A patch of ivory emerged from under its dark shroud. Rachel tucked it carefully into her bag.

Only then did she notice the blood.

A small puncture wound oozed a thick trickle of red from a palm smeared across with dirt. The way that her hand throbbed told her that the wound ran deep.

Cloaking her for a second, a dark shadow moved overhead and a gush of cold air rushed past her ears. She peered up at the sun-retreating sky. As the winged shape flew into the distance she saw it circle, then sweep to the ground.

Rachel recalled a phrase in her father’s journal about vultures: ‘... where such birds exist, so too death.’

She flicked the switch on her earphone. "Get over here. Now."

Last edited by poshm; 11-17-2009 at 05:19 AM.
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Old 11-16-2009, 04:29 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by poshm View Post
Enclosed is the first chapter of my novella which has the working title, Cavity. I haven't written for the last 10 years so feeling pretty rusty. Any help/advice/feedback will be greatly appreciated. Even if you think it's terrible, I'd still rather know so I can improve.
If that's what you produced after 10 years of not-writing, God help the rest of us I loved it, evocative and well paced, it did everything I could have asked for in an opening sequence. Keep it up.

Last edited by Moejoe; 11-16-2009 at 04:31 AM. Reason: que
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Old 11-16-2009, 04:40 AM   #3
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If that's what you produced after 10 years of not-writing, God help the rest of us I loved it, evocative and well paced, it did everything I could have asked for in an opening sequence. Keep it up.
That! -^

Must say I got pulled into it right away and all I can say is... Fork over the rest of it! Like now!
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Old 11-16-2009, 04:58 AM   #4
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Thank you!

The rest of it is more-or-less a bunch of jumbled notes right now. I can see it in my head but getting it down on paper is very hard. Writing in the day with my toddler racing around is nigh on impossible so I write in the middle of the night. Probably not the most ideal time but when is?

EDITED to say that I've found a good little app for ipod touch/iphone called WriteRoom which I've been using mainly to edit and revise my fiction during the day whenever I get a spare moment. This synchs with the Internet and I then pick up where I left off with my laptop at night. This is helping me to get much more done.

Last edited by poshm; 11-17-2009 at 05:12 AM.
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