Monday, May 10, 2010

A new start - Teaser Tuesday

Revised version posted 5/12/10 Fin and Angharad, they're left hanging again.

I couldn't resist starting revisions on 'Stolen Summer' I started at the beginning. Taking Beta comments in hand, I needed to expand on Evan's experience in Afghanistan and lay the groundwork for stuff which happens a little later in the book.

So, here's the new start.


They ambushed us when we passed through a village. It was on the cards. The white flags of the Taliban fluttered from crumbling mud walls and people stared at us with blank, hostile eyes when the armored vehicles rumbled along the narrow, dusty lane. Captain Beaumont was quieter than usual, his mouth set in a grim line beneath three days’ growth of beard. I wanted to ask him what he thought was up but after a week in his company I’d already learned when to keep my journalist’s mouth shut.

After a few stints embedded with various regiments in numerous war zones, I’d developed a bit of a feel for trouble myself. I guess a kid would call it ‘Spidey sense’, I just called it my “Oh shit” sense. Neither me or Beaumont were wrong on this occasion.

They started firing at us from the rooftops, a couple of fuckwit snipers with nothing better to do than taking pot shots at British soldiers. Bullets pinged off the vehicles, spat in the dust and slammed into walls. The explosion came from the front of the convoy. Rolling waves of dust funneled through the alley. Our men returned fire in workmanlike silence but, beyond the uneven tattoo of battle one man’s screams cut through me like a fucking knife.

“Call in air support.” Beaumont barked into the radio. “Tell them to hurry the fuck up. I can’t send the fucking medic in while those fuckwits are firing at us.”

I didn’t hear the reply but, given Beaumont’s choice language I didn’t think the choppers would be too long. I felt lousy sitting there listening to that poor sod scream when no one could do a thing to help him until the snipers were nailed. Our lot were doing their best and a sharp, pained yelp made me think one of the snipers was hit but the other kept firing, erratic bursts into the shooting gallery.

I watched Beaumont. He gnawed at his thumbnail while he peered through the slatted window. His dark eyes were a study in contained agony and fury. I don’t know that I could even being to understand or try and describe what he was feeling. I liked the man. I was also a sucker for brown eyes. Sometimes I wished…never mind.

The roar of the incoming choppers shattered the impasse.

“Thank Christ for that.” Beaumont spoke into his radio. “All right, send in the medic. We’re clear.” He took his helmet off, ran his hand through his spiky hair and sighed. “I hate this fucking job.”

“Yea.” There wasn’t much else to say. One of his men was hit and screaming like a stuck pig because we got jumped in a place where we shouldn’t be.


  1. Nice! Love the "oh shit" sense, heh.

    One more critical comment if it's helpful... At this point, I don't know how much combat Evan's seen so I don't know how he'd react, but one thing that I felt was missing was his emotions. He's very detached here, very much a journalist surveying it all. But unless he's 'been there, done that' several times, I can't imagine he's not freaking out a bit about being shot at. Maybe he's trying to fight so he can observe, but I'd expect to see that struggle too. This felt a little flat for me without that emotion (and usually I expect so much emotion from you!).

  2. Good point, Ink. Evan has been around the proverbial block a few times so he''s pretty immune to it, but you're right, I should really un-detach him a bit. after all, they're caught in an alley - kind of like fish in a barrel.
    Cheers, me dear.

  3. I loved the "Oh shit" sense, too! Very intense scene. I agree with Ink that you can do a bit to give me more internal stuff (I'm having the same issue with mine lol) but your descriptions are great, I pictured everything clearly in my head. One typo: "I don’t know that I could even being to understand or try..." I think you mean begin?

    I'm not one who normally enjoys wartime stories like this, but really, I was sucked in from the beginning. Greatness!

  4. Sue, I always love your sensory detail. You have the perfect choice of words for setting and exposition, such as bullets spitting, workmanlike silence, the description of Beaumont's eyes.

    My one suggestion is a followup on what Inkie and CC noted: For me the neutral emotion of the narrator comes because there's no gap between what he expects and what's delivered. Even if he's cynical and expects an ambush, but we see details through his eyes that introduce hope, so we relax, the fighting would feel more of a violation. As set up, this piece expands on the premise in the first paragraph, so there's no real surprise.

    Hope that helps. You write detail like no other. Just put in the gap and you'd pull the narrator in and me with him.

  5. Thanks, guys.

    I've rewritten this scene and I might just post it to see if it works.
    The more I revise this story, the more I find to do. I loves it. :)