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> Mandy's Writing
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Nov 15, 2012 06:59PM
This is the first chapter to my sci-fi, post-apocalyptic novel. I'd really love some feedback on it. There are questions posted at the end of the chapter.
In order to embrace her destiny and save what’s left of the human race, Eliana must defeat an evil alien named Mavrok.
Daughter of the Sun
A frozen capsule stretched out before me, representing my freedom. The surface was just as desolate and harsh as the last time I’d stepped out into its unforgiving embrace. It was a death trap for many, but for me, it was the one place I could be free; the one place I knew I belonged. Its blinding brilliance, its unpredictable blizzards, and even its pitfalls lying in wait for me, never stopped me from returning again and again to its frozen landscape.
I leaned back and breathed in deeply. The bitter wind slashed across my exposed nose and cheeks. The high mountain air was thin, frosted, and stale from the ashes, which mixed and mingled from the overhead gray clouds. They were a constant reminder of the past; the day of The Turn when the Earth’s surface had been destroyed and the humans had been enslaved by an evil alien race called the Sinners.
I despised those damn clouds and their inability to change. As much as I loved being out on the surface, roaming free from the Sinners, the bits of ashes were another reminder that I was just fooling myself. I was being allowed out onto the surface for one sole purpose: to hunt. Still, I never complained.
No, I rather enjoyed the hunt, probably a little too much. I’d been doing it for so long that it’d become like second nature, and I’d even been appointed the leader of my huntress group, The Medusa Sisters. Hunting meant survival, but to me, it was more than that. It was about… the kill. And as my eyes scanned the endless horizon, I spotted my prey.
A walobut lie straight ahead of us, less than an arrow’s shot away, and stood on four legs at over eight feet tall. Its fur blended in perfectly with the snowy mounds, but with two brown horns, black in its tail, and two black beady eyes, it was easy to spot within the endless white of the surface.
The other girls in my group followed closely behind me as we inched our way across the snowy field. All of our eyes were glued on the beast as it dug with massive claws into the frozen earth. It was searching for food; a small rodent-like creature called a silkelk.
I stopped in my tracks, halting the girls behind me. We’d come close enough; it was time to hunt. I turned and divided the girls into three small groups: two groups with three girls and my group with just two. One group took the position to the north of the beast while my group headed west, directly towards the animal, and the last group headed south.
Excitement boiled inside of me as I envisioned an easy kill, and I turned back to face the walobut. My hands itched to draw my bow and arrow as my eyes stayed focused on the preoccupied beast. Now was an excellent time to strike, but I had to be patient; timing was everything when dealing with such massive beasts.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the group to the north was now in position under the cover of the barren tree line. The group to the south didn’t have much cover, but the beast’s head was buried in the earth, not to mention it was facing towards me. The wind howled into my face, blowing downwind from the animal and masking our scent.
I pulled out my bow and arrow, readying it as I waited for the other girls. From the group to the south, Amisa, my most trusted friend and second-in-command, held up her arm, indicating she was ready. From the north, Arwin was just a hair behind her. I gave a slight nod to the other girl in my group, Ebba, making sure she had her bow ready, and lifted my arm into the air, giving the signal.
In a flash, arrows blazed across the sky, arching high and seeking out their target, only to suddenly fall like daggers into the beast’s back. Each arrow was precisely aimed and found its way into the oblivious and helpless walobut. The animal roared up from its relentless digging, angered and hurt. Its eyes glittered dangerously and searched for its attackers, but when it found only my group of two, it snarled and snapped its rows of piercing teeth. Even from this distance, I saw its sharp fangs as it howled and reared its head back once more before it stomped its monstrous feet and charged.
I arched my bow, stretching it, flexing it, and then out of pure reflex, I released my arrow. My eyes did not move as I drew another arrow and released it upon the wounded beast.
Adrenaline pumped through my body, and I relished the whooshing sound as another arrow rushed past my ear. I wanted to draw another arrow, but with a skidding thud, the walobut fell less than twenty paces from me. All too quickly, the hunt was over, and a bit of disappointment flooded through me. But then, I heard the beast’s gargles and heavy breaths as it struggled to stay alive.
I blinked in disbelief and astonishment at my own rookie mistake. I hadn’t killed the beast? Impossible. But no matter how many times I closed and opened my eyes, the walobut’s arrow-pierced back heaved up and down. I tsked under my breath. Was I off my game today? I never missed and my shots always aimed to kill. But today, there were no arrows in its head.
The beast was now suffering a slow and agonizing death. As the leader of the group, it fell on my shoulders to put the animal out of its misery. Still, this was an extra step that I should’ve avoided. I was better than this.
I put my bow back into its case over my shoulder and reached down inside of my boots, pulling out my hunting knife. I walked over to the walobut’s head and noticed its long snout lay open with its purplish tongue flopping out in between its jagged teeth.
My fists tightened as I stepped towards the animal, and perhaps in a fit of anger, my eyes drifted towards the beast’s eyes. I wanted to look it in the eye, I wanted to be angry with the thing that had cost me my perfect record of instant kills, but as my eyes met those dark ones, terror gripped me and froze me in my tracks.
I was instantly transported back to my childhood, alone and frightened in the cold dark. Those black eyes reminded me of my childhood nightmares. As a child, I’d believed the darkness itself was alive. I thought the darkness had eyes, eyes that were actually blacker than the darkness itself.
My hands started to shake. Yes, I remembered… I remembered what had brought the darkness…
As if under some sort of spell, the word fell from my lips almost soundlessly, “Mavrok.”
As a child, I hadn’t known any better. I’d only heard the Sinners say his name every now and again, and out of pure curiosity, I’d asked my caretaker, Raina, who Mavrok was. Her horrified expression was not the reaction I’d expected, and she quickly told me to never speak his name ever again. After that… the darkness started to haunt me, and Raina cursed Mavrok day in and day out, shaking her fist at the shadows as if Mavrok were apart of them. I didn’t understand at the time, but as I grew older and heard more rumors within the sanctuary, I heard that Mavrok was the leader of the Sinners, the one who’d destroyed the Earth’s surface.
My body continued to tremble. This wasn’t happening. I’d gotten rid of those awful night terrors long ago when I’d become a huntress, and I’d long forgotten such silly things like being afraid of the dark. But now, looking into the walobut’s midnight black eyes, the fear consumed me. The knife shook in my right hand as those two eyes filled my vision and brought back my childhood fears.
I tried to squeeze my eyes shut and make those eyes disappear, but no matter how many times I tried, they still remained, black as night and seeking to claim my soul. But I wasn’t a scared little girl anymore. I was being ridiculous, and I focused on my own stupidity in order to shed off the fear that weighed me down.
I chastised myself for getting distracted and for being weak. Huntresses weren’t weak. I fed on my own boiling anger, and in one quick motion, I bent down and slashed the walobut’s throat without looking away from those black eyes. They rolled up into the beast’s head, and instantly, all fear and rage vanished. The harsh snowy world came back into view, and the girls were standing just behind me. I couldn’t be sure how long I’d stared at the walobut’s mangled body, but the other girls had surely become concerned for me.
I looked down at the dead walobut and confusion gutted my insides. I never hesitated on a kill. I wanted to blame the beast, but I knew the mistake was mine and mine alone. Still, why had I recalled my past? Had it really just been those black orbs? I was half-tempted to lift up the walobut’s eyelids and see if that blackness was still there, but an involuntary shudder coursed through me and I wrenched my eyes from the corpse.
A bit shakily, I stood up and moved away from the overwhelming metallic smell of blood. I hugged my arms to my chest, trying to physically hold myself together, and when I looked up, Amisa was close enough to touch my shoulder. I almost jumped away, but she noticed the alarm in my face. The other girls were close behind her, so she didn’t say anything.
She gently touched my shoulder, and her sparkling deep blue eyes looked at me reassuringly as if she already knew what I’d been through. All six of the other girls gathered around the walobut without any need for commands and began cutting up the walobut with their identical knives.
I was the one who’d messed up, and I tried to shove my mistake into the back of my mind and into the past. I needed to focus on the kill that was still in front of me. That was my job, my purpose, or at least, it had been until that unfortunate moment.
“Are you okay, Eliana?” Amisa asked, pulling my gaze back towards her.
I’d been staring off into the distance again, and her dark eyebrows furrowed as she studied my face. “I’m fine,” I lied.
My hair whipped behind me as I moved toward the walobut again. Everyone was waiting on me. How long had I been standing there, looking out into the wintry scenery and thinking about my own dilemma? I could only hope the other girls hadn’t noticed. I could handle Amisa, but the others wouldn’t understand. If I doubted myself, then that would only cause discord within the group.
I kneeled back down to the raw and mauled corpse of the walobut. Little meat remained, but what did remain was in its mid-section. The girls had filled up all their packs and, still, there was meat left on the beast; we’d killed a big one this time.
I removed my fur gloves, sawed through a few chucks of meat, and filled my pack. Then, I moved towards the animal’s head. Again, the temptation twitched within my fingers to open those eyelids, but the girls were watching. I bent over its head and hastily carved out both brown horns. However, I did it for the first time in my long hunting career with unsteady hands. I put the horns in my pack, turned back to the girls, and without another backwards glance, we headed back to the sanctuary, back to our cage.
Copyright 2009-2012 Mandy Earles
Revised as of November 7th, 2012
Questions for feedback:
Do you care about Eliana? Are you pulled in by her character?
Does the story intrigue you? Would you read on?
Are there parts you find slow or boring? Confusing?
Would you cut out anything?
Thank you <3
Oct 07, 2014 12:07PM
I love this! Eliana seems like a very interesting character, and I'd love to know more about her.
Nothing really stood out as something I'd cut out... but I'll look over it again later, and let you know. :)
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