Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Revision Wednesday, #3

Our intrepid contributor Andrea has submitted a revision based on Friday's critiques. Please let her know what you think!

Inside room 424 of the cardiac wing at Charleston Memorial Hospital, Jorge Mendoza hung tenuously between life and death. The sixty-seven-old patient’s chest heaved with each uneven breath and his olive skin appeared sallow and sunken under the dim lights. Just five feet away, the massive silhouette of a man lurked in the shadows as Jorge lay vulnerable and alone.

With the stealth of a thief in the night, the stalker crept to the bed and covered the patient’s nose and mouth with his hand. Jorge jolted awake. His right eye scanned the room while the other drooped as the result of a recent stroke. When he looked up, Jorge met the menacing blue gaze of his attacker.

“Don’t scream.” the stranger warned. “Blink if you understand.”

Jorge closed and opened his eye, acknowledging the order.

“Do you know why I am here?“ The stranger asked while lifting his hand away.

Jorge lay for a moment, gasping for breath, assessing his opponent. “You’re here to kill me.”

The visitor raised an eyebrow, “How perceptive.“ Then he slowly retrieved a needle from his pocket and walked to the I.V. bag.

Jorge glanced at the clock on the wall, it was 12 a.m. Midnight rounds had just begun, “I know who sent you.” He revealed, hoping to stall long enough for a nurse to interrupt the assassination.

The stranger glanced over his shoulder at the patient, a slight smile forming on the corner of his mouth, “I know. That’s why I’m here. “ He taunted. “You’ll never get the chance to share your knowledge with anyone else.” Then he turned and injected a substance into the tube. “Despite what you may think, my kind can show mercy. Your end will be painless.”

Jorge wanted to scream but he knew it was futile. His attacker would overtake him before anyone could make it to the room. All he could do was watch in terror as the stranger advanced on him.

Now the stranger was so close that his hot breath brushed Jorge’s ear as he whispered, “I have a message for you. It was sent from the one you tried to destroy.”

Jorge looked into his adversary’s eyes with unyielding resolve. “I’m not surprised he sent you to do his bidding. Coward!”

The stranger clapped his hand over Jorge’s mouth. “The message is …His secret will die with you. But before you leave this world, my master wants you know the game of hide and seek is over. ”

Jorge’s eyes widened and he struggled under his attacker’s grip. Could he know where it is?

The stranger’s smile contradicted the anger in his eyes, “Now don’t struggle, it will only cause the poison to kick in faster. Since the end is near you may as well tell me where you’re hiding it. Otherwise, we will have to begin our search in the home of your grieving widow. ”

In an instant, Jorge grasped the true horror of the situation. ”My wife has nothing to do with this. You must believe me.” He stammered.

“It doesn’t matter. We know you possess what is needed to win the war. There is no other way you could have known my master’s identity.”

Jorge felt a surge of adrenaline, his heart fluttered and his breathing quickened, the poison was taking effect. He closed his eyes, his thoughts a mixture of sadness and regret. He should not have interfered. He had unwittingly left a trail of breadcrumbs to an ancient secret his family had protected for centuries. .

Suddenly, a bright light flashed above the bed and an angel appeared opposite the stranger.

The visitor’s steely eyes widened with recognition, “Harut, it’s been too long. I knew you’d come running if one of your sheep was in trouble. Too bad it’s too late.”

Jorge coughed and wheezed as he looked up at the angel, “I’m sorry my friend, I should have listened to you.”

Harut stroked Jorge’s salt and pepper locks, “It is I who failed you my friend.” He said, casting his eyes toward the stranger. Then the angel rolled his shoulders revealing a set of sprawling white wings, “Abbadon, I will kill you for this!”

The stranger examined his nails looking almost amused, “The appointed time is near my brother. We’ll face off soon enough. Then we shall see which of us lives and which of us dies.”

Harut’s dark eyes narrowed, “Look at yourself! Walking around in sheep’s clothing pretending to be a man. The very thing you fell from grace over. Hypocrite! You embrace what you hate.”

Abbadon scowled at Harut, “Don’t push me. There are no boundaries in war and I will do what is necessary to win,“ he cautioned. “ I may be in sheep’s clothing but this disguise got me close enough to kill one of your flock-- Shepherd!”

“This is not over!” Harut promised.

A smile flickered in Abbadon’s eyes, “It appears to be for your human.” Then he turned and exited the room.

The heart monitor skipped a beat and Jorge’s breathing quickened. He was dying and nothing could stop it. Soledad, my beloved daughter, he thought. Now she will have to carry my cross.

Harut retracted his wings as he looked tenderly at his charge, “I wish you would not have interfered. Now I cannot help you my friend. “

A tear fell from Jorge’s eye. “I had to try for my daughter’s sake.“ He coughed, “I failed you. I’ve failed us all,” he uttered through his last breath. At that moment, the line on the monitor went flat and the sound of emergency buzzers overtook the silence.


Brenda said...

Andrea -- Great job on the rewrites! I liked the tension and you did a great job of setting the scene. A couple of things that I thought you could show rather than tell...I wonder if it matters that Jorge is 67? The detail seemed unnecessary to me...unless it becomes important later in the story? I also thought the same about "The message is" further down. We know it's the message because in the next sentence the attacker says My Master, so it's implied. The last one is when Jorge thinks "Soledad, my beloved daughter." Again, he indicates that she is his daughter a sentence or two later, so maybe something like, "Soledad, I'm so sorry." These are pretty nitpicky in the grand scheme of things and definitely not major! Great job!

Michelle said...

This definitely sets the stage for a complex story. Good vs. evil, an ancient secret. It reminds me of snippets of other adventure stories I've read.

My only question at this point is who will be the protagonist of the story, because Jorge has died. I'm assuming it may be his daughter, because she's really the only other human character you've mentioned, and the humans appear to be pawns for the angel and the attacker.

Sarah said...

Andrea, I like how you added more about Jorge. It helps the reader become involved in the human players. : )

I think Michelle raised a good point to consider as you think about these first pages in the future. If I remember your pitch correctly, Soledad, is the protagonist. When you revisit these pages, it might help to work her in more. It seems to me the purpose of this scene is to set the stage for the conflict. But it is also reminds me of the handoff in a relay. The reader needs to have a sense of Soledad taking her father's place- even if she doesn't know it yet.

This is just something to keep in mind as you work on the story. Well done, Andrea! All the best as you continue working on the story.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Brenda, thank you for the helpful feedback. I printed a copy of draft #2 and noted your comments on it for reference during the editing process.

Very perceptive Michelle. Soledad is the protagonist. Jorge's death is the catalyst that sets the rest of my story in motion. It also ties everything that occurs in the 16th century to the present. Thanks for taking the time to read my revision.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Thanks Sarah. I will keep your comments in mind during the revison process. FWIW, Soledad is tied into the prologue in chapter one. So far I think what I've done is working, but I'm sure a lot of the story will change during editing. Take care and thank you for taking the time to review my revision.

Lisa said...

Andrea--wonderful job rewriting! It's much cleaner and more concise. I just have a few more nit-picky things to add.

You write: "Jorge wanted to scream but he knew it was futile. His attacker would overtake him before anyone could make it to the room." I'm confused by the verb "overtake." Why would his attacker overtake him if he's not going anywhere? Maybe use "silence" instead?

Also, take a look at your dialogue punctuation. You often have commas where you should have periods and vice versa.

Example: “Don’t scream.” the stranger warned.

There should be a comma after scream.

In line with Sarah's comment about Soledad...What if you moved the paragraph with "Soledad, my beloved daughter" to the end of the prologue? That way we end with: "Soledad, my beloved daughter, he thought. Now she will have to carry my cross."

It's a powerful ending that tells us a lot about what's coming in the story. And we already know he's going to die, so we don't really need to see him flatlining. Just a thought....

Great rewrite, and good luck with the rest of it!

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Thanks Lisa. It's funny you mentioned this particular sentence. Initially I inserted it because my husband asked, "Why doesn't Jorge just scream?" Since I had not thought of it, I added a snippet to answer the question.

What I was trying to convey to the reader was the imminence of his situation. Jorge was going to die one way or the other. If he screamed, it would only occur faster. The stranger would smother or choke him instead of allowing the poison to kick in. I also thought the sentence had issues, but my husband and son insisted it was fine as is. Thanks for validating my doubts about the scene. I will revise it during the editing process.

As for the comma, oops, I overlooked that one. Shame on me): Thanks for pointing out the mistake. I'll be sure fix it.

Last, I'm glad you like the second revision. The positive feedback provided here tells me I'm headed in the right direction. Thanks again to all who commented on my piece.