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Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

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Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby EmperorGothon » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:21 pm

This is the first chapter for a Fantasy Story I've written. The story is a mix between Spirited Away and Lord of the Rings, complimented with Japanese style artwork. I welcome any comments so feel free to speak your mind.

This first chapter introduces our main character. It might not seem much of a fantasy story at first, but believe me, things change quickly for our protagonist.

EDIT: There's no artwork included in this thread unfortunately as having some problems uploading them. If anyone can give me advice of how I can put them up on here then I will. In the meantime, you're stuck with just the text for the moment. Sorry.

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CHAPTER 1
A BOY NAMED BEN


‘Stealing?’
Maria Anthony had lost count of how many times she had to have this conversation with her son. She would have thought that by the fourth time he would have got it. ‘Stealing!’
Ben rolled his eyes and groaned. He didn’t see what the big deal was. It was only a couple of packets of sweets; it wasn’t like he’d taken any money. But his mum always had to make a big deal about these things.
‘For goodness sake, Ben! You’re fifteen years old!’
‘So?’ Ben asked, shrugging.
‘So?’ Maria cried, almost hysterically. ‘At your age you should be thinking about an education and job prospects! Not what sweet shop you want to do over next! Which brings me onto my next point! The headmaster called again, he told me that he hasn’t seen you at school all week!’
‘We didn’t feel like going,’ Ben replied, nonchalant.
‘Didn’t feel like going?’ Maria cried again, aghast. ‘Who didn’t feel like going? You and that bunch of hooligans you hang out with?’
‘Don’t talk about my mates like that, all right?’ Ben shouted back defensively.
Maria could see that her aggressive approach was having as much effect on Ben as a rubber hammer on a brick wall. She tried to take a calmer approach, despite her frustration. ‘Ben, I only want what’s best for you. But those ‘friends’ of yours only lead you into bad habits. Look at you. This is the fifth time in the last fortnight you’ve been in trouble with the police. Chief Inspector Williams says next time he’ll have to press charges and you could end up going to court! Why, Ben? Why do it?’
‘I dunno,’ Ben shrugged.
‘Is that what you want to do with your life?’ Maria asked. ‘You want to just… become a criminal like your father?’
‘Oh, I’ve had enough of this!’ Ben leapt up from his chair and bolted towards the door.
‘Ben, come back here! I’m not finished yet!’
‘Get lost!’ Ben shouted back.
‘Ben, I’m your mother! Don’t talk to me like that!’
‘You’re not my real mum! So stop talking to me like you are!’
Maria heard Ben’s footsteps run up the stairs and then heard the slam of his room door. Maria sat on the sofa; she was deeply cut by Ben’s cruel words. This wasn’t the first time they had both had a fight and it hurt her every time they did. Who would have thought being a mother would have been this hard?

The next morning, despite looking his mum in the eye and promising he would go to school this time, Ben went to the Dane John Park to meet up with the rest of his schoolmates, who were also playing truant as per usual. It did have its advantages, having a gullible mother who would believe anything you told her.
His mates Gary, Clive and Owen were sitting on a bench, making no attempt to hide their truancy. Ben had known them for a couple of years and they were some of the few people he really considered friends. He always had trouble making friends at school, which he believed was down to him being one of the few black boys there. However, these guys thought he was cool enough to hang around with them – and to Ben they had the right idea. School was for losers, they already had their lives planned out – they were going to sign on for the rest of their lives. What wasn’t to like about that? Getting free money for doing absolutely nothing?
‘Heya, guys!’ Ben called out.
‘Watcha, mate!’ Owen called out, giving his friend a hi-five. ‘How’s it hangin’?’
‘Low and easy!’ Ben laughed.
‘We heard your old lady busted you the other day,’ Clive chuckled.
‘Nah! Nothin’ I couldn’t handle,’ Ben smirked. ‘Did you manage to get the gear away?’
‘Yup,’ Gary replied. ‘Stashed it away under me sister’s bed. She’ll never know. If she grasses me up, I’ll just tell Mum what she gets up to on a Saturday night.’
‘Thanks for the distraction, mate,’ Owen said to Ben. ‘Helped us get away.’
‘No worries.’
Ben often found himself getting caught when his mates were out having ‘fun’. He didn’t mind, he saw it as helping them out. ‘So, what are we up to today?’ Ben asked.
‘Dunno about you lot, but I really fancy a smoke,’ Gary said. ‘Owen, mate. You got any ciggies?’
‘Sorry, mate,’ Owen replied. ‘I smoked them all the other day.’
‘Flippin’ heck!’ Gary moaned. ‘Clive?’
‘Sorry, mate.’
‘Ben?’
‘Nah, mate. Mum won’t let me have any in the house.’
‘Oh mate! I could do with a smoke about now!’ Owen grumbled. ‘Come on, let’s hit the newsagents and scrounge us up a couple of packets.’
‘You havin’ a laff?’ Gary asked. ‘We’ll never get served!’
‘Never fear, lads,’ Owen said, a spark going off inside his brain. ‘I got an idea.’

There was only a single shopkeeper working in the newsagents today, an Indian man with greying hair that looked like it hadn’t been combed in days. The minute Owen and his friends walked in he looked at them suspiciously, almost trying to make the boys feel nervous.
‘Ok,’ Owen whispered. ‘Let’s put it into action.’
Ben broke off from the rest of his friends to remain out of sight. Clive, Owen and Gary pretended to browse the drinks fridge. Clive opened the door to reach for a drink at the back of the fridge, feeling the shelf where the drinks were stacked. It felt loose in his grip so the right pull would dislodge it. With one swift movement, he pulled the shelf out, spilling the contents to the floor.
‘Oh mate!’
‘What are you doing?’
Just as they had anticipated, the shopkeeper leapt from behind the counter and charged towards the boys, angry that they had made a mess. ‘You stupid little boys! Look what you’ve done!’
‘It weren’t our fault, mate! Stupid thing came loose!’
While the rest of his friends kept the shopkeeper busy, Ben sneaked behind the counter to fill up his school bag with cigarette packets. He constantly looked back to see if the shopkeeper was still distracted but his friends did a good job keeping him at bay.
‘Get out of my shop!’ the shopkeeper finally yelled at the boys, having had enough of their abuse. By now Ben had already filled up his bag, so he was able to slip behind the shopkeeper and rejoin his mates. They gave one last set of abuse to the elderly man before darting out.
‘Yeah man!’ Clive shouted once they were far enough down the high street, hi-fiving the rest of his colleagues. ‘That old git didn’t know what hit him!’
‘How did you do, Ben?’ Owen asked.
Ben opened up his bag, showing his friends what he had managed to swipe from the shop. ‘Check 'em out, boys!’ he exclaimed proudly.
The friends dug into Ben’s bag, each taking out a packet.
‘Lambert and Butler?’
‘Silk Cut?’
‘Ben! You could have pinched some quality ciggies!’
‘You don’t like it, you do it next time!’ Ben moaned. He hoped for a little more appreciation after he risked his backside for them.
‘Ah, well. Never mind,’ Clive exclaimed. ‘We got our smokes, it’s all good.’ The lads opened up their packets and put a cigarette in their mouths. ‘Hey, Ben. Did you manage to chore a lighter?’
‘Lighter?’
‘Oh. You muppet!’ Gary moaned.
‘Hey, you just said ‘grab the cigarettes’, you didn’t say nothin’ about no lighters,’ Ben complained.
‘Well, how are we supposed to smoke ‘em without a lighter?’ Owen asked. ‘God sake Ben, you’re dumb!’
As the boys moaned at Ben for failing his task, they were suddenly stopped by a policeman, on his routine patrol and catching out the boys as they chatted.
‘Shouldn’t you lot be in school?’ the policeman asked, looking at each one in turn suspiciously.
The boys stopped and nervously looked at one another. None of them knew what to say to make this policeman go away and the fact that they all had cigarettes in their mouths made it even more nerve-racking for them.
‘It’s a bank holiday, mate,’ Owen, ever the opportunist, replied calmly, hoping that his explanation would pacify the officer enough to leave them alone.
‘On a Wednesday?’ the policeman replied, his stern gaze still looking them over. ‘And aren’t you boys a little young to be smoking?’
Owen could have come up with a good explanation to get them out; if not for the shop owner shouting out behind them.
‘Thieves!’
The boys looked back behind them. The shopkeeper had discovered he had been robbed a lot sooner than they had hoped. And with the officer in front of them, the timing couldn’t have been worst.
‘They robbed my shop! Little thieves!’
‘Leg it!’ Owen cried. And with that, the boys turned and ran as fast as their legs could carry them.
‘Oi! Stop!’
Though caught off guard slightly, the policeman chased after the boys. Even though they had already gained a significant gap, the officer was a very fit man who had been doing this job for the majority of his adult life. Chasing truant children was no more difficult for him than lacing his shoes in the morning.
'Hey guys, wait for me!’ Ben shouted out, struggling to keep up with his mates. They seemed less interested in waiting for Ben than to escape themselves. The policeman was hot on his tail and the cigarettes he had stolen flew out of his bag as he desperately tried to keep up.
The boys ran off the main street and took a turning into an alley, which unfortunately led to a dead end.
‘Bum!’ Owen shouted. ‘We’re trapped!’
‘Give me a boost!’ Clive shouted to Owen. He jumped up and grabbed the top of the wall, Owen lifting him by the bottom of the foot. Clive pulled himself up and over the side of the wall.
‘Come on, lads!’
Owen was next, throwing his bag over the wall and jumping towards Clive. Clive grabbed his hand and helped him over. Gary was next. He jumped up and took Clive’s hand as he pulled him over.
By now, the officer was at the end of the alley and saw the boys trying to make a getaway. ‘Oi, you lot! Stop!’ The officer ran towards them, but he was still some distance away. Ben stretched his hand out for Clive to grab. But Clive had already leapt down from the wall at the other side, leaving Ben stranded.
‘Hey!’ Ben cried out. ‘Where you guys going?’
‘Nothin’ personal, mate!’ He could hear Clive’s voice from the other side of the wall. ‘See you later!’
‘Guys!’
Ben could already hear the footsteps of his ‘friends’ running away on the other side, once again leaving him to take the fall. The officer was closing in on him fast and there was no escape. This would be Ben’s sixth time being caught. No slap on the wrist this time, it would be the courts for him. He could just imagine it, his mum nagging him way into the morning before he was thrown away into the clink.
Never in all his life had he wished he were somewhere else than now.
There was a flash of light.
And Ben vanished from the face of the Earth.
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Re: Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby Bmat » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:55 am

The site wants a link for an image, so I save mine on photoshop. I see imageshack is an option but I've never tried it. Go to full editor, and on the bottom row of icons, the 6th from the right has "insert image."
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Re: Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby Bmat » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:06 am

The action is fast and the dialogue believable. Your opening hook works, I wanted to keep reading.

Two concerns, if I may. One is that the boys don't come across to me as 15 years old. A 15 year old would be a pretty good size, and in a gang would be using knives and getting up to nasty stuff. And when the shopkeeper called them "stupid little boys" - I'd have guessed they were more in the 12 to 13 year range. Young enough to not have their teenage growth spurt yet.

The other concern is that if I hadn't read your introduction promising fantasy, I think I would have put the book back if I'd been browsing in a bookstore. I wonder if you can insert some small grabber about the fantasy to come somewhere in the body of the chapter or maybe in a prologue?

Despite these minor concerns, I really did enjoy reading the chapter and would look forward to reading more. Your writing is very readable.
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Re: Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby EmperorGothon » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:27 pm

Thanks for the advice on the photos. I'll put some up soon. And thank you for the critique. I did actually have a prologue written for it originally (which started off in the fantasy world), but I kinda ditched that because (Minor spoliers here), when he arrives in the fantasy world, it's less of an impact as we've already been introduced to it. I was kinda going for a bit of a shock value here.

Saying that, I do appreciate your comments. I may post the next chapter soon so you can see what happens when it gets into the fantasy world.
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Re: Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby EmperorGothon » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:59 pm

Image

And here is the first picture for the chapter as promised. The artwork was done by Alexia M.Centeno, who helped me with the project. She's a really good artist and helped bring the story to life in a big way!
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Re: Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby The Master » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:20 pm

I'm sorry, I didn't know people were having trouble adding pics :(

I have added new instructions detailing the options for including images with your posts: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4189
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Re: Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby The Master » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:55 pm

I am going to disagree with Bmat on the fantasy element. Its not that long of an intro to establish the character's background so we can see that he appears to coming from contemporary earth to...wherever it is that flash of light took him.

However, care must be taken in that people will form opinions and expectations quickly because it is so easy to place him in the real world. An unruly youth who ditches school to hang out with a bad element where petty theft is seen as meaningless will not be believable as a hero if there isn't some pretty significant self discovery along the way. Not to presume your direction of course, merely using that to illustrate.

More vivid descriptions might be helpful. For example, besides his age I have no idea what Ben looks like.
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Re: Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby Asp Zelazny » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:58 pm

I agree with The Master: this is a brief enough intro that I don't think a fantasy set-up is necessary; in fact, if you are going to translate Ben into this other place with this brief an intro, its possible that the aspects of his being on the cusp of going down the wrong path in life will need either flashbacks or other re-enforcement wihin the later story to keep the definition of the character's conflicts so far (if those things are important, and from what we've seen, I suspect it might)

A minor point: for us U.S. types, it wasn't initially clear what "signing on" meant, though a reread with the context cleared that up ... just caused a "blip" in the story flow.

I'd like a bit more description of the character too; the picture helps, and if this is lavishly illustrated, it probably won't matter. At least I did pick up that Ben was black, as well as being 15.
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Re: Trapped on Draconica - Chapter 1

Postby EmperorGothon » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:25 pm

That's some good points raised there. I think the idea for Ben was that I didn't want to make him the typical "hero type". Ben's not really a bad person, he's just a little gullible and doesn't realise he's being used - but don't worry, his arc will change.

Also, to Asp, sighing on is our British term for going to the unemployment office. I did try and be careful not to put too many british idioms in, but the odd ones slip in now and then.
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