Reads: 1325
Comments: 20

 

She woke up just as the dappled sunlight started to warm her bare skin, and spread across the forest floor like a golden balm. Slowly she sat up, her head pounding. It looked to be about 8.30 but she couldn’t be sure - her watch was absent, along with the rest of her clothes. 

Stark naked in the woods. She sent a silent, pained prayer that no one would find her. Embarrassment aside, there would then be questions. Those she could happily do without.

Head a little clearer now she stood up, examining herself as she did. There was a large cut across her left shoulder and blood was still slowly oozing down her arm, colouring her caramel skin scarlet. Her hands, and much of her legs and torso were deep brown with dirt and grime. The cut could very well be infected. She shrugged off the worry as best she could - nothing could be done about that now. One last glance around and she set off up the hill.

She used the sun as her guide. Occasionally she would stop for a moment, examining invisible clues on the ground or in the bracken, and giving her tender human feet time to rest, but it was never for very long and a short minute later she would set off again, her dark eyes glinting with a tired sort of frustration.

Nearly an hour later she found what she was looking for. Reaching under a large overhanging rock, she retrieved a dark brown backpack, quickly clearing off the loose soil and retrieving the clothes inside. In record time she was dressed and her wound had been treated. A quick swig of water, then she carefully fed her bad arm into her leather jacket, donned her backpack and set off once more.

Now that she was watered, properly attired and that the going was downhill she travelled much faster, striding through the trees with a determined set to her face. Her monochrome brown clothing, clearly picked for practicality, matched her looks - short, spiky chestnut hair and eyes that were nearly black; coupled with a chin that was a little too sharp and lips a little too thin to be traditionally ‘beautiful’ (or at least, she had always thought so). Her nails were bitten down and framed with dirt and her hands worn with small scars and grazes. On her thick (taupe coloured) belt, several slender knives hung beside various mysterious pouches, and a leather strap went over one shoulder and diagonally across her front, the handle of a long, slightly curved sword protruding over her right shoulder from where it was sheathed on her back.

The young woman walked with an efficient gait that looked like she could have continued indefinitely, but eventually the woods ended, giving way to a small town sitting on a plain of dry, yellow grass. She stopped for a moment to survey the scene - grey stone buildings, dirt roads - peaceful and secluded. 

She made her way through the houses, ending up on what seemed to be the main street. All the wooden shutters were closed. It was quiet. 

Too quiet.

A gun cocked behind her. 

“Turn around with your hands up where I can see them.”

Slowly she did as she was told. The man holding the gun to her was grey haired, with a brown, weather beaten face. One of his eyes was pale and blind.

“I don’t want any trouble,” she said, calmly.

The man with the gun grunted. “Yeah. That’s what they all say.” A second later he was forced to lower his gun as a fit of coughing seized him. The young woman kept her face and stance carefully neutral until he had finished and returned the gun to her. 

“What do you want?” He said gruffly.

“A few supplies for my journey,” she replied. “And a horse. I have money.”

Behind the man with the gun, a woman with brown hair just turning grey was approaching. 

Oh for God’s sake, Ike,” she said. “Drop the gun.” She turned to the young woman. “Are you all right, love?” she asked, gaining a curt nod in response.

The woman’s gaze drifted over the stranger, her face melting into a concerned expression. The young woman wasn’t too surprised by the reaction - at first glance she appeared to be a girl of barely nineteen, not too tall, tired and somewhat dirty. They weren’t to know what lurked beneath the surface.

She could feel it coming, crashing down on her like a wave, erasing everything she knew, everything she was. She fought to hold on, but countless experiences told her it was pointless. A strange weakness was spreading through her body, suffocating her. She wrapped her arms around her naked body, shaking as she sank to the dirt of the forest floor…

She downed the whiskey, the alcohol coursing through her, warming her veins. 

“Thanks,” she muttered to the barman.

“Sorry about Ike,” said the older woman, Lib, from beside her. “He’s just a bit jumpy.”

“What happened here?” asked the young woman.

Lib shook her head. “Some things you don’t like to talk about,” she said quietly.

Her blood burned with power, the pain glorious and terrifying. She was on her hands and knees now, digging her fingers into the ground, her teeth clenching to keep from screaming. 

“Something came last night,” the barman interjected. “An animal of some sort. Big. Scary. Vicious too. Chief shot at it though, and the dogs managed to chase it away.”

“Dogs?” She hadn’t seen any dogs.

“Yeah, not many of ‘em came back. I was watching though, through the window. I think one of ‘em managed to slash at it, injure it. That’s why it went.”

Lib shook her head again. “It’s not natural,” she was saying. “Not right. None of it.”

Claws forced their way out from under her nails, and the soil became black with blood. Now her face was being moulded like hot wax, shifting and changing, the skin screaming with the strain as her jaw lengthened, newly sharpened teeth flashing like razor blades in the moonlight.

The young woman shifted her bad shoulder, uncomfortably. “Was anyone hurt?” 

“No,” Lib said. “We all have bunkers in our basements. Most of us hid down there.”

The bunkers were a good idea, and pretty common in all the towns the young woman had travelled through. Most of them were designed specifically in case of vampire attacks and had silver plate on the locks and the door handles. Not that that would keep a hungry vampire out for long.

Her spine arched back, then convulsed, her whole body straining under the pressure of expanding muscles and increasingly foreign anatomy. She was screaming now, a yowling cry that cut through the trees. The fire in her blood was still raging, but soon the pain would be too great and her conscious mind would vanish into instinct. Already she could smell the blood in the soil, metallic and fresh. Inside her, the creature was hungry and impatient. It wanted the hunt to begin…

Half an hour later and the young woman was riding out of the town on a newly acquired bay horse, her belt 1000 credits lighter. With careful probing the barman had told her that a small group of vamps had passed through three nights prior. The lead was manageable, if inconvenient. Plus, she suspected that the vampires were now aware they were being followed, and therefore traps and obstacles would be even more likely. 

She urged her horse into a gallop, letting the wind cool her face. She only hoped she could get the job done without too much hassle. With this bounty, she allowed herself a hopeful grin, she might finally be able to afford what she needed. 

Then… freedom.

She sped across the plain.

 

 

 

 






Submitted: December 30, 2015

© Copyright 2021 Amy R. Beckett. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Charleen Langley (ClaireBearandMyrnin)

This is pretty good so far.

Sat, January 2nd, 2016 12:50pm

Author
Reply

Thank you! (and I will check out Superhuman X asap - it looks really interesting)

Sat, January 2nd, 2016 8:45am

MissGangamash

Ooooh a werewolf bounty hunter, interesting! I love vampire stories so you had me from the summary, not read much werewolf stuff but I like what I see so far. I like that didn't give too much away and let the readers figure things out for themselves instead of spoon feeding them every detail. Your writing flows well, there were just a few times where your punctuation went a bit wobbly and you used the wrong word so just give it a quick look over :) Other than that, this was an enjoyable read and I will check out the other chapters when I get the time.

Is it possible you could return the favour and check out my novel 'When We Collide'? and let me know what you think? It's sort of a dystopian, sci-fi sort of thing, I think you'll like it :)

Sun, January 3rd, 2016 12:49pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for your comment - I appreciate your feedback :)

And I will certainly check out some of your stuff - When We Collide looks very interesting!

Mon, January 4th, 2016 1:19pm

L.M. Hood

I enjoy reading this, it's got real imagination behind it. I do think it feels a bit hurried at points, like you were enjoying writing it a lot. For example, after she speaks with the barman, it says "sorry about ike" said the older woman, lib, beside her, "he's just a bit jumpy." It feels awkward to say 'the' older woman when she is first Introduced. I'd rephrase it to be more like 'an older woman beside her Introduced herself as Lib, and said (dialogue). Cool story. If you get the chance to please take a look at my short story Greg the great and tell me your thoughts

Mon, January 11th, 2016 4:02pm

sabsab73

Hey! So far i've read this one chapter, but I will go further, for it's really good!

Fri, January 15th, 2016 7:23pm

Author
Reply

Thanks a lot :)

Sat, January 16th, 2016 11:19am

Obscure

It reads well most of the time and you have set up the premise very well; there could be a tad more originality, but there's plenty of time for that. You've obviously got a talent with writing: a good grasp of the English language and a nice flow to your writing, though sometimes I think you may have tried a little too hard to show the reader this. I do it myself a lot, you try and throw in some clever words to try and get the reader to appreciate your writing and make them see you're a good writer, but I think most of the time you should write naturally and let the words come at the right time, sometimes forcing in words can have an adverse effect and you may alienate your readers or make them think you are compensating. On the other hand, it does show that you have really worked on this and tried to make it great, which is much more appealing to me than not. And it worked, it's a very stylistic piece with constant conflict and a good pace while setting the scene and introducing some characters. I wasn't too keen on the way you described the protagonist, I would have like it to be a little more subtle, spread throughout the first few chapters rather than dumped into two paragraphs, but I understand this may be personal preference and I've seen many accomplished writers do the same. One thing I would be careful about is point-of-view. As it stands you're okay, but I think it would help if you gave a definitive perspective, because up to this point I'm not quite sure if you were going for Third-Person Limited or Omniscient, just because it started by following the protagonist with some internal dialogue, but then skipped to the couple's POV for a paragraph, then back again, but we were told Lib's name and that the man was a barman without the protagonist being told.

Still, a very strong start here and I like how you've got straight into the action without heaps of back story, slowly revealing information to the reader but maintaining that crucial mystery.

Fri, January 15th, 2016 10:43pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for your in-depth comment!

I think I described the protagonist in that way because when I read novels I visualise them quite quickly and can get annoyed if I've imagined a character to look one way, then a few chapters later new information comes up with makes me have to change my mental image. However, I will double check that bit and see if I can't cut it down/spread it out a bit more.

As for perspective, I think I was going for the third person limited (the barman and Lib had introduced themselves to the protagonist earlier in the conversation, I realise that wasn't very clear!) as I want to make sure the characters can have some internal dialogue, while exploring multiple points of view (there are important scenes later on that the protagonist might not be present for). Again, I'll have another look through and make sure everything is clearer

Thanks again - your feedback is really appreciated!

Fri, January 15th, 2016 10:41pm

Sylvermyst

As first chapter go this one was amazing (in my opinion) and it kept you wondering about the mysterious girl.

Tue, January 19th, 2016 2:14am

Author
Reply

Thanks a lot - I'm glad you found it mysterious, I didn't want the first chapter to give too much away :)

Mon, January 18th, 2016 10:35pm

marissajesserai

Your descriptions create a vivid picture on my head, so beautiful! You're very talented, keep it up:)

Wed, February 3rd, 2016 2:47pm

melex1997

Wow good on details loved it^-^

Fri, March 18th, 2016 1:49am

Phantom Crisis

amazing,
and no words to say about your piece,
I just read this first chapter and continue the next time,
well thank you too for sharing your stories to me

Fri, March 18th, 2016 12:22pm

Author
Reply

Thanks again, I'm glad you like it!

Sat, March 19th, 2016 1:35am

Islebabe

Thanks for the invite. This was very well-written and very descriptive. I like how you gave your readers just a snip- bit of how she ended up naked in the wood without given too much away. Yes, there were a few punctuation issues, but nothing that would take away from the story as a whole. My only feedback would be there was not a real smooth transition from when she was held at gunpoint, to where she ended up at the bar; perhaps it's an oversight on my part. This was really an amazing read.

Mon, March 21st, 2016 12:04pm

Author
Reply

Yes that bit needs some work, I'll look over it asap ;) Thanks for the great feedback!

Mon, March 21st, 2016 12:40pm

Davic

I will say that this is a promising start. I do love the character development, especially Ike. However, the pacing is a bit too fast. Your descriptions in some areas went quickly and I found myself looking back to see who was doing what and why. But, that's just me. Also, I'm a stickler for commas and there were a few missed. Don't take my criticism as hatred, though. I did enjoy reading the first chapter and I may even continue reading for my own enjoyment.

Sun, April 24th, 2016 7:10pm

Author
Reply

Thanks a lot, I'll certainly watch out for those missed comas :)

Sun, April 24th, 2016 1:48pm

Eruscupcake

I am liking the story so far. Can't wait to see how it goes from here.

Sat, June 18th, 2016 12:36am

Author
Reply

Thank you!

Fri, June 17th, 2016 9:54pm

Rae Oliver

Interesting start and nicely-paced. I enjoyed all the description and the flashbacks you incorporated during the barman & Libs account.

Mon, April 24th, 2017 4:45pm

Author
Reply

Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it :-)

Mon, April 24th, 2017 10:48am

Silgorious

You made me stick my nose to the screen and I have to add this to the reading list to ease this tension! Such an awesome piece of writing that is going to pull me right into it!

Very well written!

Fri, July 7th, 2017 5:53am

Author
Reply

Thank you!

Fri, July 7th, 2017 1:00am

Small Writer 12

This is pretty good !
GREAT JOB :-)
~ sW 12 ~

Sun, August 13th, 2017 7:55am

Author
Reply

Thank you!

Sun, August 13th, 2017 1:24pm

Eileen Stefford

This is great so far! I'm excited to read the next chapter, (by the way i'll read the novel you mentioned in a Quickee, :) )

Wed, September 12th, 2018 11:37pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Wed, September 12th, 2018 11:15pm

A. K.Taylor

Gotta say, Amy, this novel appears to be a labor of love that you've poured your heart into. The structure and flow go well with what I imagine to be your mental image of how the scene opens for your character. The air of mystery helps with the tension and allows us to follow the action a little better than some over-the-top descriptions that can overpower the casual reader. This is something I had originally wanted in the first chapter of my novel for my character. Good job.

With all that said, I did note some areas that could use a bit of rework before you publish or whatever you intend. Everything I found is minor and easily redone. Some punctuation seemed to be in the wrong place on a couple of sentences that I've highlighted as well as some re-write suggestions. The only thing I feel that this chapter lacks is some background description. Like is the area mostly forest or is it just a small patch on the way to some other place. The town had little description as well if it was even a town. I get the impression it was only a small segment of humans settled in the area and not large enough to denote it as a burgeoning populace.

Overall, the story leads me to want to investigate further into this world you're beginning to develop here. I liked it and hope I can do you the justice of giving it a thorough reading with notes, of course.

Mon, December 24th, 2018 12:11am

Author
Reply

Thank you so much for reading, and for your detailed comment! This is really just a first draft at the moment and I will be going through and editing at some point, so all this feedback is incredibly helpful!

Mon, December 24th, 2018 12:33am

ShadaStorm120

Ooo, a vampire werewolf story, perhaps? I am very intrigued, just from this first chapter, to see where you intend on taking this story. The world you’ve got here is very interesting so far and so is the plot from what I can gather thus far and the main character seems like a very strong willed person with a history. The writing itself was very nice, but I did notice a few places where full stops were where they shouldn’t be. Most of them were already marked though. Other than that, it was a reasonably good read and flowed very nicely. Good job so far :D

Thu, December 27th, 2018 2:32am

Author
Reply

Thank you for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Thu, December 27th, 2018 12:53am

Neika

I really enjoyed the effort you put in providing details to help envision and character and scene. The italics are also something I like. These are flashbacks, right? Putting them in a different font and in their own paragraphs really helps set them apart. I look forward to continue reading this story. :)

Sat, December 29th, 2018 5:19am

Neika

I really enjoyed the effort you put in providing details to help envision and character and scene. The italics are also something I like. These are flashbacks, right? Putting them in a different font and in their own paragraphs really helps set them apart. I look forward to continue reading this story. :)

Sat, December 29th, 2018 5:20am

Author
Reply

Thank you for your comment - yes those are flashbacks :-)

Thu, January 3rd, 2019 3:50am

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