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blythe025


Joyful Girl

Andrea Blythe's blog about writing, reading, and everything else


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Brigit's Flame: Tragically Hip
writer
blythe025
TITLE: haven't thought of one yet
PROMPT: Tragically HIp
WORD COUNT: 1,384
NOTES: This is my week one entry for January's brigits_flame. Some violence, some swearing.

Claire knew the party was over when she heard the first scream.

She should have heard the heavy thumping of a body slamming into a solid wood door and the tearing of the wood splintering. But the music was so loud that it was making the house throb.

She should have noticed the uneasy tension growing in the other room. But she was sitting on the kitchen counter, wiping the sweat from her beer can and feeling comfortably buzzed. Her head was light and airy and she enjoyed the sensation of not thinking about anything, anything at all except Jason's eyes that reminded her of water reflecting in a chlorine-blue pool.

She should have smelled musky odor of wet dog and foaming saliva. But Jason was having to stand so close to her to be heard. She could feel his breath on her cheek and if he were any closer, he would have to kiss her. She wanted to reach up like they did in the movies and put her hand to the back of his neck and pull him in.

Instead they both heard the scream. Jason turned his head with an expression that wanted to be amused, but couldn't erase its concern. Claire body became rigid with fear. All she could think was, No, dad. No, no, no. No, dad, no.

Then another scream followed the first. Others in the kitchen began shift uncomfortably and mutter under their breaths. On kid, who was in Claire's English class, she was sure, slurred, "Duuuuude. Who died?"

Jason pulled away from her as the sounds from the next room erupted. Yelling and screams, and the sound of bodies slamming against one another. Someone slammed through the swinging kitchen door, followed by several others. Someone slammed into Jason and he fell back into Claire, knocking her head against the cabinets.

At some point the music cut out, because in the ensuing silence, Claire heard a voice shout, "Run. Run!"

"There's a bear in the house!" said another.

"There are no bears in California," Jason said, though the panic was too intense for him to be heard and kids were piling into the garage to get out. Claire was still pinned to the counter. She couldn't think logically enough to function, or even answer Jason when he asked her if she was alright. Her mind was still stumbling over the question of bears. No, there were no bears in the house. She knew there were no bears. But there were wolves. Well, one wolf. There was definitely one wolf in the house, in the basement, where she had locked him up like a good, dutiful daughter, like she had to do every month, and she never forgot, never forgot, so how, how, how was this even happening?

"I'm going to go check things out." It took Claire a moment to realize Jason was speaking, and another moment to realize that he had left her and crept over to the living room door. Just before he slipped through the swinging door, she noticed that he had a butcher knife in his hand.

"Oh shit," she said out loud. Just what the hell did he think he was going to do with a butcher knife against a pissed off werewolf, or even a bear, damnit, if that's what he thought it was. He wasn't some crazy woodsman with an axe; he was a dumb fucking soccer player, and not even first string.

She lept off the counter and almost ran after him, but then stopped. Just what the hell was she going to do, going after a werewolf with no weapon. So she headed toward the back of the kitchen toward the hall.  On her way, she saw movement under the kitchen table. The kitchen was quiet now and she didn't hear anymore yelling from the living room, but she could see someone hiding. It was a boy she didn't recognize either from her classes or from her school halls.

"Get into the garage," she said, pointing into the direction of a door. But he just whimpered. "Now! Damnit, get you ass moving, now!" she added more forcefully and he sent  a chair skidding across the room as he scrambled for the door.

In the hall it was quite. She couldn't see any movement or hear any sounds from the direction of the living room, as she quietly slipped into her room.

Someone screamed. Claire screamed and jumped a mile high. A second later, her friend Althea had her arms wrapped around her. "Oh, my god, Claire! Claire! There's a, a ... i don't know what it is. A bear! Or something. Oh, my god, oh my god. What the hell?"

"I know. It's okay. Okay?" Claire wriggled loose of Althea's grip and pulled open her bottom drawer. She pulled out a five-foot long bullwhip that was partly woven with silver thread and a six inch silver dagger. She hated that she had these things, but her father insisted that she have them and know how to use them.

"There's always a chance that I could get loose one night," he would say in his soft, soothing voice. "And if that happens, I want you to be able to defend yourself." Claire had just enough wolf in her that her father seemed to recognize her, or at least tolerate her, when the full moons came around. On those nights, she would sometimes go down to the basement and read. He never got riled up when she was there, never thrust against the side of the bars, like he did when her uncle or anyone else was around. But the argument that he would never attack her was a weak one at best. There was no telling what a werewolf would do when he changed.

Claire secured the dagger to her waist, and unlooped the whip so that it hung loose along the ground.

"What the hell are you going to do with that?" Althea's hair looked mangled and even more wild than normal, and her eyes were as wide as dinner plates.

Claire wasn't really sure herself, but she said, "Don't worry about it. Just stay here and lock the door."

"You can't go out there."

"It'll be fine. Just lock the door." Clair slide out of her room and closed the door behind her. It felt like ages since the first scream had tore through the house, but it must have been only minutes.She could hear the sound of scuffling, of something big and heavy moving about in the living room  and she wondered if Jason was in there. She had never had to confront her dad as a wolf before. He had always been safely secured in the cage of the basement during the change.

Claire tried to loosen her muscles like she was taught, but she was tense and rigid as she made her way down the hall, standing close to the wall. She could see into the front portion of the living room. The couch was knocked over and ripped into. Bits of white fluff floated around the room. From behind a couch, Claire a pair of sharply healed boots. Claire knew those boots and she knew ho they belonged to. They were the designer boots, all style and no comfort, that Sam was showing off earlier in the night along with her new BCBG dress.  Claire remembered making some comment to Jason earlier in the evening, saying how too bad she couldn't buy a personality to go along with those super kewl boots.

She tried not to think about Sam behind the couch, or what stat she as in, and instead peered around the corner. A great hulk of black fur had its back to her. It was occupied with something on the ground. It pawed at something and made low rumbling sound, its muscles rippling beneath its fur.

Claire took a slow deep breath and then stepped around the corner. She let her arm with the bullwhip pull back and then forward with a loud crack to catch her father's attention. The wolf jumped and lifted it head to look at her with rheumy yellow eyes. It growled, a low rumble, and Claire immediately knew her mistake.

This wolf was not her father.

Side note: I intended to finish the fight through, but am short on time, so I'll end it here. I will try to finish up it up with next week's theme, if possible. I started this story with the idea of "tragically hip" being a girl, dressed to the nine's who was attacked by a werewolf. As I started writing, I realized there as a bigger story here, so much so that there was about 700 words of back story that I wrote and cut (because it didn't fit in this scene). So I may have to outline this out and see if there is a novel in this or at least a really long story. (^_^)


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nice! i really like it. great flow and descriptions and the last line is perfect.

Thank you! I appreciate it, as I'm not as comfortable writing stories.

That's a great last line! Definitely makes me want to read on.

Thanks! I'm planning to work on it more this week, so I should finish up this portion of the storyline at least.

Loved this! You explained all of the actions in a very easy-to-read way. I had a great time reading it.

Nice work :)

Thank you for reading. I'm so glad you liked it. :)

Ha! I totally didn't see that coming. It was great! Wonderful last line; way to surprise and bring life to a story. Fun stuff!

Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it. :)

Hi, I'm your editor for this week. Sorry I'm a little late!

General Comments:
The aspect of this piece that stood out the most was how engaging it is. You jumped right into the conflict from the beginning, creating tension in the very first line. That is an excellent way to get the reader interested - way to go! The emotional suspense built up throughout the piece nicely as well. The main weakness seemed to be lack of detail, because I often had trouble visualizing scenery and in some cases characters. Be sure to drop in a few descriptions here and there. If you time them right, they won't slow the (refreshingly fast!) pace of the story and will even make it more vivid.


Grammar:

"On kid" - "One," not "on"

"All she could think was, No, dad. No, no, no. No, dad, no." - use quotation marks or itallics to differentiate her thoughts from the narration.


"Just what the hell did he think he was going to do with a butcher knife against a pissed off werewolf, or even a bear, damnit, if that's what he thought it was." - dash after "werewolf" and "?" or "?!" at the end of the sentence, because it is a question.

"There's a, a ... i don't know what it is." - capital I

"In the hall it was quite." - quiet, not quite

"super kewl boots." - Unless she'd been texting him, there's no way she could have pronounced "kewl" any different from "cool," so I would just write "cool."

"...Sam was showing off earlier in the night " - change "was" to "had been" and "in the" to "that."

"what stat she as in" - state, not stat




Other Specific Comments:

"She should have heard the heavy thumping of a body slamming into a solid wood door and the tearing of the wood splintering" - "tearing" doesn't really denote a distinct sound. Try another verb, noun or adjective (ex: the crack of splintering wood)

"But Jason was having to stand so close to her..." - it wasn't clear how exactly they were standing or what they were doing in the kitchen. Was he standing behind her as she wiped the beer can?


" "Get into the garage," she said, pointing into the direction of a door. But he just whimpered. " - avoid starting sentences with "and" or "but." In this case you can get rid of the "but" or combine it with the previous sentence using a comma.


"knocking her head against the cabinets." - wouldn't that hurt? you gave no indication that she felt any pain.

"There was definitely one wolf in the house, in the basement, where she had locked him up like a good, dutiful daughter, like she had to do every month, and she never forgot, never forgot, so how, how, how was this even happening?" - I really like the combination of background information and emotion in this sentence. It's very engaging.


"Just what the hell was she going to do, going after a werewolf with no weapon." - Again, question mark needed. Also, doesn't she realize how ironic it is that she thinks a weapon will help her, while she is convinced that it won't do him any good? I know the answer is revealed later, but I still think she would be amused at least.

"She lept off the counter..." - I was not aware she had been on the counter. It helps the reader visualize the scene if you lay out everything in detail at the beginning.

"It was a boy she didn't recognize either from her classes or from her school halls." - This could be made more concise by saying "from school" or cutting out everything after "classes" since it's implied that if she didn't know him, it would be because she hadn't encountered him in school.



"...she added more forcefully and he sent a chair skidding across the room as he scrambled for the door. " - comma after "forcefully" or start a new sentence. You can also add a verb or phrase to help show causation between her statement and his reaction.


"..minutes.She could hear the sound of scuffling, of something big and heavy moving about in the living room and she wondered if Jason was in there." - space after minutes. And the thought about Jason seems out of place with the rest of the paragraph because she doesn't follow it up with any other related thoughts, such as whether he might be hurt or if she could help him.

"The couch was knocked over and ripped into." - delete "into," it's implied (unless you mean ripped into smithereens or something, in which case say so)



Overall an engaging and enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you so much for your very thorough edits! I really appreciate your taking the time to read and to put so much thought into your comments. :)

I can certainly see what you mean about description of characters and the rooms. I was having trouble describing the house, because I'm still working out the layout of the house -- very important for understanding the movement of the action.

Hello, blythe, I'm your editor for this week. A warning: you have the luck of this being my first edit while taking my first creative writing class, so some of my comments stem directly from that. To continue, first off, I like how you introduce that Claire's father is a werewolf, and I'm curious to know more about both his past, and hers (how she has just enough wolf in her, but yet she doesn't turn into a wolf at the full moon, and she can handle the silver without a problem). So, that said, onto the edits!
Spelling and missing words/letters:
“damnit” – it's either dammit or damn it
“She should have smelled the musky odor”
“ Claire's body became rigid with fear”
“Dad” is capitalized except when preceded by words like “my” and “your”
“Others in the kitchen began to shift uncomfortably and mutter under their breath. One kid,”
“get your ass” ninja 'r'
“In the hall it was quiet” – easy to type too fast and get quite instead of quiet :)
“i” should be “I” – silly shift key not going down properly, I know.
“Claire slid out of her room” looks like the 'e' got misplaced here by accident.
“ the first scream had torn” extra 'e' trying to hitch a ride here
“ knocked over and ripped” I don't think you need the 'into' here, as generally we shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition. When we say something is ripped, and considering that fluff floating around the room, it's understood that it was ripped 'into'.
“Claire a pair of sharply healed boots” You're missing a verb here – did she spot, spy, or something else, the boots?
“she knew who they” ninja 'w' :)
“super kewl boots” It seems a little awkward to have the 'kewl' spelling instead of the 'cool' one, though keeping the 'kewl' sounds to me like how Sam would have shown off her boots, or at least how she hoped them to be viewed by other party-goers.
“what state she was in” ninja letters!
“The wolf jumped and lifted its” tricky possessive 'its' is :)

Sentence/phrasing comments:
“She should have smelled musky odor of wet dog and foaming saliva. But Jason was having to stand so close to her to be heard.” This feels like it should be one sentence, to tie together a little closer how Jason being so close to her prevents her from smelling the odor. Also, the wording in the second sentence sounds a little awkward; maybe something like: “But Jason had to lean into her in order to be heard” if you decide to keep it as two sentences.

“Instead they both heard the scream.” This transition seems a little too abrupt, even though the scream is an abrupt action. Maybe: Before she could do so, they both heard the scream.

“One kid, who was in Claire's English class, she was sure,” Seems like you changed the narrator's perspective a little bit, so you might want to reconsider the divisions in this sentence. Maybe something like, “One kid, who Claire was sure was in her English class,”

“Jason pulled away from her as the sounds from the next room erupted.” Sounds is rather generic for this situation, I feel, so maybe a slightly less generic word like “noise” or “din” would get your meaning across better.

...continued...

“Yelling and screams, and the sound of bodies slamming against one another. Someone slammed through the swinging kitchen door, followed by several others. Someone slammed into Jason and he fell back into Claire, knocking her head against the cabinets.” You've used 'slam' as the main verb in three sentences in a row – I would recommend changing it up. Also, considering how they're facing each other, he would fall into, not back. While it makes sense she knocks her head against the cabinets, this fact does not get carried over; instead her mind stumbles over the bear factor. Or is that a repercussion of her head hitting the cabinet?

“So she headed toward the back of the kitchen toward the hall.” 'toward' is used twice, in this sentence, and too close together. Try a different preposition, like 'to' in place of one.

“He wasn't some crazy woodsman with an axe; he was a dumb fucking soccer player, and not even first string.” I like this sudden change in how she views Jason; it's a nice touch – where is Jason, anyways? Do we/Claire find out?

“It was a boy she didn't recognize either from her classes or from her school halls.” She doesn't own the school halls, and generally speaking, when this phrase pops up in literature, we usually just say “her classes or from the halls” – it keeps it shorter, and it is understood that they are the halls of her school, especially how you mention 'her classes'.

“"Get into the garage," she said, pointing into the direction of a door. But he just whimpered.” It might be better to combine “But he just whimpered.” with the previous sentence, again because of starting the sentence with a connector word like that. Sometimes it works, and it does a good job of making action short, but in this case, it seems a little disjoint.

“There was no telling what a werewolf would do when he changed.” This phrasing seems a little awkward, maybe you mean more like, “There was no telling what he would do when he changed” as you more refer to her father as 'he' than as a werewolf.

Clichés are clichés for a reason, they fall rather flat, so look out for them (“jumped a mile high” and “as wide as dinner plates”) I know they're very handy, and when you're pressed for time they work, but they are generally better avoided.

I really like how you introduce her father as the werewolf, “Well, one wolf. There was definitely one wolf in the house, in the basement, where she had locked him up like a good, dutiful daughter, like she had to do every month, and she never forgot, never forgot, so how, how, how was this even happening?” It's characterful, and really reflects what she would be thinking in this situation.

Now the general comments:
Just so you know, black bears do still live in California; just the brown bears are no longer in California. I'm not sure on their range, as they might not be in the area where this takes place, but they are in California.

I'm interested to learn more about Claire and her family, as I mentioned before, and it does seem like there is a good length story in this. I'd enjoy hearing more on them, and your take for them on werewolves in this story. Just who is that black werewolf? Where did Jason go?

The way you started the story works well too, with Claire's “she should” starting the first bit, and how it takes a short time for her to 'spring into action' – too often writer's forget about the initial confusion, and how the main character can get bogged down with something else before being able to spring into action like Claire does.

Thanks for an engaging story, and I hope to see the 700 words of back story as well as the continuation!

Thank you so much for your very thorough edits! I really appreciate your taking the time to read and to put so much thought into your comments. :)

Good point about the black bears. I don't know why that slipped my mind, though you are right in assuming that the area I planned to have this set in would be unlikely to have them. I supposed introducing the area better would help make that clear.

Some of the questions you ask about the storyline, I'm still trying to work out myself. So we'll see how it goes. Heh. :)

You're welcome; I'm glad if they can help :)

It sounds like your setting might play a rather hefty role in what sort of 'creatures' your characters meet, so I think it would be helpful to give us a better idea of the setting like that.

*high fives* I do the same thing, not really knowing where a story is going to take me until I'm writing it, and wondering where it will go :)

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