Saturday, June 23, 2012

New chapter 1 of Seed, part2

The next morning, Katie woke alone in the chair.  Nathan still snored on the couch. She sat up and rubbed her eyes. Where was Mason?

Clunking noises lead Katie to the kitchen. Standing in the threshold, she saw Mason banging through cupboards.  After a few more minutes of, he kicked the counter and yelled. Collapsing on the ground, he kept on screaming, head tilted back.

Nathan began to cry in the living room. Katie looked between the living room and the kitchen before silently stepping onto the tiled floor. She walked up behind Mason and slowly placed her hand on his shoulder.

“What?” Mason shouted, jerking his head around to see her. Face ablaze, he glared at her until tears leaked from her eyes uncontrollably. His face softened with remorse. “I’m sorry, Katie. I didn’t know it was you.”.

He tried to hug her but she stepped back, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, Katie. I really am.” His eyes begged her to understand. “I just- I just couldn’t.” He sighed. “I just couldn’t find the peanut butter.”

Gasping through her tears, Katie stared at Mason’s face. He was sorry, she knew, but she couldn’t stop crying. Turning, she pointed to the cupboard above her head, where she couldn’t reach. “There,” she choked out.

Mason looked from Katie to the cupboard. Standing, he reached out and opened it. The peanut butter sat right there on the shelf. Shoulders down, Mason looked at the floor and sighed, pinching his eyes closed. Slowly he removed the peanut butter and set it on the counter.

A little while later, after Mason had her and Nathan wash off the dirt from the cellar, all three of them sat at the dining room table eating the one dish Mason knew how to make: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It wasn’t what she usually ate for breakfast but Katie refrained from mentioning it.

When Nathan finished, he pushed away his plate and climbed from his chair. He walked over to Mason and tugged his sleeve. “Wiggles.”

Mason looked down at him, his face still swollen. “What?”

“Wiggles!” Nathan repeated, bouncing on his toes.

Katie sighed. “He wants to watch the Wiggles. Its his favorite, he watches it every morning.”

“Oh.” Mason pushed out his chair.

As soon as he saw that he was going to get his wish, Nathan took off, running for the living room and shouting, “Wiggles,” as loud as he could.

About lunch time, they heard trucks driving around outside. Mason rushed to the window in the front room with Katie close behind. Nathan was too involved in his show to even be curious.

The trucks parked in the middle of the street and the people in them hopped out and looked around. Katie was filled with fear at the sight of them but Mason began to smile. “They’re Christians, Katie,” he said in excitement.

Katie hardly heard him. Her eyes had landed on the bodies in the street and in the yards. They were the black things. The one at the end of the driveway looked like Dad. She ran for the door forgetting all about the people in the trucks. Mason yelled after her as she opened the door.

Across the yard Katie ran, as fast as her legs would take her. Mason’s shouts at the door did not deter her. Reaching the body, she saw that it was her Dad. Sinking to her knees, she sobbed and buried her head in his bloody shirt. “Daddy!” she wailed, “Daddy!”

Arms Katie did not know wrapped around her waist and tried to lift her away. “No!” she screamed, flailing her fists and jerking her body. “No, put me down!”

Mason appeared in front of her and grabbed her hands. “Katie, stop! You have to stop,” he said. With a sob, Katie fell limp and the arms released her to Mason. “I know, he said. “I know.”

Katie began to shake her head. No, no he did not understand. How could he?

“Katie.” Mason grabbed her face and made her look at him. “My parents are dead too. I told you, they killed them all.” When Katie did not react, he repeated himself. “The Liberators killed every adult in town.”

By night fall, all of the town’s children were piled into the trucks that had come. Katie, Nathan, and Mason huddled together, a blanket wrapped around them to ward off the cold. Mason noticed a girl about Katie’s age sitting in the bed of the truck with them. On her lap, she held a baby. She had wrapped the baby in her blanket.

“Come here,” Mason whispered, lifting a corner of their blanket for the girl. She eyed him warily for a moment but then saw Nathan and Katie huddled at his sides. She scooted closer while Mason shifted Nathan onto his lap, making more room. “What’s your name?” Mason asked.

“Sarah.” Her teeth chattered. Nodding to the baby, she added, “And this is Tyson.”

Mason smiled saddly. “Well Sarah, I’m Mason, and this is Katie and her brother Nathan.”

The girls smiled shyly at each other. “Hi,” they said at the same time.

Drawn together by their common loses and their common responsibilities as protective sisters, the two girls soon became friends. In the following years, they did everything together. They played together, bossed their brothers together, and ignored Mason together when he was pretending to be their older brother; a role he believed that he was required to fill.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hi, all--

--I don't have an excerpt to post right now; all I've been writing is poetry. : P

What I wanted to say was: if any of you have any stories that need editing, or you just want some feedback on it, I'd be happy to do so. : ) I've been searching for more books at my library to read, and for some reason I can't find anything to interest me. But when I read through here, I noted that everything sounded like something I'd want to read.

So...yes! If any of you want someone to give feedback or anything on a story of yours, I'd be happy to oblige. ; )

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The new Chapter 1 of The Seed- part 1

I have not been on here for a while and I see that some others have joined. Yay! Ok, so the story I had posted before, I have revised and have a completely new first chapter so I am posting that. For those of you who don't know, I like critics so please leave one. And those who read my first first chapter, please tell me whether you like this one better or not.

Nineteen years ago

    The sun had just began to rise, it’s rays warming Katie. Grass tickled her feet as she knelt in her red, poka-dot dress to pluck a stem. The small green leaf fluttered in her fingers, the perfect weapon to use against her brother, Nathan. He sat next to her, pushing his toy cars around his feet while making engine noises. His little lips produced spit bubbles that every once in awhile burst and splattered all over his chubby face.
      Katie studied Nathan’s eyes to see if he saw what she was doing. Quickly, she stuck the grass in his ear and then yanked it back. Barely noticing, he swatted at his head and then returned to his cars. He drove one through a pile of sticks that earlier he had been completely fascinated with turning into a house. Or what he thought looked like a house. Katie sighed. Three year olds were no fun.

  Now what to do? Katie sat down with crossed legs, sure to keep her skirt from choking her. Resting back on her hands, she watched Nathan throw a green truck in anger. She was not going to go get it for him.

  Having yanked a handful of grass from the ground, Katie let the pieces flitter from her fingers. A clover stuck to her hand and she pried it off. It’s three leaves fluttered between her fingers. As she studied it, she noticed the neighbor run into his house. She frowned.

  The front door of her house slammed and Katie dropped the clover, forgetting all about it. She turned, flipping her braid, to see who had made the noise. Mom ran out of the house, Dad close behind, both breaking their rule about banging the screen.

  Mom’s face was red like she was crying and Dad looked like he was about to. Why were they crying? Was it because she had messed with Nathan? He hadn’t even looked at her when she stuck the leaf in his ear. She jumped to her feet. “Mommy?”

  Mom hurried down the porch steps and picked Katie up, pulling her close. Katie wrapped her arms around Mom’s neck and patted her on the back. Why was Mom wearing pants and tennis shoes? It was summer.

  Dad came up behind Mom, bending until he could look Katie in the eye. “Sweetie, you’re going to need to take care of your brother for a while.” He reached out and took one of her small hands in his.

  “Why?” Katie turned her head so that she could see Nathan by Mom’s feet. He had his finger in his nose. She scrunching up her face. “I don’t like watching him.”

  “That’s enough, Katie. I told you too so you’re going to do it.” He took Katie from her mom, for once not lecturing her any more than that. “I love you, you know,” he said, whispering into her hair. Tears fell on her forehead as he tightened his grip.

   “I love you too, Daddy,” Katie said, snuggling close. She didn’t know what else to do, Dad never cried.
Dad didn’t let go so Katie didn’t move. Soon, Mom had her arms around them all, having added Nathan to the hug.

  “Katie,” Mom said. “Your dad and I are leaving for awhile.” She leaned back and brushed her hand over the top of Katie’s head. “While we’re gone, we need you to hide with your brother down in the cellar.” Her voice turned commanding, like when Katie wouldn’t go to bed. She pointed a finger in Katie’s face. “Do not leave. When you are able to come out, either your father and I or one of the neighbors will come and get you.”

  “But, Mommy, the cellar is wet.”

   “No buts,” Dad said, setting Katie back on the ground while continuing to hold Nathan. “You will do as you are told.”

   “Yes, Daddy.” Katie started to cry. Why was Dad talking to her like this?

  “Come on,” Mom said, taking Nathan from Dad. She walked towards the house where the cellar was. Dad took Katie hand to make sure she followed.

  The cellar was a large, double door leading to under the house. Katie had never been in there before. She moved closer to her dad. What if there were spiders?

   Mom stopped next to the doors and waited. Dad dropped Katie’s hand to grasp the handles and lift them against the house. They made a thud. Dad knelt at the opening and turned, feeling for something with his foot. Then he stepped down in.

   Katie leaded closer and watched until he stood at the bottom. He stretched out his arms to Katie.
She hesitated and looked at her mom. Mom nodded, so Katie put her foot on the ladder’s top rung and reached for Dad. He gripped her by the waist and then slowly lowered her to the ground. Next, he lifted his arms for her brother.

   Nathan had begun to cry by this time and he clung to Dad, shaking his head when Dad tried to let him down. “Nathan, let go,” Dad said. Nathan didn’t listen and so Katie grabbed his fingers and pulled them away from Dad’s shirt.

   Now on the ground, Nathan stomped his feet and shouted in protest. He didn’t stopped until Dad began to climb back up the ladder and he realized that Dad wasn’t going to comeback for him no matter how loud he screamed.

  Above ground once more, Dad waved goodbye while Mom pressed her hand to her lips and then blew on the palm. They closed the door and then there was a jingle with a thump and a click.

   Everything was black for a split second and then a light turned on. One bulb swung from the ceiling, its light spreading to a dirt packed floor and shelves. Dust floated around.

  Katie sank to the floor and pressed her back against the closest shelf, drawing her knees to her chest. Shadows filled the other shelves, hiding the movements of mice and spiders and other things with claws just sitting, waiting to get her. She shivered.

  Nathan whimpered. He crawled to Katie’s side and buried his face in her arm, his snotty nose leaving sticky blobs. Instead of pushing him away, Katie pulled him onto her lap.

   For awhile they stayed there with nothing happening, just the dust floating lazily. Then, the ground began to shake and dirt fell from the ceiling in great showers. They screamed. Katie leaned over Nathan and lifted her arms to cover both their heads. When the shaking stopped, Nathan was still screaming. “Mama.” He hiccupped. “Mama.” Katie was too busy staring at the door to comfort him.

   Shouts, gunshots, and then screams echoed around them. Seeping in through the cracks of the door, the sounds were muffled but no less frightening. They lasted for what seemed forever. Soon the sound of creaking metal joined in.

  Dirt began to fall from the ceiling again. Katie covered her ears while Nathan continued to scream. The noises only lasted for a couple of hours, sometimes stopping and then starting again, but by then the strange laughter and shouts of terror had driven the children to great bouts of tears.

    They stayed where they were until late in the afternoon. By this time, all noises from above had ceased and Nathan had fallen asleep. Dirt crunched over head and Katie jumped to her feet. A hiccupped sob escaped her before something rattled and the door opened.

    Katie stared at the tear stained face of Mason, the neighbor boy. He looked down at Nathan’s exhausted form and shuttered, whipping at the tears. He turned his attention to Katie. “Can you lift him up to me?”

   Katie sniffled and nodded. He wasn’t who she had hoped would come for them but at the moment she wasn’t going to complain. She wrapped her arms around Nathan and stood. He sagged in her grip and she grunted. Squeezing her eyes tight, she shifted her grasp to keep from dropping him. Mom and Dad told her to take care of him and she would. Slowly she made it over to the ladder and heaved Nathan up. His head barely cleared her shoulders and he shifted with a snort.

   Leaning through the opening as far as he could, Mason clasped Nathan under his arms and lifted him the rest of the way out of the cellar. They both disappeared from Katie’s view as he set Nathan on the ground.  Returning to sight, he reached down to help Katie up the ladder. Once above ground, Katie dove into the boy’s arms and wept into his neck. Gasping, he pulled her closer and let his own silent tears fall into her hair.

   They remained like this for sometime, moonlight illuminating their crouched forms. When Katie finally felt better, she blinked. Lifting her head, she looked over Mason’s shoulder. Black forms lay everywhere. What happened? She tried to shove from his arms. “Mom?”

   Mason didn’t let her go. “She’s gone, they’re all gone. They killed them.”

   Dead. Who was dead? Mom couldn’t be dead. Katie shook her head.

   Nathan snorted again, rolling on his side and curling up into a ball. Hearing him, Mason released Katie and stood. “Come on, we should go inside.” He picked up Nathan, who was now sucking his thumb, and grabbed Katie’s hand to keep her from running away.

    Mason made his way through the yard, walking in a weaving path. Katie stumbled behind him, whipping away her tears. Other than the sleeping sounds Nathan made and the crickets chirping, there were now no other sounds. Where was everyone? People still were usually out at this time.

    On the porch, Mason let go of Katie’s hand to turn the knob. Once inside the house, he laid Nathan on the couch. He did not turn on the lights. Then he dropped down into the recliner. It was Daddy’s chair.

    Katie stood in the middle of the room, not knowing what to do.  Finally, she let out a sob and crawled into Mason’s lap. There, they cried themselves to sleep.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Chapter 1

I am not sure what I am going to call this novel. But here is the the first chapter:

Chapter 1
Sudan. Friday, May 12, 4:32 A.M.
The blades of the helicopter conveyed a whoosh noise with each pass. Jake stared at Commander Blake with his sky-blue eyes.
“We are nearing our destination,” the commander said. “Our mission is to rescue scientist Albert Welsh.” The commander pulled up a picture of the scientist on the large computer screen. He looked to be around fifty. The white frizzled hair, droopy eyelids, and small spectacle glasses said it all. This guy was defiantly a scientist.
“He was kidnapped by a group of terrorists. We haven’t had any communication with Mr. Welsh or the terrorists. Also.” The commander pulled up a second picture. This one of a younger man. “I am sure you recognize this picture. This is Agent Andrew Terry. We sent him in to do a brief scout. His cover was a delivery man. Either his cover was blown and his real identity figured out, or he has turned rogue. If you see him communicate with the terrorists at any point, shoot on target. So get in, get Mr. Welsh and get out. Do not engage unless fires upon. Any questions?”
It was all straight forward for Jake. Another rescue mission, he was getting used to them. They had completed five as a group, but Jake had done some before joining the SATG.
“Then,” Commander Blake continued, “prepare for drop off.”
Jake looked over his six foot frame. His black outfit contained several different gadgets and gizmos. All of which were necessary. He pulled a black helmet over his head. Each helmet acted as a walkie-talkie with its talk button stuck. Anything anyone in the group said would be heard.
He strapped on his parachute.
Each of his comrades did the same. Jake looked at each. Agents Richard, Philip, and Harry. They were a group of five with Agent Terry.
He couldn’t believe that Agent Terry would go rogue on them. He must have been captured. If he had been Jake vowed that he would find and rescue him.
“You have three hours.” The commander reminded. “I will watch from up here. If I don’t get the signal by then I’ll expect the worse.” Commander Blake’s strong face shifted to a softer expression. “Be careful,” he said.
The helicopter door opened and Jake leapt out.
Jake felt his stomach shove up against his throat. It was unpleasant, but he was used to it. He watched the ground coming up fast. Jake pulled on the parachute cord.
The white fabric billowed out and into the air, though, it didn’t look white through his grainy green night-vision goggles.
His descent slowed. He could barely see the sandy terrain. Jake pulled his Springfield Professional Custom Pistol from his holster. He was ready for anything.
His feet hit the ground and Jake immediately rolled so the impact wasn’t so jarring.
He stood. Jake pointed the custom pistol around. The area was secure.
Agent Harry landed, then Agent Philip, and last Agent Richard.
Jake set his pistol lightly back into it’s case on his hip. He pulled a M4 Carbine from his back.
“Harry, how far are we from the terrorist compound?” Jake asked.
“I would estimate about three miles east from there.” Harry was the SATG’s technology guy.
SATG was the abbreviation for Secret Anti Terrorist Group. They had been established by the President of the United States himself, to, in his words “Fight against the evil ploys of terrorism.”
“Let’s move out,” Agent Philip said his voice echoing in Jake‘s helmet. “Once we get within a mile we will slow to a jog.” Philip was the SATG’s leader. Jake, Agent Terry, and Agent Richard were the guys with the guns. They were the most advanced of all in their hand to hand combat.
Jake was the youngest member of the SATG. It was an honor to be asked to join at such a young age. Jake was twenty-six. Only the most advanced in martial arts were asked. Hence why there were only five members.
The SATG was only known by a select few people. If the terrorist expected someone to rescue Welsh they might think that it would be a full scale operation. But a group of four agents would go unnoticed.
Jake didn’t breathe hard. Not even with the extra pounds of gear he carried. He had been trained for this.
“Okay,” Agent Philip‘s voice rang in Jake‘s ears. “See those trees? Just beyond them is the compound. According to research there’s a high metal fence. We’ll cut through that then enter the compound through a back entrance. Soon as we enter, I’ll secure the room. Then I’ll lead to the prison cells. Watch your footing and don’t trip over anything.”
Agent Philip gave a hand gesture signaling them to move out.
The group silently entered the surrounding trees. Jake watched his every step. Just a single snap of a twig could signal the guards.
Not long after, the trees thinned and the compound could be seen. It looked like a normal abandoned factory, except for the watch towers, guards, and the tall metal fence. There were several buildings all seeming to be attached to one another. Every building was one story except for the very middle. The biggest building of them all rose up to three stories tall.
Jake removed a pair of wire cutters. He and Agent Richard set to work. They snapped, snipped, and sliced the thick metal wire.
A looming hole soon stood before them. Agent Philip entered first. He was the only one who knew where the back entrance was. Agent Harry followed, then Agent Richard, and last Jake came through. He pulled the wire circle he had cut out back in place. It looked again like a whole.
Jake clutched his M4 Carbine like a newborn babe. It was no babe, though. The carbine was upgraded to the max. Night vision scope, silencer, and an extended (handle???). It was every agent’s dream.
The group had stopped, knowing that the guards were on duty. There were two towers close enough to where the terrorist would be able to spot them. The first was all metal and had a longer walking distance to go back and forth. The second was built completely from wood and looked newly constructed.
“Once both guards are turning away from us, we run.” Agent Philip’s voice sang inside Jake’s helmet.
He waited tense. Jake constantly turned his head from left to right, watching each guard closely. The one on the wooden watch tower was faster. He was almost on same pace as the other guard. He came back looked around then turned. Walk. Turn. Walk. Turn. The cycle continued.
“Now,” Agent Philip said.
Jake half ran half walked, trying to stay as silent as possible. The first building, of many, they came to had a metal door on its backside. It looked like any other door, but getting it open could separate success from utter failure.
A small mechanism was attached to the wall beside the door. It appeared to be just a simple breaker box. Opening it proved an entirely different scenario. A high-tech touch screen was concealed behind the lid, asking for a password.
Agent Harry held a small, wireless, device very close to it. Jake noticed a small keyboard had also popped out from the box. The wireless device Harry held searched for any possible password.
Jake looked back at the guards. At any moment, they could spot the group trying to break in.
That was their problem. Trying.
“Hurry up,” he heard Agent Harry mutter.
“It doesn’t usually take this long,” Agent Richard expressed.
The guard on the metal watch tower stopped his normal round. He was staring right at them. Jake watched the man pull a walkie-talkie from his belt. He held it up to his lips.
“Ah, guys? I think we’ve been spotted.”


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Legion of Youth - Prologue


Here is the Prologue of a story I am working on.  Note:  Any where you see "X" e.g. "Fort X" it means I haven't decided on a name yet.  Tell me how you guys like it!!!

Jeblin Endervelt sipped ale from a steel mug as he stood upon the battlements right outside the gatehouse of Fort X.  The sun was already half gone from sight as it receded beyond the horizon.  It was Jeblin’s favorite time of day, for the sun was absolutely marvelous as it outlined the peaks of the Earthen Mountains on either side of the pass.  It was, he thought, one of the most beautiful things in the world.  
Jeblin made sure not to have more than a few more sips from his ale before setting it down on the wall.  Although this was the most beautiful time of day, it was also the most dangerous.  It was at this time when it was easiest for enemies to sneak up through the pass.  Not only would he get in trouble, but it could be fatal to have enemies sneaking up after he had drunk too much of the brew.
Fort X was arguably the most important fort in the whole entire country of Engall.  Although the Earthen Mountains (named so because of the dirt that coated its outer layer) protected most of Engall’s eastern borders from invaders, the Earthen Mountain Pass was its only weakness, if weakness is the right term.  Fort X and its garrison of five thousand men could hardly be called a weakness.  It sat in the middle of the pass, so it was nearly impossible for anyone to sneak by it.  The fort had been here for over two hundred and fifty years, and had been refurbished three times.  It had been only attacked twice, and both times it repelled its attackers with ease.  It rivaled even Engall Castle in strength, though not in size.
The pass is also the only trading route into other lands in east Engall, save for the sea.  Many trade caravans come in and out of Engall through the pass every day, and a specific team of soldiers checked their wares and made sure they were safe and the like.
Jeblin stared out over the grassy landscape that was the pass, and his eyes scanned the horizon for danger.  He had done the routine countless times.  He scanned the shadows, looking for any sign of movement.  Seeing nothing, he was about to turn to his personal thoughts when a glint, like the sun upon metal, caught his eye.  He reached for his sword and blinked.  Nothing was there.
That was the only thing he didn’t like about this time of day.  It was too easy for your mind and the shadows to play tricks on a man.  One could hardly trust his senses.
He heard the sound of steel boots upon stone behind him.  Turning, he saw his friend Alfred come up behind him.  
“‘Ello Jeb!” Alfred said with a smile.
“Evenin’ to you to Alfred.  How was gatehouse watch?” asked Jeblin, though he pretty much knew the answer.
“Just about as borin’ as ever,” replied Alfred with a shrug.
Jeblin picked up his ale mug from where he had set it down on the wall and shook hands with his friend.  “I’ll see you tonight!”
Alfred replied in turn and then Jeblin jogged down the wall to the gatehouse.  He knocked on the door three times, then paused, and knocked twice more.  He heard the sound of several locks being undone, then the door swung open, and he was greeted by one of the other soldiers who had gatehouse watch for the night.  He took a place at the other side of the large room that enclosed the wheel which if turned, would open the gate of Fort X.  It took at least three men to turn it.  That’s why they only kept two guards in the gatehouse, so it would lesson the chances of the gate being opened in case of a betrayal within the ranks.  
The time crept along slowly, as was usual with the gatehouse shift.  He managed a bit of small conversation with the other soldier on duty, but eventually they both fell silent, left with only their thoughts to keep them company.  Jeblin had a little more ale, but not much.  He began to think of his wife back home, and his infant daughter, whose first birthday would be within the month.  His thoughts of home lulled him into a sleepy, dreamy trance.
Suddenly, he heard a thump, followed by a groan.  He looked up and saw the tip of a silver blade protruding from the other guard’s chest.  He then fell to the ground, blood pooling even as he hit it.  And standing over his body was a cloaked man, armed with a short sword.
Jeblin drew his sword and leaped over the dead guards body.  While in mid air he feigned a swipe at the attackers head, then redirected it towards his left side.  Jeblin was a skilled swordsman, but this attacker was beyond his skill.  The cloaked man blocked his stroke and landed a hard kick on Jeblin’s chin, fracturing it.  Jeblin fell onto the body of the other guard.
The cloaked attacker went in to finish Jeblin, stabbing straight for his heart.  Jeblin just managed to deflect his stab to the side, so it sank in between his ribs.  He cried out in pain and dropped his sword.  The attacker growled and went to stab him again but a voice stopped him.
“Forget him.  He’s a goner either way.  Come help us with this wheel!”
The attacker reluctantly left Jeblin lying there.  He tried to cry out, but his throat was getting so dry he couldn’t speak.  His vision began to go black at the edges.  He managed to turn on his side towards the attackers.  The last thing he saw before all went dark was three people, two cloaked men and one in the livery of Engall turning the massive wheel to open the gate.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Night Phoenix - Chapter One, Part Two

Viggo hesitated, shooting a quick glance at Rowan. The shapeshifter was standing motionless, his bright, copper-colored hair tousled and messy. He looked remarkably like a young man who had just gotten out of bed—not dangerous at all.
“Both of you put your hands up. Now!” snapped the tall man. “Or me and Ron here will shoot you right off.”
Ron was as short and stocky as the other man was tall and thin. He swallowed and shifted from foot to foot. “Zeke, maybe we shouldn’t—”
“Shut up!” Zeke didn’t look over at his comrade as he spoke; he kept his eyes on Viggo, who was watching the exchange with one eyebrow higher than the other.
“But Zeke, we’re already gonna be in trouble for kidnapping the girl…”
As Ron continued to complain—and Zeke continued to ignore him—Viggo shifted his gaze to the fireplace behind the kidnappers. Aelfcynn was still there, standing in a half-crouch. Her fingers twitched with pent-up energy and adrenaline—though she was in human form, her behavior reminded Viggo of a wolf getting ready to ambush its prey.
“All right, we’ll just shoot them and bury the bodies. No one will ever know!” Zeke snapped, interrupting Ron.
Viggo turned his gaze sharply back onto Zeke. The man slid the hammer back on his revolver, aiming at the spot where Viggo’s heart was.
Anois, Aelfcynn! Now!” Rowan shouted.
Viggo threw himself to the ground, just as Zeke fired. The bullet whispered past Viggo’s head a millisecond later.
Aelfcynn had darted out of the fireplace and wrapped her arms around Zeke’s head in a chokehold, throwing off his aim. He was screaming curses now.
Ron lunged for the door, dropping his gun. Viggo jumped up and dodged in front of Ron, cutting off his escape. Ron stared at him with eyes that were wide with disbelief.
“Just do what I say, and you won’t get hurt,” Viggo asserted.
Ron yanked something out of his jacket pocket. It was a knife encased in a leather sheath, which he threw down immediately.
Viggo leapt forward, seizing Ron’s arm before he could move and twisting it sharply backwards.
He didn’t break any bones, but the man screamed just the same and the knife clattered harmlessly away across the ground. Rowan sprang forward and picked the knife up, pushing it safely into the pocket of his jeans.
Viggo released Ron’s arm, and then sent three quick punches at him. Ron crashed to the floor and did not move.
Viggo ran towards the corner of the room and retrieved his gun. Then he turned around, ready to defend himself from Zeke.
He need not have worried. Aelfcynn’s chokehold had restricted Zeke’s breathing for so long, he had blacked out. She let him drop to the floor with a loud thud.
“Thanks,” Viggo said, addressing both Rowan and Aelfcynn. “I swear, you guys are absolutely amazing.”
“You’re welcome,” Rowan said, grinning happily at the praise.
“It’s about time you admitted our superiority. Or mine, anyway,” Aelfcynn replied, crossing her arms with a smirk.
Viggo laughed quietly, and then looked down at the limp forms of the kidnappers. “We probably should have asked one of them where Connie was.”
“We can find her easily enough,” Aelfcynn countered. “This cabin isn’t all that big.”
“She’s right.” Rowan nodded. “We’ll stay in human form for now, so we can open doors and other things like that.”
“All right,” Viggo said. He went over to the door, where he had dropped his duffel bag, and rummaged around in it for a minute. He pulled out a coil of rope and tossed it onto the ground next to the unconscious kidnappers. “First, though, tie those guys up. I’ll start searching for Connie.”
Aelfcynn and Rowan busied themselves with the task of tying the men up, while Viggo walked down the hallway, opening doors and peering into the rooms behind them.
When he was sure that there was no sign of the kidnapped girl downstairs, Viggo turned around and headed back to the staircase. Before climbing up the steps, he saw that Aelfcynn and Rowan were just finishing tying knots in the rope.
A door was ajar on the second floor. Viggo moved towards it with a silent tread, and looked inside the room.
One glance told him all that he needed to know. A girl who looked as though she was about six years old sat on the bed, blindfolded. Her hands were tied behind her back.
Viggo’s fists clenched at his side, and he fleetingly wished that he had roughed up the kidnappers more than he had.
As he moved forward, Connie shrank back against the headboard of the bed. Why wouldn’t she? She couldn’t see who was coming. For all she knew, it was the kidnappers again.
“It’s all right,” Viggo said, talking in the same tone of voice he would use to soothe a trapped animal. “I’m a friend.”
Connie did not seem to be convinced. She pressed herself harder against the headboard, as though she could disappear into the walls if she did so.
Viggo took out his knife. He tried hard to keep it quiet, but it gave a metallic clink when he took it from its sheath. The girl, panicking, tried to jump off of the bed.
Viggo lunged forward and took her by the arm. “Wait a minute, Connie. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m trying to help you.”
Connie froze, not moving as he cut her bonds. Once he finished, Viggo reached up and gently pulled the blindfold away. “There you are. You’ll be back home in no time at all.”
Connie stared at him. He gave her a reassuring smile, quite aware of the fact that he was dirty from spending all night in the woods and had blood on his face from where the kidnapper had punched him. I wouldn’t be surprised if she thought I was some sort of man out of a nightmare or something, he thought wryly.
Connie blinked a few times. Her eyes began to grow misty, and her lower lip trembled.
Viggo frowned. “Hey, don’t cry,” he pleaded. “Everything’s okay now.”
Despite his efforts, tears started to roll down the little girl’s cheeks.
“Oh…no, don’t…” Viggo murmured, sighing. Without thinking twice, he moved forward and put his arms around Connie. “No, don’t cry, please. Calm down…no one’s going to hurt you now,” he whispered, gently pulling her onto his lap.
The little girl managed to get out something about being ‘so scared’ and ‘wanting Mama and Daddy’ in between her sobs. She buried her head in Viggo’s black coat.
Viggo absentmindedly stroked Connie’s hair, trying to soothe her and decide how he would get her home. Town was a three-hour drive away, and Viggo had parked his car about a mile from the cabin.
Eventually, Viggo got Connie to settle down; she had fallen asleep, her head resting on his shoulder.
Poor kid’s worn out, Viggo thought, picking Connie up and heading back down the stairs.
When he got downstairs, he saw Aelfcynn and Rowan standing by the tied-up kidnappers, vigilantly keeping watch while they waited for him to come back. They looked up as Viggo entered the living room.
“All right, come on, you two,” Viggo said, shifting the little girl to his other arm. “Let’s get out of these woods and back to town. Then I’ll call the police and have them come and arrest these guys.”
Aelfcynn and Rowan both nodded. They left the house, talking quietly to each other. Viggo followed them, using his foot to pull the front door of the cabin shut behind him.
Sorry it was so long!

The Night Phoenix - Chapter One, Part One

Hi, all. I'm new here...this is a chapter out of my novel I just edited this morning, so I'd like some input on it. I had to put it in two parts, since it's kind of long. Let me know what you think! : )
A cold, gray mist had fallen over the forest. The sun was just beginning to rise, a pale pink glow on the far horizon. At first glance, it seemed as though there was no life in the woods. A few birds and animals, perhaps, but nothing else.
But there were other things hidden in the undergrowth.
Viggo Steele slowly sat up, stretching to ease the kinks out of his muscles. Leaves were caught in his hair. He winced. Unsurprisingly, staking out forest cabins all night long tended to make his body stiff.
“I’m getting too old for this, Aelf,” he muttered, turning his gaze back to the cabin that he had been watching the night before.
Aelfcynn was one of Viggo’s two companions. Currently, she was in the form of a pure white wolf, but that was apt to change, seeing as she was a shapeshifter. Rowan, Viggo’s second companion, was in the shape of a rusty red fox. Both of them rarely left his side.
Shapeshifters weren’t exactly what one would call typical companions for a man living in the modern times. Then again, Viggo wasn't exactly someone who could be called normal.
He wished he was normal. In his thirty-three years on earth, he had already encountered several magical beings. He had seen most of those beings in Ireland, which was where he had met Aelfcynn and Rowan.
He had saved them from an evil sorcerer, and now they were wholeheartedly convinced that they owed Viggo a life debt. No matter how hard he tried, Viggo could not dissuade them from thinking in that way, which meant he was stuck with them. The truth was, however, that he did not really mind—he enjoyed their company.
Aelfcynn shook her head. “No, you’re not too old,” she replied. “Now, come on. We need to enter the cabin before the sun rises completely; the element of surprise will be much stronger.”
Viggo nodded, knowing that his friend was right. He pushed his shoulder-length hair away from his face, and began to creep down the slope. Along the way, plenty of cover was provided for them from the trees and boulders.
Viggo did not stop moving until he reached the bottom of the slope. When he did, he accidentally stumbled, and a stick cracked underneath his foot.
Viggo froze, holding his breath. No one came out of the cabin to investigate. I guess it wasn’t as loud as it sounded…
Rowan nudged Viggo in the back of the leg. “Go on, then! The coast is clear!”
Viggo glanced back at his two companions, and then continued moving. He tried hard to keep his steps light, but spending all night in the cold watching the cabin had taken its toll, and every muscle in his body was sore.
Every time a twig snapped underfoot, Viggo cringed. But no one ever appeared at the windows or door of the abandoned cabin.
Even so, Viggo was relieved when he reached the front door. He waited a moment, and then slowly tested the doorknob. The door was locked.
“Why is there no guard?” whispered Rowan.
"Tú amadán!" Aelfcynn scoffed, using her first language--Irish. "They’re probably asleep. Even if they’re not, they didn’t expect anyone to follow them." Aelfcynn's pointed ears twitched.
Viggo ignored them, fiddling with the lock picking tools he had stored in his duffel bag. He chose one and inserted it into the lock.
Within seconds, there was a faint click. Viggo felt a hint of satisfaction that he had picked the lock in such short time. Well, I’ve had enough practice with it, I guess.
“One of you go around to the window and make sure no one’s keeping guard,” Viggo whispered.
Rowan nodded, and, in a pale shimmer of light and mist, shifted into the form of a sparrow. He took flight, darting around the corner of the cabin.
Viggo waited, tensely rubbing his palms together—partly to warm them, and partly because of his agitation. With every moment that passed, he was sure that Rowan had been killed somehow. There were plenty of creatures in the forest that would not hesitate to hunt down a bird to eat.
Just as Viggo was about to go search for Rowan, the shapeshifter came around the corner, and transformed into the shape of a fox. “It’s clear,” he reported.
Viggo silently turned the knob and crept inside, leaving the door open. As Rowan had said, the room and hallway he entered were empty.
Too empty. There were a few pieces of furniture covered with dusty sheets, but no humans in sight. It was impossible that the kidnappers were that stupid. Viggo started to search the room for any sign of the kidnapped girl he was supposed to save, taking care not to make any loud noises.
As he methodically investigated the room, Viggo contemplated the reason he had agreed to take this job. He was always willing to take a job that would help a young person. He felt protective of all children, and was more than ready to help them—even for free, if the need arose. It was what he wished someone would have done for him when he was young…someone to stand up against his abusive father.
Shaking his head to rid himself of the memories, Viggo returned to the task at hand.
At length, it was clear that there was nothing to see in the living room, which was where he now was. Frustrated, he turned to go down the hallway to explore the rest of the cabin.
“Viggo! Look out!”
Aelfcynn’s cry of warning came not a moment too soon. Viggo instinctively dived behind a dusty couch. Gunshots split the air.
The kidnappers had been waiting after all. Perhaps they had expected a rescuer to come for the girl; perhaps they had heard him. Either way, it was too late now.
Viggo yanked his own revolver out of its shoulder-strap holster. He waited for the shooting to pause, and then jerked upright, firing off three shots of his own.
There were three of the kidnappers, and they all scattered. One of them dodged back into the room they had appeared from, and the other two shoved over a table to use as a defense.
Viggo fired once more, and then ducked back down as the two kidnappers shot back.
While he waited for the guns to fall silent, Viggo did two things. He reloaded his revolver, and looked around for his two companions.
At first, he didn’t see them. Then he noticed them—they had shifted into their human forms, and were crouched inside the fireplace to take shelter from the flying bullets. The kidnappers hadn’t noticed them yet.
Abruptly, his enemies’ guns fell silent. Viggo waited, unsure of what was going to happen next.
Before he could decide on his next move, someone lunged around the corner of the couch and tackled Viggo to the ground. Viggo’s revolver clattered across the floor.
The kidnapper still had his handgun, however. Viggo focused on keeping it pointed somewhere else besides his head. The kidnapper had him pinned down and was repeatedly punching him in the face, making it hard for Viggo to keep a grip on the hand that held the gun.
Viggo lost his grasp on the kidnapper’s arm. Just as the thought entered his head that he might die, there was a challenging yell. Someone rammed into the kidnapper from the side, knocking him to the ground and thus freeing Viggo.
Viggo stumbled to his feet. The kidnapper had been bowled over by Rowan—the shapeshifter was still in human form. Viggo kicked the man’s gun away, and then turned to see how Rowan was faring.
Rowan had slammed the man’s head into the floor with deadly accuracy, with enough force to render him unconscious, but not enough to kill him.
Reassured that Rowan was safe for the moment, Viggo began to turn around. When he did, he saw that one of the kidnappers had their guns trained on him. The other one was focused on Rowan.
“Hands up,” commanded the man watching Viggo. He was a tall fellow; and, when Viggo looked closer, he saw that the man was missing part of his earlobe. “Both of you.”