AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the beginning of the first draft. This draft is unfinished, and will remain so forever. If you want to read the current draft, click here.
She jerked awake during a thunderstorm. Lots of noise assaulted her ears. Lots of sound. Sounds from cars, talking, music, screaming, machines, sirens, the thunderstorm, all taken in simultaneously. It all mashed together into a nonsensical jumble. Then, she made the mistake of opening her eyes.
Again, the blitz of the sensory overload overwhelmed her. The shock of bright lights and vivid detail immediately strained her eyes as they struggled to focus. Every chip and abrasion on the concrete. Every scratch on the green paint of the dumpster. The dwindling orange light of the setting sun blinded her. She recoiled, blinking rapidly. Anywhere she tried to focus only served to disorient her further.
At the same time, she gagged at the unpleasant smells of the city that assaulted her nose. The stench of rot from the dumpster behind her head in particular did not help matters. Something, in fact two somethings, dug into her back. From what she could tell, she lay naked in a dirty alleyway. Sound scrambled any attempt at forming a coherent thought.
The cold rain pelting her spurred her to roll over and stagger upright. Immediately, she lost her balance and almost toppled forward. Toes. Why am I on my toes? she thought. She leaned her shoulder against a wall for support.
A distant crack of thunder made her knees buckle. She shook her head to get the residual ringing out of her ears. Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop. She brought her hands to her ears, trying desperately to block out both sensory input and by extension her rising panic.
Rain. Cold. Where am I? She forced her eyes open and let them adjust, blinking a couple times to get the rainwater out. She noticed a metal door a few feet from her across the alleyway. She pushed off the wall and stumbled towards it, her feet scraping along the cracked and crumbling concrete. Make it stop.
She brought her hand down on the door in what was meant to be knock, but she may have put a little too much force into it. The heavy, imposing door snapped back on its hinges; something metal shrieked in protest before giving way. She jumped and stared at the deep dent in the door, now tilted drunkenly off of its hinges. A distant rumble of more thunder spurred her inside.
She didn’t smell anything besides musty air in the building she lurched into. No sounds of movement beyond her own, no people she could see. Something pulled on the back of her foot as she crossed the doorway, tripping her up. She fell forward, something yanking on her back as she fell. She managing to catch her fall with her hands. Rather than getting back up, she stayed down on hands and knees, staring at the hands below her. She blinked. Hands. Green. Big. Big green hands.
The long fingers of the scaled hands ended in sharp, curved claws. What? She twitched what she thought was her index finger. The corresponding finger below her twitched. What? Mine? No, that’s… that’s not right. With her eyes, she followed a hand to her wrist, where the scales ended and transitioned to normal skin. Wrist to arm, arm to the rest of her.
She forced herself back onto her feet and held her hands in front of her. Still green. Still clawed. No, no, no. Her breathing and heart rate quickened. Her tail twitched, sliding along the tiled floor. Wait, what? She whirled around, catching sight of an enormous leathery wing behind her before she fixated on her tail.
Her jaw dropped. The thick tail, covered in the same olive green scales as those on her hands, dragged on the floor. She curled it experimentally. That’s a tail. My tail. It started from the small of her back, a seemingly natural extension of her spine, and eventually tapered off to a point about five feet later. None of this is making sense. At all.
She twisted her head around to get a good view of the wing. There were two; they emerged from each shoulder blade up to a couple inches above her head, then folded back down and ended at about her knees. Fully closed, they didn’t completely fold against her back, instead poking out a couple inches to either side of her.
What’s going on? This isn’t… this can’t be real. Lightning flashed. A fraction of a second later a crack of thunder rumbled the building. She screamed as the shock made her lose control of her legs for a moment, sending her sprawling. Make it stop.
Once she recovered enough, she grabbed the metal door and pushed it shut, deadening the sounds outside to tolerable levels.
She scrunched her eyes shut. Is this real? Wake up. Come on, wake up. Make this stop. The wings dug into her back as she leaned against the wall. Her breathing quickened once again. She felt her panic rise, her mind racing from one thing to another. Why am I naked? Is there anyone here? She reopened her eyes and looked around.
Tarps covered the front windows. Stripes of light came in through the boarded up windows beyond. The smooth ceramic tile might have been considered aesthetically pleasing at some point in time, but was now cracked, scuffed, and otherwise worse for wear. To her right was another door, made of wood instead of metal.
Dust everywhere. Smells weird. Other than a knocked over office chair in a corner, the building was completely devoid of anything besides her and dust.
She spotted a large, cracked mirror across the room from her. She looked completely normal, except for the wings, tail, eyes, and hands. So not very normal.
She stared. The eyes that meet her gaze in the mirror were entirely silver iris without whites, and with vertical dilated slits for pupils. She herself was close to seven feet tall with little body fat, but not lacking in bulk. Messy brown hair draped down past her shoulders.
Oh god, oh god, what am I?
She couldn’t remember. She couldn’t remember any friends, boyfriends, or even girlfriends. Not even acquaintances. Not even family members. Not even the day or month or year. No parents, no names, no faces, no locations. Nothing. The harder she tried to remember, the harder she remembered absolutely nothing. She couldn’t remember her own name. She had no idea who or where or what she was.
She slid to the floor and broke down fully.
Alright, I’m hooked and I’ll be following your work.
No deeper analysis just yet, but I’ll see about it once I have some more free time. A piece of advice, though:
You should both categorize your posts (Stone Burners) and tag your characters. I know it’s a pain, but you’ll be glad you did it, as will your readers. Especially the tags.
It’s so encouraging to see an author you recognise and respect comment on a web serial you find.
Just a note, wings with scales don’t actually work- the scales add too much weight to the wings to get lift.
That said, I really like the description of the sensory overload at the beginning.
Fixed the wing thing. Finally got the time to do some editing. Thanks.
Strange usage here. “…tile that might have once been considered appealing as tile…”
Can probably get rid of the second mention of tile, unless you are trying for something subtle here that I’m not seeing.
Ah, the good old early days. Reworded. Thanks.
“That was a completely irrational thing to focus on in light of her circumstances, but anything to brighten her day she would accept.”
“That was a completely irrational thing to focus on in light of her circumstances, but she would accept anything to brighten her day.”
I think that the first usage might work better with a comma ” day, she” but the ordering of the words feels archaic, even if it might be grammatically correct.
Alright. I like the way you phrased it better.
Wall Of Text – if you want to make this reply go away, that’s fine, but the last paragraph needs love.
*This part is from me, Syphax. Hi. He wasn’t joking about the wall of text, but I believe the issue to be resolved. To give credit where credit’s due, Farmerbob’s comment is below in a shorter form.*
I’d drop “belatedly” and “the fact that” and another “that” from the beginning of the paragraph.
“Hopefully” is used in a way that is unclear.
“even less likely” I’d just drop the “even” from “even less likely” unless you want to build a comparison to something.
The last sentence was really strangely constructed and I had a hard time with it. You need to either break up that sentence, restructure it, or do something to clean it up – it’s more of a distraction than a hook.
That paragraph made perfect sense in my head, I swear!
Thanks for all this. I only got some other people to go over new updates at about Blood Red, so In the Beginning might be rough around the edges.
Heh, believe me, I understand, I have my own mistakes, which you mostly seem to be avoiding. Narration tense errors are my bane if I’m not careful.
I’ve been alternating edit and write days to clean up my early stuff. Oh god it was terrible. About every other verb I used during narration was the wrong tense it seemed.
If you’ve blown rust off your writing skills since the beginning here, (like I did) you might want to start doing an early chapter edit – it’s making a huge difference in the quality of my early chapters now that I’m doing it for myself.
I got about halfway through your second chapter – but really must sleep 🙂 I will continue looking at your early chapters, but tomorrow is a writing day for me.
I just happened to catch this as I was dropping by to check the latest post.
“She woke up in a dirty alley way behind”
Should be one of the two following, but I think just getting rid of “way” works best. What’s the difference between an alley and alleyway?
“She woke up in a dirty alley behind”
“She woke up in a dirty alleyway behind”
OK OK OK. Addicted. Especially after looking at tags on the side. I have never such cool looking and sounding superhero names. “Nomad”,”Solid Tod”? When i saw that i literally had shivers. Completely confident that this will fill the void left by finishing Worm.
That’s… that last bit is a tall order my good sir. Regardless, I’m glad you enjoy it.
“Lighting flashed and”
“Though this did explained why the hand she used to hit the door seemed large and green.”
explain (I also find this sentence kind of confusing, as to how this explains why her hand is large and green)
Fixed. Also she’s not thinking clearly. That’s the only reason she can think of at the time for why her hand is green.
I’m not sure I get the way her amnesia works: She has some kind of subconscious body image, and her horror comes from the fact that it doesn’t mesh properly. She can’t remember any specifics, yet she has knowledge of the generalities (concepts of father, mother, etc.). So, her amnesia doesn’t affect her subconscious, just the conscious recall of memories?
Looks like you’ll have to read on to find out.
Coming back to this after a hiatus so decided to start from the beginning and I must have totally missed this the first time around:
“She looked completely normal, except for the wings, tail, eyes, and hands.”
I thought she was full-on anthropomorphic dragon, not just wings, tail, eyes, and hands. Some of the stuff makes more sense, now. :). Still enjoying the story!
Thanks for the Chapter!
As a side note:
From a psychology standpoint: subconscious is only used in everyday language. Better would be unconscious.
She doesn’t remember anything, because she spent her life living happily behind the warehouse, as a small lizard. That is, until she was bitten by a radioactive hobo.