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Shards - Chapter 1

Started by Bynw, July 11, 2021, 03:09:51 PM

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Bynw


*** Please note that this story was not written by me but by a friend of mine. This is the first chapter of the story that I have copied here just so others can see it. Read it. And comment on it. ***




As the dark crimson droplet fell from my split lip, and mimicked the sound of a gunshot as it collided with its fellow fallen comrades onto the floor. I realized now that this may have not been the best choice I have made in my life. Let's rethink this through Daj, how did we get into this predicament? How could we not have seen this coming? The signs of this fate were present from the very start. If I would not have just leaped into the lion's den and thought it through first. There could have been a different outcome to this scenario. But, no, not me, like usual run head first without thinking it through. God I am so damn predictable. As my broken body swayed in the air from the shackles overhead, I started to doze in and out of consciousness again. The cold steel manacles were attached to the rusty steam pipe high above my head and my own weight was trying to collapse into a heap. My left eye is swollen shut from either the fourth or fifteenth strike I took to the face. I really don't remember since it was so long ago, that this little detour to my life started. All I can see out my right eye is my own vital fluids pooling beneath my slightly hunched body, and that damn cat.

Don't get me wrong I love animals, I mean hell some of my best friends are animals. It is just this one cat. Her perfectly fluffed calico fur, her nonchalant I am better than you attitude, even her big black eyes staring deep into my soul is just fucking annoying. To top it all off I swear I can hear the thing purring, "Only a stupid human like you would fall into a trap so easy. Even a mouse knows better." I truly don't even know where the cat came from; I was receiving my first taste of hospitality here, dodging every question thrown at me. Then after waking up from passing out the first time, there the cat was. Just sitting there under the chair in the corner, no one else seemed to notice, but there the fucking thing was. I watched her flip flop her head from side to side, with the same rhythm and beat as my head being thrashed back in forth. To state that the abuse I was receiving, was utter boredom for the feline. Once I was enthralled in another dose of sweet southern justice so to speak, I would almost swear I seen a smug smile come to her face right as I passed out again.

When I started to come around again, the sounds in the distance started coming into recognition. I believe this is about the time I verified that my eardrum may have been ruptured as well. The muffled sounds of the three men arguing on what to do with me next, seemed to have caused more of a disturbance in the force than the actual physical pain they distributed to me. You could sort of say that my hosts decided to throw me an old fashion blanket party. It was nice of them, however, to skip the blanket and the soap in the sock and just pound on me using whatever was just laying around. It had to have been at least two days maybe even three days that I have had the pleasure of their company, and I can honestly say without a shadow of doubt the pleasure has been all theirs. One of the men must have heard me stirring around, because they all became silent. I started hearing the hard pounding footsteps of someone walking closer to me. I couldn't see where they were coming from, but the hair on the back of my neck started to go up. The only time that has ever happened is when I was in the company of, thud. Lights out, whatever I was hit with was hard and wooden, like a cane maybe, or a baseball bat.

As I started to come around, I got a cold chill up my spine. The kind you get when people state that it felt like someone walked across their grave. Goosebumps arose on my arm, and the hairs on my neck were at full alert. I started hearing something but I couldn't make it out. I felt a tug on the top of my head, someone grabbed me by the hair, and then I felt a hard smack across my face. My right eye rolled all around trying to come into focus, then I heard the sound again. As the top of my head was being raised for what I expected to be another slap, I mumbled out the first words that would pass my lips.

"Hit me again, Ike. This time put some stank on it."

I knew it wasn't a smart thing to say, and I am sure it didn't come across as smartass as I was hoping but the point came through none the less. I received another fallen blow to the other side of my face and my head went limp again. This time the liquid in my ear must have been knocked loose because I was able to hear a little better. With my hearing more astute now, I then mouthed off more unlike I should of.

"That's sweet, now let your boyfriend try."

I heard the growl of something fierce, when two solid thuds sounded from a distance and the growling stopped. The thuds sounded like hard wood on pavement, like a gavel in a courtroom but more demanding of attention. The man who was so nice to help me able to hear again quickly stepped to the side and grabbed a chair and pulled it out. I watched as a shadowy figure pass in front of me and take the seat. I could not look up, but from what I seen there was a black long coat like that of a duster, a pair of black Doc Marten boots, and a black cane. As the shadow sat down I could now see the bottom of his feet and I knew for the first time, that my chances of survival went from slim, to no chance in hell. Why did I leap into the damn lion's den, why didn't I think it through first?

The voice that came from the shadow was that of a New Yorker. The kind of voice you would hear from someone of upper class, with money and no respect for anyone below his or her social cast. The mundane monotone voice came from the shadows like you would expect to see in a horror movie. If he wanted to audition for the next James Bond villain he sure had my vote. He stayed calm; never raising a tone, or pitch and it was as though he thought of every word before he let it pass his lips. It was if the words carried a certain serpentine draw to each syllable as well.

"Mr. Hoyle, you were hired to find the culprit in the Midway Lake killings and deal with them accordingly. I went out of my way to make sure all the evidence pointed to a certain path and yet you strayed from it time and time again. It was if you knew that the path you were heading down was not the correct one and kept jumping to a new path. So we are now at this crossroad. My associates here have informed me that you have been unwilling to share any information you have on the case, and how you came to the conclusion. Is this true?"

As his words rang out in my ears I knew there was no good outcome for me. I will admit I was scared. I faced a lot of things down in my job. I have seen a lot of bad things that made nightmares look like dreams. But this man, this man had some sort of connection. I felt like I was a kid again, and I walked into a haunted house and a damn clown jumped out at me at the end. The fear washed over me like a flood and I could tell he sensed it as well. I tried to contain my fear the best I could and then said with all that I could muster, "I am sorry for any inconvenience I have caused to you and your companions, but at this time I cannot in good judgment share any information on this case." I then let my head go limp and waited for a physical retort to befall me. To my surprise nothing came. As I hung there, the creek of the chair rang loud in my ear as the man in the shadows shifted forward. He put down one foot and leaned in as to let me see his face. Just as he was about to come into the light, he stopped. As if he knew that the light would give away any chance of the horror flashing in my mind. But what he did do was scarier than I ever dreamed. He smiled. Not a simple smile, not a cocky smile either. He smiled like a predator seeing wounded prey. He smiled like he knew that he was going to feast on me like no other being ever would. He smiled as to say, I see you, and you will satiate my hunger. He smiled.

As the smile faded from obscurity, the man took his left gloved hand and reached into the right inside of his open duster. I couldn't make out what he was doing but when his hand emerged back into the light, I was able to glimpse of what he retrieved. A white envelope with blue metallic writing on it. The ink looked like a gel and I could see a cobalt blue flake of some kind shimmer within the light. The writing reacted as if it danced with the radiance of the beam of light and I knew right away what he held in his hand. He was in possession of a nadder snake. A magical paper reptile that was created by a magician by the name of Ruald Nadder, in the 1800's. Ruald believed that everyone had secrets to tell, and if he could take those secrets and own them, he would become the most powerful magician in the world. In truth, knowledge is power in our world and he wanted to absorb it all. He decided he needed to formulate a truth serum that could cause severe pain if the person lied or refused to give all the information that was requested. So much pain that it would eventually kill the interviewee, however, if the interviewee was telling the truth then after twelve hours the serum would leave their system and no harm befell them.

Thirty years of trial and error and a lot of assistance deaths, the nadder snake was created. A mixture of sodium pentothal and ricin as well as a few magical attributes from each element were projected onto a piece of paper and transformed into a snake. Magicians of all levels and skills tried to recreate Rauld's work and failed. They then tried to reverse the effect with the same result. Rauld excelled in the world of the supernatural since his work could not be duplicated. A fail safe is put on each nadder when it is created. When the envelope is formed and then sealed with the ink a spoken word is enthralled into the ink. Then whomever wishes to use the nadder just speaks the word and like origami, the paper refolds itself into the nadder snake form and released onto the victim. This means that whatever information Mr. Smiles wants from me has to be worth killing for. This means I have 12 hours from the time I am bitten to survive, if I can go that long without lying. This is so going to hurt.

Mr. Smiles, as I am now going to refer to him, leaned closer to me and in that same tone as earlier started speaking again. "I am sure you are aware of what I hold here, Mr. Hoyle. I know for a fact that you have used one or two of these in the fifteen years of your occupation. I will not dull your senses or take the effort in explaining the ramifications of your failure to participate. Shall we begin?" He then let his voice fall onto the envelope and the magic was released. The folding and unfolding of the envelope took place and what was once a simple harmless business envelope now was in the form of a white colored baby copperhead. It slithered from one gloved palm to another. Its little fangs glistened in the light and I could see the venom trickle from them like fresh dew off a flower petal. The nadder was amazing to look at, it even gave the impression as though it was breathing. As the sides of the paper snake inflated and deflated with each action it took, I swear I even seen a small white forked tongue flick in and out of its mouth. Mr. Smiles leaned over and put the nadder close to my exposed neck the paper menace quickly struck me two times and then turned to ashes and drifted away in the air. Mr. Smiles showed those pretty white teeth again and sat back into his chair.

"Let's give it a few minutes to set in then we will start with some basic questions to just break the ice." The words poured out of his mouth like he wanted me to bite an apple off a tree. I could sense already the venom was taking effect. He was right I had used this same trick to solve a few of my cases, but never have I had the opportunity so to speak to have the misfortune of it done to me. My head is starting to spin a little bit and I can feel the magic wash over my body. I am not a man of the supernatural world. With that, what I mean is I am not a magician, nor a vampire or werewolf. I am what you would call a commoner. I am nothing of the supernatural yet I am their arbiter. An Arbiter is a third party who is called into help settle a dispute, a fight, or a wrong doing. In doing so, I also am the one who carries out the punishment of the crime. I am sort of like a private investigator and an executioner all rolled into one. I never put out an ad in the paper, or on the internet, it just happened. I did find out that I am very good at my job, sometimes I guess I am too good. You don't have to believe me you can ask Mr. Smiles.

As Mr. Smiles sat there in his chair, I seen one of the men from earlier who thought I was a punching bag bring him a cup of something hot. I couldn't see what was in the cup but the aroma in the air made me think of jasmine, cherry blossom and orange peel with a hint of something else. I don't know why but it had a familiarity about it. I can't quite remember where I smelt it but it seemed to just flood my senses. I am sure it is the venom taking ahold of me though. Each passing second my head gets more and more clouded and the air around me seems to get heavier. My head sways from side to side, I know I can't fight the magic, but doesn't mean my body wants to give in to it either. When my head drops forward again, I see that damn cat again.

I am starting to think I may have wronged this cat in a previous life because it is just staring at me again from underneath the chair Mr. Smiles is in. I don't remember the cat being there when Mr. Smiles showed up, but there it is again. This time it was not alone, now there is something in its mouth and between its paws. The calico seems to be chewing on it. I can't make out what it is in the dim light, but I can tell it isn't a mouse or any other animal. It looks to be like a string of some sort. I try to focus my good eye on it better. The damn thing must have seen what I was trying to do because I swear it moved just a fraction to get the thing into the light and I see what looked to be wood. Not just wood, but little figurines made out of wood. There are a few different figurines and that is when it hit me. The cat is chewing on my damn necklace. The one the three wannabe boxers ripped from my neck before all this began. I am really beginning to hate this cat more and more. As I start to fume from this new invigorating aspect of my life, my vision is ripped from the feline when I see the white porcelain cup that was being handled by Mr. Smiles being sat down on the floor. The cat quickly and stealthily slumped farther back into the darkness under the chair, dragging the only protection I had with her. One thing I will give the stupid thing credit for, is that unlike me it knew when it wasn't safe and didn't want to stick around to find out why.

"I believe that the serum has had enough time to run through your system, let the catechizing begin," and with that came the first question.

"What is your full name?" he smirked a smile at me.

"Daj Hoyle." The words poured from my lips like a fountain. I just couldn't answer him quick enough.

His smirk turned into a frown quickly and it seemed as though he was confused at my response like he was expecting a different answer, but I had none to give. He must have seen it on my face, he then quickly recomposed his facial gesture and then asked his next question. "Mr. Hoyle, and where do you reside?"

"1328 Kneedeep Rd Zealot, TN," I then continued to give the basic answers to move this along in a first date sarcastic tone. "I work at the Hick Hop Holla bar as a bouncer. Folks around these parts call it The Triple H bar. Been there for about 10 years. I drive an old Chevy 4 wheel drive truck and my hobbies are drinking shine and doing things in the country. I am looking for a country gal who can hunt, fish and listens to good music. Also is she can cook, that would not be a deal breaker either."

To my surprise my answers brought a kind of childish smirk across Mr. Smiles' face and then it subsided back to the same monotone look. His tone came back with his first breath, like of tired amusement. "Sigh, Mr. Hoyle, tell me everything that pertains to the case at the Midway Lake killings. By everything, I want to know from the point you were brought onto this case to the point of my colleagues ascertaining you and bringing you to me. Have I made myself clear? From the first morning this case was brought to you, till now. Begin."

I took a deep breath and felt the magic drown me in a shiver. I then I started retelling the last three weeks of events as they happened.

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Laurna

A detective story with a little bit of magic. Almost like Dresdin Files except the main character does not do magic himself. or so he says. Bynw you should have your friend give us an internet name. I feel that this will be a good story, and the writing style is good. but I do have one complaint, It is just that I was a little put off by the amount of described violence in the very beginning, for a character that we have not yet come to know. Maybe I am just getting to be an old lady, but I think a little bit toned down would have allowed me the reader to get to the part where we learn more about who the character is and why we should like him. Half way through I was wondering how anyone could even talk let alone be flippant with his captors after such a beating. That is my only complaint. Are we to see where this leads to?
May your horses have wings and fly!

DerynifanK

I think this has potential but I agree with Laurna, the violence seems excessive and it is hard to care about a character about whom I really know nothing. The cat was an interesting character and he was actually the one I wanted to hear more about. I had a lot of questions, which can be a good thing. For instance, why was it so important for the main bad guy to know why the detective was not following the trails he left. And why was he trying to set someone up and who was it?
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Bynw


I will agree that the author's introduction to the main character was unique with the violence. We come into the story, not at the beginning but actually in the middle somewhere. That is obvious from reading the 1st chapter.

A bunch of stuff happened. The main character is captured and has the snot beat out of him. We hope that there is a better ending for the main character and he doesn't get killed off like our favorite author does from time to time.

Yes we know nothing about the main character other than he mouths off to his captors. That's a bad personality trait because it can lead to a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering on his part. I've seen this personality trait in other main characters in fiction before.

We can tell that there is magic and other supernatural forces in the word of the story. He mentions mages, magic, vampires, and werewolves. And if you've got all of that in the world. Then you've got other things are possible too.

We also know that it's our world. The main character is from Tennessee by his own admittion to his address. And he's also not any form of a magician or supernatural being himself.
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Jerusha

I have to admit the violence turned me off as well.  Hard to get into a character that has already been turned into pulp.

The cat, however, is interesting.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Bynw


A few things have been asked of me in private. So I'll answer them here as well.

The title of the book/story is "Shards" it is part of what the author calls his Moonshine Arbiter Series so he does plan to write additional books/stories in this as part of a greater fictional world.

This is just chapter 1 of Shards. Which has been also posted to Reddit and other locales so I just posted it here to share it with a group of readers and writers too. And to collect the feedback so my friend can see what you think of his writing to help him improve of course.

I have the full book as a PDF file. It takes up 242 pages and has 23 chapters.

I would have to get permission from the author to share the rest of the book on the forum but I maybe able to pass out the PDF to anyone that wants to read it.

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DerynifanK

After rereading this, I decided that the character telling everything that happened in the last three weeks is the way the reader finds out the back story, at least to a point. Hope that it will help the reader find out more and perhaps have some sympathy for this main character. And I really want to know more about the cat, an intriguing character.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Bynw


yes that damn cat is intriguing all right
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