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  1. #1
    Aaron Brown
    Guest

    The Forester (working title)

    Hi everyone!

    Great to be here. I feel I will spend a lot of time on these discussion boards. Below is the first section of a 10,000(ish) word short story I've written. This is the third draft. What do you think? Is it readable? Marketable? Trash?

    Tashia gasped as she fled through the jungle. Thick, wet air made it hard to breathe. Sweat matted her hair to her skull and ran down her body in tiny floods. Her heart pounded so that she could almost feel her blood gushing through her veins. Greens and browns blurred on either side as she ran across the dim forest floor, far below the reach of sunlight. Tree branches swung low and vines clutched at her arms and legs, trying to stop her. She ducked and twisted, slid from their grasp, and raced on.
    The treanimate chasing her gave a tremendous roar. Even at this distance it sounded like a jet engine next to her ear. Reverberations shivered up her legs and thumped in her chest. A chorus of shouts followed, small and pitiful in comparison, from the elfpack pursuing her.
    Arm-thick vines coalesced in front of her with a rustle of shaking leaves, forming a web of vegetation. Tashia drew her fireblade and it hissed with electric energy as small forks lightning raced up and down the blade, casting blue flashes on the tree trunks surrounding her. She slashed. Blackened stumps shrieked and recoiled. She dashed through the smoking hole, sparing a smile at the smell of burning foliage.
    The ground trembled as the treanimate gained on her.
    A two-foot long thorn whizzed by her ear to bury itself in the ground several paces ahead. She risked a backwards glance. Two elves tailed her from the interlocking tree branches fifty feet above. Their greenish brown skin melded with the shadows and colors of the jungle. Loose-fitting clothing in the greens, browns and yellows of the forest flapped about their arms and legs. They seemed to meld in and out of the shadows, vanishing at one place only to reappear in another, closer location.
    One held a needle gun—the source of the thorn projectile that nearly decapitated her. The other elf, the tips of his elongated ears bouncing with each leap from branch to branch, kept watch on her while his companion knelt to reload the weapon.
    Tashia stopped, pivoted and kneeled. She drew her biopistol, checked to make sure it had a full clip of vials, and rapidly fired two rounds at the elf reloading his weapon. The first round missed and exploded onto the trunk of a tree in a haze of pale green mist. The tree shivered as the hissing and smoking bioliquid melted bark and wormed its way to the tree’s heart. It would leave a permanent scar.
    She never found out if her other round hit the mark. The second elf dropped from the branches and landed in front of her with a soft thump. Before Tashia could react, the elf kicked her legs out from underneath her with sweep of his leg. She landed hard on her back and lost her breath. Her biopistol clattered out of reach. Tashia grasped the hilt of her fireblade, but the elf quickly bestrode her, pinning her shoulders to the ground with his knees.
    “Get off me you @!#$,” she growled, struggling against the elf’s weight.
    The elf smiled, stretching skin the color and texture of a baby tree trunk, and showing a row of square yellow teeth. He smelled wild, like mushrooms and moss, earthy and green. Above him, trees towered upward, some as high as a thousand feet.
    Tashia saw the treanimate come into view over the elf’s shoulder. Fear created a cold lump in her stomach and spread through her body. Her limbs trembled from more than exhuastion.
    The creature stood almost a hundred feet tall. She couldn't be sure since its head was hidden in the branches. She knew the thing did not need to see her to know where she was. Every plant stem she crushed, every blade of grass or patch of moss she stepped on would communicate to the treanimate her position. Her only chance of survival was to get out the jungle.
    The elf seemed content to sit on her and smile as she struggled. Tashia watched the treanimate move branches and vines gently out of his way with giant, bark-encrusted arms. Vines twisted and roped about it's massive body like exoskeletal veins. Branches stuck out from it at odd angles, looking like haphazard procupine quills tipped with leaves. Her breath shuddered and her heart tried to hammer its way out of her chest. The treanimate roared again. Branches swayed against the gust of wind from the creature’s maw. A storm of leaves rained down upon her and the elf. The ground thundered as the treanimate came closer. Tashia and her captor bounced with the impact but the thing held its grip on her.
    The elf leaned close and spoke into her ear, his hot breath washing over the side of her face and making her want to gag. His voice was low and rough, and sounded unused.
    “I do not care what the treanimate wants,” he said. “I will kill you now.”
    The elf rose up, drew a serrated blade from his belt, and plunged it straight down, toward Tashia’s heart.
    The treanimate took another step, bouncing Tashia a foot off the ground and throwing the elf off balance. The blade sliced through her leather armor and cut a blaze of pain across her shoulder. Tashia used the elf’s momentum to toss him over her head. He landed badly, turned on a twisted ankle, slammed his head into a tree trunk and slumped to the forest floor.
    The treanimate's head came into view. Two eyes and a mouth, no ears or nose, topped with dangling strands of moss. It glared down at her with malicious, all too intelligent green eyes. She shot to her feet, snatched up her biopistol and sped off through the forest at a reckless pace.
    You are such an idiot! she thought. You should have kept running.
    The jungle streaked by her. Everywhere the forest worked against her. Flowers blossomed, puffing out porous clouds of gas. Vines twisted and lashed at her. Trees creaked and groaned as they inched closer and closer, cutting off her escape. Tashia cut, shot and stomped, but she did not stop.
    Her breath tore through her lungs and set her chest on fire. Sweat stung her eyes. She continued to pound the ground with half-numb legs and wooden stumps of feet. Treanimate roars and elfpack shouts followed her. She weakened, and they gained.
    Just as she thought her legs couldn’t take another step, her lungs couldn’t handle another ragged inhalation, and she would go blind from the copious amounts of sweat blurring her vision, she saw the dead zone. Her mind cried out in relief. Her lungs burned too brightly to make a voice.
    The elves’ shouts grew louder and more frantic as they realized their prey would escape. The treanimate must have jumped, because the ground suddenly disappeared from under her feet with a boom. When it came back up, she was unprepared and nearly knocked herself unconscious as her legs gave way and her head cracked against her knees. Tashia rolled, ignoring the nettles stinging her back, and got to her feet again.
    The trees ahead moved together like a wooden mouth closing and obscured her view of the dead zone. Tashia grabbed an unsuspecting vine and shimmied up to a low hanging branch. The tree shivered and convulsed She stumbled but regained her balance immediately. An elf dropped to a branch to her right on the same tree. He dashed for her, as sure-footed on a tree branch as Tashia was on solid ground.
    She sprinted to the end of the branch and dived, extending her arms. The elf shouted something at her. She didn’t understand the language, but she caught the anger. She glided through an opening in the trees and they snapped together as she passed. She hit the dusty ground of the dead zone and rolled and skidded what had to be over fifteen feet before coming to a painful halt with a mouthful of dirt. She spit the dirt, pulled her aching body to her feet, and continued running until she was out of the elves’ range, then collapsed.
    Tashia lay shaking, sweating and bleeding. A small pain gathered in her stomach. Neither the treanimate nor the elves would follow her into the dead zone. Even now a distant patrol of Foresters jogged toward her. She laughed and tried to calm her trembling body. She turned her head and watched the Foresters approach. Behind them rose a mountain, it's peak hidden in the clouds. Her home. The city under the mountain called Bastion.
    When her breathing returned to normal, Tashia stood and surveyed her surroundings. A thousand feet behind her lay the forest’s edge. It curved away from her on both sides in a wide circle for miles. Beyond the edge, including where she stood now, was the dead zone—a barren, rocky landscape where nothing grew. Where nothing could grow, in fact. Nothing existed here but rocks and dirt. A soft breeze cooled her face and swirled dust around her feet.
    It was engineered that way. After the Mutation, when plant life began growing at a rapid pace, some of it even becoming sentient, humankind faced extinction. A vast majority of humanity went north to the cold, snow blasted lands of Siberia and beyond where vegetation was sparse and easily exterminated, or far south to Antarctica, where there did not appear to be any plant life at all. Back then, even before the appearance of the elves, the leaders of the world agreed that to simply evacuate and ignore the exponentially growing frondescence invited disaster.
    They created the dead zones, pockets of protection, islands of barren landscapes for military outposts.
    The Forester patrol rushed up to her and stopped a few paces away.
    “Name and rank,” demanded one.
    “Lieutenant Tashia Adele,” she said, wincing at the pain in her shoulder, “returning from recon.”
    The Forester tapped out something on his communicator, paused, then snapped it closed and tucked it away in a pocket.
    “Welcome back, Lieutenant. Bet you're ready to get home.”
    She chuckled. “You have no idea.”



  2. #2
    Aaron Brown
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    Ok... need to edit for formatting...

  3. #3
    Aaron Brown
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    Ugh. Sorry for the waste of space everyone. Can you not edit your own posts? I'll just leave it, if anyone wants to burn their eyes out trying to read it, be my guest.

  4. #4
    Kate B.
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    Here you go...hope I split this right

    Tashia gasped as she fled through the jungle. Thick, wet air made it hard to breathe. Sweat matted her hair to her skull and ran down her body in tiny floods. Her heart pounded so that she could almost feel her blood gushing through her veins. Greens and browns blurred on either side as she ran across the dim forest floor, far below the reach of sunlight. Tree branches swung low and vines clutched at her arms and legs, trying to stop her. She ducked and twisted, slid from their grasp, and raced on.

    The treanimate chasing her gave a tremendous roar. Even at this distance it sounded like a jet engine next to her ear. Reverberations shivered up her legs and thumped in her chest. A chorus of shouts followed, small and pitiful in comparison, from the elfpack pursuing her.

    Arm-thick vines coalesced in front of her with a rustle of shaking leaves, forming a web of vegetation. Tashia drew her fireblade and it hissed with electric energy as small forks lightning raced up and down the blade, casting blue flashes on the tree trunks surrounding her. She slashed. Blackened stumps shrieked and recoiled. She dashed through the smoking hole, sparing a smile at the smell of burning foliage.
    The ground trembled as the treanimate gained on her.

    A two-foot long thorn whizzed by her ear to bury itself in the ground several paces ahead. She risked a backwards glance. Two elves tailed her from the interlocking tree branches fifty feet above. Their greenish brown skin melded with the shadows and colors of the jungle. Loose-fitting clothing in the greens, browns and yellows of the forest flapped about their arms and legs. They seemed to meld in and out of the shadows, vanishing at one place only to reappear in another, closer location.

    One held a needle gun—the source of the thorn projectile that nearly decapitated her. The other elf, the tips of his elongated ears bouncing with each leap from branch to branch, kept watch on her while his companion knelt to reload the weapon.

    Tashia stopped, pivoted and kneeled. She drew her biopistol, checked to make sure it had a full clip of vials, and rapidly fired two rounds at the elf reloading his weapon. The first round missed and exploded onto the trunk of a tree in a haze of pale green mist. The tree shivered as the hissing and smoking bioliquid melted bark and wormed its way to the tree’s heart. It would leave a permanent scar.

    She never found out if her other round hit the mark. The second elf dropped from the branches and landed in front of her with a soft thump. Before Tashia could react, the elf kicked her legs out from underneath her with sweep of his leg. She landed hard on her back and lost her breath. Her biopistol clattered out of reach. Tashia grasped the hilt of her fireblade, but the elf quickly bestrode her, pinning her shoulders to the ground with his knees.

    “Get off me you @!#$,” she growled, struggling against the elf’s weight.

    The elf smiled, stretching skin the color and texture of a baby tree trunk, and showing a row of square yellow teeth. He smelled wild, like mushrooms and moss, earthy and green. Above him, trees towered upward, some as high as a thousand feet.

    Tashia saw the treanimate come into view over the elf’s shoulder. Fear created a cold lump in her stomach and spread through her body. Her limbs trembled from more than exhuastion.

    The creature stood almost a hundred feet tall. She couldn't be sure since its head was hidden in the branches. She knew the thing did not need to see her to know where she was. Every plant stem she crushed, every blade of grass or patch of moss she stepped on would communicate to the treanimate her position. Her only chance of survival was to get out the jungle.

    The elf seemed content to sit on her and smile as she struggled. Tashia watched the treanimate move branches and vines gently out of his way with giant, bark-encrusted arms. Vines twisted and roped about it's massive body like exoskeletal veins. Branches stuck out from it at odd angles, looking like haphazard procupine quills tipped with leaves. Her breath shuddered and her heart tried to hammer its way out of her chest. The treanimate roared again. Branches swayed against the gust of wind from the creature’s maw. A storm of leaves rained down upon her and the elf. The ground thundered as the treanimate came closer. Tashia and her captor bounced with the impact but the thing held its grip on her.

    The elf leaned close and spoke into her ear, his hot breath washing over the side of her face and making her want to gag. His voice was low and rough, and sounded unused.

    “I do not care what the treanimate wants,” he said. “I will kill you now.”

    The elf rose up, drew a serrated blade from his belt, and plunged it straight down, toward Tashia’s heart.
    The treanimate took another step, bouncing Tashia a foot off the ground and throwing the elf off balance. The blade sliced through her leather armor and cut a blaze of pain across her shoulder. Tashia used the elf’s momentum to toss him over her head. He landed badly, turned on a twisted ankle, slammed his head into a tree trunk and slumped to the forest floor.

    The treanimate's head came into view. Two eyes and a mouth, no ears or nose, topped with dangling strands of moss. It glared down at her with malicious, all too intelligent green eyes. She shot to her feet, snatched up her biopistol and sped off through the forest at a reckless pace.

    You are such an idiot! she thought. You should have kept running.

    The jungle streaked by her. Everywhere the forest worked against her. Flowers blossomed, puffing out porous clouds of gas. Vines twisted and lashed at her. Trees creaked and groaned as they inched closer and closer, cutting off her escape. Tashia cut, shot and stomped, but she did not stop.

    Her breath tore through her lungs and set her chest on fire. Sweat stung her eyes. She continued to pound the ground with half-numb legs and wooden stumps of feet. Treanimate roars and elfpack shouts followed her. She weakened, and they gained.

    Just as she thought her legs couldn’t take another step, her lungs couldn’t handle another ragged inhalation, and she would go blind from the copious amounts of sweat blurring her vision, she saw the dead zone. Her mind cried out in relief. Her lungs burned too brightly to make a voice.

    The elves’ shouts grew louder and more frantic as they realized their prey would escape. The treanimate must have jumped, because the ground suddenly disappeared from under her feet with a boom. When it came back up, she was unprepared and nearly knocked herself unconscious as her legs gave way and her head cracked against her knees. Tashia rolled, ignoring the nettles stinging her back, and got to her feet again.

    The trees ahead moved together like a wooden mouth closing and obscured her view of the dead zone. Tashia grabbed an unsuspecting vine and shimmied up to a low hanging branch. The tree shivered and convulsed She stumbled but regained her balance immediately. An elf dropped to a branch to her right on the same tree. He dashed for her, as sure-footed on a tree branch as Tashia was on solid ground.

    She sprinted to the end of the branch and dived, extending her arms. The elf shouted something at her. She didn’t understand the language, but she caught the anger. She glided through an opening in the trees and they snapped together as she passed. She hit the dusty ground of the dead zone and rolled and skidded what had to be over fifteen feet before coming to a painful halt with a mouthful of dirt. She spit the dirt, pulled her aching body to her feet, and continued running until she was out of the elves’ range, then collapsed.

    Tashia lay shaking, sweating and bleeding. A small pain gathered in her stomach. Neither the treanimate nor the elves would follow her into the dead zone. Even now a distant patrol of Foresters jogged toward her. She laughed and tried to calm her trembling body. She turned her head and watched the Foresters approach. Behind them rose a mountain, it's peak hidden in the clouds. Her home. The city under the mountain called Bastion.

    When her breathing returned to normal, Tashia stood and surveyed her surroundings. A thousand feet behind her lay the forest’s edge. It curved away from her on both sides in a wide circle for miles. Beyond the edge, including where she stood now, was the dead zone—a barren, rocky landscape where nothing grew. Where nothing could grow, in fact. Nothing existed here but rocks and dirt. A soft breeze cooled her face and swirled dust around her feet.

    It was engineered that way. After the Mutation, when plant life began growing at a rapid pace, some of it even becoming sentient, humankind faced extinction. A vast majority of humanity went north to the cold, snow blasted lands of Siberia and beyond where vegetation was sparse and easily exterminated, or far south to Antarctica, where there did not appear to be any plant life at all. Back then, even before the appearance of the elves, the leaders of the world agreed that to simply evacuate and ignore the exponentially growing frondescence invited disaster.

    They created the dead zones, pockets of protection, islands of barren landscapes for military outposts.
    The Forester patrol rushed up to her and stopped a few paces away.

    “Name and rank,” demanded one.

    “Lieutenant Tashia Adele,” she said, wincing at the pain in her shoulder, “returning from recon.”
    The Forester tapped out something on his communicator, paused, then snapped it closed and tucked it away in a pocket.

    “Welcome back, Lieutenant. Bet you're ready to get home.”

    She chuckled. “You have no idea.”

  5. #5
    Kate B.
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    OK...I missed a couple of paragraphs but it's still easier to read.

  6. #6
    Aaron Brown
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    Haha. Thanks! Should I leave this or just repost?

  7. #7
    Kate B.
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    Just leave it. People will see the post count climbing and come in to have a look.

  8. #8
    Kate B.
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    I’m going to say definitely readable, I don’t know about marketable (I don’t do fantasy and know nothing about short story publication) and certainly not trash.

    I have a couple of ideas.

    Watch your sentence structure. You use a repetitive Subject-verb-clause thing that is dragging down the pace of the chase scene. I think your first paragraph is a good example of this.

    I did start to skim about 2/3 of the way through the chase but that may be just the sentence structure thing. It started to feel too long…like “Get somewhere!”

    Every plant stem she crushed, every blade of grass or patch of moss she stepped on would communicate to the treanimate her position. Her only chance of survival was to get out the jungle.

    I LOVE this idea. I think that you should move it closer to the start of the story. You don’t have to reveal exactly what she is running from, but the fact that every step betrays her position adds to the creepiness.

    That’s off the top of my head….

  9. #9
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    Isn't 10,000 words closer to a novella than a short story? Seems like it starts off fantasy with elves and shambling tree things--Lord of the Rings, anyone?--and then by the end moves more into more of a military sci-fi. I suppose that could be interesting or it could alternate both groups of readers. But then I'm not sure what sort of places take 10,000-word SF/F stories anyway.

  10. #10
    Aaron Brown
    Guest

    Re: The Forester (working title)

    Kate,

    Ok, so I'm not an English major, what do you mean by subject-verb-clause? Can you give an example, and maybe an example of how to imnprove it? I really don't want my chasing scenes to drag. Kind of defeats the whole point.

    Rogue,

    Yeah, 10k words is more of a novella, so I have to find some good places to cut. Kate may have given me some ideas on good places to do that. I think the "shambling tree things" were probably around before Lord of the Rings, but you're right in that it is more of a military sci-fi story with fantasy elements. There's an explanation for everything later in the story. I don't know what sort of places take stories like that, either. I sent the second draft to Andromeda Spaceways magazine. It made it through the first round of selections but was passed on the second because, you guessed it, it's too long.

    Thanks for the comments, guys.

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