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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 473
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:27 pm    Post subject: Wendy scene rewrite  

Okay guys, I know its been awhile but I still need an opinion on something before I can run the poll for chapter 2 and continue on with the story. In chapter two we had Wendy sitting in the locker room reflecting on what she saw on the freeway. It was pointed out that by not having Wendy actually experiencing the scene, the passage itself became confusing and had less impact. So I've rewritten it and need to know if I should replace the rewrite with the original or not. During the rewrite I threw in a few more things, so if I don't keep the rewrite how to you suggest I put in the new elements into the scene as it is. Anyhoo, thoughts and opinions please! Rewrite in 3, 2, 1.

An odd thought crossed her mind as Wendy and Kern slowed down and readied to attend to the injured bystanders at the far end of the accident scene. She thought that there were very few things as desolate and forlorn as a stretch of freeway, empty of all cars in the middle of rush hour. As Wendy exited the ambulance and walked around the back with her paramedic bag in hand she looked to her left. Just 50 feet away, separated by only a concrete barrier were hundreds and hundreds of motorists that were packed as far as they eye could see. That fact alone just heightened the sense of how abandoned this pocket of concrete and calm seemed. Above the noise of the nearby cars jockeying for every inch that could be stolen, above the sound of radio chatter and the officers and the firemen and the other medics on scene – she could hear her work boots on the dingy road. She could hear birds off in the sparse shrub of the embankment near the emergency shoulder. She could hear the way the wind whispered shyly by her ears lifting the ends of her hair gently.

“Almez, you okay?”

Wendy looked over to Kern and was snapped out of her train of thought. She did her best not to react to the look of concern in Kern’s brown eyes. Nothing was worse than not being able to depend on your partner in a high pressure job like theirs, especially when that person was you in field superior.

“I’m fine Kern, you get us prepped, I’ll go figure out where we’re needed.”

She walked away with a purposeful stride hoping that it was enough to assuage any of Kern’s concerns for now. She kept her eyes forward, where small group of officers and firemen were gathered together. As she closed half of the distance she heard the solitary cry of a hawk somewhere behind her. Its cry seemed to bounce up off the paved ground, ricocheted across empty cars, honing in on her ears to sing out its mournful plea. Alone, no one for thousands of miles, no other human eyes to look up and wonder, does the hawk cry out for companionship? Does it cry out because like her, she was lost, under this blazing sun, surrounded by an endless sea of red sand dunes? Is it just waiting, like her, for the moment what strength is left to her to be sapped away and the only thing left to do would be to close her eyes and let the empty desert swallow her whole?

“… too long you will burn out your retinas, but as a paramedic you probably already know that right?”

The voice boomed out a laugh hard and loud and shook her back to the freeway.

“Why is it so hot?” She didn’t know why, but it was the only thing she could think of to say. It was when the words came out of her mouth that she realized that she was staring up into the sky, right at the sun. She blinked her eyes and looked at person in front of her. In the center of the yellow fireman's jacket he wore was a large black spot, approximately the shape and size of the sun in the sky.

“Here take this; I always carry water with me. Never know when there might be a really tiny fire I have to put out.” His laugh hurtled at her and she came fully back to herself, how long had she been standing there just looking up at the sun? The fireman handed her the bottle of water and Wendy took it gratefully, taking long draughts off of it. Why was she so thirsty?

“Like I was say thing, just set up by that gray Mercedes over there and we will send any of the ‘noncriticals’ to you. Just keep a heads up on the rubberneckers on the other side; chances are that’s where most of your time might be spent.”

Wendy noticed him for the first time, really saw him, it was the oddest thing, how long had she been staring dumbly into the sun, daydreaming about dying in the desert, while he talked to her.

“Thanks again.”

She started to walk toward the gray Mercedes. She heard Kern engage the locks of the gurney behind her, so she must not have slipped off into that strange daydream as long as she thought. As she turned to tell Kern where they would be setting up is when she first saw them. Bodies of men and women, all dressed in jeans, white button down shirts with crisp blue ties. All of them dead, their bodies twisted into mockeries of their original shapes from the impact of steel on flesh. Wendy drew nearer to the closest one, it was a man, in his early thirties, on his stomach, face to the side. Despite the condition of his corpse, just on a surface inspection he seemed to have been healthy before he chose to make his kamikaze sprint across a four lane freeway. No blemishes of the skin, clear eyes, neatly dressed – she was assuming a lot from a corpse on the ground but she didn’t think this man was suicidal. But from the way they were all dressed in identical way, she couldn't rule out the possibility of them belonging to a cult.

She heard Kern roll up beside her, “Hey Kern.”

“What a way to go.”

She nodded then without looking away pointed, “They want us to set up over there.”

“You want me to wait?”

That niggle of concern was back in his voice, or perhaps it never left. “No, I’ll catch up. You know what to do.”

She didn’t look at him, but she put enough authority behind her words that he began walking before even responding with, “Got it.”

Once he had gotten a little distance between them, she got closer, something was bugging her but she could put her finger on it. On an instinct she flipped him, every part of her training told her this was wrong, a body could only be moved once the coroner approved it. As the body finished its turn, it eyes staring blankly up at the pristine blue sky; all thoughts of whether or not she would get in trouble fled her mind. Her eyes focused in on his throat, or where his throat used to be. She quickly scanned the rest of the bodies and it was the same for each of the mangled corpses, their throats were not simply crushed or cut or even abraded from extreme “road rash” - they had the look that they were ripped out. As if some beast had come along and ripped out their throats, one by one. She pulled out her phone and took a picture of just the throat. When Wendy was in the motion of putting it away is when she noticed that the throats were burnt also. Charred, black remnants of flesh were voice and wind used to sing. She began to back away as some unknown fear, deep and ancestral began to creep into her chest. A wind picked up and began to blow hard through the nearly empty corridor, movement caught her eye. She saw a small trail of red sand that twined like a snake, connecting one corpse to another. Like some desert snake was following them in their sprint across the highway, then ripped out their throats with a fire filled maw and fangs as hot as stones in a fire pit. Wendy shivered and the wind blew harder, carrying the sand and its existence away on the wind. She heard a sharp whistle and Kern was waving at her. He had a woman on his gurney and a man squatting beside it. She shook her head and jogged over to her partner, it would have to wait, it’s not like the bodies were going anywhere and she had the living to tend to.

Later as Wendy sat on the hard metal bench in the women’s locker room as the fatigue of the long day hit her hard. She idly wondered if she was going to be able to even make it to her car, yet alone, make the long drive home. The image of the multiple fatalities at the freeway still was sticking to her like smoke in a pea coat. Wendy leaned hard against the locker, pretending to fight at getting her shoelaces untied. She noticed for the first time that her hands were shaking ever so slightly. She thought she had seen most of everything and through it all; she was still able to come back, to do her job and to do it well.

Her mind kept going back to the throats of the three corpses. No one could explain how any of this happened or why it happened to all three of them, even if you put aside the fact that all of their throats had the appearance of being ripped out, no one could explain why they had suffered burns as well. None of the cars in the original accident or the subsequent ones had caught on fire; none of the vehicles involved in hitting the men had the bodies jammed underneath their carriages where the heat of the underside of the vehicles could cause such a burn. She didn’t know why, but when no one else was looking she took a picture of one of the victims. She hadn’t dared to look at it yet, she didn’t want to look at it, but she couldn’t bring herself to delete it either.

As Wendy took off the shoe she had been working on getting untied she noticed that there were fine red grains of sand in it. She held the shoe by the front and banged the heel against the bench. Grain after grain of sand fell and collected in the heel, red as rust, red as miniature droplets of blood. Wendy stood up and changed, trying to get lost in the habits of daily routine, but with each article of clothing, with every seam or crease she would find a single grain here, a few grains there. She didn’t know why she was afraid, or where all the sand had come from. As she finished changing and clocked out for her shift she wondered what to do.
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Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:55 pm    Post subject:  

This is better than the original locker room scene, in my opinion. I felt much more connected with Wendy's experience, and the hook with the snake of red sand from the surrounding dunes, connecting the bodies together is just enough to evoke a little chill when we later see her take off her shoe and see the red sand fall out. Scary, but we don't yet know why.

Looking at the piece in isolation, there were only two niggles that bothered me. One was the extent of her distraction with the hawk, and staring at the sun - for a paramedic that's almost dereliction of duty! Wouldn't her colleagues have reacted a little more strongly at her distraction, having arrived at this terrible scene? The sense of urgency and efficiency I'd associate with these professionals wasn't quite there.

The others was of the bodies themselves: Quote: But from the way they were all dressed in identical way, she could rule out the possibility of them belonging to a cult. I get that their style of dress might suggest they weren't from a religious cult, but I would have thought that if they were all dressed the same they could well have been from a religious cult.

One thing that hooked me from the original piece but is missing from this one, was the notion that they'd been drawn across the road by some unknown force -"they had all be struck dead by cars as they tried to cross the freeway for some insane reason."

But overall, this is a much better scene. It also left me not only asking the question of what the hell caused this to happen, but also where the hell did these people come from, out in the middle of nowhere? Very good. :)
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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 473
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:04 pm    Post subject:  

Yeah.... that was supposed to be a "couldn't " not at "could". As for the hawk, Wendy is not normally as distracted as that and that is why her distraction should be important. Of course I have not yet established her attention span as of yet and I see how it comes across as her being unprofessional. I'll need to think about how to address that, along with the fact of losing the impact of the 'victims' intentionally running across the freeway.
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Joined: 25 Dec 2009
Posts: 6

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:42 pm    Post subject:  

I like this new scene because it does help us know more about the character of Wendy. It also makes the story more intricate by giving us a new element. This scene also gives you more to work with on future story lines. There is a sentence in the second to last paragraph where Wendy thinks of the photo she took with her phone. Is that the second time you told us in the same scene or is it a completely different photo?
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Joined: 27 Oct 2004
Posts: 917
Location: Western North America

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:50 pm    Post subject:  

Ditto what the frog and horse said, this plays much better than the original. This feels a lot more like an introduction of a character and less like 'wait, did I miss something?'. There is also a stronger sense of who Wendy is, when before her personality was only hinted at.

One tiny problem; where are all the ninjas? There should be ninjas. And zombies.
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:04 am    Post subject:  

Hey Emperor,

I add my agreement to the rest. This is a far stronger rewrite than the original. Meaningful, a little chilling, considerably more visceral. It pops up the right kind of questions that makes us want to read more rather than the confused questions of 'what the hell is going on!'.

This kind of writing really begins to show your rust fading away, and the true Emperor coming out.

I spotted a handful of typos for you, save you hunting them out :

Quote: was you in field superior 'your in-field' ?

Quote: and looked at person in front of her 'the' person?

Quote: “Like I was say thing, Is this a dialogue accent thing, or did you mean 'saying'?

Quote: but she could put her finger on it. Another could/ couldn't moment.

Quote: Charred, black remnants of flesh were voice and wind used to sing 'where' voice and wind.


Good stuff, Emperor. I look forward to the next chapter.

Happy Writing :)
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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 473
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:34 am    Post subject:  

Smee wrote: Hey Emperor,

I spotted a handful of typos for you, save you hunting them out :

Thanks for hunting those out for me, I'll get to work on killing them slowly with a flat, bludgeoning weapon.
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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 473
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:44 am    Post subject:  

Thank you one and all for taking the time out and reading it, I appreciate the input, advise and the time it took out of your days. With 4 of the 7 readers approving of the change and with the author agreeing, I think that we can move forward. I'll post the changes, along with a new poll and get this story off the ground again. Thanks for your patience and support.
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