Excerpt: Through Fire and Ice

Post excerpts from your works in progress and give feedback to your fellow writers.
Post Reply
JL Hartfield
Posts: 14
Joined: February 11th, 2010, 7:57 pm
Contact:

Excerpt: Through Fire and Ice

Post by JL Hartfield » February 12th, 2010, 1:24 am

This is the first five pages of TFI. I'm looking for anything and everything you can find. Typos, grammar, anything that doesn't make sense...anything I might have missed the first time around. Once again, do your worst.

****************


Great, just absolutely wonderful! The transfer hearing should have started already. Five years. Jana had been waiting five long years for this. And the best part of it all? Her reason for being late, in a word, sucked. It was no surprise to her. Jana Darren was infamous for unintentionally sabotaging herself.

She took the stairs two at time. Halfway up she tripped and slammed her shin. Pain shot through her leg, and she gasped from the initial shock. There was no time for petty injuries. After all, it was only a flesh wound. Even if there was a freak accident along the way that left her limbless, Jana would still find a way to get to this meeting.

She dusted off the royal blue dress uniform without pause and continued the stair dash. She fixed her cover along the way, re-pinning it to her hair. She silently promised to keep her hairpins organized if this went well.

Two minutes and one hundred seventy-six steps later, she was gasping for air outside the white door. Hearing Room 4. Her collar itched. The sterile hallway was too warm for comfort. Maybe it was just her.

Jana’s chest heaved as she gave herself a quick once-over. She rubbed the tops of her shoes with the palm of her hand. When she bent, the tight waistline of the uniform pants cut off her ability to breathe.
Damn these dress uniforms! Jana mercilessly picked the lint off the navy fabric, straightening and shining her ranks with the cuff of her uniform jacket. Each insignia was an inverted chevron of silver. If she was going to be late, she should at least look presentable. An oh-for-two approach would just hurt her chances even further.

"It's no big deal. Don't worry...you've got this," she repeated to herself in an attempt to calm her nerves. She wrapped her hand, clammy with nervousness, around the cool metal handle. With one last, loud exhale, she turned the knob and walked into the room. She closed the door quietly behind her. The click echoed throughout the room for but a second, but it was with finality.

The room was a harsh contrast to the hallway outside. It was black as pitch inside, save for three unflattering, bright floor lamps angled toward the front of the room, leaving the faces on the five board members in shadow. In return, it provided them an otherworldly halo. Darkness huddled in corners and stretched up the walls, clinging to them so Jana could not see what the room looked like. No windows afforded it any external light.

Is this what being in a cave is like? A steel chair stood alone under a spotlight on the near side of the cavernous room, ten or fifteen feet from the doorway. The heels of her shoes clicked rhythmically on the floor as she marched with well-practiced confidence toward the chair. The sound echoed loudly throughout the room. The room was cold, but she felt the blast of heat from the lamps as soon as she reached the chair. Heart racing, she stopped in front of it at attention and saluted crisply.

"Lieutenant Jana Darren, Serial Number 2-2-7-8-4-3-6 reporting as ordered." Nothing else to say, she fell silent. One of the review officers lifted his right arm and the reflective glint of metal shone for an instant. Jana suspected he was looking at his watch, and her heart sank a bit. Nausea clutched at her. Maybe this wouldn't go as well as she had hoped.

"Take your seat, Lieutenant." Though she could not see his face, she knew from the gentle but firm voice that it was Major Davis. At least someone here would be on her side. Dropping the salute, Jana took her seat with feet flat on the floor. Keep your back straight and don't let it touch the back of the chair. Chin up, eyes straight ahead…don’t look around, don’t slouch, don’t shake, don’t adjust. Keep your hands balled into fists on your knees, she reminded herself. Stupid lights. She did her best not to squint. Her brown eyes watered from the too-bright lights poised directly in her face. Jana felt her nose start to wrinkle in discomfort. Not very professional.

"Miss Darren, you are four minutes and twenty-two seconds late," Major Davis informed her. Was that disappointment she detected?

"No excuse, sir." Jana tried to keep her tone even while she thought bitterly about what exactly her excuse for being late had been. It was just her luck.

"I believe we are here today to discuss your future, Lieutenant?" asked the woman on the other end of the table. Jana had always thought Lt. Colonel Buchannan had a voice like a broken whistle. She was now in charge of all the military cadets for Station 17. When Jana was a cadet, Buchannan had been her company commander. That was eleven years ago now.

Jana never forgot a person, even if she wanted to.

"Yes ma’am," said Jana more confidently than she felt.

"It says here," she said, looking at the paper in her hands, "that you are asking the Review to be transferred to S-311M to be trained as a special team member."

"That is correct, ma’am," said Jana quietly.

"Why is it that you want to be transferred?" asked a third man, to the right of Davis. Jana wasn't familiar with the deep, rock-grinding rasp of his voice.

"I wish to become a member of the S-311M CHAOS Team."

"The CHAOS Team? Excuse me Lieutenant, but as I was told, you are already a part of the humanities agency here at S-17M. Why should we transfer you to 311?" asked a fourth man, this time to the left of Buchannan.

The heat of the spotlight caused beads of sweat to form at the nape of her neck, sticky and uncomfortable. She could already feel in her underarms the moisture trying to poke its way to the surface of the fabric. Only inches away the respite of wonderful, cool darkness waited. Torture.

"Sir, with all due respect, whilst the humanities and leadership training programs and exercises I have participated in here at S-17 have been exemplary, I have had no field training. The operations here are limited to on-base. I wish to expand my capabilities with field experience."

"Why, miss Darren?"

"I want to make a difference, sir. I want to help people." It was as honest an answer as she could give.

"I see," he paused for a moment before adding in amusement, "Don’t we all…" then, more seriously, "and why 311?"

She swallowed hard and could taste the refreshing cold at the edge of her senses. "S-311M has the best humanities and leadership training anywhere and I want to train with the best."

"You seem to have done your homework on the matter," said Buchannan approvingly. Her voice was irritating Jana, high pitched and wheezing. As long as she was on Jana’s side, however, she could wheeze the entirety of Beethoven’s Fourth and Jana could care less.

MaryAnn
Posts: 7
Joined: February 12th, 2010, 3:03 pm
Contact:

Re: Excerpt: Through Fire and Ice

Post by MaryAnn » February 12th, 2010, 5:25 pm

"Great, just absolutely wonderful!" is not coming across as you mean it too. Ironically. Since this is not written in first person, maybe you should add a line like,

"Great, Just absolutely wonderful!" Thought Jana Darren with annoyance as she rushed up the stairs."

Explanation as to which branch, if any, this Lt is a part of would be nice. Blue suggests Air Force? Is she in ROTC? Coast Guard? Clarify somehow.

You'd better be prior military or have great sources, because if you write about being in the military without sources and/or experience--anyone reading it who is prior or active duty military will be more than willing to point out your mistakes--and quick to be offended by them.

You'd also be better off making her enlisted. Unless, again, you or your source is/was an officer.

This excerpt does not tell me what the book is about, only that a person connected in some way to the military wants a transfer. If I'm at a bookstore, I've already set the book back on the display table. Sorry.

Good luck

JL Hartfield
Posts: 14
Joined: February 11th, 2010, 7:57 pm
Contact:

Re: Excerpt: Through Fire and Ice

Post by JL Hartfield » February 12th, 2010, 10:13 pm

MaryAnn wrote:Explanation as to which branch, if any, this Lt is a part of would be nice. Blue suggests Air Force? Is she in ROTC? Coast Guard? Clarify somehow.
There is actually no branch distinction in this story. It is mentioned in the next chapter, but I'll bring it forward to help orient the reader.
MaryAnn wrote:You'd better be prior military or have great sources, because if you write about being in the military without sources and/or experience--anyone reading it who is prior or active duty military will be more than willing to point out your mistakes--and quick to be offended by them.
Yes, that won't be a problem. I actually had to go through and take some things out because it was too military. I had a reader early on question me as to what a "cover" was, so I had to add a bit to be understandable to someone with no military knowledge.
MaryAnn wrote:You'd also be better off making her enlisted. Unless, again, you or your source is/was an officer.
That wouldn't work for this. It is crucial to the story that she is an officer.

Thanks for your input. I'll keep your suggestions in mind.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests