Here is the deal guys. In September I start my final year of Professional Writing Degree and I've chosen to major in prose. The only trouble is I'm having a hard time deciding what to submit. It can be 30,000 words about anything, as long as it has a marketable audience.
This is where you guys come in. I will be posting a few stories of around 30,000 words this summer. I would very much appreciate it if you could read and review, detailing what you like, what you don't like, where you would like to see the story go and any other problems. I do not accept outright flames but I do take proper and fair criticism on board, so be as honest as possible, but make sure you explain why you do or do not like something.
When the last story is finished I will then ask you to email me with your votes, of which story you think I should develop and submit for my degree.
So here it goes! Keep in mind these are only first drafts.
Acidic air seared her lungs, sour bile surging up her throat as she ran. The storm clouds swarmed above her, purple light glimmering through them, illuminating the way through the forest. Thunder rumbled and lightning flared in the sky. She winced as it smashed into a tree ahead, splintering the trunk, the leaves burning.
He was coming.
She pushed herself, channelling all her energy into her legs, her mind never straying once from what she had to do. What she had no choice but to do.
The forest was alive with his power. Roots ripped themselves up from the ground and tried to snatch at her ankles. Choking weeds coiled around her legs and she shook them off, fighting not to panic, not to lose her self control. If she did it would give him the perfect opportunity to invade her mind.
She was dedicated to the task. She knew her purpose. If she did not reach the designated place with her sanity intact then everything she cared about would be destroyed, her life left in smouldering ruins to the grief of her guilty heart.
The marker that signposted the outskirts of the forest was directly in front of her, a sight so sweet that she smiled with some semblance of relief. That sign gave her more confidence and an extra burst of speed and agility, just what she needed. With that she leapt over fallen trees, ducked under perilous branches and kept a hold on her hope.
She burst through the trees, feeling as though she could finally breathe again, now that she had escaped from his vision of hell on earth. She clutched her weapon, pausing for a moment on the brink of the forest, panting. At last she could see the extent of his wrath…and her world came crashing down around her.
She walked slowly up the hill and stopped on the edge, hardly realising that she had moved. The sky was aflame, just like the village below, belching large black clouds of foul smelling smoke.
Despair tore her heart.
She was too late. That wasn't just the reek of burning wood, no, it was something else, that which she had feared the most.
It was the stench of roasting flesh.
Laughter echoed through the night. It vibrated in her ears, taunting them, tormenting her soul. Anguish washed through her and all her hope was sucked away as she fell to her knees, her hands closing into fists, clenching the withered, yellow grass. Life was being leeched from the world, and soon there would be none left at all.
The shadow came. It always did. Looming over her, big and ominous and black, the menacing laughter growing louder and louder as more and more life slipped away…
The dreams had been happening more and more frequently. At first they had only been an annoyance…now they felt like a warning.
Lily frowned. That couldn't be right. Her instincts were wrong, if that's what they were telling her. Dreams were just figments of her imagination concocted into some sort of mini film. They were not warnings, and they were certainly not threats.
With a sigh she shoved her bed covers back and slouched out of the bed. The dreams drained her of energy. They always did. Every day this week she had woken up feeling exhausted.
The early morning light was spilling through her window. Summer was here, the days were long and boiling hot, the businesses were thriving and the beach was packed with visitors every day. Summer jobs were rife and she had even managed to save up a little money to buy herself a new laptop for university by working at a local café, serving full English breakfasts to tourists and trying and understand everything from thick Scottish accents to fluent French.
This day was going to be a busy one to. She was going shopping with Christie and Maddy. They all needed new clothes for the musical festival next weekend on the beach, always a yearly favourite amongst the locals and the visitors.
Determined to forget the dreams Lily plonked herself down at her vanity desk, gazing carelessly into the mirror. The same old girl with the same old blue eyes stared back at her, her skin fair and her black hair effortlessly wavy. Sometimes Lily didn't like to look at herself in the mirror for long, it wasn't that she believed the ancient legends about soul stealing or the silly stories about being able to see evil twins.
It was hard to explain, not that she had ever tried to, but she felt that whenever she looked into a mirror, any mirror, it wasn't just herself that was being reflected. She felt like there was something more there, something that she couldn't see.
Or something that didn't want to be seen.
Lily shook herself. It was foolish thoughts like that which were going to see her committed to a funny farm.
It didn't take long to get ready. She slipped into a colourful summer dress and donned some sunflower flip flops before running a brush through her hair and applying a little makeup. She was just finishing off when her mother called from downstairs. Lily grabbed her pre-packed handbag and hurried out of the room.
Maddy was waiting in the hallway. The pretty girl was always immaculate, from her high fashion clothes to her perfect nails and straight blond hair. She was smiling up at Lily with eyes like emeralds.
"Where's Christie?" she asked, puzzled.
"She's in the car," Maddy explained, with a light voice, "You know what its like, now she can drive she wants to drive everywhere."
Christie had only passed her driving test that summer. She had celebrated by pooling together all her money from a variety of short term jobs and spending it on the first old banger she could afford. Lily saw her in said banger as she stepped outside into the dazzling sunlight, closing the door behind her.
Christie had always been the cool kid. The one who had always done everything first, not just so she could say she had, but just because she was daring enough to do what others hesitated to. Right now her skin was baked a light brown from working on the beach with her father, selling buckets spades, inflatables and other must have beach toys. Her arm was leaning on the edge of the window, her elbow hanging out as she adjusted her shades.
"Hi," Lily greeted her brightly, opening the car door.
"Hi," Christie responded coolly, now fiddling with her ponytail.
Maddy got into the car, beaming. Lily knew that the bubbly girl enjoyed nothing more than a shopping trip with her two best friends. Usually Lily would have shared in her enthusiasm but today…
No. Stop it. They're just dreams. They don't mean anything.
Lily repeated that in her mind as the engine roared into life and the car rolled into motion.