Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

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Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Aura on Sat Feb 27, 2010 6:37 pm

This is the first chapter to my story Bullets n' Blades. Please can you tell me if it's feels realistic and where I can improve it please? If this works, I will put other chapters, this story is also copyrighted. Many thanks.

The woman stared out anxiously through the bars, glancing left then right. Illuminated in the glare of a dying torch, the flame cast lurid shadows across her terrified face. Fiddling with her hair, she plucked out her hairgrip with shaky hands pulling it as wide as it would allow. She stared down at the heavy lock. Glancing behind her in the darkness, she had to be careful not to wake the savage beast with which she shared her prison. Turning back towards the door inhaling nervously, she raised the pin proceeding to slide it into the lock. Jiggling it furiously the mortise moved and she had her first glimmer of hope, then the thing in the darkness awoke behind her. Her hope turned to terror as she was suddenly pulled back into the darkness. Her dying screams went unheard echoing up the lonely passage.

Introduction

Samantha Leighford (or Sam to her friends) was a young woman of 19 years. Five foot six in height, with long curly ginger hair tied up into a plait and freckles on her cheeks. When she smiled, her eyes did too; she was well liked by everyone who knew her. Round her neck she wore a locket holding a picture of her mother, who died while she was still a baby. Working as a shop assistant in Woolworth’s since 1940, Sam longed to do something more active to help the war effort since her half brother Billy an R.A.F. pilot, had been shot down in a raid over Europe, and presumed dead.

Samantha's father worked as an army doctor, her stepmother was a French schoolmistress they had married a year after Sam's natural mother had died. Sam spent the first part her upbringing in Barfleur a fishing port in North western France near Cherbourg, and had been educated at an abbey run by nuns. The Leighford's came over to England in early June 1940 after her father had been recalled back to London, then came the fall of France and the family were stuck for the next six years. The surroundings of London were quite a shock compared to the beauty of France and the news on the radio was gloomy; eventually they settled in South Devon. It was while on a train returning from Berkshire, that Sam had been spotted reading a book, 'A tale of two cities' by Charles Dickens. It was written in French, and was one of the few things she had managed to save and bring over with her from Cherbourg.

The carriages were rather crowded that afternoon, and most of the people on board that day were in the forces. She was prepared to stand the journey in the corridor, when a smartly clipped voice behind her suddenly said.
“Would you like my seat, madam?” Sam turning saw a dark haired man of about 50 dressed in a dark businessman's suit who had vacated the seat in the carriage behind her.

“That's very kind of you” she replied turning towards the vacated place.
“Can't let a lady stand all the way now, can we”, the man replied pulling out a handkerchief to mop his brow. Sam smiled awkwardly in return.
“Thank you sir”. Within the car were three sailors and an elderly women, who smiled at her as she sat down. Sam carefully reached into her bag taking out the book 'A tale of Two Cities'. Reading the part about French immigrant Charles Darnay, and his trial at the Old bailey for treason in 1780, she failed to notice the curious way the gentlemen in the dark suit stared at her. At Woking the carriage emptied as all the servicemen got out, at that point, Sam looked up from her book noticing for the first time the strange gentlemen staring at her from the seat opposite. Resuming her reading, a prickly sensation started to creep up her back. “Do you speak French?” He said leaning forward.
“A little” Sam said without looking up.
“Have you ever been to France?”
“I was born there”, Sam replied turning the page without looking at him. “My father was the local Dr in Barfleur”.
“The fishing port?”
“You know it?” Sam asked looking up.
“Yes charming little place. Full of history, friendly people.”
“If you say so sir” Sam replied turning back to her book. “It's now full of Germans”.
“Ever wish you could do something about that, like for the war effort?

Sam was given a cover name “Mary”, and The 'Sleek Cat' would be her code in the field, she enlisted with the FANY as a cover so she didn't draw attention to herself that she was an agent. Training at Wooten Hall near Beaulie in The New Forest, she was posted up to the Highlands in Scotland for a gruelling parachute test. Here she was taught in the use of guns, explosives, and the method of silent killing, she also learned how to encode and decode messages via wirelice to and from the field if required.

The seance

We're going to a psychic evening.
A what! Where?
"Duke Street, Joan and that Eileen Harris are going, I want to go, but not on my own. Do you want to go with me?
"Oh I don't know" Sam replied shaking her head. "I'm not really into that sort of thing?"
"Oh go on, it'll be a laugh. You know that Jewish woman I met last week?
"What the one with the small girl who came into Woolworth's trying to sell Heather?
"Yes. She's called Anna Falisz. Poor thing escaped with her mother last month from France, just before. Well you know. She tells fortunes, reads palms’ including Runes and Tarot readings”.
“And appears in a puff of smoke” Sam Added mockingly.
“Say you'll come Sam?
“I won't get any peace until I agree will I?
“Thanks knew you would” Vera smiled broadly.
“I suppose, if I must be dragged along" Sam said resigning.

They met Anna at her house in Duke Street where her grandmother Francis had agreed to give them a reading each in turn; Anna said she would be observing for 'educational purposes'. They were shown into a neat sitting room smelling of incense, reminding them of old churches. The room had light green wallpaper and a tiled fireplace with a fire burning brightly in the grate, two white candlesticks stood at angles on either side of the mantelpiece in silver holders. A short woman aged about seventy with long dark hair and tanned skin swept into the room carrying a brass lamp, followed by Anna who swiftly crossed the room to pull down the blackout; the only illumination in the room now was the glow from the fireside and the oil lamp placed on a low table. Nobody spoke at first, their faces looked ethereal in the flickering light.
“Are we having a séance?” Joan murmured.
“I bloody hope not,” Sam whispered. “I don't want to speak to no spirits, except the one in my wine glass!” Vera giggled nervously.
“No séances today” Anna said, “please take a seat and I'll see if she's ready”.
'What an earth am I doing here!' thought Sam smiling politely taking a chair by the hearth, 'I must be mad'.
“Her English isn't awfully good,” said Anna pulling up a heavy armchair, “I’ll help her if she gets stuck”.

The readings began and Joan was the first, followed by Vera. Sam watched respectfully, not really paying much attention; then she heard a polite cough. Francis stood before her, it was her turn.
“Oh really” she said embarrassed, “what can you tell me that I don't know already?”
“Oh go on,” Vera prompted, “it's only a bit of fun, what harm can it do?” Sam felt everyone looking at her, their eyes boring into her skin. Sam blushed, sitting up slowly. As Francis pulled up a stool, she reluctantly held out her left hand, the one Francis called the 'power hand'.
“What harm, eh?” she replied smiling. There was stillness in the sitting room broken only by the sound of the crackling fire, and the hushed breaths of all those sat round her. A vehicle rattled along the road, past the house and into the distance. Petrol was strictly rationed; it was probably a fire engine or a military vehicle.
“You go on a long journey,” said Francis breaking into her thoughts, she looked up thoughtfully in the gloom. Sam's face paled a little and Joan said,
“Where are you disappearing off to, you didn't say you were leaving us?”
“What?” replied Sam taken aback. “Sorry, yes I'm only going to visit my cousins up Harrogate that's about all. I keep promising to do so when I have leave, I just never get round to doing it”. She couldn't tell them that S.O.E. (Special Operation Executive) were sending her out to occupied France, how could she? She could tell by Francis face that she knew she wasn't telling the truth, but mercifully Joan didn't probe any more and kept quiet. The reading went on to say that the journey would be successful, then Francis suddenly became rather grave. Glancing sideways at Anna as through a secret message was being transmitted between them, Anna gazed back at Francis puzzled and they exchanged a short bust of words in rapid Hungarian. Sam became uneasy and shifted uncomfortably in the chair.
“What's up?” she joked. “Do I miss the train back or something?” Francis cleared her throat. What she said next chilled her to the bone.
“You will bear child by one who leads you”. Francis looked so sober that the smile on Sam's face vanished entirely, Vera burst out laughing making her jump.
“I think that's enough tonight” Sam said withdrawing her hand and standing up. “Thank you very much, I have to go now”. She bid her farewell to Francis and Anna and walked out, almost ran before any of them could stop her. They caught up with her five minutes later in Meadow Street.
“What that was all about” Vera said lighting up a cigarette.
“I dread to think,” Sam said. “What ever next!”
“Are you really going away for a while?” Vera asked blowing out a long stream of smoke.
“I told you” Sam said putting on her hat. “I'm seeing my cousins up in Yorkshire, I'll soon be back to wind you all up”.
"You will bear child by one who leads you" Joan mimicked busting out into hysterical laughter.
“Of course she will” Vera cackled wiping away her tears. “He'll have to be standing over her first won't he?”
“Shut it!” Sam said loudly giving her a playful slap on the shoulder. It wasn't until later that Vera's words would come back to taunt her.
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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Hazel on Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:13 pm

Oh a little foreshadowing, I like it! Very Happy It took me a few minutes to realize what a seance was lol, I've never seen it spelled before XD.

I don't really see to much that I think could be improved, it's already pretty good. What confused me a little was Anna and Francis, it at first sounded like Anna was the psychic one but then Francis was the one that did their fortunes so I got a little confused XD And also, she first say's she's visiting cousins in Harrogate, but then say's she's visiting them in Yorkshire.....my geographical skills are really not all the great, so I wouldn't know if those were the same place with a different name, or if you meant for her to say two different places, I just thought I'd point it out just in case XD

Oh! I loved the first paragraph! It easily hooked attention! And you seem to have a lot of knowledge about the times and history so it feels really realistic to me Very Happy

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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Aura on Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:59 pm

Hi thanks for your input, I think Harrogate is in Yorkshire. Thanks for bringing my attention about Anna and Francis, I will change that. here is the second part in another post. Can you tell me what that one is like? Sorry to be a pain. Many thanks.
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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Aura on Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:05 am

In the last days before the drop, she was told very firmly that if she was ever arrested for any reason, it was imperative to stay silent about the whole operation when questioned, as this could put other agents in the field at risk. Sam made herself a solemn oath that she would never be captured. Part of her training included a rigorous almost if not horrifying Gestapo-questioning scenario, and the firm were very good; very good indeed.

On the eve of the mission

At the next full moon Sam was issued with false documents and clothes suited to the continental style. She was also given a white cyanide pill, which she hid secretly in the heel of her shoe; she prayed she would never have to use it.

Sam was parachuted from a Lysander aeroplane into the French countryside. She landed safely in a large grassy field and was met by a group of partisans, who smuggled her by cart to a farmhouse. She spent the remainder of the night before cycling onto a safe house in the back streets of Lille, a city north north-east of Paris near the Belgium boarder. A narrow passageway led in from the street to a secluded courtyard area of built-up flats. Her given name was Anna Dupont; it was on under other conditions when she had to change her identity to become Maria. As Anna, she worked as a waitress in La Brioche, a bistro café for the owner, who was also part of the French underground resistance. She would pass secret messages to other agents in the area, distributing weaponry secretly to the resistance after dark. If questioned by the French Vichy Police who were supportive of the Nazis, she would say that she had come from Paris looking for work. She was working with two female agents Bridget and Aimee Marcel; Sam became very good friends with Aimee.

It was on the next mission that agent Bridget failed to turn up at an arranged meeting. Sam had been instructed to meet her at a bench in Parc Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a pleasure gardens; but Bridget never turned up. It was later revealed that she had been arrested by the Vichy police when seen acting strangely near the fountain. Things had changed, and it wouldn't be long before Bridget soon confessed under interrogation. The message from London was crystal clear, separate, get out of Lille ASAP and cover your tracks! Sam received instructions that would take her to another safe house well out of the area and the city. Other agents would identify her at the secret location with a unique code; Maria Rousseau would be her new name, and she was determined not to forget it.

Travelling by train to Marseilles with forged tickets and verbal instructions of where to find the safe house, she memorised the route very clearly until she knew it off by heart. She purchased a newspaper and managed to come upon a carriage all to herself, a rarity, as most compartments were usually very crowded. Taking a seat next to the window, she began reading. Two stops later two people in civilian dress joined her, she looked up and away pretending that she was looking out of the window at the rolling countryside. She arrived in Marseilles station and saw that two German sentries were checking ID papers at the gate, so she took a deep breath and bit the inside of her lip which started to bleed profusely. She handed over her identification to the sentries and while they were examining it, she coughed harshly . Some blood fell onto the ground, her papers were handed back rather quickly and she was sent on her way; one thing the Germans were fearful of was an epidemic of Tuberculosis. Outside in the yard she sucked her throbbing lip, almost gagging from the pain, and stopped. The wheel of a black bike stuck out from round the corner by a shed, carefully she wandered over to inspect it. Padlocked to a wire fence by a chain, and no one observing her, she whipped out a pair of wire cutters and smartly clipping the chain, cycled off.

The safe house part of a restaurant called Le Pierre's, stood in a cobbled courtyard opposite a saddle makers. In the centre, pigeons gathered upon a fountain near a cherub firing an arrow into eternity. Small tables outside the restaurant with blue and white chequered covers, blew gently in the breeze shaded by matching umbrellas.; red planted window boxes hung under the windows. The restaurant owner Monsieur Pierre who, like her previous employee in Lille, was in contact with the French resistance for that area.

Pushing the bicycle round the back of the restaurant, Sam stopped at a door. Cut in two through the middle like a stable entrance with Ivy growing over the top, the smell of onions wafted out. She rang a bell saying she had come for the waitresses job, followed by a password; otherwise she would have been told that the job was already taken. If the local Vichy police were suspicious as before, and questioned her, she would say that she had come from Paris looking for work.

The safe house had upstairs rooms and many exits, the back room on the first floor faced a small terrace with a set of stone steps leading down into many concealed alleys. Behind the bar was the dining room with bay windows overlooking the back yard.

Her sleeping quarter was a loft room, of which one side of the ceiling slanted. In the room an old framed bed, and an old washbasin stood below a narrow window overlooking the roofs of the other houses nearby. When the weather was warmer she was told, the interior could be stifling during the day, and cold as a freezer during the night.

At 7pm an hour after the restaurant closed its doors to the last customers, members of the resistance group gathered in the back room, while someone stayed down below in the alley to keep watch. Once a week someone would come on a bike in the guise of a deliveryman, with a basket full of broad beans or carrots on the front. Buried underneath would be hidden a small brown paper package. Sam's job was to take the basket into the kitchen concealing the parcel in a secret place, until it was time to deal with the bins. Because the rear of the building was narrow and hidden from public view, Sam could hide the package without having to wait for it to be picked up. A loose alcove in the brickwork suited just fine, and the package could be cleverly hidden. Seven-thirty as instructed, Sam slide the bricks out pushing the package in before replacing the bricks. A man at the end of the alley collected the parcel thirty minutes later at 8pm taking it away; his code name was 'Q' and he was never late. As usual, Sam watched out for him from the window of the rear dining room. One evening after serving at the bar, she was called to the kitchen by Madam Pierre, and told that someone new would be coming tonight to collect the package as Q had been called away. His code name was 'Vincent'.
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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by HS7 on Sun Feb 28, 2010 1:19 am

I haven't read it, but I will. Just a few little hints to make reading it a bit simpler.

At the beginning, put little symbols underneath the words that aren't part of the story so the reader can determine your own words and the story. This will make it a bit neater and less confusing.
Also, bold or italicize words that show you the time/place/part of the story. This was, it will pop out to the reader so the reader will know it's the introduction, night, morning, or any time. This was, the reader will be able to comprehend more easily and follow the path of the story without issue.

Some punctuation/capitalization issues: I skimmed through the paragraphs and noticed a few mistakes in punctuation and capitalization.
When words/letter/phrases are not in quotes, use two lines instead of one. When the words/letter/phrases are in quotes, use one line instead.
There were a few issues with words that need upper case letters instead of lower case. I'm sure that it would be okay here, considering there is room for improvement in correction, but if you wish, scan through and correct them.

Indention:
Some paragraphs have two or possibly even more paragraphs merged into it. You need to start a new paragraph so the flow of the story will not be broken. If you have trouble figuring out where to indent, imagine taking a paragraph and giving it to someone so they can read it. If the person can understand the paragraph fully, then there is one. If they cannot, you may need to add some more information pertaining the the subject of the paragraph or taking out bits of information not needed.

Now, don't think I'm a horrible person that has no consideration for anyone. Please. I'm simply giving you some helpful tips to improve the flow and appearance of the story.

Continue writing as much as you wish. No one should ever stop you from writing down what you please, even if they don't like.

I shall read this when I have time, which maybe in a few minutes.

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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Hazel on Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:19 am

Interesting so far! Maybe the only thing I could suggest is a little more dialogue. You're so good at descriptions of everything but there isn't very much talking. I suppose this is because it's still the beginning and there aren't very many people she needs to talk to but sometimes it makes a book more interesting when things are said by the people instead of just described....I don't know if I'm saying this right.... What I'm trying to say, that just me personally as a reader find long descriptions sometimes extremely necessary I also find them slightly tedious...not that I find your story in any way boring.....maybe I need an example....for instance, instead of just stating that the Germans were terrified of an epidemic, have one of them make a comment about TB and how dangerous it is....I just feel it adds more flavor so to speak........I hope that you understand what I mean.

I'm afraid of offending people lol, it's just what I personally think, you can take it as you like Razz or well you could just ignore it haha

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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Aura on Sun Feb 28, 2010 2:28 pm

Thanks for your kind Input. I need a lot of help with this story and have taken notes on the corrections. Will put the next piece and see what people think, hope I am not being a pain. Smile
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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Aura on Sun Feb 28, 2010 2:33 pm

Sam had her first glimpse of Vincent from the dining room. A weird character dressed in black clothes, he arrived on a bicycle to retrieve the package. He didn't hang around, and was usually gone in a flash, much to Madam Pierre's relief. Occasionally he dropped by to talk business with Monsieur Pierre, often vanishing into the dining room. Sam never saw his face clearly, and had no wish too. Always concealed under a Trilby fedora hat, he did not speak to any of the waitresses or Sam.

One evening on the third visit, Vincent was unusually late to collect a package containing grenades. Sam waited at the window as usual hidden by the lace drapes, but still he didn't come. Eventually she was sent upstairs to fetch towels, Madam Pierre was worried sick that he had been caught and arrested; Monsieur Pierre said they would give him to 8.15pm. Ten minutes later there was a commotion as Madam Pierre came running up the stairs, 'he is here' she said glancing at Sam as she vanished into the first bedroom. Sam stepped off the stool going to the door of the first bedroom. She overheard Madam Pierre telling Michelle one of the other waitress's that he had been delayed, due to an identity search. There was no choice but for him to stay overnight on Monsieur Pierre's request, because of the 'damned curfew' as he called it.

Sam darted away as Madam Pierre came out the room followed by Michelle.
“Vincent is to sleep in your room tonight” she said pulling the door shut behind her. “He will leave at first light, you must stay in cellar”.
“OK I will get ready”.
“Michelle get him up here as quick as possible, you come into here while he passes”. Sam bundled into the first bedroom, heard someone coming up the stairs. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife so bad was the tension. She saw a shadow pass the door and low whispers before the door banged shut.
“OK he is in, you can come out now” Madam Pierre said

Vincent stayed hidden away up in the loft room, whereas Sam moved to the coldness of the rat-infested basement where the wine was kept. Used as an air raid shelter during the bombing, she'd have to make do with candles for lighting. Because of his apparent foul mood, Sam thought best to steer clear of Vincent until he was gone; then Madam Pierre asked Sam to take up a newspaper concealing the package wrapped up inside. The thought of approaching this man filled Sam with deep anxiety, but dispatching the package was something that was important to be done as quickly as possible. Pulling the packet from the cold brickwork, her hands trembled uncontrollably as she replaced the slabs. She hesitated at the bottom of the stairs, the newspaper felt uncomfortably heavy in her hands. Going up, she stopped before the door, her nose began to itch. No sound came from within the room, no voices within to indicate anyone was there. Totally quiet on the landing, she took a deep breath and knocked briskly on the door.
"Oui?” She almost jumped out of her skin.
“Monsieur Vincent?” she said without being too loud. “I have something for you, from Madam Pierre”.
"Qu'est-ce que c'est?” (what is it?) the voice sounded impatient, irritated. She was about to say something else when there was a noise of springs creaking, the door opened to a crack.
"Oui?” The voice was unpleasantly harsh.
“Madam has sent up a paper with your birthday present, compliments of the house”
"Le partir à la porte s'il vous plait” (leave it at the door please?) he said shutting the door in her face.
“I'm out of here!” She thought walking away. Turning the corner on the landing, she heard the door open. Not looking in case it caused trouble she almost ran down the stairs. Collecting a blanket from the cupboard in the dining room, plus a couple of candles for her night in the cellar with the rats, she almost walked into Michelle. She pulled Sam to one corner.
“Did you see him?” she whispered.
“No way, he frightens me”.
“Me too, the sooner he's gone the better. Madam Pierre is shaking”.
“Just stay calm” Sam answered. “It's only for one night, thank god”.

Dawn couldn't have come quickly enough, there was a bite to the air and it wasn't just the frostiness Sam was worried about. Emerging from the cellar, she was as stiff as a board. It was daybreak and Madam Pierre was waiting for her in the bar.
“He's waiting on the stairs,” she said hastily grabbing hold of the key of the side door.
“Hurry and see that he gets on his way, then come straight back before someone sees you”.

Patchy drizzle greeted them as they slunk out through the yard to the road beyond, Not many people were out and about; customers would be turning up soon, and it was critical that Vincent should be gone by then.

It was deathly quiet apart from a dog barking in the distance. The tower at St Augustus church normally rang out the hours, but the bells had been removed. Sam was about to turn the corner at the end of the alley from the café with Vincent following closely behind, when a patrol came round the corner at the end of the street towards them. Vincent pulling her back quickly, suddenly hissed in clear English,
“Come closer, now!” Grabbing hold of her, he pulled her into a close embrace, they pretended to kiss passionately. Sliding her arms quickly around his narrow waist, she stared deep into severe looking brown eyes perceiving a hint of mint on his breath. She heard the patrol pass by without giving them a second glance. As soon as they had passed, they parted.
"'I'm sorry I had to do that” he said in a low voice. “Are you OK?”
“I'm fine thank you,” she said a little taken back.
"OK" he replied with a smile that made him appear friendlier. All of a sudden he was deadly serious.
“Be careful who you tell. If I find out you've been lying, I'll come back and shoot you myself!” With a parting glance he left her open-mouthed, withdrawing into one of the alleys. That night his words came back to haunt her chilling her to the bone. It was the last she saw of him, 'Q' returned the following night, and in future he collected the packages.
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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Hazel on Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:20 pm

I understand you don't want to spoil everything in the very beginning because then there is no mystery or suspense, but I don't think I understand what they are doing XD. I gather that Vincent is a secretive someone to collect a package left by code name Q. (Oh and that I find extremely intriguing! Just out of curiosity, is there a reason for the letter Q, or was it random?) But since Vincent is just his code name....he could really be anyone....oh will he turn out to really be Richard? haha you don't have to answer that question, i'm just offering up theories. Razz Despite my slight confusion, I like it so far!

And you're totally not being a pain! lol. If I didn't want to comment then I wouldn't. You are simply taking advantage of what the web sight it for. It's been awhile since people have been posting stories and I find it's kind of nice to offer what meager advice I can....makes me consider posting some of my newest work XD

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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Aura on Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:50 pm

Hi Hazel thanks for your input, I am currently revamping the story at college with a bit more info, do you think Q works? If you post some of your work, I will critiqie it for you if you don't mind. Would you like me to put next piece on?
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Re: Bullets N' Blades first instalment tell me what you think please?

Post by Hazel on Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:32 pm

Oh alright, I understand, I often start out writing and then add so much more detail later. Sometimes I forget my readers can't read my mind lol.
And I'm not going to lie, I would love critique on the story I just put up actually. It's under this same thread: Criminal Investigation. I would be eternally grateful to whoever takes the time to read it Razz
And sure! I'd love to read and give any advice for whatever you post!

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