Never Chapter 1

Never Chapter 1

A Chapter by Montilee Stormer

Through the shadows, a boy of maybe 15, with hair too long, wearing ragged clothes, a layer of dirt like a second skin, and a guarded look quickly walks down a busy urban street. The scourge of humanity walks with him and without him, a surge of bodies with forward momentum. He cannot remember a time there was no City or street or hum. For him, there is no before being dirty or hungry or bone-tired. Time is measured in footfalls on hard cement in worn sneakers and threadbare jeans. Seasons melt into each other like the smells along Restaurant Row. It is always Now, because Yesterday has become experience and Tomorrow may never come.


This night is no different from any other before it, nor will it be different from the nights that are too follow, gahwilling. He doesn't know what a gahwilling is, but he has heard it enough times to know that as spoken, it fends off the bads. The bads are everywhere and never just in the dark, at least not anymore. Things have gotten rough out here in the recent times, the past that has become palpable experience. This boy is on a hunt. For what, he doesn't know, but when he finds it, he'll feel it first in his feet, and then his hands, and then his body will feel like flying. He lives for that feeling because it fills the emptiness in his head with Purpose, and having Purpose makes the near perpetual emptiness bearable.


Purpose is like a thin thread, tenuous and fickle. He allows himself to be pulled along the street by this fragile string that he cannot see but is afraid to break because the string may become a line, and then a rope, and then maybe ... just maybe ... thickened chains, like the kind that anchor boats to the shoreline. This string takes him over bridges where voices waft up like souls freed from cold bodies, and into tunnels that smell of waste and rats. He goes where he is pulled and when the pulling is over, and his mission is accomplished, he will make his way back to a place that feels closest to home, even if it isn't home or permanent. It may be a empty dumpster that doesn't smell too much of rotting garbage or the backseat of a car left carelessly unlocked. Maybe it'll be the couch of a hooker who can't stand to see a boy so young and pretty ravaged by the cold.


Regardless, it'll be a place to sleep and rest so the emptiness can return to fill him up again. Tonight the string has pulled him through black alleys, seen women climb on men, dogs climb on other dogs, and men climb into cardboard boxes covered with blue plastic. A mostly uneventful evening, but so far from over it isn't worth thinking about it. The sky has barely turned black with an orange arc sodium haze that spreads like a bruise. There are plenty of places to visit and observe and discover the origin of the string, the purpose. He has no place to be. He has all night.


Over the course of the last hour, he has crossed and recrossed the intersections, deftly dodging cars never hearing the horns but fully experiencing the wake of air. It feels like power, the wake does, and he's felt that kind of power flow through his body before, even if the outcome is always different. That power is at the end of string, if only he could hurry up and get to it.


This part of the City is alive with activity, mostly illegal, and one never accidentally makes a wrong turn and finds himself there. It takes many wrong turns and it's always deliberate. It is either the drugs or the available women and the need to be there overrides any *accidental* missteps. There is plenty on both sides of this boulevard and where the traffic isn't stopped in the middle of the street clogged with cars slowing down just enough for one of the women to inquire and hop in, it zips at a frenzied speed, as if eager to be away now that business has been completed.


The boy stops at the corner as cars continue their breakneck speed for places away. Across the lanes of traffic, the once green median now brown with garbage and weeds, and the lanes of traffic speeding in the opposite direction, a street where even at this late hour cars demand respect and buses show no mercy, a large man is beating on a much smaller boy. Over the din of traffic, the shouting coming from the other side is just tones and noise and blow after blow falling on the near prone little body. Here is the origin of the pull, the pull that has become a thick chain. Our boy (and we've been with him long enough to consider him ours, yes?) steps into the street, mindful of the traffic, but with purposeful steps so carefully placed, the drivers don't even have time to blow their horns. He is in front of them one minute, and simply gone the next. In steps counting less than twenty, closes the distance quickly to the assault.


The man is very large and very dark with a large fedora that makes his head look very small and his eyes appear as pricks of light in the shadow. He wears a coat that our boy could wrap himself in several times and be warm the whole of winter, but even from his distance, our boy can smell the stink of fury and body odor that be a constant companion of the man. The very large man has the very small boy by a very worn jacket collar and is shaking him so hard our boy can feel his teeth clacking together. The people pass him on the street as if the pair are garbage to be stepped over and ignored, and in a sense to most people that's exactly how they appear. To stop and pick up garbage is an act that must be repeated every few steps, one hundred times over from one end of a block to another and no one has time for that.


'You will give me what's mine," says the man. "Where is it?" He punctuates the last three words with more blows so fierce that and the distance between fist and body been closer, bones would have been broken. As it was, only every third blow actually lands, but the fury at which they were administered was terrifying enough. Had the small boy actually wanted to answer it would have been impossible. He is curled into as tight a ball as he can be, trying to suck air between his knees, but is still not small enough to disappear, not nearly enough become so small as to become invisible. The younger boy tries to scream but cannot get enough air into his lungs to make more than feeble, choking grunts. His feet scramble on sidewalk before he remembers that he needs to keep them tight to his body. The man has already stomped on one of his legs and while it may not be broken, or at least badly bruised, feeling that boot again isn't something he's looking to repeat. It has been a bad night for the younger boy, and he cannot help but feel completely helpless, even as he struggles against this man that might very well kill him.


Our boy (for the sake of clarity, let's call him 'Dusty'), Dusty moves so quickly he isn't seen until the man realizes his blows are falling on empty air. The sudden lack of something ro beat on has almost sent him sprawling to the sidewalk. He looks around in dull surprise for his target, this boy that has stolen from him for the last time. He is trying to teach a lesson, the kind that learning once is permanent, but the pupil has strangely disappeared before the lesson has even begun. His eyes land on Dusty, our boy, and there is only he, giving the man, (whom we'll call Port) a look of amusement barely hiding anger. There is such arrogance in that look, Port can feel his anger rising up again, replacing the surprise so quickly he can barely believe it was ever there. Port is very angry that his thrashing was interrupted and he plans on giving this new boy a piece. It may kill this new one, but a lesson is a lesson, regardless of the student.


This is definitely the source of the pull he has felt all night and Dusty's entire body hums like the City itself, very alive and crawling with activity. The string is now an anchor, and he has to finish this. The way may come later or not at all. It doesn't matter. The reason for the Purpose isn't nearly as important as the Purpose itself.


The younger boy (we'll call him Rut) is flung onto the street. He lays there a moment, still expecting the blows that have long since stopped, nd there is suddenly a cacophony of horns as cars bear down on him and swerve mere inches from hitting him. He scrambles onto the median, part sorry he can't see what is happening, part grateful he's not being beaten anymore, part regretful that he won't be killed. Over the still speeding cars, he looks with awe mixed with fear as a boy not much older then himself faces down what appears to be giant. He feels a pull he's never experienced before, and while he wants to run and hide and pray that Port never lays eyes on him again, he understands on a very deep level that he must stay and watch. This pull is terribly important. He now has a Purpose of his own.


"You aren't very bright, are you boy," grumbles the man in a voice so deep it rumbles deep in Dusty's chest. It has a power all it's own, that voice, but it is not nearly as strong as the power now flowing through Dusty's body. His arms and fingers tingle with that power, and his legs feel like dancing, but he stands perfectly still, grinning at Port while his eyes flicker with an anger so raw it is acid on his tongue.


Dusty doesn't answer the man because words are wasted on men like this. Words invoke reason, and reason hasn't paid this man a visit in too many years to sanely count. Action and blows are what he understands, and Dusty is about to give him both in amounts he wasn't ever expecting.


Port reaches out to take our boy by the collar but the boy is now gone, and before he can turn, there is fire in his back and he falls to the sidewalk shuddering and coughing. There is another flare of fire, practically in the same spot, and his coughing takes on a thick, wet sound. He rolls over, meaning to at least grab a leg or an arm, and sees nothing but neon signs above him and people walking past without a second glance. Port sits himself up, still coughing and cramping now that the fire has spread to his legs, and he propsa his upper body on his elbows seeing no one by faceless johns. He looks left, and then right straighteneing up further. This is a temporary pose as there is a crack like a gunshot and his left arm takes on an unnatural angle, sending him prone to the sidewalk again. He cannot scream, because the wet in his chest has spread to his throat and so he gags and chokes. Port begins to wave with his free, unbroken arm, like a man clinging to driftwood signaling a passing ship. The wave says, "stop", "help", "no more". There is more coughing and the wet sound in his throat and chest is accompanied by a wet splat on the sidewalk.


Rut has been watching from two lanes of traffic away, and he cannot believe his eyes. There was the older boy and then there was just Port, and then Port was on the ground and the boy is back. He doesn't want to be here when the older boy is finished. He has seen rage attacks and it may not just stop with Port. This boy means to maim and hurt and kill, and Rut wants no part of that. He wants to find the tunnels and a warm grate and maybe someone's relatively fresh leftovers. He wants to be away from here more than anything. He nods to himself, as if that were the most logical thing in the world for a child of ten on the street. He wipes his hands on his filthy pants, licks his dirty lips and takes a step back ...


... right into our boy, Dusty.


"I've just saved your life. It belongs to me now." and before Rut can even begin to beg for the older boy to not beat him, the older boy is gone.


Rut takes one look back towards Port, who has since stopped waving or even coughing, and one final terrified look around, before making a dash for the subway. He has a story to tell the others, and they need to hear it immediately. This could change everything.


© 2006

© 2008 Montilee Stormer

My Review

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I like this. It's poetic. It's also stuffy, very wordy, which is great, and maybe it's just me, but it was hard to read this. Doesn't mean I don't like it. Gonna go give it a second shot.

I think you need a prologue. I keep getting confused. Keep writing this story because I can tell it has potential.

Posted 4 Months Ago

This is a great first chapter, and I think it opens up very nicely into the story! My main suggestion is to try to be more concise with the wording- try to cut out words you don't need, and most of the time readers will fill in the blanks on their own. Overall I loved the suspense, it really kept me engaged and curious. Keep writing!

Posted 5 Months Ago

although the details were great and contributed to the street characters and the setting really well, it was a little bit overdone. The effect, however, was like a slow picture page moving camera, if that is the intention. I wanted to get to the action of the story. I wanted to know Dusty's Purpose. highly anticipated it. the writing is elusive, it keeps you guessing as to who and what these characters really are. The pulling and the traffic scenarios are suspenseful.

Posted 11 Years Ago

Where as I've not reviewed a published novelist before, I'm unsure if what I see as needing work wasn't done on purpose following your own style. I will try to say something helpful and if something I gloss over is part of your style, or something you like, then don't change it out for a beginner reviewer.

I enjoyed the detail that you used, that there was enough to understand and get a clear picture, but still a enough to let the reader imagen and make the story a bit more real. Such as when your first describing 'Dusty' I get a very clear picture of him despite you didn't describe his eye/skin/hair color.

When I was reading I was getting the feeling that you were telling the story for dusty's perspective, but you switched out very quickly going from "He" in the previous paragraph to "The boy" in the next. I can understand this that you couldn't go through the action sequence just saying "He" since all three of them were "He's". though there could have been some lead into the change, or kept in his perspective of the fight.

only 2 little things caught my attention, you forgot to add a period at the very end of the third paragraph, and in the same paragraph you used a fragment at the end

"He has no place to be. He has all night "

you could join those two together, and maybe clarify a little too

"Since he has no place to be, he had all night to search for the string of purpose."

The other thing I noticed was the parenthetical statements from the writer to the audience, and calling him "Our boy" The way it was put to me when I started learning how to write longer peices was "Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary." and it does break the feel of the story a bit to be interupted from the main narative to have the author say something to you, it reminds you that despite the wonderful details, that you are in fact reading a book instead of being involved in the story.

The last spot I felt you could make better is how your introduced the characters, its the authors perogotive how to do this, some prefer to just provide a name right at first, but I think one of the most seemless ways to name a character is in dialogue, and I notice you don't have much dialogue in this chapter, but my suggestion wouldn't be to change it very much since its a horror novel and you arn't going to scare anyone really with dialogue, but you could add a small thing like this using the begining part of your own paragraph:

"The scourge of humanity walks with him and without him, a surge of bodies with forward momentum, Which shifted unnoticing as one of them slammed into him and said "Out of the way you dusty urchin!" Was that his name? He couldn't remember being called anything else."

That way you could introduce the name you chose for him, and would avoid having to break your stories flow to add it in. But of course, I'm a novice at this and you may very well have it how you want it, it is an interesting peice, and I'm enjoying reading it. Good write, and keep up the good work.

Sincerely from the Darkness,
The Shadow-fire Poet

Posted 11 Years Ago

Awesome first chapter, I like the way you express the detail of the streets, cars, buildings, and others around our boy Dusty. There are a few areas that need tweaking but everyone else has aleady mentioned them. Aside from that Awesome Work.

Posted 11 Years Ago

I worked for some years with street kids. You brought back the stink and smell of the dumpsters. It's a good story, rich in feeling and emotion, some interesting forays into imagery, but in need of some tidying up... First paragraph: (a nice opening) (maybe consider the format/appearance; use indentation)Second para: "He doesn�t what a gahwilling is," (missing a verb)it fends off the bads (it fends of 'the bads')Things have gotten rough out here in the recent times, the past that has become palpable experience, This boy is on a hunt. (full stop after experience?) Third para: (I've been there...worked with 'juvies'... very good description)Seventh para: "that be a constant companion of the man" (be...)Eight para: "blows so fierce that and the distance between fist" (had!, not 'and') this man that might very well kill him. (that)"but he has not be placed there with careful steps" (gobbledygook)"then himself faces down what appears to be giant" (than....A giant)Good job.Thanks for sharing.

Posted 11 Years Ago

3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

Great story. The imagery makes the characters seem so real, I love the sights you describe, the smells, it makes me feel like I am out on the street.

The first paragraph is so philisophical "It is always Now, because Yesterday has become experience and Tomorrow may never come." Cool. This is definitely one that I want to read more about. The description was awesome and the POV was definitely like none other I have read. I like how you did the names, leaving us with a kind of anonymity.

To be very nit-picky I think the "too" in this sentence should be "to"
"This night is no different from any other before it, nor will it be different from the nights that are too follow"

In this paragraph maybe the second "pain like fire" should be described with different words so it's not repetitive.
"Port reaches out to take our boy by the collar but the boy is now gone, and before he can turn, there is fire in his back and he falls to the sidewalk shuddering and coughing. There is another pain like fire in his back, practically in the same spot, and his coughing takes on a thick, wet sound."

That's it though, the story was great and I will surely read more. As always great writing.

Posted 11 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

I like to see patterns in the general world of modern myth, and there seems to be something going on with children unmoored from traditional family environments and swept up in dark, fantastic adventures. It seems to be a reemergence of the original fairy tale, not of the sterile, dizneyfied, bedtime story brand, but the kind that serve as vehicles of modern awareness, stories that genuinely scare you. I'm working on such a story, and it's encouraging to see the many permutations of its presence in myth making. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see the new film Pan's Labyrinth, or the French film, City of Lost Children, read Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials, or even Harry Potter, for that matter. Perhaps it has something to do with bereaving a loss of innocence in a world where innocence has become (or always was?) a liability. Whatever the case, this small clip is an excellent example, much worthier of introspection than some whose messages are often washed up in a mess of theatrics and Hollywood glitter. It may be a trend, of course, or it may just be me seeing patterns where none exist. But back to Never. I love the dark edginess. I love the Purpose. I love Dusty and his mystique, his motivations. I don't like the feeling that I'm falling down the stairs from the first sentence. If establishing a scene and mood is the goal, take it one sentence at a time - and one CHARACTER at a time, please. If action is the goal, concentrate on the action. It seems a little taxing to view the same event from 3 different perspectives on the first page. Also, the present narration is a little distracting, especially when the characters receive their names. Aside from that, it's not a bad start at all. It does make me want to read more.

Posted 11 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Good first chapter. You delineate this world well in the opening paragraphs and the action moves quickly throughout. I like the casual voice you use, gives this a lyrical sensibility to it, not quite realistic but not quite fantastical. An interesting start, would love to read more.

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ahh, it's wonderful to have something of yours to read again, Montilee!! This one is a bit of a departure for you (just a bit, at least so far), but as usual, very good. Can't wait to see where you take this one. I think the 'beating' scene of poor old Port needs a little tweaking. It relays the image and I felt the pain, but in a few sentences seems a bit forced and confusing. (and as usual, that's just my opinion).
Overall, great!

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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10 Reviews
Added on April 25, 2008


Montilee Stormer
Montilee Stormer

Royal Oak, MI

Short Version: MontiLee Stormer is a troublemaker, writing acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. Her interests wander from abnormal psychology and serial killers, to lost loves and.. more..


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