A Hunt For Your Life

A Hunt For Your Life

A Story by Deanna Maestas
"

It is still a rough draft, but both the prelude and chapter one have been edited as much as I dare to do right now. Tell me what you think. Be honest, be critical of anything. I want an honest review.

"
Prelude

 

A single chair occupied the dark and humid room. A slumped figure slouched in the chair, taking in deep, ragged breaths. Sweat trickled down his face; his clothes were wrinkled and dirty, and all over his body were barely visible cuts and bruises. He craved fresh air, but the boy had been secured to the chair.

There was no door. The window had been sealed, and the room was bare except for olive green drapes that were pulled back to let in the summer sun. He knew he was there because of him; the malicious man that has haunted the boy’s life for years.

He suspected that the man must have really wanted something from him, considering he had ordered his cronies to beat him up and tie him down. He was alone with nothing other than his thoughts and aching body to keep him company.

When night fell, a section of the south wall slid open, revealing a hidden door. The man appeared along with his two sons, both thirty years younger than he, close behind. The man’s style consisted of none other than perfectly polished shoes, ironed trousers, and a fitted cloak that trailed behind him. He considered himself an influential man, after all.

At the sight of the man and his sons, the boy gripped the armrest of his chair until his knuckles turned white. He had no desire to appear weak in front of the man, nor his sons, so he tried to keep his face emotionless.

He forced his breathing to become normal, despite his desperate need for water and fresh air, and then he loosened his grip on the armrest and forced himself to relax.

“Are you ready to speak?” inquired the man conversationally. “I have a proposition for you, if you’d like to hear it? Jevon,” he gestured to his son on the left. He stood about six feet two inches. His hair was darker than his father’s, and hung in his eyes. “Go get the girl.”

Jevon exited the room before returning with a silver-haired girl. She was bruised and bound by ropes.

She slumped to the floor, unconscious, when he dropped her next to the boy.

“Who is she?” he asked hoarsely. He stared at the girl in dismay.

The man replied mockingly, “She’s just like you, a lost soul, which means I have a deal for you both.”

His son on the right, with hair lighter than the girl’s, stepped forward and gripped the girl by her shoulders. He shook her until she awakened, screaming.

The boy wished he could cover his ears, but he was forced to endure it since his arms were still bound to the chair. Eventually, the silver-haired boy slapped the girl across her face to silence her.

“Don’t you want to get out of here? The old man is trying to strike a deal with you, but he can’t do that if you won’t shut up!” he snarled in her face.

“Sterling,” warned the man, his tone stern and angry. “Leave the girl alone. You were the one who startled her awake, after all.” To Jevon he said, “Place her into a more comfortable position.” He smiled at the girl, and the boy noticed her shiver.

“What’s this deal you keep referring to?” questioned the boy. He kept glancing at the girl, who was now leaning up against his chair. “How long have you kept us here this time?” The man chuckled.

“Only for a day,” replied Jevon. “We didn’t want anyone to become too suspicious from your absences.”

The boy tried moving his hands and feet with no success. He met Jevon’s gaze and gestured with his head toward his bonds. “Will you at least remove my restraints? It’s not like I can unexpectedly make a run for it, since you did a great job of keeping food and water to a minimal. I’m exhausted and hungry, so I wouldn’t even make it passed you without being caught first.”

Another smile escaped from the man’s lips. “Of course, of course,” he responded. The man gestured for Jevon to untie the rope around the girl’s hands and feet after ordering Sterling to remove the boy’s. “My apologies, but it seems I temporarily forgot that your tests were over and done with.”

He resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

“What do we have to do now?” asked the silver-haired girl. “What’s your ‘proposition’ as you put it?” She sat up straighter as her voice grew louder. Her hands lifted in air quotes when she spoke.

“I want you to leave everything behind,” the man answered evenly. His eyes narrowed on the girl. “Forget you ever had a past, and in return I will leave your friends and families alone.” He placed both hands on the cane in front of him. “Naturally, we will continue doing business with each other, but your friends and family will only be safe as long you do as I wish. No contact with your family and friends after you have parted ways. Fail to do this, and all bets are off. I will hunt them down and kill them. Do you understand?”

The boy’s heart raced in raw panic. He turned to stare at the girl, but her head was down. Her shoulders were slumped for a moment before she straightened and looked up into the man’s cold gaze.

“That’s sounds more like a demand than a deal,” stated the girl coldly. “How can you possibly expect us to just leave everyone we know and love behind? It’s not going to be that easy!”

“If you care for their well-being, you will do it,” said Sterling. His lip lifted in a sneer and his voice was colder than ice. The girl stood up abruptly and placed her hands on her hips. Sterling narrowed his blue-grey eyes and dared her to make any sudden movements.

“I want out!” she exclaimed. “I won’t do it; I can’t do it. I’ll walk away from all of this. What you’re asking is too much!” She covered her face with her hands. “You can’t expect me to just leave A"all of my friends and family behind!” The girl began shaking, whether out of anger or fear, he couldn’t tell.

 “Sweetheart,” the man chuckled. “You know that I will never allow you to just simply walk away from me.”

“Nicholas,” he began, his voice regaining strength with very word. He stood up and placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder before stepping in front of her. He could tell her eyes were narrowed as she watched him. “We can’t just leave everyone and everything we know behind. I mean, at least give us a chance to say goodbye.”

“Remember,” Sterling’s voice was unsympathetic as he spoke. “You are the ones who chose this. We did not force you to join us, but we will not just simply allow you to walk away, either. Not this far in the game.”

“So then that’s the deal?” inquired the boy. “We abandon everything and everyone, and in return, you won’t touch them? You’ll leave them alone? That’s your deal breaker to make sure we won’t back out? Why do we need to do it? What’s the catch?”

Nicholas stared intently at the boy, attempting to calculate his motives. “It will be more convenient if you were to remain unknown. I can’t afford to allow anyone to run into either of you while you are on assignment, so I’m moving you west.”

The boy already knew that if she kept arguing, Nicholas would eventually lose his patience, and he would command one of his sons "probably Sterling "to kill her, and whomever she was close with. Her actions may very well put him and his sister in danger as well. And the boy was not about to let his twin sister get involved in this.

“We accept,” declared the boy. The glared at him and opened her mouth to protest, but he clamped a hand over her mouth and tensed when she struggled to free herself. He ignored her and continued, “I’ll see to it, personally, that she follows through.”

Nicholas’s eyes narrowed slightly but the smile on his face never faded. A rush of cold tremors rushed up and down the boy’s spine.  “I’ll take that to heart, then. From now on, the two of you are partners. Don’t let me down.”

The boy grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out the door. “Oh!” called out Nicholas. “Fail and I will see to it that both of you suffer tremendously. You will both be forced to watch each member of your family die as I kill them, personally.”

The boy temporarily froze in fear and the girl stiffened. Both knew who he was referring to: the one person who was most important to each of them. From that moment on, he truly hated that man.

 

Chapter One

Ava sensed that they were being followed long before Alex did. Now it was the moment of truth: they were about to test out her plan. Ava suggested that they split up and head into different directions. Both agreed that they should hide until the sensation faded.

Alex doubted what she liked to call her “master plan,” but then later decided to give her credit when he sensed that whoever had been following him lost his trail in the huge park Alex disappeared into.

Once he believed the person had lost his trail, Alex left the park to meet Ava at their rendezvous point, which was in the center of a busy downtown square where a parade and a carnival was currently being held. Hundreds of people were walking around, visiting shops, and watching the parade or performances from local bands.

After twenty minutes of searching, Alex found her sitting at an airbrush tattoo tent. She was in front of the artist, having a childish butterfly painted onto her cheek. Once Alex set eyes on her, he rolled his eyes.

“Are you done?” asked Alex, slightly irritated. He crosses his arms and scanned the crowd for any suspicious peoples. All Alex saw was trash scattered all around a field of grass, benches spread out around the square, and confetti floating in the air from the parade.

Ava laughed and stood up after paying the airbrush artist. She had her dark red hair pulled back into a high ponytail; a few wisps of hair fell loose around her face in tight curls that illuminated her soft facial features.

Alex stared at the butterfly on her cheek. The bright blue wings and yellow body seemed out of place on her porcelain skin.

When she looked at Alex, her hazel eyes were full of delight. Her eyes were surrounded in black eye liner, not too dark, but enough to make her appear intimidating to most people.

“Alex!” she squealed and ran up to him. Her arms wrapped around his neck in a quick hug before releasing him instantly. “Glad to see you made it back!”

Alex fixed his own stormy blue eyes on her. “What are you doing?” he demanded, eyes flickering to the booth she had just occupied.

Ava was nearly nineteen years old, but sometimes did eccentric things that always left Alex perplexed. Alex shook his head mentally; he would never understand her motives for half the things she did.

Ava glanced back at the booth and shrugged. “I wanted to do something fun while I waited for you,” she replied nonchalantly. “I mean, isn’t this butterfly just sooo cute?” She smiled widely and Alex closed his eyes in frustration.

He thought she looked ridiculous with the butterfly on her cheek. It was out of place on her. She wore a grey shirt that revealed most of her back, with the exception of a single string across her shoulder blades, and tight black skinny jeans that were shredded from her mid-thigh to her mid-calf.

“We need to go before those people find us again,” Alex said. He took a couple of steps when Ava grabbed his arm with both hands, preventing him from walking any further.

 “Alex, stop,” she pleaded. “We have an opportunity here. Don’t you realize where we are? This is our chance to find her.”

Alex searched his brain as he contemplated her words. Then he remembered. They were looking for a specific psychic woman; when Alex and Ava first met, she had explained to him that the woman they were searching for only appeared during carnivals or festivals. It explained why they had agreed to making this festival their rendezvous point when those men began chasing them.

Alex looked down at Ava’s tattooed knuckles gripping his arm. He removed her hands with his free hand, and then rolled up the sleeves to his grey and white striped shirt. Alex glanced at her, then towards her feet where her little black duffle bag lay.

“Do you have any idea where she might be?” Alex asked after a moment. Ava shook her head. “Then let’s go have a look around.” Alex picked up Ava’s duffle bag. He handed it to her, grabbed her hand, and began leading the way through the crowd.

Alex and Ava hardly knew each other, but through a common goal, they had been introduced to one another by chance. Alex was looking for his girlfriend, who had suddenly decided to leave him without as much as an explanation, and Ava was searching for her brother, who had pretty much abandoned her.

Ava swore she knew something was wrong when her brother began acting cold and distant with her. They had always been close, but she suspected her brother was lying to her, which was something he had never done. Then one day he just up and left. They were each other’s only family, and had vowed to never leave the other alone, but when he disappeared, when he didn’t say goodbye, or give her a reason why he suddenly felt like leaving her all alone, Ava had been devastated. She had never been apart from him; he had always been the one to take care of her, despite the fact that they were the same age.

Alex’s girlfriend had been the complete opposite of Ava’s brother. She had acted as if everything was fine until the day she left. All she told Alex was that she was leaving, and was never coming back. She had been true to her word, but it had left Alex feeling suspicious.  He knew for a fact that his girlfriend would never leave without, at least, giving an explanation. She had always warned people when she was going to do something drastic with her life, and if she had something on her mind, she spoke it. And after she had left, Alex vowed to himself that he would find her. All he wanted from her was closure, and reassurance that she was safe.

Now here in the festival --where people were crowding around a stage to listen to local bands that were performing, and children were playing, and teens were walking around pretending to be bored --Alexander White and Savanna Doverman were searching for one particular woman that would be able to help them on their search for their lost brother and ex-girlfriend.

This woman was another strange connection that Alex and Ava had found about both disappearances. In the months before their strange behavior, Ava’s brother and Alex’s ex began seeing a psychic woman for advice. Neither of them knew why, but both felt skeptical about the woman.

 

Chapter Two

“We’ve been searching for quite a while now,” said Alex after forty five minutes. They had walked around the square plenty of times but had not seen a booth promoting a psychic reading, or anything of the like. “Maybe she isn’t here. I mean, it is kind of a long shot. It’s not like we can search every carnival or festival searching for that woman.”

He had to shout to be heard over the music. Alex had stopped behind the stage to stare at Ava, who still seemed as energetic as when he had first met her. He leaned against the stage and sighed. Alex closed his eyes, rubbed his chin, and bit his lip in frustration.

She stared at Alex and pursed her lips. “You’re such a pessimistic person,” she stated derisively. Alex glared at her. She simply raised her brows at him and shrugged. “What? You’re such a prude. Besides, what if she doesn’t even promote psychic readings?”

Alex scowled. “Then why the hell would she have a booth?” he enquired, crossing his arms over his chest. “If she is ‘psychic’ wouldn’t she have a booth specifically for psychic readings?” He lifted his fingers in air quotes as he spoke.

Ava ignored his cynical tone and pursed her lips in thought. “Come to think of it . . .” said Ava before grabbing Alex’s hand yanking him from his spot on the wall. He quickly grabbed the duffle bag at his feet before scrambling after her, shocked by her suddenness.

“What are you doing?” he demanded over the noise of the crowd. Ava looked over her shoulder and smirked.

“I remember seeing a booth selling flowers with a curtain in the middle, cutting off the rest of the booth which made it seem smaller than it probably really is,” she spoke in a rushed tone, loud enough for Alex to hear. “At the time, I thought nothing of it, but then I just realized none of the other booths are set up like that, so maybe that curtain is separating the floral booth from the psychic readings.”

A couple of minutes later, Alex and Ava stood across from the booth with flowers ranging from daffodils, to lilies, to tulips, and jonquils. And sure enough, there was a long line starting from the curtain and leaking outside of the booth.

Sucking in a deep breath, Ava sauntered over to the booth. Sitting at the register at the front of the tiny booth was a young man with shoulder-length, light brown hair and bronze skin. His light hazel eyes were glued to a magazine that he held in his hands. He glanced up from the magazine long enough to offer a smile.

Alex walked over to stand next to Ava. She crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot against the pavement. “What does that line lead to?” asked Ava bluntly. “Psychic readings, perhaps?” She raised her brows and smiled a toothy grin.

The young man behind the register sighed, set down his magazine then folded his hands on the small table. “Purchase some flowers. They’re beautiful and fresh.” The young man’s smile widened and he gestured to the tables behind him with bouquets of flowers spread out.

Ava stalked passed the young man, pulled out a pink alstroemeria before walking back and lifting her brow and smirking. “How much?” she asked, pulling out her wallet from her back pocket.

The young man simply stared at her. “Two dollars, fifty cents,” he replied lightly. Ava handed him the money. His gaze shifted to Alex. “What about you?” Alex walked around and scanned the flowers. He chose 8 white daffodils and 3 red dahlias before returning to the young man and Ava whose forehead creased in question. The young man made a quiet sound that resembled a chuckle. “That will be twenty dollars and sixteen cents.” Alex gave him the money.

“Now explain the curtain and long line,” said Ava. Her voice was clipped, making her seem intimidating. Not that the young man noticed.

All he did was lift a long finger towards the sign in front of the booth. “It explains right there,” he said. “Buy flowers over twenty dollars and receive a free psychic reading.” As he spoke, Alex moved his gaze from person to person in the booth. Each held a bouquet of flowers in their hands.

“More than twenty?” asked Ava. She sounded irritated. “I have to buy flowers worth at least seven and a half more dollars?!”

“No, you can come in with me,” said Alex with a sigh. The young man smiled up at them for a second longer before picking up his magazine. Alex had his eyes trained on the young man, but now he switched his gaze to Ava, standing next him. “Lucky that he didn’t say that it wasn’t allowed,” he whispered.

“What, you don’t trust me?” asked Ava. She sounded angry, but a smile spread across her face. Alex didn’t know whether she was really mad, or whether she was faking it. “What are we going to ask her, by the way?”

“Honestly, I think our best option is to be upfront and ask her if she knows them,” he replied. Alex fixed his eyes on the back of the person’s head in front of him. He honestly had no idea what they would ask her. He hadn’t dared to allow himself to put his hopes up and be disappointed. He just wished that they would find them, if not then there wasn’t much they could really do. Ava’s brother and his ex-girlfriend had left of their own free will, so the police were out.

The line moved slowly, and after a few minutes Alex noticed Ava began to rock back and forth on her heels, growing bored. She twirled the flowers around in her hand distractedly. “One more person and we’re in,” Ava muttered under her breath. Her eyes were wide as she stared straight ahead.

 

 

© 2013 Deanna Maestas


Author's Note

Deanna Maestas
This is a novel that I hope to complete someday. It is not finished, and the ideas and writing are still raw. But I hope you enjoy it! :)

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Featured Review

I won't say much about the grammar since its a rough draft, but for a few pointers. Careful starting off too many sentences in a row with the same word, especially pronouns (and even more so personal pronouns), gets distracting.

I like how in Chapter One, you started off with a good hook, try to do the same with the prelude. Your first sentence in a book or story is like your first impression. I used to start off my stories with eloquent descriptions of the environment as well, but in romance or teen stories you need good hooks, with a fast paced storyline. Sci fi and epic fantasy fiction novels tend to have more world building, more environmental descriptions, and a slower buildup.

"The night had cooled when the night had finally come, but he was still desperate for water. He ignored his desperation for his need for water and tried to appear blasé in front of his visitors." Repetitive ideas tend to throw off the flow of reading, and make someone have to stop and reread it several times.

Try to build our minds eye view of your characters a bit. Its hard to connect to characters that have indeterminate age/looks/body build.

Overall, proofreading is definitely needed, clean up some of the repetitive words and ideas, check your words that may have been replaced by the wrong words in a spellchecker (preposition-proposition), but you already knew that. Try and work a hook into the beginning, and flesh out your characters a bit.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Deanna Maestas

7 Years Ago

Thanks that's really helpful.



Reviews

I won't say much about the grammar since its a rough draft, but for a few pointers. Careful starting off too many sentences in a row with the same word, especially pronouns (and even more so personal pronouns), gets distracting.

I like how in Chapter One, you started off with a good hook, try to do the same with the prelude. Your first sentence in a book or story is like your first impression. I used to start off my stories with eloquent descriptions of the environment as well, but in romance or teen stories you need good hooks, with a fast paced storyline. Sci fi and epic fantasy fiction novels tend to have more world building, more environmental descriptions, and a slower buildup.

"The night had cooled when the night had finally come, but he was still desperate for water. He ignored his desperation for his need for water and tried to appear blasé in front of his visitors." Repetitive ideas tend to throw off the flow of reading, and make someone have to stop and reread it several times.

Try to build our minds eye view of your characters a bit. Its hard to connect to characters that have indeterminate age/looks/body build.

Overall, proofreading is definitely needed, clean up some of the repetitive words and ideas, check your words that may have been replaced by the wrong words in a spellchecker (preposition-proposition), but you already knew that. Try and work a hook into the beginning, and flesh out your characters a bit.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Deanna Maestas

7 Years Ago

Thanks that's really helpful.

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Added on January 12, 2013
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Deanna Maestas
Deanna Maestas

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About
I like to write fiction, and someday I want to write at least one biography. I'm not completely sure what some of my writing goes under as far as genres go. I'm more of a free writer and I don't reall.. more..

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A Chapter by Deanna Maestas