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Literary Criticism

First Page: Kusanagi: Song of Death (action/adventure)

First Page: Kusanagi: Song of Death (action/adventure)

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.

Author Sylvie Fox shared that the first page she submitted here can now be read in Puppy Love published by Crimson Romance.

She smacked the office door with the flat of her palm. The dull, tin echo fit the building, one of those steel frame structures with corrugated siding, probably a warehouse originally, then a machine shop or some sort of mechanic’s lair. The greasy dirt in the yard suggested as much. These days it contained a roadhouse, really an enormous bar, big enough to accommodate dozens of motorcycles out front in one long row like tilted metal dominos. Her dirt bike held down the end of the line, incongruous in that company.

The office abutted the main building on the far end, little more than a metal shed added on as an afterthought. Some loud grunting presaged the grizzled and quite large, paunchy fellow who eventually opened the door. He squinted at her in the afternoon light.

“Whaddya want, girly?” he snarled. “The front door’s over there.”

“I’m here to see you,” she said pushing him backwards. He might have thought to stand fast, tiny as she was in comparison, but giving way seemed strangely irresistible. “Would you turn off the security cameras for me?”

“Get outta here,” he snarled and reached out to grab her.

She parried and twisted his hand until she could enforce compliance with a light pressure from her thumb applied to the back of his hand. His forehead hit the concrete floor before he realized he was entirely at her mercy. A slight further twist brought tears to his eyes.

“I’d rather not have any record of what might happen in there. Shall we smash your equipment?” she asked, tipping her head toward the computer terminal on the desk. “Or just unplug it?” One more twist and he nodded vigorously.

She released him and watched as he dusted himself off. Unsurprisingly, he lunged at her again, apparently expecting to pin her against the wall. Another parry and twist, she controlled his wrist much more aggressively this time, and he found himself tumbling head over heels. After an awkward landing on the edge of the desk, he fell to the floor with a thud. He looked up at her foggily until she struck him sharply across the nose with the heel of her palm. He subsided into a heap, blood oozing across his face, and troubled her no more.

At the desk, she quickly found the program to disable the security cameras. Another one sent a short web video to the TV screens in the main room. She set it to repeat. When she entered through the door behind the bar the video was already playing. All heads were turned to watch it as she made her way through the middle of the room.

On the screen they saw a young woman take on about a dozen of their number in a dimly lit parking lot. The violence was intense, even gruesome. Some of them cringed at what they saw. Broken limbs and joints, the girl left a bloody wake behind her as she spun through the crowd. The gang finally capitulated, limping off carrying their maimed, though that was not captured on the video. The final image showed the girl glowering, an unholy fire in her eyes. Whoever held the camera must have flinched at the sight and stopped recording. A caption appeared under her face: “Have you seen this bitch?”

She stood directly in front of three men at a table off to one side, a smaller man with a bandaged throat and an arm in a cast, and two quite muscular men. She took them to be the leaders of the gang.

“I got your message,” she said loudly, gesturing to the large screen on the wall behind her. “I’m here. What do you want?”

The room came to a hush as people gradually recognized her. Hard looking men moved toward her from all directions. A female voice cried out from across the room.

“It’s her, that bitch! There she is.”

Dear Author

First Page: unpublished manuscript (chick lit mystery)

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.

“Sunny and 52 for a high,” the meteorologist said as I tried not to look too lustily at the screen. I knew many other women across the DMA were gazing upon the same eye candy, but none of them worked with him every day. And they weren’t sitting in a control room waiting for the forecast to wrap up so they could give the next standby cue.

Speaking of… “Standby camera one three shot. Mic everyone. And take camera one,” I said as Chris finished his forecast. He was now supposed to make chit chat with the news anchors before they read the tease and tossed to break. Before our new blond anchor Janet had started that’s exactly how things would’ve gone, but now…

“A rain snow mix, Chris? Sounds like we don’t know what the weather’s going to be like!” laughed Janet. Chris was off camera now, but I could see him glaring at her in my preview monitor for camera three. Janet hadn’t even been with us for a month, but she’d already made enemies out of most of the staff. She’d started off by making it known that her time was far more valuable than ours (she’s arrived on time for promos exactly once) and then moved on to semi-veiled insults like the one she just did on air. Janet’s fortunate that Chris is professional enough to not retaliate on air—although that could be because his contract is up for renewal soon.
Once Chris was off the set, I was able to go back to concentrating on the task at hand—directing the newscast. It was a bit distracting having a silly crush on a coworker. I hoped that I kept up a decent façade of professionalism, but it was a little difficult when it appeared Chris was flirting with me when I talked to him over IFB. I tried to watch how he interacted with others to see if it was just me, but with all the other directors being male, it was hard to gauge. There were times I wanted to ask our promotions producer, my closest friend at the station, what she thought, but I always chickened out. Jen had been friends with his last girlfriend who left the station shortly after he broke up with her. I should probably focus on my career anyway. After the show ended and the promos were recorded, I went into the break room to heat up my dinner.

“Oh hey,” I said with a smile to Chris, “what the hell was with Janet?”

“Who knows? Guess she thinks she’s better than all of us with that expensive degree of hers. Not that having a master’s means she can read a prompter better than anyone else.”

“Two year contract, right? Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll leave to have a baby or something.”


Chris finished adding creamer to his coffee just as the microwave beeped that my food was ready.
“See you next show, Rian,” Chris said as he headed back to the weather center.

One of these days I really was going to work up the courage to ask him out. I probably shouldn’t do it at work though; it’d be better to do it on of those Friday nights when we’re all at the bar drinking and shooting pool after the 11pm.

It was weird to think about maybe dating again, but it was also time. It had been a year since my four-year relationship had ended, but it was a little hard to trust after what I discovered once it was finally over. A few months after I broke up with him, I heard he’d had a baby with a woman he eventually married. The math didn’t exactly work out. Which is why I’d watched Chris closely since his relationship ended. Unlike our skeezy morning show director who had dated nearly every woman in the building (myself NOT included), he appeared stable and trustworthy. At the very least there was no salacious gossip about Chris.

After finishing yet another oh so delicious frozen dinner, I wandered back to the newsroom. In the hallway by the studio doors I ran into one of our reporters, who, insanely enough, was carrying a rifle.

“What the hell is that?”

“It’s for a piece I’m working on given all the recent shooting deaths,” Jeff said. “We’re going to demonstrate a bit of gun safety.”

“Just keep that thing away from me,” I said with a laugh. “Janet and Adam are both in the building and I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”

“Don’t say that! Now if something happens, I’m going to have to go court. I’ve got kids; I can’t lie on the stand.”

“Aw, if anything ever happened, I’d be the first suspect and you’d be called in anyway. See you later, Jeff.”