Sunday, March 20, 2011

Submission # 13

Name: Michael A Tate
Title: Bleed Well

Fredrick dipped his clothes into the stream, letting the clean glacial water cleanse them of all traces of his deed. Next to him, a bloody rock sat immersed half-way into the mud, and Fredrick ran his hand gently over it. Touching the rock seemed to command him to look through the trees and into the distance where he saw, lying on the ground, a small corpse. Downstream, the water turned a light pink, a silent witness to his crime.

The words ‘Evil’, ‘Destruction’, and ‘Sacrifice’ still echoed through his mind. Once more, he looked around to see if anybody followed him, but he was alone.

“Evil...Destruction...Sacrifice...” Fredrick muttered in a gentle whisper, mimicking the phantom voices. As he looked down, his hands began shaking again. He clasped them together and thrust them into the icy water as he looked back up towards the corpse; his eyes locked onto it. Pulling his shirt out of the water, Fredrick threw it over his head and shivered as the wind whipped through the wet cloth. With the cold freeing his eyes from their frozen state, Fredrick turned around and ran down the mountain towards his home.

A white plume of smoke drifted and danced above the kitchen as Fredrick arrived back in his village. The sun lit up the valley, and the smell of the fresh baked bread wafted into the huts lining the river. As if led by the smell, people began to make their way outside.


  1. I like the opening very well. I always thought the best thing to an opening of a story is getting the reader to want to find out what is going on. I want to know.

  2. There is some very visceral imagery here. The writing certainly creates a scene that sets up a compelling story. There are several things that are distracting to me. First is where his hands are--washing, touching the rock, dipped in the water, picking up the shirt. It reminds me of the challenge of moving people through scenes: get up, walk to here, etc.

    Another is "the cold freeing his eyes from their frozen state." The logic of my world is that cold makes things more frozen or actually keeps things from thawing.

    And in the last paragraph, do you intend to convey that the bread is being backed outside the huts? Is it something external that lures them? I got a little confused as I expect that the bread would be baked inside of huts and the smell wafts outside. Fredrick could clarify this, and I suggest you consider using him in this way if your intent is the former; i.e., he also reacts to the smell of the bread and gives the reader a clue as to what's going on.

  3. I love how this beginning drew me in and had me wanting to know what was going on with the character.

    I don't think you need to use so many adjectives. For example, you have 'clean glacial' water, 'gentle' whisper, 'icy' water. Instead of keep saying that the water is cold, you could say his hands stung from the iciness of the water.

  4. I won't repeat what S.L. Bynum said, but heed his (or her) words!! Watch those adjectives. Don't lose all of them, but clean up a few for a stronger punch.