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12+ Violence

Chapter Two:Wither 1.2

by LadyMysterio


Ringing filled Verena's ears as warm yellow light met her eyes. Her body felt unnaturally warm, like it was coated in a layer of overwhelming heat.

She groaned and lifted her head, panic rising as she inspected her surroundings.

She tried to recall the last few moments and frowned. She'd been on the ceiling, clinging to some decorative rafters. Ready to pouch on her target. When something had happened. Although she wasn't sure what. Some large force of power, burst of energy. It’d was like the entire world was being split apart and reassembled. Like her bones were no longer in her flesh, simply suspended within.

That blast had fizzled up from the ground. Rattling the tables and porcelain wear. It didn't make sense. Unless there was some huddle bunker. Worth looking into.

Verena made a mental note to add it to her report later.

Now, what felt like moments later, Verena sat. Or rather, lay. Sprawled, bones back where they belonged, various pieces of varnished wood tables, and dissected flower arrangements. Most of them were withering in the flames that licked at them. The colour fading as the water evaporates

Flames, Right.

The mansion was in what seemed to be burning shambles. Timbers charred, having fallen from above, scattered around like large branches on the forest floor.

She did a quick scan of her limbs, most seemed intact. Eyes darting around for potential assistants. She ripped the sleeve of her black turtleneck and tied it around her nose and mouth.

Smoke burned her eyes, causing them to water. Tears flowed down her face in a false display.

She had to find a way out of here. James was probably panicking. She touched her earpiece. Gone. Her watch was malfunctioning .The screen flickering black and white, in a frenzied display of pixels.

Old fashioned find-your-way-out it was.

Using the nearest broken table as a support, she stood. Slow and steady, she rose. Pausing a few times, to allow the rush of blood to fall from her head back into her body. From this vantage point, the room looked as much like a fire-filled mess as it did from the floor.

A few dapper-dressed figures lay on the ground. Blood dotted round them.Verena turned, she didn't care for bodies. They held an unnerving quality, no matter how many times she witnessed them.

She skirted a few fallen chandeliers and did a quick scan of the faces. Her target had disappeared. She frowned. But where and how? She wasn't sure how she'd ended up unconscious and not him. Granted falling from a ceiling would do that. But if he had been in the ground, he would have felt the vibrations first, and than sought cover of some sort. Hopefully, that wasn't far.

She inhaled, and choked as smoke caught in her throat. Time to find a way out, and fast, before the place started deteriorating while she was in it.

The agent turned towards the window. Starting to navigate through the various piles that were becoming rapidly consumed by fire. The closer she got to the window, the thicker the smoke became, it shrouded her like a cloud of hazy fog, yet far more deadly.

Her chest started burning and she knelt on the floor. crisp flower petals and leaves dissolving to dust under her knees. Calculating her body's physical levels, she took mental note, adding and subracting rapidly to get an apromiate number of how much time she could realistically stay conscious in here.

Given how much smoke there was in the room, and her ability to hold her breath, she had about five minutes of time until there would be no more real breathable oxygen for her to access. Even though her makeshift mask. And her last underwater breathing test gave her an extra three minutes. So long as she didnt exert herself too much, that number shouldnt subtract further than a nice and tidy eight minutes.

Pushing aside broken glasses and flower vases. She crawled under the hovering layer of smoke towards the window.

Someone cried out, and she froze. Tilting her head, trying to determine what way the sound had some from

Another faint,"help" floated through the smoke.

Verena turned, and continued forward again. It wasn't her mission to help those who couldn't help themselves. Or probably only ever did. Her mission had been to kidnap one target and she'd just about failed that.

The cry came again. She'd heard it before. A desperate plea. Almost like a kitten crying.

She was almost at the window now. So much for her clean record of completed missions.

She started to reach for the windows sil and the cry for help filtered through the haze again.

The agent paused, fingers brushing the smooth wooden trim, twitching in anticipation as a million thoughts raced through her head.

What if her target was still in the building? What if that was him?

Verena contemplated her choices, ravishing the cool air that seeped through the window. She focused on what aspects of the voice she’d heard. Comparing them to the videos of the Prime Minister she’d watching in preparation for the mission. Given how much the smoke and the shock of the blast may have altered his voice. It wasnt veru far off.

She could leap out this window now, find her way back to the BMW, have a much better chance at surviving. But arrive back at the Coperatios Headquarters.Empty-handed.

Having failed.

Or, she could have another chance at completing a mission, saving her clean record, and dragging her target out.

The chance of living was considerably lower. But she wouldn't have failed. And top agents didn't die, did they.

Verena adjusted the cover over the face. The choice was obvious, failing wasn't an option.

She propped herself into a squat and surveyed her position, "HEY!" The shout came out half choked. Her minutes of calculated survival dwideling. She waited for an answer. The mansion creaked as crackling flames licked at the table beside her.

Another cry.

There, she swiveled in the direction it came from. Down the wall with the windows, towards what she guessed must be an interior wall.

"Stay there!" Verena crept along the wall, trailing one hand in front of her along the textured wall as her feet made their way over rubble.

"Staying!". The weak response came. It was closer now, and far more reconizable as the Prime Ministers.

Good. It was much easier to kidnap someone if they stayed right where you wanted them to.

She peeked around a table, squirming in the bright light cast off by the flame. Heaving in another wheezing breath she realized how hot she felt. Her dark clothes were absorbing and magnifying the heat.

She dropped back to the ground and skirted the table. Finally spotting a figure propped up against the far wall.

An accomplished grin broke out under her makeshift mask. Perfect, her target.

Now, she had to figure out how to move both of them out of this rapidly burning building.

A flame crept up her boots. Eager flames licing at her pants. She shuffled away and stomped it out, gridning the tough sole of her combat boots into the floor. The ceiling cracked above her, bit of timber and sparks filtered down like snow. One of the delicate chandeliers chains snapped loose. It swinging piraciously, the crystals crashing together in a cacophony. Then jerked, the last chain giving out, and crashed. Crystals splaying, like beautiful bullets. Verena dropped as one caught her shoulder.

Death was teasing her.

Always his favorite game to play.

Her shoulder twitched as if trying to wipe away the trickle of blood running from it. Verena grit her teeth, ignored it, and leapt towards the man, "alright Mr prime Minister. You're coming with me."

The old man squinted at her,confusion echting over the fear in his face." Who ar-" He had cearly expected one of his body guards to save him. They were either dead or had flead the scene.

Verena seized his suit jacket and stripped it off him, "not important." She tore off part of the lining and tied it over the lower half of his face. Confusion was the only mental state she wanted him in. The firmer and faster she was, the less likely he’d have any idea of disobeying her. Much less considering his options.

The prime minister's eye quivered as he watched her. She inspected him, eyes scanning for injuries. Aside from a few soot marks and a shaken mentality, He seems more or less untouched. "Can you walk?"

He didn't answer right away. Instead, he slowly looked around. An expression of mixed terror, confusion, and denial on his weathered face. The face of ne who never in his life imagined his home burning to the ground, his privilege meltinga way like the plastic table decorations. Anothe pause, an acceptance.Then he finally pulled himself up.

She nodded, "Good. This way." Glancing back at him, she retraced her trail towards the window. The minister shuffled along behind her. Stepping over the broken pieces of his home, but never sparing them a second glance. She imagined this was simply one of his summer homes.

Verena skirted the newly fallen chandelier and waited by the window. She spat out another wheeze. Stay in here any longer and she'd either suffocate or die of heat exhaustion. It felt like her skin was dripping off.

The window were draped in a curtain of black smoke, clean air slipping in the sides as the black air was sucked out. Verena crouched low and stuck her head out the window. The ground loomed roughly five feet below her. Low enough to jump. Or her at least. Convincing the Prime Minister to jump out the window would prove fruitless. She'd have to more or less kick him out of it. If she could get him to climb onto the sill and lower himself down, he could drop.

"What now," the prime minister weaky came up behind her. Peering at the window as he knelt, "You're not going to" he paused and doubled over, coughing, "jump out?"

Verena sat down beside him, "not necessarily. I'll jump, you need to climb to the outside of the sill, and you can drop down easily. It's not that high. Just don’t overthink it."

She was half lying of course. It looked far higher than it was, but five feet was still a considerable height to drop from. For someone the age of the Prime Minister. But she just needed him alive, and out of the building. A little collateral damage never hurt. At least not for her.

The old man looked at her, and she watched the fight in his eyes decide between trusting her and staying here. She knew what his conclusion would be. Staying here meant dying, and the average person feared death over anything else. The fight faded and his eyes only reflected the bright yellow light of the room, "alright"

She stood, and nearly toppled out the window herself, she caught herself on the window sill. The heat was catching up to her, boiling the blood in her veins and making her head spin.

Playing the fall off, she leaned against the window sill. Monitoring her breathing and wishing the Minister would hurry up. But he was taking his time getting his ancient butt out the window.

A few moments later he whimpered and she crouched down and perched her body on the window sill. He clung to the side of the building like a scared child to his mother.

Verena blinked away black spots as the fresh air kick-started her parched lungs, "Ok now drop."

He looked at her like she was crazy. Now that was a look she was used to getting.

"Drop or I'll step on your fingers." she bit out the last word as the edges of her vision clouded. But she sifted her foot, inching it towards his hands.

His brain was working better than hers because he did drop. Twisting around in the air and screaming the short way down to the ground.

She waited for the solid thump, before attempting to leap out the window herself. Her uncoordinated foot caught on a shard of glass hiding in the sill, and she twisted. Compensating for the changed trajectory.

Verena landed beside the Minister lighter than he had but with the same lack of coordination as he had. She rolled over and grasped his wrist. Alive but unconscious. Perfect. She flopped back down on the damp grass and inhaled the cool night air deeply. Letting her body go through the motions. The spots in her vision vanished and she regained more of her senses to full capacity

She groaned as her shoulder grew sore once again. Her nervous system was now active enough to recall what had happened. That meant the adrenaline was wearing off too. She slowly crawled her hand up her collar bone and over her shoulder. Feeling their way to the throbbing wound she prodded the crystal lodged in it. Wet with blood and pushed deeper from her fall.

Wincing she sat up," that'll leave a scar I'll bet." She sighed and surveyed the area outside the window. They'd landed a few feet from the base of the mansion. Disrupted and withered flowers lying by their feet. Sprawled out from their cozy garden bed. She turned away from them. James should be parked in the general direction of a cluster of trees. A small gathering that concealed a short sideroad. The sideroad was a small fragment that led off the main road in front of the mansion. Most likely meant for maintenance vehicles. Or discrete comings and goings of the prime minister.

A faint wail pierced the air and her ears perked up.

The fire department.

Time to vacant the premises. She scooted over to the unconscious man beside her. Hoisted him over her uninjured shoulder and set off on a heavy, crouched, stride toward the BMW.

Verena paused. Adjusting her grip on the prime minister. Brightly colored lights lit up the dark and dreary road a few meters away. She watched the parade of trucks slow as they spilled on the lawn of the mansion. Then set off into as much of a run as she could, as firefighters jumped out of the trucks like ants set on food.

She made it through the small set of young trees concealing the road and burst out onto it. Stepping onto the road she, tripped over the ditch. She caught herself on her knees. The Prime Minister's dead weight, disrupting her center of gravity.

"James!" she harshly whispered. Wondering why he wasn't already beside her.

The only reply she got was a cricket's chirp.

She looked up. The road was as empty as if the car had never been there in the first place. Vanished without any telltale of its presence.

This certainly complicated things.

A lot.

Verena glanced around quickly. James wouldn't simply leave her. Either he was called back or had become compromised. That would at least explain why the vehicle was gone. But why hadn't the Corp sent another vehicle?

Kicking a few leaves over the Prime Minister, she left him asleep in the ditch. Then she dashed towards the main road, setting her eyes on the first darkly colored car she saw. Pulling out a small multi-tool from her pants, she unscrewed the license plates. wiped them clean and chucked them in the ditch, then broke the window.

Verena stole a glance at the dark road, then slipped into the car. Kickstarting a sedan was easy. One of the first skills taught. Sometimes she found it amusing how thin the line between a thief and a spy skills could be. Technically it was stealing. But for the greater good.

The car sputtered to life and she quietly drove it inpto the side road. Scrambling out the opposite door she attended to the task of getting the Prime inister into it.

A heavily booted foot brushed a leaf aside behind her. Her head jerked up. That was far closer than anyone ever got to her if she could help it. Verena dropped the old man and faced the new witness to her crime.

He was a tall figure, dressed to the nines, with some hint of military stature to him.

She tilted, planting a kick under his ribs, he bent over and stepped back. Verena swooped in for another hit, and he wrapped his arms around her. He gripped the crystal lodge on her shoulder and twisted it violently.

"HEY", Verena withered and clenched her teeth. Her assailant grunted and jabbed a small metal device at the base of her skull. Electricity lit up the darkness and Verena collapsed.


































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Thu May 30, 2024 3:34 pm
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goodolnoah wrote a review...



Image

Hello again! ~ Writing Commentary

It’d was like the entire world was being split apart and reassembled. Like her bones were no longer in her flesh, simply suspended within.


I really like the descriptions of how the fire is disrupting Verena’s world at the beginning! It shows that even a skilled spy like her has weaknesses!

It swinging piraciously, the crystals crashing together in a cacophony. Then jerked, the last chain giving out, and crashed. Crystals splaying, like beautiful bullets. Verena dropped as one caught her shoulder.

Death was teasing her.


I like the formatting of “death was teasing her.” along with the chaos that came with the chandelier crashing down, this really intensifies the situation!

She was half lying of course. It looked far higher than it was, but five feet was still a considerable height to drop from. For someone the age of the Prime Minister. But she just needed him alive, and out of the building. A little collateral damage never hurt. At least not for her.


This shows some of the more…undesirable parts of her personality. Verena seems to care for others, yes, but the mission comes before anything. I even wonder what she would pick if it came between James and the mission…

A bit of critique…

I’m not going to quote every wording critique I can find, I think I will just add a lil list here, and you could use the CTRL-F function to find my recommendations.

Grammar recommendations:
*pouch - pounce
*It’d was - It was
*apromiate - appropriate
*veru - very
*licing - licking
*gridning - grinding
*It swinging piraciously - it swang precariously
*the face of ne - the face of he
*The window were - The window was
*Or her at least - for her at least
*vacant - vacate
*lodge on - lodged in

The chance of living was considerably lower. But she wouldn't have failed. And top agents didn't die, did they.


I was always told to refrain from starting a sentence with “And”, so maybe you could rephrase this sentence as “The chance of living was considerably lower, but she wouldn’t have failed, and top agents didn’t die, did they?” Don’t be afraid of commas, my friend! (don’t overuse them, still.)

Stepping onto the road she, tripped over the ditch. She caught herself on her knees. The Prime Minister's dead weight, disrupting her center of gravity.


There is probably no reason to have a comma between she and tripped.

"HEY", Verena withered and clenched her teeth. Her assailant grunted and jabbed a small metal device at the base of her skull. Electricity lit up the darkness and Verena collapsed.


I guess this is more of a personal taste thing…but I don’t really like the use of all caps quotes in stories. Sometimes having all caps can seem “unprofessional” in the publishing world, I think. It has it’s places, but it should be used sparingly if at all. It’s much better to add punctuation to your dialogue than to disrupt sentence structure.

The grammar is a bit of a sticking point for me here…I love your story so far, and the events are quite interesting! But grammar mistakes slow down what is otherwise a great read! I am unsure about how you go about posting on here, but I usually write on google docs, and even the basic recommendations for grammar help me out. Again, I often read through my stories before posting them on here so I can avoid grammar mistakes. It helps the reader focus more on the contents of the story rather than grammar corrections.

Love and…Kidnapping? ~ Story Commentary

I see the true format here…You switch POVs! (good thing I’m not the only one, lol.) That allows the reader to get a feel for what is happening on both sides of this encounter! The well-dressed man with armor is also an interesting and mysterious figure…as he seems to know things about both James and Verena.

The ping-ponging Verena does between saving the man in the fire and not saving him is quite funny. It really plays into her calculating and analytical nature. Though, I suspect that she really does care about helping people…Again, you can really see the difference between her character and James when comparing both of these chapters.

Shadowed Man ~ Closer

The plot thickens here…I wonder what will happen going forward. Verena escaped the burning mansion with the Prime Minister in hand, but she was stopped by the mysterious man. I wonder where we go from here…




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Fri Dec 15, 2023 5:04 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...



Hello there, human! I'm reviewing using the YWS S'more Method today!

Let the games commence!

Top Graham Cracker - The mansion Verena is in seems to be burning up, but it’s no problem for her, because she can still take the Prime Minister. That is, until someone takes her…

Slightly Burnt Marshmallow -If you want you can put “thump” in italics because it’s a sound. But that’s just a suggestion. This is a really good chapter!

Chocolate Bar - The ending of this chapter, when the man attacked Verena was my favorite part. Now she’s getting kidnapped! I’m a little nervous as to what will become of Verena and James, but I’ll have to see in the next chapter.

Closing Graham Cracker - James is gone, Verena was attacked. She might lose the Prime Minister or even worse, never get to see James again…


I wish you an amazing day/night! :>




LadyMysterio says...


thx for the review!



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Tue Dec 12, 2023 10:36 pm
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Roxanne wrote a review...



’Tis the Season!



Amidst the twinkling lights of my festive rose garden, I spy with my little eye...

Something quite intriguing; a chapter titled “Wither”".

Let’s put these review skillz into action, shall we?

Image

I. Getting Festive First🎊
Alrighty, let's kick off by showering a burst of confetti on those standout parts;
I must say that you've created an interesting and at the same time awesome story. I love the idea of some secret, undercover spy and her quirky getaway driver (can't lie, James is already my favourite :D).

I skimmed your first chapter a while ago and I was like "I've got to review this, someday". I'm a real Mission Impossible fan, so this a real treat for me. Looking at the cliffhangers of the first and second chapters, I'm beginning to think you have something mischievous in mind...

II. The Merry Entrance to Upgrade🪄
I've got a few suggestions and ideas for you, wrapped in festive, green wrapping paper, because Christmas is only complete with its presents ;)

I've taken a particular interest in your action scenes. The scenes are overall really fitting, and build up the suspense. It's the best way to twist the plot, but Verena's thoughts sometimes overlap the action and tension in them or just not describe it enough.
For instance, this part:

Ringing filled Verenas' ears as warm yellow light met her eyes. Her body felt unnaturally warm.

She groaned and lifted her head, panic rising as she inspected her surroundings.

She tried to recall the last few moments and frowned. She'd been on the ceiling, ready to pouch on her target. When something had happened.

Verena sat, or rather, lay sprawled in between various pieces of varnished wood tables and dissected flower arrangements. Most of them were withering in the flames that licked at them

Flames.

Right, the mansion was in what seemed to be burning shambles. Although she wasn't sure why. Something had fizzled up from the ground. Which made no sense. Unless there was some huddle bunker. Worth looking into.

Verena made a mental note to add it to her report later.

Firstly, it's clear that the whole building is in flames, and Verena panics when she's conscious again. You've actually done a good job portraying Verena's disorientation and the effect of smoke in her eyes, but perhaps you could consider incorporating more physical sensations to intensify the tension. For example, the smell of the smoke or even the crackling sound of burning objects.

Secondly, as I mentioned, it's clear the building is burning, but I'm not quite sure what the building actually looks like from the inside; what's the layout of the building?what obstacles are there? The setting can sometimes just be the trick for the right amount of tension.

Thirdly, while Verena's thoughts and reactions are well captured, you could consider adding more external reactions, such as body language or facial expressions. Or the pain she felt in her shoulder, the flesh around it that was smeared with blood. These subtle details can add depth to the atmosphere.

And lastly, perhaps you could consider creating a title for your story that will represent it, the sub titles for the chapters are great though.

But of course, do keep in mind, these are only suggestions with the intention of boosting the impact and depth of your story. And the decision of considering them is entirely up to you.

III. Merry Conclusion☃️
Everything in all and all in everything, this was an overall intriguing read that has some great potential. With a few improvements you could enhance the impact of your tale. I definitely look forward to the next chapter!

That's it, that's all.
Hoping the review has been of value to you!

Happy Holidays!🎄

With Rose-tinted regards!




LadyMysterio says...


whoops i forgot to thank you for this great review!! i will add more description. That tends to be a weak spot for me. So im always thankful when people mention where they would like more. The current title is Double Agent, which is a working title. It may make more sense further into the story. But if you have any suggestions id welcome them!




He began to wonder why he had felt uneasy at all. It was like a man wondering in broad daylight why a dream had appeared so terrible to him at night.
— Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart