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12+ Violence

Footprints

by Panikos


It started when the servant punched her mistress in the face.

No it didn’t. It started further back. One could argue that it started because the servant’s mother made bad choices, and those choices led to her dumping a baby at the dark gates of a blocky building, which in turn led to the baby growing to become a servant at all. But that’s a slippery slope. Then you start blaming every little coincidence and happenstance. You blame the Big Bang, or perhaps you blame God.

So let’s just say it started because a servant punched her mistress in the face.

It was a powerful punch, landing with a thuck and a crack, and it was enough to fracture a bone in the servant’s hand. The fourth metacarpal bone, specifically.

She didn’t notice this. She was too busy trying to get a second hit in. She grabbed several handfuls of the mistress’ hair and pulled like she was uprooting fistfuls of dandelions. The mistress screamed like she’d just seen someone uprooting her prize-winning petunias.

The whole business came to a conclusion in the usual way - with a butler, throwing scalding tea all over the servant, and with a knotted string of swear words yelled loudly enough to rattle the chandeliers. Sopping and dripping, the servant spat at the mistress and turned on her heel. The front door slammed. A vase fell from a cabinet and shattered like a firework.

Which led our servant – or ex-servant, shall we say – to the edge of the Ilton River, where she hunched over the chipped railings and watched the orange lamplight pooling on the water. The metal was cool against her scalded arms. The dank breeze ran its invisible fingers through her hair.

You may want to ask why she punched her mistress. This is also the question that the ex-servant would come ask herself, repeatedly, while looking out of the window or waiting for the kettle to boil. The answer has a lot to do with human nature, attraction, and a young man called Emmet. It has very little to do with what the ex-servant saw next.

She looked towards the jagged skyline to the south, then to the squat buildings across the river, where the windows were patchily lit. Thin reeds of smoke spiralled from red chimneys. Smog hazed the stars.

She looked to her right. The cobbled bank was striped by lamplight, veering off into a parade of shuttered shops and tiny alleys. She saw the cat dart out from the gap between a bookmaker’s and a bakery.

Had her head not been in the position it was, she would’ve missed it entirely. It flashed across the street like a bullet, skittering beneath a bench and vanishing amid the dense shadows. The ex-servant blinked once. Her first thought was to label it the shadow of a low-flying bird.

She walked towards it. This was another thing she would come to question herself about, on the nights where she couldn’t sleep.

When she was a few feet from the bench, she lifted her scratchy skirts and crouched down. The cat’s acid eyes blazed at her from the darkness. The ex-servant held a hand out. She shuffled a little closer-

A hiss, a bump, and the cat sprang away, scrambling down the street. The ex-servant lurched after it, then sank back onto her calves. She sighed.

And then she saw the footprints.

Daubed across the cobbles were patches of something dark – twin patches, which veered out from the bench and towards the alleyway the cat had come from. Muddy prints. Wet prints. The ex-servant crouched lower. She put her finger against one of them.

Her skin came away red.

Her heart leapt, and she scrubbed her fingers against her skirts, backing away with a clop-clop-clop of clumpy shoes. She looked from the bench to the alley. The alley to the bench. Back again.

The alley mouth was a gaping strip of darkness.

And perhaps it was curiosity, or perhaps it was fear, or perhaps it was something else entirely, but her feet carried her towards it. She moved in stops and shuffles and bursts. When she breached the alley entrance, the darkness fell like fog. She had to trace the rough walls with her fingertips, while her shaky breathes rebounded between them.

Then her feet were wet. Her legs bumped against something warm.

She backed away, biting hard at the inside of her cheek. Blood coated her tongue.

It took almost a minute for a rent to emerge in the smoggy clouds overhead, and for a shaft of moonlight to spill down, down, down into the alleyway. In the pallid brilliance, she saw a slack face, a patch of fair curls, and a throat slashed jagged and red and gaping. She saw pooling blood, lit like crimson glass.

And then the clouds closed again. 


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362 Reviews


Points: 15642
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Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:54 pm
zaminami wrote a review...



Heya, DarkPandemonium! Kara Stevens here for a (hopefully) quick review!

Dang, I have NOT reviewed in the longest time. I am also typing this on my phone, so prepare for spelling/grammar atrocities. I also have three dogs clamoring over me so it might have a few "ajfoevksngk" that I missed XD

Also, this is the first review to get into KotGR so I'm excited to just jump into this :D

GRAMMAR TIME!!

I always start with grammar first so I can possibly grab any and all typos and stuff because I have OCD. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, after all.

You were extremely good with grammar. I saw a few mistakes, but otherwise you didn't have any other problems. Let's start:

No it didn’t.


There should be a comma after "No."

mistress’


There is only one mistress, correct? Therefore, there should be an apostrophe "s" after "mistress."

She saw the cat dart out from the gap between a bookmaker’s and a bakery.


I think it's strange that there could be several gaps between two stores next to each other. Also, a bookmaker is called a bookbinder (I got this from reading fantasy books) as well as a little inconsistency. Are the store fronts facing the servant? Otherwise, she wouldn't know what they were...

And then she saw the footprints.


The word "and" is generally not used in the beginning of a sentence. I know, I'm guilty of doing so too, but only when the sentence before would become a run-on if I use it correctly. Also, without "and" the sentence would have more impact. Just something to worry about.

OTHER THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME:

You don't have to read this part... these are other things that aren't nessessarily grammar but they did bother my OCD a little bit. I'm also going backwards from the bottom to the top.

It took almost a minute for a rent to emerge in the smoggy cloud


What's a rent?

She had to trace the rough walls with her fingertips, while her shaky breathes rebounded between them.


I know that you meant the walls, but you need to be more specific. It sounds like the shaky breathes rebounded in between her fingertips.

skittering beneath a bench


In this paragraph, it was describing a cat running in between buildings. But how can the servant see the bench if the cat was running in between the buildings? The benches would be in front of the buildings instead of being in the middle of the road, correct?

I also agree with Lumos below about how the cat togjen caught her attention. Why did it catch her attention, but not other cats

OVERALL:

I actually really enjoyed the story! Other than those OCD-ic things, I really thought you did a great job, as well as an interesting story idea and the way you narrated things. It's a plot that leaves a lot of questions for the reader to answer to themselves, which leads them to inter sting conclusions. Who was that man in the alley- Emmet or someone else? How will the servant react- run away or call the police? What did the mistress do to antagonize the servant? This is something I like in stories and books. ((Those are rhetorical questions, by the way. Just wanted to list examples.))

Good job, and keep writing!~

Kara R. Stevens




Panikos says...


Thanks for the review! A bookmaker doesn't actually make books - they take bets on things. They're known more colloquially as bookies. A little confusing, I know.
Also, the servant is kind of parallel to the shops, but I should probably mention that she can see signs poking out or something. I'll make that clearer. The cat also doesn't run between the shops, but OUT from between them.
I was initially going to have that the cat looked all sticky and wet with blood but I took it out. I guess, being someone who literally can't resist going up to a cat, I didn't think there needed to be a reason, haha.
(A rent is a tear, btw.)



zaminami says...


Oh, okay! Thanks for the clear ups :)



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Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:22 pm
Lumos wrote a review...



Hi there! Just dropping by for a quick review.

I like the way this starts! It starts when the action starts, and that's a very important element in short stories (in late, out early). I'm wondering if your intent for this is really a short story? The ending left rather open ended and left me a little dissatisfied, as there's a lot of loose ends.

[quote]No it didn’t. It started further back. One could argue that it started because the servant’s mother made bad choices, and those choices led to her pushing a baby out onto the floor of an alley, which in turn led to the baby becoming a servant at all. But that’s a slippery slope. Then you start blaming every little coincidence and happenstance. You blame the Big Bang, or perhaps you blame God. [a/quote]

This paragraph left me a little confused. I read it twice and still don't really get it. I don't get hour pushing a baby can turn it into a servant? It seems like there's some sort of mysterious backstory, which we aren't getting (which is good, because we don't want the backstory dumped on us), but I'm struggling putting this part together.

Is there something different about the cat darting around that's different than other cats? Why would this cat draw her attention, was there something strange about it? I find it a little unbelievable that a cat darting about would draw such attention. But it's possible I'm misunderstanding the story and the cat might play more importance later, if you continue the story?

The story held my interest until the end. I didn't find myself bored or uninterested, just a little confused at times. My main suggestion (if you don't plan on continuing the story) is to answer all the unanswered questions. Other than that, good job! :)

Lumos




Panikos says...


Thanks for the review! I did mean to leave a lot unexplained. I'm not sure whether I'll get round to continuing it, but it's definitely supposed to be the opening to something rather than anything standalone. As for the second paragraph, I was trying to get at the fact that the circumstances the servant was born in restricted her path in life and led to her becoming a servant, but I'll try to make it a bit clearer. Thanks again.




“Hope” is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all -
— Emily Dickinson