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12+ Violence

Tuxedo Boys [I]

by Pompadour


A/N: This is not the complete chapter, nor will I be posting the complete chapter any time soon. I was just very tetchy with the beginning and wanted some feedback for when I edit after NaNo; I'd like to know if the present-tense is working out fine, or if I should drop it. There might be inconsistencies in tense. Rip it up, please~ x

-i-

London: August, 2013.

His name is Night Randalls and he is the slowest one of them to die. Blond hair slicked back with gooey crimson gel, his eyes vast yet empty, his pulse tripping on his temple in an incorrigible act of defiance—he is not easy prey. A smile flickers on his face. A breath issues from his nostrils, whirling before his face in a puff of blue smoke.

The others watch him, stiller than shadows, more akin to stone than trolls left to burn under the California sun. They are quiet. Eager. Waiting for him to be dragged under like the rest of them.

The clock strikes twelve. Night Randalls does not die.

It is dark in the pub above the bakery on 21st street, the kind of darkness that crawls along the edges of the room and clambers on tables and chairs. It is musky and sweet, dripping heavily into the gaping spaces between their ribs. The darkness intoxicates them, sends adrenaline coursing to their fingertips. They do not smile in their euphoria—nor would it matter if they did, really. These are people whose grins darken rooms rather than light them up, people who are cruel but beautiful, with faces you would always remember once you saw them, but never be able to recall with enough clarity to describe them.

Night Randalls, lying on the ground, watches as first one man, then another, steps on his chest and crushes his ribs into his body. He wants dearly to cough, or—even worse—to laugh. His pupils dart from face to face, drinking in the details of the room, whilst pinpricks of pain niggle at his mind. He cannot feel the movement in his eyeballs.

The room had been lit dimly four hours ago, but now the lamps are dead, the tables still gleaming in the moonlight that shafts in through the window. Their tops are glazed in honey, it seems, just like the wooden surfaces of the floor, the walls, and everything else within sight. It is like the whole room is emanating a soft glow.

The lamps are dead. And still Night Randalls is not.

The figures around him shift, like swathes of cloth in a light breeze, sometimes shadows when they dance in dainty circles around him. Even their breathing is rhythmic; not a gasp issues from their lips even as Night Randalls grunts audibly. His hand twitches. He wants to smile at the looks on their faces, the furrowed brows in the clear moonshine as it shines on those standing by the window. The rest of the figures’ faces are cast in shadow.

Outside the door, someone screams. Something heavy falls down the stairs. There comes the sound of quick, deep breaths, a sudden yell, and odd unearthly noises that are a cross between the rasping of boggarts and the shrieking of their illegitimate children.



Reapers' Inn is not haunted, nor is it plighted by an army of bedbugs.

It is a place where nightmares gnaw you alive.

The room Night Randalls is bleeding to death in is barefaced, wooden tables and chairs stacked up against the walls like tiny fortresses; the carpet is grey, steadily being stained red as the people lying around the room fade from life. Those who are alive barely have the chance to moan as they are wiped clean away. Night Randalls wants dearly to smirk, because he has all the chances in the world.

He emits a low, guttering noise, and he can see it affect them immediately, the sprightly Vampiric Morphs dancing around him, peering into his face. Vampeers, he wants to call them. Nothing else suits. They had lured him in earlier, past the false wall on the lower level, where all the strange folks of the neighbourhood gathered for a drink. Night has known this was going to happen. He had prepared for it. The Morphs wanted him, he had been informed, wanted him because of all the time he had spent in the past ten years walking them in circles, in an infinite loop of trickery and deceit. He had been willing to take the job; the risks were overwhelming, like a tsunami washing over his life, changing it forever … but the job had to be done. There is nothing else to it.

What Night had not expected is that other people would be involved as well. He feels a distinct emotion stirring in his chest—a strange, heavy kind of sorrow intermingled with pain, although he is not sure if the pain is physical in this case.

He barters with himself that it probably is.

The clock strikes twelve-thirty. Then twelve forty-five, ticking slowly—sometimes faster, it seems—and the Vampiric Morphs do not leave. They speak to each other in low tones, their voices surrounding Night Randalls like the whooshing of the wind on a pale night. He strains his ears; he cannot understand them, but two of the larger figures stand by the door, arguing, apparently, and he does not have to strain his ears to listen to them.

‘He’s not dying. You know very well he can’t be fully turned if he hangs in the middle—what if he—’

‘He won’t,’ the second voice hisses. This one is female, Night thinks, while he has been unable to tell the other voices apart. Most of the Morphs sound gender-neutral; it is part of what makes them so frightening. Although Night Randalls is not frightened. He has met and danced and killed too many Morphs to be frightened by them, of all things.

But as the blood seeps from his body, as the twanging in his head increases at an alarming rate and as the Morph’s whispers agglutinate in the air around him like hot, heavy honey, Night realises that he is two things: restless, and very much afraid that he will not survive the night.

He wants so dearly to get up and walk away, to kick the door shut in the Morphs’ faces—but he knows he had to wait for them to leave before that can happen. After all, Night Randalls is many things—Class A detective, Class A+ warrior, but even he is not a Morph, and he would rather not have his cartilage ripped out and his head on a spear-fork before the night runs out.

His heart is like a rubber band about to snap in two. Night Randalls’ nails dig into his skin as he holds the rubber band in exactly the right way; if it stretches any further—it is obvious—he will die.

That is a possibility he is trying not to contemplate at this point in time.

‘Look, if it doesn’t go right—you know what we came here for, right?’ the taller silhouette says. He—or she—shift slightly, their shadow falling over Night’s knees. ‘It didn’t work out, he’s gonna be furious, and you can lead the pile-up because I sure as hell am not going to tell him we have a halfway on our hands.’ The Morph does not even bother to lower his voice anymore; the whispers buzz around him, the Morphs’ figures flitting around the room so that it makes Night dizzy just to watch them. If the blood loss doesn’t kill him, he thinks bitterly, then this will.

‘Then we leave him here,’ the female says. ‘There’re too many vamps out loose on the streets these days, anyway, how is he to know this one is ours?’ She lifts a hand and gestures at the other Morphs—nothing more than a flick of the wrist.

Then, they are gone. Night registers the clicking of a lock, hears the door shut behind them even though he had never noticed them open it in the first place.

Silence, but for the sound of his breathing. Slowly, he gets to his feet, the world around him spinning like a crazed top, the moonlight ricocheting off his retinas and the cold air pricking at his eyeballs with its long, sharp nails. He is unsteady on his feet, and he winces as he runs a hand through his hair. When he holds his hand up to observe it, he is not surprised to see that his entire palm is red. It is not a comforting sight. A groan escapes his lips, and the floorboards, too, choose that moment to creak. The wind seems to sigh resignedly. The bodies surrounding him seem to be part of the carpet now, as the skins of the Morphs’ victims turn grey; they wither like autumn leaves, or like old pages from older books in a bookstore filled with vile history.

For a while, Night stands there, until he can breathe without feeling as if something is wedged in his lungs. For a while, the entire building seems to creak and moan in protest, as if counting down the seconds until it will fall apart. Then, shaking his head, he stumbles towards the window, shivering as he places his hand against the cold glass. He flicks the latch and swings the window open, breathing in the smoke and faint scent of cheap drink that is this part of London.

It is raining now, and the rain, too, is light as it patters against the windowpane, droplets slipping down along the old wallpaper and forming a puddle on the carpet. Night is careful as he places a sneaker-clad foot onto the pane, looking back at the room before he leaves. He feels like he is forgetting something, but he cannot put his finger on exactly what it is. He checks his person once, feeling in the pockets of his jacket for everything he had on him when he arrived—his penknife, a laminated map of the London Underground, bits of lint and a wad of gum that looks more useless than it actually is. His gun, a S&W 642, is safely nestled beneath his numerous layers of clothing—he can feel the holster he has attached to the waistband of his jeans rustle beneath his clothes as he moves. The cold metal buckle is cool and reassuring against his skin.

In effect, a gun is useless in these parts, and Night knows it. But going out without a gun is as foreign a thought to him as having no teeth.

He is woozy as he clambers onto the windowpane, and the dizziness does not abate even as he manages to climb onto the ledge that runs along the building. He keeps a death grip on the window-frame, edging slowly towards the right. He remembers the staircase coming down from the roof of Reapers’ Inn—the incredibly conspicuous spiral-shaped one that he thinks he can reach eventually, if he keeps scooting along the building without falling down. Sweat trails down his spine and nervous chills wrack his body as the wind slams into him. His face is a mixture of sweat and blood—his own, as well as others’. When he stumbles suddenly, he is surprised to find that he is not falling, for his nails are digging at least an inch into the wall behind him. He did not notice he had such a death-grip on it.

In fact, it must be admitted that he has not been noticing much at all.

There is an odd, aching feeling in his limbs. The buildings across the street are abandoned, and in the darkness and the rain, they look like empty boxes wound with wire. His holster whimpers against him, and he pats it down with a free hand, the other still clinging tightly to the wall behind him. Its teeth scrabble against his skin and he hisses when they dig into his flesh. He thwacks his waist harder, and something nips at his hand. He yelps, and holds his hand up to the dim light.

When he sees the blood dripping from his fingernails—no, from the talons where his fingernails used to be, he swoons. His left hand curls into a fist; a chunk of plaster breaks free from the wall—it is taking up all the space in his palm—and he skids, trying to establish a firmer grip, trying to ignore the way the carton boxes from across the street have eyes and the way they are swaying, too.

But then the tiredness catches up with him and he goes vaulting down the side of a building, five floors above the ground. 


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Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:29 pm
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Wisteria wrote a review...



Heyo Nut, I've been meaning to review this for ages now. But I haven't reviewed in forever so I'm a bit rusty but I'll give this a try anyway.

I have this habit of opening with analyzing the first paragraph so here goes.

His name is Night Randalls and he is the slowest one of them to die. Blond hair slicked back with gooey crimson gel, his eyes vast yet empty, his pulse tripping on his temple in an incorrigible act of defiance—he is not easy prey.


The first sentence is good, it's not great but it catches the reader's interest. However the following description is clunky, in fact contrary to your previous reviewers I think you've put too much description in this piece that doesn't serve their purpose in enhancing the story. Take this paragraph, gooey crimson gel gives me the image of red jelly instead of blood. I was actually confused, 'was he wearing red hair gel or something...' I feel like gel isn't setting the right atmosphere here. But that's a personal thing. Vast yet empty doesn't paint me a very good picture of his eyes, it's too vague. A further note on your description overall, your descriptions are pretty but they are used incorrectly. Of course I don't mean all of them but rather the overall effect.

Their tops are glazed in honey, it seems, just like the wooden surfaces of the floor, the walls, and everything else within sight. It is like the whole room is emanating a soft glow.


Your sentences are long, approaching a run-on sentence(actually you do have a lot of run-on sentences here). Remember that Randall is dying here, I doubt he is in the mind-set to write Tolkien level descriptions about the room. And I'm not exactly sure this is the right mood here, I want action and I want to feel the thrill or fear of Randall. I want to be intune with his emotions, this is a great opening for you to dig into it. You have plenty of chances to describe the room later.

Reapers' Inn is not haunted, nor is it plighted by an army of bedbugs.

It is a place where nightmares gnaw you alive.


I suggest you put this at the start somewhere and nix some of the descriptions in between because this is more interesting and gives the readers a general idea of the setting before being thrown into the midst of everything.

So, the Morphs are feared because their voices are gender-neutral? Why? ….I would have imagined it to be their power or something else. Also, if Randall has spent so many years hunting them why did he get injured this time? Was this an elaborate trap? And what exact;y are these Morphs I’m so confused right now. I feel like the Morph’s are trying to turn him into one of them or something but somehow it’s not working, and they are different to Vampires it seems. He also has talons?

What is going on? I have so many questions that I don't even know where to start and it's probably best to answer the fundamentals of those. Like the Morphs and why Randall is so badly injured this time. Providing some context before the attack would be helpful. His reaction after the attack is interesting, I would have thought that he'd try and stop the bleeding or at least when his head is a bit clearer. The inn he is in is dangerous but in his current condition, wouldn't it make more sense to stay there and rest a bit before vaulting himself down the building (which is also due to his current state of health.)

I think what's happened here is that you've spent a lot of time describing the attack and then after the attack, and the on the environment around it which made it seemed sort of loose for a first chapter. First chapters, I don't need to tell you this is crucial for establishing a reader's view of your story, world which is why it's important that you give them a taste of those things. Here's my opinion, you don't have to take it of course. Start with the latter half of the chapter where you introduced the inn, scatter some clues as to why he's here, clear up the exchange between the Morphs. And the descriptions, just remember that Randall is mortally wounded and the writing should reflect his state of mind.

Don't get me wrong though, I like the idea here (when have I not like your ideas?) So keep it up! I look forward to reading more of this. If you've got questions, you know where to find me. ;)

-Hir




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Sat Nov 14, 2015 7:32 pm
GoldFlame says...



Remind me to review this. It's amazing <3




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Fri Nov 13, 2015 11:55 pm
Pretzelstick wrote a review...



Heya Pompeii c:

Here I am for a review for the contest that you are hosting:#11in11. I know that you wanted someone to review this, or rip this apart, so I am going to try to do my best to critique this without getting into nitpicks, because this is just NaNo. ;)

I would like to start off with a favorite line of mine:

These are people whose grins darken rooms rather than light them up, people who are cruel but beautiful, with faces you would always remember once you saw them, but never be able to recall with enough clarity to describe them


His name is Night Randalls and he is the slowest one of them to die.


His name is... made me cringe on the other side of the screen. Honestly, I think that this is an every-day introduction that you get with new people, and just that part makes me want to stop reading this chapter right there and then. The thing is, i never judge a book by it's cover. I judge it by it's first sentence, which should act as a hook to actually reel me into the story so that it forces me to keep on reading. I would switch up the order and write: "He is the slowest one of them to die, the (creature,person) name Night Randalls."
That intrigues me much more than the first part of the sentence alone.

I got this advice somewhere, or read it somewhere online: "Never describe your character in the first paragraph." Think about it, you totally have time for that later. You can do that during the whole novel, and that's a beneficial thing. If you lay on the imagery of his body at the beginning, the reader kind of loses interest. At least I did. I wanted the sci-fi action feeling that I adore to get in my mind while reading this type of genre. I love that paragraph, because I am a visual learner, but I would just move somewhere else where you think that it seems fit.

Waiting for him to be dragged under like the rest of them.


How can the victims be watching him, if he is the slowest to die? Meaning that he would be the last one to die, if it weren't for his powers. This didn't really make sense, unless the dead people someone still could see in their natural, mortal eyes for a couple minutes after experiencing death? Just an idea to throw out there to you.

There comes the sound of quick, deep breaths, a sudden yell, and odd unearthly noises that are a cross between the rasping of boggarts and the shrieking of their illegitimate children.


You must know by now that I absolutely adore your descriptions, because I always love to read them everywhere. But the thing is, you see that I think that you have overdone it a little bit here. Like, it was described too much, because these scream is probably going to be insignificant. How is it going to matter to the rest of the storyline, in what way that scream sounded?

Night Randalls wants dearly to smirk, because he has all the chances in the world.


I honestly doubted this, and so did Night. It's not like he was exactly contemplating death, but he did acknowledge that there was a slight possibility of him dying. Honestly, I don't like to read characters like Night who are overly sure about something. Overly confident, a bit too much to be realistic. Well, I suppose this isn't a realistic novel, but I why would he be so over-the-top survivor sure? Do you see what I mean here?

Not that much world building going on in here, because even though I know about where this is occuring, I don't know anything about who his enemies are? Who are these things that are trying to make him spill blood? It would be great if you could take the time and just focus on them, and building their image and identity. As a curious reader and person, I want to know how these vampeers look like, and how they act. It's all left up to your imagination, after all. ;)

After all, Night Randalls is many things—Class A detective, Class A+ warrior,


Again, I'm pretty skeptical here, because he seems so prideful. It's almost like he is naming his degrees that he finished and studied and is experienced. But I,as the reader, what a little bit more proof of this. I don't know Night as a character, why should I believe his own judgement of himself? I would rather have another character come later on into the scene and judge him accordingly to get a second opinion to affirm this in a way.

if it stretches any further—it is obvious—he will die.


Actually, it's not that obvious. I didn't know that there was this balancing danger. How was I even supposed to know this, to be perfectly honest? I would try to include that analogy before, or explain/preface it before you just kinda brought it up out of the blue and told the readers this fact about his insides.

At the ending part, he seemed kinda like drunk, instead of bleeding or injured in some sort of physical way. My point is to make that a bit more obvious, by showing us the way in which this could actually happen, you know?? When I bleed, I get wounds, scratches, marks, bruises, etc. And I see the blood, even in the moonlight. Maybe the blood red color could afflict the moonlight and make it more sparkly? idk, it's your choice, I'm just trying to help you make him seem worse than he seems to me.

But then the tiredness catches up with him and he goes vaulting down the side of a building, five floors above the ground.


You got me totally lost here at the end. I was expecting a grand cliffhanger, the ones that you love to dabble in, and here I got a confusing sentence that I can't really piece together. Now, I know that this may not be the last sentence of your actual paragraph, since you only posted a part, but I would beg you, for the readers sake to explain or make more clear what you are trying to say here.

Does present tense work here? I think that absolutely yes. Present is the best place to be in the action, in my opinion. While reading this, I keep on imagining that it was happening right now, not just some distant day in the past, if you see what I mean. I would keep it, because I don't really see a lot of well-written novels that can pull it off in present tense, because it's a difficult feat here. But remember, whichever tense you decide, please stick with it so that you can remain completely consistent in that regard throughout your whole NaNo novel.

Overall, as the reviewer below me explained, I loved the vivid descriptions to me, because some of them really sounded like poetry. That's probably because of you talent/knack for writing poems, but I personally really appreciate implementing this into your writing.Poetry is just too lovely. <3

~That's all.

Pretzel




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Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:34 pm
slim14 wrote a review...



I like is but after a while i forgot that i was reading a novel and thought that i was reading a very long poem. I suppose that is how I have always felt about the present tense. Though if used well it creates a marvelous story i still think that the best way to bring out the chronological events is through past tense because it makes my understanding of the story a whole lot simpler. Another thing is with this tense it is easy to lose track of the storyline because all you can think of is what is going to happen next while you find that you forgot to hold on to the events that already took place in the book. what im trying to say is that my imagination would have already deleted the few pages that i had already read in order to make space what is to come. i dont know maybe the way my mind works. so far you are doing good and in truth I do like your story and cannot wait for you to give us the rest of it. :)





What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.
— Albert Pines