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Burned 1.1

by Noelle


Six years later...

I slink into the shadows, not letting my back leave the wall. Without the shadows to conceal me my cover will be blown. That’s the biggest mistake I can make. My breathing slows as time passes. It’s only a few minutes before I hear leaves crunching under footsteps.

“Where the hell did she go?” I’d recognize that voice anywhere. It belongs to Colton Frell. “I’m not about to chase her around much longer.”

“She can’t be far. We saw her back there. No way she could’ve escaped that quickly.” Jordin responds. My breath catches in my throat. I knew that Colton wasn’t working alone – none of us were – but I never would’ve guessed that he’d paired up with Jordin. The two of them never spoke, never got along. But they both hate me. If they teamed up together it can only be for one reason: to take me out.

Colton grumbles something and walks a bit lighter. There’s less noise coming from their direction, but I know they haven’t passed by yet. All I can do is wait. Maybe if they get closer I can attack. It would be a risk, but one worth taking.

Not for the first time, I wish that Merith was still with me. She had been captured a while ago. If they’re hurting her I don’t know what I’ll do to myself. She’s my best friend. I refuse to let anything happen to her.

“Bryn. Hey. You there?” A voice crackles in my ear. My hand instinctively jumps to the earpiece. I’ve never been so relieved to hear Will’s voice. I’m just about to respond when I realize I can’t. Any noise I make will travel and Colton and Jordin will be on me before I can even raise my fists.

Will was silent for a moment before trying again. “Hello? I know you’re there. I can see you on the monitor. Why are you just standing there? Time’s running out and you need to—" He stops suddenly. The next time he speaks I can hear his voice tense. “They found you didn’t they? Shoot. Um, alright. I need information from you and you need it from me. Click your tongue once for yes, twice for no. Do they know where you are?”

Two clicks. It’s possible that they know where I am, but I highly doubt it. If they knew they’d be here already.

“Okay, let me readjust my angle here so I can give you their exact location. Maybe Merith will show up too.” Will says the last part with a slight annoyance. I understand his frustration. Sharna is back at Command with him. She’s supposed to be keeping track of Merith, but we’ve gotten no information. For only the seven hundredth time, I wish that Merith had applied for another comms partner. Comms are supposed to be there for us, to keep us out of danger. Sharna has done nothing but put Merith in danger and keep her there.

Sharna’s voice suddenly pierces my eardrum. “I’m here too you know. I can help.”

I know that I’m supposed to be quiet, but I can’t stop myself from snapping at her. “Help by finding your partner. You know that we have to be together to win. I can’t do this by myself.”

I hear her huff into her microphone. “I know where she is. The problem is getting her to you.”

“Then get her there,” Will says before I can respond. “We’re wasting time arguing. No one’s reached the end yet, but I’m sure there are teams that are close.” Of course they are. Just because I haven’t figured out the clues doesn’t mean no one else has.

I tell Will to keep an eye out for anyone coming my way and to remind Sharna who’s boss. She doesn’t like my comment and lets me know in a variety of well placed insults. One of these days she’s going to regret everything she’s ever said to me.

With a quick check of the area behind me, I step away from the wall. With or without Merith, I have to move. I’m at the left edge of the property. If I keep going I’ll hit the far wall and have to head right. If I head out away from the wall, I’ll be in a more conspicuous area and have a higher chance of others finding me. The towering trees on the left edge are a great cover. Once I emerge from behind them, I’m fair game. There are small hiding places scattered across the rest of the property, large boulders, dilapidated shacks, the occasional trench, but that’ll be where everyone else is. Our objective isn’t to fight against each other, but I wouldn’t put it past some of my classmates. They’re just as desperate as I am. The difference is I know how to hide it.

I keep my left hand against the wall as I continue. With all the sticks and freshly fallen leaves on the ground I have to be extra careful. I can tell that Colton and Jordin are still behind me. They have yet to master walking with complete silence. They’re making less noise than before, but still enough that I can clearly identify where they are. I’m at least a good fifty steps ahead of them. Plenty of distance for me.

As I continue on I hear more and more voices. Everyone must’ve come to the far wall first thinking that would be the least searched area. I scoff at the thought. You can’t just take the simplest idea and run with it. This is all about planning and careful thinking. The answer is hidden deep beneath the surface. The code we all received is a lot harder to crack than I would’ve imagined. I knew I wouldn’t be able to solve it in the blink of an eye, but I didn’t think I’d need Merith so desperately.

It doesn’t take me long to reach the far wall. There are still trees shading it so I have an advantage for now. But I don’t dare relax. I have to be prepared for a run-in with someone else. Tensions always run high during exercises. You never know what someone might feel desperate enough to do.

I listen carefully for anyone behind me. My enemy tag team seems to have lost their way. I don’t hear any of their enormous feet pounding this way. I hope they’ve given up trailing me. They’re not very good at it.

In a moment of lapsed judgment I decide to get a better look at the activity beyond the trees. It’s already been half an hour. Someone has to have some kind of lead. And if I can catch them following it, then I might not even need Merith.

Despite this possibility, I really hope that she can find her way back. We got separated at the very start of the exercise thanks to one of the professor’s tricks. She’s had plenty of time to find me. The fact that we haven’t been reunited yet scares me. What if something happened to her?

I’m only a few paces away from the wall when Will hisses in my ear. “What do you think you’re doing? There are a million kids just outside of the tree line! No way this is the best idea you have.”

“Calm down,” I whisper back. “I’m not going out there. I just want to look around.”

“That’s the same thing,” he argues. “You’ll be seen.”

I shush him and continue on. He rambles on about this danger and the next, but I’m not paying attention. The only thing I’m interested in is finding this stupid treasure and getting back to school. I need a good recommendation on this training exercise if I’m going to make it into the agency after graduation, which is only eight months away. That’s not much time at all. If I don’t get high recommendations on my training exercises I can kiss any chance I had of becoming an agent goodbye. I’m not any professor’s star student. I don’t even make the bottom of that list.

My cover loses its effect as the trees become less abundant. I eventually reach the point where I have to dart from one to another just to make sure I’m not seen. This takes a lot more effort and extra focus to keep from making noise while I run. If someone is going to find me, it’ll be on my terms. No way I’m going to be found by such an idiotic mistake as making too much noise.

I reach a fairly large tree that’s at the edge of the forest and decide to hide behind it. This is going to have to be good enough. There’s still a lot of trees in front of me, but I can’t risk it. I’m far enough that I can see out into the main area of the property and that’s all that matters.

There are kids everywhere; first levels mixed with third levels and dominating fifth levels tracking them down. It’s a school wide exercise, one of only four that will happen all year. I’m really missing those intense fifth level exercises right about now. Everyone younger than me just seems like they’re plodding along. No one is taking this seriously. Even the fourth levels look like they don’t know what to do. They should know better. Last year I started treating these exercises like they’re a job interview. Really, they could be. You never know when Vido will send recruiters to the school.


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Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:17 am
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SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...



Hey there! I'm finally here, because I've decided to get myself into gear (for whatever reason...)

I slink into the shadows, not letting my back leave the wall. Without the shadows to conceal me...


Normally, I try not to nit-pick, but this threw me in loops. Because, one, shadows is repetitive and, two, she says she's in the shadows. Then she's suddenly without shadows to conceal her? What huh? I think your main character is having issues figuring out her surroundings. (And I'm rather confused where she is at this point, but okay xD)

OKAY. Rereading through that, I think I understand what you were going for. If you were trying to say that her cover would be blown without the shadows, you failed. To come to that conclusion, I had to really think about it, and I think it's because you're trying too hard to stay in present sense. By doing so, you made it seem like it is inevitable -- she will be found because she doesn't have shadows. Be careful not to stay too into present sense, because she's thinking about hypothetical. Thus, instead of 'it will' you could say 'it would' and still be in present tense.

I’d recognize that voice anywhere. It belongs to Colton Frell.


I don't mean to be so nit-picky, but it's happening today. If you really think about it, it seems to me that Bryn knows that Colton and his friend are there when she says it would be a mistake to leave the shadows, but this little introduction makes it seem like she doesn't know it. It's so simple, but it implies she had to think about who it was rather than knowing. So which is it? Does she know they're there before or not? If she doesn't why is she so keen to stay so hidden?

Enough of the beginning, another thing I don't think I'm getting the full effect of is that Merith has been captured. At the point that we find out, we have no idea it's a school mission. None. So... later on when Will just casually mentions that she may show up again, the reader is screaming at the book. She's captured. No way out if someone doesn't come save her... (And I swear, Bryn said she wouldn't let anything happen to her, but if she knew she was captured, I assume she saw it -- and it was never mention that someone else told her -- so why didn't she help her then. I don't understand Bryn.) My point is, it's being downplayed so suddenly that the reader is bound to notice and be all, "Whaaaa? I dun understand."

Right after Bryn snaps at Sharna, she seems to lose all sense. I do appreciate how you mention at first that she needs to be quiet (or have her mention it -- even though it may do better to show her frustration to break this rule of the utmost importance.), but she forgets it instantly after. What about Colton and Jordin? Did she forget about them? Because she apparently moves first then thinks... Because, you know present tense has everything happening in the present and that much hesitation would have her found, based on the build up you had.

I think I missed something in here. The moment before Bryn reaches the far wall, she just said that everyone would be there, so why would she go there? Does she need something there? Why would it be the place the least searched? Overall, I'm just lost in that area, but it may be because I took a break and started reading there, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

I know, I know, I know. I just finished talking about how Merrith was apparently captured, but it seems to be a rather important detail that was quickly skimmed over. Bryn mentions on at least three occasions that she needs Merith with her to complete this mission. (Though she doesn't elaborate why, and the thought seems kind of random >.> Or I'm just missing something again) but we have nothing told to use that Merith was able to get out of her position, sooooo... I don't know. So much inconsistency. (The next paragraph just like throws everything before out the window, about her capture and such. I'm just plain confused now.)

The rest of my comments have already been swooped up, so I'll leave you with this:
I LOVE IT. Oh, goodness. I'm a sucker for agents definitely, but the concept is played out really well, showing Bryn and her partner and her Comms parter all intertwined. For the most part, you did fine with first person, but there are times when I felt that something was missing. That I didn't get the full 'in the head' feeling. It's perfectly okay to be vague and hide things from the reader in first person, but things have to be a lot more revealing and stay on the same line of though. Merith was quite often mentioned in this review, as you've seen, so you must realize that it was too vague at points and inconsistent. That shouldn't occur, because the narration is a person's thought, you know? I hope I didn't ramble too much.

Also, hope I helped some too! Happy writing,
~Wolfare




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Sun May 03, 2015 5:39 pm
Corncob wrote a review...



Here as promised! Quite a while ago

No way this is the best idea you have.”

This sentence feels clunky and hard to understand. I suggest rephrasing.

If I don’t get high recommendations on my training exercises I can kiss any chance I had of becoming an agent goodbye.

I think it would sound better as "I can kiss goodbye any chance I had of becoming an agent."

I shush him and continue on. He rambles on about this danger and the next, but I’m not paying attention.


You use "on" twice close enough that it becomes redundant. I suggest just taking out the "on" after rambles; it's not necessary.

(Sorry those two suggestions weren't in chronological order.)

I reach a fairly large tree that’s at the edge of the forest and decide to hide behind it.


I feel like this would read easier without the "and decide to" and instead just "and hide behind it."

There are kids everywhere; first levels mixed with third levels and dominating fifth levels tracking them down.

I agree with pretzelsing; this sentence is clunky and difficult to read. I suggest rewording or making it into two sentences so its more understandable.

You never know when Vido will send recruiters to the school.


You throw this in as the last line without giving the reader any hint of who or what Vido is. Whereas in your write of this chapter last time, I felt like you gave an information overload, in this chapter I feel like there isn't enough information. You jump right into an action scene without giving much info on why this girl is roaming around through the forest, looking for some "treasure", and something about comms (Commands). I feel like some elements from your previous chapter would have been helpful in this chapter so we readers know something about what's going on.
For example, how old is Bryn? How old are the kids in the different levels? She could be anywhere from 15 to 25. What is the age difference, if there is any, between the Commands and the student levels? To me, it seems like Bryn is more or less the same age as Will, but I don't know what your intentions were.

I also wish you had spent less time narrating her decisions and treks through the trees and more time getting to actual action. What is she looking for? Why is she looking for it? How did she even get away from Colton and Jordin? You made her keeping quiet so dramatic in the beginning, as if her life was really at threat, but then all that suspense simply dispelled when she got away without any difficulty. I loved this chapter up until the point where Bryn steps out from the wall and makes her getaway, and then all the narration without action made my interest peter off. My main suggestion is more action, less long narration about her event-less treks through the trees. Tell us what's happening and what the situation is and who she is through action, or through narration, but still keep the action going.

Overall rating: 7.5/10
Keep writing!
+1

P.S. This review earned me my fourth star, so thanks for writing!




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Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:37 am
Corncob says...



Great to see you cleaned this up a bit, and expect a review from me later this week ^_^




pretzelsing says...


Ping! *reminds you to write a review for this* :)



Corncob says...


*pings back* Thank you! I totally forgot as I didn't go on YWS much :( *plans to do later i promise*



Pretzelsing says...


You did it May 3rd.:x



Pretzelsing says...


Sorry that was a random emoji and I didn't mean it. <,<



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Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:39 am
kevin25a wrote a review...



I loved this story, I'm confused as to the agent comment. Do you mean like CIA or MI6 RSF type agent? Or like secret service, seals, that aspect confused the hell out of me. You have a really good story going and I look forward to where you take it. Would love to know when you do publish the next chapter. I think you ended it a bit short, but that's just me. I look forward to your story though.




pretzelsing says...


I would suggest reading the prologue to get a little more background. It precedes this chapter.



Noelle says...


I'll definitely be giving more information about the agents and the agency later :)



kevin25a says...


Thank you, it did confuse me a little. It will help when that happens Bubbles.



kevin25a says...


Thank you, it did confuse me a little. It will help when that happens Bubbles.



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Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:15 pm
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Pretzelstick wrote a review...



Heya Noelle, here I am, reading the edited version of your first chapter.I saw this and so I wanted to review it *is a follower of this forever*. Anyways, I know your review style so I will try to nitpick as little as possible and do more general helpful tips.
Let's begin,shall we??

So I actually had to skim through the prologue to refresh my memory on the background of this novel. I don't think that everyone will remember/read your prologue because they could have forgot that(it was published on Feb.21-almost two months ago) xD That is a long time lapse and everyone has their other novels that they are reading. What I am meaning is,maybe give little snippets of background information sparse throughout the text. I was puzzled by some things.
What is their goal of this exercise? Like, what does she have to accomplish or get from this?Why is this possible job interview so important? Anyways, that is just a reader's perspective for you.

But they both hate me.


This Colton and Jordin, why do they hate her? You don't have to answer this in this chapter, but giving valuable insight of the haters motives is vital for the reader to understand the plotline. (<,< woah that sentence was fancy). But you see what I mean, right?
What did Bryn do or what did they do?

I loved that you really got into Bryn's head and showed her plans and reasons or why she is moving, or what she is thinking about Willa and Sharna while communicating with them.One thing that you could work on from the personal point of 1st person is that what was she feeling? Bryn could have felt worry,desperation,cleverness,alertness,anticipation, tense, worried,etc. So now your job as the authors is to bleed those emotions into the ink even more.

For only the seven hundredth time, I wish that Merith had applied for another partner.


Who is Merith's partner? Sharna or Bryn? Because that sentence makes me very befuddled. I assumed while reading this whole chapter that this was Bryn's partner since she was looking for her and worrying about her. Didn't she need Merith's cooperation and help? Then were they working together or not? :?

I’m at the left edge of the property. If I keep going I’ll hit the far wall and have to head right. If I head out away from the wall, I’ll be in a more conspicuous area and have a higher chance of others finding me. The towering trees on the left edge are a great cover. Once I emerge from behind them, I’m fair game


I now better understand Bryn's thought process, but I honestly don't understand why you need to include all of these directions like: left,right,etc. I as the reader, don't really care where Bryn goes, as long as she isn't seen. I have to follow directions when going to people's houses,on hiking trials,etc. and honestly they are pretty boring. I would really either simplify this or cut it out. What if you just wrote:
"I decided to head right,where I will be the most under-cover."
You could come up with any other creative thing to shorten this boredom ;)

There are still trees shading it so I have an advantage for now.


A lot of this chapter focuses on her hiding between and behind trees,especially at the end. My question to do is: what kind of trees are they?Are they big fat oak trees with rough bark that would hurt if you got too close for comfort?
Pine trees that has prickly needles that would drop into your clothes?
Where did the branches start on the trunk of the trees?
What kind of tree was it?
I have a blurry image of the trees,since there are just so many possibilities. These trees are vital to her survival,literally, and so she should observe them and know exactly how they look like.

No way this is the best idea you have.”


I would reword this because how your wrote it here makes it sound like:
"No way! This is the best idea you have."
Instead I would fix that and write:
"No way is this the best idea you have!?"
That second sentence is kind of like an exclamation and and a question, and don't you agree that it conveys the meaning a little bit more?

This takes a lot more effort and extra focus to keep from making noise while I run.


I felt like in this sentence,you could also say that this took a lot of energy. That's how I imagine it,anyways.Running,panting breath,etc. probably took up most of Bryn's energy. Maybe you could describe her behind one of the tree trunks, leaning over and trying to catch her breath or regenerate.Do you see what I mean,Noelle?

Everyone younger than me just seems like they’re plodding along.


What do you mean by this? I didn't really understand. I could imagine them just attempting to play "hide and seek" maybe? Is that what it looked like. Were they maybe acting all lazy or slow? Care to elaborate a little bit more on this?

first levels mixed with third levels and dominating fifth levels tracking them down.

Wait a second, does this mean that there are no second and fourth levels (I know that you mentioned fourth later).Isn't this a school-wide activity and the school has different grades? But if so,then why couldn't you just write:
"First through third levels . . ."
or "First through fourth levels . . ."
That ^^ is something that I could have totally understood.

Overall, I have to say that I honestly like this edited chapter more than the last one,because this gets more of the actions,but not the full scoop yet. I can't wait to see what happens next and does Bryn achieve what she wants? Pleeeeeease poooooost another chapter sooon! :D I am dying to know.I hope that this review helps you improve your writing.If you have any questions you could always reply below.

KEEP ON WRITING!
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Patience is the strength of the weak, impatience is the weakness of the strong.
— Immanuel Kant, Philosopher