Saturday, 20 April 2013

Re-drafted Prologue

Based on the invaluable feedback of my target audience book group, I have made a couple of changes to the Prologue of the novel below. What do we think of the new version? Is it better?

Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed 
 In one self-place; for where we are is hell, 
  And where hell is, there must we ever be.
(Doctor Faustus. Christopher Marlowe.)

Hell isn’t what people say it is. I remember going to ‘Sunday School’ when I was younger and being told that it was heat, pain, fire and torture. They got it half right.

Hell isn’t under the ground either. In the films, you see zombie-like arms pushing through the ground as a screaming victim is dragged down to its murky depths. It isn’t like that either; more like stepping into the next room, albeit a room that you didn’t know existed. A flash of ultraviolet light. A portal in the air. A living portal. One which moves and swells, swallowing up the room around you, swallowing up you.

When the hour struck and he came to retrieve me, a ferocious cold snapped at me. I thought my bones would shatter into a million fragments, and then slip through my fingers like gold dust. Tentacles of ice slithered and snaked their way around my ankles, my wrists, my neck… Where each feeler grasped at my skin, obsidian crystals began to form. Tiny clusters of these grain-like crystals meandered their way over my limbs, tracking the veins as they ruthlessly made their way to my heart. I didn’t scream and wail, like I should have. The contract had been signed in my tears. I had made the deal. I was his.

An ashen blue flicker. I know; you would expect reds and oranges and yellows, flames which lick at the carbonated air, emanating blasts of heat and sending plumes of smoke into the atmosphere. The mixture of blues, purples and silver fog the air, creating a dull sheen between your eyes and what is in front of you. The mist is the only thing down there to remind you that you can breathe at all, even if the air itself is clammy and scented like maple syrup. Scented like death.

When he took my shaking hand and led me deeper into the cavernous tunnels ahead of us, I was not afraid.  I knew what I had signed up for and the surprising thing was, I wanted it.  My feet scraped over hard rocks and debris on the ground and where the mist was thickest around my feet, I felt a tickling sensation.
Surprisingly, hell is not dark. Like the brightest of all angels who created it, its incandescent light filled the tunnels as we ventured into them. A light so blinding, it made it impossible to see what was ahead, or what you had left behind. We suddenly came to an abrupt halt and he turned around. Taking both hands in mine, he brushed his thumb across my palm and I shivered.

When he looked into the depths of my eyes and told me it was time, I allowed it to happen. I wanted it. I needed it. I wasn’t dragged down to hell; I volunteered.

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