Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday's Story

This is a shamelss ploy for critique help! =) Below is the opening chapter of a book I am about to submit. I need to know if it grabs your attention and makes you want to read more? What would improve it? Any suggestions you can think of that would make it better? Anything that needs to be taken out? Please help and don't worry about offending me!!!

Of particular note: The word "Death" is used similar to a name of a person, hence the reason for capitalizing it. I am also attempting to be gender neutral, without giving too much away. If this is tedious, tell me, so I can revamp it before I submit it.

If you would rather e-mail me offline with any suggestions or comments, please e-mail me at

Thanks for any advice you may give and for your help!


Death comes in many shapes and sizes. Tonight it is human. Fear was tagging along with it. Doubt was there too. The two were not in accord with Death’s intent. The lingering question, why had guilt not joined them?

In the dark shadows, Death stood. Motionless, barely breathing, palms sweaty, fear and self-doubt cloying for purchase inside the mortal reaper’s head.

Now was not the time to experience doubts. It had gone way past the time for doubt. Death forced a deep rattling breath into its lungs. Ease did not come from the action, but a sense of resignation did. It was enough. It had to be enough.

Corporeal death craned its head around the corner, its heart ticking like an S.O.S. in its ears, clogging its throat with a tight ball of blistering panic, threatening to reveal itself in a spew of vomit. Even though the quick peek showed only a dark corridor, no sound could penetrate the thudding against the reaper’s eardrums.

Eyes squinting so tight, it was pressurizing Death’s eyeballs, Death still could not bodily force a different position, could not encourage bodily movement in the direction of creating death.

“Nothing is moving,” Death muttered beneath its breath so softly it was nothing more than a puff of breath. Disgust at its lily-livered emotions curling its gloved fingers the only outward sign of any emotion. Nothing moving except the rapid ticking of the heart in its lungs anyway, Death mused acidly. And it was pounding away inside like a crazed woodpecker, clambering to get out via its throat.

Dragging a ragged, useless, breath into its lungs, the mortal reaper slunk deeper into the shadows on the adjacent hall, indecision zinging about inside the cramped quarters of its skull. If that wasn’t bad enough, its knees were wobbling. Embarrassing, but true. The only comfort, no one was around to witness the humiliation.

The Grim Reaper knew it had to get hold of ones-self. This reaction had gone beyond the stage of ridiculous. But it was not everyday one committed murder.

Another long breath beefed up the reaper’s shoulders, settling squarely between tense shoulder blades. Less than three hours separated night from dawn. Darkness was the only ally.

At this hour, nothing in the palace moved, except—the heart hammering inside its throat and ears—for the shifting of those in their beds. Maybe a rat or two moved, but not much else. Even the pets had been put down for the night. The silence of the palace was almost eerie considering its normal bevy of activity.

Finally, Death forced the rubbery extensions called legs to move from their perch and tread lightly across the floorboards. One minor creak and everything could crash down upon the reaper’s head.

With a hand hovered above the doorknob, Death took another look about the hallway. Nothing. Death did not notice the way its hand shook suspended there mid-air, almost touching the doorknob. All Death noticed was the chilling taste of fear threatening to overtake the resolve to bring murder to the man within.

Guards should have been stationed at the door. That there were none betrayed the arrogance of the bedroom’s occupant. A one Viktor Gargos, Monarch of the Blueblood Nation. But not Monarch for long, Death ruminated smugly. Soon, the high and mighty evil bastard’s flesh would be rotting from his bones with the rest of the corpses in the cemetery. He wouldn’t be so high and mighty then.

Another deep breath lifted the chest and shoulders of Death. It expelled in a rush, loud to the ears, but barely above a sigh. It did not alert anyone of the deadly intentions.

With resolve squaring Death’s shoulders, a mask was tugged down over pale features, covering everything but pure ice blue eyes. The doorknob slowly twisted, emitting not even a squeak or click upon Death’s entry.

Gas logs burned low, shrouding the Monarch’s room in a mixture of dull shadows and an orange glow.

Light of step, Death entered the bedroom, shutting and locking the door. Alert eyes quickly scanned the bedroom and determined there were no guards within. A small sigh—one of relief this time—rattled between the reaper’s lips morbidly satisfied the Monarch had not swayed from routine.

Pushing away from the door, with a tranquil confidence, Death moved across the room. Fate moved with the mortal reaper, treads silent, floorboards without a minor squeak. The gas logs emitted enough light to find Viktor in bed, one of the palace whores at his side.

A whore in his bed, while his heavily pregnant teenage wife slumbered in the adjacent room, the reaper snorted in silent disgust. Once not too long ago, the mortal reaper had respected the Monarch. Things had change, obviously. Death had believed Viktor was what was best for their people. Now, Death thought otherwise. No, that wasn’t quite accurate. Death knew there was an insurance policy, one suited for greatness, one that would lead the Blueblood Nation into victorious peace.

Strange how worldwide changes were about to begin with the simple death of one man, Viktor Gargos—a/k/a Tyrant of the Blueblood Nation.

The whore beside Viktor rolled in her sleep, moaned and flopped an arm over her head, the other slapping Viktor’s face. Breath lodged in the assassin’s chest, burning with suppression until Viktor snorted once, then twice before resuming his loud, belly-rolling snores.

Blue eyes flickered coolly over the whore while slowly peeling the plastic sleeve off the syringe. The neutrality of the assassin’s eyes would have put fear in the slumbering couple had they been awake to appreciate it.

The syringe was depressed. A sudden spike of clear liquid arched from the fine tipped needle.

The calm that came over the assassin was amazing as it strolled to the whore’s side of the bed.

The whore had been anticipated. Rarely did Viktor adjourn to his chamber without one. The needle was jabbed into her upper arm. She offered only a small surprised gasp. It was not enough noise to rouse Viktor even slightly from sleep. Almost immediately after the gasp, the whore sagged into a deep slumber. Merely being a product of her surroundings did not invite death for the whore, she would sleep off the drug.

While eyeing the sleeping Monarch, Death slipped the syringe used on the whore into a pocket, then easily removed the syringe from the other pocket. Death primed it as the one before.
Silent steps of mortality prowled around the bed. Death knelt beside the Monarch. Without taking even a second to reconsider the actions set into motion, the human reaper stabbed the needle into Viktor’s neck and depressed the chamber.

Victor offered only a small, inaudible shriek of “Oh!” before going completely numb. Situating Victor’s head just so on the pillow, Death arranged it so that Viktor could easily see the eyes of his assassin.

No emotions flickered across the Monarch’s face, because the drug allowed none, Botoxing the victim’s entire body in one liquid swoop.

For a long moment the assassin stared at Viktor Gargos. A leader, a father and a husband; the man had done none of them well. The only thing he had ever done well was viciousness. At that the Blueblood leader excelled, often with relish. Death welcomed the strange sensation of no emotion. Shouldn’t something be felt for the man stretched out on the bed?

With a quick tug, the black mask was yanked from the assassin’s head. Hair as golden blonde as Viktor’s was exposed.

A hiss escaped between the Monarch’s lips and then a strangled, “Why?” managed to surface.

Why, indeed, Death snorted. “Because you issued the order to kill Bryler.” The blue eyes of death held Viktor’s eyes. “Surely you did not expect me to sit back and allow it to happen.” It was no question. “Dead because of a half-breed.” There was irony in that statement. It wasn’t lost on Viktor if the flaring of his pupils was any indication. “The syringe was filled with Morduary,” cool as silk Death informed Viktor of his demise.

Unmistakable panic flared in Viktor’s eyes. Death felt some satisfaction in that fear, especially when recalling the brutality others had suffered at Viktor’s command. The drug was lethal with no known antidote. It was also untraceable, eliminating any speculation that the Monarch’s death was anything other than natural. The bastard did not deserve to die so admirably or so painlessly, but Death really held no other choice if it were to appear natural.

“Do you suppose they will ever link me to your murder?” Two golden brows spiked at the doubt reflected in Viktor’s pale blue eyes. “No?” Death’s morbid chuckle slithered along its spine, almost wickedly delicious. “I don’t think so either.”

Carefully, Death tugged the black mask back into place, making sure each strand of hair was carefully hidden beneath.

“Enjoy hell, old man,” was Death’s cryptic parting remark.

There was distinctive gasping sounds of strangled breaths coming from Viktor as the human reaper slipped through the bedroom door. It was a solid sign the Monarch was nearing the end. His body would be as cold as his heart by the time anyone realized he was dead. Even better, no one would ever suspect Viktor had been murdered.

Copyright © 2008 Gracen Miller

2 deadly screams:

Sierra Wolfe said...

I've already given you my comments on the story, so I'm not going to give you a crit on here, but I will say that I love it. Which I've already said too :) Great story!

Gracen Miller said...

Thank you AGAIN, Sierra, for your previous comments and suggestions on this opening scene. =)