Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Short Clip

Context: Because there's an election on, a VIP has deigned to visit the film shoot and is glad-handing the re-enactors. Damie has just realized that al Zaim is a suicide bomber:

You cannot let this happen, said the little voice.

Damie slid sideways.

"Move, cow," said al Zaim in her ear. He pushed at her.

Damie moved.

She leaped, twitched the falchion out of the re-enactor's fingers, wheeled and sliced down with all her strength on al Zaim's forearm.

Follow through, offered the laconic little voice.

She reversed and slammed the hilt into his gut, brought up her knee under his chin as he doubled over.

Then he was gone.

Damie had the stunned impression of being propelled sideways, of being rolled over and over on the ground amid a tangle of flailing arms and legs and body parts - all blessedly still attached - of suffocating weight, of being hauled half upright and pinned hard against someone's thigh and held in a choke hold.

She plucked and clawed at the restraining arm, sucked in air somehow, and gasped out to the blur of faces a half-strangled shout.

"BOMB! He's got a BOMB!"

Time stopped for one long static moment, lurched forward on one collective indrawn breath.

"Oh, Christ," she heard, quietly and violently, somewhere above her, under the canopy of noise, the roar of startled shouts and choked screams.

The word spread outward from gaping mouth to gaping mouth. Bodies surged away like a wave.

"OUT! OUT!" Someone bellowed in Herewardian accents.

The arm slackened, a body heaved itself away. Other hands gripped her shoulders, more gently but not less firmly.

A pleading voice above repeated earnestly, "Steady there, Mum, steady there."

She was vaguely surprised not to find herself face down in the dirt with a knee in her back and her hands cuffed behind her.

Somewhere behind her an impossibly cultured voice requested the bomb squad at this location, and perhaps some further uniformed assistance as really, old girl, they were a little thin on the ground just now.

Damie tried to spit dirt out of her mouth, shake hair out of her eyes and focus.

One of the cameramen lay flat on his back just beyond, hugging his camera to his chest with both arms. Blood dripped from his nose, from a cut over one frantically rolling eye. His legs twitched like a sleeping dog.

Daoud al Zaim, his sports jacket peeled down, sat on the ground twelve or fifteen feet away in the grip of a policeman.

The falchion lay between them, a slick of blood along the blade.

Al Zaims jerked his head from side to side. He focused on her and stilled.

For an instant there were only the two of them, male and female, light and dark, locked within the swirling caophonous spiral of sound.

His eyes were no longer black and opaque but a boiling abyss of black.

Shock black, rage black, curse black.

You wicked homicidal scum, thought Damie, you scuttling scorpion, you creeping worm. DAMN your eyes.

He heaved and writhed, straining to bring his right arm across his body. It twitched and flopped. I must have broken it, thought Damie. Good.

Then she did a dangerous thing. She smiled at him. A triumphant, slow-curving, archaic smile. Like a war goddess.


Savannah Jordan said...

WooHoo! When this out? I want a copy!!

Love the 'goddess' line. I can't tell you how often I have to remind people that I am... LOL

Bernita said...

Savannah, you're an entire cheering section.
Thank you.
We will wait upon events.
Blogger is STILL being pissy.

Sela Carsen said...

Brilliant! The action is so crisp and the last line is just perfect for Damie.

Sorry about Blogger issues.

Erik Ivan James said...

Ahh, my Damie is back. This story is going to be a real page-turner once it is all in one place!

Ya know though, the last line, "Like a goddess." kinda put me off for some reason. Don't really know why, after all, Damie already is like a goddess in my mind from earlier readings. For me here, however, that line just didn't seem to fit under the circumstances of the scene. Maybe in my mind it softened her at a time when she was in fact at a very cold personal emotional moment.

But, having said the above, that was the only flaw for me. No doubt, this is destined to become one of my favorite books.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Sela, Have been worried about the action actually. Same old thing - what do you put in what do you leave out.

Thank you, Erik.
I appreciate the feed-back, muchly.
Puzzled, though.
What do you mean "softened her?" She is having a Morrigan moment.

Ric said...

Not a big fan of time-travel stuff, but you've certainly gotten me hooked - (waiting impatiently for his next Damie fix.)

Time to get this out into the world, Bernita.

And he's not just saying that because he's clearly enamoured with you.

Bernita said...

Aw, Ric... Mutual affection.
Problem is, unlike my Damie, I'm chicken shit about querying.

Carla said...

Suspect that the Morrigan image is maybe not the first one associated with 'goddess'? I got it - actually I thought of Kali the destructive Hindu goddess, which is much the same thing. But the word turns up in modern use in terms like 'screen goddess' which is quite a different image. If you get a lot of commenters saying this 'softens' Damie's image, maybe you could try spelling it out a bit more with something like ' the ancient goddess of war...' or something? Just a thought.

Bernita said...

Yes, Carla, I would have to add a hint besides "archaic" if too many people associate goddesses with soft and fuzzy.
There's Athena as well as a whole host who have the war aspect.
Glad you got it. That's three.
Blogger is still weird.
Some blogs are still blank, and this one clicks funny.

Dennie McDonald said...

Time stopped for one long static moment, lurched forward on one collective indrawn breath.

love this line!

Go Damie!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Dennie.
(And here I was worried that it came off as a cliche.)

Blogger seems to have settled for the moment.
Continue with my hope that e-publishers are immune to this sort of thing.

Erik Ivan James said...

You asked, "what do you mean 'softened her'".

Carla answered as I might have and much better than I could have.

Thanks Carla.

kmfrontain said...

I loved that goddess line, too. I got the impression of power from it, but it's interesting that a male reader didn't react the same way as the women readers. Damn valuable insight, imo.

Gabriele C. said...

Very good. Left me breathless.

I agree about keeping the goddess-line. Athena or Artemis, or Epona, Bellona - makes one wonder why some cultures had warrior goddesses.

Erik Ivan James said...


I appreciate your comment as seeing it from my POV.

I am only one male voice, of course, but when I see or hear 'goddess', I immediately think of the screen-type as Carla suggested. I do not think of a woman that is a warrior. That is why I felt Bernita had instantly softened Damie's state of emotion, taking away from me the intensity I saw in Damie the nano-second before.

Bernita said...

Oh good, Gabriele!
Thank you and KM.

I think, since this is from Chapter 8, that the legend/myth association is well established, so I think I can disregard Erik's idea of "softness" here as au contraire, but I will make a note to possibly insert "like a war goddess."

I hope Blogger fixes itself soon. Had to re-publish whole blog again.

Bernita said...

Oh Erik!
Damie is not "soft" - except to touch.

Lady M said...

She be tough!


I love it. More? Soon?

Bernita said...

Thank you, Lady M.
Don't know.
There's bits and pieces in the archives.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Well, I'm late for the party, as usual, esp. on a Saturday because I'm grounded from computer privileges, but now that all the applause is in, can I ask a question that will prove how dumb I am?

What's a "falchion"?

You have such a vocab and way with words!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Sandra.

A falchion is a medieval hand weapon that looks like a cross between a machete and a meat cleaver.Weighs about 3 lbs.
Blade about 30 inches.
Single, curved blade.
Very few remain in existence.
The most famous being the Conyers Falchion, which legend claims was used to kill the Sockburn Worm.

Rick said...

Well, I just read it, in the revised "war goddess" form, and it works perfectly. I can't say how it would have read without "war" inserted, but I think it's a good idea - in modern usage, "goddess" by itself has a bit too much granola.

"Move, cow," huh? Not only a terrorist but an @sshole.

As an aside, though, the Syrian angle seems a bit odd to me - Syrian operatives don't seem the martyr type.

Bernita said...

Glad it works, Rick. Glad Erik picked up on it.

Ideology trumps nationality is my excuse.

I deliberately chose a Syrian because of the historical connection with Les Assassins of the Ismali sect. The cult had a significant presence in Syria.
I postulate a re-birth of a terrorist variant - not beyond possibility in today's climate to my mind.

Anonymous said...

Found this passage somewhat confusing. Last line put me off a little.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

"A war goddess!" that line! Very nicely done. I alway like reading Damie's adventure...sniff, sniff...John wasn't in this one!

Shesawriter said...

Time travel is one of my favorites, and you've got a unique spin. Great job, Bernita.


Bernita said...

You're out-voted on that last line, Anon.
Of course it's confusing if you've come late to the party.

Actually, he is, Bonnie love, he's the one who takes her out of the possible line of fire, but we don't realize it until a little bit later.(Now I'll have to post another snippit to keep Bonnie happy..)

Wish I was sure about that, Tanya, but thank you.

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