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Russian Roulette - Prologue

Russian Roulette - Prologue

Soul-bound to a man she cannot trust and hunted by darkness, nineteen-year-old Helena Hawthorn is learning what the world behind the veil of normality is really like. Desperate to know the fate of her father, Helena ventures into the Angel Realm but never expects that her curiosity would put everyone she loves in danger. An unseen darkness now hunts her, threatening to devour her soul. Believing he might save her, Helena binds her soul to a mysterious vampire called Lucious only to find that he is being hunted by the deadly Vampire Council. With their lives tied together and emotions stripping their barriers, the Council is coming for her too, the darkness still looms in the shadows ... and her guardian angel is nowhere to be found. So, will she be able to fight the attraction between them and protect those she loves?

3

Paranormal fiction / Magic realism


author-small

May Freighter (Ireland)


A shiver induced by the stone wall ran through Helena. Her heart kicked into the next gear when she noted the restraints around her wrists. She struggled, tugging at the unforgiving shackles time and time again.
“Looks like she’s finally awake,” someone said in a gruff voice.
“Then get on with it,” another replied.
She whipped her head around in search of the voices. The sudden action blurred her vision, causing her to squint. Faded lights at the end of the room exposed crates and stacked boxes. A bald man sat in front of them at a table, his legs crossed at the heel whilst his beefy hands held the local newspaper.
The second man pushed away from the grimy wall behind him, sauntering towards her. His unnerving grin revealed a set of elongated canines.
A breath caught in her throat.
“Aren’t you a little young to be working for Alexander?” he asked.
A deep frown creased her face while her attention darted between her captors. She didn’t work for Alexander nor did she ever want to see him or Lucious again.
The stranger stopped a foot away her. Dark, greasy hair clung to his scalp in thinning streaks. A few strands separated at the front, curtaining his heavy-lidded eyes. He reached out, grabbing her hair with a sharp twist and lifted her head to meet his narrowed eyes. “I asked you a question, human.”
Her nose wrinkled in disgust. His breath – a mixture of cheap tobacco, beer, and something else caused her stomach to churn. Panic will not solve anything, she thought yet her heart ignored her rationalisation.
“I don’t work for him,” she said, surprised her voice came out unshaken.
He waved at her thin shirt and smart trousers. “We saw you leaving his club looking like this.”
Helena fought the urge to roll her eyes. If he’d been inside, he would know Alexander’s staff didn’t wear uniforms. Well, the bouncers did …
“This is what anyone would wear to an interview!”
His eyes flared with a light-grey glow and she instantly regretted her snappy tone. She flinched under his menacing stare which made her think of a glowering two-year-old she used to babysit. The kid always shot daggers her way if she didn’t give him any candy.
“… you listening?” He let go of her hair with a sudden move as he shouted at her.
Helena’s head dunked, encouraging the faint ache to blaze into a full-blown headache.
“I think I hit her harder than I thought,” he said.
“Rick-” the companion set his newspaper on the table and added, “-if you can’t get anything out of her ...”
“I can!”
Helena figured the one who ran the operation was not ‘Rick’. His literate friend held an authoritative confidence the man before her lacked. She imagined Rick struggling to read a novel by Tolstoy. The image alone made her lips twitch upward.
“What’re you smiling about? Don’t you understand what’s going on?”
She glared at him. Arguing wouldn’t help, but her mouth lost its filter. “Should I?”
Her left cheek exploded with a burning sting as Rick backhanded her across the face. Automatically, she moved to rub the pain away but realised with a sickening feeling what situation she was in – chained to a wall with two unknown men in a dingy room.
As a dull ache settled in her arms, she bit her lower lip to suppress her bitter tongue from bringing trouble.
Rick made a critical invasion of her personal space as he peered into her face. His lips hovered next to her ear. “Let’s see how much you know.”
His hands grabbed the sides of her head, forcing her to look at him. When their eyes locked, he grinned.
Helena struggled, screaming, “Let go!”
“Calm down, human.”
His harsh tone switched to a soothing melody. Right on cue, her body relaxed at his command. His glowing eyes became the centre of her universe. Anything he said would be a binding instruction.
Inside, she screamed, fighting his overpowering control but nothing happened. Why couldn’t Lucious influence me but this idiot can?
“Are you paying attention, kid?”
“Yes.”
“Will you obey my every order?”
Flat and emotionless, she answered him in an instant, “Yes.”
Leaning in to the point their noses almost touched, Rick asked his golden question, “Do you work for Alexander?”
“No.”
The grey glow in his eyes intensified, causing her to feel like she was floating. Her wrists throbbed as the metal cut deeper into her, and a light groan escaped her.
“Do you know Lucious?”
“Yes.”
The vampire’s fingers dug into her jaw, and she winced. “Where is he? What do you know about him?”
“At the Russian Roulette. He wanted to meet me to break the link.”
The silent partner sprang from his chair, knocking it over as he rushed to his feet. “What kind of link?”
Words failed her as she fought through her jumbled mix of emotions.
Rick jerked her head backwards and hissed, “Answer his question.”
“I’m not sure. It was an accident.”
In his frustration, Rick shook her. “I’ll suck you dry if you don’t give me some proper answers!”
His partner pulled out his phone, typing something on the smooth glass screen. “She doesn’t have much information but she can be useful in other ways.”
Rick trailed his fingers up her arms, inching his way closer to her jugular. “Can I play then?”
His influence over her dropped. Helena glared daggers at the side of his greasy head.
“You can feed but nothing else. We may be able to fetch a decent price for her later.”
Shivers ran through her when Rick faced her with a growing grin. There was little she could tell them about the link, so she couldn’t use that information as leverage. She didn’t know much about Lucious, Alexander, or their plans. Helena groaned. Her headache transformed into a constant droning. Closing her eyes, her thoughts turned into a prayer for Michael to show up and tell her some good news. News, of any kind, was better than being with these monsters.
The leader glanced up before his attention returned to his phone. “You have two minutes.” He strode out of the dank room without another word.
With Rick’s overseer gone, her smart remarks would lead her to an early grave. She eyed the closing door, willing the second man to come back while her heart battered against her ribs.
Rick fished out a folding knife from his jeans pocket. Light bled back into his irises as he teased the blade open.
Helena squeezed her eyes shut. She wasn’t going to be his puppet again.
The cool metal tip touched her cheek. “If you don’t open your eyes, I will cut this pretty little face of yours until you do.”
She wavered. The stinging in her cheek hadn’t gone away and she wasn’t keen on finding out what being chopped up felt like. After all, he threatened with more than a papercut. Clenching her teeth, she lifted her eyelids. One second of contact was enough to fall under his rule once more.
“Good, now don’t move.”
Her body refused any further movement and she berated herself for being so weak.
One by one, the buttons of her blouse popped onto the concrete. With the last one gone, he pulled the material apart. His face lit up as if he was a child, opening a Christmas present. He appraised her chest as her heavy breathing filled the silence.
No matter how hard she fought his mental hold, she could do nothing as he grazed the knife across her pale skin. Blood rushed to the surface, cascading down her small breasts and staining her plain bra.
He slid the dull side of the blade across her chest, entranced by the sweet perfume of her blood. She was certain it couldn’t be her lack of feminine curves that kept his attention. His mental hold slipped, and she regained control of her body. When the knife touched her waist, her hips bucked. In one painful second, the sleek metal sank into her skin. An agonised scream escaped her, bouncing off the walls of the enclosed space.
The boss reappeared, shouting, “I thought I told you to feed and nothing else.”
Rick jerked the blade out. “This bitch is hard to control. Unless I’m looking right at her, she breaks the bloody hold.”
“I don’t give two shits about that,” the man ordered. “Leave her be until he comes for her. We must prepare.”
Grumbling under his breath, Rick licked her blood off the blade and let out a satisfied groan. With a fleeting glance over his shoulder, he stashed his knife away and followed his partner out.
A sigh of relief fled her dry lips before she studied her wound. Dark tendrils ran down her side. She rested her head against the wall, focusing on the chipped white ceiling to stop nausea from claiming her in its rising waves.
What am I going to do?


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
While I'm not a fan of vampire fiction, this drew me in! You built up the suspense and the action nicely by mixing up the internal dialogue with the conversation between the vampires. I like your description, both of her emotional state and the way the vampires looked. In particular: "Dark, greasy hair clung to his scalp in thinning streaks. A few strands separated at the front, curtaining his heavy-lidded eyes." I got a perfect image of his hair with this! "As a dull ache settled in her arms, she bit her lower lip to suppress her bitter tongue from bringing trouble." Simple words that brought her struggle to life.

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
I really liked this it grabbed my attention! Very interesting and thoughtful