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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Surging hormones in a young girl may wreck the plans of a coven of witches, dependent on her powers for their survival.

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Paranormal fiction / Magic realism


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Bobby W Lee (United States)


Chapter 1:
The cold rain fell like silver bullets, striking and exploding, to liquefy the sun-scorched earth. Rain meant growth, and growth meant food. Sara watched the rain from the safety of the thatched doorway. Her fourteen years of life had seen plenty of droughts...and shortages of food. She had learned to love the rain, despite the fact that it kept her indoors and within the range of Granny Sherta's watchful eye.

Granny Sherta had the vision of a wolf. They missed nothing and held the same cold aloofness. Even now Sara felt those grey eyes on her back with the sensory gifts she was born with. "Born of the caul." Destined for great things, according to the Sisterhood. Granny Sherta was the High-Priestess of the Sisterhood, feared and respected for the dark arts she used as everyday tools of life.

Every village had a Sisterhood, but only the truly gifted could claim membership, and come to the full moon rituals. Two more summers, and Sara would take her place amongst them. Her gifts were already legendary throughout the neighboring villages, all the way down the mountain.

If Sara were given the choice, she would forego the coven's initiation ceremonies ,and live her life unfettered. But being Granny Sherta's kith and kin, she had no say in the matter. This nagged at her thoughts daily, and had every since she was twelve and first blossomed into the sacred clan of womanhood. That was when she first saw Billy Bondago in a different light than childhood friends. That was when Granny Sherta started invading her private thoughts and watching her every move.

Her life changed that spring; from being wild and free, to slavery, at least in her opinion. No more skinny-dipping in the cold creek waters. No more running around shirtless absorbing the warm kiss of the sun that hued her skin to honey tones. No more being alone with Billy...and that's what really rankled her.


She had learned how to partially block Granny Sherta's invasion to her mind when it came to her most precious and cherished thoughts, but sometimes she got caught up in her fantasies and let her guard down. The icy wash of Granny's displeasure would catch her by surprise and leave her embarrassed and sullen. Granny had no right...or did she? Sara thought not, most of the time.


The emotions she felt for Billy were confusing, to say the least. One moment she would burn with lust for him, hunger for a taste of his kiss in spite of the fact she had never once been kissed by him; the next moment he would disgust her with his boyishness or infuriate her with an absent-minded lack of attention. She wanted his bluebell gaze on her own chocolate eyes when she spoke.

Any animal, bird, or reptile, fascinated him and if present, would steal his attention from her. Silly thing really, to be jealous of nature, but she found that she couldn't help herself where Billy was concerned. And every day without him, was a long tortured affair. But the nights, in the privacy of her own bed, except when she forgot to shield her mind in her haste, or pleasure, she had Billy to herself. At least until she felt Granny Sherta.

Annoyance, such a slight emotion, kindled and flamed up into anger which in turn blazed into hate. It is much the same for all prisoners. Granny felt the first stabs of hatred on the aether, and smiled. Hatred was something she could work with, use toward her own ends. And so, she fed the fire.

The girl was strong. Not just in body, but in the arts as well. Granny had never seen such power in one so young...and Granny had seen lots of witches in her time. The girl must be brought under heel soon, or she would be lost to the coven forever. No one wanted a Hedge witch on the loose, much less with the powers inherent in this one. She must be taught the coven's disciplines...or be destroyed.

Granny remembered years back to another like Sara, though with only a fraction of Sara's gifts. They had let her go too long. The results had been catastrophic. Three of their coven killed and eight from other coven's, who were called in to help.


The girl had called demons to her aid that were glad to help her...and kill as many witches as they could, before they were sent screaming back to the fiery realms from whence they'd come. The Grand coven had been furious. The coven's involved had been severely punished. Granny would not go through that again, not for any price.

"Damn the child for a lusting fool!" Granny raved to the motley grey tomcat with bent whiskers and a ragged tatter in place of his right ear. Carlos, the familiar's given name, stared in utter disdain while grooming patchy fur and pretending to ignore his master. Nonetheless, he uttered a soft growl to keep from invoking Granny's ire unto himself. He had suffered her tirades before and would again.

Personally, he could care less what the child did, as long as he could cuddle to her warmth at night. His once strong bones now ached in damp or cold weather and his sleeping habits had changed from cat-naps, to long periods, complete with garrulous snoring. Her warm body soothed his aches. Granny using him as a mental receiver to eavesdrop, was only a slight annoyance.



Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals and conflicts were clearly conveyed.
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.
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.
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, paragraph and hook
  • Your strong opening was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
I thought that the writing was fairly engaging, although there were a few distracting grammatical errors. The characters seemed rather generic, but it was fun to hear them expressed through the plot details. There was a decent amount of tension within the 'coven' system, and with Sara being very powerful, but it might be nice, if there is some further, darker, power they are facing, to have it introduced in this first section as well, however briefly. The prose was well done and fluid. I would be interested to see where it goes.

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.

Review 3:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • There needs to be more balance between narration and dialogue. Avoid overdoing the narrative and remember that dialogue can diffuse long claustrophobic text.
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
  • Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals and conflicts were clearly conveyed.
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. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
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
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
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 scene needs to be vivid and realistic in order to hold the reader’s attention. Being concise and plausible at the same time is tricky. Giving this further attention could perhaps be worthwhile.
Opening line, paragraph and hook
  • Great stories, nowadays, start with a powerful opening line and compelling hook in order to keep the reader engaged. Have you baited the reader enough?