Monday, April 23, 2012

5 1st Five Pages April Workshop - Billingsley, Rev 2

Author: DiNae’ Billingsley
Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance
Title: Livid Shift

Chapter 1: The Best Story Ever

I followed Adrien’s rusty, old Chevy into this rusty, old neighborhood and pulled up a few cars behind him. It was dark, about 11 pm on a school night. Dressed in all black, my muscled rippled through my fitted jacket. I looked like a cool ass ninja, or a drug dealer, which is what I was going for.

The street was shady and trashy, just like Principal Sal. The houses on both sides of the street were decrepit colors of white yellow and pink. White-picket fences and crisp cut grass with garden gnomes were not particular qualities of this street, like I was used too. Adrien’s car door opened and he jumped out with a huge black back pack that he carried whenever he was at school, and a skate board. About five inched taller than me, at 6’4, Adrien had brown hair and was usually tan, but today he was paper white. He closed the door, lit a cigarette, took one long drag, and then flicked it to the ground.

I took out my camera and started taking pictures.

He walked into a house festooned with a ran-over gate and scattered trash on the lawn. The house looked live; there were loud voices and the music rattled my car windows. I snapped a few more pictures, got out of the car, and started to walk up the street. I looked at the spot I wanted to land and shifted to it in a flash.

I crashed into the side of the house.

“Crap.” I said in a hushed voice.

I should have practiced before I came; I hadn’t felt that tug on my abdomen in three years. If I had a sensei, someone, anyone that could have taught me how to master my extra ability of instantaneously transporting from one place to another, there would be no accidents. No horrible, tragic, fucked up accidents that would ruin my life forever and keep me from shifting every again. Until now. I knew I had to use it some day. I still should have practiced.

The house became silent. There was a cock of a gun.

I turned and shifted back into my car. My body started to buzz. The door opened and a tall, slinky man with thin hair and a leather jacket came out with a gun pointed at the spot where I just escaped. He looked around, even walked a few feet up and down the street before he went back inside.

A few minutes later the music came back on. I inhaled.

“Don’t fuck this up Simon. Your story’s right here. Kye was right here.” I said and pushed my sweaty dark hair out my eyes.

Kye, the reason I’m here. Kye, my best friend, disappeared three and a half years ago. This is the last place Andrew, Adrien’s twin brother, told me she was.

I checked my camera and, one shift at a time, advanced to the side of the house. I crept to the same front window and peeked inside. The smell of cigars and booze preceded the picture inside. Heavy smoke filled the air. About eight men of various sizes laughed and played cards. The room was filled with Mitch-match saggy furniture. Principal Sal, the literal definition of “the elephant in the room”, was in the midst of it all. He was a large, bald man, with stubble around his face that I never saw at school. He constantly wears a tie around his neck.

“Hey boy, come here.” The tall, slinky man said to Adrien.

Adrien peeled himself off the wall and stood next to him holding his backpack tightly. The man told Adrien to put it on the table, he complied.

Principle Sal took the backpack and opened it. He started to take out stacks of money.

“It’s all there. My brother Andrew, you know the one that’s good with money, double counted it.” Adrien said, sweaty and nervous.

“Did I ask you anything?” Sal said.

Adrien shook his head and looked down.

I picked up my camera and took a few snaps of Sal, the money, dime bags of white stuff, and a few men.

“Brandy! Get your ass in here.” Sal yelled, clearly agitated.

A woman came out of a dark room. It was Ms. Valentini, the incredibly nice, fragile, brunet secretary at school. She wore a tight green dress that complemented her body in every demeaning way. This would explain the black eye she had at the fundraiser, and the busted lip at the annual banquet. Principal Sal was known for his temper.

“Go count this.” Sal grabbed her arm and pulled her close. “Carefully.”

He tossed her the bag and she left. One of the shorter men slapped her butt. She was about to object but walked off. Adrien stared at her and mirrored my awed shock. I wanted to save her, she didn’t deserve this. But I didn’t come here for that. Kye’s long, red hair flashed behind my lids. Ms. Valentini would be free after I expose Principal Sal. To Everyone.

I couldn’t see everything so I walked around the house to find a better view. There were two windows on the first side of the house. The first was a window for the kitchen. It was a mess since pots and pans were everywhere. The next window was a dark bedroom.

It was trashed too except for the bed, which had a woman passed out across it. Her revealing blue dress looked painted on, she was probably a prostitute. I knocked on the window. She stirred and sat up. I knocked again, she turned to the window. I smiled. She rose, then dragged her feet to the window.

“How you doing honey?” She said as her lids drooped. The smell of alcohol was strong on her breath. Her pupils were dilated.

“Fine. Can I come in?” I said. I got closer to her face and gave a friendly smile.

“Sure, sure babe. Couldn’t reject those beautiful blue eyes.”

She turned around to get something and I shifted in. She turned back and was startled by my sudden appearance. But she shrugged, clearly too drunk or drugged up to care about what I just did. She started to undress.

“No, no don’t do that.” I whispered.

“Why? I’m paid for the whole night.” She said lethargically.

“I would never do that, even though you are very… attractive.” She wasn’t, but the complement wouldn’t hurt. She scoffed. I eased myself on the front edge of bed. “I wanted to ask you some questions.”

“Oh really? You look nervous. ” She went over to a dresser and came back with something small and shiny. “Here, hit this and you’ll feel better. I certainly do.” She stood over me trying to hand me a small mirror with a line of white powder on it.

“No, I’m not here for that, or anything else. I just wanted to ask you some questions.”

“Trying not to mess up that bod huh?” She looked me up and down like a piece of cake at a Weight Watchers convention. “Wait, are you a cop?” She said in a loud voice.

“No, I’m employed by Sal. The twins’ friend and… a student.” I hoped she heard my double meaning in the word student. In this world, student meant drug dealer. I reached in my pocket and flipped on the recorder.

“Why did you come through the window?”

“Sal, I didn’t, well you know.” I said. No plausible excuse came to mind.

“Oh yeah, that bastard.” She laid the mirror on the bed, and then purposely stood in a position that put her lady lumps right in my face. I had no choice but to look. Her boobs were her only redeeming quality.

“I swear he has one hell of a men supply. Did you just start? You look new and you’re a cutie.” She smiled and pushed my hair back.

“Yea I’m new, Just started a few weeks ago.” I felt my body heating up.

“Right, right.” she said as she sat down next to me. “So what did you wanna ask me?”

“Well what’s your name?”


“That’s it?”

She leaned into me. “That’s all you need to know.”

“Okay. Well how long have you been, um, working for Sal?”

“A few years. How old are you?” She started to caress my thigh.

I cleared my throat. “I’m 17.”

“17? You sure you want to get into this? When Sal takes you he has you for life, your “new family” he calls it.” She rolled her eyes.

“Yes, I need the money. I have things I need to take care of.”

“Ha, we all need easy money. What’s your excuse? Mommy got in an accident? Can’t afford college? Need a new car?”

I heard a laugh that was closer than I wanted it to be. Come on Simon, ask her.

“I wanted to know if you knew Kye, Kye Limia.”

She stilled, then started messaging my shoulders. “You’re so tense, lay down a sec-“

I grabbed her arms. “Only if you tell me about what happened to her. I know Sal did something to her maybe worse than what he has done to you.” I said.

She looked away. “Sal, no he liked her, but she just vanished and-“

We both snapped are heads toward the door as the sound of lagged foot steps approached.

She pushed me down on the bed and mounted me. “Do you know how many men came to visit me everyday since I started?

“No but-“

“59. Do you wanna be number 60?” She reached for my belt buckle.

I pushed her off and jumped up. My pants seemed to get a little tighter.

“Hey babe, bring your ass in-” the tall, slinky man busted through the door. “Who the hell are you?” He pulled out a silver gun and pointed it at me.

“I’m nobody I’m I’m…” My heart plunged into the ground.

“He’s new, and nervous. I think he’s a virgin too.” She said, edgy.

“Sal! There’s a kid in here, is he ours?”

There were a few quick thuds before Sal came around the corner. His reddened eyes became large then focused.

“It’s Danforth. Shoot him.”

Star and I looked at the shooter. The shooter looked at Sal with a raised eyebrow. Time seemed to be suspended into infinity.

Sal snatched the gun out of his hands.

I turned around and shifted out the window as a rain of bullets pursued me. I turned and ran toward the street.

But like an idiot, I turned around to see where Ms. Valentini was in all the chaos. As soon as I did another hail of bullets assailed around me. I ran to may car, then shifted in.

“Holy shit.” I wheezed.

I turned the key. It didn’t start.

“Come on, come on!” The shots got closer, my hand started to slip on the key.

More gun shots. Glass shattered, shards flew at me.

“God Dammit START!” I screeched. It started. I whirled around and sped off. Someone cursed.

“Woo hell yeah!” Adrenaline coursed through my body.

I was on the high way, and no one appeared to be chasing me. My hands shook as I checked my camera. It was unharmed. Then I reached inside my pocket for the tape recorder. I pulled it out. It and my hand were covered in blood. My blood. Then I felt it, the pain of child birth wouldn’t compare. I searched for where the wound was and applied pressure.

“Ohh, oooh.” Tears started to fill my eyes.

Gwinnett Medical Center was 5 miles away. I got into the HOV lane and pushed the petal. The speedometer hit 130. My stomach hit the back of the seat.

I reached the hospital in what seemed like an eternity. I parked right in front and got out. As soon as I stood up my consciousness swayed. Colorful dots started to swim around in front of my eyes. I crumbled to the floor, whether or not I was inside or out I didn’t know. My body felt like a ton of US history books as I drug myself farther. Every inch stripped me of any inkling of energy. I flopped to the floor as my world spun and turned into blackness.


  1. Nice revision. The beginning is especially strong, although you've introduced quite a few typos again. I would recommend really cutting down the dialogue. I think you lose the reader a bit throug that section. Also consider toning down the paragraph about the tragedy that kep him from shifting and let us experience it more gradually. Just a hint that now will keep the reader hooked.


  2. Agree with Martina that the dialogue is a bit too much in the middle. I'd also like to see a bit more explanation of why the secretary is incredibly nice - just saying she is doesn't work that well for me, has your MC had much to do with her at school? Still enjoying this, though!

  3. The interaction between the MC and Star and is much better here, and it gives the story a more personal touch. You leave me wanting to find out more about who this is and why she's important to him. Nice job. I agree that you have some typos and things that need fixing, but that should be fairly simple now.

  4. I really like that you mention Kye. Before it seemed that the MC was there just to expose Sal, now there is more at stake-Kye.

    In one place you mention Andrew, Adrien , and Kye. This may be too many names in that one short passage.

    I don't think you need to tell us that she is "probably a prostitute." You help us figure that out.

    I am not sure about the child birth comparison. If your MC is a male teen, I don't think that would be a realistic comparison of pain.

    I can tell you've worked a lot on this revision-you're getting somewhere. Keep at it because it gets better each time.

  5. The introduction of Kye hints at a mystery, which draws us in. The conversation between MC and Star leads to important info, but can be achieved by reducing the back and forth dialogue.
    Watch the 'dialogue tags:' she said loudly, she said lethargically.
    The beginning has improved as well as explanation of shifting. The revisions bring you closer and closer.


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)