Gumbee Writers’ Fight Scenes, Part 3, David Staniforth

After much scanning I find that fight scenes in my writing are not too numerous. There are many instances of fight avoidance (I must be a pacifist at heart) and what scenes I do have are often set against impossible odds. The one I have selected here is from “Fuel to the fire”. To set the scene, Brant is attempting to train a black-dragon, the most dangerous of the species, and from another world. For reasons that will become apparent to anyone who reads the story, things have not exactly gone to plan. I’m not going to reveal if Brant survives or not, and if he does, how he manages to overcome such a formidable foe.

In writing this scene I wanted to give an impression of the dragon’s strength and ferocity, inject an element of pace and give the reader a sense of Brant’s dread. I leave it to the reader to say if this was successful.

The original draft was almost twice as long and contained a lot more detail: describing how things looked and sounded, as well as delving into Brant’s thoughts. I felt this slowed the scene down too much and prevented the reader from using their imagination. I tend to do this a lot: write a scene and then look back at it and think: not, what can I add, but what can I cut.

The inspiration came from an instance when I was around eight years old and was out hiking with family. I had crossed a style that my parents had yet to cross, when a wild horse came galloping down a path that was closed off by hawthorn bushes to both sides. I ran and found myself cornered by this snorting creature that towered over me. I wasn’t as slick as Brant, and can’t for the life of me think what happened next, but I do recall how scared I felt.

Anyway, Here’s the excerpt:

Stone fragments exploded into the enclosure amid fingers of flame. From the resulting hole billowed acrid smoke, and coughing, gasping for air, Brant hurled himself through. He rolled to the side, his shoulder grinding on splintered rock, as a further portion of the wall crashed to the ground. The dragon followed, its lithe neck coiling back, its spread wings blocking the sun. Its chest expanded as it drew air through flared nostrils.

Backed into the corner, his hands flat to the brick walls, Brant could go no further.

The service yard, forty-five feet square, seemed to shrink as the dragon’s wing claws scratched the brick walls on either side. No hiding place. Brant had his cloak but knew it would only deflect a small amount of flame: one blast at best. It would not save him. Still, he whipped it from his shoulders and held it aloft like a flimsy shield. Behind it he cowered as tongues of fire roared over him. The cloak had deflected the blast this time, but it would not hold out much longer, nor would it deflect the creature’s bite which would certainly be its next choice of attack. Brant struggled to draw breath, the oppressive heat delving deep and stripping his lungs of moisture.

The dragon inhaled, preparing for another blast. The cloak ruined, smouldering on the brink of collapse, Brant threw it aside. “Stupid fool,” he cursed, thinking about the case he’d left at the far end of the room. The dragon took a step closer, brushing against walls, splintering the bricks. Brant huddled, covering his head, awaiting the inevitable.

“What’re you doing?” He shouted out, as if observing himself.

His cry seemed to momentarily confuse the dragon. It tipped its head sideways, as if weighing up the threat. An impassable barrier, it stood between Brant and the hole in the wall. Squinting through the falling dust and swirling smoke, Brant quickly judged the distance, calculated gaps, possible routes of escape. There was only one, and it was not without risk. He was not as quick as he used to be.

Quicker than a black dragon? Probably not. Maybe there was a chance though. Over a small distance, from a standing start, a man can beat even a horse. It’s not over, yet. In this tight space her movement is constricted.

Standing there thinking about it was suicidal and, Brant could tell, as the swirling fumes coiling like ribbons into the creatures nostrils began to slow, that the creatures lungs were almost full. He had to make a decision, and quick. To produce a good heat she had to hold her breath for around thirty seconds. Her wings were already dislocated and she was vibrating her flight muscles to generate the energy. At present, committed as she was to generating fire, she could not fly. It was his window of opportunity. This very moment. It was his only chance.

Brant sprang forward, heading directly for the dragon’s jaws. As the creature snapped her jaws, he suddenly darted right, in the direction of the hole. He then dodged left and snaked between the dragon’s front legs. The creature’s jaws snapped at the point where he had changed direction. Had he continued heading for the hole she would have had him. Her snake-like neck followed him under her body. It was going as Brant had planned. There was no way she could strike with speed or force now. Her balance was off. Brant immediately dodged right and threw himself with full commitment toward the hole. Behind he heard the dragon crash to the ground.

His foot landed on loose rubble which rolled, twisting his ankle, throwing him sideways. Pain ripped up his leg. He twisted in uncontrollable agony as his knee buckled. His chest hit the floor, the pounding thud exploding air from his lungs. He grunted, expelling strings of spittle and blood, shards of flint shredding his flesh and cutting deep into his ribs. Adrenaline masked his pain, as in a movement that seemed fluid, carried by momentum, Brant regained his footing. Limping he hobbled forward, howling with each step. In the far corner, tormentingly distant, was his case. He fixed his eye on it and struggled forward. Pain coursed through him, each step firing a shot of gut-squeezing-torture.

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3 Comments

Filed under Gumbee Fantasy Writers' Guild

3 responses to “Gumbee Writers’ Fight Scenes, Part 3, David Staniforth

  1. marcuspailing

    Nice one, David

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