Here's the first 400 words from Eland Dances, not yet published, by Philip van Wulven.
I have no cover art, since it's not yet published, so I'll just jump right on in.
Chapter 1 - Welcome to the Jungle -
I froze in the chair. There was a lion right there in the room, on the other side of the table.
Hmm, interesting beginning. It makes me wonder… what kind of room? A dining room, since there’s a table? I’ll keep reading to see.
Just what I’d been warned about, but hadn’t believed.
So unlikely, even in Africa. Here, in Heathrow, in a bar that smelt of stale beer, cigarettes, and damp socks, it was plain unbelievable.
Ah, a bar. This is interesting. I’d like to see the lion a little better, does he look like he’s going to strike?
I tried not to move. Maybe he’d ignore me.
No such luck. His shoulder muscles bunched and his eyes blazed red as he looked at me.
Perfect. This is just what I wanted. You’ve got me hooked. I want to know what he’s going to do now.
Avoid eye contact. Don’t challenge them. I looked down at my beer.
Since it’s just one lion, I’d say, “Don’t challenge him,” but that’s nit picky.
“I'm in charge at the loony bin, Pete. My cabbagepatch. Like when the loonies get the s***s I take care of things. Fix 'em up. They're always so friggin' grateful.”
I’m a bit confused. Who is speaking? And why are they speaking so casually with a lion in the room? Don’t they see the lion?
I looked up and saw just plain old Big Sid hunched forward over the formica table, pint in paw, with the light from the ‘DEPARTURES’ sign outside the bar reflected on his bottle-bottom thick specs.
Ah, I fell for it. There’s no lion… only Big Sid. Well, of course I’m relieved for the MC, but also disappointed. I was hoping for a tense lion charging moment.
His shoulder length blond straggle was backlit by light reflected off the mirror behind the counter, so just for a moment his silhouette, combined with his attitudes, had shown him as what Gran called a man possessed by a lion spirit.
He chugged beer, burped, and carried on. “The doctors think they know it all. Nobody else could do their job. Bloody power freaks don't want us to do medical stuff, even simple things. They keep it all complicated. Keep it all scientific and that. I mean, look at how they treat someone who's dehydrated. Simple, all they need is fluids in them.”
This is mildly interesting to me, the voice is good. I’m still not as hooked as I would have been if there were a real lion about to charge. But I do like the writing style. And of course, everything I say is just my personal opinion.
I looked down at my mug and tried to keep my face expressionless, but couldn't help thinking, ‘Power-freak yourself. Bloody predator. Everyone’s just prey, ego-food on the hoof to you.’ I wanted to say that, but I knew there was no way a guy like Sid, five years older and a foot taller, could let me score any points.
So I played along. “Go on then. Tell us, Sid. What's wrong with how they treat that, then?”
“They stick 'em in a bed, with needles and tubes and one of those drip things. Scientific. Now we all, us orderlies, we know that's not needed. Then too, we like to keep things cool, you know. There's stuff that's better kept quiet.”
“Now why would that be, in a nice place like the Hertfordshire Psych.?”
Hmm, now that part is interesting to me. What should be kept quiet? This implies that bad stuff is happening over there, and it would make me read more. Great! My only suggestion would be to move that part up. I’m not sure the whole lion fake out is needed to grasp someone’s attention. But you did hook me in the end!
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