One-hundred-sixty-one words from the opening of Apple Jack, a work in progress, first draft complete.
The land rose, the forest fell away, until nothing stood before Jack but a tall, doubled file of birch.
He reached the hill’s crest on his belly. His age-gnarled fingers settled on a large, half-buried stone. He eased his chin onto his knuckles, peered through the high grass between the white trees. The dark scent of loam pressed at his nostrils, almost as solid as the cool, rounded surface of the stone beneath his hand.
Beyond his nose, the land fell away again into a hollow. At its center a woman lay staked to the ground, her skirts hiked to her waist. Two men loomed over her. One, tall and run to fat. The other, short and skinny, all chin and Adam’s apple.
The tidy scene lacked nothing but its caption. “Maiden Prays for Last-Minute Rescue.”
The woman screamed again.
Jack nodded. If they wanted to put on a show, he recognized his role. “All right,” he said. “Here I come.”