Content warning. This story is designed for adults and mature teens. It involves sex trafficking and mentions rape, drugs, and nudity. There is no “on-screen” sex, but the aftermath of rape is on-screen, including the presence of nude, partially nude, and/or drugged girls as they are rescued by the hero. There is also violence, including bloody killings, as well as rough language.
In this sequence, we see the hero complete his first goal, which ends a story conflict. Then he enters a rest period, an important part of a story in which the hero gets a chance to recover and reflect. He considers what has happened and what might happen in the future. The hero usually strengthens in some way, and the reader gets an opportunity to see how he changes. If the author has a theme, the rest periods are a good place to start bringing a theme to the surface.
See if you can identify any emerging themes or changes in the character, or at least in your perception of the character.
If you are following the Monday tips, this is the hero’s first goal, and it is still in his ordinary world. He has not faced a crisis event yet. I am establishing his character traits and his life foundations before bringing about an event that will drastically alter everything.
Another important note: This is a first draft. In first drafts, I employ minimal descriptions. The key is to get the story put together, so you won’t see much in the way of visual details. I add those in the second draft.
Cradling Amy, I rushed downstairs. Jackson still lay on his back, eyes wide and following me as I set Amy on the chair and withdrew my gun.
“Are you going to kill me?” he asked, his lips barely moving.
“Maybe. Maybe not.” I aimed the gun at him. “Who pulls your strings?”
“Go ahead and shoot. I’m a cripple. I don’t want to live.”
I scanned the room again. A phone lay next to the TV. “Is that phone yours?”
“Stupid question.” He groaned, his eyes pleading. “Come on. Get it over with.”
“You just got your wish.” I fired once more. The bullet thumped into his beefy chest. Blood soaked his shirt. After a rasping heave, his breathing stopped.
I slid the gun away, grabbed the phone, and stuffed it into my coat pocket with the camera. From my wallet, I withdrew a business card and laid it on Jackson’s forehead, the printed side face up so the police would be sure to read the bold-font message—You’re Welcome.
After picking up Amy and her jeans again, I dashed outside and ran with her to the minivan. The siren still seemed distant. Maybe it wasn’t coming this way at all, but I couldn’t risk slowing down.
I laid her on the back seat, threw the jeans next to my suitcases, and jumped behind the wheel. After easing out of the driveway, I drove at a normal speed toward the neighborhood exit.
No other vehicles appeared. A false alarm. I heaved a sigh and glanced back. Amy now sat upright, her eyes clearer.
“Who are you?” she asked, her speech slurred.
“A friend.” I took off my gloves and set them on the console. “I’m taking you to your parents.”
“Where are my pants?”
I measured the quality of her voice. She still seemed only half coherent, but she was coming around. “In the back. You’ll also find a purple suitcase with underwear that should fit and some sanitary pads. I don’t have shoes for you, though. One fell off when they took you. I guess they ditched the other one.”
“Maybe. I don’t remember.” Moving slowly, Amy reached into the rear compartment and pulled the purple suitcase to her seat. After selecting a pair of panties, she ducked under the sheet and began getting dressed.
I spoke toward my phone, still mounted on the dashboard. “Call Mahoney.”
Seconds later, his voice piped in. “Did you get her?”
“Yeah. She’s drugged. Semi-conscious. The trauma drama hasn’t started yet. Since they were shooting a video, they probably didn’t want her too wiped out, so she’ll probably clear up soon. And I have the camera. I’ll send it to you when I get a chance.”
“What’s the body count?”
“Two perps. I texted you the address. It’s safe to call the police.”
“Right after I call her folks.” Keyboard clicks blended in with Mahoney’s words. “I got a handoff. I’m sending the address to your phone. She’ll meet you there in twenty minutes.”
“Perfect.” I bent my brow. “No fan girl, right?”
“Sounded pretty down to earth to me.” Something buzzed in the background, maybe Mahoney’s electric razor. “Did you get any leads?”
“Got a smartphone to analyze.” I read the handoff’s address on the screen, punched it into the GPS, and began following the directions. “I’ll let you know what I find.”
“If you need to break into it, give me a call.” More keys clicked. “I’m the prince of passwords.”
“I don’t expect to find much, but I’m curious about their marching orders. Apparently they wanted a porn shot before bringing in other men to …” I glanced at the rearview mirror. Amy was still fumbling around under the sheet. “Well, you get the picture. I caught one of them in the act, and he was calling for his partner to be next.”
Mahoney growled an obscenity. “How did you dispatch them?”
“With great pleasure. Three bullets in one. A single bullet in the other. That is, after I broke his neck.”
Amy popped out from under the sheet, tears streaming as she glared at me in the mirror. “Who are you?” she cried. “What did you do to me?”
“Gotta go!” I pressed the terminate button and met her hot stare in the mirror. “Amy, have you heard of the Guardian Angel?”
“Who hasn’t?” She half closed an eye. “What about him?”
I touched my chest. “I’m the angel, and I just rescued you.”
She stared at me for a moment. With each second, anger faded from her eyes. Then, her mouth dropped open, and she whispered, “Is that why I’m …” She looked down at her lap. Her chin quivered. Then she murmured a faint, “Someone raped me?”
I tightened my grip on the wheel. “Amy, I’m sorry I was too late to stop him. The guy who did it is—”
Amy let out a wail and lay on her side. Sobs poured forth. Her body shook in rhythmic spasms as she wrapped her arms around herself and curled into a fetal position.
I stayed quiet. Crying without interruption always seemed to help the girls settle down.
As her sobs continued, I let out a silent sigh. The poor girl. Her nightmares would probably begin soon, and who could tell if they would ever end?
When she quieted, I cleared the front passenger seat and patted it. “You can sit up here with me if you want.”
She sniffed and breathed a wispy, “I’d rather not.”
“I understand. Of course you’re scared. I’d be scared, too, and I don’t know how long it would take me to get my courage back. Just let me know if you change your mind.”
She replied with a soft, “Okay.”
After a couple of silent minutes, I pulled Beans from the bag and reached him to her. “Your parents sent this with me.”
She gathered him into her arms and held him tight. After another moment of silence, she whispered, “I guess you really are the Guardian Angel.”
I nodded. “And I killed the monster who raped you, and I’d do the same to anyone else who tries to hurt you.”
Silenced ensued yet again. After two or three more minutes, she said, “I’m coming to the front.” As she climbed forward, I guided her with a hand. When she settled, she kept a tight hold on my hand and gazed out the windshield. “How far is it to my house?”
“Not far, but I’m taking you to a woman who’ll drive you home. The police will meet you there. They’ll have a lot of questions.”
She looked at me with teary eyes. “I remember. The Guardian Angel doesn’t want to be seen by anyone. That’s why you’re wearing a ski mask.”
“And she might be wearing one too. Sometimes the women try to imitate me, sort of like a fan thing. But it won’t last. When warmer weather comes, I’ll switch to disguises.”
She looked me over as if her gaze could detect a lie. “Why can’t you just take me home yourself? You can keep your mask on.”
“We always phone ahead to let parents know their child is coming home. Some call the media, so I can’t show up. Too many questions. Reporters try to follow me. And it’s better for girls to be with a woman. We always choose moms who have daughters. She’ll be able to help you with stuff I can’t handle. She might even take you to the hospital first.” I nodded toward her lap. “To check for injury and …” I cleared my throat and looked straight ahead. “And for whatever else they need to check.”
“I understand.” She turned her head for a moment before meeting my gaze again. “So when you drop me off, I won’t see you anymore.”
“Not likely. But I’ll watch the news reports. They always show the happy reunion when a kidnap victim is rescued.”
A weak smile brightened her face. “I’ll be sure to wave at you.” She lifted my hand and kissed it. “Thank you for saving my life.”
“You’re welcome.” I drew her hand close and returned the kiss. “Thank you for making my life worth living.”
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Categories: Story Development