The prologue

I am personally a big fan of prologues.  Here is the brief prologue that begins Immortal.

*   *   *

The dream is always the same.

It starts on the hunt—running hard through the tall grasses in the heat of a blazing, midday sun.  My tool is a stick with a sharpened stone tied to the end of it; the second crudest weapon imaginable, barely one technological step up from a heavy rock.  It resembles a spear but that’s misleading because throwing one of these would be a stupid thing to do.  Rather, one is advised to hang onto it until close enough to stab something.  Even then you’d better hit the thing you’re stabbing in just the right place or the point can bounce off of bone and you’ll have succeeded only in pissing off something much bigger than you.

There are four of us in this chase, and we’re tired.  We’ve been after the beast for two solid days without food or water.  We want to stop, all of us, but we won’t because this is our job.

The youngest one keeps lagging behind.  It’s his first time on the hunt and he’s only just discovered it’s not a lot of fun.  We call him the Kaa, which is what we call all the young ones.  He won’t get his name until he’s made his first kill.  Which will be soon, provided he doesn’t quit on us.

The thing we are hunting—our name for it is a somewhat un-spellable guttural noise—is wounded.  We hurt it the first time we tried to bring it down.  As the leader I remain many paces ahead of the others, stopping periodically to check for tracks, and for blood.  I’m a very good tracker.

The dream leaps ahead to the moment we finally come upon our prey.  It is, in the modern parlance, a giant cat of some kind: a lion, or a cheetah.  Only it’s not exactly, as this dream is taking place tens of thousands of years ago.  It is perhaps an evolutionary offshoot of a lion, or a cheetah.  There were few of them then and none of them now.

We find it lying in the grasses, no longer able to run, its breathing halting and uneven.  I summon the Kaa, as this is his moment, the moment when he becomes a man.

With great pride he strides forward and raises his spear, meaning to strike the creature’s soft underbelly, which lies exposed.  But I’ve made a mistake.  The cat-thing isn’t quite ready to die yet, and just moments before the killing blow is struck it lashes out with its sharp claws and catches the Kaa in the stomach.

In shock and pain, the Kaa lurches backwards and unfortunately drops his spear.  Never drop your spear.  The cat is upon him before the three of us can do much of anything about it.

I jump onto the animal’s back and wrap my arm around its neck, rolling him on top of me and then throwing him away from the Kaa.  (The Kaa is mortally wounded already, and will die without reaching his manhood.  This I know without looking at him.)  Then the three of us surround the cat as it decides which of us is the greatest threat.  It settles on me.  With a mighty lunge, it pounces.

The creature bites into my shoulder with its sharp, jagged teeth—not a mortal wound, but painful—but I get the better of him, sliding my sharpened stone spear between his ribs.  We land on the ground together.  I feel its jaw slacken and the teeth slide loose from my flesh as it dies.

Pushing the dead thing off of me, I rise.  I am bleeding from my own wounds and also covered in the creature’s viscera.  And I am happy.  I howl in triumph.

It’s at that moment she appears.  She walks out from the tall grasses, a pale white woman with long red hair and devastating blue eyes, and a regal carriage that speaks to me of royalty not yet even imagined in this time and place.

Her clothing varies from dream to dream: a Victorian dress; a sari; simple peasant rags; or a smart business suit.  And sometimes she’s wearing nothing at all.  She looks down at the dead thing, and then at me.  She speaks.  Her voice is an ice-cold splash of water, and seems impossibly loud.

“Urrr,” she says, tears streaming down her face, “how could you?”

And that’s when I wake up.

*   *   *

10 – 1 – 10

IMMORTAL IS COMING

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No Comments

  1. Heather on July 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Wow. That was incredible! What a great prologue, I always read the prologue before buying a book, and this would definitely convince me to buy it. I loved it, and really want to read more. Thanks!

  2. Mary on July 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Nice start. I’m intrigued to find out where you’re going with this.

  3. kdmccrite2 on July 27, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I like your writing style. Right to the point. We don’t have to fight to understand. Great prologue.

  4. Tee on July 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Gene,
    I stand corrected. This is one of those instances where I love the prologue. Great, amazing job!

  5. Danielle on July 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Very well written and intriguing. Right away the story is deep and compelling.

    Great job!

    Danielle

  6. Nothingman on July 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Good prologue dude. This smells of interesting things to come.

    Rock on!

    N

  7. genedoucette on July 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks for the positive comments, everyone! I appreciate it. So does Adam.

  8. Daisy Harris on July 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I like it. I’ll be interested to see how it dovetails with the rest of your story. One thing- you researched the whole “no water” issue, right? Because humans can survive 3 days max without water- and that’s if they don’t sweat, cry, are in the shade, etc. I wanted to mention that since it made me step out of the story and think “wha?”

    • genedoucette on July 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      Endurance running was how prehistoric man tended to hunt, so the part where they chase game until it drops from exhaustion is accurate. And Adam insisted it was two straight days. I asked him about it, but he said it’s right. I’m not sure he’s perfectly reliable, between you and me.

  9. busywriting on July 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Compelling beginning…the woman at the end is very intriguing. I wonder what she’s all about…

    Makes you want to read on to find out!

    I find he speaks with a very modern voice (‘pissing off’) which is an interesting contrast with the historic/ancient scene…I gather he’s immortal, and presume he’s talking from the vantage point of his modern day identity? Just curious!

    Julie Johnson
    busywriting.net

    • genedoucette on July 27, 2010 at 7:02 pm

      Julie– He’s immortal, and he’s telling the stories of his past in the present, so his narration is in the modern vernacular. It was more fun that way. Dialogue, however, I’m careful about.

  10. Tao Joannes on July 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Great stuff, Gene!

    Personally, I think it would be neat if the koa got in the killing blow before he’s mortally wounded, and they took a moment to give him a name in an impromptu ceremony interrupted by the arrival of the mysterious woman, lol, but it’s your story!

    Nice work.

    • genedoucette on July 27, 2010 at 7:04 pm

      Well, it’s a dream mixed with a memory. She isn’t there in the history, she’s there in the dream. But yes, that would have been interesting.

  11. Madison Woods on July 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Awesome end to that prologue – very much enjoyed that twist! The whole thing was great, but I especially liked the woman vision 🙂

  12. Karen on August 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Draws me in Gene… I do like the juxtaposition of the ancient scene told in modern vernacular. Hope the book does well.

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