A good opening creates an intriguing scene that makes the reader crave to read more. This contest was especially for self-published authors and aspiring writers with works-in-progress. Today I’m publishing the first 5 runners up in no particular order. Enjoy the first 690 words of John Read’s self-published novel!
MILAN, ITALY: AUGUST 17th 1989; 8.15pm.
The office of Star Diamond Dealers is a small but functional room above the Café Reale just off a bustling street in an off beat part of the city. A large wooden desk sits in one corner, covered in books and literature about gemstones. A small sink and kettle, mostly unused occupy another corner. An ancient ceiling fan hangs lopsided and motionless above the office, broken by a broom handle being banged on the ceiling to complain of the rap music from the flat above. The windows are open on a hot sultry Milan evening. Sounds of the street below drift into the room. A radio is playing Dean Martin singing That’s Amore. A lavender candle burns inside the room to freshen the sweaty summer air. Outside, the city is going about its business like any other evening. Car horns sound. People making their way home from work, handkerchiefs mopping brows and necks. People sitting outside bars having a cooling drink. All unaware of the evil taking place just above their heads. Inside the room, a scene from hell is being played out. The repercussions of which, would echo down the years and haunt both of those involved. Quite literally. Vicious blows rained down on the head of Antonio Petrini. Harder and harder, the heavy, ornate hand mirror crashed into his skull. His flailing arms useless against the might of Paulo Solquine, his business partner and more powerful attacker. Antonio’s piercing screams for mercy went unheeded, lost in the red mist of undiluted anger and breathless curses from his assailant. Down and down came the blows. “Where is it ? Tell me. Where is it ?” screamed Paolo at his helpless victim. Before Antonio could answer and save himself, the mirror cracked. A shard of glass protruded from the frame just as the umpteenth blow landed. The glass penetrated deep into Antonio’s forehead above his left eye, providing a merciless coup de grace. Antonio’s body stiffened, his eyes stared wide and motionless at the ceiling. A final gasp of God’s good air left his body as his eyes slowly closed for the final time. In this life. Paulo slumped into a chair, arms lifeless at his side. The bloody weapon dropped to the floor.
A clock struck a quarter past eight. The final strains of That’s Amore faded away, leaving just Paulo’s heavy, exhausted breathing to disturb the murderous stillness. There he sat, staring for an eternity. Maybe an hour. Maybe three. Maybe it was just minutes. Time had stopped inside this room. But not outside the open window. Car horns sounded. People laughed. The world still turned. The universe still hummed. Time stood still for no man. Alive or dead.
LONDON, ENGLAND; AUG 17. 1989. 10.30pm
A hospital maternity room in London. Paul and Sophie Walsh, a young, English husband and wife are about to become parents. The woman screams in pain and digs her nails into her husbands helpless hand. Gasps of relief are followed by weak happy laughter as their new born son is placed on her sweaty, heaving chest. He is an olive skinned, dark haired, handsome baby with an unexplained scar on his forehead above his left eye. Only later do his parents notice the star shaped birthmark on his left shoulder.
MILAN, ITALY. AUGUST 17. 1989. 11pm.
For a while Paulo Solquine felt nothing. Just an empty numbness where there should have been high emotion. Slowly, his brain started to function again. Feelings of shock, horror at what he’d just done. But his over-riding sensation was satisfaction. A job done. An obstacle removed.
Eventually he rose from his chair. Darkness had fallen and there was a beautiful full moon shining through the open window. Something catches Paulo’s eye glinting in the moonlight. On Antonio’s lifeless corpse and all around the floor are little starbursts of light. Diamonds ! Dozens of tiny glistening diamonds that were in Antonio’s hand when Paulo attacked him. Paulo greedily picks up as many as he can find. Many are red from Antonio’s blood but Paulo barely notices. He also doesn’t notice Antonio’s cold…….
Name: John Read
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Thanks so much to all who entered.
Don’t forget to support your fellow self-published and aspiring authors!