Chapter 8

Written by: GreggMattson

 

From our viewpoint, empty rafts mean someone needs our help. Pushing the throttle lever forward on my jet powered Forest Service boat presses me against my seat. 'Keep sharp, Ned. We don’t want to hit any floaters.'
 
'Yes, sir.'
 
I steer into the current to head upriver. This isn’t our first trip today. We pulled in three swimming rafters after their empty boat passed our position this morning. Ned saw this latest raft as I was eating lunch. I’m finishing my burger as we push against the current toward the rapids.
 
A Ranger’s top springtime priority is rescuing shivering rafters after their boats flip and strand them. We hate finding bobbers because we prefer pulling our guests out alive. Our next priority is catching poachers. Benson is the worst. He’s evaded us for several years. I remind Ned, 'Maybe we’ll find Benson on this trip.' 
 
'Hope so, Sam.'
Benson's plundering has been a problen for a number of years. Our biggest worry is that he might shoot someone one day.
 
That possibility scares me. 
'Hang on, Ned.' I jerk the wheel to manoeuvre a line around rocks in the middle of a shallow stretch of rapids. The bouncing boat pounds and thumps as it crosses the chop. Completing the final turn, I throttle to full speed. Ned is silent as I navigate some swells, entertaining a few passing rafts with my boat’s twin fishtail. 
 
'Sam!' Ned shouts over our roaring engines, pointing to the far bank.
 
Ned’s vigilance pays off. It’s Benson, packing a rifle and wearing camouflage. He’s with a woman. His exaggerated gestures show his anger. She cringes. I veer toward him, bouncing across the current. He spots us and jerks the rifle off his back.
 
'Ned, duck!' A bullet rings off the side of the boat. The next one stars the windscreen as I swerve the boat at him hoping the bouncing bow interferes with sighting on either of us. A loud pop from beside me draws my glance and I see Ned riding the boat like a surfboard, rifle smoking at his shoulder. Looking to where Ned shot him in the abdomen, Benson stalls a moment then falls backward, rifle at his feet.
 
Ned shouts, 'Looks like I winged him, Sam.'
 
I run aground against the gravel shore near some animal tracks and Ned jumps out. He shouts something I can’t hear over the girl’s screaming. Ned shoves her onto her stomach and handcuffs her.
 
“You must help him! He's hurt! He might be dead!” she screams.
 
Ned shouts, “I know, I shot him.”
 
She shakes her head.
 
“Not him... Artie!”
 
“Who?”
 
“My boyfriend. He’s dying at the cliffs.”
 
Ned un-cuffs the girl who points across the river to the cliffs.
 
I spot an orange vest, nod and slam the throttle into reverse as Ned jumps inside. We pull away, turn upriver, and I push the throttle full open.
 
 
Gregg Mattson (USA)

 

Comments

I find the change in point of view from the heroine first person present tense to the Ranger, jarring at this point in the narrative.  I think the story needs to continue from her point of view
This has got to be a huge No-No. Once the "I" is established in a story, it shouldn't change. If the POV does change, then there shouldn't ever be an "I" in the story. If I were reading this in something that I'd purchased, I'd stop and walk away from the bi-polar schizophrenic author with the multiple personality disorder. BUT . . . because I didn't purchase it and because this is experimental writing . . . I have to say this ties with Gina's chapter for my favorite in the serial. It feels "right" - the action, the motivations and the tone all fit the scene and the new character. My only hope now is that they're too late to save Artie . . . .
Controversy! What fun!
I liked the point of view change and the clever way the presents of the poacher is explained. I was troubled by the apparent absents of Sue's broken foot, however. In general, I liked this chapter.
POV was a little jarring (probably because we are flitting from 500 to 500) but it was a clever move to give the story a new perspective. I only have one comment because I'm not a rafter (I just like hang gliders myself) and that is - there is now a shot desperado, uncuffed, left with Sue while Artie is rescued. And where is the rifle? I love the action and mayhem. Terrific stuff. 
"We hate finding bobbers because we prefer pulling our guests out alive."  This made me laugh 
The line was almost removed ;-)
That was my first reaction
I dislike rules. Sure they can help with writing techniques and help to establish a generic reader base. But just look at the writers that said to hell with what other people think and the way I’m ‘suppose’ to write, I’m going to write what I like and how I like to write it. So good on you Gregg for changing the POV to a different person. Down with rules. Go anarchy! Hehe. No one knows what's going on in your head and no one can really say how they think your character should act. Or should say or from who's point of view it should be done/said from. Of course, publishers and editors will disagree! And maybe even most of you will disagree? Oh and some examples of authors that go against the flow (river pun): Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men, The Road, etc. Have a read of just the first few pages and you’ll see what I mean. Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain. JK Rowling, Harry Potter. P.S. If we didn’t have people like Gregg to mix things up and experiment we probably wouldn’t have the stories we have today and the many different styles and genres of today.
whip-lash is the best option.
I thought the POV change was original and you shook things up by doing something that writers do not usually do.  I bet if there was suddenly a best seller out there that did it, you would see many writers mimicking the style.  Sometimes writers clutch so hard to 'rules' and marketing, that they forget what writing is really about.   Good chapter and I thought the way you connected and provided background for introducing the rescue team and Benson was well down. Now....its time to figure out if Artie will live or die. R/S J. Meeks