Critique Piece, Chapter 9

Hello all, I need some critiques on this passage. It’s for my NaNoWriMo novel. In the scene, I am killing off a secondary villain as well as my protagonist. Any thoughts you have would be lovely and appreciated. Sorry about the formatting, I can’t seem to get it the way I want it, so it’s just the way it is.
He held her by the jaw, his hands surprisingly warm, as the knife tenderly kissed her cheek. She screamed once more , the gag preventing her full volume but she’d really just wanted him to stop at any rate. He kept going, pressing the blade into the softest part of her face. It felt like white hot acid were being drawn across her cheek, the warmth of her blood flowing into the fabric securing her mouth and collecting. There was nothing she could do but scream, and yet it did nothing. Each swipe of his hand tore more of her humanity away than it did skin and Katerina was replaced with a trapped animal, fighting desperately for her right to live.
Tears pooled in her eyes, those which escaped mixing with the blood and just when she thought it could get no worse, he stopped. The pocket from which his knife came held one other metallic item which he traded the knife for. He opened the little mirror and showed her what he had done. She could just barely make out the two humps at the top and from the way his sickening grin was plastered over his pale face, she could only assume that the rest of the injury was a heart. He seemed like the sort of twisted person who would delight in the sick satisfaction of making his mark on all he came across. It seemed much smaller than it had felt, and she supposed she had the gag to thank.Her eyes moved to the other individual and as her worst nightmares came alive, her eyes gushed once more. The man from her dreams rocked back on his heels, noticing the direction her eyes had ventured. “Yes. It’s him. Would you like to say hello?”

Josh stumbled forward and caught sight of Katerina. Recognition didn’t cross his drunken face, but something else did.She’d seen it briefly the night she’d left the house in the care of Natalia and Ianna. 

“Shall I put her out of her misery, Alexander?” Josh’s voice slurred the words together, but they were unmistakable. Alexander, the man from her dream, looked back at him and moved out of the direct line. He took a moment in his move to pull down Katerina’s gag. He motioned for her to make her plea. She took a deep breath, steadied her nerves as best she could and watched Alexander remove himself from between them.

“I will not beg for my life from this pig. From either of you. Just do it.” Her cheek squelched with the injury, the pain from which screamed at her to stop. “I want to know why.” She swallowed the fluid in her mouth, the bitterness of bile, rusty pennies and saliva causing her to force it all down.

“You don’t even know who you are do you?” Alexander chuckled. “You’re the most crucial part of this plan and you haven’t even got an idea why. It’s a shame about all that, really. But someone should have told you before now. This is a task far more important than you.” His attention turned to Josh. “You will take the gun in your hand and you will use it on your useless self. Now.”

Josh’s face went blank, as though he felt nothing, knew nothing. He pulled a black object from his waistband and without hesitation put it to his head and pulled the trigger. He dropped to the ground and was no more. Katerina, although incredibly glad she would never be accosted by this man from her past again, found herself unable to do anything more than stare at the large hole where his head had been intact just moments before. He was bleeding out all over the dead leaves and she couldn’t find a reason to be sad about it. Alexander walked over and picked up the gun, waving it around.

“Now. It looks like we have business to discuss in private, then. You were born into a warring faction, you are the last living, direct descendent of the purest line of monarchs.” He waited for understanding to cross her face, but when it didn’t, he let out an exasperated sigh. “I can’t explain our entire history! You really should have pushed harder with those lunars to tell you about who you were, who your parents were. But you won’t have the chance now, I suppose. Really too bad about it, but I guess that’s the way destiny is sometimes. Anyway, the whole thing boils down to you have to die so that we can survive. As I said, nothing personal.” Alexander raised the gun to her chest, and offered one last time. “Any last words?”

“I hope you’re happy with yourself.” She began slowly. “Because in the end, I’ll be there, waiting for you when you least expect it.”

“I’m sorry, my dear, but I’m afraid you’ll already be dead.” The sound of the bullet never really registered with Katerina, as she closed her eyes, shock already taking over. There was a gurgle of blood before her body went limp. The bullet had gone straight into her heart. Alexander was pleased with his handiwork. He cut the bonds away, wanting the chance to gloat over her dead body. “Now I have the power. And you are just a casualty of war. You weren’t worthy of all that could have been yours anyway.” Alexander backed away and disappeared into the darkness.

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7 thoughts on “Critique Piece, Chapter 9

  1. That’s a strong exit. I thought I was going to be a bit lost as it’s a dive into chapter 9 but it was actually pretty intuitive. The one part where I was lost is Josh. Was he under some sort of compulsion? He’s on a first name basis with the big baddie but instantly took his own life when ordered, without even a clarifying question.

    Also, what flashed across his face that Katerina had seen before? Lust, hate, anger?

    The mutilation scene is vivid and definitely memorable.

    Did Alexander actually take power from her, or is he speaking metaphorically?

    1. Great questions, thank you! Of course, by chapter nine, most everyone is aware of themselves. There was a domestic abuse scene in chapter one (my leading scene) in which Josh brings Katerina to the brink of death, so the reference is to that.
      The quick change over Josh, right before death is something akin to compulsion, but the full extent doesn’t become revealed until chapter 12 (there’s a lead in). And I think the last question asked about metaphors: the power is all symbolic, nothing actually got transferred.
      Seriously though, thank you for taking the time to read and give feedback. I am indebted! And thank you for posing such sincere questions. These answers are for my benefit, but just in case you wanted to know, here they are!

  2. Really great writing!! I am SO SO intrigued with this story!! It was very shocking how Josh just killed himself, and crazy how Katerina just dies without knowing her history! Who was she?!! I’m so excited for this story, thank you for sharing it! I’m not sure if I really critiqued that all too well, if there’s anything specific you wanted to know about it just let me know and I’ll tell you what I thought! 🙂

    1. You’re fine. I get so lost in what I want to say that I can’t ever be sure it’s what makes it onto the page. Every now and then I like to make sure I’m where I think I am:) And it’s hard with the later scenes, just because so much happens before and after, so I pick the ones with the most and hope for the best. But so far it looks like what I have is gonna do just fine (after some serious revisions, of course!)
      Thanks for taking the time to read!

      1. Absolutely!! I will always take the time to read it, even if it takes me a couple days to get to it. 😉 I understand that; it is hard to keep everything straight and details from not contradicting themselves! I’m glad it seems like what you have will do just fine though!! Haha, of course after revisions! Gotta love that. 🙂 I can’t wait for the final product!!

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