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big_old_dave's picture

Mule

By big_old_dave in Arrest Us

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Description

A desperate drugs mule attempts his first run, from Amsterdam to London haunted by the horror of his past surving the The Rwandan Genocide and the fear for his future as his first trip quickly runs into trouble.

REVISED VERSION 18/06/14 

 

Comments

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 4, 2014 - 8:24am

Good job with this story.  It paced well and the main character was likeable.  I enjoyed the flashbacks and they didn't stand out or throw me out of the matter at hand.  a couple typos: pg 11 quite I believe should be quiet and Pg 13, expect should be except.  The moment where he flushed the drugs was a good 'oh shit' moment.  Well done.

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 4, 2014 - 10:06am

Cheers for the read grant, will defo repay the favour and cheers for pointing out the typos, i thought i nailed em all but must of missed a few, will go in and sort it.

cheers again mate :)

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote June 4, 2014 - 9:47am

Dave,

I really liked your story. Truly. Since you haven't had much feedback, I did a line by line for you. And then I realized there is no way for me to attach it here. If you'd like me to send it to you, please let me know via PM. I really think some edits could help. Great work, thanks for the read! 

-Christina Re

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 4, 2014 - 10:11am

Hi christina, cheers for the read through, a line by line would be great! i'll pop you over a PM. Shame I can't send you some workshop points :)

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote June 4, 2014 - 10:19am

Nevermind, I figured it out and I'm attaching it here.

-Christina Re

W.a. Warner's picture
W.a. Warner June 4, 2014 - 10:49am

Great concept for the story. I enjoyed it. The punctuation errors/typos stood out to me a bit. Thank you for sharing!

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 4, 2014 - 10:49am

Thank you so much Christina, I'll go in a get to work fixing it up, if you need a read through of anything please let me know

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote June 4, 2014 - 11:41am

I'll be sure to take you up on that offer when I get my submission in for this contest. Best of luck!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 6, 2014 - 5:20am

I liked the idea behind this one. Olivier is a good character to follow, though I’d like to have seen a little more of his backstory dripping through. Devlin makes some hints towards the darkness he would have had to face and embrace, but it would add a nice extra layer here.

The start is strong. I’m a big fan of starting in medias res, and it immediately creates tension and grabs the attention. The errors in spelling are a little distracting, but they can easily be cleaned up, and it looks to me as if Christina has those pretty much covered. You do a good job of carrying the tension through the whole story, though the tragi-comical description of Olivier sitting on the bucket detracts slightly from that. Once you have ruled out them cutting the drugs out of him, the tension can’t be maintained.

Devlin could do with a little work, especially on his dialogue. When they are in the hotel room in Amsterdam he starts spouting exposition – “Olivier, when I first met you in that club in London working as a rest-room attendant handing out those stupid little paper hand towels making a pittance dealing with the drunks and assholes I thought to myself now there's a man trying to make something out of himself.” It doesn’t flow or feel natural as dialogue. Try reading it out loud. That section is the weakest overall. Devlin should be a terrifying figure, both seductive and bullying. He needs to convince a religious (as he keeps pointing out) man to go against his convictions and do something very illegal. He gets his way too easily.

I like the airplane section. It feels like Olivier’s conscience is working against him, forcing him to physically purge himself. It does kind of work against your ending though. There is that line about not forgiving or maybe not believing him, but what is his plan here? He must know that they aren’t going to stop trying to get the drugs from his stomach. Also that payoff line from Devlin, why would he think anything has happened to the drugs? As far as he should be aware, those capsules are still safely in Olivier’s gut.

I think you’ve nailed a lot of the elements here, so it’s a solid thumbs up from me. I just think you might need another couple of edits to iron out the creases.

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 7, 2014 - 4:57am

Cheers for the feedback Adam, glad you liked it! Going over this now to patch the spellings mistake, paniced a bit on dealine day and rushed this in when I sould be spent more time on it. 

 

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb June 6, 2014 - 12:39pm

Hi Dave, me again....

(SPOILER ALERT to anyone reading the reviews before the story)

I liked this one. I get the feeling you did your research on the Rwanda background of your main character, and you kept the information level right to keep my interest and progress the story at the same time. The two guys playing with their victim tied to a chair felt a little bit tired to begin with (it's been done a lot since Reservoir Dogs and even before that) but I get the idea that this would probably happen in that sort of world.

After that initially samey opening you did really well with getting me interested in your protagonist. I like the flashback structure of this, and that's not something I find myself saying often. I think Devlin should be a lot more sinister, even though he's using flattery as a mind game (another thing I really liked, more details on that in the LBL).

I think what's missing from this really is the motivation for Olivier to welch on the deal and spew up the drugs like he does. There's the fear of getting caught thing that's drawn out pretty well, but I think there could be more. You've got the God idea going through this one (I liked that too) so perhaps that could be part of his conscience prevailing - at the moment I feel like he's afraid of getting caught rather than taking the moral highground and doing the right thing, just when I wanted to cheer for him being an upstanding citizen (another thing I don't do often, but I wanted to this time around.) Even better, perhaps O's past has involved this sort of thing before and he's tired of getting fucked around by these guys who are playing on his fear of having to go back to Rwanda or being stuck in a dead end job. Perhaps he figures out that Devlin played on that and now he's VERY pissed off by it.

I'd actually like to have a standoff at the end of this where he calls Devlin out about all that. Maybe he'll get himself killed, but the dead hero idea is one I think might work with this rather than leaving us hanging at the end. (I don't mind open endings, but I'd like to see this guy get his moment, because it's like he's been waiting to stand up to people like this instead of running from them.)

Anyway, because we've been on this site trading work for a year and half now, I'd say this story marks good progress, because your punctuation and general sentence structure caused me a lot less trouble this time around, and I know that was something you were working on a lot. When I think of your Orphan story and remember how it took me about five hours to do the LBL I think you've come a long way, because I did this one in about half and hour, after two reads and a few drinks. I read the story twice, and I liked it better the second time around.

LBL attached and hope this helps. Good luck with the competition; it seems you've got off to a good start. Oh and while I'm on a semi-colon binge, I think some of the places you've used them in this story to avoid comma splices would be better split into seperate sentences using full stops, even though you've got the punctuation perfectly correct as it stands. Examples in the attached LBL.

-C.

PS: since I got Office2013 this is my first LBL using the comments function and tracking changes, and I've had to do a fair bit of playing around to get used to it. If the document doesn't work at your end give me a shout and I'll reformat.

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 7, 2014 - 5:34am

Hi Chacron, 

Cheers for the read through and the line by line, sorry I can give you any workshop points byt give me a shout when you've got your story in and I'll return the favour :)

Cheers again, 

David

Matt A.'s picture
Matt A. June 11, 2014 - 9:20am

Dave, I like that you were able to take a likeable person who feels like he has to do a bad thing. I think the sympathy could be even more powerful if you fully exploit the Rwanda inclusion. As it is, it doesn't feel very powerful (his past in a genocidal country) and I think there should be more of a link between the past and present. You mentioned corpses and murderers and bad things happening, but the link to his work as a mule is tenuous, at best. I think it would be better if his flashbacks included something specific he did that is similar to his present situation--something bad he had to do to survive. Some examples of what I mean are maybe he has to kill a family member or a child who was on the other side. Or maybe he stole another family's food to feed his baby nephew. IDK, just one of many ways the link and theme could be brought into line with his conflict in London.

Nice in media res opening. I enjoy when we're set right down in the action.

four day beard

--a physcial description may be better. readers may have different opinions of what four days of growth would look like. Kind of weird to describe someone using an exact amount of days, too.

When you have a line of dialogue ending with the name of the person being addressed, a comma should be before the name. Here's one example:

"This is going to suck big time for you sunshine."

should be:

"This is going to suck big time for you, sunshine."

Once or twice would be nit-picky, but it runs rampant in this story.

After what felt an age,

--I think you'll get better results unpacking these abstract time periods and just focusing on the physical effects of something this traumatic. I could guess you mean it felt like a long time, but you've passed up an opportunity to expound on that in a unique way.

Here grab that bucket, I've got another idea."

--This is a great way to end the section, but later, when we see cutting him open isn't an option, a lot of tension evaporates. Keep the tension as high as you can until Devlin shows up. Your protagonist should always be thinking his life is about to end. Don't give him a chance to take a breath or relax.

"Olivier, when I first met you in that club in London working as a rest-room attendant handing out those stupid little paper hand towels making a pittance dealing with the drunks and assholes I thought to myself now there's a man trying to make something out of himself. Remember when you told me about your childhood in Rwanda and all that terrible horrendous shit you went through?"

--This really killed a lot of authority. You gave way too much backstory as dialogue. Consider what is vital and what isn't. Whatever is vital, figure out another way to insert the facts into the narrative, something more subtle than in dialogue.

bright blue eyes and button nose.

--This description seemed out of character for someone who grew up in Africa.

If I swallowed it down in one I knew the game would up for sure.

--I didn't get this, why would the game be up?

Alright, Dave. Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense. Good luck.

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 12, 2014 - 1:22am

Cheers Doug for the feedback, starting to consider this being yet another idea beyond my skill set, I'll have look over the weekend

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 11, 2014 - 2:32pm

I've got lots to go through here, thanks everyone for the feedback, just hope i can improve it

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 18, 2014 - 12:11am

Nice idea and well researched, but your spelling and grammar lets you down (writs instead of wrists, for example). The middle and end are stronger than the start, in my opinion. There's a bit of work to do, as mentioned in the previous comments, but the result should be a great story.

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk June 18, 2014 - 8:26am

Ok, I've loaded up a revised version with the mistakes taken out and some bits rewritten, hopfully should be an improvement.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 18, 2014 - 7:52am

Hey Dave,

I didn't have a chance to read the original, so I can't comment on the changes you've made. I think the concept and execution of the story is fine. Other than a few typos and grammatical errors, it's pretty solid.

The only thing that hung me up is why the protagonist would be trusted to do such a dangerous job, and the people waiting for waiting for his shipment doesn't seem right. The protagonist's whole demeanor is extremely naive, and I would expet some professionalism from the recieving party. Not a couple of low level guys.

I may be looking with too much of a critical eye, but that's what stood out to me.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 19, 2014 - 5:02pm

Dave, 

It's a good character you've got with a nice voice. I've attached an lbl with some grammar issues and a tightened some stuff up a bit. Ignore anything that you feel changes the narrators voice. 

As far as the story goes, The plane ride gets a little slow. Your details are nice but alot of them could be omitted without losing any flavor. 

Also, I think more tension could be built if you don't tell us in the opening scene that the drugs never made it back. Save that for the great bathroom scene. And in that scene try to amp up his fear. He's got to be scared as hell. Not only did he lose the drugs but he's about to be caught with them. For me this is the stories climax and it's close to being a great one. 

I like how the end leaves us hanging. Now that Devlin has saved him he faces a whole new set of problems when Devlin finds out he doesn't have the loot. Overall, this is a pretty good story. The best advice I can give is to pump up the volume on the bathroom scene in the plane!

Thanks for sharing. 

--JR--

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine June 30, 2014 - 7:18pm

Hi dave,

As others have said your character is interesting and easy to empathize with. The flashbacks about his past are intriguing. I personally wish there would have been more of those transitions. I enjoyed the ending, questioning Devlin's friendship and motivations drawing a parallel between him and the two goons. Also like some of the other reviewers I was distracted by some of the grammatical errors. I hate to pick about semantics, but it broke up the pace of the story a little bit for me. I was also a bit confused on pg 10.

" Then my mind settled on each capsule as each one slid down, the plastic clawing my throat on the way down with each second passing by trapped in my seat."

This seems like he swallowed the bag of pills while in his seat, but I thought he had already swallowed them and was trying to keep them down. Had he partially vomited them back up or was he just thinking of how the pills felt earlier when they went down? Perhaps I just missed something in the reading.  Everything else I think has already been said by others. Nice job.

Turtlethumbs's picture
Turtlethumbs July 5, 2014 - 3:41pm

Hey big old dave,

I like to review as I go so I don't miss stuff so here you go:

-Refreshing that it's a Black protag. First I've seen in the 15 or so stories I've reviewed so far. Interesting to see descriptions of other peoples' white skin, as opposed to skin color usually being omitted from description because white authors and readers assume everyone is white unless specified otherwise.
-Loving the grittiness of the tied to the chair scene. Good characterization of the protag and the badguys. A bit stereotypical (I mean, it's goons roughing up a drug dealer guy, so what can you do), but not as cookie-cutter as some other stories I've read.
-The pain he's enduring builds lots of empathy, like others have mentioned, so we're all experiencing "catharsis" or whatever for him.
-Devlin's dialogue is very good, the way he talks to Olivier about the red light district etc.
-Great sprinkling flashback descriptions of events and moods in Rwanda. Just enough to build character and context, nothing overboard.
-The plane ride and the secret revealed to us is genius and adds a wonderful level of new tension and intrique once we're sent back into the tied to the chair scene!
-Love the ending

Nothing I would change. I would give you two upvotes if I could. Great work.

Feel free to read mine if ya like but don't be too harsh - I'm certainly not on your level: http://litreactor.com/events/arrest-us/born-again-packaging

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk July 7, 2014 - 3:22am

Cheers for the review Max, glad you enjoyed it.
Will be reviewing yours over the next few days, 

Cheers again, 

Dave

Neil Krolicki's picture
Neil Krolicki from Denver is reading What Suzy & Chuck Tell Him To July 6, 2014 - 10:28am

Hey David,

Standard critique disclosure: I haven’t read any of your other reviewers so if I’m echoing feedback you’ve already received it’s not me piling it on you.

Great pacing in this story, gets you into the meat of the problem right off and invests you in the narrator’s quandary. The opening physical descriptions are awesome, some really choice words to sell the pain - made me squirm a little while reading it which is always a good sign. Anything with ‘teeth’ has that quality (tonguing the empty gum spaces) ughhhhh! Awesome.

The villains each have some solid little tidbits about them so my mind forms a picture, not too much which I love - just enough to set a foundation, but open enough where I can fill in the blanks myself. Their dialog being deliberately slangy and misspelled is a great touch, too - hits the ear really genuinely, like the narrative voice in Trainspotting.

Respectfully though, this is the third story in this competition that’s opened with a guy tied/secured to a chair and getting worked over. We’re all fans of this type of story and the movies, shows & books that orbit the genre, so it’s not surprising at all that this overlap occurs.  But it’s a great chance to be creative with a trope scene like this - maybe instead of tied to a chair he’s strung up on a wall with a bunch of rebar jutting out from the concrete (why? maybe have a late reveal that this is a new construction site or maybe the opposite, a condemned old building - something interesting like a condom factory, some weird venue).  It’s cool to be thrown curve balls and have to figure out what the deal is before you finally reveal what’s up.

I do wonder why the captors laid into his guts so much, knowing he had precious cargo inside - I know you address it a bit saying ‘We’ve been punching him..think the goods are fucked.” But they’ve gone to all this trouble to intercept the dude at the airport, wouldn’t they steer clear of the torso region?

IMO you could do some compression in the flashback scene where he meets Devlin.  You’ve got this great momentum to your story that gears down to this slow exchange and I feel like you could keep it going by just having him flashback directly to the last couple lines of the scene and compress all the ‘Devlin walking in/looking around’ stuff that slows you down.  Keep all your hotel description, the world of possibilities below, etc. But then economize the rest by having the narrator just say Devlin came in, throwing the trunk on the bed and saying “When I said you would be moving sensitive material, I kind of twisted the truth.” - Because we know your guy is loaded with drugs already and the real tension comes in the flight over. Just a thought.

Nit pick: the beginning quotations are missing during this sentence “Oh you should, man, Amsterdam is amazing”.

Again, I feel like the drug muling method you describe has been done quite a bit - it’s another opportunity to bring some creativity to something established.  Just a quick Google search and I found Scottish smugglers who swallow bags of liquid cocaine (invisible to x-ray/ can also be used to impregnate clothing).  I’ve never seen that talked about, in fact do it quick because I might just use this little factoid in a story, hah!

The structure of your storytelling is really sound, the ’show some rising action/flashback/flash forward to climax’.  There’s real tension in your mule’s flight and him trying to talk himself down from being sick.  You feel for the guy when he ends up puking up all the cargo, too - sympathy for a drug mule’s not easy but I think the background you’ve painted for this guy really makes the reader pull for him.

The ending isn’t totally satisfying to me, personally - I imagined Devlin would (rightfully) shoot the two guys that were essentially trying to double cross him. And showing that Devlin is capable of killing makes the narrator’s problem that much bigger at the end (being that he doesn’t have any drugs to fork over). It’s great that the story still leaves your narrator with a whole world of trouble to deal with, but I feel like the last word should be his.  Keep Devlin’s line of dialog about ‘We’ll get the drugs outta you, ok?’ but have the narrator put the final stamp on it.  I’d hold back the last couple sentences on the narrator’s bit about always being hunted and end with that:

"I would always be hunted by cockroaches; they would come in different shapes and sizes and some may offer me the world or follow a darker path, either way I would never escape."

All just opinions, man - hope some of this is helpful to you in the re-write.  Would love to get your take on my submission ‘Poachers’ when you have a chance:

http://litreactor.com/events/arrest-us/poachers

Thanks for sharing - NK

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk July 7, 2014 - 3:23am

Hi Neil, 

Loads of points to go through there, cheers for reading. Will be returing the favour today or tomorrow

cheers again

David

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 13, 2014 - 4:15am

Hey Dave,

There's quite a bit of good stuff here, but there was also some rough stuff that made it a bit of a struggle to read through. It's already been pointed out, but there's quite a bit grammar and spelling mistakes through the piece. The good thing is that I think the story is sound, and I believe that you've gotten a few LBLs highlighting the mistakes.

Sometimes you have long or run on sentences that start of strong, but sort of end up deflating because of how long they are. Thing like:

The fat man's partner towered over us looking on as he gnawed on his finger nails with his ugly pale complexion and tall stringy limbs.

Upon first read, this reads like he's using his limbs and complexions to chew on his finger nails.

I'd foolishly fallen into this trap when these men had picked me up at the airport as I got off the plane from Amsterdam greeting me like a friend, told me they would drive me over to Devlin’s and get this all sorted out.

Another long sentence.

I'm not really a fan of flashbacks in short stories, and unfortunately this story didn't really changed my mind. Too often it feels like a writer wanting their cake and eating it too- getting to start in exciting media res but also getting a chance to fill in all the info the reader needs. The specific reason this flashback didn't work for me is because at the end of the day, I felt like I could have done without most of it and still gotten the same results out of the story. I DO like Oliver's back history, and you use the flashback well to develop your MC more, but it still wasn't my favorite thing.

I thought that your strongest bits lied in the beginning of the story, and almost the end, right when he ends up throwing up the pills. Those two are really good scenes, and the vomiting especially feels like a bit moment that does circle back to the media res beginning. However, I don't feel like it's substantially paid off. Also, as much as I liked Oliver's backstory, it sort of felt underused. When he's on the plan and we se more glimpses of his past memories, that's incredibly tantalizing, and I would love to see more of it.

Oliver's dialogue and thought are well done and developed. I would suggest doing a second pass on everyone else's voices, as I didn't think they were as good. Occasionally Devlin felt a bit stilted.

I hope this helps. I think once few grammar and spelling mistakes are fixed the story will flow better. The biggest thing to look at is something another reviewer has already pointed out- the story of a Mule has been done quite a bit, so you need to add more of your own thing into it to stand out. You have the ball rolling here with Oliver's history, so I would suggest bringing that out more to the forefront and tying it in.

Hope this helps.

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar July 13, 2014 - 8:20am

Hey Dave,

I really liked this! The concept is great, the main character is likeable and well realised and is written really well. Flashbacks can be weird, but there is just enough here for them to work perfectly. I just have a couple of comments which might help improve this:

There are quite a few spelling / grammar / typos in here. It's nothing drastic but could do with another edit for this.

At the end, Devlin appears and has a rant, saying what he thinks the two captors are trying to do. I don't quite get the reasoning behind this story, and I think it might be better left out. I'd maybe concentrate on him being mad that they haven't followed his orders and that they have taken things into their own hands without consulting him. He's the boss, and should be scary and in control.

Overall though - a really enjoyable story which won't need much refinement! Good stuff.

Matty

 

kevymetal's picture
kevymetal from Halifax, NS July 13, 2014 - 1:53pm

Hi Dave,

You open the section on the plane with the following:

After that it wasn't long until I became versed in the mule's mantra.
Please, please don't be sick, don't throw up.
In the taxi to the air port.
At Customs.
In the departure lounge.
Take off.
Don't throw up you tell yourself over and over. Don't think about your guts filled with drugs, forget the bloated feeling like your going to pop any second. Forget the nausea and the cold sweats, think of something else, anything.

This was the most effective part of the story for me, imagining being in the protagonist's spot. I liked this section so much it made me wonder what the entire story might have been like if the narration had been second-person rather than first-person.

And I might switch out the story's last two paragraphs - put Devlin's quote first, and then follow it up with Oliver realizing he'll never really escape from this life no matter what he does. It would strike more of a done-and-done final note of resignation, one Devlin's quote doesn't really provide.

I might tweak the dialogue a bit, too - make it less expository. It certainly gets the point across, but we could get to know the characters better if their quotes contained a few flourishes and quirks that made their words more personal.

Otherwise, I think you've made a solid effort here and another pass or two could take this from being a good story to a great one.

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 15, 2014 - 8:42am

Excellent story. I loved the imagery of the cocaine pellets disappearing into the sky. The whole thing is very high stakes and violent but at the same time poignant; you don't over-do the main characters reflections in terms of what he feels about them. You tell us what happened in his past and let those descriptions stand for themselves. It's always hard to work backstory so well into the fabric of a story like that, really impressed.

I also liked how each character had a personality. The apprehension of Olivier's kidnappers was a nice touch. Really well paced, good time jumps, really really likeable main character, and the ending was ambiguous and bleak, which I enjoyed.

Only point of critique was Devlin. He was really caring and compassionate for a gangster which was very refreshing. But then he obviously kicks arses when he needs to. I just felt maybe he could have more of a threatening edge to him underlying his interactions with Olivier -- like more of the tone he has when he says Olivier had to do shitty things to escape rwanda. That is a very minor point of characterisation and I really liked his unusual personality (for a gangster.) You've created a really original story using pretty typical crime trappings, really well done

Thanks for the read

Tom

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 17, 2014 - 6:47am

Hi Dave,

Nice pacey start. There's potential here, but i don't think you've cracked the voices, and I don't think you've cracked the story - work in progress, then.

as he gnawed on his finger nails with his ugly pale complexion and tall stringy limbs - This reads as if he gnaws on his nails with his face and limbs!

my face attracted enough blows - i wouldn't use attracted. And pretty much the whole paragraph can go with the more natural and evocative : I couldn’t stop tonguing the gaps where two of my teeth had been knocked out just hours before. (Plus maybe the duct tape, forcing him to swallow the blood and saliva instead of spitting it...)

I don't really think they'd think the coke is in his stomach? That tends to be passed in the time it takes for a plane to fly. The idea of them slicing him open to get them is a good one though... why tell us he doesn't have it? (You show that later, maybe that is a neat way to build the climax, delay that until after he is rescued even...)

There's a disconnect between Olivier's internal voice and the one he uses with Devlin. The latter is naive to the point of stupidity, which a survivor of Rwanda would not be (he might act it, but... that's not the impression I get)

For that matter, Devlin's speech sounds a bit forced as well. Try to make it sound more natural, more coaxing.

I don't really get the moaning by the man on the plane next to him. Maybe have him say something under his breath?

had stayed quite - "quiet"

The ending is rather abrupt - you've set up the conflict - he doesn't have the drugs, but you never resolve it. If perhaps Olivier knew where there was a weapon, if the cockroach idea steeled his nerve, then we might take an ambiguous ending knowing at least he might survive, as it is, seems he's seriously fubar'd...

Has potential, I hope you can polish it some, but for now, it's not quite doing it for me!

Liam