Never again. Never ever again. Pauline tugged her knees to her chest and buried her face in the pillow. The stench of the alley still stung her nose, even though she had fled Melbourne hours ago. But here she was safe, at least until they found her.
Brrrrrzzzzz. Brzz. Brzz. Brrrrzzzzzzzz. Sadhu rolled over and looked at the bedside clock. Two-fifteen. Who in the world would be ringing the doorbell at this ungodly hour?
Oh, dear. Sometimes we just have to call them like we see them, and so I'll have to call this one a competent miss.
The writing is clear and lucid. Point of view is deftly handled, the sentences are mostly clean, and we get a sense of a crisis unfolding. The writer of these sentences has a good grasp of the writing process, based on what we can see from this snippet.
But the opening fails all the same. It's far too jarring -- we get this great, tense, brief first paragraph, and then we cut away before we've really had a chance to bond with this character or explore the premise.
And there is one fairly large point of confusion for me, anyway, in the second paragraph. There's this buzzing noise, and then the guy rolls over in his bed and looks at the clock. Am I the only one thinking, at this point, that the buzzing is coming from that clock -- the alarm clock? It confused me when we started talking about doorbells, and I had to reformulate the opening of the paragraph to conform with the end of the paragraph.
Who are we supposed to care about here? Pauline or Sadhu? The author needs to decide this basic question and then write the opening with the answer in mind.
There are a couple of other small nits -- stench still stung creates an alliteration that doesn't read comfortably to me. I'm not crazy about the phonetic representation of the buzzer, either, because it looks overdone to my eyes. And why are we starting with the buzzer? Do we really care about Dadhu sleeping and rolling over and all that? Why not just start with him opening the door? And why are we starting with the moment Pauline becomes safe? Isn't danger more interesting?
But the big problem, and it's big enough to undercut all the strengths in this opening, is the switch in povs. Job One on every first page is to build that reader bond. Give them something to care about, someone to care about, and let them sink comfortably into your fictive world.