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Old 10-23-2012, 02:10 AM   #1
Erebus Dirge
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Default BD 2012 Fall Write-Off - Story 3...

An Open Book

It is dark, the kind of darkness that was so deep and dense, that I could almost smell, touch, or taste it. The darkness makes me anxious. Not that I am scared or afraid of it, but because it signifies my own ineptness. The darkness represents my perpetual failures as a husband and a father.

The darkness is cut through by a growing light, like a headlight in a dark subway. And that’s exactly what it is (quit the analogy right? I hope so. I paid an arm, leg, and 30 grand in student loans for a piece of extra thick paper that says I can speak and write English good. So far that particular talent hasn’t netted me a God damn cent). I lift myself off the tracks, an act I have to force myself to do. As the train screeches past me, I tuck my body to the wall. I watch the people in the cars. I can, for a split second, see their curious, confused, and suspecting gaze, but unable to do anything except wonder. I try to get a quick glimpse into their lives as well. A sliver. A sliver. A sliver. A sliver. A writer always watches for unique quirks or characteristic ticks that can be applied to characters in stories to make them seem “real.” I never apply them, I only look for them. A professor of mine once said that, “the sign of a great writer is that they hate writing.” Then I must be one of the very best.

As I retrace my steps along the subway tracks to find my way back to the station platform, a rat leaps over my foot and as it lands it touches the 3rd rail. The rat twitches back and falls. I kneel down as if I was waiting for a pup to launch itself lovingly into my arms. I feel a crick in my hip and it pops out (or maybe back in) to its socket. I flinch slightly, not from the pain I feel, but the pain I’m suppose to feel.

The rat staggers backwards and then in circles for a moment. There is a smell of burnt flesh and singed hair beginning to trounce the damp dank odor of the subway tunnel. The rat finally falls limp onto the gravel. I brace my uncooperative body so I can stand and then notice the rat twitch again.

Its leg kicks, kicks, then reaches for the ground. The rat pulls itself up. Its movements are erratic and it limps considerably; easy prey for anything else that lives in the labyrinth of tunnels. The rat crawls to the third line again, and looks as if it’s going to test it, but resists. In a movement that is surprisingly fluid and doesn’t seem to be my own, I lift up my leg and bring it down hard on the rat’s spine. It lets out a squeal of pain that breaks my heart. I raise my foot again, and connect with the rat, to end the squealing.

I can feel the bones break, and pressure from the fluid inside the rat resists my foot from meeting the gravel beneath the both of us. But it’s done, and as I walk away from the murder I still have the phantom feeling of the rat’s bones under my heel.

I trudge up the maintenance stairs. Each foot landing on the metal steps with a water logged thruch, thruch, thruch. I reach for the railing with my right hand but it’s unresponsive. It won’t budge. At the top of the platform people pretend not to look, but I can feel their curious gaze on me. Parents reign in their children, wives and girlfriends tighten around the strong arms of their suddenly protective spouse (You’re welcome for getting you laid because “you were oh so brave protecting me from that foul man.”) They think I’m homeless, I’m sure of it, and I’m sure I do look the part. I can feel my wet clothing smacking up against my skin, and then slowly peeling off. But I’m not homeless; chances are I live a more financially comfortable life than most of them.

Maybe there’s a writer in the crowd and they’ll remember my odd – or disgusting – character quirks. They’ll write about me. They’ll speculate on where I got my limp from, why my arm dangles uselessly at my side, or why clothes are so tattered and ragged. Then they’ll make me their “antagonist.” Written in eloquent words that describe how I fuck little boys, sell black market organs, killed my wife, or was assaulted by a loan shark. But life only slightly imitates art, some words would be true, but the situation would be less harsh, less cold and calculated, less devised than in the novel of my life. A hard, hot ball of terror and regret sinks into my stomach and slowly burns.

As I reach the top of the stairs, the cool city air hits my wet body and goose bumps rise from my skin. The sensation provides me with a momentary relief from my wrenching gut, a reprieve from the pain until I can get home to a loaded Glock 31.

Trash on either sides of the alley way is piled high, teetering on collapse. Steam rises up from the sewerage holes in the streets and floats pointlessly before evaporating. I am reminded of something once said to me: “Ask Stephen King what’s in those sewerage holes.” I have read many of his books and the closest thing that could relate is the clown from It.

Once the trash of the alley begins to lower before vanishing, I know that I am in my neighbor hood. The nice one. The one where everyone is safe and sound, snug in their beds sleeping next to their wives, with their children cuddling an animal in a room down the hall. I’ve always loved the stair way up to my apartment. They are wide with granite steps and a thick oak hand railing. Another tenant passes me as I walk up the stairs, we make eye contact and I attempt to wave to him, but my stubborn arm still refuses to move. Instead, at the risk of embarrassment, I nod my head, he doesn’t reciprocate, instead simply attempts not to look at me.

There isn’t anything particularly impressive about my apartment it is restrained and neat. I don’t use it for much, at least not the main sitting area and the kitchen. This room is the exoskeleton of my life; it protects me from the rest of the world, and those that find themselves in my home, for whatever reason, are protected from me. Deeper into my home is where the real me resides.

I wish I could feel anxiety fuel me, knowing that the Glock is there waiting in the table drawer, but it doesn’t. I don’t fear death, not anymore, not now.
My room is filled with tangible memories from my former life. The man I use to be. Plastered on my wall is every picture I could find of my wife and I. Vacations, marriage, and just lazy day pictures. But they are all so distant now, as if they are pictures of a woman I never truly knew. I’m not sure when or how I got the pictures there, or why I put them there. As I walk along the wall glancing at them the burning pit in my stomach returns more ferociously than ever, I let out a few hacks and nearly vomit. This happens every time I walk into my room.

On the far end, is a dresser which has a vase of dead wilted roses on it, along with a teddy bear that seemed so perfect then, but mocks me as I walk. The bed is perfectly made; I don’t sleep their anymore. Then at the foot of the bed, is a crib. The crib of my son, empty. A balloon, tied to a rung, desperately tries to stay afloat. It’s a boy!!! it reads. My hands begin to sweat and a wave of fiery remorse boils under my skin. Tears swell into my eyes and I dash towards the bathroom. I flick on the light with my good arm and search for the cold steel that will set me free. I find it almost immediately. I raise the gun to my temple and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My head is crooked to the left with a large gash on the right side of my neck, my elbow bends inversely with a jagged bone hidden just under the stretched skin. “You did this, you did this!” I pull the trigger. A hear a loud crack and a feeling not unlike a tickle forms where the bullet enters, and for all intents and purposes it’s a relief. They say that your life passes before your eyes before you die…

It is dark, so deep and enveloping that I feel like I am falling; twisting in a weightless abyss. A light cuts through the darkness and I land with my cheek pressed on the tiled floor. A puddle of cold liquid is underneath me. The sun from the bedroom windows shine in through the bathroom doors. I motion to get up my as my arms creek and snap. It is impossible not to place my hands in the sticky blood. I feel soft chunks of grey matter and maybe fragments of skull on the floor. These wounds will all heal; they always have.

I’ve never seen my life flashing before death. I’ve never gotten to remember the smiles and remember the love. It never comes, only the darkness and a reawakening, in rhythm, an endless pattern to my endless life. A book unable to be closed.
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Last edited by Erebus Dirge; 10-23-2012 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 10-25-2012, 04:35 PM   #2
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Readability: Is it easy to read, does it sound like good grammar or how someone would actually speak? Did you have to go back and reread or stop to figure out what was going on? (Spelling and grammar count, but to say it hurts the story isn't always true.) It's up to you how readable it was.

Concept: Is it fresh or familiar. Is it a good take or rendition on the idea. Was it a great presentation, or too familiar? Character developement fits here too (tho yeah, seems odd due to the heading of "concept") But how well presented are the characters? Are they fleshed out, do we understand or sympathize with them?

Atmosphere: Dread, horror, creepiness, ambiance, mood, immersion etc. How well does the story draw you in? Do you feel the danger, the distress of the world? Are you glad you're not in their shoes? Do you feel for the characters, the world, and/or the situation. If this were a movie, how happy were you watching it unfold? Does the atmosphere suck you in, or like a bad movie, are you checking your watch to see how much is left?
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Old 10-28-2012, 10:20 PM   #3
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Happy sunshine story! No, seriously though, l really dig the gloominess in this story. Death seems to follow the main character, who has become an outsider, following on the heels of personal tragedy. l like his dejected, misanthropic attitude towards the world at large. Didn't really understand the end, though. Did he come back as a zombie? ls he doomed to repeat his life of hellish despair?

Readability- 2 - There were a few grammar and punctuation errors, the kind that always grind my reading pace to a screeching halt. Seems like this should have been proof-read more. Other than that l like this writers prose style and his/her use of descriptions.

Concept- 1 - There didn't really seem to be any sort of plot or arc to enable this character. lnstead we find him at the end of his arc, ready to die.

Atmosphere- 3 - There was a sense of dismal dread and hopelessness that l liked. l'm always a sucker for happy endings.
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:43 PM   #4
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Readability - Lots of big words, pretty heavy prose, but easy enough to read. 3.0

Concept - A little more how or why would have been good, but the chosen snapshot of some bigger picture is easy to imagine as the most horrific part of a larger set of events. 3.0

Atmosphere - The hopelessness was obvious, you painted a very bleak day in the life of a very plagued man 4.0

Overall - 3.33

@Yox - I'm guessing the man can't die and he's been trying to kill himself after the death of his wife and child, all kinds of possibilities emerge, as well as what he has tried and might try next. Reminds me of a more depressing version of that one Twilight Zone episode, starred Burgess Meredith I think it was. Sold his soul to be immortal and then got life in prison.
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:11 PM   #5
Erebus Dirge
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Readability - Was okay but on a personal level I'm not a big fan of bracketed internal thoughts, something that Stephen King sometimes does and annoys me. But like I said that's just me. Like the first person narrative though 2.5

Concept - Like the Twilight Zone had a suicide smoothie and woke up in Silent Hill. Sketchy with background exposition about events , but dealing more with the fragmented traumatic failures of the protagonists life. As a result though none the poorer - 3.5

Atmosphere - Totally bummed out, It's more like he's reliving his death(s) rather than his life - 3.5

Overall - Very well done . Leaves the reader with enough blanks to fill in themselves ,which is a good thing IMO - 3.5
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Last edited by Erebus Dirge; 10-29-2012 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 10-29-2012, 04:24 PM   #6
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Readability- It kept me engaged from the start and stayed even and readable. 3.0

Concept- The dark side of immortality. A very tragic character that was painful to follow. - 3.5

Atmosphere- Very bleak at it's best. I felt this person's pain more because he can't. -3.5

Overall- 3.33
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:21 AM   #7
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An Open Book by Robcbh
R: 2.625 C: 2.75 A: 3.50 Total:2.96
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