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lmc71775
January 25th, 2012, 03:56 AM
Chapter One

“Just do it!” Rosario demands, while we creep around the school grounds like two lost rats looking for shelter.

“I swear Penelope, I know you want to,” she continues, both of us standing under the graffiti-covered bleachers for whatever warmth we can capture.

Rose’s thick chestnut hair waves like a flag in the high winds. She’s shivering, trying desperately not to drop the tiny, round pill in her hand. I think if I look hard enough I’ll start to see my reflection in its slick black casing— like it’s telling me to take it. “Let me in, let me in,” it’s saying.

Rose crouches with her anorexic frame and starts to lose it. She rocks back and forth like that’s going to massively speed up time. I notice her delicate skin transforming from its natural cameral color, to a paler tan. Whatever antlike thing that’s bugging through her veins, makes her jittery body all the much more unbearable to watch. Obviously she’s been on it before. That’s a given.

I cheat her one hard look, like I am finally ready to blow the whistle on me yearning to quit. But I haven’t been there in days and I miss him miserably. The only way I can see him again is if I ingest it. I need to tell Zeek the truth this time.

“I’m so fuckin’ serious, Pen. Mine’s kickin’ in now, so make your God damn mind up already.” She pulls my left hand out and plunks the black rain-drop pill into my palm. Already it’s clinging to me like some magnetic force as it situates itself in the very center of my hand. It wants to get in, like pronto. I know it. I can just feel it start to melt within into the fine lines of my fingerprints. I wonder for a split second if I wait too long, will it totally disintegrate into my pores and get into my system regardless of my choice? Maybe now’s not the time to tell her I’m done. Then again would it really hurt to take it just one more time? After over-analyzing myself and watching Rosario do a dippy dance, I chicken out about kickin’ it and bring the pill to my mouth and pop it in like candy. What the fuck, might as well.

I let it rest in the middle of my mouth like an oyster clamped onto its pearl. Rose tugs me again—this time at my parka and pulls my arm. The gel-like covering dissolves quickly as the liquid center begins to seep down my throat. I could spit out the polluted shot at any moment, but Rose would have a shit fit if I waste any, so I swallow the sloshing juice and try to calm myself down. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.

I look at Rose and see her irises cloud into a subtle yellow. It spreads over her normal green tones. I still can’t understand how she gets away with such a sinful infection. No one seems to notice. Why that is, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s her slutty style of charm that escapes her, which I don’t really care for. But every guy seems to love it regardless.

“There, that’s better. Now I can see everything,” she grinningly says, scanning with her newly drugged-up eyes. “Come on, let’s go.”

“Are you sure you wanna do this, Rose?” I ask her, hoping she’ll change her mind and want to ditch. I seriously can’t face those fuckheads that go to our school. “I don’t want to be a repeat offender,” I urge again.

“Don’t worry,” she tells me, smiling an almost believable smile as her teeth chatter between each word. “Nothing’s gonna happen, I promise.”

“How do you know that, Rose? I mean, think about it. The whole school had to be evacuated last time. We could have gotten expelled.” Like that matters to her anyway. I don’t know why, but it matters to me.

“It’s cool, come on now, let’s go have some fun!” Rose insists.

We urgently jog towards the school. Clearly, she’s excited now since she’s higher than a damn kite. I suppose I would be too if I got all that driving attention. Then again…no. Not even sure why a pretty girl like Rosario Rodriguez would want to hang out with someone like me. I mean, we are complete opposites. She has this long lusty hair, while I keep mine short and butchered, changing it every chance I can get. She wears all the hip clothes, whereas I’m more the grunge girl with thrift shop clothes such as flannels and simple jeans. Shit. I’m not even lucky enough to see a penny to pick up to buy things like that anyway.

Rose continues to wickedly laugh as we pick up speed through the football field now to get to the front doors. “This is a riot,” she laughs again. “You should see what I’m seeing.”

Each person has their own unique experience while they’re on it. And no one really knows what the other is truly experiencing unless they physically touch you. And with that some kind of connection, it becomes a shared world. Though that’s usually only in Fixed circles. Not many druggies know about my Zeek—the only good thing that happens to me when I’m on it. He only appears then, and only then. As far as I know there are just a few people that know of my “so-called” apparition. But lately some can sense my world somehow, the world I’ve created on the drug. I’m not sure why, but the more I see Zeek, the stronger he gets. And the more people can feel him near me.

After darting up to the school entrance, we make it inside before the first bell rings. I can just about throw up at any moment, but I manage to hold it all in.

We race to our lockers as Rose starts to split ways from there. “Keep your eyes open, Pen. Remember, don’t fall asleep,” she says, slowly walking away as my back’s turned.

“I can’t. I won’t,” I tell her. Cramming my book-bag in my locker, I swivel back to tell her the same, but she’s already disappeared.

I slam the locker door shut and that’s when it all starts to kick in. Suddenly, I can almost see inside my head—snippets of memories floating around like tiny dust particles in the air. The little feathery fibers drift about, distracting me somewhat as I head to class. Once I clear them away, (or try to at least) my senses rise like an ascending elevator. I smell the burnt meatloaf and taste the soupy mashed potatoes lingering on my lips from the cafeteria that’s way on the other side of school. The sounds of students walking through the halls vibrate in my bones. And the high and low volumes of conversations bounce off the walls. But I will myself to tune them out.

I look down at my arms, feeling the drug strengthen my limbs. With every step I take, muscles in my legs tighten. I’m literally flowing to homeroom, yet not a soul notices in the sea of students that litter the halls.

Once the pill kicks in more, I change the atmosphere from the early Monday morning light to a pale blue moonlit glow. It’s like wearing sunglasses. And instead of the principal’s announcements over the intercom, I tune my mind into an alternative station, drowning out all the school’s chatter. I glide through the halls like a ghost, softly listening to the music in my mind as if they’re headphones plugged into my ears and finally get inside first period homeroom.

Zeek starts to form in the corner of the room. Dark shadows of a slender young male appear. There’s only one student that can remotely detect that there’s a certain other presence in the room.

There’s been talk that I have this “imaginary friend” and everyone seems threatened by it. How that supposedly got out is beyond me. Most kids never even pay attention to half the things going on in school anyway, so what difference does it make? It still bugs me who blabbed on me. Other than my close friends, there’s only one person here that knows pretty much everything—Walker. That’s why I don’t share my world with many others. I don’t trust them. Most if not all the students here are a bunch a Goddamn losers anyway.

Already he’s eyeing me up from the front row—Walker that is.

“Don’t,” he softly scolds me as I walk passed him, all the while trying to avoid his staking-eye, stare down. “Remember what happened before…just don’t do it.”

“Shhh,” I whisper back. “Just leave me alone.”

I wave him off as he gives me one last look of disapproval before glancing away.

I try to be as cautious as possible. Yet it’s extremely hard to sense whose watching and who’s not since everyone can see differently when they’re on Fix—just as everyone sees differently in real life. I just don’t think there’s much of a threat here, though, I don’t know everything. Other than Walker, the rest have no idea what I sense. No one sees what I can see, not even Walker. They’re my eyes damnit! But then again since those couple of times in the circle, he’s known even more about Zeek—him amongst other things. And from the looks of it, he’s suspicious yet again.

Zeek’s dark shadows continue to form and turn into pale flesh tones. I softly signal to him to wait, to listen to me and not my racing heart. That should slow the process—hopefully.

If I could just make time slow down, then I’d be ready to escape.

Five minutes more till freedom, then I could finally talk to him, take him away from here—tell him the truth. I need to tell him the only reason he exists is because of me. And only when I’m on Fix.

This will be our last time together. I need to stop this madness. Get my life straight, before the drug screws up my life for good.

He’s there, standing in the corner of the room—still, silent, waiting. The teacher continues to scribble on the chalkboard seemingly oblivious to the changes I’ve made, as are all the students pretty much too—everyone but Walker. His cautious eyes poison me with a look a dread. I can’t help but think Walker’s jealous of Zeek. Why I don’t know. For Christ sake, he isn’t even real.

Walker and I have been best friends forever it seems, until we both got wrapped up in Fix. Then everything changed between us. I could just feel the resentment in Walker’s eyes when he looks at me. It hurts—more then he’ll ever really know. I wish I could change that dreadful day when we both decided to take the drug. But it’s much too late for that now.

Zeek’s long dark, wavy hair nestles around his porcelain face as black symbols draw deep into the fine lines of his skin. It’s the branded symbols that shows he isn’t real—a tattooing of sorts. But I see that Zeek’s getting stronger every time I’m with him. I’m beginning to notice a new etching on him whenever we’re together. I wonder how much more I can control him. That’s why I must tell him, before someone senses how much energy I’ve stored inside him. Or worse, before they actually do start seeing him in real life. Would that even happen? I wouldn’t even have a clue as to what would happen then if I couldn’t control that. It pains me to think about it. It truly scares me. With this severe crisis that continues to rule me within, I feel in utter turmoil.

I raise my hand to be excused. The teacher nods “okay” and gives me a bathroom pass. And once it turns nine, I get up and start to walk towards the door. From the corner of my eye, I see that Zeek’s trailing not too far behind.

Once we get out and into the halls, he looks at me with loving eyes, still waiting for my every command on what to do and where to go next.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” I tell him, softly. “Just stay close and follow me.”

Joe Strike
May 17th, 2012, 07:51 PM
This is excellent! I haven't been on this site long but this is the best thing I've come across so far. Economical yet evocative prose, various plot elements mentioned but not explained (gives the reader something to anticipate/look forward to) and the first person/present tense works very well too.

Jeko
May 18th, 2012, 08:37 AM
Whoa, put a language warning on, please.

And I don't think the swearing adds anything to the characters anyway. It puts me off, and anyone else who prefers not to se it in print, which loses the connection I have for your character's and their situation. I sometimes swear a little in my work, but never with the f word, and always becasue it's the best way to present character.

At the moment, your characters are just average teenagers to me, and that's not exciting. I look for something beyond the common denominator when I read.

I can only give a useful critique on this is it doesn't have the swearing. It ruins it for me.

Chaeronia
May 18th, 2012, 11:47 AM
Chapter One

“Just do it!” Rosario demands, while we creep around the school grounds like two lost rats looking for shelter.

“I swear Penelope, I know you want to,” she continues, both of us standing under the graffiti-covered bleachers for whatever warmth we can capture.

Rose’s thick chestnut hair waves like a flag in the high winds. She’s shivering, trying desperately not to drop the tiny, round pill in her hand. I think if I look hard enough I’ll start to see my reflection in its slick black casing— like it’s telling me to take it. “Let me in, let me in,” it’s saying.

Rose crouches with her anorexic frame and starts to lose it. She rocks back and forth like that’s going to massively speed up time. I notice her delicate skin transforming from its natural cameral caramel color, to a paler tan. Whatever antlike wonder if 'antlike' needs hyphenating? thing that’s bugging through her veins, makes her jittery body all the much more unbearable to watch. Obviously she’s been on it before. That’s a given.

I cheat her one hard look, like I am think 'I'm' works better here. Less formal-sounding finally ready to blow the whistle on me yearning to quit. But I haven’t been there in days and I miss him miserably. The only way I can see him again is if I ingest it. I need to tell Zeek the truth this time.

“I’m so fuckin’ serious, Pen. Mine’s kickin’ in now, so make your God damn mind up already.” She pulls my left hand out and plunks the black rain-drop pill into my palm. Already it’s clinging to me like some magnetic force as it situates itself in the very center of my hand. It wants to get in, like pronto. I know it. I can just feel it start to melt within into the fine lines of my fingerprints. I wonder for a split second if I wait too long, no comma will it totally disintegrate into my pores and get into my system regardless of my choice? Maybe now’s not the time to tell her I’m done. Then again do you need this 'then again'? You're qualifying the previous sentence so there's no 'but' needed - 'Maybe now's not the time to tell her I'm done: would it really hurt...?' would it really hurt to take it just one more time? After over-analyzing myself and watching Rosario do a dippy dance, I chicken out about kickin’ it and bring the pill to my mouth and pop it in like candy 'I chicken out and pop it in like candy' might be stronger? No need to elaborate beyond that. What the fuck, might as well.

I let it rest in the middle of my mouth like an oyster clamped onto its pearl. Nice imagery. Rose tugs me again—this time at my parka and pulls my arm 'this time at my parka and pulls my arm' seems redundant. The gel-like covering dissolves quickly as the liquid center begins to seep down my throat. I could spit out the polluted shot at any moment, but Rose would have a shit fit if I waste any, so I swallow the sloshing juice and try to calm myself down. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.

I look at Rose and see her irises cloud into a subtle yellow. It spreads over her normal green tones. I still can’t understand how she gets away with such a sinful infection wasn't too sure on this line; kind of distracted me. No one seems to notice. Why that is, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s her slutty style of charm that escapes her, which I don’t really care for. But every guy seems to love it regardless.

“There, that’s better. Now I can see everything,” she grinningly says, scanning with her newly drugged-up eyes. “Come on, let’s go.”

“Are you sure you wanna do this, Rose?” I ask her, hoping she’ll change her mind and want to ditch. I seriously can’t face those fuckheads that go to our school. “I don’t want to be a repeat offender,” I urge again.

“Don’t worry,” she tells me, smiling an almost believable smile as her teeth chatter between each word. “Nothing’s gonna happen, I promise.”

“How do you know that, Rose? I mean, think about it. The whole school had to be evacuated last time. We could have gotten expelled.” Like that matters to her anyway. I don’t know why, but it matters to me.

“It’s cool, come on now, let’s go have some fun!” Rose insists.

We urgently jog towards the school. Clearly, she’s excited now since she’s higher than a damn kite. I suppose I would be too if I got all that driving attention. Then again…no. This sentence - 'Then again.... no' - seems unnecessary - it contradicts what come after. Not even sure why a pretty girl like Rosario Rodriguez would want to hang out with someone like me. I mean, we are complete opposites. She has this long lusty hair, while I keep mine short and butchered, changing it every chance I can get. She wears all the hip clothes, whereas I’m more the grunge girl with thrift shop clothes such as flannels and simple jeans. Shit., comma, not full stop I’m not even lucky enough to see a penny to pick up totoo many tos buy things like that anyway.

Rose continues to wickedly laugh as we pick up speed through the football field now get rid of 'now' to get to the front doors. “This is a riot,” she laughs again. “You should see what I’m seeing.”

Each person has their own unique experience while they’re on it. And no one really knows what the other is truly experiencing unless they physically touch you. And with that some kind of connection, it becomes a shared world. Though that’s usually only in Fixed circles. Not many druggies know about my Zeek—the only good thing that happens to me when I’m on it. He only appears then, and only then. As far as I know there are just a few people that know of my “so-called” I'd lose the quotation marks here apparition. But lately some can sense my world somehow, the world I’ve created on the drug. I’m not sure why, but the more I see Zeek, the stronger he gets. And the more people can feel him near me. This is a cool set up. Loads of potential.

After darting up to the school entrance, we make it inside before the first bell rings. I can just about throw up at any moment, but I manage to hold it all in.

We race to our lockers as Rose starts to split ways from there. “Keep your eyes open, Pen. Remember, don’t fall asleep,” she says, slowly walking away as my back’s turned.

“I can’t. I won’t,” I tell her. Cramming my book-bag in my locker, I swivel back to tell her the same, but she’s already disappeared.

I slam the locker door shut and that’s when it all starts to kick in. Suddenly, I can almost see inside my head—snippets of memories floating around like tiny dust particles in the air. The little feathery fibers drift about, distracting me somewhat as I head to class. Once I clear them away, comma after the paranthesis (or try to at least) my senses rise like an ascending elevator. I smell the burnt meatloaf and taste the soupy mashed potatoes lingering on my lips from the cafeteria that’s way on the other side of school. The sounds of students walking through the halls vibrate in my bones. And I'd make this 'And' part of the previous sentence or get rid of it altogether the high and low volumes of conversations bounce off the walls. But I will myself to tune them out. Enjoyed the description here, the heightened senses.

I look down at my arms, feeling the drug strengthen my limbs. With every step I take, muscles in my legs tighten. I’m literally flowing to homeroom, yet not a soul notices in the sea of students that litter the halls.

Once the pill kicks in more, I change the atmosphere from the early Monday morning light to a pale blue moonlit glow. It’s like wearing sunglasses. And instead of the principal’s announcements over the intercom, I tune my mind into an alternative station, drowning out all the school’s chatter. I glide through the halls like a ghost, softly listening to the music in my mind as if they’re headphones plugged into my ears and finally get inside first period homeroom.

Zeek starts to form in the corner of the room. Dark shadows of a slender young male appear. I like the imagery here but wonder whether the two sentences could be merged; otherwise they feel like they're saying the same thing: 'Zeek starts to form in the corner of the room, dark twisting shadows of a slender young man.' There’s only one student that can remotely detect that there’s a certain other presence in the room.

There’s been talk that I have this “imaginary friend” again, would take out the quotations - just personal preference though and everyone seems threatened by it. How that supposedly got out is beyond me. Most kids never even pay attention to half the things going on in school anyway, so what difference does it make? It still bugs me who blabbed on me. Other than my close friends, there’s only one person here that knows pretty much everything—Walker. That’s why I don’t share my world with many others. I don’t trust them. Most if not all the students here are a bunch a Goddamn losers anyway.

Already he’s eyeing me up from the front row—Walker that is.

“Don’t,” he softly scolds me as I walk passed him, all the while trying to avoid his staking-eye, stare down. “Remember what happened before…just don’t do it.”

“Shhh,” I whisper back. “Just leave me alone.”

I wave him off as he gives me one last look of disapproval before glancing away.

I try to be as cautious as possible. Yet it’s extremely hard to sense whose who's watching and who’s not since everyone can see differently when they’re on Fix—just as everyone sees differently in real life. Nice phrase - allegorical leanings? I just don’t think there’s much of a threat here, though, the use of commas here makes the 'though' feel ambiguous. I think you mean 'I just don't think there's much of a threat here, though I don't know everything.' But I'm not sure. Needs specifying I don’t know everything. Other than Walker, the rest have no idea what I sense. No one sees what I can see, not even Walker. They’re my eyes damnit! But then again since those couple of times in the circle, no comma - or, add another after 'But then again' he’s known even more about Zeek—him amongst other things. And from the looks of it, he’s suspicious yet again.

Zeek’s dark shadows continue to form and turn into pale flesh tones. I softly signal to him to wait, to listen to me and not my racing heart. That should slow the process—hopefully.

If I could just make time slow down, then I’d be ready to escape.

Five minutes more till freedom, then I could can finally talk to him, take him away from here—tell him the truth. I need to tell him the only reason he exists is because of me. And only when I’m on Fix.

This will be our last time together. I need to stop this madness. Get my life straight, before the drug screws up my life for good.

He’s there, standing in the corner of the room—still, silent, waiting. The teacher continues to scribble on the chalkboard, comma seemingly is 'seemingly' redundant? oblivious to the changes I’ve made, as are all the students pretty much too—everyone but Walker. His cautious eyes poison me with a look a dread. This turn of phrase seems too melodramatic, at odds to the more everyday use of words you otherwise employ I can’t help but think Walker’s jealous of Zeek. Why I don’t know. For Christ's sake, he isn’t even real.

Walker and I have been best friends forever it seems take out 'it seems', until we both got wrapped up in Fix. Then everything changed between us. I could just feel the resentment in Walker’s eyes when he looks tense issues here: 'could' and 'looks' at me. It hurts—more then he’ll ever really know. I wish I could change that dreadful day when we both decided to take the drug. But it’s much too late for that now.

Zeek’s long dark, wavy hair nestles around his porcelain face as black symbols draw deep into the fine lines of his skin. It’s the branded symbols that shows he isn’t real—a tattooing of sorts. But I see that Zeek’s getting stronger every time I’m with him. I’m beginning to notice a new etching on him whenever we’re together. I wonder how much more I can control him. That’s why I must tell him, before someone senses how much energy I’ve stored inside him. Or worse, before they actually do start seeing him in real life. Would that even happen? I wouldn’t even have a clue as to what would happen then if I couldn’t control that. It pains me to think about it. It truly scares me. With this severe crisis that continues to rule me within, I feel in utter turmoil.

I raise my hand to be excused. The teacher nods “okay” and gives me a bathroom pass. And once it turns nine, 'And once it turns nine' seems redundant I get up and start to walk towards the door. From the corner of my eye, I see that Zeek’s trailing not too far behind.

Once we get out and into the halls, he looks at me with loving eyes, still waiting for my every command on what to do and where to go next.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” I tell him, softly. “Just stay close and follow me.”

The dialogue is a real selling point: clipped, natural, fitting to the subject. Of course there'll be questions raised about the swearing: just because the story describes young people, doesn't mean that's its market. But also, like it or not, that is how many young people speak and behave (it definitely spoke of my understanding of and workings with dispossessed childhood) and so I think there's an argument for it being pitched at this market. Just with language warnings is all!

You deal with exposition very well: introduce characters and concepts organically and ask the reader to keep up. Works as a great hook to maintain interest.

Disagree with Cadence's comments about your characters seeming average: I find Penelope intriguing, her voice very strong. I like her a lot already.

And I think the concept of Zeek has great potential; think that could take the story down very interesting and dark avenues. A sense of the speculative but also relevant and resonsant.

Really enjoyed it.

garza
May 18th, 2012, 02:17 PM
I think you need a warning label. 'Caution - schoolyard language ahead.' Or some such.

'Just do it!' Rosario demands, while we creep around the school grounds like two lost rats looking for shelter.

(A strong opening. I would replace the 'like' with a semi-colon or dash to make the image sharper, the idea stronger. 'Like' is one of those words which can often be dropped without loss.)

You've reversed two letters in caremal, turning brown skin into something to do with parliament. Were you subconsciously thinking of the illegality of what you and your friend were up to?

'We race to our lockers as Rose starts to split ways from there.'

(I lost the image here, unsure of your meaning. The 'splits' is at odds with the 'slowly walking away' in the next sentence. You might consider a revision of this sentence to bring the action into focus.)

Your description of drug-induced sense changes takes us into the girl's mind in a definite way. Too often I've read 'everything looked and sounded different' when writers have tried to describe the
effect of drugs. You show us - moonlight in the school hallway, alternative radio instead of the school p.a.

Your indictment of most school systems is blunt. 'Most kids never even pay attention to half the things going on in school anyway...'

You need to lose the 'up' in the sentence about Walker 'eyeing' you. The next sentence needs some revision. 'Passed' should be 'past'. The spelling and punctuation at the end of the sentence should be 'stalking-eye stare-down', and the ellipses replaced with a semi-colon.

I've run out of time. You have a number of little problems that need to be fixed, but you have an interesting story to tell. Others will, I'm sure, help you further. Keep writing.

xlwoo
May 18th, 2012, 02:55 PM
the writing is really done in a novel style. but if it is for young adults, it would be better not to use curse words there.

KathyReynolds
June 24th, 2012, 08:52 PM
My best comment is WOW. As a parent of a 14 year old girl it made me cringe. The scene was just that real. Though as a rule I detest curse words I have to say I missed it at the first reading because it's the way kids that age speak. I hate it but thats life. I love the way you showed how drugs lie to users making them think they have control.

neatnickk
July 13th, 2012, 06:43 PM
My best comment is WOW. As a parent of a 14 year old girl it made me cringe. The scene was just that real. Though as a rule I detest curse words I have to say I missed it at the first reading because it's the way kids that age speak. I hate it but thats life. I love the way you showed how drugs lie to users making them think they have control.

I agree as a mom of teens... its street speak but it is real. Great descriptions and really liking it! Keep going!

cazann34
August 15th, 2012, 11:10 PM
I liked this, even though I'd question it being for 'children' and or 'young adults'. For me it glorifies drug taking,which is questionable to me as a parent. But don't listen to me I'm just an old fuddy-duddy! The swearing I'm in two minds about, in parts I think it's warranted-character structure but in other parts it doesn't enhance the voice for me, and it is a good voice- reminds me a little of Stephanie Meyers', Belle (Twilight) It has some interesting paths to follow, and I am intrigued where you are going to take your characters? To paradise or hell? I would be interest to read more.

patskywriter
August 15th, 2012, 11:41 PM
I only have time to ask one quick question about "and finally get inside first period homeroom." I was wondering whether you meant to type that. Obviously, not all school systems are the same, but when I was in high school, homeroom was between periods (3rd and 4th periods at my school). I just wanted to ask about that.

Although I didn't care for the profanity, I thought that it was a compelling read. :)