View Full Version : The Lights of Paris- Second Draft

April 12th, 2012, 04:05 AM
Alright, so, this is my second draft on a sci-fi anthology I've working on, where each person in our group writes one short story. Luckily, most of this is done, so I can add Chapters every two days. Background of anthology: fifteen years ago the technology of opening interdimmensional rifts became prevalent. They became wide spread across the worlds, until eventually Paris was sucked through a chaotic rift that spread out ofcontrol. Now, the rifts have started to spread chaos, both by the rifts themselves, and the mingling of worlds. This anthology story is more or less about what Paris was replaced with after getting sucked through the rift.

The Lights of Paris


“Mirror, mirror, what do you see?” Valentina asked the Mirror eagerly. The Mirror responded simply, “All that there is to be seen.”
-A conversation between friends

Cheryl sniffed. She hated these social parties. All the excess courtesy seemed to make the room stuffy. So what if her father was some big wig? That didn’t mean she had to come along, like some preppy dog to be put on display at a show. She kicked a refreshment stand in frustration, though kept a cheerful smile on her face for the sake of the elegantly dressed passersby. She glanced mutinously at a large blueprint that hung over the wall, as if it was a very special guest. After so long being surrounded by them, Cheryl had come to recognize such blueprints immediately. Either a Lights of Paris power plant design, or the blueprint for a rift.

Everything boiled down to those stupid rifts.

They had made her father famous, and turned her life into a gilded cage. She sighed quietly. Even now, she was stuck following around him, shadowed by his reputation and her own body guards. Turning around in a huff, mind set solely on her frustration, she walked straight into someone. She stumbled backwards in surprise, saying in an annoyed voice. “Can’t you watch where you’re-” Cheryll broke off, looking with surprise at the person she had bumped into.

She didn’t recognize him, which was odd, because everyone at the party was of some lofty level of fame. She had pegged him at about 19, around her age, with windswept blond hair that was braided in the back into a long and elegant ponytail, the golden locks framed by a pair of emerald earrings. He wore a vest of black and green over a collared white shirt, crumpled casually over his tall frame. But the thing that grabbed her attention the most were his eyes. A deep, dazzling shade of emerald green. Something about them twinkled with laughter, and stood him apart from the rest of the dull and prim scientists and ambassadors. He smiled, inclining his head courteously. “My bad, miss.”

Something about his politeness was much more casual and natural than the rehearsed language of the rest of the parties guests. Despite herself, Cheryl found herself blushing. She was immediately torn between hitting the man, or asking him out. But before she could make a decision, one of her father’s goons immediately appeared at her shoulder, as if conjured from thin air. “This man bothering you, ma’am?” He asked gruffly.

Cheryl’s expression turned dangerous. Those stupid body guards were the insult to her eternal injury, the greatest bane of her dressed up existence as daughter to the Governor of Soleil City. The fat headed goons were perpetually hovering by her shoulder, intercepting practically anyone she had contact with.

She turned around, hissing in anger, “No! Go away!” The guard bowed stiffly, retreating to the far end of the room with a curiously blank expression. Just like robots, she thought. Cheryl briefly wondered if they would rust if she poured water on them.

“Your guards?” A pleasant voice said from behind her. She turned around in surprise to see the green-eyed man, still smiling gently. “Are you sure they’re not robots?” He asked.

Cheryl stifled a giggle. “Not quite. My refrigerator has more expressions than them. And Kristen Stewart, for that matter.” The green-eyed man burst out laughing, holding out his hand. “I like you already.” Cheryl shook his hand, smiling sincerely as she said. “I’m Cheryl. Cheryl Pascal” The man grinned, “A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Pascal.“ Suddenly, a loud voice carried over from behind Cheryl.

“Hey Cheryl! How’s it going?”

Cheryl sighed with exasperation, recognizing the voice. Not him again. She turned around reluctantly. A young man had swaggered forward, eyes fixed on Cheryl. He ran a hand through his greasy, slicked back hair, eying the green-eyed stranger with distaste.

“Hi Anthony.” Cheryl said, the venom in her tone overriding the pleasance of her words. Anthony Renoit was the son of a senator who worked closely with her father, and, unfortunately, had none of the good character, good looks, or charisma his parents were endowed with. To make matters worse, she had to endure him every time her father had a meeting with Senator Renoit. Cheryl gave Anthony an ugly look as he said obnoxiously to the green-eyed man, “Who’s this guy?”

Cheryl was about to answer, when the green-eyed man stepped forward, waving his hand modestly. “I’m no one special. Just a humble music-box maker.” Rummaging through his pocket, he commented absentmindedly, “I don’t suppose you’d like to buy one?” He pulled out a small brown object the size of a matchbox, and clicked it open. At that moment, Cheryl forgot the anger she had directed at Anthony. She even forgot the party. The music that tinkled out of the box was so lovely she could hardly speak. It reminded her of the spring storms, the sound like raindrops that pattered across the cobbled streets. The gentle tune lingered in the air for a moment, before the green-eyed man snapped the box closed. Anthony, however, simply sniffed, taking the box from the man’s hands and looking at it. After a moment, he immediately opened his palm and the intricate box dropped to the tiled floor with a nasty crack. “Oops.” He sneered.

Cheryl felt her blood boil with rage. She moved forward to crack the obnoxious excuse for a man's head open like an egg, but before she could lay a hand on Anthony, the green-eyed man placed an arm between them. “He's not worth it, Cheryl.” Anthony simply leered at the green-eyed man, knocking his hand away and grabbing Cheryl's arm. “There’s no need to hang around with this trash, Cheryl. Let’s go find some privacy.” Cheryl immediately slapped him across the face, apoplectic with anger as Anthony toppled to the floor. Her mind went blank as fury swept over her. “I’d rather saw my arm off with a rusted hatchet than get ‘private’ with you!” She yelled. The nearby guests giggled, though the green-eyed man simply looked on in interest. Cheryl glanced at him out of the corner of her eye with curiosity. He had barely reacted to the music box breaking, and had simply shown a bit of lazy, mild interest as the incident unfolded.

Suddenly, Anthony leapt to his feet, face flushed with embarrassment. He lunged forward, grabbing Cheryl’s arm with a strong, vice-like grip. Cheryl flinched with surprise. “What the hell are you doing?” For once, Cheryl was actually thankful for having body guards around. Her heart quickly sank when she remembered they were at the other end of the ball room. She cursed herself, remembering she had been the one that sent them there in the first place. Anthony snarled at her, “Just because your father is some big shot doesn’t mean I’m going to treat you like a damn queen.” Cheryl attempted to pull away in disgust, feeling the creep's hot breath on her face. Panic twitched inside her as she willed her body guards to notice.

But as Anthony pulled back his fist, the green-eyed man stepped forward calmly, arm snaking forward and grabbing Anthony’s wrist. He gave a sharp twist, and Cheryl heard a loud snap emanate from Anthony's hand, now bent at an ugly angle. Anthony fell backwards as the green-eyed man gently pulling Cheryl away.
There was a moment of complete silence as the obnoxious young man stared at his limp wrist for a second, pure shock adorning his face. Suddenly, as if the pain had been stuck in an intersection who's red light had only just turned green, Anthony threw his head back, crying out in agony. The green-eyed man turned to face Cheryl as if nothing happened, saying chattily. “The names Nathaniel by the way. “ Cheryl’s lips were parted in an O of surprise while Nathaniel continued amiably, his words not quite reaching her. As she slowly started to get over the shock of seeing her obnoxious assailant floored, Anthony’s own body guards smashed into her savior from out of nowhere. As he was buried beneath a pile of suit-bearing bodies, a hand poked out, waving cheerfully while Nathaniel’s voice called. “Let’s get some tea later!” He gave her a friendly salute as the guards dragged him out the ballroom, leaving Cheryl Pascal incredibly shocked, moderately in love, and extremely, extremely confused.

April 22nd, 2012, 11:41 PM
Took longer than I thought, but Chapter 2 is now up. Anyways, rest assured, despite the romantic, almost romantic-comedy type intro, this is very sci-fi horror-y.


“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
― Ana´s Nin

Cheryl marched down the opulent hallways of Pascal Manor, an annoyed frown marking her features. A crumpled stack of official looking documents fluttered gently in her hand, the rustling of paper accompanying the hollow echoes of her footsteps. With a sharp turn, Cheryl entered a more dull, modern looking section of the estate, a scattering of dreary paintings interrupting the monotone of the cement walls.

However, as she turned one last corner, she found the detainment area completely empty. Where was the head of security? Surely he would have been here, supervising Nathaniel.

As she glanced around the hallway, a curious sound touched her ears. Laughter? That was odd. Cheryl peered into one of the cell rooms. Empty. A bit unnerved, she moved past the empty cell and down the hallway, the sound of chatting voices growing louder. As she glanced past the window to the second detainment room, she did a double take. Inside, Nathaniel and the gruff chief of security were talking like old friends. After a moment, Cheryl pushed through the door, a very 'I demand to know what's going on here before you lose your job' expression prominent on her face.

The chief of security, a tall man with a weathered face, immediately jumped to attention. "Ms. Pascal! You should know better than to come to the detainment area by yourself. Er, I was just-"

"-Chatting with the prisoner, completely forgetting that Father pays you to guard, not gossip?" Cheryl said flatly. The chief of security looked down with embarrassment. Cheryl eyed Nathaniel curiously. Did those two know each other?

"Please, allow me to escort you back to the ball room. You shouldn't be near such a dangerous person." The chief of security said weakly. Cheryl pushed the stack of papers into his face irritably. "Release orders. Straight from Father."

The chief of security skimmed over them, quickly handing back the papers to Cheryl with a hurried, "Everything seems in order. Feel free to take Nathaniel back to the ballroom. But, erm, please don't tell Mr. Pascal about this."

Cheryl ignored him, grabbing Nathaniel's hand as she pulled him out into the hallway. Despite her annoyance with the chief of security, she felt a trill of delight when she saw Nathaniel blush as she grabbed his hand.

The two stood there for moment, the hallway perfectly still save for the chief of security, who had edged out of the cell room awkwardly before slowly slipping towards his office. Nathaniel watched him for a moment before telling Cheryl lazily, "Nice man. His son just started playing the piano."

"You know him?" Cheryl asked. Nathaniel flapped his hand offhandedly, responding happily. "I don't even know his name. We just started talking as he was escorting me to my cell."

Cheryl looked at him curiously, something she found herself doing more often every second she was with him. Nathaniel did have a curious ability to make people feel at ease near him. The young man leaned up against the side of the wall, humming gently as though nothing out of the ordinary had hapened that day. Cheryl looked at him for a moment, before finally saying, "C'mon, let's get out of here." With a quick turn, she moved towards the exit.

Cheryl walked quietly down the hallway, Nathaniel close at her heels. The green-eyed man moved with a lazy confidence, a curiously fluid gait that swept him across the carpet. Cheryl glanced at the smiling Nathaniel out of the corner of her eye. He was . . . strange. His movements, his mannerisms, there was an odd rhythm to the way he passed through life. They turned a corner sharply, as Cheryl led Nathaniel aboard a gilded elevator. With a resounding clang, the gold doors of mesh shut, as the elevator slowly ascended up the floors of Pascal Manor.

“Where are we going?” Nathaniel inquired pleasantly.

Cheryl felt a tinge of red color her cheeks as she said very curtly, “You asked me out for tea earlier, didn’t you?”

Nathaniel grinned. “Great! Er, I’m afraid I’m a bit new to Soleil City. I don’t exactly know any good tea shops.”

“That’s fine.” Cheryl responded. “I've lived here since I was a kid, so I know the entire city from top to bottom.” A trace of bitterness snuck into her voice at the end, and Cheryl prayed Nathaniel hadn’t noticed. She stood close to the door, in front of Nathaniel, yet she could still feel his startlingly beautiful emerald eyes locked on her head. There was a moment of electrified silence, broken only by the sound of the doors grinding open. Cheryl stepped quickly into the opulent foyer. She had the feeling Nathaniel wanted to say something, but was greeted only by silence as the two pushed through the heavy front gate of the manor and into the garden.
The garden was only about fifty feet long and fifteen feet wide, yet it was as if someone had tried to cram as much beauty into the small stretch of land as possible. Hundreds of colors peeked from the flowers that dotted the area like toadstools. Birds sung shrilly in the afternoon sun, yet their songs lacked any rhythm or elegance.

Cheryl stared straight ahead while walking, avoiding any thought about the decadent garden. Within a moment, the green had faded to gray as the two emerged onto the cobbled streets of Soleil City. Cheryl exhaled deeply. Sure, the curious passersby might have been awed by the resplendent garden in front of the governor’s manor. But to Cheryl, it was nothing but a disgusting bloom of frilly colors, empty of any real beauty. Nathaniel commented softly, “It all seems a bit hollow, doesn’t it?”

Cheryl nodded in agreement. “I hate the place. It’s almost claustrophobic. Everything is just so fake, You can’t hear the birds singing, or see the beauty of the flowers, even when they're right in your face. All you feel is the emptiness. It’s like, it’s like—“

“—the place isn’t real at all?” Nathaniel asked. Cheryl nodded. “I only ever go to Father’s manor when I have to. The moment I finished college, I got my own place and never looked back. Well, I tried to anyway.”
Cheryl gazed upward at the Manor. Music thrummed faintly from the ballroom window. Neately dressed people could be seen chatting. So shallow. So small. So indifferent to the rest of the world. Cheryl gave one final dark look to the ballroom, before turning. "Let's go."


"It's a pleasant place, isn't it?" Nathaniel commented idly. The two of them were seated outside a small teashop to the north of the city. Sunlight illuminated the street, the stones of gray contrasting pleasantly with the merry golden light. A brick-red parasol shaded their table, and Cheryl felt the cacophony of the city envelope her. This was where she belonged. Not shut up in a manor, trapped in a web of politics, but here in the city street, able to actually join society rather than stare glumly at it.

Cheryl stirred a clump of sugar in her tea lazily, leaning on one arm against the warm black frame of the table. "Who are you, anyways?" She asked Nathaniel.

He winked. "Like I told your friend Anthony. I'm just a humble music box maker, passing through Soleil City with the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Lights of Paris."

Cheryl looked at him with amusement. "You really expect me to believe that?"

"Not at all. Would you mind passing me a muffin?"

Their idle talk carried them through the afternoon. Cheryl felt herself laugh, sincerely, for the first time in months. Despite is calm, easy demeanor, Nathaniel was also warm. He wasn't political in his amity, but easy with it. He felt like someone that Cheryl could trust.

Nathaniel rested his head on his fist, smiling. "Do you want to go to the movies next week? I heard they're doing a classics weekend. Un Coeur en Hiver, Jean de Florette and Manon Des Sources are all playing this Sunday."

Cheryl perked up. "Manon of the Spring? I loved that movie! Father used to take me to see it every weekend when . . ." She trailed off. Memories of warm summer nights sprung to mind. Back when she could still see Father as a person, as someone she could care about. Those times were long gone. "I didn't know you were a film buff, Nathaniel." She said rather quickly, hoping to change the subject.

Nathaniel shrugged amiably, "I'm a lot of things."

"'Annoying' is the one that springs to mind first." Cheryl said. "Are you really so incapable of giving a straight answer?"

Nathaniel laughed. "A straight answer? What fun would that be?"

Cheryl smiled in spite of herself, taking a bite out of her muffin. Suddenly, a sharp ping sounded throughout the street. It was an innocent sound, like the amplified ring of a pin dropping. But the moment it sounded, Nathaniel stiffened, standing up and holding Cheryl closer to him. “Time to go, Cheryl. Try to keep your head down.” Cheryl’s face went bright red. She was so close she could hear Nathaniel’s heartbeat.

Suddenly, a stall nearby exploded. Strips of fragmented wood, banners, cloth, and fruit were blown in every direction. Nathaniel guided Cheryl gently through the street as more stalls were blown apart. Cheryl pulled away, blank with shock, “What the hell was that?”

Nathaniel held her hand gently. “I’m really sorry about this Cheryl, but don’t worry, everything will be fine.”

A black car that looked like a miniature hearse screamed down the road, roaring over the cobbled stones and pulling to a stop in front of Cheryl and Nathaniel. The back door popped open and Cheryl was bemusedly ushered inside. The two of them fell into the back seat, the chairs a soft, red satin. An odd thing to notice, Cheryl thought, when your world is falling apart. But then, odd things do tend to happen when the world falls apart, don’t they?

“Move aside for a moment, Nathaniel.” A cool voice commented from the front seat. Cheryl turned and caught sight of a dark figure with icy blue eyes, his arm stretching forward towards her. The last thing she noticed was the rustling of fabric, Nathaniel’s indignant protests, and the smell of lemons.

Then there was nothing.

May 8th, 2012, 08:44 PM
Yo...I don't have the time to talk about chapter 2, but I kind of liked chapter one. A few things though, if you don't mind. First, and this is my opinion because you might have something up your sleeve plot-wise, I don't think an opinonated woman like Cheryl BUT also a trained daughter of a 'big wig' would be so ill-mannered. However, I kind of know that children/teenages definetely have their own ways of going about things, haha. Even though I'm interested, I'm unsure how much you'll be able to pull other readers in...just because of the whole 'angry noble with feelings for other person who is hit on by other ass-hole noble" situation. But I liked Cheryl's personity, and who knows how things will turn out with time, hm?

May 9th, 2012, 07:08 PM
Really good conversation, easy to read. I like the interaction. But:

Try to use words for numbers if at all possible. Nineteen vs. 19. Obviously there are exceptions such as dates ("I was born in 1978") but generally it's a good idea.

The chief of security looked down with embarrassment. Really? I don't buy it. Not the chief. Not any sort of effective security chief. Is he incompetent? Choose a more believable reaction.
And it continues. Ugh. If you want him to be an incompetent, explain it to the reader - he got his position because of politics or family connections?

Then there was nothing. Meaning what? Need some better description that gives the reader a hint - was she knocked unconscious? drugged? Is that what the smell of lemons is supposed to indicate?

Lots of small things - missing letters (e.g., "is" for "his"), misuse of words (e.g., envelope for envelop)

May 9th, 2012, 11:55 PM
Hm, I've actually pulled some massive edits on this over the past month, and, from a literary perspective, these actually need a metric crapload of work. However, I'll try and post the updated version once I've got it finished.