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Abdul-fattah
May 23rd, 2012, 05:41 PM
Chapter 1: Vince (I)


There was an awkward silence, as always in any first session. This partly due to the nature of the session itself; and the level of trust it requires from the patients. But in part because Dr. Alexander Leach had a habit of keeping silence, waiting, forcing his patients to speak first. He had convinced himself that he did this to have a head start in analysing them, while keeping the upper hand. In all honesty though, he'd had to admit he had this habit because he'd rather enjoyed it.

But this wasn't a normal consult and Vince wasn't a normal patient. This was an experiment, and Vince was a participant. This time, he already knew exactly what was wrong with the patient. At least from a psycho-analytic point of view. Nevertheless he played his usual game for dominance just the same. Perhaps because he knew he had to break the pattern of expectation, or maybe in part because it flattered the witty doctor's ego. After just a few seconds, the inmate caught on to the doctors intention and broke the silence with a witty question, that would set the pace for the remainder of the session.

“That's odd, why d'you figure I should trust you?”


Vince managed to ask in a most careless and casual tone. Questions, he knew, are an efficient and safe way to be defiant against somebody in a dominant position. He put the doctor on the spot immediately, forcing him to admit whether or not he thinks that Vince should trust him. At the same time he was also letting the Doctor know that he understood the purpose of his little game. He understood why he was waiting for him to speak first. Further, by confronting in the form of a question, he didn't actually have to commit to the confrontation itself and give himself away by doing so. And finally, by bringing up trust, he pointed out the irony of a psychologist playing mind games. Vince likes to be in control. More than that; Vince 'needs' to be in control. Of course Dr. Leach already knew this from reading the preliminary screening report. A series of tests his assistant Michael conducted for this project.

Dr Leach stared at the monitor for a few seconds. A second, was enough for him to interpret the squiggly colored lines which would seem random to almost everybody else. He then turned back towards Vince and reminded him with a dry voice that he had volunteered for this project himself. Vince smirked, nodded at the equipment and asked whether that was his version of a lie-detector. This was Vince backing out from a failed confrontation; and launching a new attack all at the same time. The good doctor couldn't have him knowing the purpose of the experiment, that could to easily go very wrong. And thus Vince won round one. But Alex knew the questions regarding the nature of the device and the nature of the experiment, was bound to come up sooner or later. So either way he was glad he got it cleared right away, even if it were at the cost of his head start. Another silence. This time though, Vince was the one deliberately remaining silent, forcing the Doctor to speak.

“Look; there's no point in hiding who you are. You think I don't already know what your brain looks like? You killed nine young girls, Vince.”


Vince smirked again. But this time with more dignity and pride rather than with contempt. And as soon as he did, Dr Leach understood why. Vince wasn't used to people keeping a first name basis when they talked to him about his 'dolls'. They would normally lose somewhat of their composure and add something theatrical to such a sentence. They would say; “You murdered nine young girls, for God's sake.” or if they were brave; “You slashed up nine innocent little girls, you fucking bastard.”. In Vince's mind, by breaking character, Dr leash had just confessed to being no different from any of the other professionally, detached, emotionally un-invested shrinks that visited him during the trail. From Vince's point of view, there was not much difference between a sociopath and those cold emotionally detached psychologists. Pointing this out, is something he took specific pleasure in. Vince decided to push his victory further. First he inhaled quickly and lift his chin, as if he was about to suddenly say something. But then he didn't. He froze briefly, as if to maul things over. Only to then fall back into his previous relaxed, over-confident position and exhale slowly. He smiled gently at the good doctor but remained perfectly silent. The smile was to prevent the doctor from thinking he was actually going to say something rather then doing this on purpose. His staring clear-blue angel-eyes were saying that he has just beaten a professional psychologist who teaches at Brown university in a battle of wits in less than a minute. He was letting Alex know there was no need to add anything further to that. Dr Leach wasn't quite as narcissistic as Vince, so he could admit defeat rather easily and move on. Yet, he decided not to. Instead he smiled back and retaliated.


“Trust? You want me to talk to you about trust? How do you even know what that word means if you can't ever feel any emotional connection to anyone? I guess the only thing for someone like you that comes even remotely close to trust; is predictability, how well you can read, anticipate and manipulate me. That's what trust means to you, right? But then again, you don't really care about trust in the first place, do you Vince? You know that even if I'd speak on your behalf to a parole board, there's no amount of science that will ever get you out of here. No, unlike the others, you didn't volunteer for the chance of early probation. You're simply bored of replying to your fan-mail. Just like you're bored of pretty much everything else in your mundane emotionless life. I can't even begin to imagine how that must be like; how it's like not to feel anything at all most of the time. As dry as the desert, so uneventful. Yet in this ever so short conversation, you've managed to smirk twice already. You're amused, and that by itself is an amazing accomplishment. So you'll probably continue with these sessions because you don't have anything better to look forward to. But then, you'll have to agree to my conditions. And among those conditions is that you'll have to be more cooperative instead of playing little mind games. You must already know there's plenty of volunteers who do have an honest chance at parole and who are more than willing to cooperate with me in order to get my help.”


Dr Leach knew that retaliating like this was a long shot. But then again, Vince was a long shot to begin with, impossible to work with. He knew from the start he'd have much more success with the young sociopaths, one-time offenders who still deluded themselves in thinking they're perfectly normal just like the rest of us. But for some intuitive feeling, beyond Dr Leach's conscious and rational understanding, he really wanted Vince in the experiment. Vince jumped up briskly, snapping some of the wires off his smoothly shaved bald head. The guard rushed towards the glass door in half a panic, but then calmed and slowed down. Vince his body-language had suddenly become calm again as he started to casually remove the remainder of the equipment.

“Well, Good luck with them Doctor.”


He turned towards the door and nodded with a resentful grin at the guard on the other side commanding him to open it...



A few seconds later, Michael entered the room. He had followed the session trough a one-way mirror from the other room; but still found it sensible to ask just what the hell had exactly happened here. What he was really saying was; that he had told him so, and that Vince had just proven to be a bad idea after all. Of course, understanding his role as an assistant he didn't really dare to say that out front; so he was searching for a more subtle reminder. Dr. Leach, rather than actually replying to either the question or the subtext, immediately reminded Michael of his position with a matching subtlety.
“Yes, Michael,.. could you prep the room for the next session? I'm going to the warden's lounge for my afternoon prayer.”

Michael looked at him in much the same way that people usually look at him when he arrogantly ignored a question. Dr Leach, recognising the look, gave a warm gentle smile and added:

“I won't be long.”.


By the time Dr Leach returned, Michael no longer desired to challenge him. As if to demonstrate this, he commented with a rather empathic tone of voice on what a rough start Vince had given them.
“Oh that's nothing,” Dr Leach replied laughing. “You should have seen the meetings with the head of the university and the head wardens of the institutions who're participating. It was hell getting the green light for the project. Vince is a walk in the park compared to that.”.


The current view on anti-social personality disorder; sociopathy and psychopathy; is that it is simply incurable. So to pitch an experiment as a quest for a cure is rather challenging. Dr. Alex Leach was convinced, based on his religious grounds that it must be curable. He believed that people were put on earth as a test, and each person has the choice to be either good or bad. In his mind, this meant that even a sociopath should be able to change his ways. When he converted to Islam, beck when he was a student himself on brown, in his 2nd year of psychology, his new-found faith affected his views of pretty much everything in his world-view. But his bias on sociopaths was even more fundamental. It was rooted in the past, rooted in the people he has loved in the past, and rooted in his need to believe that those people are not completely beyond hope. Of course, neither his personal beliefs nor his personal experience held any merit to either the wardens or the president of brown university. They hadn't lived trough his experiences and they certainly didn't share his beliefs. Knowing this, Dr leach had approached the matter from a more scientifically plausible angle. This was not so hard to do. After all, neither the president of university nor the warden could match his knowledge in psycho-analysis. Michael, on the other hand; was employed on a need-to know basis. Although he understood the controversial nature of the experiment well enough, he had not yet had an opportunity to discuss it with Professor Alexander. Partly because Alex only stayed around as much as absolutely necessary, but also because in the brief moments that he was around, he had deflected any attempts to do so. Nevertheless, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Micheal. His one shot to enter the big league. That's why he didn't like a wild cannon like Vince. Dr. Leach on the other hand would land well on his feet even if this project was a total failure; and so he didn't mind indulging his curiosity and instincts.
“Look Michael, you shouldn't worry, worst case scenario we just have one less subject to collect data from. This doesn't affect the experiment.”.


Alex took a second to check if Michael was agreeing; and then added:
“Who's our fourth for today?”

bo_7md
May 23rd, 2012, 08:11 PM
Chapter 1: Vince (I)


“That's odd, why d'you figure I should trust you?” Even though I understand how he got here, It still felt awkward to me.

Vince managed to ask in a most careless and casual tone. Questions, he knew, are an efficient and safe way to be defiant against somebody in a dominant position. He put the doctor on the spot immediately, forcing him to admit whether or not he thinks that Vince should trust him. At the same time he was also letting the Doctor know that he understood the purpose of his little game. He understood why he was waiting for him to speak first. Further, by confronting in the form of a question, he didn't actually have to commit to the confrontation itself and give himself away by doing so. And finally, by bringing up trust, he pointed out the irony of a psychologist playing mind games. Vince likes to be in control. More than that; Vince 'needs' to be in control. Of course Dr. Leach already knew this from reading the preliminary screening report. A series of tests his assistant Michael conducted for this project. This confused me. You moved from one person to the next in the same paragraph, and narrated the whole situation instead of reflecting it through the characters.

Dr Leach stared at the monitor for a few seconds. A second, was enough for him to interpret the squiggly colored lines which would seem random to almost everybody else. He then turned back towards Vince and reminded him with a dry voice that he had volunteered for this project himself Why didn't you put this into Dialouge? Here, an interrupt from this narration would have been nice. . Vince smirked, nodded at the equipment and asked whether that was his version of a lie-detector <^dialogue>. This was Vince backing out from a failed confrontation; and launching a new attack all at the same time. The good doctor couldn't have him knowing the purpose of the experiment,that could to easily go very wrong <-Is this as intended?. And thus Vince won round one. But Alex knew the questions regarding the nature of the device and the nature of the experiment, was bound to come up sooner or later. So either way he was glad he got it cleared right away, even if it were at the cost of his head start. Another silence. This time though, Vince was the one deliberately remaining silent, forcing the Doctor to speak.

Dr leash had just confessed to being no different from any of the other professionally, detached, emotionally un-invested shrinks that visited him during the trail<-?. From Vince's point of view, there was not much difference between a sociopath and those cold emotionally detached psychologists. Pointing this out, is s


“Trust? You want me to talk to you about trust? How do you even know what that word means if you can't ever feel any emotional connection to anyone? I guess the only thing for someone like you that comes even remotely close to trust; is predictability, how well you can read, anticipate and manipulate me. That's what trust means to you, right? But then again, you don't really care about trust in the first place, do you Vince? You know that even if I'd speak on your behalf to a parole board, there's no amount of science that will ever get you out of here. No, unlike the others, you didn't volunteer for the chance of early probation. You're simply bored of replying to your fan-mail. Just like you're bored of pretty much everything else in your mundane emotionless life. I can't even begin to imagine how that must be like; how it's like not to feel anything at all most of the time. As dry as the desert, so uneventful. Yet in this ever so short conversation, you've managed to smirk twice already. You're amused, and that by itself is an amazing accomplishment. So you'll probably continue with these sessions because you don't have anything better to look forward to. But then, you'll have to agree to my conditions. And among those conditions is that you'll have to be more cooperative instead of playing little mind games. You must already know there's plenty of volunteers who do have an honest chance at parole and who are more than willing to cooperate with me in order to get my help.” You need (Tags/action Tags) here to connect the dialogue. It's too long.

He turned towards the door and nodded with a resentful grin at the guard on the other side commanding him to open it...Commanding just doesn't seem right here.

Michael looked at him in much the same way that people usually look at him when he arrogantly ignored a question. Dr Leach, recognising the look, gave a warm gentle smile and added:



I liked the story. I love Psych/Thrillers, especially well written ones. I just hope that you tell me the story through the characters, and not only the narrator.

Keep up the great work and hope to see part 2.

Bo-

Olly Buckle
May 23rd, 2012, 09:53 PM
There was an awkward silence, as always in any first session. This partly due to the nature of the session itself; and the level of trust it requires from the patients. But (‘and’ rather than ‘but’, ‘in one part this and in the other part that’, in any case be very careful about starting sentences with ‘but’, it is more accepted than it was, but be wary of it)

in part because Dr. Alexander Leach had a habit of keeping silence, waiting, forcing his patients to speak first. He had convinced himself that he did this to have a head start in analysing them, while keeping the upper hand. In all honesty though, he'd had to admit he had this habit because he'd rather enjoyed it. (That reads as though he had admitted it on some actual occasion, I think what you want is, ‘he would have had to admit he had this habit because he rather enjoyed it.0

But this wasn't a normal consult (consultation, noun, consult is the verb.)
and Vince wasn't a normal patient. This was an experiment, and Vince was a participant. This time, he already knew exactly what was wrong with the patient. (comma I think)

At least from a psycho-analytic point of view. Nevertheless he played his usual game for dominance just the same. Perhaps because he knew he had to break the pattern of expectation, or maybe in part because it flattered the witty doctor's ego. After just a few seconds, the inmate caught on to the doctors (doctor’s, possessive apostrophe, the intention belongs to him) intention and broke the silence with a witty (I would stick with only the witty doctor, the question can simply set the pace)

question, that would set the pace for the remainder of the session.

“That's odd, why d'you figure I should trust you?” (We have not been told that he should, you have simply sprung this on your reader)


Vince managed to ask in a most careless and casual tone. Questions, he knew, are an efficient and safe way to be defiant against (‘defiant of’ rather than ‘defiant against’)

somebody in a dominant position. He put the doctor on the spot immediately, forcing him to admit whether or not he thinks that Vince should trust him. At the same time he was also letting the Doctor know that he understood the purpose of his little game. He understood why he was waiting for him to speak first. Further, by confronting in the form of a question, he didn't actually have to commit to the confrontation itself and give himself away by doing so. And finally, by bringing up trust, he pointed out the irony of a psychologist playing mind games. Vince likes to be in control. More than that; Vince 'needs' to be in control. Of course Dr. Leach already knew this from reading the preliminary screening report. A series of tests his assistant Michael conducted for this project.

I have only done a bit, I hope it is a help. I seem to remember from your introduction that you have English as a second language, if I remember correctly you are very good.

Abdul-fattah
May 23rd, 2012, 10:41 PM
Oh wow this is so exciting, I was honestly expecting very negative replies, but this is really constructive and helpful.

Olly Buckle
Yeah, English is only my second language :) I already expected it to have a few errors, but guess I'm really going to have to go trough it with a fine-tooth comb.

Bo_7md
If the story captured you enough to read on, you can always read or download it here: The Cure (http://the-cure-novel.webs.com/)
But I can promise the following chapters have at least as much mistakes and rough patches as the first :)

Olly Buckle
May 24th, 2012, 09:30 AM
as much mistakes and rough patches Bearing in mind you are an ESL member, "As many mistakes", much for quantity by volume, many by number. My guess is that these sort of things are literal translations, it must be very difficult to pick up new habits of seeing the world, well done.

Kyra
May 25th, 2012, 09:18 PM
Unfortunately, the people above me have already said what has to be said. On a personal note however, besides a few punctuation and spelling errors I still found it was a great piece. How you go into so much detail with the mental workings of both Vince and Dr. Alexander during their discussion. The mental strategies going through their heads when advancing, backing off, and so forth was really intriguing. The story personally was enough for me to shrug off the errors and enjoy reading it overall. I'd love to read more stories like this by you. Keep it up!

Abdul-fattah
May 27th, 2012, 01:39 AM
Kyra,
Thanks for the feedback. And like I said in a previous post, if you really like the story you can read further into it on my website.

Olly Buckle
I went ahead and did a search query for the word 'but' on the whole story. I was actually surprised to see how often I started a sentence with it. Especially so, since it turned out most of them worked just as well without it. :)

akrathan
June 10th, 2012, 06:38 PM
Abdul, you write very well. Your prose is clear and leaves no room for confusion. Very crisp. However, I did feel the mind-hopping between Vince and Dr. Leach to be a bit much - I think it might have been more dramatic to have stuck with one person's POV. I think sticking with the emotion of just one character might lead you along more than dipping back and forth between multiple characters. That is what gives me at least the desire to follow a character and see what happens to him next; it might be Dr. Leach's desire to delve into the mind of Vince because the criminal mind fascinates him, perhaps he is afraid that Vince is playing with his own mind, or perhaps he just wants to go home because he's sick of dealing with all these twisted people. As it was, I was intrigued with the knowledge you displayed of the psych evaluation, but not quite connected enough to the characters. Quality stuff though, best of luck.

Abdul-fattah
June 15th, 2012, 10:48 AM
Thanks for your feedback. You're right, character development only starts from the second chapter. The reason for that is that I revisit the events in the first chapter later on, from a new viewpoint. This rather limits me in what I can do with it,but I'll try nonetheless...
Just out of curiosity, If you'd have picked this book up at random, is this something that would put you off from reading further, or would the first chapter still have caught you enough to read on?