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StoneFrog
December 22nd, 2012, 12:20 AM
First section of a short story i'm working on, hoping to get some brutal critiques if possible. I haven't done much editing of it yet, hoping to get some comments before setting in on it, then posting the complete reworked and other parts of the story.




pt.1 Lost Minds (working title) (Adult Theme + Language)

My unsteady body swaying, propelled to seek a sort of security. Skin chilled by the fright, running through me. I stumble around, and finally find myself crouched down in the corner, entities taunting me, they inhabit the prison cells around me. My mind becomes frozen, stuck on the bleak darkness of the cell that stares me down, from across the cell block. Straining my eyes looking into that abyss, that cell once housed a street hustler from En’toonk. I now hope to never posses the knowledge of what the cell contains now, for i doubt i will be able to contain my fear. How did i become trapped in this forsaken cell, i believe the only person left intact, fellow residents now lost to the darkness. The howls and screams, crashing through my skull, my sanity slipping. Searching for some willpower. “Why?,” i ask myself, “why me? Of all the places, of all the people, why me, why here?”

The answer lay 3 months ago, while i was working aboard the airship Vellrium. At the time,I was ecstatic at the news that i had managed to secure a position. Since coming from the undesirable part of Henth city, where you seldom see, anything else besides sorrow and despair of poverty. It’s was especially hard to get a chance, to be apart of a crew for such a prestigious airship. Vellrium was used by the high and mighty of society, with a grand dining hall, where crystal chandeliers grow from the ceiling of gold figures, and painted heavens; giving an aura of being a deity, floating amidst the clouds. I finally thought myself as one of them, after years of hard work, now to be apart of the luxurious life in the sky.

I had worked aboard her, for 2 years before that incident, the moment my fate was removed from my hands. My own ego allowing myself to get comfortable being around these people, a mistake i should now pay for. If only i could warn my former self now, how that airship would impact the course of my life. Casting me away, allowing me to be forsaken in this hole of despair.
My mind forced back by the demonic entities, clawing at their cages, shrill sounds bounce of the steel bars. My heart jumps trying to break free. “Can they get out?,” my minds racing, impregnated with paranoia. Screeching cries filling the night air, the the bars causing frustration just as it did to the previous inhabitants. I cannot say if those cries, are man or beast. Their form still eluded my eyes, moving as shadows, wielding the darkness as an impervious shroud. My mind seeking an escape, from this hellish dungeon. A concrete tomb i fear is my fate, destined to never see the outside world again. The cold concrete, pressed against me, enforcing the icy grip on my bones. The cold, shortening my breath, and my bare feet pulled into a grotesque lumps, the pain of the muscle spasms not even showing itself in my mind. My body feeling less and less attached, my very soul, trying to escape from this frozen, soon to be corpse.

I now push myself to think of that fateful moment i met her, Anne Mainer, the most beautiful girl i have met in my 32 years of life. Long brown hair falling down her face, accompanied by deep brown eyes and a small button nose. I first caught a glimpse of her graceful silhouette, one night when her father held a dinner party on the Vellrium. An assortment of corporate figureheads and investors, dining and enjoying all the indulgences, that others couldn’t even dream of. The first time i saw such a party, i was ore struck, the pure embellishment of the ritual of dining, far greater than i knew could be possible. Meat, an absolute luxury of the elite, laid across the tables. Creatures i had no idea existed, were displayed as edible centerpieces. Even with these magical delights, she shone brighter than anything else in the room. She moved gracefully through the room, as she spoke to the puppetmasters of this world, a true angel among the demons.

A few months later, a weekend trip was arranged as a business getaway, for prominent figures in her father's company. The trip was to take the guests into a mountainous region of Teramoore, an area which is inaccessible unless by air. It made a superb location for privacy, a real playground for the filthy rich. Surrounded by mountain tops, a clearing sits around a clear fresh water lake. Scattered lodges and boats, perched on the edge of the water. Upon landing, as the passenger were leaving to take part in frivolous activities. Anne walked up to me and slipped a card and a soft handkerchief, into my inside jacket pocket. Perplexed at this action, she had prior said but a handful of words to me. She walked away slowly, picked up her purse from a chair and headed for the exit. I frantically turned into a corner hallway to be out of sight, lifting the object out of my pocket, the soft white fabric running through my fingers. Slowly pulling the card from the handkerchief, the card was that which all the guests had, a number for the lodge they were staying in and the name of the person. The card read:

Anne Mainer
Lodge 11
*Please pick up your key from the reception lodge*

Crashing sound of a door being opened disturbed me, my ears now keenly searching for more information. “W-was that a cell door?” I asked myself. A small piercing light now illuminated the darkness of the hallway between the cells. The abyss across from me still holding its shrouded fortifications, allowing no sign of the occupant. Heavy footsteps echoing through the cell block, my body frozen, out of fear and distrust for what may be coming.

A voice shouts “You in ‘ere. Mark, are you...what - in h-”

The voice abruptly stopped, just like before. Must of been another guard, what was happening here? Now drowning in an overload of processing, “How am i going get out of this?” … “What am i up against here?” … “Will they send help?” An overwhelming sense of despair falls in on top of me, now truly drowning in my own fear, my breath becomes snared. My breath trapped. Panic has overwhelmed my body, i hunch over, facing downward and eyes wide. Seeking some aid, grabbing at the space in front of me. My body still rigid, due to the cold and static position i was in before. My fist now clenched, trying to fight off an assailant. I draw back my hand and strike into the concrete floor, without thinking i drive another punch. A cool liquid now drips from my wounded fist. Yet i still can’t breathe, this time i rench my head sideways into the wall to my left. An overwhelming surge of air come crashing through my lunges, i gasp with relief.

The injury i inflicted myself with now hammering me with pain. All the pain in my body that had been blocked out till then, come flooding to the foreground. The muscles pulling my feet into deformed shapes, sending waves of pain up my legs. The pain striking me, i fall backwards to be caught by the wall. I press myself up against the smooth cold sanctuary, as i writhe in pain. Clenching my teeth as to trap any sound my mouth may produce, in fear that my fellow residents will hear. Still holding on to the small hope, they have not realised i'm still alive in here.

The memory of cool blood, mixed with the damp smell, of concrete. Just like that broken memory of being left as a bloody pulp in that confinement room. For what reason, huh, for what reason... The night Anne planted those small tokens of desire, i sat in my staff cabin in the Vellrium. Clutching the soft silk handkerchief, my foot tapping in indecision. “Does she want me to go to her Lodge?” i asked myself, nerves running wild. I finally pulled together my nerves, stood up and stuffed the handkerchief in my jacket pocket. With a deep breathe, i head out of the Vellrium. The night breeze running through the trees, and the lodge lights reflecting off the dark lake water. I head down a lantern lit path, it goes through a small garden and down to the lake side. I hesitate, and look over the murky night sky; a chill ran through my spine. I look down the bank of the lake and see a small cluster of lodges, i knew one of them had to be lodge 11, Anne’s lodge.

I arrived at the lodge, and opened a small wooden gate, pinned to it was a metal number 11. A lantern made of copper and embellished with ornate leaves, lite up the opening of the doorway of the lodge. A wooden door painted red sat in the door frame, a large brass door knocker in the shape of a lions head placed at the centre. I reached forward, heart racing, i didn't make it as far as the door knocker. My head grabbed and pulled backwards, i was so engrossed with my anxious nerves, i had failed to hear two men that came up behind me. As i fell to the ground, a sharp kneed swung up, and connected with my chest. Pain stunting my breathe, i lay bewildered of what just had happened. I stumbled to my feet and made a disastrous swing for one of the men, it landed on nothing but air. This action just provoked a flurry of aggression from the two men. After then i'm still unsure, just blurred memories of a being driven in a van.
I awoke bound and on the floor of a confinement room, a large man in a bluish-grey uniform standing over me.

He spoke with a low growl, “you fucked with the wrong person ‘er matey.”
“Stalking a young lady, and trying to break into her house.”
“A mongrel like you, should’a stayed in the gutters of Henth.”
He took a slow draw on his cigarette, his bushy mustache stained from years of smoking.
“W-why am i here?” I asked.
He scowled his face,
“don't play dumb ‘er”

They wasted no time in removing me from that luxury resort, next thing i knew i was thrown into this hell hole, Detention Facility #003F9Q. Number 003F9Q, when imprisonment is another avenue to exploit for power; all it becomes is another statistical number on a chart. I got no trial for my alleged crimes, thrown straight into the gutter. I once heard the Mainer family had invested into a correctional program, at least i had an idea of who put me in this place. I still wonder if she just lured me out there for her own entertainment, or was it daddy who couldn’t let his little girl get involved, with scum from Henth.

The fall from grace, still swallowing me up. The bitter taste of my ignorance, pinned to my chest as a mark to be cast to the beasts. My world being shrunk down to this cell, the walls echoing my emptiness. Just like me this cell had nothing in it, just concrete walls and bars.The pain in my legs intensifying, my lower legs and feet now being contorted in agonizing manners. Through the pain i could feel a false stillness, my ears listening for any information to be detected from the other cells. An uneasiness penetrated through me, what was i listening for? The creatures in the other cells undetectable, were they still there?

monseratthefool
December 22nd, 2012, 04:20 AM
Wow. Tremendous work so far...the desperation of the protagonist is palpable and I FEEL it. The description of the woman "angel among demons" is a beautiful, stark contrast. I'm super hooked...wanting to know what the heck happened. Great job with the pace and keeping the reader's interest and communicating the emotions to viscerally. I'm very impressed!

One thing that really confused me...the crashing after receiving Anne's card. It wasn't immediately clear that the protag's recollections were interrupted. Perhaps leading in with a more descriptive mention of the daydreaming directly before the crashing.

There are a few things you'll notice when you read it back, like "I now hope to never posses the knowledge of what the cell contains now"

and there are some extraneous commas, like below. Otherwise, very very nice work!
om see, anything else besides sorrow and despair of poverty. It’s was especially hard to get a chance, to be apart of a crew for such a prestigious airship. Vellrium was used by the high and mighty of society, with a grand dining hall, where crystal chan

Ariel
December 22nd, 2012, 03:12 PM
There are some problems with tense and a few of the sentences are just muddled--these combine to make this difficult to follow. I also felt like this was all rushed--like I'm being told all of this and In one long sentence for most of it.

I can't tell if this is meant to be steampunk or more modern. If steampunk then inwould suggest making the language either 1) more formal or 2) more dialectic. Also, I think by putting better breaks or introductions to the different parts it'll read better as well.

All that said I do want to know what happened and I want to know what's in the other cell.

StoneFrog
December 22nd, 2012, 06:06 PM
Thank you both for your comments.

As was picked up, im a bit unsure how to keep a good control over the transition between the cell block events, and the back story. I think i need to add some more paragraphs, especially to define more distinction and slow the pace down in some areas. Ill try do this without hindering the desperation of the character. Surprisingly, i felt that some sections change when i transferred it from formatted in my document to the forums; becoming faster, which wasn't intended.
The setting is more modern than steampunk, i still want to use the -punk feel. I'm most likely going to keep this work fairly low on the detail of the alternate world, since its based in a cell. I hope to still use this world in more stories, which will give better description of the alternate universe. That being said, i do agree that it could do with tightening of the language.

Segrotlo
December 26th, 2012, 02:15 AM
I think I followed most of it. The things already mentioned are valid critiques the key being a rushed feel and vague brakes between scenes. Good names and expressions IMO.

I too am curious about the other shadowy prisoners. Keep going.

heir_of_isildur0
December 26th, 2012, 02:14 PM
The only main problem I'm seeing is sentence structure and verb usage. There's a couple that should -ing and +ed at the end of them. But man this is pretty solid stuff. I agree with the other comment you can feel the desperation of this guy, awesome job

SarahStrange
December 26th, 2012, 10:04 PM
The first few sentences are fragments. It may be that you intended for them to be that way, but they threw me off balance first thing and didn't encourage me to continue. Despite that, I did read on and I'm glad that I did. It was an interesting story that drew me in. Your imagery is sound and provides a solid picture of what you are describing.
A few critiques however:
Try to 'show' rather than 'tell'. The reader usually has a better time reading a piece if they make the connections themselves instead of being explained to. So, in the second paragraph when you say: The answer lay 3 months ago, while i was working aboard the airship Vellrium. It comes off as explanation and 'telling' the reader. Perhaps something along the tone of "I remember the beginning of this journey..." Of course it doesn't have to be those exact words. Just try not to say "here is the answer to this question" so blatantly. Memories and flashbacks work as great explanation without obviously 'explaining'.
As for transition, mention a sound or smell breaking the narrators thoughts is a good way. You do that in a few places well. or you could add a metaphor/simile. as in: "this thing in my memory is unlike/like/just as this thing in the present" It works the other way around too.

Labyrinthine
December 27th, 2012, 06:31 PM
Intriguing. I agree with the above critiques about sentences and show not tell