View Full Version : Dark Water

Zac Brown
May 21st, 2013, 06:16 AM
It should have ended quickly—perhaps with an accidental misplacement of the foot during a routine climb, a swift backward plunge from a steep rock face to the sharp stones below, a devastating injury to the head.

But it didn’t.

First came the customary feeling of momentary security as the toe of his left shoe caught hold of a small cleft in the rock, followed immediately by the paralyzing recognition of inevitable danger as the lower lip gave way to sheer nothingness, and finally the abrupt shifting of his weight to the left as his fingertips lost their hold and could remain forcefully pressed no more.

It was surreal.

The dry, grass-dotted hillside tilted suddenly away from him; little particles of ensanguined mud and rock followed the downward arc of his fingers through mercilessly thin air.

It was a dream.

There come moments in one’s life when unsuspecting eyes are opened to sights beyond ordinary comprehension—when what is normally clear and perceptible becomes foggy and blurred, and what is normally vague and mysterious is rendered suddenly sharp and distinct. To this being was presented one such moment as Earth, relinquishing the intimate embrace in which she had held him for nearly twenty-four years, allowed his body two seconds and forty-seven feet of freefall through time and space.

But three seconds later he was still falling. Five seconds, falling. Ten seconds, falling, the blue sky growing ever wider and more beautiful before his unblinking eyes.

“Mommy,” he thought he said, “look at the sky!”

His mother didn’t hear him, nor did she reply, but he thought he heard her tell him to look away. The sun’ll hurt your eyes, Raymond.

“But I like to look at it,” echoed his voice from some exceedingly great distance away.

“Hush, little darling,” Mommy said softly, “and get to sleep.”

Try as he might, Raymond could not close his eyes. The afternoon began to fade, his mother soon departed, and under a violet sky his motionless body slid from a mossy, blood-spattered boulder and into a narrow pool whose waters were cool and dark.

Still, restful, and far removed from the pleasures and pains of the waking world, his only remaining desire was to fall once more—though not downward by any earthly measure, but upward into the stars.

“No,” whispered an unpleasant voice in his ear. “You mustn’t go there!”

The filmy surface of thatmurky water had by then risen up to conquer the whites of his eyes;and soon the constellations, like the bygone blueness of the heavens,retreated quietly into a deep and distant gulf of things forgotten.

May 21st, 2013, 06:58 AM
This worked for me. I'm sure there will be those that will complain about back story and possibly a need to care about the MC. It's a very short piece - just a snap-shot, and I believe you have done an excellent job capturing the moment.

I didn't notice any spagnits but the first line bothered me on the 2nd read. "It could have happened any other way." I think this reads just as well without that first line.

This is very well written, but I would like to see you attack something beyond a brief moment. I'm sure your capable of it. :) Thanks for sharing.

Zac Brown
May 21st, 2013, 07:45 AM
Thanks a whole bunch for the input, Nathan. As soon as I read your suggestion regarding the first sentence, I immediately agreed.
Wrote this piece one evening about a year and a half ago, never really did anything more with it. Perhaps I'll upload something more substantial this evening! :)

May 21st, 2013, 08:21 PM
This is good clear prose that draws you along effortlessly, with some lovely imagery and turns of phrase. I wonder if 'The sun will hurt...' should have speech marks but that's about it. I look forward to reading more of your work.

Zac Brown
May 22nd, 2013, 10:52 AM
Hey, thanks so much! Yeah, I was wondering about that as well, but for reasons unknown I decided to leave it unquoted. Perhaps it simply "feels" better to me.

May 24th, 2013, 06:21 PM
I like it, but you need to cool it on the adjectives.

"Accidental misplacement", redundant.

"swift backward plunge", most plunges are swift, I would say.

"blunt injury", on sharp stones?

"customary feeling"

"paralyzing recognition"

"inevitable danger"

"sheer nothingness"

And that's only in the first two lines. It just seems like you don't have a lot of faith in the reader to understand your meaning.

May 24th, 2013, 06:49 PM
I think Topster addressed my concerns regarding redundanc and overuse of adjectives. I will say that I actually liked a fair number of those descriptions were pleasing to my eyes. Things like "accidental misplacement" jump out at me, as did the "sharp" stones. But overall, I liked the way it flows. It has a floweriness to it that sort of made me think that Arthur Conan Doyle might have described these events in a similar manner.

That's a good thing because I like reading stories with that sort of tone in certain circumstances. Here an omniscient narrator is telling me of the thoughts passing through the mind of a dying man; so I felt it worked. The downside is that the affected tone of some of our classical literary ancestors is not a popular tone to take on when writing today. Your story here was brief and fairly timeless. Your mountain climber could have been climbing Mt. Hood last week or Kilimanjaro in 1900.

I liked what you did and how you did it. I would only urge caution on attempting to pepper your future work with too many adjectives for the sake of adding adjectives. Had you used a similar technique whereby you took three or four lines to describe your MC making a cell phone call, I likely wouldn't have felt compelled to finish the story.

But again, I liked it a lot. I love stories describing the last moments of life, particularly when treated with the reverence you displayed here with this story. Thanks for sharing.

May 27th, 2013, 07:02 PM
I like this, but I don't prefer the use of one-line paragraphs. I don't understand the discourse.

I also agree with Topster. Whoa, that's a lot of adjectives. Enough to kill a man.

I also don't like the use of 'this man'. It pushes said man away from me, while I was nestled comfortably inside his brain.

I also think you could do without the word 'unpleasant'. I can garner the unpleasantness of the voice from the semantic fields drawn up by the situation and dark, empathetic prose. I don't need this word.

I also think this:

The filmy surface of that murky water had by then risen up to conquer the whites of his eyes; and soon the constellations, like the heavens that once were blue, retreated imperceptibly into a deep and distant gulf of forgetfulness.

is a little too purple.

This all felt a little Lovecraftian, which is why I was disappointed by the last paragraph; it lacks the strength of content that the rest used to great effect, sans the overuse of adjectives.

June 11th, 2013, 04:51 AM
I like the imagery and cadence of your words in this. Very interesting. Overall, good job man.

June 11th, 2013, 04:52 AM
And the title's cool too, heh.

June 11th, 2013, 08:00 AM
I do agree with what's been said about adjectives thus far. But like I often say, I'm a bit of a beige writer. I prefer frankness, because (put simply) it works when you're using Orwellian prose. It is, perhaps, not quite as aesthetically pleasing to say "he was in love" as opposed to "his insides boiled over with frothing infatuation that spilled out into his cheeks, coloring them a livid red," but people will get your meaning and you spend fewer words feeding them a concept that they already understand. This is not poetry. Although it's tempting, don't write with the intention to draw the reader's eye to the words. Use as few words as possible to plant the idea in their head so they spend less time focusing on the text and more time envisioning it.

The best way I can think to describe what I'm trying to say is by using the classic example: poetry is like a painting, prose is like a window. You want people to see the words you use in your poetry, for therein lies much of the beauty. However, when using prose you want people to see the story unfolding, not for them to be drawn away by the beauty of the rose-tinted glass they're watching through.

That is why I try as best I can to avoid purple prose. Of course, it does often come down to a choice in style, but these are my two cents. Spend them wisely.

June 11th, 2013, 03:42 PM
Nice. Gentle and slightly disturbing, like drowning in room-temperature water. I'd agree that the prose did get a little purple towards the end - but generally I felt it flowed well, and added poetry and rhythm well.

One thing that jarred ever so slightly for me was the Mother's dialogue, jumping from unquoted thoughts in Raymond's head to actual quoted speech a line later. There seemed to be no real context for this change. But that's such a small thing: overall I really liked this.

June 11th, 2013, 04:15 PM
I loved the whole thing...I like Lovecraft so I didn't have any major problem with it concerning to many adjectives. If that's your style then so be it. Very well done, Brightlex

June 14th, 2013, 06:23 AM
The quick jumps and gaps from paragraph to paragraph suggests that this could be a bumpy and confusing passage but much like that murky water this passage just flowed for me. Thanks for this

June 15th, 2013, 06:08 PM
The writing flows nicely.

However, whilst I don't know the purpose of this passage, I'm not sure it would work in a novel. It's a little too contrived for my liking. Too much emphasis is placed upon style and not enough on story. It's like your writing is something of a technical exercise.

It's great in itself, though.

June 21st, 2013, 10:01 AM
Nicely done, very detailed.

June 21st, 2013, 07:20 PM
I agree with a lot of what's been said but I believe this is a truly remarkable piece that I found extremely moving. Please forgive me for this is my first critique within this forum, and I'm not particularly up on this. I enjoyed the sense of falling through time and the regression to the safety and sanctuary of childhood where Mother was (0r should) be always there to catch or comfort the distressed infant. The hopelessness and yet the anticipation and readiness for the start of a perhaps a new journey only to dissolve into nothingness. Excellent.

August 13th, 2013, 02:38 AM
I love the imagery, it's so vividly painted in my mind. I'm not sure if this is meant to be part of a larger piece, but I think in itself it's awesome. I'm not so sure the one-sentence paragraphs are the best as they are. There are too many, I think, to create the appropriate dramatic affect you may be looking for. One is awesome, but three- especially in the beginning half- deviate too much from the flow. Still, it's a beautiful piece, and you have an amazing talent with descriptive writing.

Odd Greg
August 14th, 2013, 03:24 AM
... beige writer. ... Orwellian prose.

Ah, so that's what it's called now.

Zac Brown,

This is an interesting flash piece and, as such, I don't mind taking it with its pimples. Although, I do hold with what many others have said.

I started out writing a lot of introspective stories, sometimes about the inner thinking and emotions of someone having trouble dealing with simple daily routine. So I read this as a serious piece. It's enjoyable in that vein. I must confess, though, that I read it a second time while thinking of it as also a form of dark comedy. With a tweak here and there, it could work that way, too.

Thanks for sharing this. Do you have more of these?