PDA

View Full Version : Chapter One of my story...



TMFlynn
March 19th, 2014, 04:04 AM
Okay so here goes. My first bit of writing on the site. I am bracing myself.

So the setup of the story is that in the future, soldiers are sent back in time and into the bodies of children to perform covert missions. The kind of missions that will generate a lot of cash for shareholders (imagine if you was a Microsoft competitor and you could send someone back in time to whack Bill Gates while he was still cutting the crusts off). In this story the procedure goes wrong, the soldier has gaps in his memory, and has to piece together his mission whilst dealing with other under cover kids at his school.

I was really unsure what section to post this in. I think of it as more of a thriller with a lot of humour. The sci-fi stuff is quite background compared to the nostalgia sledge hammer that the story is really swinging. So I'm not sure if hard sc-fi fans will get their fix, but hopefully it will be one of those (very) rare instances where a muddied genre can get the best of both worlds (I'm not holding my breath).

This is the opening. It is a little slow getting started and the story really kicks into gear when the character gets to school and engages with other children. So I guess I want to know if this is working as an intro...



BartSimpson.


Points for longevity. He dips in and out of the darkness. The light at the end hurts my eyes and I shy away, take a step back, and then move forward as everything that went before fades. Only remember what you need to.

And now I'm here, and I'm new.

I can no longer qualify normal as a sensation, but I'm not feeling great. I have two skins. The one inside, surrounded by an itchy,sweaty suit of cotton wool. And then my new skin on the outside, also dripping and writhing under a duvet. It's hard to tell which body is more real to me now as the phantom limbs of adulthood become more numb. I huddle under the covers and think of Andi as she passes me by over and over again like a circling train I can't get on. All of my memories, at least the ones I know of, are like this.

The only thing real at present is the itinerary. I was told to start focus pulling as soon as I woke up. That I would have limited time on my own and that it was a lucky break that I could be 'posed into a bed.

I wrestle the urge to admit I don't care. I don't care about any of this, I'll just stay here. Kind of like being buried alive and setting up home in your coffin.Impractical lifestyle decision. My thoughts are too fast and without Simpson a panic attack is inevitable. So I pull back the covers and look deep into the plastic eyes of my old new friend.

Focus pulling. Simpson grounds time anywhere between the late eighties and the mid thirties. I reach out to touch him and have to weakly bash his hollow head over and over with my palm to gather any sensation.Bart's blue t-shirt reads 'I'm too cool for school.' The phrase rolls over and over again in my blanking brain. School, cool, cold, blue,bus. Should I be going to school or staying at home? The old dilemma.

My peripherals are widening. A brief survey. Sunlight covers the rest of the bedroom. I squint figuring I must look like the tiny hairless rodents with skin over eyes peering into the world for the first time. Toys, books, videos, and a Fred Flinstone sticker on a wooden slat of the bunk bed that reads 'I yabba dabba do want to look in my pencil case.' The other stickers feature cartoon characters I don't recognise making dental hygiene puns and I grab Bart Simpson,gathering he's about a foot high and three pounds too heavy for life to make sense and I slide to the edge of the bed and look over.

Drop zone.

An only child with a fucking bunk bed. Simpson jumps first, six foot to the floor. Point of impact being the head. Blunt force trauma outcome but I know I won't make it down the ladder. I'll end up slipping,twisting or breaking something, choking on my own vomit. Risk assessment. If Simpson can make the jump so can I.

My quivering legs slide from the mattress into open air, dangling over the side. My new stomach makes the jump before me and seems to befalling to the floor over and over again.

They say your life flashes before your eyes at the moment of dying. It doesn't. A moment is a moment and I guess at a first glance an overwhelming sensation of dread and regret can pass for a detailed retrospective. Somehow, from a bum slide position off the top bunk to a full tilt and turn into head first plummet, I am reminded of dying a little. It's mostly a speed thing.

I've hit the floor and start curling. I wrap myself around the Bart doll and try to suppress a yelp. On the carpet, biting my lip, I am now officially a member of this world. Bit of disorientation mixed with a pummeling from gravity and I feel like I've been hit in my special place, but all over. Dumb. First decision. Dumb.

I can't see the door open but I hear it sweep over the carpet.

'Oh my God!' Female, genuine shock. Uncomfortable to hear. 'Oh my God!'

'Mwuh...' Which doesn't sound at all right, even as a groan. My eyes remain shut.

'What happened?' Open question. Big question. Scary. 'Did you fall out of bed?' Stupid question. Less scary.

'...Yes.'

'Oh my God.' She grabs my shoulders trying to turn me over with little regard for the recovery position. I don't know who she is, I'm not prepared to open my eyes to find out, but I want to tell her to fuck off for a few minutes. Just a little space would be great. Besides that I'm glad for sensation and feel more grounded. Limitation recognition is good. Pain being the way to come to terms with reassignment.

'How did you fall?'

'Downwards...mostly.' My voice is little more than a squeak. I feel it rise through my throat, tickling vibrations gathering together to create something oddly far removed from myself. I start making 'ah' sounds.'Ooo.' 'Aaaah'

'Oh shit. Jesus.' She presses her fingers against my eyelids, draws them open.

'I'm...fine. I'll be fine.'

'Are you sure? You don't sound fine.'

Actually I don't look fine, I sound... 'What year is it?' It would be nice to put a time to the the place.

'I'm calling the doctor. Oh my god.' She stands, then kneels again.

I manage to roll over, still huddled. 'Look, I'm fine. I'm dancing...'

'You're not going to school.' The part of me I recognise as me shouts hells yeah.The itinerary prods.

'...I want to go to school.'

'No. No, no, no. You aren't going in today. You've been in bed for three days. Now you're falling out of the bed. I'm calling Doctor Marts.'

'No. No doctors.' In the itinerary. 'I... just want to go to school.'

'You're poorly Piglet. Come on I'll get you back in bed.'

'I nearly killed myself getting out of that thing. I need to go to school. It is a very important day and I am feeling... top notch.' I'm still curled in a ball on the floor.

'You are four. You don't have important days. What's important is-'

'Please...'

'Are you sure?'

'I guess I am.'

'Can you stand up?' Grabs my damned shoulder again. Why doesn't she just kick me?

'I will when you've gone.'

'Oh...okay. Well I'll get us some breakfast. You just relax and I'll bring it up.'

'Uh-hmm.'

She scurries out of the room, still remaining little more than a blur. I slowly gather myself more vertically. Knees wobble uncontrollably beneath bright blue shorts. I stand and concentrate on foot following foot theory. The carpet feels strange under my feet. Like when you've been in the bath too long and everything is wrinkly. I feel wrinkly.It's all about skin at the moment. I just want to grab and squeeze everything I see. I...

'Where is...' I call out to nobody in particular. 'I need my pencil case.'

'I've packed it,' she calls. Cupboards clack downstairs. 'It's in your bag.What flask do you want?

It hurts to talk this loud.

'Um...I'll have the normal one.'

'Okay,Turtle Power!' she yells.

I'm looking around for clothes. There is supposed to be five steps to pulling focus. You only have so much time to figure out directives before things start getting lost in the shuffle. If you meander down the wrong course, whoever the body belonged to before you will start muscling their way back in.

School.Pencil case. Turtle Power. Piglet? My name? Clap my fingers against my palms repeatedly. Did I always speak this language? Do I wear a uniform to school? I want to talk to somebody. I want answers. I grab Bart Simpson trying to make eye contact but his head lolls to the left.

'You have to help me. What do you want me to do?'

Muffled music from another room. A Kate Bush song. Hounds of Love. I try to place the date. What year is this? She calls up, 'don't forget to brush your teeth! I have your clothes laid out.'

'Muh!' is all I manage, dragging my feet along fluffy floors into the hallway in search of the bathroom. Teeth. Mirror. Focus.

Brush before breakfast. Wrong. Carpet in bathroom. Wrong. Chin resting on sink edge. So wrong.

'Sixty brushes little man!'

I have a gap on the left side of my toothy mouth. Skin white as paper, dirty blonde hair that'll be brown in months. Brown eyes that can open so wide I get scared they might pop out. My ears are tiny and full of flakes. My nostrils flare as I breathe. I let a little pocket of fluid rise up in my throat and roll down my chin as I breathe. I swallow the next batch and it doesn't taste good. Wipe chin with Bananas In Pyjamast-shirt then take it off and throw it in the toilet. A strange thing to do.

I slide down the stairs on my butt and pad into the kitchen shirtless.' I'm ready.'

TMFlynn
March 19th, 2014, 05:05 AM
Side note. I can't seem to get my paragraphs to indent. I create the spaces and when I publish the post they are always left aligned. Sorry if that makes it a tough read.

Edit: Also after a couple of edits to the above post (lots of the words got smooshed together) there are still a couple of words that seem inseparable eg- 'coffin.Impractical lifestyle'. Any advice as to what kind of file format it is best to copy and paste from would be really great.

Kepharel
March 19th, 2014, 07:29 PM
Oops! I take it all back :) Just off to hit my head against the wall... will return later with critique when I rouse myself from conciousness.

Kepharel
March 19th, 2014, 08:01 PM
Hi again TMF

Now I am roused from my self induced slumber, brought on from reading your story without reading your preamble first, I am going to try and give you an opinion :)

Not sure what age bracket you are pitching this at, but I doubt it will be an old fart like me. Personally I think pitching this as a near future sci-fi thriller with a few laughs thrown in is one genre too many: I would commit yourself if I were you, probably lose the humour dimension as this is the more subjective element of your approach. As the story unfolds you may find yourself wishing you had not dreamt up this particular rod with which to beat your own back, and made up your mind at the start. Having an adult in a child's body mixing with other children (and adults for that matter) might also be a minefield that needs to be swept very carefully beforehand and once done dropped as a recurring plot device. The mental/physical juxtaposition of your mind and body with other plot characters is just crying out for you to slip up.

Such caveats aside I think the overall introduction is lively and direct, engaging the reader from the start so you are pretty much on the way. I just hope what is inside your head is not a Terminator/Universal Soldier Van Damme clone; rather something more personal and fresh. Unless, of course that is where you want to pitch it, and why not; who am I to say :) You are obviously having a lot of fun with it so keep going!

W.Goepner
March 20th, 2014, 02:21 AM
Wow. (shakes head to figure out what to say) It is not you it is me. I am not quite into this idea, but it is not much different than my shape shifters. All in all I can follow it and it might be a read I could try to enjoy when it is finished. I tried to work with an acquaintance from a RPG online game. He wrote a Vampire story. I worked hard to help him but in the end I failed, due to the type of story and he writes angry. I wanted to rewrite the whole thing. Your writing is challenging to me like his was. It seams like if I wish to fit in and try to critique other I must gear up to those challenges.

The idea of a grown man in a four year old. NO WAY. Twelve to sixteen or eighteen, Maybe. From your preamble description If you bring this man into the child to assassinate the mayor or president. NOT AS A FOUR YEAR OLD. Though I do see the possibilities and a reasoning behind it. Just for an example; I like the "star wars" Movies. I respect Yoda. But the moves he did in the fight at the pit arena and against the count, (I can't remember the name). I have a hard time not envisioning that with a young child housing an adult mind. Kind of a reverse "Big" and Chuck Norris was the adult. Heck you could go as young as eight even and have it work.

It has challenge and does role fairly well. You do have a point that you are going to and I can see it. Achieve it and launch it. Impress me. You might be surprised.

TMFlynn
March 20th, 2014, 05:08 AM
Hey guys, thanks for the feedback! I had a suspicion the piece would be divisive.

Kepharel, I'm guessing there was a post that you edited that I didn't see. At first I thought my writing caused you to fall asleep (tears were shed I will admit). I think you have a fair point about the juggling act of genres. Moving forward, the science fiction elements will be quite secondary to the situations they create (somewhat like Big if we want to stick with the body swap sub genre). But I understand that the humour won't be to everybody's taste. I am not going out of my way to be funny I should add, I'm just committing to the character's voice and he is a snarky little guy. That is how he deals with problems, although dimensions will be layered as I go along. I also think the central idea (and visual) is too ridiculous to take really seriously. So I'm having a little fun with it and I think the fun will transfer to readers a little better when he starts interacting with others.

I'll be honest, the entire story will be set around the main character interacting with other children (some actual children, others sleeper agents like him). So to avoid that minefield would be to avoid the entire plot. But I think you are right, getting down to that level and really representing those characters correctly is a tough job. I hope I am up for the challenge.

Not to worry, I won't be going into Van Damme territory. This is very much a fun romp through the world of children as seen by an adult. I might have mis-represented the character slightly. While he is technically a soldier out of time, he cannot remember being a soldier (and there are some other twists along the way).

While the material doesn't seem to be for you I really appreciate that you were engaged with the writing. I think the story kicks into high gear soon after this excerpt (not great for an opening chapter I'll be honest) but I'm happy that you thought it was coherent and energetic.

Goepner, thank you also. I think a little controversy is a good thing and while some people may think the concept is in poor taste, I'm hoping I can win them round with some good writing and a deeper look into what is essentially a sight gag. We've seen Freaky Friday teen swaps before. If this is a taboo then I am happy to break it. Again, this character wont be running around getting into fights with adults. It is much more espionage based than that. The fun is in seeing a group of spies and assassins doing their thing with the backdrop of a nativity play looming. And the central mystery is that our main character cannot remember who he is and what his mission is.

I think you are right, it is all in the execution. Thanks for keeping an open mind and I would love for you to critique more on the following parts I will post. It would be great to convert you (but I am grateful for your help either way)

Greimour
March 20th, 2014, 06:45 AM
The idea of a grown man in a four year old. NO WAY. Twelve to sixteen or eighteen, Maybe. From your preamble description If you bring this man into the child to assassinate the mayor or president. NOT AS A FOUR YEAR OLD.

I am not going to critique this piece sadly, I am just going to disagree with this post. I only read the first few paragraphs, I would have started it different to make more immediate sense.
Regarding the quoted post...

If you are going to send 'something' man, machine or other back in time to possess someone to kill someone else... the morality issue is so far out of the window, don't even consider anything to be morally relevant - because nothing no longer is... therefore, a four year old is fine whether to possess the 4 year old and kill, or kill the 4 year old.. either is viable. The Morales of the reader do not exist within a story, only the Morales of the characters... to hell with the Moral opinions of a mother that let her child read something she disagrees with... and to hell with her morales subjugating her narrow minded views upon her children....

With that moral view shot with venomous emotions... I will say this

I dont know if it 'has' to be children that are possessed or not... (i didnt read enough) but if NOT.. then it would be rare for a child to be the best target to commit the murder... even a president, his head bodyguard would prob be best...

if it does, due to an adults mind over-powering a childs innocent one... then 'able-bodied' and 'close proximity to target' are the two primary factors - not age.So hell.. if a 3 year is constantly being picked up by his mum and the mum is the target, he will get chance to kill her with something at some point...

In writing, it doesnt matter if the author writes angry as long as the scenario being painted is supposed to be angry, the characters are angry and the situation warrants anger... Remaining emotionally neutral whilst conveying emotions will prove very difficult... when writing, you are drawn in to your characters, you feel what they feel and think how they think... you have to ... Actors think they have it tough, the writer has to do it for every single character in the damn story - not just one.. and a writer usually carries that for years, not hours a day until filming has finished...

So point is... On this occasion, I disagree with Goepner... 4 year old is fine...
the comment about your friend writing angrily was just my way of saying - his doing so was not necessarily a bad thing, but your inability to help is on you and your abilities and experience.. not how he writes. That's my view.

W.Goepner
March 20th, 2014, 08:30 AM
OK, OK. TMF says it is more a sight gag and this story falls more into the failed maneuver. Greimour Says morality of the reader does not matter. Like I said my thoughts my opinion. Take it, leave it, drown it, or forget it. I would read on to figure out if I like it or not and then if I did not I would put it down and leave it. Writing is a art of deception any way. Fiction, nonfiction, drama, SciFi. All of it fits into what the reader is or is not comfortable with. I apologize for sounding harsh in my "Not a four year old" I cannot fathom some future espionage group with that technology using children in that manner. BUT that is why it is you and NOT Me writing this. So go and write this and see if I can change my thought on it. You might convince me otherwise.

I might have spent part of the last five years tinkering and writing a 370 full print page story just to have it fail. But you know what? At least I did it and now I am working on getting it out there for others to tell me their opinions of it. But I am prepared to fail for it is my first and I have been told to expect it. Will I stop writing? No, it is the only way I might keep myself sane or in some resemblance of it.

Good luck and Write on, don't stop.

Greimour
March 20th, 2014, 08:45 AM
OK, OK. TMF says it is more a sight gag and this story falls more into the failed maneuver. Greimour Says morality of the reader does not matter. Like I said my thoughts my opinion. Take it, leave it, drown it, or forget it. I would read on to figure out if I like it or not and then if I did not I would put it down and leave it. Writing is a art of deception any way. Fiction, nonfiction, drama, SciFi. All of it fits into what the reader is or is not comfortable with. I apologize for sounding harsh in my "Not a four year old" I cannot fathom some future espionage group with that technology using children in that manner. BUT that is why it is you and NOT Me writing this. So go and write this and see if I can change my thought on it. You might convince me otherwise.

I might have spent part of the last five years tinkering and writing a 370 full print page story just to have it fail. But you know what? At least I did it and now I am working on getting it out there for others to tell me their opinions of it. But I am prepared to fail for it is my first and I have been told to expect it. Will I stop writing? No, it is the only way I might keep myself sane or in some resemblance of it.

Good luck and Write on, don't stop.

My disagreeable nature is a nuisance at times, but I can be agreeable too.. even when I am agreeing it can sound like I disagree... with your reply here, I agree - so here is the catch:

But I am prepared to fail for it is my first and I have been told to expect it

The chance of failing first time out might be high, but you can still hope things will pay off. Whoever said expect to fail should have said: "Prepare for the worst just in case, the first time out there can be brutal."

I hope you never do stop writing. With every day you do write, my hope that you succeed will grow. Because I believe those who work hard enough to achieve something deserve to be rewarded.

riven_hands
March 26th, 2014, 01:10 AM
The initial concept does feel a bit worn. Granted. Also, an adult in a four year old's body seems implausible to me, especially when the narrator starts talking to the woman (who I assume is his "mother") and she just carries on as if her child weren't talking like someone four times its age. That part bothered me, not from a moral standpoint, but from a "gimme a break, this wouldn't really happen" standpoint. What I love most about this is your character. He is quite snarky (as you said) and it comes across well in his observations and reactions. I thought some lines were particularly memorable, especially "gathering he's about a foot high and three pounds too heavy for life to make sense". Fantastic. Overall, I'm still dubious about the concept/plot, but I love the character. I hope to see more of him.

Ari
March 26th, 2014, 06:25 AM
Woww. This is so cool! At least, I think so.
I'm sorry if I repeat what other people have said, but I didn't read the other critics... am I supposed to do that before I write one?

I love the concept, it's the kind of thing I'd read even though I go more for fantasy than sci-fi.
As for the writing itself, it feels kind of rough. I guess that's expected, right? There are sentences that I think could be better, like "I can no longer qualify normal as a sensation, but I'm not feeling great." and "become more numb."

But other phrases are really good. I love, "I have two skins." and the way you can see he has these facts in his mind "point of impact being the head" and "drop zone" that show he's been trained for something. The humour's good, too. Just enough to make the edge of my mouth twist into a grin, until he chucked his t-shirt in the loo. That annoyed me. It'll be okay if there's a reason for that which comes clear later on. But if it's just there to try and make me laugh? No good. I don't like it when something's only purpose is to try and force my laughter.

Last thing. He's taken over some kid's body, right, and this lady is his mother? And she's panicked because he fell out of bed but doesn't seem to notice he's talking like a grown-up... or something. That conversation seems odd to me. It almost works, but doesn't. And she says he's been bed for three days, and only now she's calling the doctor? I'd think if he's been asleep for three day he'd actually be in hospital or something.

If you write more, I want to read! (:

Lytharicus
April 20th, 2014, 12:38 AM
I find the overall story idea very interesting, but I agree with riven_hands and Ari about the mother's reaction. I am confused about her going from an initial reaction of deciding to call the doctor, because he is acting really weird and just fell out of bed, to suddenly deciding he's ok because he said so. He's four. If she is his mother she would still be taking him to the doctor whether he wanted to go or not. If the child were older that might be less of a problem, but even then the fact that he was in bed for 3 days still seems questionable. Also if the child is four he is probably either in preschool or kindergarten. I'm not sure what kind of interactions you have in mind for him with the other students, but his speech and behavior in comparison to the other kids will probably be very noticeable. That is fine if that is what you are going for. That kind of awkwardness could be an interesting part of the plot. I am curious to see what happens next.

dmr400
May 24th, 2014, 07:29 AM
I think it's an interesting idea, but I do think you would be better off choosing older kids to be taken. The dialogue is entirely too advanced for a 4 year old, which would be much more concerning/obvious that something was wrong to the mother than the fall out of bed after a few seconds to evaluate if the kid had cracked his melon open or not.