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Equinox
May 21st, 2014, 02:26 AM
Hey there, everyone!
It's been a while since I've last posted here. To make a long story short, school's been a pain and I've had very little time to focus on writing. With that said, an assignment in my writing class sort of got my gears turning again, and I've come here to request edits and critiques on a short flash-fiction piece I wrote for my class.

So, without further ado, I present: "The Exclusion Zone"

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The van speeds down the road, bumping over various potholes and crushing the weeds that sprout from the cracks in the asphalt. We’ve been on the road for just over two hours now, and in mere minutes, we’ll be within the boundaries of what is possibly the most desolate and eerie place on Earth; the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Ever since I first learned about the disaster, I’ve wanted to explore the ruins of Pripyat, walk amongst the abandoned buildings and take in the sights of a once bustling metropolis that was left unpopulated almost instantly after everything went to hell on that one apocalyptic night.

The date is April 25, 2016. One day before the thirtieth anniversary of the meltdown.

I sit in the front row of the van, accompanied by my father. Driving is one of our two tour guides, Eduard Strelnikov. He seems like a nice enough man, but his appearance is intimidating. He stands tall, about six foot five, bald, but with a thick black beard and a big, muscular body. In the passenger seat is our other tour guide, Eduard’s brother, Dmitri, who looks about the same, but is slightly shorter and has a full head of hair. The two look like soldiers straight out of the Soviet Union, which is fitting, considering where we’re heading.

“Americans,” Eduard says with a thick deep Russian accent. “We will be at the checkpoint in less than five minutes.”

Sure enough, he’s right. In what seems like mere seconds, the van approaches a small toll gate. Inside the booth sits a guard, and on the sides of the road stand a total of six soldiers, guns at the ready in case anything goes wrong. When the van stops, one of the soldiers steps forward from his post and beckons for Eduard to exit the van. As he steps out to converse with the guard, I look out the window towards the side of the road. A thick layer of trees and overgrowth has begun to spill over onto the asphalt, and through the foliage, a small shack is just barely visible, obviously abandoned and in disrepair.

“Dmitri?” I ask. “Do you know what that building over there was for?”

“Hm?” he says, raising an eyebrow. “What building?”

“That one,” I answer, pointing towards the shack. Dmitri struggles to locate it through the overgrowth, but he eventually finds it.

“That?” he replies. “More than likely just an old house or a shed. You will be seeing more of those as we get closer to the city.”

I glance at the building again. Through a cracked window, a human figure is just barely visible. It looks like a silhouette, only slightly more defined.

“There’s someone in there,” I say. Dmitri and my father simultaneously look out the window, trying to find the man in the shed.

“What are you talking about?” My father questions.

“You can’t see it?” I ask, turning to look at my dad.

“Young man, you are seeing things.” Dmitri says. “There is no one in there." I turn back and look at the building again. The man who I saw mere minutes ago is gone.

“What?” I exclaim. “He was just… he was right there…”

“Son, calm down,” my dad says. “You’re just hallucinating.”

“Your dad is right, child,” Dmitri adds. “Besides, if there was anyone in there, the soldiers would see him.”

Comforted by Dmitri’s answer, I lean back in the chair of the van and take a deep breath. I begin contemplating how a man can disappear within an instant, but my thoughts are quickly cast aside by the sound of the van door opening and someone climbing inside. Eduard has returned.

“We are good to go.” he states as the toll booth gate begins to lift.

“Onwards to Pripyat?” I ask.

“Da.” Dmitri answers. “Strap in, boys, we still have about an hour to go.”

With a honk of the horn, the van begins to move, and the journey to Pripyat continues, but I pay no attention to the road ahead of us. My thoughts stay attached to the man in the shed.

LeeC
May 21st, 2014, 03:30 AM
a short flash-fiction piece I wrote for my class.

I hope you mean part of a short flash-fiction piece you wrote for a class. You've got a decent start, and a hook, and what? It left me hanging, which is alright if the piece doesn't actually end there.

You picked a familiar enough setting/incident that you don't need much descriptive text. But the descriptive text there was lacked balance between what was afforded the Russian guides, and the father and son. Nor did you try to phonetically imitate the Russian accent, which is well known enough.

It read smoothly and coherently to me, and I would read further. Not Bad :-)

The only little thing that caught my attention, odd that I may be, is:


The van speeds down the road, bumping over various potholes and crushing the weeds that sprout from the cracks in the asphalt.

I don't think the word "various" melds well here. Maybe "random" or better yet nothing.

Write on,
LeeC

Equinox
May 21st, 2014, 08:30 PM
I hope you mean part of a short flash-fiction piece you wrote for a class. You've got a decent start, and a hook, and what? It left me hanging, which is alright if the piece doesn't actually end there.

You picked a familiar enough setting/incident that you don't need much descriptive text. But the descriptive text there was lacked balance between what was afforded the Russian guides, and the father and son. Nor did you try to phonetically imitate the Russian accent, which is well known enough.

It read smoothly and coherently to me, and I would read further. Not Bad :-)

The only little thing that caught my attention, odd that I may be, is:



I don't think the word "various" melds well here. Maybe "random" or better yet nothing.

Write on,
LeeC

Thank you! Yeah, I meant "part of", I just forgot to write it in. Heh.

Smith
May 22nd, 2014, 01:42 AM
I found it to be rather interesting. A few things though.

1. Perhaps just my opinion, but the Chernobyl thing has been done to death. This doesn't, however, mean you can't do it. Just try and put your own spin on it. Surprise the readers, who I think most will probably come into this expecting something generic. Provoke our thoughts. Not saying I expected to be blown away in this short introduction. Just something to keep in mind if you - hopefully - add onto this.

2. That out of the way, looking at what we've got, I feel it was a good start. Some nitpicks though, like the use of 'various' in the first sentence (already mentioned by LeeC). That, and I think the last sentence would be better without "on that one apocalyptic night." Ending with "hell" would definitely increase the impact, and at least leave some sort of wonder for the reader who isn't familiar with the disaster at Chernobyl. At times, less words is better. What's often more impressive is what an author can portray - make us feel, imagine - in less words, with simpler vocabulary and sentence structure.

3. Nitpicks aside, the only other glaring problem for me was the hallucination. Obviously with genres there are some things you can't get around (mysterious shadows, silhouettes, figures, etc) but referring back to number one, I think a good challenge would be doing it in a unique way. Maybe provide a background to it. Is the child sick? Is he the only one who can see them because he's supposed to put their spirits to rest? Heck, was it not a spirit but are actual people still living there, and for what reason? Food for thought.

This has a lot of potential. I look forward to reading more of it.

garza
May 22nd, 2014, 11:34 AM
I quite like it as it is, with the minor corrections that have already been suggested.

If it's supposed to be some sort of phantasy or something, then I would be disappointed. However, a realistic narration of an encounter between a young person and the 'ghosts' of Chernobyl - living survivors who've managed to shield themselves from both the radiation and the eyes of the security forces - would be a grand adventure yarn. At the stopping point - the end of this segment - I am poised for exactly such an adventure.

Carry on.

Quentin
May 23rd, 2014, 09:20 AM
I agree with LeeC, it would be a great starting point for a story. I think you could develop this into a real story: who's the man in the shed? what happens to the son and his father in Pripyat? is that man/hallucination going to have any impact on the boy? is something weird going to happen in the city or near the reactor? I'd love to read what happens next.

Personally, the fact that it takes place in a region as (in)famous as Chernobyl didn't bother me at all. I think Chernobyl has a huge potential for many more stories dealing with thousands of topics (sic-fi, dystopia(!!!), horror, thriller,...).

I look forward to discovering what happens with the boy.

Smith
May 23rd, 2014, 07:50 PM
Personally, the fact that it takes place in a region as (in)famous as Chernobyl didn't bother me at all. I think Chernobyl has a huge potential for many more stories dealing with thousands of topics (sic-fi, dystopia(!!!), horror, thriller,...).



I completely agree that it has potential. It's just that I sort of lost hope because every movie I've ever watched about it (Chernobyl Diaries comes to mind) seems to be created by somebody who is afraid to go a little outside the box. Not saying that will happen here, no, not at all. But I just felt it would be important to emphasize. :)

* I assume this quote was referring to me, but if not then my mistake *

Misty Mirrors
May 29th, 2014, 04:37 AM
Typical US propaganda about an enemy country.
Hatred, naive, ..... no love.