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Thad
June 27th, 2014, 12:54 AM
I woke up with a scorpion on my face. It was crunchier than I prefer, but I've had worse breakfasts. I crawled out of the scrub patch where I'd slept, tongue poking at the chitin stuck in my teeth. Dew had beaded across my skin overnight, and I was shivering. By noon I would trade it for sweat under the ruthless wasteland sun and be longing for the dripping bushes I'd hidden in for the night. That's man for you. Want what you want til you get it, and not a minute longer. One thing that held true for everyone. I needed it to.


I'm a scavenger. A prospector, merchant, trader. Thief, some might say. Living hand to mouth, fist to gut, knee to groin in a place where that made me the elite. Upper class because I wasn't starving on a rock farm, trying to convince myself weeds were corn. I wasn't collared up in a pen somewhere to be auctioned off, or glassed out in a ditch, picking at scabs and wondering if it was the drugs or the rads making my skin want to leave my wasted body to seek its own fortune on the wind. Top of the mountain, that's me.


Thing is, mountaintops are small. Pointy. Easy to piss off the peak onto everyone below. Even easier to lose your footing and end up with them. And I don't care what they say, it's crowded at the top. Everyone clustered together, after the same stuff, trying to get it from each other without going over the edge. Glass, guns, and girls. Or guys. A market for everything. That's how I stayed alive. I supplied the demand. Some of them, anyway. I was worth about a grand on the flesh market, but if I could bring some banger a 1200-cred payload, well, basic math is one of those few disciplines that survived the war.


Why don't they just take you then? you ask, you clever devil. When you bring them what they want, they can jump you, slap a collar on you. They can drop some glass down your throat or stick it right in your veins. Hell, put a gun to your head and tie you up, it doesn't matter. All valid points, my friend, and all reasons I talk fast and move faster. I usually know how long I can trust a contact, and I get out of the area before my time's up. If they catch me off guard, I have backup plans, and backups for those. That's why, pulling my bag from the rocks where I'd hid it, I was careful not to jostle the Old World grenades tucked inside my pants.


It was an hour's walk to Hammer's camp. Not too creative with their names, these bangers. I've known two other Hammers, and both tried to kill me. Like I said, you could only trust these guys for so long before you had to get clear of them. Number three's time was up, but he didn't know it. I'd spent a week on a bullet hunt for him, digging through corpses' pockets, busting open forgotten lockboxes, even collecting spent casings from places where firefights had left someone too rushed or too dead to gather them themselves. Even without powder or bullets, the brass had a little value, and Hammer had a guy in his crew who had the gear to reload them. They called him Loader.



I usually write in third person, and I didn't even have a setting planned out for this. But the voice was insistent, so I banged this out over a couple of days, polished it up, and sat on it. And now it's in my head again. To be honest, I'm not even sure what this story is. I don't know if it's the beginning of a novel or a short story or something in between. I don't know much of anything about it, really, so that's why I'm posting it. To get fresh input to force me to think about it and get my wheels turning, see if how it grabs (or fails to grab) other people, and see if I can grow this into something more.

Pluralized
June 27th, 2014, 01:09 AM
Hey Thad -

Really good. Enjoyed the consistency in the voice, the undertones of wit and jocular cynicism. I would read your longer works, so let's see some more.

Great use of metaphor with the mountaintop analogy (?) and great setup to finding out more about this drifter. Grenades in the pants? That part jostled me a bit, no pun intended.

tongue poking at the chitin -- Didn't quite get this. Chitlin perhaps? Only thing I saw - very clean work here.

More, please.

Riptide
June 27th, 2014, 01:20 AM
Yeah, I really enjoyed it. Some of the imagery, the chitin thing messed me up. And this thing: some banger a 1200-cred payload, well, basic math is one of those few disciplines that survived the war.
Could just, probably is just, me but this I didn't get at all.

Anyway, It was a nice read. Really loved it, actually. I'm actually the opposite. I started out first person, and now I'm branching away. The voice was funny, liked the mountain. Liked the beginning about human nature. Like it a lot.

You've got a pretty cool character, a little introduction to a story and maybe a conflict to as he's going to the camp. Time is up, and all that. SO you have the basics for your story already there, basically.

Greimour
June 27th, 2014, 01:51 AM
Yeah, I really enjoyed it. Some of the imagery, the chitin thing messed me up. And this thing: some banger a 1200-cred payload, well, basic math is one of those few disciplines that survived the war.
Could just, probably is just, me but this I didn't get at all.


I was worth about a grand on the flesh market, but if I could bring some banger a 1200-cred payload, well, basic math is one of those few disciplines that survived the war.

Sounds to me, basically - he is a wanted man and a bounty hunter at the same time. He is worth 1,000creds, but if he takes a banger (Officer, Sheriff, Whatever) a prize (bounty) worth 1,200creds - the banger will let him go seeing as he got himself a more valuable payload. If he shown up with an 800 cred payload though, the Banger would try to take him instead of the 800. And so basic math (1200 is more than 1000) is one of the things that lets him survive in these harsh times. The war could equally be a metaphor for surviving - rather than an actual war between continents/worlds. Also, sounds like he isn't just bounty hunter - and Bangers aren't necessarily just police - A banger could be what we call "A Fence" ... someone who 'moves merchandise' (usually stolen.) Black Market traders...

***

Had a very futuristic sci-fi quality to it for me. Is 'Glass' a drug.. or actual glass? What's rads?
picking at scabs and wondering if it was the drugs or the rads making my skin want to leave my wasted body to seek its own fortune on the wind. that like aids or something?

For me the story was a little like Mad-Max meets Riddick meets The Good The Bad The Ugly. (Futuristic wild west with Riddick type protagonist)


I liked it - the chitin/chitlin bit ... isn't chitlin from chitterlins..? and isnt that the intestines of a pig?
Scorpions are Arachnids aren't they? Or from the Arachnidia family... 'arthropod' would have been a decent word there, but I agree that the sentence could do with changing. Thats the only sentence that really got to me.

I was drawn in to this, I wanted it to continue further... ^_^

Thad
June 27th, 2014, 02:07 AM
Chitin is the stuff exoskeletons are made of. Rads are a unit of radiation used to measure how much radiation something has absorbed, be that a person or the environment. As far as the slang, hopefully it becomes clearer with more context as the story goes on. Glass is a drug. Some kind of amphetamine, I'm thinking, that comes in crystallized sheets sort of like a thin peanut brittle, without the peanuts. You can actually be stabbed or cut with the drug itself, which is a method of forced addiction used by some dealers. Banger is derived from gangbanger, and basically refers to anyone belonging to any sort of nomadic group. Often unsavory types, but not always.

I was definitely going for that post-apocalyptic future feel, so I'm glad that came across well. It was sprouted by subconscious after a long bout of Fallout, and I actually had to make an effort not to make it fanfic.

Thanks for all the quick feedback, guys! I'll try to expand on this some this weekend, grow it some more. I've never had a story critiqued while it was being written, so this might be a cool opportunity to try to bob and weave with the readers as I go.

Greimour
June 27th, 2014, 02:20 AM
Well, glad I got it right with the Glass.

Chitin! Right, with you... honestly, my immediate thought was chitlin.. hence the mistake... I totally didn't even think of the chemical component. Been far too long since I left school... also - when I read it, I read: chi-tin and I only vaguely remember 'kaitin/ky-tin' (pronunciation) from hearing it in science class during a lesson about fungi. Total brain fart on my part.

Rads = Radiation... makes sense. That part of the slang would definitely be made more apparent with more context.

Edit:

Bangers being from gangbangers - that's interesting. Until you show the method for that to work, I will still be looking at them as 'the fence' or whatever. The person you sell to in order to get rid of it quickly. They can worry about getting the right price for it... that kind of person. Sounds to me that's how he treats them, even if technically that's not what they are. More of the story would really put them into perspective though, so for the time being I would have to stick with my initial thought/s.

The mind can't change, it can only be changed.

Sounds like it will make for an interesting read - seeing how all these people work. The protagonist - the nomadic gangster bangers - the world in general. I will end up thinking about this when it's time to sleep. Ugh! And I was hoping to dream about Trolls too >.<

=P

MsTerious
June 27th, 2014, 03:32 PM
I really like the dry matter-of-fact voice of the narrator which is pretty strong, considering you usually write in third person. There's a dry humor there that made me chuckle at times. For example. "I woke up with a scorpion on my face. It was crunchier than I prefer, but I've had worse breakfasts." I think that's perfect character introduction, as well as a strong opening. I like the bleakness of the world you portray, there's quite a lot crammed in for such a short piece, but enough to tease the reader into wanting more. There's a lot of potential here for you to take it further.