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View Full Version : Bootknives and Blasters: a Short Story



Jorm Arcturus
July 11th, 2014, 04:53 AM
“You don’t have the plates to try,” Harvink spat, his lazy eye gazing thoughtfully off in the distance, his good eye glaring, fixed on me. His teeth were off-set and scummy, and his breath could probably be used as a bug spray. He was caressing his 687 REM Carabine, snug in a dirty holster that obviously wasn't made for it. A sweet piece, way too classy for such a lowlife.
I was tempted to ask if he was talking to me, or someone off that way. But instead I just shrugged, leaning against the counter of the bar. It sagged uncomfortably, but I kept at it. Either it would collapse and provide a worthy distraction, or it wouldn't and I could continue to rest my arms. I glanced up towards the ceiling, begging to be spared the idiocy of the dregs that flow sluggishly in and out of the Fine, a bar that could have passed as a sweat shop if it wasn't for the very counter I was leaning on. Just let me do my job and get out of dodge.
“Did you hear what I said?” Harvink spat again. He took a firmer grip on his piece, a threatening grip. He stood with his feet apart, a grimace on his face. But his eyes- or I should say, eye, told me what I needed to know. “You listenin’, punk?” he pushed my drink aside (which was fine with me, since I would rather not drink it anyway) and slamming his hand down in front of me.
I sighed. This lowlife toughs always wanted to do it the same way. “Actually, I’m barely coherent, on account of your breath. Mint?”
Harvink scowled, and the 687 cleared the holster. I was waiting for that.
I stomped hard on my heel, activating the hidden knife that came out the front of my boot. A quick kick to the ankle joint ensured he wouldn’t run. From my coat I whipped out my daddy’s knife, all glorious eight inches of it, and ‘secured’ Harvinks hand to the counter. With the other, I grabbed the Carabine before it could fully clear, and thus activate its auto-aim. Then, Harvink howled. That’s right. I’m that fast.
“You know, Harvink,” I said, casually catching his half-hearted jab and twisting his arm up behind him, “You shouldn’t take other people’s things. It’s rude.”
I quickly slid my de-icer into Harvink’s holster, deactivating it and releasing the weapon without any nasty consequences. I dangled the Carabine in front of him, illustrating my point. The de-icer is really just slang for some law enforcement device used to power down perp’s blasters, but it works just fine for me too, and de-icer sounds better than “localized disarmament tool”.

Canjul
July 12th, 2014, 02:15 AM
The first thing that struck me when I began to read this piece was the flow. It moved very naturally, at a pace that nicely mirrored the unnamed protagonist's unconcerned observation of the belligerent Harvink. The descriptions were likewise smooth and natural, with only a handful of exceptions to distract the reader or hinder the narrative. The fact that it begins in medias res may be confusing, but the reader is quickly drawn into a simple, well-presented scene.

The first criticism I have is merely one of individual taste and may not apply to every reader, but warrants a mention all the same. The presentation of the work is very blocky and bunched together on the screen. While you demonstrate a clear understanding of paragraphs (sadly not a skill that can be taken for granted), you do not always drop down to a new line when a character begins to speak as seen in lines like “You listenin’, punk?” The quality of the writing won me over despite distracting and muddled presentation, but why put yourself in a position of having to win your reader back before you even begin in the first place? Especially for quick, busy scenes like this, many shorter paragraphs make for a much smoother read. There's no need to worry about running out of digital paper, after all.

The line
snug in a dirty holster that obviously wasn't made for it is a nice piece of foreshadowing that sets the scene, but seems contradictory. Shouldn't it sit uncomfortably, even bulge a little, distorting the cheap leather?

The aside
(which was fine with me, since I would rather not drink it anyway) is one of the few lines that breaks the flow you have already established. For one thing, the proper grammar used here seems a little stiff in comparison to the very natural description that surrounds it, and might have been clipped to better suit the style.
(which suited me fine, wasn't going to drink it anyway) may have fit more closely. Ideally however, this aside could be removed entirely and the sentiment of it incorporated into the natural description. Even as I write this, the importance of the scene's pace shows clearer and clearer, and an aside like this can only hinder it.
“You listenin’, punk?” He swiped my drink aside with the back of the hand that wasn't white-knuckled around his weapon. My eyes stayed on him, but I swear to God I heard it dissolve the floorboards a little. I almost smiled at the thought that he'd probably rescued me from having to drink the damn thing. Despite the fact that this description is a good deal longer, it doesn't leave the scene and therefore maintains a level of constant presence. This serves to keep the reader more engaged.

Also, the fact that the word "Carabine" repeats suggests it was deliberate. Either you did intend the original French form of "carbine" or you were unsure of the proper spelling. Not a mere typo either way, so worth a mention.

A point in the piece's favour is definitely how you approach the science-fiction setting. With the possible exception of the "future slang" in
“You don’t have the plates to try,” (an admitted pet peeve), you avoid the bad writer's favourite sci-fi habit: inventing words wholesale. A bad writer would have made Harvink a "Heliocarian" from the planet "Zergfilax". His weapon would have been a "Cartasian Planeblazer" etc. etc. ad infinitum. Instead, you present the sci-fi elements in a casual way (maintaining that all-important flow) while keeping their function obvious enough to avoid confusion or frustration. I also enjoy some of the concepts used personally, such as a disarmament to tool to safely extract auto-firing blasters. Very understated and efficient sci-fi, classy stuff.

oggmeister
July 15th, 2014, 07:22 AM
The last sentence struck me as a peculiar choice. In an otherwise excellent story, I found the explanation of the de-icer an unnecessary addition and the last phrase a confusing way to end the story. Mainly, it doesn't seem to provide closure to the scene. Is there more here or am I missing something?

Pishwi
July 15th, 2014, 10:22 PM
I have to agree with Oggmeister that the piece seems inconclusive (I'd either omit the part about the de-icer or extend the scene), and with Canjul that the story could benefit from better paragraphing. Aside from that, it was very well-written and enjoyable to read - even the action sequence where the protagonist disarmed Harvink flowed nicely, a rarity even in published novels. Nice work and keep writing : )

Jorm Arcturus
July 16th, 2014, 02:15 AM
My thanks for reading, and I appreciate the comments highly, thank you very much. :) I'm glad you enjoyed it. As for the ending, I should have included a 'part1' in the title, since I plan on expanding on this story in the future. (so you weren't missing anything oggmeister) :) pishwi, I appreciate your praise, and i assure you that i will be working on this one and will present another section soon.

Jorm Arcturus
July 16th, 2014, 02:21 AM
Canjul, I must say, wow. Thank you for such an in depth and thoughtful critique. Most all of your suggestions will be finding their way into the story. I will also be working on my paragraphing. :) Again, thank you for the critique.

Amo
July 18th, 2014, 10:23 PM
This piece all be it short was a very interesting read and I am sure a second part would also be good quality such as this.

Something that I liked with this is that it just stats with this random guy sitting in a bar, we don't even know his name! This is a good touch I thought, it doesn't start with
"My name is Bob Bobingham and and i'm awesome." The protagonist also seems to be a law-enforcement officer of sorts which also seems interesting, since it is a sci-fi story this guy is bound to be battle hardened and has seem a lot in his days. Overall I enjoyed this and more parts of it are sure to be great.

DarkPunzel
July 19th, 2014, 05:13 AM
I liked this one a lot. The lazy eye made me chuckle repeatedly. I liked how this had kinda a western bar fight feel to me even though it was not. I enjoyed this very much!

Jorm Arcturus
July 29th, 2014, 01:47 AM
Hey everyone, finished the next section, as well as many of the revisions suggested by you guys. So, feel free to check it out!

Hopeful Writer
August 9th, 2014, 10:00 PM
“You don’t have the plates to try,” Harvink spat, his lazy eye gazing thoughtfully off in the distance, his good eye glaring, fixed on me. His teeth were off-set and scummy, and his breath could probably be used as a bug spray. He was caressing his 687 REM Carabine, snug in a dirty holster that obviously wasn't made for it. A sweet piece, way too classy for such a lowlife.
I was tempted to ask if he was talking to me, or someone off that way. But instead I just shrugged, leaning against the counter of the bar. It sagged uncomfortably, but I kept at it. Either it would collapse and provide a worthy distraction, or it wouldn't and I could continue to rest my arms. I glanced up towards the ceiling, begging to be spared the idiocy of the dregs that flow sluggishly in and out of the Fine, a bar that could have passed as a sweat shop if it wasn't for the very counter I was leaning on. Just let me do my job and get out of dodge.
“Did you hear what I said?” Harvink spat again. He took a firmer grip on his piece, a threatening grip. He stood with his feet apart, a grimace on his face. But his eyes- or I should say, eye, told me what I needed to know. “You listenin’, punk?” he pushed my drink aside (which was fine with me, since I would rather not drink it anyway) and slamming his hand down in front of me.
I sighed. This lowlife toughs always wanted to do it the same way. “Actually, I’m barely coherent, on account of your breath. Mint?”
Harvink scowled, and the 687 cleared the holster. I was waiting for that.
I stomped hard on my heel, activating the hidden knife that came out the front of my boot. A quick kick to the ankle joint ensured he wouldn’t run. From my coat I whipped out my daddy’s knife, all glorious eight inches of it, and ‘secured’ Harvinks hand to the counter. With the other, I grabbed the Carabine before it could fully clear, and thus activate its auto-aim. Then, Harvink howled. That’s right. I’m that fast.
“You know, Harvink,” I said, casually catching his half-hearted jab and twisting his arm up behind him, “You shouldn’t take other people’s things. It’s rude.”
I quickly slid my de-icer into Harvink’s holster, deactivating it and releasing the weapon without any nasty consequences. I dangled the Carabine in front of him, illustrating my point. The de-icer is really just slang for some law enforcement device used to power down perp’s blasters, but it works just fine for me too, and de-icer sounds better than “localized disarmament tool”.

I enjoyed it, and it made me giggle at the beginning with the bug spray thing. I'm not entirely sure I get the point though. It seems to me like it needs to be longer...

Jorm Arcturus
August 13th, 2014, 09:55 PM
thanks for the comment :) i actually did write more on this, its titled Bootknives and Blasters: the extended edition. you can find it in the fantasy, sci-fi, and horror section.

vildirin
August 14th, 2014, 12:14 PM
I find this story very intriguing. i would really like to see more of your work! :champagne:

Daniel Loreand
August 17th, 2014, 03:02 AM
haha, you know what somes up reading this 'fun'. It's just darn fun to read pal. Can't wait to hear more, it flows really well, easy to read. The descriptions are perfect, they allow us to actually SEE what's happening rather than it simply being described to us. The characterisation is great. . hardly a criticism, actually it's more a compliment, NOT ENOUGH! haha. Can't wait for more and good luck.

Daniel.

Jorm Arcturus
August 26th, 2014, 12:39 AM
Thanks for the comments guys, I appreciate your support :D