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View Full Version : Seven Shades of Stan (working title) Chapter 1: ~850 words.



John Galt
August 9th, 2014, 09:08 AM
(NOTE: Lengthened after posting, now ~1250 words)
Stanley

Strange things, people. Each one different, yet each one the same. We condemn the different, but take every opportunity to distinguish ourselves like vultures searching for scraps. From the aged searching for something to leave behind to the young searching for something to build, we are all searching. I'm searching for something for which I can search. My search, however, will be delayed by my therapist who claims me to be "too unstable to drive." Now, all I search for is her building, a tiny office with grey walls and greyer people. At least I can look forward to a short walk to her office; it's quite a dull bright side really. It's gleaming compared to this dreary area, though. The sky always seems less blue here, the birds less cheerful, even the trees less green - I take it's nature's way of telling me I'm near that wretched office. A cyclist narrowly avoids a brutish driver who spouts some tumultuous gabble and continues his journey. It appears man's way of foretelling misfortune is far less subtle.
The door has a familiar tug to it, a pleasant resistance. The sight of the fools in the waiting room is perhaps my favourite thing, with the door being a close second. They remind me that I'm not the only one daft enough to pay someone to talk to me. The receptionist is neither old nor young, neither beautiful nor ugly; she blends with the office like she was part of some bulk purchase. Her signature black blazer gives her a sharp look, but her tongue is always sharper. The reception area carries a strange smell, some bizarre scent shared by hospitals and retirement homes. The silence is deafening.
"Go right through, you," says the receptionist, giving me a stern gaze.
"Well, I'd love to chat, Gladys" I say as I walk toward her oversized desk with a perfunctory smile.
"I wouldn't ... and my name's not Gladys." she says, rolling her eyes.
"And my name's not 'you'." We exchange a final gaze of both irritation and some strange mutual understanding.
The door to Ms. Cathay’s office offered no resistance, much to my displeasure. My therapist, Ms. Cathay, is much like her door; flat, unnecessarily ornate and a constant source of displeasure. Today, the colour of choice is a shade of blue: navy blue blazer, baby blue skirt, bright blue shoes. I'm surprised she doesn't have blue skin at this point. If not for her golden hair, I wouldn't know if I was speaking to the same woman every few days. Her office was entirely ordinary, everything is organised and structured, yet rearranged at each visit. The walls are peach coloured, but have a grey tinge to it; the same confused array of smells seems to have found its way here. Aside from a small couch, chair and desk, the room is void. This room has a way of taking the vigor of one's youth, even the air appears to have lost its own. "Have a seat. How're you doing?" she says with some obliged interest.
"I'm well. I suppose I can't speak for the others."
"In due time, you will," she says with a smile, "are you taking your medication?"
"It's not my medication, it's our medication."
I don't know much about myself - or my selves - but I do know I don't like medication.
"Stop avoiding the question, Stanley."
"Hah, you do the same every time I mention these costumes of yours."
"Your disorder isn't going to get better if you don't take your medication," she says as she nods and smiles slightly, “you’ll get better eventually.”
"I don't have all my life to figure out which ‘me’ did what," I say, shifting in my seat, "there must be a faster way."
"There is another way, but it... I can't vouch for its ease," she says, and her smile evaporates, "and it carries... risks"
"Why worry? I've got a few spare 'me's, haven't I?"
"Seven, by my count." She muttered while chewing on her pen.
I'm some puddle of people, swirling without aim, playing roulette with each day, yet I hate people... and gambling. Fate does enjoy her irony. Ms. Cathay won't tell me her first name, but she knows seven of mine. She speaks with all of us, or so she tells me. I suppose everyone's met more than one of me... except me. I'm the man who has yet to meet himself. "Send them my regards," I say with a sudden chuckle and lean back.
"You know you're the only one who knows about your condition."
"Oh... don't you?" I reply playfully.
"This is serious, Stanley," she says, dampening the atmosphere.
"I know, I know. What's this other way?"
"We could... draw them out, individually, and... look through their memories," she removed her glasses "but you'll be gone for a while"
"I'll do it... we'll do it," I lean forward.
Answers. I will search for answers, what they do, why I’m like this. I must know… I will know.
"Tomorrow we begin," she pauses "when it's done, we could know everything. Good, bad, ugly,” our eyes meet, “or worse.”
The rest of the hour runs on without apparent direction. I walk out Ms. Cathay’s door, exchange a final stare with her receptionist and take my leave. The wind grows stronger as the sun falls beneath a distant horizon. A dog’s barking can be heard, but no dog is in sight.
I notice my front door, crooked and dilapidated, a symbol of my inability to hold a job. I can’t remember the walk. I must’ve lost time, I think as I hang my jacket and kick off my shoes. This happens occasionally, people say I act strangely when I have no recollection of the actions. Ms. Cathay says my alters, as she calls them, are the cause, that they behave and think differently. For twenty-eight years – well, the eighteen I remember - I’ve managed to dodge questions and unfamiliar faces like bullets. Cathay, as much as I hate to admit it, helps. She’s met them all, and even named them all – in some ways, she’s perhaps the closest thing I have to a friend. A friend. I haven’t thought of anyone as a friend for years. Soon. Soon I’ll be free, to live like any other – one name, one person. I settle into my single bed and begin a book I know I won’t finish.
I’m awoken by a knock on the door. I stumble toward it, either due to the sharp interruption of my sleep or to the fear that some old friend or enemy is awaiting me. I take a breath and pull the door open.
“Good morning,” says Ms. Cathay.
And they call me ‘crazy’. She is wearing an array of colours so bright it puts Mother Nature to shame. A scarf of white, a shirt of green and yesterday’s skirt. Her golden hair is worn in spiral today, delicately positioned like a crown. “Well, don’t look so bewildered,” she says, “let me in.”
“I would, but I’m afraid some insects may follow,” I reply. She bursts through without a hint of laughter.
“We’ll begin now,” she says as she looks around my cave-like hovel, “make yourself comfortable.”
And so it begins. Finally. I’ll know who they are… who I am. I will tear the mask I don unwillingly and stare into my own eyes. I could find the pinnacle of Heaven… or the pit of Hell.

G. L. Argain
August 10th, 2014, 07:07 AM
As a person who hasn't read as many works of literature as he should have, I'll tell you based on what I know. I didn't notice any major spelling or grammar mistakes, although that doesn't mean you shouldn't look carefully for minor mishaps. Sometimes even a missing period will deter a reader

None of the sentences appeared awkward or randomly placed, so your readers won't be distracted from the story itself.

The plot is not only interesting and fluid, but it also centers itself around one main idea: the protagonist's struggles with his multiple selves; I've been guilty of writing pieces of a story that had no point. I love seeing the protagonist's personality here through the described imagery and - even better - the dialogue.

If I was going to criticize anything, it would be the hook (first sentence). "Strange things, people" somehow feels as though something is missing from this phrase. This is my writing style talking here, but I would revise it to something like, "People...what strange things."

In the end, however, I'm not going to focus intensely and nitpick whatever errors I can find. If I can casually read your work, as I believe the average reader will do, and find no errors at all, I'd say "Well done!"

ranjit23das
August 11th, 2014, 10:11 PM
Hi

bit difficult to read, need to address the flow of the piece

"take every opportunity to distinguish ourselves like vultures searching for scraps."
- This simile does not work for me. Vultures are all doing the same thing; trying to eat as much as they can as soon as they can from the dead carcass. How does this relate to "We condemn the different, but take every opportunity to distinguish ourselves "?

"From the aged searching for something to leave behind to the young searching for something to build, we are all searching. I'm searching for something for which I can search. My search, however, will be delayed by my therapist who claims me to be "too unstable to drive." Now, all I search for is her building, a tiny office with grey walls and greyer people."
- over use of the word 'search'

"The sky always seems less blue here, the birds less cheerful, even the trees less green"
- less than what?

"The door has a familiar tug to it, a pleasant resistance. The sight of the fools in the waiting room is perhaps my favourite thing, with the door being a close second. They remind me that I'm not the only one daft enough to pay someone to talk to me."
- not sure describing the door adds much.

"The receptionist is neither old nor young, neither beautiful nor ugly"
- This does not help me create a picture of the receptionist. Better to say, 'she was in her thirties, with short brown hair and an oval face (or some other description).' At least I can picture that.

"The silence is deafening."
- overused set phrase, lazy writing.

"The door to Ms. Cathay’s office offered no resistance, much to my displeasure."
- whats with you and sticking doors?

Dubhthaigh
August 11th, 2014, 11:29 PM
I really, really liked this.
The dialogue in particular I thought was fantastic, I was truly hooked after the exchange between Stanley and the receptionist.
In disagreement with the guy above me, I liked the simile that likened a person's search for distinguishing traits to a vulture's primal need to search for carcasses.
My only tiny nitpick is that I don't think every door warrants a remark.

John Galt
September 3rd, 2014, 09:28 PM
The "doors" thing was supposed to come up later; I have it written in my notes somewhere. I see everyone's points regarding it though.
I'm thinking about re-writing in past tense as present tense is proving rather frustrating to write which could be the source of the difficulty in reading it. The problem with past is that it raises continuity/logical contradictions (a person with the syndrome won't recall the other personalities, for example, and wouldn't be able to recall these memories)
@ranjit: on the search overuse, any possible synonyms?
@G.L: The first sentence was a 'working line' when I wrote it originally, and I see your point.

Mr. Beanhead
September 23rd, 2014, 09:38 PM
Overall, I liked the feel of the piece. You did a good job of getting me into the guy's head. Along with Dubhthaigh, I enjoyed the sparring between the receptionist and Stanley. A couple of minor points about grammar and usage:

The walls are peach coloured, but have a grey tinge to it;
I think the pronoun should be them, so that it agrees with walls.

I wouldn't know if I was speaking to the same woman every few days.
It might sound a little stilted, but I think the conditional works better...were

I'm awoken
Check it out, but I think awakened works better here.

One final observation: puddle of people I love this, both the alliteration and the imagery work for me.