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View Full Version : Short Horror Story: *WARNING*



JamesR
October 11th, 2014, 10:24 PM
*WARNING* My story includes profanity, mild references to nudity, some violence, and grotesque, graphic descriptions. *WARNING*

Hello everyone, since Halloween is around the corner, I thought I would share one of my horror short stories. This particular story is one out of a series of similar short stories describing different people in different circumstances dealing with--eh, I don't want to spoil it, so we'll use the broad term "conflict"--the conflict. This particular story is about a Russian Orthodox Priest in Moscow; the other ones I'm working on include a group of inmates in a prison, a street-hardened prostitute, a 10 year old Chinese boy and his toddler sister, and a squad of police officers in the slums of NYC.

Please excuse the format if it gives you trouble. I copied and pasted this story from Microsoft Word.
________________________
10th April 2015
Moscow, Russia
7:48PM

“O God of all spirits and flesh, who has trodden down death, destroying the power of the devil, bestowing life on your world. To the soul of your servant Nicholas departed this life, do you yourself, O Lord, give rest in a place of light, in a place of green pasture, in a place of refreshment, from where pain and sorrow and mourning are fled away. Every sin by him committed in thought, word, or deed, do you as our good and loving God forgive, seeing that there is no man that shall live and sin not, for you alone are without sin: your righteousness, and Your law is truth. Amen,” the Priest finished. “Pew!” his silenced handgun whispered, smoke trailing from its still-hot barrel. Thick, coagulated blood frightfully poured forth from the bullet’s entry wound, soaking through the bed sheets that crudely enwrapped a human-shaped figure underneath. All activity from the mysterious figure had finally ceased.
It was a grim, somber scene. Apart from a single light bulb and a small handful of half-burnt candles hastily arranged for religious purposes, the room was dark. Those present behaved in a multitude of ways. Mother hugged child, husband consoled wife; some men smoked cigarettes compulsively, whereas others prayed. One woman, a senior citizen and apparently the matriarch of the family, used her head covering to wipe the tears that gracefully trickled down her cheeks. She was the widowed wife of the freshly slain victim.
“Brothers and sisters,” the Priest addressed the room while desperately attempting with all his might to conceal his own fear and sorrow, “These are trying times for all of us. But, perhaps it would be of some consolation to remember an excerpt from the Lamentations service to our Lord on this Great and Holy Friday before Pascha. ‘…For through Your burial you open for me the portals of life; and by death you put death and Hades to death…the dead shall rise, and those in the tombs shall awake, and all those on the Earth shall rejoice…’”
“I would like to thank you both personally and on behalf of my family for coming here, Fr. Vladimir,” the elderly woman remarked, “it means very much, especially when even light travel around town is so dangerous right now.”
“It was nothing, Mrs. Varekova,” the Priest replied, extending his blessing to the woman, which she promptly received.
“Are you sure you want to leave?” she inquired, “You are welcome to stay until this situation gets handled.”
“I’m sure; I have other calls that I need to attend to.”
“Well, be careful.”
“I will be,” he chuckled, exposing to the woman a large caliber, revolving handgun that he kept holstered on his belt, hidden underneath his cassock.
Fr. Vladimir confidently approached the front door, where one young man, armed with an antiquated Mosin-Nagant rifle from the World War II days of his newly departed grandfather, vigilantly stood watch. Two other young men joined him and together the trio removed the large bookshelf and steel bar from the door, allowing the Priest to exit before immediately re-barricading it again. Outside, he lifted his cassock and removed two objects from his back pocket: a neatly folded piece of paper and a pen. The paper listed several handwritten addresses; the pen was used to cross them out. He identified the address of the residence he had just left and scribbled it away.
“Four more to go,” he mumbled, climbing onto his bicycle—gasoline had long ago been rationed when it started—and rode off into the night. He navigated his way through the desolate, uninhabited city streets; crisscrossing between buildings and abandoned, overturned automobiles. The moon was full and the sky darker than usual, so he was careful not to lose his way. Besides the occasional beeping of an unattended-to car alarm and the static flickering of a lamppost that dimly lit the area, it was quiet. In fact, it was too quiet. Fires raged wildly like oversized candles, and nobody bothered to put them out. Buildings and architectural structures crumpled and decayed like the forsaken ruins of a once great society, and nobody bothered to maintain them. Department stores and homes alike appeared looted and ransacked, with clothing and furniture strewn across the streets, and nobody bothered to clean the mess. All in all, the surrounding environment resembled the aftermath of a great conflict.
About fifteen minutes monotonously went by as Fr. Vladimir continued to traverse the city in dead silence. Most of the population had either evacuated or died…or died and succumbed to it. Those among the population who had not perished barricaded their homes and businesses up tight. They placed thick, metallic shutters over their windows to effectively hide all traces of activity. As a result, apart from the shadowy silhouettes at the corner of his eyes, mindlessly lurking in the darkness every few blocks or so, the city was devoid of life.
He passed by two peculiarly bizarre and frightening sights. First, a large apartment complex that was set ablaze on fire. An unseen woman—presumably one of the apartment’s residents—unleashed a blood curdling, indescribably petrifying shriek as she was burned alive. But there was nothing the Priest could do. The unrelenting flames mercilessly consumed the entire building, reaping the souls of its victims. He rode on, chanting the “Memory Eternal” hymn in her honor. Second, he stumbled across a man. It was a lone, isolated man whose AK-47 rifle, which he gripped so tightly, was the only thing that kept him from total solitude.
“They’re fucking everywhere!” he hysterically shouted, letting loose a hail of automatic gunfire on all sides. The man was clearly insane and traumatized with horror. He wore camouflage pants and a makeshift, tactical vest full of extra magazines for his weapon. On his left forearm, he bore the lewd tattoo of a nude Russian woman holding the flag to the former USSR; on his right forearm, he bore the tattoo of a three-barred, Russian Cross. Fr. Vladimir, cautious not to find himself in the man’s line of fire, whispered a brief prayer on his behalf and increased his speed until the man was long behind him. Fifteen more minutes uneventfully went by.
“Here at last,” he muttered, stepping off his bike and nudging the kickstand into place. He approached a brown, wooden door. He knocked, careful to knock in a pattern so as to not spook those inside. Two men quickly pulled Fr. Vladimir inside and then instantly proceeded to relock the door, securing its steel bar back into place.
“Father bless, we’re glad you could come,” one of the men greeted.
“You’re too kind, child,” Fr. Vladimir replied, “Are we ready to begin the proceeding?”
“Yes Father, right this way,” the first man answered, leading him through the townhouse into a bedroom, the second man following close behind. Upon entering the bedroom, the Priest spotted a young woman. Her face was buried into her hands, and she was weeping profusely.
“Christ is risen!” he declared to the woman, hoping to lighten her mood.
“Indeed He is risen,” she faintly replied, eyes watering from her profound grief. She was a frail young woman, perhaps no older than twenty-five, and of an exceptionally petite frame that matched the angelically soft tone of her voice.
“My, my, child. I remember when you were just a little girl on my choir, and now you’re all grown up,” he comforted the woman, tenderly hugging her.
“He succumbed to it,” she lamented, gesturing toward a white, wooden crib, “we treated his bite wound, but it was too late…”
It was not until this moment that Fr. Vladimir had finally realized the source of her agonizing pain; the epiphany had disturbingly sunk in. The scattered toys, the crib, and the crayons on the table—they were inside of a child’s nursery. The victim was her toddler child. The two men—the woman’s husband and her brother-in-law—accompanied Fr. Vladimir to the crib.
“How long?” the Priest questioned, inspecting the prone, child-sized figure inside of the crib. It unyieldingly squirmed and rolled around aimlessly, haplessly attempting to escape the mummifying confines of the bed sheets that enshrouded it therein.
“Two days,” the second man—the boy’s uncle—responded, “We thought about doing the deed ourselves, but, it wouldn’t be right to deny him his funeral rites.”
“Let us begin,” the Priest sighed, distressed in the heart. Those present in the room stood up attentively. The first man consoled his despairing wife, forlornly suppressing his own woe over the fate of his child; the second man lit the candles and then lit a cigarette.
“Blessed is our God, always now and ever unto the ages of ages,” Fr. Vladimir began the Trisagion.
“Amen,” they liturgically replied in unison.
The Priest diligently continued through the funeral service, reciting every prayer and performing every task as faithfully as possible. Lacking incense, he discourteously removed a smoldering cigarette from the uncle’s mouth and censed it with the tobacco smoke.
“Again and again in peace, let us pray unto the Lord,” he declared, beginning the litany for the departed.
“Lord, have mercy,”
“Again we pray for the repose of the soul of the servant of God Alexander, who has fallen asleep, and that he may be pardoned of all his sins, both voluntary and involuntary,”
“Lord, have mercy,”
“Again we pray that the Lord God will establish his soul where the Just repose,”
“Lord, have mercy,”
“For the mercies of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the remission of his sins, let us ask Christ, our immortal King and God,”
“Grant it, O Lord,”
“Let us pray to the Lord: O God of all spirits and flesh, who has trodden down death, destroying the power of the devil, bestowing life on your world. To the soul of your servant Alexander departed this life, do you yourself, O Lord, give rest in a place of light, in a place of green pasture, in a place of refreshment, from where pain and sorrow and mourning are fled away. Every sin by him committed in thought, word, or deed, do you as our good and loving God forgive, seeing that there is no man that shall live and sin not, for you alone are without sin: your righteousness, and Your law is truth. Amen.”
The Priest reached into his backpack, removing the same, semi-automatic pistol from earlier. It was a small, gold-plated ceremonial weapon. On its handle was a Cross; ornately engraved across its side was the ancient Church Slavonic inscription “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered,”—an excerpt from the sixty-seventh Psalm. The muzzle was equipped with a black silencer to suppress its sound. He took aim and prepared to fire. But before he could pull the trigger, it bit through the sheets, and its face was revealed…
It was a ghastly, dreadful sight. The child—or rather, the cold, decomposing reanimated corpse of the child, gazed lifelessly into Fr. Vladimir’s eyes. Its vile, hideous flesh was of a pale, greyish-green transparent complexion. And its eyes—its disembodied, sinister eyes—lacked all humanity. It was an animal; no, it was worse than an animal. Even animals demonstrate rudimentary intelligence. It was an abomination of nature—a freak—a cruel rape of Mother Nature that defiled the finely established line between life and death. It was a purely mechanical being-less being whose only instinct was to feed on the flesh of the living. It was a creature deprived of all dignity—an ever-consuming, wholly automatic nightmare cursed to roam the ends of Earth until either decomposition or a bullet to the brain put it to rest. An icy chill crept down the Priest’s spine as it uttered a harrowingly unforgettable moan that vocalized its grisly, carnal lust for flesh. It repeatedly smacked together its putrid, bloodless lips and bit at the air in a laughably futile struggle to devour the Priest.
The mother wailed even more bitterly than before, and sunk her head deeply into her husband’s chest to avoid the gruesome spectacle.
“Do it Fr. Please, do it,” he implored, the wretchedly accursed moan of the child growing louder and louder by the moment.
The Priest aimed the weapon at its forehead. For a brief moment, the world had come to a screeching halt. None of it mattered—the reanimated corpse with its foul moan, the frenzied woman and her husband’s incessant supplications—it all felt so surreal and artificial, like a bad dream. Only…he never woke up. The dream was in fact reality. He fired. The miniscule projectile punctured through the undead child’s skull, dispatching it almost instantly. The Priest then returned the weapon to his backpack.
“It’s done,” he dejectedly announced, lone teardrops streaming forth from his eyes as the two men transported the corpse to a large furnace in the basement where it was incinerated into ash.
“Why?” the woman suddenly asked out of the blue.
“What?” the Priest replied, taken aback by her question.
“Why, Fr. Vladimir? Why did all this have to happen? Why did God let it happen? Nobody asked for any of this.”
“Olga,” the Priest approached her, “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know the answer. But I have h-”
“Have what?” she impolitely interrupted, existentially perturbed by hellish ordeal, “What do you possibly have? What could we have?”
“Hope,” he answered, “I have hope—rather, we have hope. We have hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; that there is an end to this nightmare.”
“Hope in what? A divine dictator who sits idly back and lets this happen?”
“No,” he responded, “I have hope in the God who acted—who came to us and suffered every human malady imaginable. I have hope in the one who grieved, wept, died, and felt. I have hope in the one by whom ‘…the gate-keepers of Hades tremble seeing clothed in a blood spattered robe of vengeance’ I have hope in the one who promised to ‘…wipe away every tear from their eyes,’ that ‘…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.’”
“But,” she groaned, “It’s hard! I miss him…I miss my baby.”
“And that’s normal,” he assured, “Olga, we look to better times; we look to that ‘…resurrection of the dead’ and we look to that ‘life of the world to come.’ We remind ourselves of this every day when we recite our Creed because we need that hope—we need that candle of light in the midst of darkness. You think you’re the only one who doubts? You’re not. Hell child, I oftentimes doubt this whole thing myself. But I take solace in the risen Christ.”
“I guess I do too,” she sighed, “But I wish those better times would come now. I wish that ‘resurrection of the dead’ would come already.”
“Maybe He’s delaying it for our own sake.”
“What?”
“Maybe He’s delaying it so that our resurrection will be to joy and peace; not to a state of Hell and anguish. You know, there’s not much difference between the undead and us. Maybe the infected are a warning that foreshadows the nastiness that our resurrection will be to unless we make some changes in ourselves while we still have the time.”
“Oh come on; we have nothing in common with those monsters.”
“Are you sure about that?” he asked, “Have you ever desired eternal life apart from the risen Christ? Our world has; and where has that gotten us? Eugenics, genocide, and countless fallen human utopias…we’re the infected. Have you ever been so consumed with irrational desire that you’ve destroyed both yourself and those around you? Our world has; and what has that given us? Addiction, sexual slavery, imperialism, conquest…we’re the infected.”
“I never thought of it that way…” she spoke softly, interrupted by the two men who returned to the room.
“Fr. Vladimir would you like some coffee or maybe a snack? We could listen to the radio to see if there’s been any updates on the situation,” the brother-in-law asked.
“That would be delightful, although you better make that coffee to go; I have a few more calls to go to tonight,” the Priest replied.
The group entered the kitchen and seated themselves on a large wooden table erected at the center of the room. The young woman, astonished that the city’s plumbing was still functional as she turned on the sink, brewed a pot of coffee. She contemplated the unthinkable question of how long it would be before running water was rationed—or worse, shut off…
The husband placed a miniature, black radio on the table and meticulously fidgeted with its controls. It appeared that every channel was either non-operational or filled with the vain, useless chatter of speculating politicians and radio evangelists. Finally, the device picked up the emergency broadcast network.
“This just in,” the radio announcer informed as everyone listened attentively, “in order to neutralize the tragic threat that has swept across our nation, President Putin has declared martial law. I repeat: martial law has been declared! Residents are advised to stay inside at all times and to remain as silent as possible. Special Forces have been mobilized and will immediately be taking action. The initial strike will begin at our capital city of Moscow—which Putin confidently declares will be liberated from the threat within a week—and will move eastward across the entire nation. In order to increase efficacy, Special Forces have been ordered to shoot first and ask questions later. Those not found indoors will be counted among the infected and shot on sight. Therefore, I repeat, stay indoors at all times! If you possess a firearm or multiple firearms, use them only when/if your life is in immediate danger, so as to avoid potential injury and/or the sound attracting more of the infected to your location. The epidemic has reached the easternmost United States, Western Europe, and most of Asia, excluding the Koreas, which have signed a temporary cease-fire to better deal with the epidemic. Martial law has also been declared in the United States, China, and India, all of which have also enacted similar self-quarantine-and-destroy plans. After the aforementioned nations—including our own glorious mother Russia—have successfully eliminated the threat from within their borders, which is expected to range anywhere from one month to a year, a UN coalition force led by the Security Council will sweep through the entire globe to eradicate the threat. Again, I repeat, stay indoors at all times! The infestation has spread and Special Forces will be sweeping across the nation within the hour. Stay tuned for further notification.”
“Well,” the Priest said as he dutifully arose from his chair, “that probably means I should get going.”
“Are you sure about that, Fr. Vladimir?” the woman asked, “You are welcome to stay and we’d prefer it if you did. You heard what the radio said: stay inside.”
“I’m sure; my flock needs me,” he answered, walking to the front door. The two men were hesitant to let him out—they feared for the life of their beloved Priest. But out of respect for his mission, they removed the bar from the door and allowed him to leave before quickly fastening it back into place. They proceeded to say a prayer on his behalf.
Outside, Fr. Vladimir climbed back onto his bicycle. The night sky had gotten significantly darker, and combat helicopters could be identified overhead by the roaring sound of their massive rotary blades. Soon Putin’s Special Forces would blitzkrieg across the entire nation, destroying everything and anything in their path. To make matters worse, the unearthly howls and moans of the undead relentlessly grew louder as those shadowy silhouettes lurking in the darkness eerily crept closer and closer…the hoard was approaching. Slowly but steadily they came, feet shuffling as they laboriously dragged their mangled, reanimated corpses from all sides…
The Priest’s thoughts began to race from the arrival of Putin’s forces to the ever-growing hoard of the undead. He thought about the revolver holstered to his side; and the small, sawn-off shotgun in his backpack. The Church was well fortified, stocked, and equipped to withstand the outbreak. He could easily ride back to it, eat a meal, take a warm shower, and live out the epidemic in relative ease as the Special Forces did their work. It was the logical thing to do.
“No,” he thought. For he was a dutiful man; and he was a devout man. He had a divine duty both to his flock and to the Almighty. His flock needed him; their dead needed him. They needed their funeral rites and he was not going to be stopped from administering them at all costs. He brought the disposable cup of coffee to his lips and downed it in one gulp, ignoring the burn as the heated liquid passed through his body. He continued to remove a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and placed one in his mouth. It was the last cigarette of the pack. Undaunted by the spectral, otherworldly aurora of the night—the night of the living dead—he courageously rode off into the storm to fulfill his mission, humming the Akathist of Thanksgiving along the way. “The dark storm clouds of life bring no terror to those in whose hearts Thy fire is burning brightly. Outside is the darkness of the whirlwind—the terror and howling of the storm—but in the heart—in the presence of Christ—there is light and peace.”

Pluralized
October 11th, 2014, 11:02 PM
Hi JamesR!

Good work here -- excellent story. I admire the tight narrative, the clean writing, and the deep atmosphere you've built. Well done! I will pick out some stuff that didn't work quite perfectly for me, but you should know that overall, this is really good and strong as-is.

Probably a few too many instances of telling us the underlying emotional context, rather than letting the descriptions and character interactions serve their purpose. Examples to follow. Also, I think two or three more infected 'disposals' or 'dispatching' or whatever would be in order. Feels a wee bit dragged-out as is, but that's just me. Maybe have the priest observe some bodies in the street, with some tell-tale symptoms or traits that would describe this "it" thing a bit more. Maybe too enigmatic for me. Hope these comments are useful to you -- thanks for sharing up your work.

your righteousness, and Your law is truth. Amen,” - Capitalize 'your' consistently.

“Pew!” his silenced handgun whispered, - Cool, but... things that whisper don't need exclamation points. :)

It was a grim, somber scene. - Indeed. No need to tell us that, because we got it from the scenery you've shown us.

Those present behaved in a multitude of ways. - Not exactly... they behaved in four or five ways.

some men smoked cigarettes compulsively, whereas others prayed. - Too many words. "Some smoked, some prayed." That's pretty much it.

One woman, a senior citizen and apparently the matriarch of the family, - Using 'apparently' means we're losing trust in our fearless, omniscient narrator. Make a decision -- be all-knowing. Be god.

She was the widowed wife of the freshly slain victim. - Widowed, maybe not so soon. That term would fit a few days or weeks later, but right there in the scene, it's hard to think of her as 'widowed' - even though technically accurate.

“Brothers and sisters,” the Priest addressed the room while desperately attempting with all his might to conceal his own fear and sorrow, “These are trying times for all of us - don't capitalize 'these' when resuming dialogue. That, or use a full stop after sorrow.

and by death you put death and Hades to death - death, you say?

large caliber, revolving handgun - large-caliber revolver.

his newly departed grandfather, - newly-departed

architectural structures crumpled - crumbled maybe?

All in all, the surrounding environment resembled the aftermath of a great conflict. - Indeed. I'd strike that whole thing.

He passed by two peculiarly bizarre and frightening sights. - These descriptors mean virtually nothing. Especially 'peculiarly bizarre' which is redundant.

that was set ablaze on fire - redundant.

indescribably petrifying shriek - Melodramatic. See how those adverbs start to sneak up on you? Maybe lose a few of them.

The man was clearly insane and traumatized with horror. - No shit! :)

Fifteen more minutes uneventfully went by. - Then let it go by without mention. That's the beauty of storytelling -- only tell us what happens, leave the gaps unmentioned. Otherwise we get bogged down.

He approached a brown, wooden door. - You say it was wooden, so we don't need a color. We'll figure it out -- we're fairly smart.

She was a frail young woman, perhaps no older than twenty-five, and of an exceptionally petite frame that matched the angelically soft tone of her voice. - I like this, but think we require at least one description.

and now you’re all grown up,” he comforted the woman, tenderly hugging her. - Full stop after 'grown up' then capitalize 'He'

“He succumbed to it,” she lamented, - What exactly is 'it' at the end of this tale?

the epiphany had disturbingly sunk in. - We got that from the other observations.

It was a ghastly, dreadful sight. The child—or rather, the cold, decomposing reanimated corpse of the child, gazed lifelessly into Fr. Vladimir’s eyes. Its vile, hideous flesh was of a pale, greyish-green transparent complexion. And its eyes—its disembodied, sinister eyes—lacked all humanity. - I think it goes on a bit too long, honestly. And I think with all that description, you could lose 'It was a ghastly, dreadful sight.'

The mother wailed even more bitterly than before, and sunk her head deeply into her husband’s chest to avoid the gruesome spectacle. - "Gruesome spectacle" is her baby. This needs delicate handling, and I'd re-think her reactions.

The miniscule projectile punctured through the undead child’s skull, dispatching it almost instantly. - I'm thinking instantly.

The young woman, astonished that the city’s plumbing was still functional as she turned on the sink, brewed a pot of coffee. - No, no she did not. She freaked out, thrashed around on the floor, screaming 'my baby,' and doing other sorts of wailing and wigging out. This is her child, after all. No coffee. Do they drink pots of coffee in Moscow? Just another thing -- probably minor.

neutralize the tragic threat that has swept across our nation, - Strike 'tragic'

howls and moans of the undead relentlessly grew louder - Relentlessly becomes a focal point, and I don't really know what 'relentless' moaning sounds like.

He thought about the revolver holstered to his side; and the small, sawn-off shotgun in his backpack. - This priest sports a backpack? And how short is that shotgun, anyhow?

He brought the disposable cup of coffee to his lips - We don't need to know that the cup is disposable.

Good stuff man -- enjoyed. Consider taking out some of those adverbs, and maybe do some more describing of smells, sounds, sights, etc. -- it's okay to get a bit 'writerly,' too. Throw a simile or two in there, and use metaphors to cancel out those adverbs.

Clepto
October 11th, 2014, 11:12 PM
Not a bad take on the zombie outbreak.

One thing that bothered me was the abbreviation of his name. When it is not in speech it should either be spelled out or omitted entirely. When it is included in dialog it should by spelled out. Generally people don't speak in abbreviated terms.

Overall it was quite good. It had nice visuals and a pretty good picture of a devout man doing his duty. I would definitely like to read your other stories on this outbreak. The Chinese boy and the prison primarily.

JamesR
October 11th, 2014, 11:59 PM
Thank you to everyone who responded. I appreciate the feedback very much and look forward to incorporating what I have learned into my next written projects.

Plasticweld
October 11th, 2014, 11:59 PM
James excellent story. If you go to the "Go Advanced" button when you go to post you will see a blue W for the Word program marked on the ion bar, 4th icon on the top, if you hit that it, will say allow access. this will take your material and give it the proper spacing instead of just using a cut and past.

wainscottbl
October 12th, 2014, 09:45 PM
“Father bless, we’re glad you could come,” one of the men greeted.

Maybe this is a phrase said to an Orthodox priest, but "Father bless". Do you maybe mean "Father bless us"?


“My, my, child. I remember when you were just a little girl on my choir,

"in my choir" I think you mean.

“Do it Fr. Please, do it,”

Yeah, "Father" written out is proper here. Actually I think it is best to do that everywhere. I guess it's okay when you say "Come here," Fr. Vladimir said.


The Priest diligently continued through the funeral service, reciting every prayer and performing every task as faithfully as possible. Lacking incense, he discourteously removed a smoldering cigarette from the uncle’s mouth and censed it with the tobacco smoke.

Maybe this was done in the Soviet days but I find it kind of strange, even unattractive. But maybe it has been done when there is no incense.

Something else I noticed. You capitalise priest, but priest is not a proper noun. Is this normal to do even in Orthodox writing? I have not seen it. It's not a proper noun so it seems unfit to capitalise it though I understand it is done for honour of the office perhaps.


Only…he never woke up.

I don't think the periods are needed. Distracting even. Should just be a simple statement "only he never woke up" That has enough power. More powerful in fact.



not to a state of Hell and anguish.

I do not think Hell should be capitalised since it is not hell proper, a noun, but hell as an adjective.


which Putin confidently declares

It seems they would say Putin would be said her. Using just Putin in an instance like this would be either deragatory or disrespectful it seems to me. They would not be doing that in a simple news report. They would use the proper name for the president.


Soon Putin’s Special Forces

Are they Putin's Special Force's or Russia's? I would just say "the Special Forces"


The Priest’s thoughts began to race from the arrival of Putin’s forces

Again, same thing


and he was not going to be stopped from administering them at all costs.

Say "no matter the costs"


He continued to remove a pack of cigarettes

I would take out "continued". He just drank some coffee so it's kind of confusing and not logical.


I like the story. Great description and great story. I never knew what exactly "it" was but why should I? That's what makes it scary. Sometimes I felt it was a bit too melodramtic regarding the religious stuff, but overall I liked how you weaved the prayers and liturgy in there as it is good to see the culture. We are talking about Russia here, not America and it is good for American readers, or Western in general, to understand that.

- - - Updated - - -

And I rather disagree with Pluralized. It seems he is a fan of the idea of "show don't tell" which is a too simplified philosophy of writing. I think you show just fine without becoming overly "tellish" or preachy. Like where he criticizes your use of "apparently the matriarch" I do not think that diminishes your skill as the writer to tell a story.

Though I do want to say that I agree with this


Maybe have the priest observe some bodies in the street, with some tell-tale symptoms or traits that would describe this "it" thing a bit more. Maybe too enigmatic for me. Hope these comments are useful to you -- thanks for sharing up your work.

Sam
October 12th, 2014, 09:52 PM
Hi JamesR!

Good work here -- excellent story. I admire the tight narrative, the clean writing, and the deep atmosphere you've built. Well done! I will pick out some stuff that didn't work quite perfectly for me, but you should know that overall, this is really good and strong as-is.

Probably a few too many instances of telling us the underlying emotional context, rather than letting the descriptions and character interactions serve their purpose. Examples to follow. Also, I think two or three more infected 'disposals' or 'dispatching' or whatever would be in order. Feels a wee bit dragged-out as is, but that's just me. Maybe have the priest observe some bodies in the street, with some tell-tale symptoms or traits that would describe this "it" thing a bit more. Maybe too enigmatic for me. Hope these comments are useful to you -- thanks for sharing up your work.

your righteousness, and Your law is truth. Amen,” - Capitalize 'your' consistently.

“Pew!” his silenced handgun whispered, - Cool, but... things that whisper don't need exclamation points. :)

It was a grim, somber scene. - Indeed. No need to tell us that, because we got it from the scenery you've shown us.

Those present behaved in a multitude of ways. - Not exactly... they behaved in four or five ways.

some men smoked cigarettes compulsively, whereas others prayed. - Too many words. "Some smoked, some prayed." That's pretty much it.

One woman, a senior citizen and apparently the matriarch of the family, - Using 'apparently' means we're losing trust in our fearless, omniscient narrator. Make a decision -- be all-knowing. Be god.

She was the widowed wife of the freshly slain victim. - Widowed, maybe not so soon. That term would fit a few days or weeks later, but right there in the scene, it's hard to think of her as 'widowed' - even though technically accurate.

“Brothers and sisters,” the Priest addressed the room while desperately attempting with all his might to conceal his own fear and sorrow, “These are trying times for all of us - don't capitalize 'these' when resuming dialogue. That, or use a full stop after sorrow.

and by death you put death and Hades to death - death, you say?

large caliber, revolving handgun - large-caliber revolver.

his newly departed grandfather, - newly-departed

architectural structures crumpled - crumbled maybe?

All in all, the surrounding environment resembled the aftermath of a great conflict. - Indeed. I'd strike that whole thing.

He passed by two peculiarly bizarre and frightening sights. - These descriptors mean virtually nothing. Especially 'peculiarly bizarre' which is redundant.

that was set ablaze on fire - redundant.

indescribably petrifying shriek - Melodramatic. See how those adverbs start to sneak up on you? Maybe lose a few of them.

The man was clearly insane and traumatized with horror. - No shit! :)

Fifteen more minutes uneventfully went by. - Then let it go by without mention. That's the beauty of storytelling -- only tell us what happens, leave the gaps unmentioned. Otherwise we get bogged down.

He approached a brown, wooden door. - You say it was wooden, so we don't need a color. We'll figure it out -- we're fairly smart.

She was a frail young woman, perhaps no older than twenty-five, and of an exceptionally petite frame that matched the angelically soft tone of her voice. - I like this, but think we require at least one description.

and now you’re all grown up,” he comforted the woman, tenderly hugging her. - Full stop after 'grown up' then capitalize 'He'

“He succumbed to it,” she lamented, - What exactly is 'it' at the end of this tale?

the epiphany had disturbingly sunk in. - We got that from the other observations.

It was a ghastly, dreadful sight. The child—or rather, the cold, decomposing reanimated corpse of the child, gazed lifelessly into Fr. Vladimir’s eyes. Its vile, hideous flesh was of a pale, greyish-green transparent complexion. And its eyes—its disembodied, sinister eyes—lacked all humanity. - I think it goes on a bit too long, honestly. And I think with all that description, you could lose 'It was a ghastly, dreadful sight.'

The mother wailed even more bitterly than before, and sunk her head deeply into her husband’s chest to avoid the gruesome spectacle. - "Gruesome spectacle" is her baby. This needs delicate handling, and I'd re-think her reactions.

The miniscule projectile punctured through the undead child’s skull, dispatching it almost instantly. - I'm thinking instantly.

The young woman, astonished that the city’s plumbing was still functional as she turned on the sink, brewed a pot of coffee. - No, no she did not. She freaked out, thrashed around on the floor, screaming 'my baby,' and doing other sorts of wailing and wigging out. This is her child, after all. No coffee. Do they drink pots of coffee in Moscow? Just another thing -- probably minor.

neutralize the tragic threat that has swept across our nation, - Strike 'tragic'

howls and moans of the undead relentlessly grew louder - Relentlessly becomes a focal point, and I don't really know what 'relentless' moaning sounds like.

He thought about the revolver holstered to his side; and the small, sawn-off shotgun in his backpack. - This priest sports a backpack? And how short is that shotgun, anyhow?

He brought the disposable cup of coffee to his lips - We don't need to know that the cup is disposable.

Good stuff man -- enjoyed. Consider taking out some of those adverbs, and maybe do some more describing of smells, sounds, sights, etc. -- it's okay to get a bit 'writerly,' too. Throw a simile or two in there, and use metaphors to cancel out those adverbs.

Good crit, Plu.

One thing, though: newly-departed.

Newly is an adverb. In compound adjectives that start with an adverb, you omit the hyphen.

Pluralized
October 12th, 2014, 09:57 PM
Y'know, wainscot - I was going to tit-for-tat with you, but I have decided it's bad form to critique other critiques and critiquers' critiques thereof. :)

Edit: -- Sam, thanks for clarifying that. I like hyphens, and probably over-use them. :)

wainscottbl
October 12th, 2014, 10:22 PM
Y'know, wainscot - I was going to tit-for-tat with you, but I have decided it's bad form to critique other critiques and critiquers' critiques thereof. :)

Edit: -- Sam, thanks for clarifying that. I like hyphens, and probably over-use them. :)

Yeah, Sam has a good point. But I was just pointing out to James my disagreement with you so he could decide what he wants to do. It may not be right to critique a critique but is in good form to point out a disagreement so the OP can know that not everyone thinks said matter needs to be changed.

JamesR
October 13th, 2014, 12:06 AM
Maybe this is a phrase said to an Orthodox priest, but "Father bless". Do you maybe mean "Father bless us"?

It's actually an Orthodox greeting. It's the proper way to greet an Orthodox Priest, you say "Father bless" and then he usually administers a blessing to you, in which you then kiss his hand. Every Orthodox reference on here was real and came from my own experience in the Orthodox Church in America as well as the Orthodox prayer & service books. Which brings me onto a minor point that was mentioned earlier btw.



and by death you put death and Hades to death - death, you say?

I too thought this was a bit repetitive with the constant references to Death, however, this is actually a real excerpt straight from the Orthodox Holy Friday service. I copied it directly from the book. I left it like that for accuracy.


I never knew what exactly "it" was but why should I?

It was the zombie virus as well as those infected by it. I tried to employ that classic horror movie trope of not revealing the monster until the end, and slowly leading the reader/viewer into that grand revelation by building up suspense. But I think that it may have backfired into something a little to cryptic. I probably should have clarified more.


And I rather disagree with Pluralized. It seems he is a fan of the idea of "show don't tell" which is a too simplified philosophy of writing. I think you show just fine without becoming overly "tellish" or preachy. Like where he criticizes your use of "apparently the matriarch" I do not think that diminishes your skill as the writer to tell a story.

Well I highly appreciate both of your critiques and found each of them very & equally useful in their own way. So do know that my utmost gratitude is extended to both of you.

mmuscarnera
October 14th, 2014, 12:02 AM
Good idea but the opening definitely lost my attention immediately. It can really set the atmosphere of a book by opening with a prayer but it just feels drawn out. Also having an onomatopoeia like "pew" really kills the story. Taking it out and maybe changing the wording to something like, "the silenced handgun whispered an 'amen' as smoke trailed from the barrel". Not exactly like that I mean using words instead of pew.

wainscottbl
October 14th, 2014, 03:47 AM
Good idea but the opening definitely lost my attention immediately. It can really set the atmosphere of a book by opening with a prayer but it just feels drawn out. Also having an onomatopoeia like "pew" really kills the story. Taking it out and maybe changing the wording to something like, "the silenced handgun whispered an 'amen' as smoke trailed from the barrel". Not exactly like that I mean using words instead of pew.

Yeah that's a very good point. I thought the gun saying "pew" was sort of off, too, like something in a cartoon where you hear the gun speak with a voice and say "pew" and the word even shows up on the screen. "Amen" is a very good way to put it because it adds to the religious tone and is a sense of the finality of death.