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InkwellMachine
November 18th, 2014, 06:21 AM
Fostercore (http://theselonelyadventures.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/fostercore-horror-sexy-music-and-foster-care-tell-me-a-story-5-2/)

https://theselonelyadventures.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/fostercore.jpg?w=540&h=404 (http://theselonelyadventures.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/fostercore-horror-sexy-music-and-foster-care-tell-me-a-story-5-2/)



The sky was dark by the time the car finally backed out of the driveway. I like to imagine that beyond the glare of the headlights, Mrs. Sandi Carpel was waving me goodbye. As a child, I found it hard to accept that she would just leave without a word, especially after all the hours searching and all the reassurances about what a good boy I was and how I would have a new family before I knew it.

I understand now, of course. I’ve grown up. I get that it must have been taxing to drive a seven-year-old me to and from so many appointments. I was a little nightmare. I couldn’t sit still, and worse, I couldn’t keep quiet. I whined like a rusty hinge. I don’t blame Mrs. Sandi for running at the first opportunity.

I still remember standing in front of that window, watching her car roll off down the road. I felt, perhaps for the first time, as small and as powerless as I truly was. I’d been abandoned in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people.

Dan Hesse, the man who was supposed to be my new father, ruffled my hair and leaned too close to me for someone so new. His breath smelled like clean things; toothpaste and mouthwash.

“Welcome home,” he said, smiling.

When the third bout of introductions were through–after I was re-introduced to Alma Hesse, Dan’s wife–they gave me another tour of the house. This time I paid attention, noting in particular the disproportionately large kitchen and backyard; the two hubs of a small boy’s life. The house stood in stark contrast to the land it was build on, a pristine, white-walled piece of modern architecture standing alone on what seemed to be a small plot of farmland. I didn’t mind the incongruity of it all, as I was still too young to care. I spent most of the night fantasizing about what sort of things I could discover out in the tall grass behind the house.

They showed me the basement, which was still an unfinished box made up of concrete and wood. There were no windows, and the place was pitch black when the lights weren’t on. I decided that I would stay away from it.

They showed me the second floor, which was essentially a hallway with a master bedroom on one end and stairs on the other. Between them were two doors: the door to my bedroom, and the door to the music room beside it. They spared no time in designating the music room as the most interesting part of the house. They told me, very pointedly, that I was not to go inside; the room was on rent to a tenant.

Naturally, I tried to open it the same night. The door was locked.

The Hesse home was good place for me. I never thought about Mrs. Sandi again after that first night. Between rooting around in the weeds for abandoned pieces of farming equipment and generally making the house that much dirtier the way that children do, I was simply too busy.

I did have one complaint early-on, though: I’d yet to see the tenant who lived in the room beside me, as he kept hours that no child should keep, but I always knew when he was at home. If he was in his room, he would be listening to his obscure, garbled music that, frankly, I had no idea was supposed to be music. The bass would pump its irregular rhythms through the walls all hours of the night, making sleep difficult. The Hesses never seemed to notice.

On the sixth night, I finally said something to Dan, and he told me he would talk to the tenant. After that, I could still hear the music if I tried, but it was so quiet that I was never really bothered by it again.

Time passed. Good time. I put together a lot of fine memories in that house, and was able to repair much of the damage done to my childhood. I even began to forget what my biological mother had looked like, yellow and bloated on the couch, the veins standing out purple in her arms and neck, eyes bulging. I began to forget the smell of alcohol, and the house I once lived in, filled with empty bottles and trash.

I was happy.

Of course, I had to grow up eventually.

As I blossomed ungracefully into a teenager, I found myself becoming more and more reclusive all the time. It could have had something to do with the house’s relative isolation from the rest of the community, or it could have been one of the usual symptoms of going through puberty. I was scared of people, and I eventually forgot how to interact with them.

So I withdrew into myself, and then into my bedroom. It became a safe haven for me; a place of online gaming and internet porn and good music. Well, music that I thought was good at the time. It was all of a dark, obscure quality that made it impossible to share with my friends and family. Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” (http://vimeo.com/3554226) and Aphex Twin’s“Come to Daddy” (http://www.muzu.tv/aphex-twin/come-to-daddy-music-video/475321/) were among my favorites.

As pretentious teenagers tend to do, I eventually grew tired of my music collection. I’d probed the boundaries of my genre and heard all that I thought there was to hear. I remember, I was sorting the tracks on my computer into various libraries for maybe the hundredth time when the idea came to me. I was half-way through the song “Follow the Leader” by Korn when I took my headphones off and put them down on my desk. I turned off the music and listened to the silence.

I had assumed the tenant left a long time ago, as the music had vanished and I’d never once seen him, but for some reason I expected to hear his odd music playing through the wall the way it had done when I was younger. I realized then that my tastes had probably been shaped by the sound I’d fallen asleep to every night for years: the throbbing of the almost-music from next door.

I looked at my dresser. The alarm clock blinked a red 3:30am at me. My parents would be asleep.

I put the music back on and let it play out into my room, loud enough that Dan and Alma would think I was inside, but not so loud as to wake them. And then, carefully, I went out into the hall.

The door to the music room was locked, as always. I pushed the end of the plastic ink tube from a bic pen into the tiny hole on the doorknob and heard the button-lock pop out on the other side. The handle turned in my hand, almost on its own.

The room was dark. Not dark like a room at night; dark like the unfinished, windowless basement. I’d seen the window to this room from the yard, and it never occurred to me until now that it had always been blocked off with a sheet of black cardboard. I tried the light switch and a small, red lamp came on in one corner of the room. Mood-lighting, I thought, and smiled. I closed the door behind me.

Illuminated by the red light, I could see now that the room was a mess of recording equipment. The walls were stacked high with cassette tapes and CD cases, and microphones on black boom poles leaned in the corners. Sharing the desk with the lamp was a single, closed laptop computer. It looked ancient.

I sat down at the desk and cracked the computer open. When the screen lit up I almost jumped. It hadn’t been off; only idle. At the time I guessed that Dan must have been in there, probably recording music or something. I didn’t think about the fact that there were no instruments in the room–I was too excited for reason.

As I navigated the windows ’98 interface, I found that the only type of files on the computer were audio clips. I grinned to myself, and opened a folder labeled Sleeping Sounds. I clicked on the first track, which was called, simply, 01. The media player loaded so slowly that I was concerned the machine might overwork itself and crash.

Eventually it opened, and the track began.

I couldn’t tell what I was listening to at first. It was mostly white noise with a very faint thrumming in the background. Every now and then I’d hear some indistinct rustling sounds, but that was all that seemed to be on the track.

Dissatisfied, I went on to the next file, 02. More of the same. I skimmed through 03, 04, 05, and 06. There was nothing to hear, except for the way that the thrumming stopped on the sixth track, leaving only the white noise, which was punctuated by the quiet and uninteresting sounds of movement.

I decided that the Sleeping Sounds files were probably all corrupt. It was an old computer, and all the tracks I’d listened to so far were dated years ago. I left the folder and went into another. The next one was called His Life, and the files inside did not disappoint.

The first track I opened, called Amniotic Fluid, was a ridiculous trance song that started with an ambient liquid sound, as if the microphone was submerged in water. Other sounds eventually joined the ambiance, making up the unusual rhythms and melodies I’d heard through most of my childhood. I could just barely pick out what a handful of the sounds actually were–the screams and cries of an infant, the cooing of a proud mother, and an echoing sound much like someone patting a water-filled drum. The track gradually became more intense, until finally the liquid distortion that made everything sound so distant dropped away, and the sounds all bled through, clear. A heavy bass played beneath it all.

The whole thing put me oddly on edge. I wondered for a moment whether the computer belonged to the tenant and Dan was just using it because the tenant had left it behind, but decided ultimately not to worry about where the music came from. I contented myself with the notion that whoever created it must simply have been a very interesting person.

The next track was titled Mother’s Milk. I double-clicked, and waited for it to load.

The first sound was obvious: the suction of small lips on a woman’s breast. I almost laughed at how ridiculous and inventive that was, and thought of the song “Milkman” by Aphex Twin. As the song progressed, there were sounds similar to the last one; a baby crying out, or giggling, this time complemented by the sounds of a woman in various stages of climax. The song concluded with what sounded to me like milk being poured into a glass.

I skimmed over the rest of the tracks and felt stupid for taking so long to understand the theme. The folder was clearly chronicling someone’s life. The files were all named after some part of the aging process, beginning with the “birth” track called Amniotic Fluid and ending with what I assumed was the “puberty” track, which was called Hardon. I opened that one.

This time the music began with a low, strained breathing, and the clear sounds of lotion-aided masturbation. It was louder than the others, and the recording quality seemed significantly higher. I turned down the volume and continued to listen.

Something about the sound composites used in that particular track struck me as odd after a few seconds. They were… familiar. Perhaps because I’d become so accustomed to pleasuring myself. That’s what I tried to tell myself, anyway. But there was something else. Something uncomfortable that I couldn’t place.

I frowned, and focused on the sounds in the background. Women moaning, but fuzzy, as if being played through a speaker. A chair squeaking.

And the bass line from “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails.

It was a sensible choice. The content of that song was close enough in theme to the content of the one I was listening to now that it shouldn’t have surprised me to hear a sample playing in the background. It fit. It made perfect sense.

I sat for several minutes after the song was over, trying this rationale over and over. It was only a coincidence that I’d been listening to that song earlier in the day. It could only be a coincidence.

And then I looked at the date on the file. It was dated for October 3rd, sixteen hours ago.

My stomach rose into my throat. I felt sick.

I didn’t want to listen to any more, but I had to know. I had to prove that it was only a coincidence, and that none of this was in any way connected to me. Bordering on frantic, I scanned through the files and the folders. There were sound bytes from conversations I’d had with Dan and Alma, all of which were of my voice clearly saying the words “I love you,” all stored away within a folder labeled Proof. In another folder called Experimenting were the stored sounds of me, pleasuring myself. There were eating-sounds and nothing-sounds and sounds of me whispering to myself the way people do when they think that they’re totally alone.

Everything. All of my most mundane and intimate moments inside that house, filed away in hundreds of folders and compiled into sick little songs.

I was outraged, breathless. My skin was crawling, but I wasn’t scared. Not until I found a lone folder separated from all the rest. It was called The Bitch. The sound bytes inside were all samples of a woman talking to a small child.

My mother. My biological mother, talking drunkenly to me.

I closed the laptop, and I left the room with it. The lamp glowed at me through the open door as I put my things into a duffle-bag and walked past it, down the stairs, and out of the house.

I’ll always remember that little rectangle of red light at the top of the stairs, and the silhouette of the man standing beside it, staring back down at me.

This was all years and years ago, now. Dan and Alma were taken away on many dozens of stalking charges once I’d reported them and the police gave their house a good looking-over. I also melted the computer with a propane torch as soon as I could, for all the good it did me. I can still hear the music in my head, every poignant moment of my life paced to the rhythm of a pounding base-line, every sound I utter another sample for the tune.

I do regular sweeps of the house for recording equipment. It drives my wife crazy, but I have to do it. I haven’t found anything, and I’m sure I never will.

Still, sometimes I wake in the night, and I swear that I smell the scent of clean things; toothpaste and mouthwash, like breath on my skin.

Folcro
November 19th, 2014, 05:53 AM
I whined like a rusty hinge: I know I stroke your ego a lot more often than I should but... damn.

The little things you do make all the difference in your narration. Underplay is so important to me, and you say so much by saying so little. You don't shove into my face that this kid has health issues, you just say "appointments" and my mind does all the work for you. His calling her Mrs. Carpel speaks to the relationship of a woman I know nothing of. I felt protecting of this kid, and fearful for him, almost right away.

They spared no time in designating the music room as the most interesting part of the house. They told me...: I think the first sentence should have ended with a colon.

You made an excellent decision to tell this story as an adult looking back, who "understands now." It buttresses the creepiness as he learns more about the music room.

I even began to forget what my biological mother had looked like, yellow and bloated on the couch, the veins standing out purple in her arms and neck, eyes bulging: Welp. It sounds like you remember just fine. You precious little freak, you.

So I withdrew into myself, and then into my bedroom. It became a safe haven for me; a place of online gaming and internet porn and good music: Usually, by the point in the story, we establish the problem. The solution shouldn't come until the end.

This was amazing. The suspense and pacing were superb, and every moment got scarier toward the end. I found myself looking behind at my slightly-open door as I read. It was great.

I think it should be longer, more developed. I think more should... happen. I don't know, and I'm not sure of course how interested you are in expanding on it, but I think there is room for a longer story here. But it really was an excellent read. Very few complaints. The format did make it hard to copy and paste to quote you, made my post look all sloppy. Oh well.

The only other thing that bothered me was some of the specificity, particularly in the music. The only important one was Nine Inch Nails for obvious reasons. I don't know, maybe mentioning one or two others takes the obviousness away, I don't know. Still, though I remember Korn (barely... they didn't sound like they liked me very much) I remember maybe 1% of their work by name (Counting on Me, if that's even what it was called... and there was one other... ehhh it's not coming to me).

Everything I've read by you so far deserves to be read. This jewel is no exception.

Some of the lines that really had an impact on me...

I felt, perhaps for the first time, as small and as powerless as I truly was.

I put together a lot of fine memories in that house, and was able to repair much of the damage done to my childhood

as he kept hours that no child should keep

midnightpoet
November 19th, 2014, 03:53 PM
I agree with Folcro, this was excellent. I followed the foreshadowing and the small clues along the way, just enough to keep the curiosity peaked and the suspense rising. Actually, the artists meant nothing to me, never heard of most of them. This is a good thing, even us old out of touch guys can enjoy the story. Keep writing.

Apex
November 19th, 2014, 04:27 PM
CC

InkwellMachine
November 20th, 2014, 05:54 AM
@Folcro~

I know I stroke your ego a lot more often than I should but... damn.

Hey man, you keep me writing. I shouldn't relish this sort of thing, but I'm sure you understand what it's like to feel disatisfied with everything you put out. That affirmation really helps, especially with small things like this. I actually hated that line until just now. I thought it was childish. Thanks.


You made an excellent decision to tell this story as an adult looking back, who "understands now." It buttresses the creepiness as he learns more about the music room.

Always a hard call with horror. A lot of people write first person narratives wherein the author dies, and I have to wonder how that works, because if the author is relating a story to you about something that happened, you can already assume that the narrator survived, which can sort of undermine the creepy factor. But I'm glad you think it was the right decision. I think I chose to go that route because I intended for the piece to be much shorter than this.


Welp. It sounds like you remember just fine. You precious little freak, you.

This made me laugh. In all honesty, that was just kind of an oversight. Should have changed the phrasing to make it a little bit more consistent with the narrative.


Usually, by the point in the story, we establish the problem. The solution shouldn't come until the end.

Sure, I agree with that. I don't necessarily know that this was a solution to a problem, though. How do you think I could have phrased it differently to make it more clear that my intention was to suggest the perpetuation of a problem here?


This was amazing. The suspense and pacing were superb, and every moment got scarier toward the end. I found myself looking behind at my slightly-open door as I read. It was great.

Thanks, man. That's high praise. I was kind of worried about how this piece dabbles down near the creepypasta cesspool.

I actually freaked myself out a little bit writing it, if I'm honest. I felt a lot like the kid at the computer screen, doing something naughty and risking getting caught by the freaks who recorded the audio to begin with.


I think it should be longer, more developed. I think more should... happen. I don't know, and I'm not sure of course how interested you are in expanding on it, but I think there is room for a longer story here.

Certainly. There's a lot more room for interactions and storybuilding. Dan and Alma (Dan especially) could use some fleshing out. I could elaborate on the time between the child's listening to the music and when he finally gives up on sleeping and tells Dan about it. There's plenty I could do to flesh it out to 4,000 words.

Maybe when I run out of story ideas, I'll do that. For now, I've been challenged to write a distopian piece of sci-fi based on Neopets, and that just seems like a hilarious amount of fun, so I'm gonna start on it tonight. I've also got my books (I've started the writing the second book in the Iron Tide series and I'm 47 pages in at this point--this seems like the rough draft that'll stick), and re-writing this could prove problematic if it gets published. I've submitted it to HelloHorror, as I didn't see myself doing anything else with it in the near future, and it seemed to stand a chance based on the other stories they've accepted.


The only other thing that bothered me was some of the specificity, particularly in the music. The only important one was Nine Inch Nails for obvious reasons. I don't know, maybe mentioning one or two others takes the obviousness away, I don't know.

I mostly wrote this piece as a blog entry. The readers were meant to click on the song titles (which were hyperlinks) and hear what sort of freaky stuff this kid was listening to. It also helped when trying to visualize the Hardon track as I described it. But perhaps you're right.


Everything I've read by you so far deserves to be read. This jewel is no exception.

Well, there should be a lot more where this came from in the next year. I've stepped up my writing game a lot. Cut out all the distractions I could (sold my Magic Cards, got a site blocker to restrict me to one hour of websurfing a day--I'm actually about to be kicked off the site) and committed to writing at least 300 words a day of my novel, and then extras on the side in the form of short stories and blogs (to give myself a bit of a platform, I guess. I still plan on working toward traditional publishing, mostly).

As always, thank you for the kind words. Your encouragements have been an asset to me.



@Midnightpoet~

I agree with Folcro, this was excellent. I followed the foreshadowing and the small clues along the way, just enough to keep the curiosity peaked and the suspense rising. Actually, the artists meant nothing to me, never heard of most of them. This is a good thing, even us old out of touch guys can enjoy the story. Keep writing.
Kind words. Thank you.

I'm glad you found the story enjoyable despite some of the more esoteric elements. For what it's worth, I'm also terribly out of touch. I just did a search for some of the most freaky electronic music I could find and used those. Like I told Folco, I'd originally hyper-linked the text to take the reader to the songs--this story was originally a blog post. I'm now waiting to hear back from HelloHorror to see whether they'd like to publish it.



@Apex~

This work has a great lack of dialogue. Dialogue is the foot stool of showing, it brings characters to life.

Both of those things are true, though I'm not sure that they're relevant. The story wasn't written as an excerpt from a novel. If I'd been shooting for something more like a novelette instead of a short story, I might have taken the time to detail each scene and to develop the characters through dialogue. As things stand, including much dialogue in the story would have overburdened the succinct nature of the retrospective narrative.

There are other factors which give life to a story, sounds, smells, colors, objects, even the ground we walk on. Your story paints a picture of a boy, but I see nothing around him. You have painted the boy, but left the rest of picture a blank white.

Many of the colors, objects, and smells that I did not mention were left out because they had no bearing on the story. They may have given you a more vivid picture, but they would have distracted from the all-important pacing that drives this piece.

You sound much too concerned with minute details. Remember, the point of telling a story is to tell a story, not to paint a painting. If you can tell a story vividly, fine. If trying to do so would hurt the story, then don't do it. My feeling was that it would have hurt this particular story. Sometimes that's just the way things are. Sometimes telling is better than showing.

My feelings about greatly descriptive prose were summed up best by George Orwell (and this is not verbatim): I'd rather look through a plain glass window and watch the story unfolding clearly on the other side than try to make out the silhouettes moving behind and ornate collage of stained glass.

I would suggest you remove all the words that do not help the story...You use the word, "I" 96 times. You may want to concider a different point of view for this story.

Whether or not a word helps the story is in large part a matter of personal opinion. Personally, I feel using the word "I" 96 times out of 2,500 words is not something to feel concerned about, and in fact I believe it's rather necessary to use that word in great abundance during a first-person narrative. Would you tell someone not to use the word "he" or "she" to refer to their main character in a third-person story?

Why would I want to consider a different perspective for this story?

Folcro
November 20th, 2014, 04:56 PM
Sure, I agree with that. I don't necessarily know that this was a solution to a problem, though. How do you think I could have phrased it differently to make it more clear that my intention was to suggest the perpetuation of a problem here?

No, that was just a joke, nothing more. Sometimes my humor is too dry. In fact, I figured the memory line was an oversight, that was just my funny little way of drawing your attention to it.

And I agree about the problem with first person, but I've come to theorize that, in an intense story like this, the reader will forget the assumed survival of the storyteller. Still not a form I opt for without an excuse to do it--- a letter to someone or something--- as it can be very effective in character development.

Apex
November 20th, 2014, 04:56 PM
CC

Folcro
November 20th, 2014, 06:14 PM
It appears you have not posted for comment. If you feel you have mastered the art of writing a story…it makes any help sent your way a waste of time. Good luck with getting something published.

There is a difference between "comment" and "constructive criticism." To say a work should have more dialogue because it is, in your opinion, "the footstool of writing" isn't helping much, especially considering there are many good stories (like certain memoirs, and this story is clearly written like a memoir).

And did you really think it would be clever to count the number of times someone said "I" in a first-person narrative? And then suggested he write a first person narrative without it? Why doesn't he try not writing the word "the" as well?

Not being able to take criticism is one thing, but I don't know where you get off thinking that a writer doesn't have the right to discuss why they did what they did, especially when Inkwell provided a sound, even educational discussion (if you're willing to listen) and actually cited works and authors, instead of just "because it's the footstool of writing"

And then you nicely cap it by saying that your trying to help him is a waste of time. Well, what ever it was you were actually trying to do, you're actually right: it was a waste of time.

Apex
November 20th, 2014, 06:39 PM
There is a difference between "comment" and "constructive criticism." To say a work should have more dialogue because it is, in your opinion, "the footstool of writing" isn't helping much, especially considering there are many good stories (like certain memoirs, and this story is clearly written like a memoir).

And did you really think it would be clever to count the number of times someone said "I" in a first-person narrative? And then suggested he write a first person narrative without it? Why doesn't he try not writing the word "the" as well?

Not being able to take criticism is one thing, but I don't know where you get off thinking that a writer doesn't have the right to discuss why they did what they did, especially when Inkwell provided a sound, even educational discussion (if you're willing to listen) and actually cited works and authors, instead of just "because it's the footstool of writing"

And then you nicely cap it by saying that your trying to help him is a waste of time. Well, what ever it was you were actually trying to do, you're actually right: it was a waste of time.

I see you self published one work…does that elevate you to the level to judge what is well written?

EmmaSohan
November 21st, 2014, 02:20 AM
Nice. It kept me reading. I thought smoothly done. For me, the first two paragraphs were a little slow. It also had a strange moodiness that I liked.

InkwellMachine
November 21st, 2014, 04:42 AM
@Apex~

It appears you have not posted for comment.

Oh no, I love comments. I love criticisms and feedback, and I absolutely posted here to see the opinions of other forum members.


If you feel you have mastered the art of writing a story…it makes any help sent your way a waste of time. Good luck with getting something published.

I don't snort when I laugh. Not usually. When I read this, I snorted.

I am not a master of the craft. I am very very clearly not a master of the craft. I'm not even published yet, as you pointed out. I don't know what I wrote to persuade you that I see myself in this way, but I assure you, I am perfectly happy in this skin, with these relatively untrained fingers and this widely unlearned brain. Improvement is an exciting prospect to me, and I don't know that I would want to go on writing if there was nothing left to learn.

If something in my response upset you, I apologize. I'm not trying to be rude. I just thought I'd explain why I didn't do things in the way that you suggested.

Also, some degree of argument is very necessary. Imagine if every writer accepted every piece of "help" sent their way without weighing the benefits and drawbacks first. There would be a turmoil of misguided writers, vomiting their showing-and-not-telling or their telling-and-not-showing or their settings-as-characters all over the place. We would be drowning in it.

Fortunately, people are stubborn. Writers develop styles, and ultimately write in the way that they want to, which gives us blessed variety and a break from the stiffness of "the rules of writing." If I may be so bold, I'd like to suggest that you read up on the difference between matters of taste and matters of truth. De gustibus non (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_gustibus_non_est_disputandum)est (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_gustibus_non_est_disputandum) disputandum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_gustibus_non_est_disputandum) makes a good pal, if you're down to hang around with him.


I see you self published one work…does that elevate you to the level to judge what is well written?

Why the venom?


@EmmaSohan~

Nice. It kept me reading. I thought smoothly done. For me, the first two paragraphs were a little slow. It also had a strange moodiness that I liked.
Thanks for reading, and for the kind words. I'm glad you found it compelling.

I've been writing a lot of slow-starting stories lately. I don't know where that came from. Maybe I'm trying to shirk off the habit of starting things mid-scene that I used to have, since I was not particularly good at it.

Nemesis
November 21st, 2014, 05:45 AM
Inkwell- Good story. I'm a big fan of the horror genre and once this story got into it I definitely could feel the unease building,though the resolution left something to be desired.

Happy endings (well, moderately happy in this case) are alright but due to the story's length it felt like the highlight of the story was over too quickly; he finds out, he leaves without a problem, the weird foster parents get arrested and all the MC is left with is a bit of understandable paranoia and a lingering fear of this guy (loved that last line tying into the earlier bit!).

This is just my opinion, but I feel like altering the ending a little might lengthen that unease you had us feeling along with the narrator. Perhaps him leaving, him telling the authorities (one note: surprised they believed him at all, I'd think that they'd be more skeptical of a teenagers story) and the guy never being found or some kind of event that indicates to the authorities that this guy is dead, but the MC never quite believes them? Leaving it open with the idea that the guy could still be out there would up the chill factor (for me at least) and might give that final line more of an impact I think. As it is I found myself a little disappointed that the creepiness was gone so quickly.

A couple other nitpicks:

-First line read a bit clichéd to me for some reason with the dark sky and all, though it might just be me drawing parallels to the good ol’ "it was adark and stormy night" bit

-Upon discovering the files and listening to the soundfiles I’d recommend planting that little seed of doubt in the reader earlier on, before our MC realizes how familiar those sounds are, to up the chill factor. All the right bits are in place but it’s not as potent as it could be; I want to feel my stomach drop when I realize that these nut jobs have been recording him from literally day one.

-Speaking of, how did they do it? I found it surprising that the MC never questions how or why this guy (and/or his wife, not suresince it seems to focus on the guy, might want to play that up a little more in the story with the wife either being a part of it or always standing back,maybe not as engaged with the kid while he was growing up, a passive bystander) was recording his entire life. Why him? How did nobody notice? And once he wasput into foster care, why did it take so long for these people to come snatch him up?

-The specified songs; it pulled me out of the story when I came across them. I’m familiar with all three bands listed (which are too mainstream to really be”freaky” I might add) and found it distracting. I’d recommend ditching the specifics entirely or name dropping something even moreo bscure (without listing the track) to avoid that.

All that aside, I really enjoyed the piece and I hope you write some more to feed my ever insatiable hunger for the macabre ;D

InkwellMachine
November 22nd, 2014, 04:35 AM
@Noxicity~

This is just my opinion, but I feel like altering the ending a little might lengthen that unease you had us feeling along with the narrator. Perhaps him leaving, him telling the authorities (one note: surprised they believed him at all, I'd think that they'd be more skeptical of a teenagers story) and the guy never being found or some kind of event that indicates to the authorities that this guy is dead, but the MC never quite believes them? Leaving it open with the idea that the guy could still be out there would up the chill factor (for me at least) and might give that final line more of an impact I think. As it is I found myself a little disappointed that the creepiness was gone so quickly.

I agree. This is a problem I really have to start dealing with in my writing. I'm not a patient writer. As I draw near to the end of a story, I have a tendency to just kind of steam-roll over it. For all the build-up, this story really does just peak for a split second before plummeting back down toward the happy ending, doesn't it?

Oh well. We learn. This was never intended to be a piece that I gave much time to, but I'll hold onto this experience for the short I'm writing right now, and for my novels. Thank you.

A couple other nitpicks...

-Sure, I can see that. Describing the lighting situation is a pretty terrible way to open a scene in most contexts. I mostly wanted to drill the image of the headlights backing out of the driveway into the reader's head so they'd get the sensation of being abandoned, but for all that I kind of screwed up and... didn't actually say much about the headlights at all. Weird how things go sometimes, isn't it? If I'd done a re-write, I think the opening paragraph would have seen significant changes.

-Again, definitely something I would have fixed in the re-write. I realized toward the end of drafting this that they would have to record him somehow, and having him find that equipment at some point (or at least eluding to it--a lump under the surface of his pillow, for instance) would have lead to a much more satisfying/significant revelation at the end.

-I suppose I should have just done my research and found the really underground crazy... trancy... whatever. I guess this just makes the narrator sound like an average teenage nerd than a freak who would spend a night scouring thousands of indistinct sound files.

All that aside, I really enjoyed the piece and hope that you write some more to feed my ever insatiable need for the macabre ;D

Thanks for reading, man. I really appreciate the feedback. Helping me to improve my craft.

Anyway, you'll have a new read sooner or later. Hopefully sooner, but I'm a sloooow writer. Spent eight hours writing 500 words today, if you can believe it.

Also, lovely Avatar. I am a fan.