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CJ Tomlinson
August 2nd, 2015, 01:28 AM
(This is the third... I guess chapter, of something I'm working on. It should feel just enough to be standalone, yet leave the reader wondering a bit... comments etc welcome!)


3) Interlude: The Precisian

A half-inch thick, spongy chunk slaps the kitchen floor. Moist and malleable, the sound it makes is almost alarming in its similarity to the first clap in a roaring ensemble of enthusiastic applause. All that follows, however, is a pure and pristine silence.

As he washes his hands in the spotless sink, the older of the room's only two inhabitants stares at the light and airy steam tumbling out of the stream of water. Abruptly and seamlessly, he transfers his gaze to the sleek, wristband-shaped watch midway up on his right arm. Exactly three seconds after this action, he turns off the faucet. He proceeds to dry his hands using a disposable sterile towel before tossing it into the nearby trash can.

Another quick glance at the watch. He pulls it closer to his wrist and tugs at the each arm's end of his lightweight olive-green jacket before taking the neatly-folded apron off the counter and putting it on.

The incredible and brazen brightness in the room, immigrating from the sun by way of the blue-film-tinted glass, is aided by two enormous, rectangular light fixtures mounted on the ceiling; one near an open door that leads to the living room and the other above the quiet and unmoving young man in the middle of the kitchen.

The apron-clad man with sterile hands tilts his head at a twenty degree angle and stares into the mirror in front of him, examining the flat reproduction of his guest in the wooden seat. He speaks directly to this reflection of a sitting man, loudly enough so that its living counterpart can hear. "You are very interesting. Your reactions are not how I predicted they would be." The light linger at the end of each word lends a calmative air to his sentences. It matches nicely with the uncaring, spiritless demeanor of the slowly blinking fellow taking residence in the finely carved chair mere feet from the long countertop that hugs the wall.

"I suppose," the seated fellow asks, "I'd be best served taking that as a compliment?" Right before he finishes the sentence he strokes the mahogany from left to right in short motions with the back of his blonde head, leaving a single strand of dulled gold hair in a shallow crease.

As he adjusts his apron, the standing man inspects the items right in front of him. He takes a pair of latex gloves off the solid acrylic surface, and while he puts them on he turns around to face the entirety of the kitchen once more. His actions are more precise than slow; each perceptible movement a carefully concocted blend of execution and preparation. As his pupils constrict he thoroughly scans the almost blindingly bright room before returning his attention to the slackly seated man. "Now why would you suppose a thing like that," he asks the young one. He pats each gloved hand with the other lightly, and some sort of mist seems to burst off the surface of his latex-coated palms into the light bright blueness. Pausing all of his movements for a moment, he holds his breath in as he contemplates his subsequent words. "I merely mean to say that... You do not seem to cling to a specific sensation or emotion. Rather, your mind fluctuates. You seem to drift around, almost as you would in your normal life. Through the nuances, I see you are different, even if to anyone else you would most likely just appear..."

"Normal?"

The precisian ignores his guest's interruption and turns back around to face the counter. With his purple-clad right hand, he picks a thin, glistening blade off the surface and examines it carefully in the gentler, calmer glow of the nearby table lamp.

The precisian dips the sharp end into some orange, gel-like substance in a Petri dish as he speaks to his guest without removing his attention from his task. "What feeling do you notice at the forefront? What dominates?"

As the cool bluish hue engulfs the world and grows more defiant with each passing second, the chair-bound man closes his eyelids; all he finds is the absence of peace.
Swirls of teal and purple clash violently against yellow dots, all with fuzzy edges on a static background. The perpetually dynamic palette of pigments deftly strobes and molds into unnameable shapes and forms, and the young man feels his eyes darting around, searching for something in the colorful darkness against his will. He sighs, suddenly irrationally uncertain if he ever has or will see pure black. "I don't feel like... I mean... I don't know. It's weird."

Silence once again creeps into the kitchen, filling each inch in a singular swoop. Soon thereafter, it is shattered by way of another loud slap. The echoes bounce limply around the bare walls and immaculate tiled floors, lowering to an imperceptible volume before the seated young man speaks again. "Hey," he says in a dry crackle, impersonating his own voice.

The precisian wipes the blade lightly on the black apron-strap that covers his jacket. He then taps it three times against the raised edges of a metal tray. After the triplet of clinks, he finally answers his guest with an equally eloquent response. "Yes."

"Tell me something funny," the younger man asks.

"I am not much of a humorist."

"It doesn't have to be like, 'ha-ha' funny."

The meticulous man stops and thinks for a moment while he gazes at the small, sharp sheet of steel between his fingers. "I suppose irony can be funny." His subsequent pause is an odd one.

The houseguest opens his eyes and shrugs at the wall, lightly enthused at his host's willingness to participate. "Hell yeah, sure, gimme some of that!"

With silence and definitiveness, the precisian lowers his blade onto the metal sheet. He turns to face the calm blonde fellow, then takes a singular step away from the countertop to maximize aural impact.

"To the majority of people, I would be seen as a monster. Something that should not be allowed to live. They would say I am wrong, call me evil."

"Well..."

"And yet, I accept and present myself as I truly am. I play by the rules, so to speak. I do not take from a world that is already half empty; I do not bring pain into a world already half full with it. I contribute by putting weight into the correct scale."

A small moment with the outline of eternity slowly blossoms. The slouching man in the chair tilts his head and raises his eyebrows, and destroys the silence. "... This is funny how exactly?"

"I do not lie, cheat, steal... Yet I am seen as evil. By liars, cheaters, thieves who themselves are hailed and heralded as normal, as good, as virtuous. The humor lies in the irony."

"... I don't think you fully grasp the concept of humor."

The precisian takes a step back towards the countertop as an unattempted shrug escapes him. "To be fair, it sort of seems like a rather flimsy and futile concept to begin with."

The chair-bound man almost smiles. "You know, I really wish we could have been friends. You'd have killed at parties."

There is no reaction from either man. Another odd pause begins to grow in the stillness, but after a few seconds an epiphany concerning his last statement hits him and the blonde bursts into laughter, almost falling to the floor.

"Oh snap! See, now that's funny!"

"... And flimsy. And futile." The precisian's words do not stop the man from laughing. His dry yet heartfelt chuckles sound different to his host; in a sense it is the first genuine, human laughter to fill the house in a while.

Within seconds, however, the chuckles end. They are replaced by an ambiguous sigh.

Despite his calm demeanor, the unmoving man on the wooden chair does not seem fully focused. His eyes survey the area around him at an excruciating pace. Every surface seems sharp, stark and hard. His right hand shakes for a few seconds, and he closes it into a tight fist. He does not know why.

Another loud, hollow slap chimes loudly before the precisian inserts a long tube into the sitting man's left ear. There is no struggle.

"You're a very calm person," the seated guest says, in his own smooth tone.

"I suppose I am," the precisian answers.

"It's unsettling."

"I have been told so."

The blonde man yawns and follows with a sigh. "Did you make me calm because you want to make me like you?"

A transparent liquid shoots through the tube in short intervals. It races swiftly through the plastic conduit, fleeing its glass-barreled syringe and seeking shelter in the body of the unshaven reclined man. When the fluid stops abruptly, the meticulous man removes the tube. Within a minute the process is over. He tosses the tube into the trash can then finally answers the lingering question. "I did not make you calm. I only took away your pain. The calm is all yours."

The patient cracks his neck. From his left ear, a thick red goo starts to drip out slowly. He does not seem aware of this. "I guess that's a relief." He stares at a corner of the ceiling, where a speck of dark gray paint peeks out from the room's upper edge, standing out against the wall of unbroken white.

"Are you adventurous?" The sitting man's voice is a bit louder now. A very small hint of energy peeks out from some of his words. The precisian's voice, in contrast, seems to become calmer and more resolute. "Funny you should ask that. That topic seems to follow me around. In fact I have had this exact conversation with someone else once. And no."

"Someone else? Who? A victim?"

"...A... friend, I suppose."

Another loud slap reverberates throughout the clean, white space, stuntedly swimming through the fervid brightness.

With his gaze still fixated on the gray spot, the younger man squints, then closes his eyes. "You... You've got friends?"

"I believe you would call them that."

"You're saying you wouldn't."

"I would not. Every person I choose to have in my life plays a specific and particular role. I find it a hindrance and disservice to everyone involved to categorize them all into one group."

"What kind of roles? I mean... Who's the most significant person in your life?"

"Each is singu-"

The blonde cuts him off. "Yeah yeah fine I get it." The rude guest thinks for a moment, then continues. "Well... which person have you like... Kept in your life the longest?"

A short moment passes as the precisian appears to collect his thoughts.

"That story is a particularly lengthy one that..." He shoots a glance at his watch, before he continues.
"...despite the abundance of time we have, is still too cumbersome to tell you."

The patient closes his eyes once more.

"Is it friend-like? The relationship?"

"The closest thing you could compare it to is perhaps... A foster parent and child."

With a cough, the seated man opens his eyes widely.

"Whoa. So years, then? I find that hard to believe, for someone like you. It... Has this person been in your life for years?"

"Yes. However, you are veering from your point, are you not? You asked if I consider myself adventurous."

The blonde coughs again, then clears his throat. "I just ask if you're adventurous, because the things you're doing seem very..."

"Exploratory."

"Well... Yeah, I guess."

The precisian takes a set of pliers off the metal sheet in front of him. He holds them under the table lamp and examines them, raising his volume several decibels as he lowers his head to compensate for the angle. "There is a distinct difference between being adventurous and being exploratory."

"Okay, enlighten me."

"Those who seek adventure are simply frightened little children. They fear being alone with their thoughts. They seek reprieve from the truth. And mostly they find it, though only for a while. They are nothing more than addicts, scrambling for their next high to soothe their pain temporarily."

"And you..."

The precisian seems to ignore the interruption and continues his explanation.

"Those who explore are filled with wisdom, knowledge. They simply seek to add to their collection. They do not necessarily need more. They simply take more if the opportunity arises." He inadvertently lowers his speed on his last word. After a second of deliberation he moves over to the kitchen sink and rinses the pliers with hot running water.

The patient is not satisfied. "That's not fair. Are you saying thrill-seekers are automatically lesser human beings than knowledge... Seekers?"

"No. That is what you gather from what I have said."

"I find it hard to understand, frankly. How'd you go about defining the difference, then? How'd you arrive at your conclusion?"

"Observation."

"That's it?"

The meticulous man closes the faucet, but not fully. He answers between two drips. "I suppose."

For the first time, the guest attempts to turn to face his host. He is unsuccessful. "Are you serious? And let me guess, you consider yourself not an adventurer, but-"

The precisian interrupts his guest.

"I do not consider myself much of anything. I live as I do and do as I will. It is simply what happens. I do not define myself by my actions or inclinations, nor do I define myself by my fears."

"What do you define yourself by then?"

With one fluid motion, the precisian turns the faucet off completely, grabs a small bottle sitting next to the sink, and turns around. When he speaks, he adjusts his volume accordingly.

"I do not."

"What?"

"I do not define myself."

"That's... You're crazy. Why wouldn't you define yourself?"

"Why would I? I have no time for such trivialities."

"Okay hold up. So you mean to tell me you have time to figure out the difference between adventurous and exploratory, but not to figure out what you are?"

"I do not think you fully grasp the concept of triviality."

The man in the chair sighs, defeated. "I don't know if anyone has ever told you this, man. But it's never a dull moment with you."

The precisian lets out a singular, precise chuckle, a lonely syllable half-devoid of expression, uncertain of its own existence. It catches the sitting man off-guard. "Okay, now what the hell could be funny about that?"

"The expression. 'Never a dull moment'. I find it quite humorous."

The handcrafted wooden chair creaks softly as its inhabitant shifts the entirety of his weight, straining to face his host. "Oh? And why is that?" He still does not succeed.

A silent lull coats the conversation, congesting the kitchen and altercating with dim thuds of fingers tapping glass. The precisian shakes the little bottle in his right hand, then twists the cap with a nimble maneuver. With its dropper bulb top, he releases several droplets of the brightly colored liquid into a thin, tube-like glass. He slowly nudges the glass towards the end of the counter, into the desk lamp's path of light.

The liquid's color transforms as it appears to dance in the warmth of the artificial glow. The precisian turns to his guest again.

"Dull moments only exist in dull minds."

Once again all noise leaves the room and soon all that is left is a light wheezing. The seated man's eyes are closed again and his voice sounds deeper now, more certain and with a tinge of focus. "Doctor..."

The precisian takes his gloves off one by one and tosses them into the trash. He walks over to the other side of the room and stands in his guest's line of vision. "I am not a doctor."

The man in the chair opens his eyes. He stares at his host, and vents a detached smile.

"Whoever you are... Is there any beer left?"

qwertyman
August 3rd, 2015, 10:19 AM
Hi, Iím afraid I couldnít finish it. I found the narrative style too wordy and over-described. I read the passage below and my comments are contained within.

**
A half-inch thick, spongy chunk slaps the kitchen floor. Moist and malleable, the sound it makes is almost alarming in its similarity to the first clap in before a roaring ensemble of enthusiastic applause. All that follows, however, is a pure and pristine silence.

The older of the room's only two inhabitants washes his hands the light and airy steam tumbling out of the stream of water. he in the spotless sink.
Abruptly and seamlessly,he transfers his gaze to the sleek, wristband-shaped looks at his watch midway up on his right arm. Exactly three seconds after this action, and turns off the faucet. He proceeds to He dries his hands using a disposable sterile towel before tossing and drops it into the nearby trash can.
**
I have rearranged the sequence of events, introducing the person before the action and avoiding the ugly "As' at the beginning. I don't believe the Prescisian would toss the towel.
**
Another quick glance at the (his?) watch. He pulls it closer to his wrist and tugs at the each arm's end of his lightweight olive-green jacket before taking the neatly-folded apron off the counter and putting it on.

The incredible and brazen brightness in the room, immigrating (? from the sun by way of the blue-film-tinted glass, is aided by two enormous, rectangular light fixtures mounted on the ceiling; one near an open door that leads to the living room and the other above the quiet and unmoving young(er) man in the middle of the kitchen. (on a wooden seat? - finely carved chair?)

The apron-clad older man (for clarity) with sterile hands tilts his head at a twenty degree angle and stares into the mirror in front of him, examining the flat reproduction of his guest in the wooden seat. He speaks directly to the reflection of the sitting man, loudly enough so that its living counterpart can hear. "You are very interesting. Your reactions are not how I predicted they would be." The light linger at the end of each word lends a calmative air to his sentences. It matches nicely with the uncaring, spiritless demeanor of the slowly blinking fellow taking residence in the finely carved chair mere feet from the long countertop that hugs the wall.
**
Mirror in the kitchen is unusual, unless it is plot sensitive I would cut the mirror biz.
**
"I suppose," the seated fellow asks, "I'd be best served taking that as a compliment?" Right before he finishes the sentence he strokes the mahogany from left to right in short motions with the back of his blonde head, leaving a single strand of dulled gold hair in a shallow crease.
**
I don't get this chair-stroking. Is it plot sensitive?
**
As he adjusts his apron, the standing man inspects the items right in front of him. He takes a pair of latex gloves off the solid acrylic surface,and puts them on he turns around to face the entirety of the kitchen once more. His actions are more precise than slow; each perceptible movement a carefully concocted blend of execution and preparation. (preparation and execution?) As his pupils constrict he thoroughly scans the almost blindingly bright room before returning his attention to the slackly seated man. "Now why would you suppose a thing like that," he asks the young one. He pats each gloved hand with the other lightly, and some sort of mist seems to burst off the surface of his latex-coated palms into the light bright blueness. Pausing all of his movements for a moment, he holds his breath in as he contemplates his subsequent words. "I merely mean to say that... You do not seem to cling to a specific sensation or emotion. Rather, your mind fluctuates. You seem to drift around, almost as you would in your normal life. Through the nuances, I see you are different, even if to anyone else you would most likely just appear..."

"Normal?"
**
Not sure I understand this normal business, you might haver overcomplicated it.
**
The precisian ignores his guest's interruption and turns back around to face the counter. With his purple-clad right hand, he picks a thin, glistening blade off the surface and examines it carefully in the gentler, calmer glow of the nearby table lamp.

The Precisian dips the sharp end into some an orange, gel-like substance in a Petri dish as He speaks to his guest without removing his attention from his task. "What feeling do you notice at the forefront? What dominates?"

As the cool bluish hue engulfs the world and grows more defiant with each passing second, the chair-bound man closes his eyelids; all he finds is the absence of peace.
Swirls of teal and purple clash violently against yellow dots, all with fuzzy edged on a static background. The perpetually dynamic palette of pigments deftly strobes and molds into unnameable shapes and forms, and the young man feels his eyes darting around, searching for something in the colourful darkness (?) against his will. He sighs, suddenly irrationally uncertain if he ever has or will see pure black. "I don't feel like... I mean... I don't know. It's weird."

Silence once again creeps into (?) the kitchen, filling each inch in a singular swoop. Soon thereafter, it is shattered by way of another loud slap. The echoes bounce limply around the bare walls and immaculate tiled floors, lowering to an imperceptible volume before the seated young man speaks again. "Hey," he says in a dry crackle, impersonating his own voice
**
Sorry this is where you lost me. Consider consitency in describing the two protagonists. Older and Younger is better than sitting and standing. Consider letting the dialogue describe the way the speech is delivered and not relying on narrative. I hope this helps...it's only my opinion.

qwerty

CJ Tomlinson
August 3rd, 2015, 04:01 PM
Thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time!

I should probably have stated that there's a reason for the narration style, as well as for some parts that seem superfluous. I suppose it doesn't make much sense without the previous chapter, and heck, even then, if it's not your thing it just probably reads as really boring.

But I'm really glad you read it though, there are some errors and things I haven't taken into account (the consistency in description of the protagonists)

Thank you, sir!

LeeC
August 3rd, 2015, 05:22 PM
The essence of good storytelling is to pull the reader in and keep them immersed, period. Verbiage is the antithesis of flow and pacing, which are key elements in keeping the reader immersed.


Personally, I think you would do well to give qwertyman's critique serious consideration as it could go a long way in improving your writing.


This isn't meant to single you out, but rather as an attempt to be helpful. Many times, relative to my own writing, I've found the comments of the "old hats" here hard to swallow, but over time saw the nuggets of experienced wisdom in them ;-)


Best wishes in your endeavors.

CJ Tomlinson
August 3rd, 2015, 07:33 PM
Thank you!

I appreciate what you're saying, and I do understand the entire concept of pulling a reader in and the concept of keeping them immersed in the story. (Not saying I can do these things or do them well by the way, just that I know them and understand them)
I also know and understand that the flow of this piece is stubborn and stammering, so to speak.

But part of me knows that it's just how this book has to be.

WAIT LET ME EXPLAIN

It starts off with a relatively easy-to-read yet slightly confusing chapter, then a second chapter that is more "normal", makes sense, tells a more coherent story and flows decently. Then the book just continues to switch like that. You get bits like this interspersed between random chapters, and all of these particular parts read similar to this one. (I have a feeling I'm not explaining it that well, I hope you understand what I mean)

It does connect and make more sense as the story goes on, but overall it still isn't an easy or standard read by any means. But it's not meant to be, either. It feels like music, to me; if you like, for example, pop music, chances are you're going to say that Noise (the genre) is not music. And maybe it's not, but even then, maybe it's not trying to be. (Sorry, I'm not that great with analogies either) I guess you could say I'm the kind of person that doesn't understand why awards exist ("A lot of people have the same opinion about something, yay"). Of course, not saying there's anything wrong with liking things that are popular, I'm just saying. Also, I know what you're thinking, and yes, I AM a blast at dinner parties.

...At least I would be, if I ever got invited to any.

... But probably not.

ANYWAY I'm straying again

Point being that the tone (cumbersome, somewhat off-putting) is there for a reason, even if the reason isn't good enough for most people.

I understand that many readers will not put up with this, or get too confused or bored, or not get the concept and meaning behind the choices. But for once I feel like I'm writing something that will end up being different in a way, and not forcedly so. It was just born from a concept, and turned into something I'm pretty happy with. And it might be bad storytelling and bad writing (I'll be the first to agree I suck at writing and the second at storytelling), but it's something that I would personally read. Take into consideration, however, that most things I like tend to not be that accessible. I have an odd taste I suppose, but hey. I've grown to be okay with it. Even if it is "bad" or "not good".

In the end I really would rather write something that makes me happy than bend and create something that is more accessible to the general public but feels so much less real to me, if that makes sense. My goal here isn't to get as many readers as I can, or make any money off this. (seriously, could you imagine people paying for this stuff? LOL) And my goal wasn't even to do something different, but now that I'm in the process of it, it just feels like that has to be a part of it.

That all being said it's still not done, and needs a lot of work, and of course has mistakes (a few of which were pointed out and again I am highly appreciative for), but I do want the underlying feel of this chapter to stay, even if it means most readers will quickly toss it aside.

Now that I think about it, I do have to admit that it was pretty stupid of me to post this particular part... or any part of the book, for that matter, considering the way it reads. I guess I didn't really think it through.

But I still am grateful for the advice, and I thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts!