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Riptide
August 6th, 2015, 08:43 PM
Whoever claimed moving to a forest was magical never stayed out past dark. There was nothing magical about the sticky nighttime humidity or wasps the size of my fist dancing on my skin. Those probably city folk were caught in a Snow White façade of singing birds, and helpful deer. Who wouldn’t dream of taking a dip in the water? Those patches of excluded lakes, or a bubbling stream lost in the forest? A good spot to wash away the stress of life.
To submerge the head in clear water and come back radiant.

Those people never visited Nokken.

My legs took the dips of the forest in stride, going on muscle memory. A full moon wedged itself between cloud coverage; its light streaked through the sparsely spaced canopies .

Nokken, an odd name for a town, especially considering its dark past.

I glided my hand over an old oak, focused only on finding what I wanted. There, a piece of rotten wood nailed to an equally dead tree. Branches swooped low to the ground, cracking and creaking with the slightest stir of the air. Pinned to the trunk was a sign. DEADLOCK, it read, the original name of the town. What luck, I bet the founders of Nokken thought, to have a town already built up for them, and ready to be inhabited. They didn’t wonder why the town had been abandoned, they just thought it a miracle from God.

The first town's name, Deadlock, had it right. Death had locked on this place and wasn’t letting go.

I choked on the humidity. My mom would want me home by now. I could hear her voice in my head. “Shila, what are you doing? It’s dangerous at night! Come back home now!”

She was right, it was dangerous, but the world was a dangerous place. We had lived here ten years now, and I never listened. There was a secret in the depths of this place only I was privy on, but all she cared about was how her little girl came back all mucky after her swamp visits.

I moved away from the dead tree into the swamps. City limits stretched this far out, but the actual city was a speck in the center. No one could expand this far. Circumstances such as unexpected deaths, faulty equipment, even natural disaster halted any advancements into the swamps. But no one realized the signs. All the patterns went on unrecognized by everyone but the choice lunatics.

My feet sloshed in damp mud, the inky black water rising onto my pant legs. The thickness dragged my leg deeper with every step. This part was alive. With every whistle of a stray breeze, or moan of fallen branch, it was alive. And the howls. The constant midnight howling.

Logs bobbed half sunken with blackish green gunk hanging on to every crevice of dead wood. I watched one log, the Lochness as I called it, emerge from a fog. It crashed, creating ripples that lapped onto my knees. Going against the current, Lochness rode out of sight.

That was the problem here.The random fogs, Lochness, and the howling made this place pulse with life. Then again, there could be another reason it teemed with life.

Nokken wasn’t a random chosen name. When the founders entered the city, they went to the biggest building in town, the courthouse. Inside they found a book already laid open to Deadlock's myth swamp monster, Nokken. It made sense in a way, swamps flanked the town on all sides, except for the single road leaving in and out.

I followed the rim of the swamp, sinking into the murky water. Things brushed against my skin, slithering away into the depths. Every new sensation had me holding my breath. But the night let me work my way to the center, giving me only tastes of what it wanted.

Another rumor about Nokken had been whispered amongst the townsfolk about why they found the town abandoned, and why there were screams at midnight, never a second too late. The rumor blamed Nokken, the swamp lord, Satin’s fish, toxic experiment, the countless other nicknames given to him through the years, all meaning the same thing: Death. Nokken swept Deadlock's population one hungry full moon. With a mouth full of piranha teeth, fins tracing its forearm, leather-like skin, and beady black eyes, he killed. A fish out of water.

I kicked off the muddy ground to the middle of the swamp. My hands moved in circular motions to keep my head above.

He sucked them up, all of them, leaving no sign. Of course, that wasn’t the true story, but I knew the true story. The real one. Deadlock thrived as a town. Happy people, happy lives, with only the occasional missing person. Always a young person, in high school, probably ran away to make something of themselves. Not much of a surprise really. Deadlock was content, but nothing too great, and traveling the continent was big those day. The townsfolk all believed they were only runaways.

And then there were the voices. Early on they were low, just grumblings of the forest, but as more time passed, they grew. They made words. Crying, as if warning the people to get away. To run while they still could. Sure, no one listened. Deadlock's population killed several old hags because of it, hoping murdering supposed witches would stop the horrid noise. It didn’t.

The first high pitch squeal rumbled below me in the water. Midnight. Now they didn’t even make words. There were too many to understand. A collective mesh of screams.

I sighed, took a breath, and ducked my head. Under the water the screams intensified. White blobs weaved through darkness. Faded outlines and appearances, only the recently dead having features. Still wide eyes, open mouth readying for a scream. I couldn’t help but smile. It was sad, but inevitable. No one listened. No one ever listened.

Sticking my head up for air, a figure watched me from the end of the swamp. His beady eyes fixed on my face, then his flabby lips rose in a smirk. Sharp teeth rested on his lower lip and he waded over to me.

His gaze canvassed the swamp edge. “What have you brought?” he bubbled from his gut.

How many years had I done his bidding? Six, seven years of leading unsuspecting visitors who had lost there way straight into the snapping jaws of Nokken himself. “Death.”

His eyes widened, a gurgling howl escaping his fishy lips before I locked mine on his. Slick slime built in my throat as he sputtered in my mouth. Bile accumulated, trying to force its way out of my stomach. There was another reason the town was named Deadlock. It taught those who listened how to kill Nokken. He must be connected to death. With one arm strung around his neck to wield it in place, my other hand fumbled with my knife.
Nokken forced me down into the water, eyes ablaze with red hot fury. He didn’t see the blade. Maybe he thought I was making a pass at him. I arched my stomach, and jabbed the blade in my gut. It slid in and out. No pain, nothing but peace. I did it again, and again. All over until my sight dimmed. Now he flailed, but we were connected. Death had passed between me to him. We’d die for our crimes.

Together we flopped to the swamp floor. I never let go, never gave him a chance, and as darkness enveloped me, I welcomed it.

20oz
August 18th, 2015, 05:44 PM
I'm going to look at this with an analytical view because beginners aren't attune to editting, research, and consistency. However, they do possess pure rawness--and you've got a lot of it here.

The beginning needs to be reexamined. For me, it does not fit in with the story. Its voice is inconsistent compared to the rest of the story. It seems as though it were written haphazardly to get the ball rolling. Reread it and rethink it.


Whoever claimed moving to a forest was magical never stayed out past dark. There was nothing magical about the sticky nighttime humidity or wasps the size of my fist dancing on my skin. Those probably city folk were caught in a Snow White façade of singing birds, and helpful deer. Who wouldn’t dream of taking a dip in the water? Those patches of excluded lakes, or a bubbling stream lost in the forest? A good spot to wash away the stress of life.

To submerge the head in clear water and come back radiant.


----

This is just a nitpick, but it's a helpful nitpick. Never go too broad. "The world" has nothing to do with the story.Always try to stay within the boundries of the story.

Your original sentence:


She was right, it was dangerous, but the world was a dangerous place.
Editted sentence:


She was right, it was dangerous.

----

I don't mind the backstory for Deadlock/Nokken, it explains everything. However, Shila's motivation is brought out of thin air near the end. It needed to stand under the spotlight a little more to get the oomph out of her redemption.

There were parts of the story where I thought it would fit if you rewrite them:


Whoever claimed moving to a forest was magical never stayed out past dark. There was nothing magical about the sticky nighttime humidity or wasps the size of my fist dancing on my skin. Those probably city folk were caught in a Snow White façade of singing birds, and helpful deer. Who wouldn’t dream of taking a dip in the water? Those patches of excluded lakes, or a bubbling stream lost in the forest? A good spot to wash away the stress of life.

To submerge the head in clear water and come back radiant.


I choked on the humidity. My mom would want me home by now. I could hear her voice in my head. “Shila, what are you doing? It’s dangerous at night! Come back home now!”

She was right, it was dangerous, but the world was a dangerous place. We had lived here ten years now, and I never listened. There was a secret in the depths of this place only I was privy on, but all she cared about was how her little girl came back all mucky after her swamp visits.

The second hints at it but mostly it just come off as her being curious. Close, close, close, but no cigar.


----


I enjoyed reading your story. You know the neceassry parts, but it was rough. Overall, I think you succeeded in putting it together. A lot of people might not be drawn to its amateur style, but I see a lot of potential in your storytelling.

Think of this as one of the many steps in your writing pursuit. Be it short-term or long-term.



~

Björn U. B.
September 28th, 2015, 06:14 PM
Hey!
First of all, I really like the scenario you pictured in this story. The weird crazy town with its dark secret. I like that kind of stuff. However, I think you could do more to make the setting of your story work. I'd like to know more about "Nokken". In the story you occasionally give information about the town, but I think it comes off as too abstract and short. I also think that sometimes the switch between descriptions about the town's history and the actual action of the narrative is confusing. I'd suggest you not only let the reader know about Nokken, but you let him experience the town. Take your time to introduce the main character as a part of Nokken. Let the reader make acquaintance with some of the creeps living in that town and, in that way, let the setting slowly unfold in front of the reader. I think if you invest more time in building the scenario, the ending will work a lot better. All in all, I think you have a great concept for a longer horror story. Keep Writing. I'll be curious to read more of it.