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MrTickle
March 3rd, 2017, 12:50 PM
Hey guys! Thank you for clicking and reading my latest short story.



Who knows how those business men did it. They floated in to my mansion every morning (well, it wasn’t actually my mansion, but I’ll get there in a minute) as if they didn’t have to move their legs, as if they were carried by the wind to the long oak table in the meeting room. I was told to let them complete their business without any interruption. I was told to sit in the dark, soot filled study and listen with my ear to the wall. What am I supposed to pick up? I could sometimes hear the start of a word – see – gro – cra – but nothing concrete. The first and only solid noise I heard was the snap of a briefcase and the chair legs scraping the panelled floor. I watched through the hole I made with a bradawl in the study door as they floated back into the hallway and down the mammoth staircase towards the glass front doors. I watched them glide into the black Cadillac, the inside as dark as their black suits. That’s the problem with the colour black; it’s not a colour, but a sheet hiding the chains and the metal bars that imprison something that wants to rise to the surface.

Forty two days of letting my mind wonder, not catching a single great idea. Should I have been aggravated? Sure. Should I have asked questions? That might’ve been dangerous.

I came to the mansion because my book publisher told me there was a man who could help me accesses my potential. I only met him once, is name was Mr. Moray, a retired business man, and yes, as vague as that, I didn’t know which business. He told me in our brief meeting I would find enough inspiration to write my novel here, that my subconscious would take over and I would find the words I am looking for, ‘in time’. I certainly had time. He said he would not return until he completed his business venture. I asked him with whom (my writer’s inquisitive mind couldn’t help itself!) and he told me it was in an old town hall from a town that was now under the sea.

“At least no one will get thirsty.” I said.

Mr. Moray didn’t even try a smile. He just turned and lumbered out of the front doors with suitcase in hand, and grey raincoat and blue fishing hat on.

I couldn’t figure out if anything he said was the truth. The promise that I would find great inspiration here and that the words would ‘flow’ has not happened. I mean, I have had many ideas, but only in my sleep. They came in fully formed sentences, poetic, moving and grand. But how can I dream such poetic prose, but when I sat at the desk, it was like squeezing an empty toothpaste tube. Maybe I needed to stick my head into his fish tank and see if I could breathe.

No, what I needed was intrigue. A spark.

I decided to head into the business men’s meeting room. It was growing dark outside which meant none of the neighbours would look up from their health and style magazines - from their bungalows that were so spotless they looked as though they were kept in a glass case - to see that someone had invaded their neighbours hidden secrets. They were all too interested in their own lives anyway. All happy and satisfied with kids that go to school, a dog that wags its tale when they drop their briefcase by the shoe rack, and a wife that rubbed her hands gently on her spouses knee as she listened to the story of how Daddy was thinking of upgrading to a Lincoln convertible, how Daddy would finally be satisfied with his life. The right choice, isn’t that what we aim to achieve?

Then if so many of these people are making the right choice, why is the Earth growing hotter? Why is the sun getting closer like the eye of our own author finally taking a look at his first draft?

On the table was a black suit jacket left by one of the business men. From what I could see there was a white scratch starting from the breast pocket all the way down to the bottom button. Apart from that minor intrigue there was nothing in the room apart from the long oak table and oak chairs. No pictures on the walls, just dull brown wallpaper.

Later that night, as I sat at the study desk on a wooden chair that was flattening my ass, I tried to just write about my experience at the mansion. About the golf course outside that only contained the noises of sprinklers and not of metal swiping air, and the vintage furniture that still looked like it had just been bought yesterday. And of course, the business men. But was this going to be my next big novel? I wasn’t asked to write a non-fiction book. I don’t know if I will I live up to the expectations of my readers, or that if I will make the right choice . . .

Suddenly I heard the hum of traffic. Usually, I could never here traffic from inside the mansion, but I figured it was because the new city they were building just outside our little town, Slipton was now open and a freeway was kicking with traffic.

But as I opened my study door I realised so too was the meeting room door. And the hum of traffic had turned into a squealing wind.

I stepped into the doorway and no longer stood a long meeting room. Instead, a grey freeway that rifled into the dark horizon. It’s winding and cracked surface hinting it was still under construction. But I stepped out eagerly. Yeah, that’s writers block for you.

I walked on and saw Slipton - usually sat so quietly outside the mansion - below me on the freeway. The houses were dark. Couples slept in their beds, tucked up together under the artificial glow of street lights.

I looked back, and the doorway had disappeared. Was I fully immersed, or was it the same world?

The bridge went all the way as far as I could see. It stretched out of the night like a gargoyles tongue. Ahead of Slipton and the cloak of the night, the bridge snaked into the heart of a cluster of black towers under an orange sun set. The sun was larger than ever, like a dilated pupil. And each tower had four sides. Each side was being pushed and lifted by a thousand men and women as if it were as simple as folding up a cardboard box. Except these cardboard boxes were built of reflected glass that stabbed the orange sky and reflected my town back at me, turning it into a dark and shapeless image, like a young boys drawing of a town from his nightmare.

In the streets of the city, men and women carried walls and tools on their backs like ants carrying rubble to their nest. There were no cranes, no scaffolding, just determination and a clear vision.

And there they were, the business men. They huddled together on the outskirts of the city, holding a large white sheet full of diagrams, pointing to different parts of it. Convalescing on a new idea perhaps.

And there was I, striding over and waving my arms, shouting something.

In the orange sky an oily black mammoth burst through the pink clouds. Its body was smooth and greasy, like that of a black jellyfish. It had the betrayed eyes of a poached whale, the dangling tentacles of an octopus and teeth like stalagmites.

The business men hurled the paper to the floor and stomped on it like it had suddenly turned into a giant spider. All the men and women carrying parts dropped them, and fell to their knees like a gladiator who was waiting for the turning of the thumb.

I looked back to Slipton. The residents were still peacefully unaware, but for the first time in forty two days I was aware. Aware that our author had decided to rise out from the dark dwellings of the ocean to kill his darlings. He knows he wired us wrong. He knows we are forever building better worlds in our sleep.

Moonbeast32
March 3rd, 2017, 05:05 PM
Just briefly skimming over, there are a couple of spelling mistakes here and there such as "Usually, I could never here traffic from inside the mansion."

I see you do well at using descriptive imagery. I would advise you to establish a palate of words you can use for each scene, or mood. You know how painters mix their palate before painting their canvas?

So not that you aren't already, but do this to make sure all your adjectives and synonyms are congruent with each other for the scene. (Unless you want to create a feeling of discord, then by all means, go crazy)

It's not much, but I hope that helps.

jenthepen
March 3rd, 2017, 10:16 PM
This has the making of a memorable short story - the blindness and greed of humanity, apocalyptic consequences and that great ending all add up to a satisfying read. It is a complex concept,though, and you need to tread a careful path between making things too obvious and making the storyline hard to follow. At the moment, it feels a bit too obscure. Your readers don't know the story and need to be guided into the events as they unfold. Things that seem obvious to you might be inexplicable to the reader so you need to stand back and try to read this with fresh eyes to see where more explanation is necessary.

This is well worth working on and I'd be interested to see how it develops so I hope you'll continue to post updates as it comes together.

I think you possibly mean coalescing rather than convalescing here: 'Convalescing on a new idea.'

The Fantastical
March 4th, 2017, 05:26 AM
It was well written and the ending was good. It is just that I personally feel that you are missing a little of the story. The first half of your story is slow and is, for me, a long version of what your first paragraph or two should be like. Setting up how he got there and what he is doing there. Then we are sort of missing the middle bit. The bit where the danger of the businessmen is foreshadowed and we learn more about the plans of the owner of the manor. Where our protagonist, realizes something is off and then that leads to the ending where we learn what is off. We also... I am at a lose as to what the towers are, what danger they bring? What exactly are the businessmen doing? Is it a dream that the author had? Is it real?

MrTickle
March 4th, 2017, 09:29 AM
Thank you a lot for the feedback guys! I will certainly work on this. And the story is open to interpretation, but for me it has a clear meaning but I didn't want to make it too obvious. I will work on certain passages that need to be explained better, and your feedback has been very useful and appreciated!

thanks again :-)

MrTickle
March 4th, 2017, 09:53 AM
It was well written and the ending was good. It is just that I personally feel that you are missing a little of the story. The first half of your story is slow and is, for me, a long version of what your first paragraph or two should be like. Setting up how he got there and what he is doing there. Then we are sort of missing the middle bit. The bit where the danger of the businessmen is foreshadowed and we learn more about the plans of the owner of the manor. Where our protagonist, realizes something is off and then that leads to the ending where we learn what is off. We also... I am at a lose as to what the towers are, what danger they bring? What exactly are the businessmen doing? Is it a dream that the author had? Is it real?


I am 100% going to try and fix the pace at the front end of the story. But I disagree with there being no middle because at the start I set up that there is a mystery surrounding the business men, then I showed something was off, then I revealed that the jacket opened up another world (the jacket opened up another world because it was foreshadowed at the start when I explained the colour black was endless and that it hides something) which is a world where our maker is disappointed with us. He's disappointed that humans always come up with perfect ideas in their head but can't execute them in reality.

I should have have explained the jacket thing better and I will fix other errors in obscurity!

However i I cannot add more to the middle part of the story because it will just feel like padding. As it is at the moment, one event leads to another and I personally think it's fine, but I could always be wrong!

Anyway, thank you for the excellent and helpful feedback, I always find this forum to be the most helpful and sensible in its comments :-)

The Fantastical
March 4th, 2017, 12:37 PM
I am 100% going to try and fix the pace at the front end of the story. But I disagree with there being no middle because at the start I set up that there is a mystery surrounding the business men, then I showed something was off, then I revealed that the jacket opened up another world (the jacket opened up another world because it was foreshadowed at the start when I explained the colour black was endless and that it hides something) which is a world where our maker is disappointed with us. He's disappointed that humans always come up with perfect ideas in their head but can't execute them in reality.

I should have have explained the jacket thing better and I will fix other errors in obscurity!

However i I cannot add more to the middle part of the story because it will just feel like padding. As it is at the moment, one event leads to another and I personally think it's fine, but I could always be wrong!

Anyway, thank you for the excellent and helpful feedback, I always find this forum to be the most helpful and sensible in its comments :-)

So didn't get the jacket thing.. there was a tear/mark on the jacket... didn't connect with the portal at all in my mind. :)

Bard_Daniel
March 5th, 2017, 05:22 AM
I felt that the story was a little incomplete and, by the time it started to gain some real traction, it ended a little too soon. I think that if you wanted to work with it you could come up with something, as jenthepen said, really great. It would require just working with the plot and descriptions to ensure that you get the most of out them.

Just my two cents! Thanks for sharing!

MrTickle
March 5th, 2017, 11:46 AM
Absolutely danielstj! I'm currently performing many edits on this piece, the opening will be less telling and more showing, and things will be explained better, and some of the middle section is going to change to fit more with the theme.

Thanks for the input and the read!

MrTickle
March 13th, 2017, 02:23 PM
Ok, I've made revisions to this piece. Mainly the beginning and the middle patch, and I've tried to make it clearer about the jacket in the meeting room. I hope it reads better now!


Who knows how those business men did it. Every morning they appeared in the lobby entrance as if my own worrying had spawned them there. They would always be in the same formation – eight of them clustered together like a black cloud, their black shades hiding the only thing that could give them human qualities. They’d proceed by shuffling their feet across the red carpet of the lobby as if they didn’t really need to move them at all, like they could have just floated like a lethal toxin. I would watch them rise up the staircase and into the meeting room next to my study (well, it wasn’t actually my study) through the hole I edged with a bradawl in the door.

I’d grab a pen and notepad that I brought from home, and I would sit on the mahogany chest of drawers that camped up against the parallel wall to the meeting room. My ear would be firmly pressed against the wall for most of the day as I tried to pick up a hint as to what was being discussed, or if anything even was being discussed. I questioned if the business men were really lost brain cells trying to find their way back to a broken brain. I scribbled that idea down.

The only solid noises I heard each day were the snapping of a briefcase and chair legs scraping the panelled floor, then finally the creaking door knob of the meeting room. And there they’d go, floating back into the hallway in the same formation they entered, and down the staircase towards the glass front doors. They glided into the black Cadillac parked on the drive - the inside as dark as their black suits.

That was the problem with the colour black; it wasn’t a colour, but a blanket hiding the chains and the metal bars that imprisoned something terminal that wanted to rise to the surface. Tell you what, that idea seemed like a good jumping off point for my novel, but like any idea I had, it never grow into a story on the page, it would just be a masterpiece in my head once again.

“Look, it will do you good going to the mansion, Phil.” Said my friend, Kelly about three week ago, “You know, Tara and Bisping had the same issue you’re having. They couldn’t get ideas, couldn’t think of what to write, didn’t have the time, but when they went to that writing resort they came back with so many new ideas they actually wrote the damn thing. And you know what, Tara’s just got picked up by Fabian House. Isn’t that your dream, Phil?” I couldn’t exactly shake my head, I was surrounded by pages full of scribbles all over my coffee table, floor, even the TV unit held masses of unfulfilled promise, but that didn’t matter, and I had to sell the TV anyway.

She then took me through the writing magazine she’d brought round after her shift at Florenzies. She pointed at the pictures of the large, vacant rooms of the mansion, and read from the blurb stating you would have free rein of the mansion while the owner was away. “It’s a good opportunity to get away from it all, Phil.” That’s what I needed.

Debts, long hours at the bus depot, leaks in the roof, buckets collecting water, no money for any furniture apart from the sunken chocolate bar of a sofa were making life a heavy hammock. Yeah, the mansion wouldn’t be cheap, but it may be what I needed to achieve my dream. I had even planned how I was going to accept my awards, what I was going to say, what I would wear, where I would take my book on tour, what homeless charity I’d donate to - see my old friends perhaps. But I just had to get ideas for a story first.
I told her I would go, she hugged me, and eyed me with a focus and a sharpness I’d never seen in her before, maybe a sprinkling of worry too, “There’s one thing Phillip. You must not speak or interact with the business men who carry out meetings at the mansion. I’m sure the owner will tell you, but I feel as a friend, I’d better warn you.”

In fact, I saw the owner, Mr. Moray, as I walked up the drive of the mansion in the glow of sunlight, the sun was bigger that day, like our author was watching his creation, his first draft. The owner bumbled through the glass doors with two suitcases in either hand, his arms being pulled to the ground. I tried to give the same affect with my arms and not let my suitcase blow in the breeze. He had grey frantic hair and a pale aging face. Strange, I thought, that figure doesn’t suit the husky and grave voice I heard on the phone. He stopped in front of me, but was bobbling up and down like a spring pop up toy. I asked where he was going.

“Ah, a business venture, Mr. Phillip.”

“Oh, is it far?”

“In an old town hall. Under the sea.”

“Oh, huh . . . At least no one will get thirsty.” I said.

Mr. Moray didn’t even attempt a smile. He just turned and lumbered out of the front doors with suitcase in hand, and sporting his grey raincoat and blue fishing hat.

What I was hoping for was for all these strange instances to build up like a fireball and fire my passion and creativity so it would splurge out pages upon pages of story, but the only result I got were dreams. They consisted of me writing fully formed sentences, poetic, moving and grand, but when I woke I couldn’t remember what I wrote. How could I dream such poetic prose, but when I sat at the desk, it was like squeezing an empty toothpaste tube?

No, what I needed was concrete answers, no more pondering and listening.

I decided to head into the business men’s meeting room. It was growing dark outside which meant none of the neighbours would look up from their self improvement magazines and books. They would be too invested in their music, planning a way out of the rotten bungalows of Slipton, out of the factory smog and the long hours. They’d be dreaming of living in the city being built outside the town, ‘New jobs, new me, maybe a new spouse but don’t tell!’

On the table was a black suit jacket left by one of the business men. From what I could see there was a white scratch starting from the breast pocket that led all the way down to the bottom button. I opened up the jacket as if it were a valued antique, unsure if a siren would go off if I handled it. But the jacket flipped open with no trouble, I felt around the inside pockets for ID, or any kind of document that would hint at something. In the bottom pocket I felt a card. No. Cards. I plucked them out carefully, they were photos. Photos of a room I saw in the advert, but it didn’t look anything like that in the magazine.

I headed out of the meeting room and down to the bar room downstairs containing the snooker table and leather sofas. There at the back, I could see the wooden double sliding doors. I edged up to the doors. I wobbled the doorknob, but it wouldn’t twist. I thought about smashing the door with my shoulder, but that was something you see in the movies. I leant my ear to the doors and heard distant waves crashing together as if this room was constantly changing form and shape each minute of the day. I also caught the sound of something rustling in the water, flapping perhaps. That sound was closer.

I could have sold my story to the papers and got the money I needed just to get by, but I headed back to the study.

I gazed at the photos trying to figure out what those black tentacles were floating in the swimming pool. They looked like they were wrapped in something. I found a magnifying glass in a draw immediately saw the tentacles were wrapped in black blazers.

Maybe it could be a story about the business men growing new life forms, I thought. It’s like how we descended from apes, now this new life form has descended from us. Or maybe this is how the business men are born. I could make my novel about a boy who hits his football into an old dilapidated house, he stumbles in and finds these fish inside, he tries to warn the police that there is something dangerous growing, but they aren’t buying it, so he has to drag his father along to prove it, but when they get there they are gone. No one believes him. However, the boy knows this is a threat to humanity.

I didn’t write any of that down. It made my heart flutter and my cheeks heavy and hot. I was tired, yeah, that was it. I sunk and rocked back in the seat, and I leant my head back and closed my eyes, hoping that when I was fresher I could think of something better or maybe my dreams would have something original to offer me.

*

My hands were shaking. My thoughts bouncing around like I had been deep asleep and a noise had waked me. I could hear the hum of traffic. Usually, I could never hear traffic from inside the mansion, but I figured it was because the new city they were building just outside Slipton was now open and a freeway was kicking with traffic.

But as I opened my study door I realised so too was the meeting room door. And the hum of traffic had twisted and contorted into a squealing wind.

I stepped into the doorway of the meeting and no longer stood a long oak table. Instead, a grey freeway that rifled into the dark horizon. It’s winding and cracked surface hinting it were still under construction. The freeway looked like an enlarged version of the scratch on the jacket.

I stepped out. Yeah, that’s writers block for you! I walked on and saw Slipton - usually sat so quietly outside the mansion - below me on the freeway. The houses were dark. Couples slept in their beds, tucked up together under the glow of street lamps.

I looked back, and the doorway had disappeared.

Behind me, the bridge went all the way as far as I could see. It stretched out of the night like a gargoyles tongue. Ahead of me and Slipton, the bridge snaked into the heart of a cluster of black towers under an orange sun set. The sun was larger like it needed to see something suddenly. And each tower had four sides. Each side was being pushed and lifted by hundreds of men and women, each man and woman I recognised from my neighbourhood, they were the same people that slept below me on the freeway. The towers were being built of reflected glass that stabbed the orange sky and reflected my town back at me, turning it into a dark and shapeless image, like a young boys drawing of a town from his nightmare.

In the streets of the city, men and women carried walls and tools on their backs like ants carrying rubble to their nest. There were no cranes, nor scaffolding.

And there they were, the business men. They huddled together on the outskirts of the city, holding a large white sheet full of diagrams, pointing to different parts of it: coalescing on a new idea perhaps.

And there was I, striding over and waving my arms, shouting something.

In the orange sky an oily black creature burst through the pink clouds. Its body was smooth and greasy, like that of a black jellyfish. It had the betrayed eyes of a poached whale, the dangling tentacles of an octopus and teeth like stalagmites.

The business men hurled the paper to the floor and stomped on it like it had suddenly turned into a giant spider. All the men and women carrying parts dropped them, and fell to their knees like a gladiator who was waiting for the turning of the thumb.

I looked back to Slipton. The residents were still peacefully unaware, but for the first time in forty two days I was aware. Aware that our author had decided to rise out from the dark dwellings of the ocean to kill his darlings. He knows he wired us wrong. He knows we are forever building better worlds in our sleep.

bdcharles
March 14th, 2017, 10:07 AM
I'm slowly becoming a bit of a fan. I'm fascinated by the world you have created here - the sinister businessmen, the mansion, the I - what are they all up to? Here and there also are a couple of great phrases:

as if my own worrying had spawned them there.
like they could have just floated like a lethal toxin.
the mahogany chest of drawers that camped up against the parallel wall to the meeting room.
like a gladiator who was waiting for the turning of the thumb.

- just loads of these really smart, clever expressions.

Couple of issues:
One is that the time seems off. First we are thinking about the businessmen (should be one word btw) and then we are back earlier, at a time whdre Phil takes the spot at the mansion. If you are going to jump about like that, perhaps make it clearer when you do so.

Dialogue punctuation; eg:

“Look, it will do you good going to the mansion, Phil.[<- should be comma]” S[<- should be lower case s]aid my friend, Kelly about three week ago,[<- should be full stop] “You know

Comma-splicing:
In fact, I saw the owner, Mr. Moray, as I walked up the drive of the mansion in the glow of sunlight,[<- comma? or something else here?] the sun was bigger that day, like our author was watching his creation, his first draft.

The voice on this is quite distinctive - sort of vague and hazy - which is great, though it can sometimes get in the way of the clear depiction of events.

Hope this helps.

MrTickle
March 14th, 2017, 11:33 AM
Thank you very much for the kind words BD Charles! and I will sure fix the errors and clear up the time thing :-)

Thaumiel
April 13th, 2017, 12:25 AM
Service announcement: This piece got MrTickle the title of Writer of the Month March 2017

MrTickle
April 14th, 2017, 05:05 PM
Thank you very much James! It's very much appreciated!

Pyromanic
April 18th, 2017, 02:42 AM
The beginning of the piece creates a curiosity in the reader which encourages the reader to keep reading if only to figure out how it is that businessmen are able to float into the writer's mansion every morning, but it's never really explained and as a result a lot of the language is lost. Even though it seems like some of the words and phrases you use are beautiful, they never really translated for me because I was never able to understand what was meant by the businessmen floating in every morning and the rules of this world.

I did not like the character or speaker of the piece because he lives in a mansion, and then it started to become really Meta, the so called problem or plot of the story revolves around the speaker not being able to write a novel. Instead he begins to again launch into these descriptions of his world, and then the piece abruptly ends without resolving the conflict or explaining anything.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that this story didn't make sense and that I don't think it qualifies as a story (sorry if that sounds harsh, just giving my personal reading of the piece).

MrTickle
April 18th, 2017, 01:10 PM
Thanks for the read Pyromanic!

The story is open to interpretation, I'm sorry that you were confused by it. And I am aware my writing is not for everyone but thank you for the feedback regardless :-)

C.Stone
April 18th, 2017, 03:47 PM
I was a bit confused in the beginning but it began to come together for me once I reached the ending. I liked the concept of the story. Definitely something I'd be interested in reading more of.