Sunlight Through Water


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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Sunlight Through Water

    The first part of this story was in the Writers Workshop for a little bit, but I want to post the whole thing if I can (a little bit at a time). So this is where it starts.





    “It’s not supposed to do that," said Serge.

    “Yeah, I know it’s not supposed to do that," said Hank. "If it was supposed to do that do you think I would have called you over here?”

    “Well you must have done something wrong then," said Serge.

    “Done something wrong? When the light comes on I push the button. I push a god-damned button all day long Serge! What the hell could possibly go wrong?” said Hank.

    “Hey, I’m not the one that broke the stupid thing," said Serge. "Why did you call me over here if you were just going to bite my head off?”

    “You know what?" said Hank. "I don’t even care! All the time I’ve spent staring at this ridiculous piece of junk, and for what? What’s the damn point? Who knows, but does that stop me? No! I just keep right on doing it!”

    Emile could vaguely hear the rattling of the button in the background, but he was caught up in his numbers. He had gotten pretty good at blocking out the sound of Serge’s thick Spanish accent and Hanks whining, although the whining had taken him awhile. Emile was so high up in his count that he was hardly aware of much else. Had he ever made it this far before? It was tough to tell. The feeling was vaguely familiar, but time barely seemed to exist down here. It could have been twenty years ago or last week, not that weeks or years meant anything.

    “Hey Emile, I think Hank really broke it. Why don’t you come and check it out?” said Serge.

    “It’s a button Serge. I think you two can manage,” said Emile, putting his finger on the monitor so he wouldn’t lose his place. As long as he had been counting down here, you’d think he could have held a conversation without losing his place, but he never seemed to get any better at multi-tasking. Anyway, he wasn’t good with numbers.

    “Oh for Christ’s sake Emile, your precious numbers aren’t going anywhere,” said Hank.

    Emile sighed and started his ritual for memorizing his place in the count. 4 8 1 4 3 0 8 9 6 2 3 2 0. He repeated the sequence ten times in his mind, visualizing the numbers as best he could before he got up. When he walked over to help, Serge was tapping at the light on the console and Hank was bent double, angrily pressing the button. It was funny to see the two of them fiddling with such a simple machine, and Emile tried not to roll his eyes. All it consisted of was a button and a light on a plain metal console. There was no possible way to fix it if something had gone wrong but Emile figured that he would humor them for a minute.

    “So what happened right before it stopped?” said Emile.

    “What do you think happened? The light went on and I pushed the button.”

    Emile wasn’t about to start taking Hanks abuse, so he stood their quietly waiting for Hank to give him a serious answer. After all, it wasn’t Emile’s fault that Hank had the most mind numbing and pointless job of the three of them. Emile sometimes wondered if Hank acted the way he did because of the button, or if he was assigned the button job precisely because of the way he acted. It probably didn’t matter either way and after a few minutes of silent button pressing Hank spoke up.

    “There was a quick succession of four flashes from the light right before it broke. I’ve never seen it do that before,” said Hank. “You guys know how it works. One flash at a time. The timing changes but the number of flashes never does.”

    “How many times did you hit the button after that sequence?” said Emile.

    “What?”

    “Did you hit the button four times after it flashed four times?”
    Hank stopped pressing the button and looked at the floor, his face flushing with embarrassment.

    “One flash at a time…It never changes,” he muttered.

    Emile could hear Hanks voice start to break with emotion, and felt ashamed of himself. Could it really matter this much to Hank that he had messed up? Emile tried to remember the last highest count he had done. He couldn’t remember the number but he remembered how it felt when he lost his place. He tried to act like it wasn’t a big deal but he really did feel horrible. He tried to imagine what he would feel like if his monitor went dead, and quickly shook the thought from his mind. Emile’s pulse quickened and he clenched his fists in anger. It made him furious suddenly realizing how dependent they were to these pointless machines. How something as simple as a light not blinking could nearly bring a man like Hank to tears.

    Emile looked at Serge and could tell he was feeling just as awkward about the situation. He had been intensely studying that stupid light for the last five minutes, and Emile could see the relief on his face when the phone on his console rang. Serge half jogged back to his seat and picked up the phone. He carefully wrote down the message from the anonymous caller and slipped the piece of paper into the corresponding feeder slot. He’s just as helpless as Hank and I, thought Emile as he watched Serge’s routine.

    Emile was watching Serge finish up when he was suddenly blinded by an intense light from Hank’s console. He yelped in surprise and covered his face to protect his eyes. When the bright spots cleared from his vision, Emile looked around. Almost half the room was bathed in a new and beautiful glow. It was so brilliant that even his plain white, collared shirt seemed to have been dyed by its radiance.

    “Jesus Christ,” was all he managed to say.

    He heard Hank lift his head and gasp.

    “What the hell is it doing?” said Hank. He slowly got to his feet and stood next to Emile, squinting at the light.

    “My god…. is that blue?” said Serge as he headed back to Hank’s machine.

    Emile had a strange sense of déjà vu when he saw the light first come on. The new color seemed so familiar but he just couldn’t put a name to it. When Serge said blue, though, Emile knew that’s what it was called. He didn’t know how he knew it, but he was certain that blue was its name.

    “What’s blue?” said Hank.

    “I don’t quite know, but I’m pretty sure you’re looking at it,” said Serge.

    “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Hank. His condescending tone was almost eclipsed by the awe in his voice.

    “No, I’m pretty sure he’s right,” said Emile.

    “Well, should I push the button?” said Hank.

    Emile was about to tell him to hold on, but Hank had already pressed it by the time he finished asking. As soon as Hank released the button the light went out, and all three of them staggered backwards from the shock of losing the brilliant blue glow. But before their eyes could even begin to adjust to the drab white light of the room, a rapid burst of vivid colors flashed from the light. Emile didn’t even have time to shield his eyes. He wouldn’t have tried even if he did have time. Every new color felt like it was touching a forgotten memory in his mind. But not even a memory. The feeling was too fragile to be called a memory. More like the vague reflection of a memory.

    The flashes only lasted a few seconds, but to Emile it felt like time had stood still. When the light did stop they stood silent and motionless, their backs pressed against the far wall. The flashes were so bright that when they reflected off of the plain white surfaces of everything in the room it seemed to paint them with color. Now that everything was back to its drab, colorless self, the room seemed paper thin, as if a stiff breeze could blow it all away.

    “Okay…. something is obviously very wrong here,” said Serge, breaking the silence. He carefully pushed himself from the wall and walked over to the notepad next to the door. “I think we better fill out an incident report and get someone up here to fix this.”

    “NO!”

    Emile and Hank both shouted at Serge then turned to each other, as shocked at each others response as Serge had been at theirs.

    “What do you mean ‘No’? This is definitely not supposed to be happening. Management gave us the forms precisely for this type of incident.”

    “Management? Don’t feed us that crap Serge. Don’t pretend like you know the first thing about what Management wants.” Hank swept his arm around the room. “What’s the plan here Serge?”

    “I don’t know what the plan is Hank, but I’m sure it has nothing to do with that,” said Serge, pointing at the light on Hank’s console.

    “Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t,” said Hank. “We don’t know what these machines do or what they’re for. This could absolutely be part of their plan, but I hope to god that it’s not. In all the time we’ve been down here, what have we ever gotten from their plan? And now that something interesting is actually happening you want to throw it away?”

    “You don’t actually plan to go along with this do you Emile?” said Serge.

    Emile hadn’t left the wall opposite Hank’s console. He was trying to pay attention to them but found himself occasionally sneaking glances at the light. The colors were still fresh in his mind.

    “Look Serge, it was probably just a glitch. There’s a good chance it’ll work itself out if we just leave it. I don’t think there’s any need to get Management involved. Besides, Hanks right. I really can’t remember the last time anything different happened down here.”

    Serge looked like he was going to protest, but instead he threw up his arms in exasperation and shook his head.

    “Fine. You guys can play your little mind game with Management. But if heads roll over this I’m letting them know that I had nothing to do with it, and I’m expecting you to back me up on that.”

    Hank grunted, waved him off dismissively, and walked back to his console. Seeing Hank eager about anything was almost as strange and out of place as the lights had been. Serge’s phone had been ringing for a few minutes and he finally picked it up, still muttering under his breath about how ridiculous the whole situation was. When Emile went back to his numbers he tried to concentrate as hard as he could, but he couldn’t stop his mind from wandering. It was all he could do not to lose his place, and all the while the colors danced around in his head.

    * * * *

    The shifts seemed to be taking longer lately. Was management increasing their hours? Emile tried to convince himself that was the reason, but deep down he knew it wasn’t. Before the colors showed up, Emile seemed to skim effortlessly across time. His shifts seemed to pass by almost unnoticed. In fact he never really thought of them as shifts until now. A shift was something to be endured, something to struggle through. He never thought counting his numbers was a struggle, and sometimes he almost enjoyed it. But any shred of enjoyment or pleasure that had once existed was gone now, and the flow of time was becoming painfully obvious.

    Hank wasn’t making things any easier. Day after day he would sit silently at his console, completely obsessed with whatever game the light was playing with him. For so long Hanks whining complaints had created the ambient background noise for the room that Emile had learned to tune them out. Now that they were gone, Hanks silence was louder than his whining had ever been.

    And what really frustrated Emile was that Serge hardly seemed to notice any change at all. Sure, the light on Hank’s console was back to its normal intensity, and was no longer illuminating half the room, but the strange colors were still there. Didn’t that or Hanks newfound silence bother Serge at all? If it did he didn’t show it. He just went on answering his phone and slipping pointless notes like nothing had happened.

    Then Emile lost his place. Things were going fine, so to speak. He was struggling to concentrate on the count and block out all of the new distractions when his mind made an unintentional connection. Sky is blue. He had probably said the word sky a million times down here, and he thought he knew what it meant. Nonetheless, a couple neurons must have crossed in his brain and the new color seemed to fit perfectly with the word. He remembered looking up at the ceiling of their room when the whole place was glowing blue. Then he imagined a massive expanse of brilliant blue, zillions of times larger and higher than the ceiling had been. The idea seemed too ridiculous to even contemplate, but it also felt like it had some fundamental truth behind it. By the time the daydream finished and Emile looked back at the blinking insertion point on his monitor, his mind went blank. He couldn’t even remember the amount of digits there had been in the count.

    Emile jumped up from his seat, knocking his chair over, and screamed obscenities at the monitor. He punched the side of his console as hard as he could, denting it slightly, and the pain of it shot up his arm. He turned around panting and saw that Serge had gotten up from his chair and had backed away slightly. Even Hank had pulled his eyes from his light to stare at Emile like he was some kind of madman.

    “What’s wrong with you, Emile?” said Serge.

    Emile looked at him, but didn’t reply. His mouth was full of bitter disgust and if he had said something he would have only regretted it later. Instead he stormed out of the room and into his bunk down the hall.

    After that, Emile could hardly focus on the count at all. Anytime he would start, he would notice the dent in the side of the console and be reminded of how pointless it really was. He found himself wandering over to Hank’s console more and more frequently. Earlier he thought that Hank was obsessed with the light, but watching him now, Emile realized it was deeper than that. Hank was utterly absorbed by it. He would sit motionless for hours studying the flashes of color intensely, only moving to tap the button, or leave with them to go to the cafeteria. It almost seemed like Hank was having a conversation with it. At first Emile tried to talk to Hank about it, but after getting only grunts and murmurs in return he gave up. Sometimes Emile felt himself getting mesmerized by the lights. He was sure it was nothing like what Hank felt, but it made Emile feel strangely excited to think about the hints of memories that the colors conjured for him.

    At one point Hank threw up his arms and laughed hysterically, scaring Emile half to death, who was standing right behind him. It was so shockingly out of place that even Serge stopped what he was doing and came over to see what the commotion was.

    “I knew you would slip up sooner or later you son of a bitch!” said Hank, pointing at the light triumphantly.

    Emile and Serge both threw each other bewildered glances. Hank looked up at them, grinning wildly, as if they knew exactly what he had discovered. When he realized that they had no clue, he waved at them dismissively and returned to his usual motionless position and deadpan expression.

    “Well, aren’t you going to tell us what that little performance was about?” said Serge. He waited but Hank showed no sign of acknowledgment.

    “Hank…?” Nothing.

    “What the hell happened Emile, or are you going to give me the silent treatment as well?”

    “I have no idea. He was just sitting there, like he is now. I was watching the lights and I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, just the same random flashes of color.”

    “Well I guess we can safely assume that Hank has lost it. Case closed.” Serge walked back to his console shaking his head and muttering under his breath.



    more coming folks
    Last edited by froman; February 13th, 2011 at 10:20 AM.
    "The living room looked like Sesame Street after a nuclear war. Toys were strewn everywhere and the smell of little kid hung in the air like radioactive fallout"

  2. #2
    I thought u did a great job with this piece, I loved how you explained everything just enough to know what was going on. But keep it all a sort of mystery as well to keep it interesting.
    For me the most interesting thing was the machines, i really wanted to find out what they were for and i was searching for it up until the end lol, i also liked how you gave the characters so much depth and showed how the colors effected them without just telling us like so many others do.
    I thought you did a great job grammatically as well as with spelling. I didn't notice any of your sentences ran on but i might just have missed them.

    I think you could probably add a bit more description when they talk, it might have been how i was reading it but i had a hard time telling who was who at first and near the end of the story.
    And i think that you could add a bit more description about the room, or is it plain white with just the machines in it? As well what how long do their shifts last? Do they have replacements come in to cover for them while they sleep? And what exactly does the actual complex they live and work in look like?
    But thats the only thing i thought you could really improve on, other than that the story was immensely interesting, you didn't just repeat words over and over you used and i thought you got their emotions across so well.

    I'm looking forward to reading another chapter or two and hope my review helped

  3. #3
    A very interesting subject. . . . it sounds very realistic despite some of its unrealistic elements. You did a nice job with characterization and imagery, and you left me wanting more.

    “Hey, I’m not the one that broke the stupid thing. Why did you call me over here if you were just going to bite my head off?” said Serge.
    Just a minor suggestion--because you take a while to introduce your speakers, I would introduce Serge earlier in this piece of dialogue, like so:

    “Hey, I’m not the one that broke the stupid thing," said Serge. "Why did you call me over here if you were just going to bite my head off?”
    Likewise,

    “Hey Emile, I think Hank really broke it," said Serge. "Why don’t you come and check it out?”
    You might consider adding a few similar tags to your dialogue at the beginning. That segment was a tad confusing to me. Because you had not yet introduced your characters, I had no clue who the speaker was.

    Emile could hear Hanks voice start to break with emotion, and felt ashamed of himself. Could it really matter this much to Hank that he had messed up? Emile tried to remember the last highest count he had done. He couldn’t remember the number but he remembered how it felt when he lost his place. He tried to act like it wasn’t a big deal but he really did feel horrible. He tried to imagine what he would feel like if his monitor went dead, and quickly shook the thought from his mind. Emile’s pulse quickened and he clenched his fists in anger. It made him furious suddenly realizing how dependent they were to these pointless machines. How something as simple as a light not blinking could nearly bring a man like Hank to tears.
    This paragraph brought Emile to life for the first time. I found myself skimming some of the earlier paragraphs because they were too technical, and because the "count" had no meaning to me. Perhaps this paragraph should come before you detail all the technical stuff.

    The flashes only lasted a few seconds, but to Emile it felt like time had stood still. When the light did stop they stood silent and motionless, their backs pressed against the far wall. The flashes were so bright that when they reflected off of the plain white surfaces of everything in the room it seemed to paint them with color. Now that everything was back to its drab, colorless self, the room seemed paper thin, as if a stiff breeze could blow it all away.
    Great imagery; I really got a sense of the room from this paragraph.

    Then Emile lost his place. Things were going fine, so to speak. He was struggling to concentrate on the count and block out all of the new distractions when his mind made an unintentional connection. Sky is blue. He had probably said the word sky a million times down here, and he thought he knew what it meant. Nonetheless, a couple neurons must have crossed in his brain and the new color seemed to fit perfectly with the word. He remembered looking up at the ceiling of their room when the whole place was glowing blue. Then he imagined a massive expanse of brilliant blue, zillions of times larger and higher than the ceiling had been. The idea seemed too ridiculous to even contemplate, but it also felt like it had some fundamental truth behind it. By the time the daydream finished and Emile looked back at the blinking insertion point on his monitor, his mind went blank. He couldn’t even remember the amount of digits there had been in the count.
    This paragraph generates a lot of interest in Emile's world. I want to read further to discover why he struggles to understand the blue sky, and whether he will soon see it again.

    A few grammatical pointers regarding your use of semicolons:

    He repeated the sequence ten times in his mind; visualizing the numbers as best he could before he got up

    should be

    He repeated the sequence ten times in his mind, visualizing the numbers as best he could before he got up.
    A shift was something to be endured; something to struggle through.

    should be

    A shift was something to be endured, something to struggle through.
    I was watching the lights and I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary; just the same random flashes of color.

    should be

    I was watching the lights and I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, just the same random flashes of color.
    You also omit commas in a few places that I think require them; for example, "When he realized that they had no clue he waved at them dismissively . . ." should probably be "When he realized that they had no clue, he waved at them dismissively . . ."

    But this was a very interesting piece, and not a difficult read at all. I look forward to reading the next segment!
    Last edited by Purple Rain; August 12th, 2010 at 07:38 AM.

  4. #4
    Member froman's Avatar
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    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the reading and for the critiques. I'm going to fix the minor stuff now and save the deeper fixes for a full revision later. I really appreciate the feedback. I'm going to post another chapter or so after I finish formatting it for the web.

    Later
    "The living room looked like Sesame Street after a nuclear war. Toys were strewn everywhere and the smell of little kid hung in the air like radioactive fallout"

  5. #5
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    Lightbulb continued

    And the story goes on... Not really in chapters, but more like sections for now. Enjoy and let me know what you think!



    Emile pushed through the throngs of people in the cafeteria and picked up his sandwich and bottled water from the conveyor on the far wall. Leaving the crowded lunch line he began his well worn path between the mazes of tables to where he, Serge and Hank ate. The cafeteria’s size and capacity was only surpassed by its absolute mediocrity. It was a virtual sea of humanity, all clothed in identical white collard shirts and black slacks. The air was filled with the dull murmurs of people who insisted on talking despite having nothing to say.

    Emile’s table, however, had not been adding much to the subdued cacophony lately. Normally it was Hank that would do most of the talking when they ate. Serge would occasionally dispute him on some point or another, but Hank could usually go the whole meal bouncing his thoughts off of an uninterested audience. Emile never had much to say. He suspected that he was part of the rare group of people who chose not to speak unless they had something worth saying. Down here that didn’t happen much.

    Now, ever since his console changed, Hank had hardly said a word in the cafeteria or in their room. Serge had tried to take up some of the conversational slack but after failing miserably he gave up, and Emile certainly didn’t feel like taking his place. All that Hank did now was sit quietly and methodically munch on his sandwich, staring off into space with the same vapid expression he wore at his console.

    This was exactly what he was doing when Emile finally reached their table and sat down next to him, so naturally it surprised Emile when Hank carefully put his sandwich down and did speak.

    “You know, ever since that console changed on me I haven’t really felt like my self,” said Hank.

    “Well look who’s finally decided to rejoin the world of the living.” said Serge.

    “It’s funny you should say that, because ever since that light changed I feel like I have rejoined the living.”

    “….And we’ve lost him again,” said Serge, chuckling as he bit into his sandwich.

    “I’m trying to be serious with you Serge,” said Hank calmly.

    “What are you getting at?” said Emile, flashing Serge an irritated glance. He may not care but Emile needed answers.

    “I didn’t want to bring it up until I was positive I was right. I’m still not sure I should bring it up, but we all agreed to keep up this experiment--” Serge was about to interject but Hank held out his hand. “-- Even though some of us weren’t as enthusiastic about it as others, I still wouldn’t feel right about keeping them in the dark. I think we all need to hear this.”

    Hank looked them both in the eyes. Serge leaned back in his chair with an amused smirk. Emile nodded solemnly.

    “When the light first started flashing the new colors I thought they were random and meaningless, not that I cared much. Hell, anything was better than what I was doing before, but after awhile I started noticing some… regularity.”

    “Regularity?” said Emile.

    “Yeah. Some parts of the color sequences started looking familiar after awhile. I thought this was just a coincidence, but the more I studied it the more parts of the sequences I recognized.

    “Something else was happening as well. Every time I pushed the button the light reacted, but not like it used to before the colors appeared. That was just simply matching the flash with a button press. Now when I press it the entire order of the flash sequences is changed. I thought that was random as well, but just a few days ago I realized it wasn’t.”

    “Was that when you had your little fit of laughter?” said Serge.

    “I’m not sure,” said Hank. “I haven’t really been noticing time lately.”

    This struck Emile as amusing, seeing how he was experiencing the exact opposite perception of time as Hank. But the amusement quickly fled as another thought came to Emile. If Hank was only now skimming across time as Emile had done for as long as he could remember, did that mean that before the light changed Hank had been suffering through endless mind-numbing shifts like Emile was doing now?

    “So how did you know that the sequence orders weren’t random?” said Emile, forcing the previous thought from his head.

    “I noticed that there were a few common sequences that would flash right after I pressed the button in certain ways. When I finally realized the button pattern that brought them up, it all clicked. All of the sequences are divided into sets. Those few common sequences are identifiers letting me know that I’d entered a new set.”

    Hank was speaking quickly, and was barely able to contain his excitement. His eyes darted around as if to make sure no one else was listening in.

    “So what do you think it means?” said Emile.

    “The whole thing is connected! It’s has a recognizable pattern and it’s suggesting a larger organized structure.”

    “So what?” said Serge bluntly. “So this new console program has a recognizable pattern to it? Management probably gave it to you because they need you to do different work.”

    “I thought about that as well, but that explanation leaves something out,” said Hank.

    “I don’t see what it could possibly be missing, but by all means, enlighten us,” said Serge.

    Hank suddenly seemed reluctant to continue. He slumped back into his chair and began fiddling with his half eaten sandwich. Emile wasn’t going to let him stop now though.

    “What did it leave out Hank?” said Emile. It came out a little more forcefully than he had intended. Hank stared back at Emile for a moment, contemplating his sincerity perhaps, and then spoke.

    “Alright, but your going to think I’m some kind of nutcase.”

    “We already think you’re a nutcase Hank, so you might as well keep going,” said Serge.

    Hank leaned in close and spoke in a hushed tone, making sure no one else could hear.

    “The entire time I’ve been working with the lights and deciphering the patterns I’ve been having this constant intense feeling of déjà vu. I shouldn’t even call it déjà vu though, because it’s so much stronger than that. I’m certain that I’ve done this type of work before.”

    “You mean working with colored light sequences?” said Emile.

    “No, not that specifically,” said Hank. “Patterns and codes, that type of stuff. Like when I’m trying to figure out how a specific pattern of flashes corresponds to another, there are all these little tricks I think of to make it easier. They just pop into my head out of nowhere. I couldn’t have learned those down here. But it’s not just little things like those tricks. I have this overpowering feeling that I did this type of thing for a long time, somewhere else.”

    “Like a different room or on another console?” said Serge.

    “No,” said Hank. “Not down here. Somewhere far away from this place.”

    Hank sat back in his seat and looked at Serge who was gazing back at him skeptically. Emile knew that Serge wasn’t buying any of it, but he honestly couldn’t care less what Serge was willing to believe. All Emile could think about were the colors.

    “When the light changed colors that first time I had a similar feeling of déjà vu. It was like the new colors were helping me remember things,” said Emile.

    “Really!” said Hank, once again leaning forward in his chair.

    “It wasn’t a strong feeling, and I couldn’t remember anything specific, but I’ve never felt anything like it before. I couldn’t clearly see the memories but I knew that they were there, like they were just around the corner and I couldn’t get to them.”

    “I knew it!” said Hank. “I knew this was too big to be some kind of coincidence.”

    “Now hold on a minute,” said Serge. “Emile, you’re not actually going along with this are you? You both are just getting caught up in some ridiculous delusion. You’re creating this whole thing yourselves.”

    “It’s not a delusion Serge. And despite what you may think I’m not insane. This is the most sane I’ve ever felt in my life,” said Hank.

    “It’s just déjà vu Hank. You said it yourself. There’s no evidence to back it up.”

    “Then how did you know it was blue?” said Emile.

    “How did I know what was blue?” said Serge.

    “The first time the light changed and lit up the whole room, you called the color blue. I didn’t know what to call it until you said that, but when you did I knew you were right.”

    Serge stared back at Emile coldly. Emile could almost hear his mind struggling to find a suitable answer.

    “How could you possibly have known to call it blue, Serge? Can you ever remember seeing blue down here before the light changed? Or maybe that was one of your so called delusions,” said Emile.

    “That’s enough Emile! You and Hank can do what you wish. I can’t stop you, but I sure as hell won’t let you suck me into this game of yours. I should have never agreed to it in the first place, and from now on you can count me out.”

    Serge’s voice had risen and the people sitting around them were starting to notice. Neither Hank nor Emile had ever seen Serge that angry before, and when he stormed out of the cafeteria they both sat in silence for awhile.

    “You don’t think he’ll fill out an incident report do you?” said Hank finally.

    “He won’t,” said Emile. “He may be angry now but he said he wouldn’t and I believe him. Serge is a man of his word. Spanish honor I guess.”

    Hank chuckled half-heartedly at that, and they ate the rest of their sandwiches in silence.

    * * * *

    When they got back to their room Serge didn’t even bother looking up from his console. Hank looked like he was going to say something but Emile touched his shoulder and shook his head. Nothing he could say would make Serge change his mind if he didn’t want to. Serge may have had honor, but he also had plenty of pride to go along with it. Emile knew that it was best to leave Serge alone for now and let him come around eventually, assuming he ever could.

    When Emile reached his console he slumped into his chair and stared blankly at the monitor. The insertion point blinked on and off, patiently waiting for him to start the count. Emile rested his hands on the keypad and began pressing the buttons. One thousand, six hundred and twenty seven. One thousand, six hundred and twenty eight. Even though Emile had lost almost all his passion for counting he still found himself coming out of his daydreams a few thousand numbers deep. It was almost involuntary, like breathing. Emile glanced over his shoulder at Serge who was diligently taking messages and writing down notes. Was that how it was supposed to be? Would Emile’s mind suffocate if he stopped the count entirely, and was this new found excitement he was experiencing just a symptom of that suffocation? Like the euphoria felt before drowning, was this the final warning before his decent into insanity?

    Emile found his hand reaching out and caressing the dent in the side of the console. He had been doing it more and more frequently lately. He knew that his own anger had created it, but it almost seemed to be telling him something. Just like Hanks light, it was an imperfection in a cold and sterile environment. Its mere existence seemed to scream to him that change was possible. This wasn’t insanity, the count was insanity. Serge’s messages were insanity. Ever since the light had changed something about that change had felt right to Emile. Knowing what that felt like, and knowing that he had never experienced it before, the count was now meaningless. He did it anyway, but it was just a withdrawal symptom. It was methadone.

    It did pass the time though, and it gave him something to do when he was thinking. All this time he thought he couldn’t multi-task, and now he did it almost unconsciously. It wasn’t dangerous anymore because the addiction was broken. He couldn’t go back even if he wanted to, so if his hands insisted on counting he would let them.

    “Hijo? Hijo, es que usted?!”

    The anguished cry pierced the silence, and Emile nearly fell out of his chair from the shock of it. He wheeled around and saw Serge hunched over, clutching the phone with both hands and screaming into the receiver.

    “Háblame Hijo, por favor hábleme!”

    Hank jumped out of his seat and ran over to Serge. Seeing Hank in action finally jolted Emile out of his state of shock, and he also got up. Serge was crying hysterically and screaming into the phone. Emile knew the first part had been in Spanish but it was almost incoherent now. Was he being electrocuted? Emile tried to grab the phone but Serge pushed him so hard that he fell over and slid halfway across the room.

    “Serge, Can you hear me!?” yelled Hank, shaking him violently.

    “Come back to me Son! Vuelto a mí por favor!” Serge punched his consol over and over and the blood from his knuckles splattered across its white surface.

    “Emile, help me grab him!” screamed Hank.

    Emile quickly got off of the floor and jumped onto Serge’s back. Serge wasn’t any bigger than Emile, but he and Hank had to struggle to pull him from his chair and wrestle the phone from his grasp. When they finally got him to the ground Serge was sobbing uncontrollably.

    “It’s okay Serge, it’s over now,” said Hank, attempting to sound reassuring over the shakiness of his own voice. After a moment Serge shrugged off their hands, got up, and stumbled out of the room. They heard the door to his bunk click shut. Emile and Hank sat on the floor speechless, watching the phone swing back and forth from its cord where it hung from the console.

    “What the hell was that Emile?” said Hank.

    Emile pointed silently at the dangling phone. They looked at each other for a moment, unsure of what to do, then Emile slowly got off the floor, picked up the phone, and sat in Serge’s chair. When he brought it to his ear all he heard was a low frequency hissing noise, like static. It rose and fell in tone rhythmically, and Emile could also hear faint clicking sounds in the background.

    “What is it?” said Hank. Emile handed him the phone. After a moment Hank handed it back and Emile hung the receiver back into its cradle.

    “All you heard was static right?” said Emile.

    “Yeah,” said Hank. “What do you think this means?”

    “Well the easy answer is that Serge is insane, but considering recent events I’m a little reluctant to jump to that conclusion.”

    “You have to appreciate the irony of it though,” said Hank. He started to chuckle but quickly stopped and coughed awkwardly. Emile saw that he was blushing slightly, and knew he was ashamed for saying it.

    “Maybe we should go check on him,” said Emile. Hank nodded and they walked into the hallway to Serge’s bunk. The door was locked and after knocking several times with no response Emile turned to Hank.

    “I think he just needs some time alone. He wasn’t ready like we were. I don’t think he wanted things to change.”

    “So you believe him?” said Hank.

    “I’m not sure what I believe right now, but Serge is the last person that would make this up. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

    They walked back into their room and Hank headed over to his own console. The light must be calling to him, thought Emile. Nothing was calling to Emile, least of all his numbers, so he lingered at Serge’s console. He picked the phone up from its cradle and put it to his ear, but hearing only silence, he put it back. He looked at the dried blood crusting on the surface of the console; just another imperfection in their cold and sterile environment.


    more coming
    "The living room looked like Sesame Street after a nuclear war. Toys were strewn everywhere and the smell of little kid hung in the air like radioactive fallout"

  6. #6
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    Over the next couple of days Serge’s phone rang continuously. Emile had picked it up the first time but after hearing nothing but the same low frequency hissing he didn’t answer it again. The truth was he didn’t want to go near it, and he suspected Hank felt the same. The noise coming from the receiver gave him the creeps. The low rhythmic static seemed to mesmerize him, almost like Hank’s light had, but whereas the light gave Emile a sense of sweet nostalgia, the static left a sickly, terrible feeling in his gut. So they let the phone sit unanswered, and its incessant ringing served as a continuous reminder of Serge’s absence.

    His door had remained locked, and Emile hadn’t seen him emerge once. Before he went to bed Emile would press his ear to the door and listen, but he heard only silence. Hank had been leaving sandwiches outside the door for Serge after they got back from the cafeteria, but when they left for their next meal, the sandwich would still be sitting outside the door, untouched. Hank would quietly throw it away and replace it with a fresh one every time. Emile was about to tell him to stop, but when he saw how somber and serious Hank was, he changed his mind. Emile had a feeling that Hank felt responsible for what happened to Serge. After all it was Hank that had upset him, by revealing the truth about the light.

    By the third day Emile was starting to get worried. They hadn’t heard a peep from Serge and he still hadn’t eaten anything.

    When they got back from breakfast they spent at least five minutes pounding on Serge’s door and begging him to come out, but they finally gave up after hearing no response. Emile followed Hank back to his console and leaned against it as Hank slumped into his chair, rubbing his forehead in frustration.

    “He’s going to starve to death if he doesn’t come out of their soon,” said Emile.

    “What if something’s really wrong,” said Hank. “We haven’t heard a damn thing out of him for days. Maybe we should try and get some help.” Emile followed Hank’s gaze toward the incident reports hanging next to the door.

    “Management will want to know what happened,” said Emile.

    “We could tell them we had an argument. They might not even check out the consoles,” said Hank.

    “They would have to be pretty careless not to notice Serge’s. Even if we manage to get the blood off of it, there are still all those dents,” Emile didn’t mention the dent on his own console. “And what about the light? Do you have any way of turning it off?”

    Hank looked at the light which was steadily blinking blue and shook his head.

    “We’ve got to get into that room somehow. Maybe if we take him out to the main corridor we could say he just collapsed or something. If they think it happened outside our room they might not check it out. It’s a long shot but it’s the only way to keep them from finding out about the consoles,” said Emile.

    “And if they find out about the consoles now they’re going to want to know why we didn’t tell them about it earlier,” said Hank. Emile nodded gravely.

    “I didn’t tell you about this before Emile, but that organized structure that I thought the lights were hinting at… I think it may be Managements computer system.”

    “What!?” said Emile.

    “What else could it be? We agreed that they couldn’t have assigned it to us. That wouldn’t explain the déjà vu. Besides, the structure is too complex for that. If they didn’t knowingly give me access than it must be part of their system,” said Hank.

    “I’m sure they would be real happy about that,” said Emile.

    “They can’t find out that I’ve been in their system Emile,” said Hank. He looked genuinely afraid.

    “Well we can’t just leave Serge in that room. We have to get in there somehow and find out if something is really wrong with him. If that’s the case, then we can start worrying about Management,” said Emile.

    Hank was about to say something but stopped suddenly. Emile also noticed that something had happened, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. It seemed like something was missing; like a hush had settled over the room.

    “The phone!” said Hank.

    They both nearly fell over each other getting around Hank’s console, and when they did they saw Serge standing with the phone to his ear. He looked tired. His cloths were rumpled and his eyes were dull, almost lifeless. It looked like he was mumbling to himself, but then he would stop for a minute and start up again. What was he doing? He couldn’t be talking to someone could he? Emile couldn’t ever remember Serge talking to anyone on that phone. He just listened to the messages, wrote them down, and put them into the feeder slot. That’s how it worked.

    Serge nodded and whispered one last time before carefully hanging up the phone. He stood for a long time staring at it without moving. Emile wasn’t sure what to say so he decided to start in the thick of it.

    “Was that your son?” he said. He wasn’t sure it was a wise choice, especially the way Hank glared at him, but Serge didn’t even flinch. He calmly turned away from the phone and leveled his gaze at Emile.

    “Yes,” said Serge.


    Now Hank turned to Serge, mouth agape, but Serge took no notice of Hank’s astonishment.


    “What did he say?” said Emile.

    “He said he wanted to forgive me for what I had done to him,” said Serge. Tears were welling in his eyes but he quickly wiped them away.

    “What did you do?” said Hank.


    “I don’t know, but I know it was bad. He said I would remember soon enough. I told him I was sorry and he said he was sorry too. He was sorry for what I was going to have to face,” said Serge. “That doesn’t matter now though because he said I have to work at my console again. He changed it for me. It’s important now,” His expression had changed from sorrow to grim determination.

    “Well, what’s so important about it now?” said Emile.

    “If I knew that I wouldn’t have to work on anything, would I Emile,” Serge laughed and the tension immediately vanished from the room.

    “You know you scared the hell out of us, pulling that little disappearing act,” said Hank. “You do that again and I really will give you something to sulk about.” Hank pushed Serge playfully.

    “I’m sorry I did that, but there was a lot for me to come to terms with. I realized that you were right Hank. Whatever’s happening involves all of us and we have to stick together or we’ll never figure it out.”


    Emile was happy that Serge was alright and he laughed and joked with him and Hank, but something Serge said stuck in Emile’s mind. It was bothering him more and more by the minute and he had to pursue it.

    “You said your son told you he was sorry for what you were going to have to face. What do you think he meant by that?” said Emile. The way they both quieted down told him he wasn’t the only one thinking of it.


    “I thought a lot about that when I was in my room,” said Serge. “We’re heading towards something big you guys. I think you both already knew it, and I was trying to hide from it but I’m done with that now. I feel like I just woke up for the first time in my life. Something is coming and I’m not sure if we’re walking towards it or if it’s pulling us in. All I know is that what I had before wasn’t a life. If figuring out what’s going on gets me closer to what life really is, then I’m willing to take my chances.”

    “And what if what were doing is taking us farther away from that life?” said Emile.
    “I don’t think you believe that,” said Serge, smiling slightly. “But even if you’re right and we are just digging ourselves deeper, I’d rather destroy myself trying than go back to what I had before.”


    Emile thought about going back to how it was before, and found that he could barely recall what it had been like. The memory of his entire life before the light appeared was blurring together, and why shouldn’t it? Life, he realized now, was made up of events, high points and low points, and all of them were significant. There had been nothing significant about his life before, so there was nothing to remember. His memory had atrophied in a life that had no need for it, and now that it was needed, any memories he had of life before the light were dwarfed by events in this new life.


    Maybe I should start splitting my life into BL and AL; before-light and after-light. It was a funny thought, thinking about his life as spanning two separate eras. Before-light was like prehistory, back when there was nothing for his memory to retain. His only record from that era was the emptiness that he felt when he tried to think about it. He knew that he didn’t feel that emptiness at the time, but looking back he could see how relative it all was. After all, you had to wake up to know that you had been dreaming.


    Serge was right, and even though Emile couldn’t remember much about his previous life, the feeling of emptiness was enough for him to know that he didn’t want to go back. That realization wasn’t enough to quench the gnawing anxiety in the pit of his stomach though. They were either walking proudly and courageously towards the shining light of their destiny, or they were being drawn blindly into its gaping jaws. Whichever it happened to be, that was the only road available, and as fearful as he may have been, they were taking it.


    "The living room looked like Sesame Street after a nuclear war. Toys were strewn everywhere and the smell of little kid hung in the air like radioactive fallout"

  7. #7
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    After Serge accepted and embraced his new role, he threw himself into his work with an obsession that rivaled Hanks. Emile had to practically drag them away from their consoles at mealtime. They may have wanted to stay but Emile knew that it was important for them continue with their normal routines. What they were doing was dangerous. The last thing they needed was to be discovered by Management because of something as stupid as missing dinner. Aside from that Emile didn’t have much else to do. He felt envious when Serge’s console first changed, but now he had resigned himself to the fact that he would just be tagging along on their adventure. The most he could do was try to keep them out of trouble while Serge and Hank fulfilled their great tasks.

    Hank was discovering more and more about the structure of the computer system. His skill at decoding it seemed almost superhuman, and Emile would watch him and try to understand as best he could without bothering Hank to much. Actually Emile learned the most when Hank was stuck. He would start muttering curses under his breath and Emile would head over to see what was up. That’s when Hank would explain the problem in depth to Emile, complaining the whole time about how stupid the whole system was. Emile would ask questions when he could but mostly he would just let Hank bounce ideas off of him, and a lot of the time it would work. Emile suspected that Hank just needed to get his ideas out of his head once in awhile and hear them out loud before he could fully understand them. Sometimes it was even Emile’s questions that led Hank to a solution. At least he was occasionally good for something.

    From all of the trouble shooting sessions Emile learned that Hank was narrowing down the system into smaller and smaller groups of organized sequences, almost like he was learning a foreign language backwards. Emile imagined that it was like studying Spanish by reading Don Quixote and distilling it down to learn the meanings of words and sentences. In other words, damn near impossible for any normal person, but Hank was managing to do it somehow. It did seem like a kind of language to Emile though, and he often wondered if that was how Hank saw it, but he never bothered to ask.

    There was a bigger problem that Hank hinted at once or twice. The more he learned about the structure and syntax of the system, the more he realized how little control he had over it. Now that he almost fully understood the pattern-codes in which to press his button, Hank could move anywhere in the system without obstruction. He had complete access. But although he could see everything, he could change nothing. He seemed to be doomed to eternal observation without interaction. When Emile would try to ask him about this, Hank would dismiss it and focus on understanding the rest of the structure. Emile had a feeling that Hank knew just how important this was, and was only putting it off because he couldn’t think of any way to solve it, but Emile didn’t want to bug him about it. At least Hank was working on something, unlike Emile.

    Serge’s console was much more bizarre. Emile would watch him occasionally but Serge would hardly even move, much less talk while he was working and Emile didn’t want to break his intense concentration. It was tough too, because there were so many questions he wanted to ask.

    The feeder slot in Serge’s consol seemed to be disabled now but Serge continued to write his notes, only they were different from before. All Serge did before was listen to the artificial voice on the phone tell him a number, write it down, and slip it into its corresponding feeder slot. Now he kept the phone to his ear constantly and filled card after card with intricate script, letting them pile up all over his console. In fact the pile had gotten so large that they were beginning to fall onto the floor. At one point Emile picked up a fallen card to examine it closer. Not only were both sides of the card completely crammed with Serge’s handwriting, but it was written entirely in Spanish. Emile placed the card back on the heap and walked to his console more confused than ever.

    Eventually Emile’s curiosity got the better of him and he waited until he saw Serge put down the phone to stretch before walking quickly over to his console.

    “So I take it your still hearing voices in that thing?” said Emile. Serge was about to pick up the phone again before Emile spoke, and he seemed a little irritated at being interrupted.

    “Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. Is that so unbelievable Emile?”

    “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt you. I’m just curious about the change,” said Emile.

    “What do you want to know?” said Serge.

    “Well… Is it still your son?”

    Serge sighed, and got a distant look in his eyes.

    “Not anymore,” he said. “I’m not sure who it is now. It’s just a bunch of random voices speaking nonsense. I’m just trying to write down all I hear and hoping that I’ll eventually figure out what it means, but it doesn’t look promising.”

    “Why are you writing it in Spanish?” said Emile, holding up one of the many note cards.

    “Because that’s how they talk. They’re speaking to quickly for me to translate it before I write it.”

    Emile must have looked confused because Serge held the phone out to him.

    “Do you want to listen?”

    Emile hesitated, remembering the hollow eeriness of the static when he had listened before. He didn’t really want to explain all that to Serge though, so he took the phone and put it to his ear. He immediately felt a cold chill run down his spine. The monotonous static and faint clicking began to mesmerize him and cloud his thoughts. It felt like he was peering into a vacuum; like the phone was sucking his soul into a void. His face must have given away what he was feeling because Serge noticed something was amiss.

    “What’s the matter Emile?” said Serge.

    “Serge, I don’t hear any voices in that phone. It’s just static.”

    “What? That’s impossible, they never stop!” Serge practically snatched the phone from Emile and held it up to his ear. He seemed relieved at first when he heard the voices but as Emile watched him, Serge’s face darkened.

    “I’m not crazy Emile,” he said finally, hanging up the phone.

    “I know you aren’t,” said Emile.

    “I’m not crazy,” he said again.

    “I didn’t say you were crazy Serge. Just because I can’t hear them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”

    Serge relaxed a little when he realized Emile was serious.

    “It doesn’t make any sense. Why would they stop when you listen? They couldn’t possibly know that you were holding the phone and not me,” said Serge.

    “Maybe they didn’t stop,” said Emile.

    Serge scratched his head and looked at the phone sitting in its cradle. He picked it again and stood next to Emile.

    “Let’s find out if you’re right,” said Serge. He held up the phone and beckoned for Emile to listen. They both put their heads close to the receiver and listened quietly.

    “Can you hear it Emile? Veinte cinco, seis de treinta, ocho cien y dieciséis. Coche, Parque, barco. Seis árboles en el boulevard al atardecer,” Serge looked at Emile, but Emile could hear only static and shook his head. Serge’s disappointment was palpable and he sunk back into his chair and hung up the phone.

    “What did it mean?” said Emile.

    “Twenty five, thirty six, eight hundred and sixteen. Car, park, boat. Six trees in the boulevard at sunset,” said Serge.

    “What? Are you sure you translated it right?” said Emile.

    “That’s how it always is,” said Serge. “I told you, they just speak nonsense. Numbers mixed in with ridiculous phrases. Maybe it’s not even supposed to make sense.”

    They both lapsed into silence. Serge was fiddling with his note cards absentmindedly and Emile shuffled them around as well. He didn’t speak much Spanish but he could still make out most of the numbers and a few of the words on the cards.

    “Why do you believe me?” said Serge, suddenly looking up from his notes. Emile paused for a second. He hadn’t really thought about why.

    “If you’re insane then that means that Hank and I are also insane. That means that everything that’s happening is just a delusion. Remember when you said that at dinner? That all of this was a delusion that Hank and I were creating?”

    Serge nodded.

    “Well now you’re a part of it. Does it feel like a delusion to you?”

    “This feels more real than what I felt when I said that,” said Serge.

    “Well there you go,” said Emile.

    Serge sat back in his chair and grinned.

    “Well you just cleared that right up, didn’t you?” he said.

    “That’s what I’m here for,” said Emile. He smiled and leaned against Serge’s console. He picked up one of the note cards and flipped it at Serge. “Now you just have to clear this up.”

    “Yeah I guess I do,” said Serge. “I still don’t understand why I’m the only one who can hear the voices though.”

    “Can you discover an entire computer system in one blinking colored light?” said Emile, pointing towards Hank’s console. They both laughed at that.

    “This is your part,” said Emile. “You can ask why until your face turns blue, but what’s that going to accomplish? We can’t expect answers to fall into our laps. We have to work for them.”

    With that, Emile turned and headed back to his console. He wasn’t sure if he was right about finding answers. Maybe there were no answers to find. Maybe there was no great truth behind the veil of their ignorance.

    “What’s your part in this Emile?” said Serge. Emile stopped and turned around. He smiled and shrugged dramatically.

    “If you happen to find out, let me know, will you,” he said.

    “You’ll be the first,” said Serge.

    Emile knew that Serge was joking but it still stung a little. It was embarrassing to be recognized as useless. It was like Serge had read Emile’s mind and threw all of his feelings of worthlessness back at him. It was hard enough for Emile to sit around and watch all of these magnificent changes and know that he wasn’t a part of them. Now he had to worry about Serge and Hank resenting him for it. Sure, it wasn’t like that now, but Emile wasn’t naïve. He knew how these things could change. They would start out pitying him, reassuring him that he was helpful, but that wouldn’t last. With nothing to contribute Emile would start to get in the way. They would start getting annoyed with him, and pretty soon he would stop trying to help, for fear of distracting them. He would move to the periphery; completely excluded from everything important. He would become a living ghost.

    Emile imagined that they were on a river, barreling down the rapids in a small wooden canoe. Hank and Serge sat in the front and back, paddling furiously with their oars, trying desperately to keep a true course. The river was all that existed in their minds. Emile was a leaf caught in the current behind them, carried along through the churning water, utterly powerless to alter the fate chosen for him. Eventually he would be caught in a sweeper or driven to the bottom, and the canoe would continue on its journey, without a second thought for the battered leaf that was trying desperately to keep up.

    Emile still wandered over to Hank and Serge’s consoles occasionally, but not with the frequency that he had before. He began to feel weird when he stood watching them, like he was intruding on something sacred. Instead he spent more and more time sitting quietly at his console, fiddling with the buttons and thinking about everything in general, and nothing in particular. They still weren’t talking much at meal times. It seemed paradoxical to Emile that with all the strange things happening to them, there really wasn’t much to say. Hank and Serge were chugging through there isolated tasks, and Emile wasn’t doing much of anything.

    Rather than trying to fill the void with meaningless chatter, Emile spent his time in the cafeteria staring at the people around him. He had never really looked at them before. They looked human enough at first glance, shuffling around purposefully and munching on their sandwiches. They regarded each other casually and their mouths flapped up and down, every sentence reeking of banality. But the closer Emile studied them, the more he realized that they were not as normal as they seemed on the surface. Their eyes were always dull, and their expressions never changed. Emile couldn’t find one smile or flash of anger no matter how hard he looked. The tone and volume of their voices remained constant. They seemed so one-dimensional, like cardboard cutouts of human shapes drifting across one another. Had Emile really been one of them?

    Yes, he thought, he had been one of them, and now he was peering in at them through a window of clarity and revelation. He was living in reality and they were still stuck inside a bubble of ignorance, and although he was free from that ignorance his burden wasn’t any lighter. They were inside of the bubble together, and he was outside of it alone. The truth didn’t make things any easier.


    "The living room looked like Sesame Street after a nuclear war. Toys were strewn everywhere and the smell of little kid hung in the air like radioactive fallout"

  8. #8
    This is a great story! Very interesting. It sounds like some of the other members have given you some good advice. Someone may have already mention this... I didn't read through all of the reviews. The main suggestion I'd have for you is to avoid using the phrase:
    said Serge,
    said Emile,
    said whomever,

    in each bit of dialogue. It gets really redundant. Sometimes your characters are asserting, some times they're questioning, sometimes they're answering... they're not always "saying", so you shouldn't have them always "saying". And when it's obvious who's speaking, you don't always have to point out that they said, answered, exclaimed, etc.

    Other than that, I think it's great!

  9. #9
    Wow! I can't wait for the next part. I agree with greggb, maybe less "saids" but you are keeping me in total suspense. I love how you allude to this dungeon, this gray meaningless existence that no one feels is meaningless.
    I would watch for things that are confusing. For example, you say none of these guys know "blue" until Serge says it, but they all know he's right - but later, from Emile's perspective, you say something about Serge being blue in the face...so they do know blue, or at least the concept of it...hmmm.
    You also mention that Emile feels like they are barreling down a river. Does he know what a river is? How does he know how it feels to barrel down one? Maybe you should think of a different metaphor, like hurtling through a black hole or a tunnel, something that gives us a little insight into where these guys are and what they're doing there...
    just some things to keep in view...
    thanks for the great read!
    "and when we speak we are afraid
    our words will not be heard, nor welcomed
    but when we are silent we are still afraid
    So it is better to speak, remembering
    we were never meant to survive"
    — Hidden Content (Hidden Content )

  10. #10
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    Sweet, new replies! Thanks for the input guys, I really appreciate it.

    in each bit of dialogue. It gets really redundant
    I stressed about this for awhile. I finally decided to settle on 'said' as opposed to other descriptors because it was the most spartan and I was hoping that it would eventually just blend into the background. Also I didn't want to get the dialogue confused between the characters because it interchanges so much. I'm going to leave it for now simply because I don't want to go through the whole draft and change each one individually but I will definitely look into it when revision time comes.

    so they do know blue, or at least the concept of it
    The reason that I had him use blue as a descriptor here is because they had sort of established it's existence already. It's tough though, hard to work with things like that when they can't remember anything

    The river is a metaphor that repeats quite a lot and it's significance in Emile's life comes to play later in the story.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting guys! Makes me feel all fuzzy inside.
    "The living room looked like Sesame Street after a nuclear war. Toys were strewn everywhere and the smell of little kid hung in the air like radioactive fallout"

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