Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Beginning 256

I didn’t notice the gorillas at first. When I got off the bus that crisp January morning and stepped onto the parking lot, the only thing I could see was a crowd of students surrounding the east wall of our school. It looked like some sort of outdoor rock concert, except instead of holding up lighters and swaying to a heavy buzz ballad, people were raising their cell phones to snap pictures and inching forward to a general happy rumbling.

People clapped and whistled and laughed, a sound utterly out of place so early in the morning, especially considering that it was the first day back after winter break. I had expected the usual zombie-like trance as six hundred sleep-deprived teenagers shuffled silently towards the back doors, carrying their withered backpacks and a deep-seated grudge at being forced to return to the narrow hallways of Cleary High School after two weeks of holiday bliss. Instead of groggy bitterness, everyone seemed filled with a strange, contagious energy. I wondered briefly if the entire student body had descended upon Something’s Brewing and consumed triple mocha espressos. Nothing else could explain the wide smiles and high-pitched whooping sounds emanating from the crowd.

Nothing except gorillas.

But I didn’t know that yet.

And then I caught sight of one -- a silverback male, standing in the clearing. One by one, other gorillas appeared, all under heavily armed escort.

A member of the press stepped forward from the crowd. "Sir, is it true your administration paid protection money to Colombian paramilitaries to ensure banana shipments?"

The silverback roared. Burly secret service agents surrounded the reporter, and after a brief struggle, subdued him. The guy beside me shook his head in disgust. "Don't blame me," he said. "I voted for Nader."

"Well," I replied, "at least he's better than our last president." Always best to defuse a potential argument with a platitude that no one could disagree with.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Rei


Anonymous said...

You mentioned zombies and then didn't deliver. I can't recover from that disappointment enough to enjoy the rest no matter how good it is. -V95

The author said...

You're right, V95. I mentioned zombies but didn't come through. What if I write something with zombie gorillas?

I want my opening to be as tight as possible, so please let me know if you think the sentences are too long or choppy or confusing.


Anonymous said...

V95 is zombie crazy.

Author - I think the sentences are tight and clean - not too long, choppy, or confusing. Stay away from zombie gorillas.

blogless_troll said...

This sounds good, but I think you could build up the suspense by not telling us up front it's gorillas. I realize it makes a good first line, but the rest of the description kind of drags because we already know it's gorillas. Also, I didn't like the generalizations about all 600 high school students. Surely someone had a shitty Christmas.

Dave said...

I think that both paragraphs say the same thing. Something was different at the school that morning. You don't need both of the paragraphs.

It's a shame really, both paragraphs are well written and either can open the story.

AmyB said...

The writing is very good, and I like opening with the gorillas line. It's bizarre enough to be a bit of a hook.

I think the second paragraph gets repetitive. It's not telling me a whole lot that the first paragraph didn't tell me, and the last line of the paragraph says pretty much the same thing as the first line (though I know you are setting up for "Nothing except gorillas"). Perhaps it would read better if the second paragraph focused on the situation being unusual for the first day back to school after winter break, and omitted most or all of the description of the scene, which we already got in the first paragraph.

Robin S. said...

Hi Author,

You've got some really good description in this opening.

I'd keep the first sentence - it works well for me because it's so unexpected when the rest of the scene is played out.

And I really like this - "inching forward to a general happy rumbling".

I really liked this in the next paragraph - "six hundred sleep-deprived teenagers shuffled silently towards the back doors, carrying their withered backpacks and a deep-seated grudge at being forced to return to the narrow hallways" -

Wonderful snapshots to bring me into the scene.

Anonymous said...

I agree that you should wait to tell us about the gorillas until just a little longer. It's less suspenseful because we already know. It's enough of a mini-hook that there is a big crowd and something going on to keep us reading until you unveil your gorillas.

I think the sentences may be a little long, only because they're in the very beginning, though. They're well written sentences and certainly not choppy, but I noticed them as being long. If they were further in and the pace had already picked up, I wouldn't notice. They may be okay, but just consider shortening them very slightly, or dividing them up. If it doesn't sound right, you can always change it back.

word veri: zrbqq, an alien barbacue

Anonymous said...

How do you surround one wall of a building?

McKoala said...

I like the opening sentence; definitely something that reels the reader in, especially when the rest of the para sets up an everyday location. The reminder: 'Nothing except gorillas/but I didn't know that yet' - frustrated me - I know that, get on with what happens, I'm waiting for the gorillas!

'surrounding' a wall didn't make sense to me either and I also felt that some of the sentences tended to be on the long site. Nice writing, though.

Rei, you have proven yourself a comic genius on many occasions, but I didn't really get the continuation, sorry...

Anonymous said...

"You're right, V95. I mentioned zombies but didn't come through. What if I write something with zombie gorillas?"

Glad to see you recognize, or at least GET my sense of humor, author.

I could tell you the writing is good as far as I'm concerned, but I'm not good about the technical stuff so you'd have to take it with a huge grain of salt.

Evil Editor said...

It's my fault if an inferior continuation gets through. I assumed the head gorilla had been elected president after George Bush, the other gorillas were his entourage, and they were visiting a school. If that's unclear, or not what the author meant, I should fix it.

McKoala said...

It's not that this is inferior. I just thought I was missing something. Looks like I was!

Dave said...

The continuation is a very nice and fun satire on politicians.

But satire is dead. It died a few years ago with disco.

stick and move said...

Disco killed satire in a murder-suicide.

Dave said...

Sanjaya Malakar is a disco baby.