Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Beginning 360

I didn't know that I was psychic. Then I started to see things. First it was the gnome, then ghosts, and finally, a disembodied head that talked to me.

My name is Michael Grady, but my friends call me Mick. I'm fourteen years old. I didn't see any weird stuff until I stayed at The Helping Hand Plantation for a few months. Angel, one of my friends there, said that the school was on the between. That's what she called it. She said it was as if the plantation was sitting on top of the Bermuda Triangle. Things crossed over from some other place. Sometimes, like the disappearance of Buddy Knoll, the between just sucked something, or someone into itself as if it was hungry.

Angel said it opened up a lot of possibilities for those who were psychic, and, at the plantation, there were only five of us. There was a teacher, too. But Ms. Rachel Seer kept her visions to herself.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I need to start the story when I arrived at Helping Hand. For me, it was a day in hell.

"Save it for the judge, kid. Let me tell you about my vision. I'm looking at the last person to see Buddy Knoll alive. I'm seeing a fourteen-year-old punk with a bag of weed and a bottle of cheap tequila. And I'm thinking, Sure you saw gnomes and ghosts--who wouldn't when they're ripped out of their gourd? Now put the bottle down, put your hands in the air, and tell me what you did with Buddy's head, kid, or this is gonna be your day in hell."

Opening: ILS.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"Plantation" doesn't evoke a vision of wall-to-wall plasma screens with students in Buffy costumes standing around smoking reefer. My folks would never have sent me here if they'd known. If I'd known, I'd never have come. Reefer opens up the possibilities, but Buffy all day? Then Angel all night? I mean the tv show, not Angel-my-friend-Angel.

She greeted me between two enormous Buffy-heads spattered with pixels.

"You're an extra. Here's your costume. You have to apply the blood yourself." She dumped some clothing into my arms, then dug in her pocket. "There's so many ways to get onto the between, Mick. D'you prefer PCP or acid?"


First thing, Ms. Seer gathered all five of us newbies in the atrium for orientation. She reminded me of my crazy aunt Agnes, the one who used to have all the cats, before the city took them all away.

"Students," she said. "Today is your birthday."

I raised my hand. "But my birthday isn't until March."

"That was the birthday of your old self, dear boy. Today your new self will be born. I had an old self once, too. She was called Rachel Horowitz. My new self is called Rachel Seer, because I can see visions of the future. You shall all be receiving new names based on your own special abilities."

First Ms. Seer called Larry Leffler over to her. She placed her hand against his forehead and said, "You shall be called Larry Angel, because you can communicate with the dead."

Next she put her hand on Abby Weiner's head and said, "You shall be called Abby Empath, because you can sense what others are feeling."

After she'd finished with all the others she called me over. She put her hand on my forehead and said, "And you shall be called Mick Toiletscrubber."


Until that day, I'd never even heard of a Peyote plantation, let alone tasted the stuff.


It was the day the old teacher, Miss Cleo, was packing up to leave. She threw her clothes into her trunk and waved her fist in the air. Her jewelry jangled threateningly at anyone who came within a hundred yards of her. The gnome popped out of nowhere to sit on the trunk while a ghost tried to latch it closed. His fingers just passed through the latch each time. Miss Cleo shoved him out of the way, but, since he wasn't corporeal, she wound up standing in the middle of him instead.

The disembodied head floated up the stairs and hovered over my shoulder. "She's done it now." it said.

"Done what?"

The plasma TV on the wall grew. Miss Cleo froze, then looked over her shoulder at it. She shook her head, but it was no use. Miss Cleo, her trunk, the gnome and the ghost were sucked into the TV.

"Your show has been cancelled." said the head.


Evil Editor said...

I would be hooked more if this were tightened up, something like:

I didn't know for sure I was psychic until the night I had the conversation with the disembodied. head.

Angel, one of my friends at the plantation, said the school was on the "between," by which she meant things crossed over there like in the Bermuda Triangle. Sometimes-- like the disappearance of Buddy Knoll?--the between just sucked stuff into itself.

My name's Michael Grady, by the way, but my friends call me Mick. I'm fourteen. There were four other psychics at the school, five if you count Ms. Seer.

"Helping Hand" can come later.

Not clear whether the school is the same as the plantation. Rachel Seer?

Wouldn't he just call her Ms. Seer?

Presumably YA; if I've screwed up the voice for your audience, fix it, but name, age, Helping Hand can come after the hook.

150 said...

Calling your psychic "Seer" is so unsubtle that it almost physically hurts. Please consider changing it, and not to "Cassandra Delphi Augury Sibyl" either.

Sweet continuation!

Dave said...

I with EE for a variety of reasons.
Mostly, it's because 14 y/o boys are the most non-communicative human beings ever created. They'll talk for hours to another boy about boy things (meaning nothing important) but they will never relate a whole story to an adult.
The old joke of "Where did you go?" "Out" "What did you do?" "Nothing" is operating big time.
And if you ash "Do you know the time?" They will answer "yes" ... Not out of being snips, snails and smart-ass, but that's simply boyhood. Fifteen year olds are stubborn and silent around anyone adult.

They don't explain in detail. for instance, you say
I didn't know that I was psychic. Then I started to see things. First it was the gnome, then ghosts, and finally, a disembodied head that talked to me.
And when I think of young boys, I know, they would say - "That dead head talked to me."
If I would say to a kid who hunts wild game - "there's turkey living behind my house." He wouldn't say "Can I hunt them." He would say "Cool." Because he assumes that I will let him hunt the turkey.

I don't mean this as a lecture on boy talk.
I'm just saying that you're writing too many words for the young man to say. He doesn't think that many words. If he does, he doesn't say them.
So whatever you have Michael Grady say, has to be shorter and more straightforward.

Something about kids, they are accepting of strange things. Angel can say -"The school is on the in-between" and Michael will accept it without the explanation of the Bermuda Triangle. An Adult wants to know what this object is like or how it operates. Kids don't.

I get kids to mow my lawn with a 12 hp hydraulic tractor. I tell them exactly how to do it. Mow here in this direction. Mow there in that direction. Don't drive up that hill (or down). The deck is wide so don't hit walls and trees. And I tell them do nothing else. They don't take well to heavy philosophical discussion. THe same is true if you watch professionals give driving lessons to kids. They almost order them what to do the right way and then hammer that into their heads.

It's a much simpler world for kids.

Lightsmith said...

Nice work.

I like what you're going for with the first paragraph. In its current form it doesn't pack as much of a punch as it could, but you're headed in the right direction. Naturally, EE's advice in this regard was excellent. Sometimes less is more, and mentioning only one of the things Mick sees (instead of a laundry list of them) will have a greater impact. The other visions can be mentioned in a subsequent chapter.

Consider leaving until later the explanation of the plantation existing in the "between" and let the plantation be mysterious for a while. All the reader needs to know at the start of the story is that sometimes people disappear from there. Then, when the concept of the "between" is finally introduced, the reader will already be craving the explanation and it will resonate more.

For me the word "plantation" conjures up images of slaves picking cotton, so I had a problem with it. I realize that the word has other meanings, but for me that one overshadows the others.

Good luck, author. It sounds promising.

McKoala said...

EE's suggestions definitely tighten this, but I was OK with the original too.

writtenwyrdd said...

Dave may be correct as to how boys talk (or don't) but I liked this beginning. I figure the voice is the kid's internal voice and you can show me Mr. Surly-boy in his actual speech.

A bit wordy, needs some tightening, but it intrigued me and I'd have read further.

Anonymous said...

I liked it in general. It held my attention and I wanted to read more. I think following EE's advice would make it even better.

My two bits is that no 14 year old boy in the history of the world has ever said "But I'm getting ahead of myself." But hey... maybe seeing disembodied heads does that to a person :)

Robin S. said...

Hi Author,

I like your opening - although a little editing here and there is almost always a good thing.

I like "Sometimes, like the disappearance of Buddy Knoll, the between just sucked something or someone into itself as if it was hungry." and I like the setup of what's to come with the sentence "For me, it was a day in hell."

The continuations were really fun to read.

Bernita said...

I'm with Written.
This isn't dialogue.
So grunts and "whatever" don't apply.
And if he wasn't a little different from Everyboy ( a cliched classification), there'd be no story.

Anonymous said...

The Author--

Thanks to all of you for the helpful comments!


Dave said...

I tried four times today to post a comment that "Internal or external dialogues are OK with me" and Blogger at the comment each time.
So I try again. Yes, a young boy can have lots of internal dialogue.