Monday, December 05, 2011

New Beginning 908

The National Institute of Mental Health stood like a giant medieval fortress, casting a dismal and imposing figure against the orange sky. Flanking the Institute’s entrance were two battered towers, remnants of the war. And atop each tower, a sniper sat in waiting, laser rifle in hand, his index finger lightly caressing the trigger. On most
days, however, there was no need to use his weapon. On most days, no one visited the Institute.

But this evening, Joe Raymond had the snipers’ trigger fingers at the ready. Joe immediately spotted the shadowy figures atop each tower, and his stomach gave an unsettling lurch. He hastened his pace.

Not that it would have mattered. As soon as Joe stepped within fifty feet of the entrance, red dots appeared on the stone walkway in front of him. They slid up his legs, his torso, his nose—finally coming to rest on his forehead. Their red glare floated just outside his vision.

Though he had never visited the Institute before, Joe knew the drill. Legs quivering, he raised his hands above his head slowly, deliberately.

"You have a question?" The voice boomed out from the forbidding building.

Red dots danced around him again, and Joe realized they came not from the snipers' towers, but from the darkened windows of the institute.

"N-- No... I'm just here to fix the--"

"Come inside."

The dots traced his path into the building.

* * *

An hour later, Joe's work was done, the bright halogen lamp replaced. Exhausted, he exited the Institute's Business Management wing and left its residents behind, their laser pointers focused back where they belonged, on the key elements of the PowerPoint slides.


Opening: Ryan Mueller.....Continuation: anon.

9 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


Joe pointed his mechanical index fingers at the shooters and with a smile blew the snipers' guns out of their hands. He'd learned to fire accurately between the quivers. His legs gave out as they always did after firing a round.

Tonight he was a hero. Inmates cheered from barred windows. Joe would liberate the "mental" patients and let they would resume the war.

--Wilkins MacQueen


Balancing the box above his head, he slowly opened it, trying not to let his trembling hands betray him. "Please," he thought, "Let there be extra pepperoni on this. These guys go completely mental if they don't get the right pizza..."

--anon.


With hands atop his head, he shouted atop his lungs.
"Its ok, I'm used to being shot at. I still would like to talk to you about letting Jesus atop, I mean into your life."

--anon.

Evil Editor said...

P1: The last two sentences seem to imply that the snipers have a need to use their weapons whenever someone visits the Institute. No wonder they don't get many visitors. And no repeat visitors. I'd lose those two sentences.

P2: The first sentence isn't needed. You already said the snipers' trigger fingers were at the ready in the previous paragraph. Or were you just saying their fingers were always on their triggers? Because it seems kind of odd to always have your finger on the trigger if no one visits the Institute most days. That would be one boring job.

Anonymous said...

Trim your words. Strengthen your verbs. Go forth and thrill your readers. (Yes, it was tense and enticing; well done.) (P.S. Joe is a boring name.)

(P.P.S. I made him slow down instead of speed up because it was hard to picture how he'd follow the progress of the targeting marks if he was running; you need to fix if that was your intent.)

The National Institute of Mental Health loomed like a giant medieval fortress, dismal and imposing against the orange sky. Two battered towers, remnants of the war, flanked the entrance. Atop each, a sniper waited, laser rifle in hand, index finger caressing the trigger. On most days, no one visited the Institute.

Joe Raymond spotted the shadowy figures on the towers, and his stomach gave an unsettling lurch. He took a few more slow steps. Fifty feet from the entrance, red dots slid up his legs, his torso, his nose—finally coming to rest on his forehead. Their scarlet glare floated just outside his vision.

Legs quivering, Joe stood still. He raised his hands above his head slowly, deliberately.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Ryan,
Congratulations. This is the best piece you've submitted to date and avoided killing/drowning us (I mean me) in unnecessary and cumbersome details.

It is very hard to get/take in the seemingly harsh comments and change the writing. You did it buddy. Big step.

I look forward to more of your stuff.

Anonymous said...

If it was a successful medieval-type fortress of the castle kind, I don't think your paranoia lookout dudes would be visibly loitering on the tops of the towers. visible = vulnerable. They'd be hidden behind the walls, peering through narrow slits or tiny windows, and they might be taking aim but they wouldn't be chatting with suspicious visitors. Entry guards, on the other hand, need to be at the gate on ground level to closely check visitors before they get in. There were two gates, so if paranoia was running high, you would have to pass the initial screening to get through the first gate, and then would be more or less trapped in a small room where you could be thoroughly checked out before being allowed through the second gate. And if you didn't pass inspection you could either be tossed out, murdered, or hauled away through a 'secret' gatehouse passage straight to whatever they were using as a dungeon.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

This line turned my interest off and started me skimming:

And atop each tower, a sniper sat in waiting, laser rifle in hand, his index finger lightly caressing the trigger.

Why? Each sniper is described as exactly the same-- even moving the same. Automatons are boring.

BTW, out of curiosity, I just went to the NIMH's website to look for a pic of the building. And there wasn't one. On the About Us page where I thought there would be a pic, there was something that refused to load.

So, hm. Maybe it is surrounded by teh medieval defenses plus snipers.

stacy said...

I'd read on to see what Joe meets inside, but I also think you should fix the little logical issues EE points out, plus the logical detail of where the guards are placed. Like Anon said, why are they visible?

Ryan Mueller said...

Thank you for the helpful comments everyone. I will go back and fix those little logical issues. Then, maybe I'll actually manage to write the rest of the story. As of now, I don't have much, but I'm going for a dystopian science fiction vibe.

If anyone is interested, I've posted the first three and a half pages on (read: the only three and a half pages) of the novel so far on my seldom used blog. I haven't polished the rest of it, so please don't be too harsh.

vkw said...

Cut this sentence. Whenever someone is loving caressing their trigger, I think of a psychopath ready to kill for pleasure.

"And atop each tower, a sniper sat in waiting, laser rifle in hand, his index finger lightly caressing the trigger."


I hoping your guards are not psychopaths.

It's not bad but I want to know why the guy is there by now. I would trim just a bit more.