Monday, June 29, 2009

New Beginning 655

Sandy broke into a run, trying to catch the silhouettes as they moved further down the endless mirrored hallway. The faster he ran, the faster the shadows shrunk away. He feared what lay beyond his sight. Panic swept over him suffocating his cry for them to stop but they disappeared, beyond his reach. Then, as if he had crossed some invisible threshold, the mirrored hallway vanished and Sandy found himself standing in an enormous circular stone room with no visible ceiling.

The walls were covered in grotesque art, depicting pain stricken faces and tortured corpses trying to escape from their stone tomb. They rose to an unthinkable height before falling into darkness, but failed to open to the night sky. He ran to the middle of the room and his feet became lead, unmoving, as if stuck in quick sand. In a panic he searched for what was holding him in place. In the shadows he saw them, each in a separate cage against the wall to his right. Their mouths hung open and their bodies slumped in despair. They pleaded for rescue with their eyes, but he could not even speak their names.

He knew who they were, knew their names, knew their families, even the dreams they had for their children. But they had failed, and were now forever banished to this hellish dungeon where, inevitably, their flesh would rot and their souls turn to dust.

One icy hand clamped upon his ankle. Already it was too late; they were dragging him down, and before the sun rose he too would be reading slush for Evil Editor.

Opening: Jeffrey Baird.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

So much for going to see Iron Maiden in concert.


Not only had they not been introduced, but how does one pronounce Xjgkiisc, Pquftkwq, and Wozgkthu

When Sandy awoke he swore to never again spend 3 days straight leaving anonymous comments on blogs.

--Faceless Minion

Light flickered, in time, it seemed, to the distant groans. He heard tapping, then a throat rattle of impending death. The voice pushed terror into his heart like a hot needle. "The dentist will see you now, Mr. Fratzky."


And then he heard the sound, the slithering of something wet and heavy along the stone floor. From somewhere in the shadows, there came an animalistic noise, a snuffling grunt. They had found him.

Sandy whirled around, to see the first of the hunters coming towards him, filthy talons outstretched. Its blunt, featureless head with the flayed-looking skin had no eyes, but he knew it sensed his presence. He had no choice, then, but to stand and fight.

He unslung his shotgun from his back and, almost as an afterthought, clicked on the flashlight duct-taped to the slide. One thing he had to admit, Doom 4 was a massive improvement on its predecessor.


Mrs. Grzizinsky, Mr. Popopetapalpolus, Dr. Mdemametsage, and Miss Fukyomama stared at him with dreaded expectation.

Sandy hated being last for the school choir tryouts.


Then, as if the dead were finally given voices, a breeze hissed through the room. Sssaandyyyy. Saaaannndyy.



Then, as if the dead were finally given voices, a breeze hissed through the room. Sssaandyyyy. Saaaannndyy.

Sandy trembled, trying not to cry as the bodies around him opened hungry, gaping mouths full of razor-sharp teeth.

Saaanndyyyy. Yooouu.

Panic swept over him, driving him to his knees.

Ssstollle. Oooourrr.

Sandy whimpered as the bodies leaned toward him.



Shuddering, Sandy looked at the nameplates by the cages, and saw they were names he knew. He froze in panic as he saw his name, Sandy, by the last cage. Then, as he was roughly picked up and thrust into the cage, he knew it was too late.

A face peered into the cage, gray and monstrous. "You wondered where my slaves went? You're next." The beast smiled and thrust a stack of papers through the bars of the cage. A stack of query letters.


A deep, guttural voice echoed around the room. "Why do you come here?"

Sandy shrunk back as far as he could into the cold, unwelcoming shadows. He took a deep breath. "It's about my overdraft, Mr. Baxter..."


If only he could dredge up that distant memory. “On.” The closest one lifted an ear. Sandy felt his big toe creep forward. “Dasher. On Dancer. On Prancer. On Vixen.”

Shattering cages rent the stillness. “On Comet. On Cupid. On Donner. On Blitzen.” Sandy could move once again.

--Sarah L.


EE lurched from the bed, screaming.


They were some of the infamous minions. The malevolence of minions held Sandy until their cold-hearted master appeared. Sandy feared for how the master was going to punish him for breaking into their lair. Torture? Imprisonment? No, it would be something much worse. He would tell Sandy that he will respond to his submission within three weeks, only to go a full two years without contact. Then, when Sandy has finally come to terms with the fact that he will never be an author, the master will send him a rejection letter. The prick.


Evil Editor said...

More unchosen continuations:

He fell to his knees, pages scattering from his numb fingers across the stone floor.

"I'm sorry!" Sandy screamed into the dreadful silence. "Let me go, please! I've learned my lesson. I'll send you my query letter. I'll get an agent first. I'll never try to bring an unsolicited manuscript in person again!"

But it was too late. The caged prisoners, other impertinent authors, cringed back as an enormous gnarled hand reached down out of the darkness, pointing an ornate fountain pen at Sandy's trembling form.

"OMIT," thundered the voice of Evil Editor and in a splash of red ink Sandy and his 354,000 word opus were no more.

--Sarah from Hawthorne

Then Evil Editor appeared.

"Thanks for getting here so quickly," he muttered, as if preoccupied with the toil of some nightmare slush pile, still to be cleared. "The leaky faucet is this way..."


Out of nowhere one of the monstrosities grabbed him, shaking him violently and now it was his eyes that pleaded for rescue. Sandy fought off the snake like hands that held him but grounded as he was in the quicksand he could do nothing and that is when he began to scream. Other hands, coming out of the endless darkness, without souls or bodies joined the first, wrestled him to the ground.

Terrorized as he was, fighting for breath, for life, to be free of the nightmarish life he lived, Sandy fought harder.

The needle came out of nowhere, stabbing him, rendering his arm dead; he knew he would be put into the cage like the others He was doomed but he could no longer scream. The night grew, swallowing all the grotesque faces, the terror and his existence. Sandy slumped, unmoving. The quicksand swallowed him.

“Finally,” a nurse sighed as she carefully detached the hypodermic needle from the syringe and disposed of it in the red container, clearly marked hazardous material.

“What’s up with him?” the new orderly asked, looking almost as freaked out as the unconscious Sandy had just been. Four orderlies had been needed to subdue the hapless Sandy enough for the nurse to administer the God delivering Haldol, which not only ended the man’s terrorizing hallucination but also mercifully knocked him out. “Did he, you know, do too many shrooms or something?” Cal was the new guy’s name and he had seen people flip out on drugs before.

“Oh no,” the nurse laughed, tossing her blonde locks over her shoulder. “You can take him to the quiet room now.” ‘Quiet Room’ was the pseudonym for padded cell, it was also an oxymoron for very few patients were ever quiet in there; usually they banged their heads and fists against the door and begged to be let out, promising to take their meds or whatever else they thought they needed to promise to gain their freedom.

The nurse looked back at Cal, “He’s a writer. He’ll be taken to the writer’s hall tomorrow when we have a bed.”

“A writer?” Cal asked.

“Oh yes, writer’s are two-thirds more likely to develop a mental illness than the rest of the population. They really should put warning labels on literary classes and writers' conferences,” the long-legged nurse said as she walked away, carrying her red plastic bucket full of used needles. "Actually they should be outlawed all together."

She did not add the number one trigger for this type of paranoid hallucination was editors. They were all sadist, of course, and had their own special wing. They did not suffer from hallucinations however, but rather a disorder called editsyndrome. This disorder was characterized by constant pacing, muttering and the head banging. The cause was from reading too many crappy manuscripts or articles with too many adverbs. It was very sad to see these pillars of society and the protectors of the English language reduced to this. The only helpful treatment was gin.


_*rachel*_ said...

This one was hard to continue!

I think it's a bit too much--too flowery, too scary--and gets confusing. But you're writing horror, which isn't my things. Unless you're writing a dream. And we all know we shouldn't do that. I do it anyway sometimes, but word on the streets is that it's rarely, if ever, good.

Evil Editor said...

he searched for what was holding him in place. In the shadows he saw them,

This leads me to believe that what he saw was what was holding him in place. But that may not be what you mean, as what he saw were in separate cages with their bodies slumped.

his feet became lead, unmoving, as if stuck in quick sand.

Three ways of saying the same thing.

The past tense of shrink is shrank. Thanks to Honey I Shrunk the Kids, however, it's a lost cause trying to convince everyone.

Is this the beginning? The first sentence leads me to think I'm supposed to already know that these silhouettes are there.

I think it would be better to shorten this. No need to say both he feared and panic swept over him. If they disappeared, they certainly are beyond his reach. Tighten up as many of those places as possible.

Dave Fragments said...

You keep saying things more than once. For instance, "No visible ceiling" and "rose to an unthinkable heights."

And I don't get the shadows in the mirrored hallway. I suspect you mean that reflections of those imprisoned in the circular room keep moving away from him. That's a hard image to describe and a well used horror image -- the villain lurking in the mirror, the mirror as a doorway.

writtenwyrdd said...

I like the voice of this but the imagery was unclear for me so I never got a great sense of what was going on other than there were either ghosts or it was a mausoleum or zombies were lurching their way from the shadows and your boy Sandy was running in a panic until his feet got stuck for some unknown reason. (Actually, I'm pretty convinced this is a nightmare he's having, but I really don't know. If it is a dream, I'd cut it.)

But I did like something about the voice.

As EE says, there's a lot of repetition. If you just cut that out you'd be trimming this considerably.

One thing I think you are doing unintentionally is focusing on elements that aren't the important ones. You show us what he's chasing but not what has him panicked in the first paragraph. You focus on the artwork that shows the dead in the second paragraph, and when Sandy's feet get stuck (and he's still panicked for some unknown reason) talk about the artwork again! You really need to keep the prose pointed at the important thing, the stuck feet, the terror, and give a clue what's going on besides an extended running scene in a funhouse-warped dream scene of a world.

Writing description should work to underscore the scene's emotion, or to help evoke the scene's emotion, whichever you need it to do at the moment. Can you see how these images aren't adding because they aren't tied into Sandy's panic? They could be if you gave us a tie in, but at the moment they are not connected.

Anonymous said...

I think if you ran into the middle of a room, and your feet suddenly became lead, you'd fall over.

If you pass from a mirrorerd hallway into a huge stone room, you've crossed a threshold.

They pleaded for rescue with their eyes, but he could not even speak their names.

I don't see the connection between these two clauses.

There are a lot of words that are not really saying much, and it's hiding the story. There's a difference between tension and simply not getting to the point.

Let your story free.

Anonymous said...

I liked it. I would read on. Yes it was a bit repetitive, like it went on for awhile, repeating itself, it was hard to read through.

I had to do it a few times to get a visual, but I got it and I liked it.

But if I kept reading and this scene ended with "then he woke up" or "he began to remember what had gotten him into this" .. . I would be very disappointed. In other words, a start like this better lead into something more interesting and not be the climax.

I liked the voice.


Mame said...

What could I POSSIBLY contribute?

Unless you need a handgun, then I know a guy in Jersey.

Matt said...

What kind of throws me is that Sandy is in a state of panic yet everything is described so vividly. When someone is panicking, the world around them is generally a blur.

When I read that he's running for his life, and then read--in great detail--the dimensions of the room and the story behind the people in the floor, it interrupts the flow and the action.

It would be better to wait until things have calmed down before diving into such detail.

Steve Wright said...

I was wondering if this was a dream sequence ... not the ideal thing to open with, but I could cope with it here, because at least there'd be a change of mood when he wakes up.

I think you're trying too hard. The weird imagery is enough to create a mood of unease in the reader (well, this reader anyway) without loading it down with doomy adjectives and flat descriptions of your character's emotional state. (And, really, if he's panicking twice in successive paragraphs, he should switch to decaf.)

I'd seriously recommend toning it down a bit. As things stand, when I waved my hand-held Gothometer* over this one, the needle rose dangerously close to the "unintentional self-parody" line.

*(It measures the Gothiness of text. It's calibrated in Cure-ies. Obviously.)

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I liked this in the beginning but felt a bit overwhelmed by the end. If each thing is more horrible than the last, possibly consider starting from a less terrifying place.