Thursday, June 02, 2011

New Beginning 861

Hobson wasn’t sure if it was the noise that had woken him, or if he had awoken in anticipation of the noise. He supposed the latter, as the noise -- the scrape of a loose brick abrading the mortar that should have held it -- wasn’t all that loud. It was enough to haul him out of bed, though, toward the window, where he cracked open the curtains overlooking his front garden.

In the sodium glow of a streetlight, a woman was performing oral sex upon a man. Or at least Hobson assumed it was a woman, though he could see only her back as she sat on his low garden wall, her head gently bobbing as though in thoughtful agreement. She was dressed ambiguously in tight jeans and a leather jacket, and even the long hair flowing down her back wasn’t definitive proof of her sex, but it suited Hobson to assume that she was a she.

He studied the figures for a while, head cocked this way then that like a brain-damaged dog, then retrieved his nightstick and cape from their secret repository under the floorboards.

"This neighbourhood bad," he muttered, securing a scarlet bandanna so tight across his forehead he could hardly see. "But Captain Puritanical will fix you, and fix you good."

On the bed, the Snoopy duvet undulated.

"Get some milk while you're out, dear," said his wife. "I'm fixing omelette for lunch tomorrow just the way you like it."

Unable to nod without tearing a hole in his forehead, he smiled back at his one true love, and with a morale-boosting roar to shame an enraged Silverback, somersaulted out of the window to do battle with the forces of Satan.

Opening: Anon......Continuation: Whirlochre


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

Never mind, he thought as he opened his robe. S/he'll do.


Evil Editor said...

I like this. Some points which may or may not be worth addressing:

P1: I've probably awakened in anticipation of the alarm clock, but I don't think I would ever awaken in anticipation of the sound made by a loose brick abrading mortar. In fact, if I woke and heard that sound, I'm not sure I'd recognize it. I'd probably have to look out the window just to see what it was.

I'd change "toward" to "to."

P2: I'd change "upon" to "on."

I'd delete "though" and change the comma after "woman" to a semicolon.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I thought two sentences devoted to one scraping noise was perhaps a bit too much description.

Evil Editor said...

On the other hand, two sentences devoted to oral sex is definitely too little.

Author said...

Yeah, too many "though"s... Noticed that after I submitted it. Of course.

Dave Fragments said...

The second paragraph seems like it says more about the incidental characters than Hobson.

Is there a way you can make it say more about Hobson?

Evil Editor said...

I believe the decision of whether to focus the second paragraph on Hobson or on the guy getting the blow job is what's known as a Hobson's choice.

Anonymous said...

As luck would have it, the story is not called "Hobson's Choice."

vkw said...

I liked this. I agree with EE on the "he had awoken in anticipation of the noise."

If the author is trying to suggest or inform the reader that Hobson has awoken to this sound before and, therefore, knows what to expect - may I suggest -

"or if head awoken in anticipation of the familar noise."

otherwise I would dump it for, Hobson heard a faint noise. . .

Anonymous said...

Very excellent continuation. Beginning seems gloomy and likely about to be the intro to some icky scenes and a story with lots of violence against women which would not interest me, but the continuation took it out of that genre and veered off in a direction that seems more original and fun.

Evil Editor said...

If Hobson has awakened to this sound so often that he anticipates it, either there are several activities that cause the loose brick in his wall to rhythmically scrape mortar, or there's a ridiculous amount of oral sex going on in front of his house.

Anonymous said...

Astounding strawman there, anon 2:56.

Evil Editor said...

the continuation took it out of that genre and veered off in a direction that seems more original and fun

Actually, it's a rare continuation that doesn't veer off in a direction that seems more original and fun. Otherwise, we might as well just use the author's continuation.

fairyhedgehog said...

I liked Stacy's continuation; it made me laugh.

I'm not comfortable with the idea of someone waking in anticipation of a noise.

Other than that I'm wondering what kind of story this is and guessing it's rather darker than what I usually choose to read. Which is probably not much help. Sorry.

Adele said...

I lost interest in the noise very quickly. It is an undefined noise, after all, and I was asked to think of the noise in reference to a character's waking and then the noise as a vaguely categorized abrasion, and by that time the noise which would in any event have been only mildly interesting, well, that noise was totally annoying me in that way vague undefined noises have.

I would lose the noise and start with Hobson hauling himself out of bed. Maybe he has an emotion involved? Perhaps a WTF moment? Perhaps he thinks someone's trying to break in? Perhaps he's cursing this old dump because the bricks keep falling into the street?

And the first sentence would work better if you used woke instead of had woken and had awoken.

Woken woken woken woken. It's an odd word. Just sayin'

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, it didn't seem like something I'd choose to read either.

But then there's a huge market for books I wouldn't choose to read. They fill nine-tenths of the shelf space in libraries and bookstores...

vkw said...

"or there's a ridiculous amount of oral sex going on in front of his house" That was my guess . . . . . which is scary because that's not usually where my mind goes . .. .

bad minions for turning me

Dave Fragments said...

My Grandmother lived at the top of a hill and there was a set of stairs to walk up and down to get into the little business area where good Italian bread, raw dough for pizza, a theater and less important things like high school waited.

The people on either side of the street leading to the base of the steps put sharp stones sticking upright on the tops of their walls or iron spiky fences on the walls to keep people from sitting and resting. They also were reputed to use chamber pots and create icy conditions on the hill in the winter.

So a street where "there's a ridiculous amount of oral sex going on in front of his house"
there's an unreasonable desire to make other uncomfortable is entirely believable.

Never underestimate the ability of a neighbor to behave like an utter fool and demand unreasonable things over a property line.

Stacy said...

Never underestimate the ability of a neighbor to behave like an utter fool and demand unreasonable things over a property line.

See, ever since I've admitted I don't want neighbors when I finally buy a house, I keep seeing quotes that reinforce that instinct. Thanks, Dave.

I liked this, but I too would lose the brick noise.

none said...

Eh, this reads like a first draft. If Hobson isn't sure whether the one figure is a woman, why can't it be, what he thought was a woman, or what looked like a woman, or a long-haired figure, or anything other than saying it's a woman as a definitive statement, then back-pedalling in a long, woolly and pointless fashion. Eh.

Anonymous said...

The Sqrl's right. The reader should never have to ask themselves why.

batgirl said...

It's an arresting (hah!) opening, but I'm with everyone else on the awkwardness of anticipating a random sound. I get that his assumption about it being a woman tells us something about him, but the phrasing could be smoother and still do the job.