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Scarlet Tropix
2010-01-30, 04:00 PM
This excerpt is a piece of something I hope to turn into a novel later. It's sort of a sci-fi/psionics thing. I've been planning it for about four years.

So, erm, fire away. I really appreciate criticism and feedback. You could say I convert it into fuel. Sorry if the formatting stinks, it didn't really convert well.


CHAPTER THREE






1

The sun hung overhead, a perpetually bleary blot hanging over San Francisco’s hideously orange skies. Zoe sat on the fire escape of her father’s ramshackle apartment, dangling her bare feet off of the side idly as she picked insistently at the flecks of rust that coated the railing. Occasionally, she would toss a handful of flaky paint chips over the side, seemingly unaware of the way it stained her hands and stuck under her nails as she bit her lip in thought.

Zoe had come out to the fire escape, as she often did, to get away from Phil—she couldn’t bring herself to call him dad, not anymore—until the booze knocked him out for the night. Her shoulder still ached sympathetically where he had struck her, and already she could tell that it would be swollen in the morning. There hadn’t been a reason for it. Not that a man like Phil ever needed one. No, she’d just been unfortunate enough to get home right as he ran out of beer, and audacious enough to enter without resupplies. She considered herself lucky to have come out of it without glass in her sides. Phil had a mean swing.

Rubbing her shoulder sullenly, she tossed another handful of rust over the balcony. It wasn’t that she couldn’t leave; The old drunk wasn’t nearly personally invested enough in her torment to try and follow her. There was just nowhere to go, a fact that was patently obvious just from a look around. From up here, everything was endless rows of squat brown bricks and the metallic tan of water tanks. The condominiums ran together in a horrible tangle of chain link alleyways and cast iron bridges out as far as the eye could see. She was caked in grime from sitting out here, and long past caring. There were no options. That was the crux of the matter. Not for anyone, and not under the dome.

It was a level of uniformity so low tuned as to have no words, but to her that was still frankly terrifying. The definitive example of it, in her mind, had come around her fourteenth birthday, a little more than a year ago. She had seen a man fall from an apartment two floors above her; a moment of falling past her with an expression of mild confusion on his face, as if he hadn’t yet realized what had happened to him. Then he was gone, the wet sound of the impact rising up—like a watermelon bursting, she had thought later with a shiver—for a split second. Then silence. Then, as she looked over the railing at the street below, the screaming, so shrill and loud that at first she hadn’t realized it had come from her own mouth.

She had bolted inside, tripping over the shag rug and causing Phil to spill his beer all over the two of them. He had gotten ready to slug her then, splayed out over the rug with booze dripping through her hair like matted blood, but something in her expression must have changed his mind; He stalled mid-swing and stared with that dopey, muddled expression unique to dogs and drunks, his breath a filthy stench of sausages and booze thick enough to choke on. They froze like that for a minute, her on the edge of tears, him breathing heavily, a vein in his forehead throbbing dangerously.

Stroke. Stroke out. The thought popped into her head with a sort of horrible clarity, and she leapt on it like a drowning man. If only he would just stroke out, right now, and leave her be. By all means, he could blow the fuse in what was left of his boozed out brain, or bust a tuning valve in the old sloppy heart, she’d get over it somehow. After a moment he lowered his fist, swallowing, smacking his lips, blinking repeatedly as though in a daze, before wandering out to the balcony where sirens had begun to sound, leaving her there in a sharp snarl of relief and, to her own shame, disappointment. Minutes later, after stripping naked and burying herself under a mountain of blankets, Zoe had curled into a ball on her futon and cried herself to sleep.

If that had been the end of it, Zoe thought, scraping the dust off of the bottoms of her feet, she might have forgotten it, eventually. But the real horror had come the next day.

The following afternoon she had gone out to the fire escape again, despite a very real dread that clung to her like a shawl. Walking almost on tiptoe, as if warding away an unseen spirit, she came to the edge of the railing and peered over. At the bottom, where the man had fallen—and died, she would always remind herself, hating the tone of finality that the word held inside her head—there was a dark stain of dried blood, running from the edge of road up the sidewalk to the wall of the apartment complex. It was no longer recognizable as blood; instead looking like the very material of the building itself had spread like a root.

She hadn’t slept well that night. The image of that man falling, that expression of surprise, constantly replayed through her mind over and over. The more she thought about it—not that she could have driven it out—the more she had become convinced that it hadn’t been surprise but some sort of malign awareness.

“Did you fall?” she had written later that week, “Or did you jump?”
After a moment of consideration, she continued.
“Will I jump?”

Beneath it, in orange crayon, she had drawn a roughly Zoe shaped blob. There had been somewhat of a limitation in that the color she wanted wasn’t actually available as a crayon; It looked more like the sky than anything else, but to Zoe, who perhaps had a better perspective on the whole thing, it looked like dried blood. A few months later, she had come across the paper again and thrown it away, but the mental image had remained burned into her head; A rusty smear across gray pavement. Would she jump? For now the answer was no, but sometimes, when she was at her lowest, that horrible belief would return—that feeling that everything was being consumed by a vicious mottled brown.



2

Phil Callahan was sinking quietly.

He laid motionless on the tatty sofa, the doors and windows closed, curtains drawn. The only light in the room was the faint glow of the television, the muted picture encased by a thin sheen of static. In the kitchen, he could hear the fridge ticking occasionally, accompanied by the minute sounds of shifting ice and the hum of the fan. His hand was still draped around a bottle on the floor, the condensation refreshingly cool against his skin in the warm, heavy air of the apartment. Occcasionally the fan whirred past, the breeze tousling his hair and caressing his exposed arm.

He was waiting for his daughter to come back. They had fought, he remembered, but not why or when. It could have been moments ago or days—for the clock, when he was strong enough to look at it, displayed murky gibberish. The only signs of the outside world were the bands of color around the doors and windows, and he could not say for sure whether they had always been there. It hurt too much to look.

Sir Aelthas
2010-01-30, 07:01 PM
It looks good, I'm not really the kind who likes Sci Fi stories and the like but you've made a good start :)

Even if it's a bit of a dark way to start a story :P

Scarlet Tropix
2010-01-30, 07:05 PM
It's actually not the beginning, even though that would be logical. More around Chapter 3.

Thanks though.

Felixaar
2010-02-03, 01:28 AM
Nice, I quite like it. I could use a little proofing - some sentences are too long and words are improperly placed which means you need to read twice - example is when she describes is breath as 'sausages and beer thick enough to choke on' - at first I thought it was the beer which was thick.

I quite enjoyed the subject matter, though, even if it's rather dark. Heck, because it's rather dark. At what point, my I ask, does it become Sci-Fi? And in what way? is Zoe the main character?

I do quite enjoy some of the detail, here - especially that paragraph about her wishing Phil would have a stroke. It's particularly well written and gives me Stephen King-esque vibes. (Yes, you can now include "Has been compared to Stephen King," on a resume.)

When you complete the novel, drop me a line, I'd love to read it :smallsmile:

Scarlet Tropix
2010-02-03, 05:53 PM
Yes!
A comment, I spy!

I'm taking your advice about the wording. After all, immersion is pretty important. Anyone who wants to drop more examples of that wins a cookie; After all, it's hard to edit your own work.

As for the sci-fi element, there are two key points.

Firstly, most of the world has been devastated by World War. Civilized humanity-and I use that term loosely-survives in domed cities and underground. You can survive out in the wasteland, but it's hard. Everything is ruined, the atmosphere is toxic.

Secondly, a small amount of people are becoming Psionic. Very much so, in a hurling buildings and exploding heads way. Zoe, who is very much a main character, is one herself, though she hasn't manifested yet. The other two main characters are fellow fledgling lady-psion Merrian, who premiers in the first, unwritten chapter, and our antagonist, who I shouldn't talk about too much.

It is rather dark yes, but I tend to be as well. Stephen King is my favorite author, so I suppose it sort of makes sense that I would write like him, although it's unintentional. Still very flattering though.

I think I'll update here as I go, even though it will eventually lead to TLDR. So, keep checking back I suppose.

Lix Lorn
2010-02-03, 06:13 PM
I wrote an OOTS fanfiction, short, fluffy, kinda. About Tsukiki. I love her. XD

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4884806/1/Is_it_Necrophilia_if_youre_Conscious

...huh. There's no apostraphe. DXD

Scarlet Tropix
2010-02-03, 07:16 PM
I think you hit the wrong thread hun. XD

Lix Lorn
2010-02-03, 07:18 PM
So i did. DXD I misread this.
Do you know where this should have been posted?

Oh, i looked at the opening of the story, briefly. Looked nice.

Scarlet Tropix
2010-02-03, 07:19 PM
Thanks.

I think the thread you wanted was right next to mine in the list when you posted.

^_^'

Usually there's a fanfiction thread.

Lix Lorn
2010-02-03, 07:45 PM
I couldn't find it, made myself one. XD Thanks.

Scarlet Tropix
2010-02-04, 12:02 AM
Interesting note:
Storing it here has saved me two rewrites due to stupid computer.

Felixaar
2010-02-04, 03:42 AM
Yes!
A comment, I spy!

I'm taking your advice about the wording. After all, immersion is pretty important. Anyone who wants to drop more examples of that wins a cookie; After all, it's hard to edit yo

My advice is to do more writing before doing more editing. Trying to do both at once ends in a bad headache.


As for the sci-fi element, there are two key points.

Firstly, most of the world has been devastated by World War. Civilized humanity-and I use that term loosely-survives in domed cities and underground. You can survive out in the wasteland, but it's hard. Everything is ruined, the atmosphere is toxic.

Secondly, a small amount of people are becoming Psionic. Very much so, in a hurling buildings and exploding heads way. Zoe, who is very much a main character, is one herself, though she hasn't manifested yet. The other two main characters are fellow fledgling lady-psion Merrian, who premiers in the first, unwritten chapter, and our antagonist, who I shouldn't talk about too much.

Sounds neat. What are the domes made of? Are they pregnable? What percentage of people are becoming psionic, and, dare I ask, why? Is the governement trying to control them?


It is rather dark yes, but I tend to be as well. Stephen King is my favorite author, so I suppose it sort of makes sense that I would write like him, although it's unintentional. Still very flattering though.

Steve-o is in my top three, and the only one still living at that (Michael Crichton and David Eddings both died within the past year or two :smallfrown:). Do you have a fav SK novel? I'd have to say either The Dead Zone or The Stand, and I'm enjoying Under The Dome, too.


I think I'll update here as I go, even though it will eventually lead to TLDR. So, keep checking back I suppose.

Will do!

Scarlet Tropix
2010-02-04, 09:16 AM
I know exactly what you mean about the editing. Unfortunately I'm sort of a perfectionist, which slows me down.

The domes aren't a solid substance so much as a filtering screen. Their solidity is variable; Openings can be made for Planes to pass through when needed, for example. Water passes through, to an extent. I haven't really gotten all of the rest bugged out.

I'm hesitant to put down a percentage of Psions just yet, although I will say that there are degrees of power, and types like Merrian or Zoe are likely less than 1% of the population. It's a natural evolution, popping up more often due to the thinning of the population through the world war; Only the best stuff, be it smarts, strength, or skill, survived that hellhole,and many psions fell under that category. It's been quite a few generations since, so it's starting to pop up somewhat more frequently. Of course, less than 1% is still less than 1%, so again it's not common...

I ramble a lot.

The government has a vested interest in controlling psions. While most minor leaguers are left alone, mostly due to the development of limited anti-psionic technologies, the government does like to scoop up the big ones. How well a government can control a Psion is... Debatable. It is probably telling that the highest positions in the world's governments are currently almost completely psion.

Michael Crichton is one of my favorites too. It's a shame that he passed on. Never heard of David Eddings, but I'll be sure to look.

As for favorites? It's easier to ask what I don't like, but... Yeah, The Stand, IT, and Misery are probably the ones I read most often. I also really like Christine, the Shining, and Rose Madder, but I keep losing those. I need to reread Under the Dome, I was sick at the time and didn't retain it well.

Hoping I still sound coherent.

Felixaar
2010-02-07, 07:12 AM
David Eddings is almost strictly high fantasy, so if you're into that you'll probably love him. There's a lot of elements he includes - like bloody PROPHECIES - that I dislike on principle, but he still does some brilliant work, especially with dialogue. Plus the characters are genuinely likeable. Crichton is a genius, heh. I loved The Shining and Misery, and I have a copy of IT I'm still getting through.

Domes sound interesting. Do they go underground? How are they made - generators of some sort, or something like that? Sorry to bug you with so many questions, but when you work out the answers you'll be glad I asked :smallbiggrin:

The idea of world leaders being Psions is... scary. I like it. Does that come into play somewhere in the book?

You sound coherent to me, atleast, but that considering it's me that might just be a sign that both of us are falling deeper and deeper into madness.

Scarlet Tropix
2010-02-07, 07:18 PM
It's nice to find someone with similar taste in authors. ^_^

As for your questions:

The domes don't extend under the ground exactly; the entrances to the underground areas are within the domed cities themselves, and everything is boxed in by thick concrete. There's a limited underground network of roads to connect the cities together.There are generators scattered around that keep everything working, but it's important to note that a breach is not immediately fatal; While the atmosphere is toxic, they have measures to deal with it. They're not as sheltered from it as they might like to think.

The world leaders being Psions is definitely very relevant. The world's government has changed hands a bit more than is healthy... I'm not sure how to get any further into that without spoilers.

And, well. Madness is a sign of excellence in this profession, I think.
I hope you enjoy your copy of IT when you get it. One of his best.