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  1. #1
    james heller
    Guest

    A couple chapters

    Some of you read and commented on chapters 1 & 2 of something i've been writing; this is a continuation of that same story. I have appreciated all the advice so far and would appreciate anything people have to say about this as well. It might be a bit too much too read all the way through, especially if you dont find it interesting, but its what I wrote tonight and yesterday so I thought I would post it all.

    Advanced thanks for any feedback on story, prose or anything else and thanks again to all those who have commented thus far. Also if I am posting too much just tell me and I will shy away a bit.

    James.


    Chapter 3

    A rhythmic thump echoed through him; this was bliss. The band playing, the kids dancing. Around him the laughter of a girl caught his ears and he smiled taking in her joy. He wasn't a part of this crowd or scene but he fed off of it.

    Teb opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling, his head relaxed on the cushion of the seat. "God damn, I like this place!" His voice was calm but energetic.

    The others at their table looked relaxed in a similar way but only Teb was focused away from the crowd. He loved it here, and not for a single reason the guys sitting with him liked it. To them this was an underground haunt, a dive where the teenagers and hipsters got away from the cleanliness of the city and the starch of their colleges. His roommates liked it for being an easy place a couple of underclass hoodlums could go and fit in with their more acceptable but still same generational counterparts. They could dance with girls from a college they could never afford and discuss underground technology or liberal demagogues at ease.

    To Teb though this place had an energy; there was a faint whisper of rebellion past simple young adult counter culture. It was as if the kids here were just enjoying a place in time where they were smarter and more clever then the rest of the world. This was the moment before they cracked the universe open with good natured common sense and messages of peace. That was @!#$, he knew. But the feeling was there; like the people wanted safety themselves and so valued it in others.

    They had been joined at their table by a familiar group of university students. There was an unspoken relationship between the groups. Those from the universities knew enough to consider those in Tebs group, considered having come from the 'streets', as real people with valuable input. This was probably, Teb thought, because the academic trend of the day was to center social values around the lower class. This being a tendency of the upper class to believe they knew how to 'fix' those below them. Teb didn't mind these students though; every culture had a counter culture and these guys were it. They listened and joked with Tebs group, actually interested in the hardships they had faced and occasionally deconstructing the story in the face of a larger sociological construct, but always with the humility a rich kid should at least seem to possess in the face of children born on the streets.

    There was banter back and forth. The people Teb had chosen as friends were all smart and held their own well. Most of then, Teb included, had actually gone to a university at one point; his friend Wahid had even graduated from one in journalism and was now doing an internship at an independent website. Jafa, another of his roommates and the youngest at 19, was still attending on a scholarship. Teb listened most of the time but right now he was trying to find a lull in the conversation in which to inject a topic he had been thinking about through the day.

    He found his opening as the most of the guys watched a pair of legs walk by their table. "Did you guys catch that video from the overpass this morning?"

    The attention of the group immediately snapped back. Everyone was exclaiming that they had indeed seen the video and were sickened at its grotesqueness when one of the students across from Teb asked the question he was waiting for. "What was that thing?"

    "I don't know, but the governments been backpedaling all day."

    Jafa kicked into the conversation, "My current affairs teacher showed the video in class this morning but the session ended before we got to talk about what it meant too much. Personally I don't think it means anything; we all know that the government has people working on these types of bio-soldiers."

    Wahid, the news intern and Tebs best friend in the group cut harshly across Jafa. "Your an idiot. First, its not a bio-soldier, that @!#$ is science fiction and because we don't know what it actually is we can ignore that. Cant you see that this happening right now probably isn't coincidence, so it's got to mean something."

    Jafa started to argue but Wahid continued to talk loudly over him. "There are protesters every day in the streets of Midia condemning the government for its positions of immorality. The religious population, which is growing in number and quickly becoming the constituency base of the opposition party, wants reform. They think that the government has gotten out of control when it comes to weapons production and, in particular, bioengineering. Remember that to them its unnatural and a major sin to mess with life at the genetic level; change it, kill it, adapt it and especially create it."

    Jafa was silent. As the youngest and the most academically bound to his arguments the others in the group often dismissed him. It wasn't that he was stupid he was just constrained by the thought processes they beat into you at state institutions. By not talking and instead listening to the others in the group he would get over it eventually and learn to think for himself.

    One of the university students from the other group, a pretty blond girl named Tyme who's opinion Teb respected, spoke up. "I agree with you Wahid. I also think that this was intentional. There was some talk at first that this was an experiment gone wrong, but if that was the case why would they load the guy into the car and take him across Midia? Also, you can tell that he's older. They would never use someone of his age in an experiment, especially if it was in the context of a bio-soldier."

    Teb asked, "So what do you think happened?". This was more just to be involved in the conversation, plus he was hoping that she would continue on before someone else interrupted her.

    "I think that odds are he's a researcher. If they had thought at all that he was contaminated with something they would never risk him leaving the lab. On the other hand, if the contamination was deliberate and they had to transport him for some reason they would surely have used more appropriate precautions. I think that whoever that was he surprised them by intentionally infecting himself on-route and in the struggle the car crashed."

    Another of the university kids, a guy Teb didn't know so well named Adam, chimed in. "Why would he do that? I mean, what would be the point?"

    Now Teb cut in. "I think his point was exactly what we saw. He wanted everyone to know that the government is in the business of making monsters. The fact that he was riding with an armed escort whom he apparently wanted dead means that it's possible he was in that car against his will. If Tyme is right then he also needed time to plan the attack, so that wasn't his first ride. I'm just guessing obviously, but to me it would suggest that he had been doing this research for the government against his will and this act was a punishment. He knew that if the people saw what the government was up too it would scare them. It would strengthen the religious, anti science base of the opposition party and quite possibly lead to either a political coup or some very tough days ahead. My guess is that the crowds of protesters we see around here are going to be a little more agitated and alot bigger tomorrow."

    Tyme nodded her approval. Teb had known that was the argument she was going to make; if he was honest he would admit that he was hoping just a little to impress her.

    Adam joined in again, "That's pretty far fetched of you both, there is no evidence to suggest any of that."

    Teb thought about that for a second, he was sure Adam was playing devils advocate. "If you think about it..." But he was cut off Tyme who had turned to face Adam.

    "Yes, there is alot of speculation. But what else could have been going on? The old guy, obviously, was connected to this in more ways then one. He came into contact with whatever it was that caused all this. We know, or can assume, that his age rules out 'test subject' and we also know that he wasn't accidentally contaminated because they chose to transport him with light security, it was just that one guy with a sidearm."

    "How do you know that there weren't more guards dead in the vehicle?" Adam asked.

    "There weren't", said Wahid. "Reports are that there were only three people in that car, the old guy, the guy that came out but got attacked by that thing, and the driver who died in the crash."

    Adam continued arguing small points, needling Tyme and Wahid with details but Teb wasn't listening anymore. His mind began to drift off course.

    What events could lead a person to this? He asked himself. If that really was a researcher what life would you have to lead before such an act is performable. Was he insane? Probably not, he had enough faculty that they allowed him to continue with the project. Then Teb began to get a familiar feeling. His focus drew inside and he was left feeling like a conscious on the inside of an unmovable shell. The constrained feeling was painful in its debilitation and caused him to panic. He had had these before, he even had them often sometimes. Every time though he was sure that he would not return, he would be trapped in his head, unable to move his limbs and at the mercy of those who found him in his catatonic state. He could hear, in the distance the low bass of the music thumping rhythmically. His friends were talking but he wasn't facing them, he was staring into the dance crowd and so he could not make out their indistinct voices.

    Calm down, He thought. This will end, they always end. They get worse when you panic, just think of something else. But he couldn't think of anything but fear and anxiety and panic; his horror turned to images. Now he was seeing the man running at full sprint towards the terrified body guard. He could see in detail the entrails racing behind him and the skull missing from the back half of the head; brain exposed. How could a brain be exposed and a human continue to function like that? Wouldn't the trauma of the crash have prevented him from attacking the man? Tebs thoughts trailed into a series of representations of the scene, but they weren't from the video. First he saw the man's face and could see in it the mistake he had made in his assumption that the man had attacked out of vengeance. This mans eyes said nothing but rage and hunger, he was a hunter. Then he saw the victim scrambling out of the car and pulling his gun. This was not the reaction of a person transporting a dangerous experiment; this was the look of a man taken by surprise, unready for what had happened and not yet able to cope with what was happening. Get away, the man was thinking, get away.

    Teb was starting to calm, this one had been easy. See Teb, all you have to do is calm down and you'll be fine. You've gotten through these before, you'll get through this one and you'll make it through all the ones in the future. Then he saw images again. The first one was the old man cutting a hole into his thigh in a bathroom. He put a small vial into the wound and flinched from the pain. He saw the mans eyes again and he was crying, but not from the pain of it. The man was thinking about why he was doing this and far from being worried about the moral consequences, this man was thinking about the past, about what had driven him here.

    This isn't right. Why am I thinking this? In those few words of inner dialogue Teb set off the panic more fully then he had ever felt it before. His body seized and he was aware of watching the floor rush towards his face; there was no sound anymore. He couldn't close his eyes but he could no longer see either and the blackness was filled in with one final image of the man. This image came with a devastating sense of exhaustion. He could tell that there was emotion here, but it was so encompassing and so strong that he could not feel it all and instead floundered in it. When his mind finally went blank from sheer overload the room came back, all at once. Tyme, Adam and Wahid were standing over him, Wahid had obviously taken control and asked the others to back off; he was used to these.

    Wahid looked at him, "You alright?"

    "Yeah," Teb said, "I'll be fine."

    Tyme was crouched close to where he had fallen off his chair; she was looking concerned. Teb was embarrassed that it had all taken place in front of her and could also see in her eyes that she was trying to judge whether or not this was cause for concern, or to be written off as frailty. Teb no longer wanted to be in the club, the lights and sounds had changed from seductive to oppressive and offensive. "Can we get out of here?" he asked.

    Chapter 4

    Tyme was early enough to her class that she could get a good seat; her current universal affairs lecture appeared to be the only interesting thing she would be doing this semester. The class filtered in after a short while and Adam joined her in a saved chair at the bottom row of the auditorium.
    On time, as usual, the teacher walked into the room from a door in the back and approached the podium while fiddling with his microphone.


    "Hello." He said. "For those of you who missed our first class, I am professor Yachim and this is CUA315, lectures on Current Universal Affairs and Off World Cultures. Today we are going to continue with our exploration of topics on the subject of Gauza. Specifically we are going to address the issues of Midian Aid and pro Gauzian lobby groups." Yachim was walking down the stairs in front of the podium to stand closer to the class.


    "To start I think its important to address Gauzian history. Does anyone in the class want to share what they know?"



    Several people raised their hands and Yachim pointed to a guy near the back of the room. The kid started to talk but Yachim quickly cut him off. "Please class, remember that this is a big room. I encourage feedback so when I point at you to comment activate the microphone on your desk; its the icon in the top left. Alright go ahead, start with your name."



    This time the entire class could hear the young man in the back speaking. "My name is Jung-so-Lei." He paused for a second but did not seem nervous. "I think that the Guazian conflict has roots in the reformed christian movement. Gauza was once a mining planet. Its atmosphere wasn't particularly suited to human life, but engineers where able to adapt the environment to serve most colony needs. Despite advancements, it is still reliant on off world aid to survive."

    "And why is that considered such an issue?"


    "I think that the common problem many people have is that the planet is no longer a mining colony."

    "Right, thank you. Does anyone else want to follow that up?"



    Adam raised his hand and was called on. "Well, people take acception to the fact that the Midian government spends 30 percent of its foreign budget keeping the colony alive for no reason, rather then bring them home."



    "Do you know why we do this?"



    "Yeah." Adam said. "Gauza was the location of the Reformed Christian movement, like that guy said. This movement found a following on Midia and the opposition party built their platform around keeping the Gauza colony alive based on its religious significance."

    "But the opposition party lost the last election, yet there has been no change in Gauzian policy."



    "The opposition party, though, made Gauza such an issue that the Human Advancement and Survival Party was unable to ignore it. They promised funding on the same level that the opposition party was suggesting. Even though they won the election they are bound by their pre-election promises of Gauzian preservation. It doesn't hurt them in the polls though; most people are pro-gauza."

    "You are both right. To summary, for those of you who need it, Gauza is an offworld ex-mining colony on life support. It is the center of the reformed christian movement, a movement that has become deep seeded in our, that is midian, society today. It is so deep rooted, in fact, that gauza is the only non-production oriented off world colony that exists. It is kept alive only through political motivation to gain votes from the general public who overwhelmingly support the reformed christian movement." An unfamiliar person to Tymes left raised his hand. "Yes," Yachim said, "you have a question?"

    "Well, I thought that the Reform movement had hold only in areas outside of Midia." He said.

    "Thats true, but Midias elections are planetwide. This planets capital, also known as Midia, might have a differing demographic makeup and might hold almost 30 percent of the worlds population, but thats not enough to swing elections. Does anyone know why the voting demographic is so varied between the captial Midia, and the planet Midia?"

    Tyme raised her hand this time and was called on. She set her microphone and spoke. "Well, the capital Midia is the economic center of the planet. Midia is the only large city on the planet because of restrictions to city size elsewhere. We have all the best schools, all the money, the technology and everything else. Because of this the citizens of the capital are better educated and thus more likely to vote for the Science party. Outside Midia is basically villages and farmland, resource gathering operations. The people in these areas are poorly educated and more likely to vote for the religious party."

    "So," Yachim started, "in essence you'll only believe in religion if your dumb?" He had stopped pacing back and forth and was looking directly at her, almost challenging her. She had not expected this, she had taken forgranted that religion was generally not well tollerated by the other students at this school; or as they called it, magic.

    She was quickly thinking how to answer the accusation of discrimination when professor Yachim spoke up. "It's alright. What is your name?"

    "Tyme." She said.

    "Class, do any of you know who I am?" When no one spoke up, he answered his own retorical question. "I teach only this one class every semester, the rest of the time I am known as the dean of this school. There are alot of people below me in administration so you will rarely ever hear my name outside of this class. When it comes to rank, however, there is no one here who is higher then I."

    "I started this military school about 12 years ago and it has grown in funding, staff size and in students ever since, based mostly on funding from the government. However, as the school grew I noticed a severe deficiency in one area. You are all aware that this institution is held in extremely high reguard in the military and in the world. We are known for producing minds who go on to work in all levels and departments of the military; but, as you are also probably aware, the people who graduate from here tend to go into a science."

    He began to pace around a little more. "What I noticed was that, as our school progressed in reputation, the kids leaving here became more and more linear, with no real substance, lacking in character or other quality, whatever you want to call it. I took over a class, this class in fact about 5 years ago and I quickly discovered the problem. No one is teaching you to think diffrent from anyone else, and this is a great failure on my part. What Tyme here said is nothing you wern't all thinking. I have never gone more then 2 days into a class without someone pointing out the superiority of so called intellectuals by bringing up this same discussion, and I know you were all thinking it, so let us not lay this at Tyme's feet."

    He was back at the podium now. "I am basically begging you, if you learn one thing here, learn some humility. I started this school because I saw war. You are all to young to remember it well, but there were dark times in Midias past. 15 years ago we were attacked, as I am sure you have learned about, by the only other life sustaining planet we know of in the universe, the one we all emmigrated from in a previous generation, Cyra. I saw death and destruction and pain and I vowed to help stop it. So I created a school where I hoped I could train soldiers to defend us from further attack, but more importantly a school were I could train soldiers to have empathy and end this war."

    Her professor actually looked to be pleading with them, "You cannot acheive this goal without empathy. If our government continues to mass produce troops with no brain and a trained fighting instinct this war will continue until Midia and Cyra have been completely destroyed. My hope for you is that you can leave here without any sense of smugness in your abilities, but instead with a sense of duty to all of mankind. You are being trained to prevent war at home, but you should all know that the quickest path to this goal is peace with Cyra."

    Chapter 5

    Wahid sat in the kitchen doing some last minute fact checking on a political column his direct boss wrote once weekly. It was mostly dry work requiring him to loll around the bland pages of government websites and congressional archives.

    It was later in the day, Teb had just left for work but all the other guys were home. Across from him Olli was finishing an essay on a stained piece of digital paper and noisily eating cereal, for dinner. The kid didn't look like he had showered yet that week but this was the style and Olli had never had a shortage of girls around the apartment so on some level it was acceptable.

    There was a consistantly elusive reference in the article to a specific energy trader, Brandon Mills, whom Wahid had not yet been able to find even a networking page online for. He wasn't listed in the archives as a donator to any campaign or even any charities. Wondering if the name had been misspelled and knowing that the accusation of bribery was central to the article Wahid decided he had no other choice but to give his boss a call.


    He pulled out his mobile and hit the speed dial for work hoping to catch him late at work. The receptionist answered. "Thank you for calling Hoyte Media, how may I direct your call?" \

    "Hi Isla, this is Wahid. I'm looking for mr. Benazir, is he still there?"

    "Oh hi Wahid. Yeah he's still here, let me transfer you hold on just a second."

    He could hear Isla clicking her mouse and then the phone began to ring again. It rang twice before his boss picked up. "Hello, dave here."

    Wahid was not at all intimidated by his boss. Dave Benazir was an interesting man with a passion for writing. "Hi mr. Benazir, this is Wahid."

    "Hi Wahid. What can I do for you?"

    "Well i'm fact checking the article on..." Whatever it had been that Wahid had been trying to get across he had long forgotten by the time his body crossed the kitchen and shattered the sliding glass door onto the deck. An explosion powerfull enough to life him from where he sat ripped though the closed front door tearing it from its hindges and causing it to sail headlong in Jafa, who had been standing in the living room, and destroy him.

    Wahid was in shock. He couldn't hear anything that was going on inside the house and he was afraid to open his eyes because he could feel the glass shards covering his eyelids. He tried to move but the pain was unbearable; still, he managed to tilt his head forward and shake off the glass. Jafa was no longer in his line of site but he was surely dead. Olli no longer sat at the kitchen table but staggered tiredly to his feet.

    Two men dressed in professional uniforms whipped into the living room via the open front door. The first dropped the stumbling Olli with two quick shots to head. These bullets did their work quietly but with devastating force, ripping the top three quarters of his head from its resting place and causing Olli to spin on his way to the floor. The men proceded to the back of the apartment where Mark and Tobi had there own rooms.

    Wahid was to tired to fight, he didn't know who these men were but they would surely trace his flight path through the window and find him as well.

    Then he heard gunfire, but it sounded diffrent. It was, as best he could tell, the same gun that had gone off before; only this time the sounds were closer spaced, seemingly less certain. There was what sounded like a couple seconds of struggle before the noises fell silent.



  2. #2
    Sam Fletcher
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    This is a total of 4,390 words. I didn't even bother to read it. If you want a critique then pick something that is 1,000 words or less and post that.

  3. #3
    james heller
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    Sorry, I was thinking it was a bit long but I have the story arcs planned out so I just started writing and I thought the 3 chapters stood well together. Maybe you could just read part of it; chapter 4 might be closer to the heart of the story and as a religious person I could definately use your opinion on that section. Sci-fi religion, sounds up your alley, according to your bio anyways.

    Thanks,
    James

  4. #4
    the cat came back
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    I think that if you're going to post chapter after chapter you might consider trying to solicit someone to email it to.

    I could be wrong.

  5. #5
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    James,

    I couldn't get the navel gazing in paragraphs 3 to 6. Way too much telling and too derivative of a movie. Good Will Hunting kept flashing in my mind like a giant neon sign.

    Also, if the character's name is Teb, his group needs a possessive apostrophe: Teb. If Teb is a group you need to cap the g and insert "the": the Teb Group or even The Teb Group.

    Hint: Join a critque group. These boards aren't designed to critique an entire novel or even several chapters of one. We're great with spit and polish on a few pages. Hopefully, posters learn from that and apply the suggestion categories to their entire story by themselves.

    Best,
    Janice

  6. #6
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    I couldn't get past the navel gazing ...

    Also, if the character's name is Teb, his group needs a possessive apostrophe: Teb's.

    Sigh.

    Janice

  7. #7
    Sam Fletcher
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    I'm a sucker for the "it's religious SciFi ploy." Alright, I'll read it and then we'll see. I'm not promising to comment.

  8. #8
    Sam Fletcher
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    1. Chapter three is too long and nothing really happens
    ...Chapter four is more interesting but I don't really know where you're headed with it.
    ...Chapter five gets to real action but is to brief to really analyze.

    2. You have a good style and your writing is sound except for some typo's here and there. However, IMHO you need less talking and more doing. Chapter three seemed to mostly be speculation on what might have happened in a news report. Let me give an example of how that sounds.

    "Hey did you see the news report about the old woman and her cat"

    "Yes, I saw. It was freaky wasn't it."

    "Yes it was freaky. How do you think the cat ever got to be like that."

    "Beats me, but it certainly was an interesting story."

    "You know, we could speculate about how the cat got that way. Personally I think it had to do with the kind of kitty litter he's using."

    "Seriously? I would have never considered the kitty litter. I was thinking that maybe she put his bed too close to the TV."

    "Nah, that would never work it had to be the kitty litter."

    Talking back and forth and speculating about what might be going on in a news report on television makes for deadly dull reading. You need to find another way for him to get the information he needs. What about overhearing someone talking about it in the bar. Then you not only have the conversation but the tension of whether he is going to get caught listening. You also might make it clear that there are serious consequences if he does get caught. Make him take foolish risks in order to hear more. Make him almost get caught. All of this adds excitement to what is a pretty dull conversation otherwise.

    3. The nightclub scene seems awfully earthlike to be happening on a planet that has never heard of earth

    Essentially youre writing about an alien culture. Even if these are the distant descendants of earth they should have something about them that is strange and different. Jack Vance was a master at writing about human colonized planets that had become alien in outlook by being separated from earth for so many years. One of my favorites was about a prison ship full of conmen, thieves, swindlers, murderers, rapists, pickpockets and other neer do wells who had crashed landed on a planet hundreds of years before the story takes place. Now, all they remember about that ancient culture was the names of some of the criminal activities. So they took pride in being a blackguard because they thought it meant police captain. Some of them went into the profession of thuggery and were proud to be called thugs. There was a certain alien feel to all of this which made the planet unique and separate from earth. What separates your planet and your culture. How has it developed differently since leaving earth behind?

    4. Chapter four was similar to chapter three, lots of talking and no action. You need to build some conflict between Tyme and her teacher. Have her singled out even though she didn't want to say anything. The history is fairly interesting but adding a little bit of conflict is going to make it better.

    I don't really know where you're going with your comments on the Reformed Christian faith and therefore don't really have an opinion yet. You have correctly identified the perceived conflict between religious faith and scientific agnosticism. In my opinion there is no conflict between true faith and true science. Science and religion can go hand in hand and have for most of history. So, you're setting up the conflict and I won't really know how to comment until I see what you are going to do with that conflict.

    5. Chapter five is pretty good but I think you need to talk more about how the gunfire makes him feel. He should cringe when he hears it. He should be looking over the side of the balcony wondering if he could get away. His ears need to be ringing for the shock and noise of the explosion.

    6. I think your fundamentals are pretty good but you do need to work on retaining the readers interest in every scene. Chapter 4-30 may be great but if the reader stopped reading in chapter 3 hes never going to know that.

    ----------------------

    And, this is probably the last time Im going to comment on a multi-chapter post.

  9. #9
    james heller
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    Thank you, that was extremely helpful and I promise not to keep posting chapters or multiple chapters one after another. I'll religate it to smaller more important questions.

    The reason I have the kids talking in discussion groups even though I know its boring is because I cant think of another way of showing off both the information they need to hear and portraying them as brilliant children. All these kids are going to be united at the school in the middle of the book as the religious uprising of the reformed christian movement flairs up around them.

    I guess, I wish I could think of another way of doing it, but if the book is fundamentally flawed, there is little way of working around it.

  10. #10
    the cat came back
    Guest

    Re: A couple chapters

    Maybe so, maybe not, but there is a way, always, of working through it.

    Know what I mean?

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