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  1. #1
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    Please give me your thoughts Chapter 1 cont. Revised

    I have tried to take to heart much of what has been offered. Please let me know what you think of the revision.

    Chapter 1 - Confusion Rev.1

    Brian Casey hated working late. Worse still, he would have to break his date with Jessie. It was bad enough that Jim Rogers was sick and couldn’t do his shift, but this would be the fifth time in as many weeks that he would disappoint his girlfriend. Working in the world’s largest financial data center was stressful enough. Double shifts just made it that much harder. Rogers had better be dying or he’d pay too.

    Although he didn’t consider himself fat, sitting in one of UNICORE’s cheap-ass office chairs for hours literally hurt. He had a bad case of numb butt and an aching back to go with it. He needed a break. Getting up to pour himself a coffee - he was on his third pot today - he glanced out the window overlooking the peninsula. San Francisco was beautiful at night and he could see the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. The glow of floodlights created a golden aura around the bridge giving credence to its name, in spite of its red painted metalwork. The ribbon of white and red lights of the traffic on the bridge snaked from one side to the other. To the east, at pier 29 the Embarcadero, he could see his uncle’s restaurant. Always busy it was a great place to eat and the tourists loved it. He was supposed have dinner there tonight with Jessie. He cringed at the thought of the bitching he would have to endure. Brian filled his cup and sat back down at his computer.

    He spent his days simply checking credit related transactions. He checked spending patterns, looking for abnormalities in the way people spent their money and flagging anything out of the ordinary. If someone made an unusually large purchase with no real history of such extravagance, the computer would flag the transaction and he would contact the client to verify the purchase. It was all part of Unicore’s ID protection plan.

    However, for the past few months he and Jim Rogers had a different assignment. They had to watch only two files. ‘Scrutinize anything related to them. Send daily reports to head office and note anything questionable. He was not told what to look for but he guessed he would recognize it if he saw it.

    He had the files displayed on two separate screens. Nothing special stood out. Just routine stuff, phone numbers of calls made and received, credit card transactions, purchase orders, checks cashed, money transferred, payments made, Internet usage, Pay Per View purchases, emails; everything associated with the daily process of these individuals’ lives. He had seen thousands of transactions over the previous ten months. He did not know the name of the individuals nor did he know where they were located. He only knew the file numbers. Had he cared, Casey could have found out but he had no reason to care.

    As transactions popped onto the screen he would give it a cursory glance, click OK and move on to the next screen. It was robotic. He’d done dozens of these today and they were all starting to look alike.

    Grabbing the phone he thought, maybe if I throw myself off the bridge…shaking the image from his mind he dialed the number. Jessie answered the phone and he could from her tone she was already pissed off at him for being late.

    “We had a date, you promised,” she whined.

    “We did, that is - we do baby. It’s just that Jim’s sick and I can’t leave. I promise we’ll go out tomorrow night,” Brian countered, still clicking away.

    She kept at him. “You always say that but you’re always so tired we never go out I’m getting fed up with it.”

    “Look,” he said, “I know you’re pissed but there’s nothing I can do.”

    A screen popped up that said “Are you sure?” He clicked OK.

    “I’ll be home at midnight. We’ll talk then.”

    “I won’t be here, you’ll have to talk to yourself” she snapped and hung up.

    The file disappeared from the left hand screen. Deep inside the central database at UNICORE, microprocessors calculated and juggled billions of bytes of information. A command given, the little black chips with their huge silver heat-sinks and fans whirring away began manipulating data. It was impossible; nevertheless, it happened. Maybe it was a power surge or a static charge no one knew or was aware of the consequences.

    Brian waited for the next screen to pop up. It never came. He began clicking icons frantically looking for the file. A sick feeling came over him. He didn’t know what he had just done but whatever it was, it wasn’t good. He kept on trying to undo his mistake but it was no use. He sat staring at the blank screen before him. Damn you Jessie, he thought, it was all her fault for being such a bitch. Why do you have to give me such a hard time?

    ****

    Peter Hammond hated being late. He always made a point of being the first to arrive at work but this morning he wouldn’t make it. A bad night, he thought, as he finished brushing his teeth. He hadn’t dreamt of Amy in months and now she came to him in nightmares. Living alone there was no one to hear him as he woke up screaming and terrified at the images flashing through his subconscious. He missed his wife badly. At forty-eight, he was feeling very lonely. All he had was his business and the people who worked there but the loneliness persisted, and now the nightmares were back.

    Peter’s parents had passed away four years ago and Amy’s had already passed away before he met her. They had wanted children but the business had consumed all their time and attention. Now he wished they had taken time for babies. He regretted not having a son or daughter to carry on Amy’s memory. He finished dressing, kissed his fingers and touched them to the picture of his wife on the dresser, grabbed his jacket and keys and stepped outside.

    The cold January air hit him full in the face as he walked to his SUV. His breath fogged the windshield as he sat waiting for the car to warm up. Peter had a lot on his plate today and being late made him edgy. He hated waiting for the defroster to work so he helped it out by using his credit card to scrape the frost off the inside. Little curls of snow dropped and quickly began to melt as they touched the leather covering the dash. Satisfied that he could see well enough to continue he replaced his credit card into his wallet and pulled out of the driveway. “Damn” he cussed to himself noticing the fuel gauge was on empty. He’d need to get gas before going too much further. Peter disliked self-serve gas bars. In his business, he couldn’t afford to offend a client by stinking of gasoline. He pulled into the full serve pumps at the gas bar just down the street.

    “’Morning Peter,” the attendant said as Peter rolled the window down. “You runnin’ late today?” He asked.

    “Yeah, Eddie,” Peter answered, “Just fill her up for me bud, I’m in a hurry.” Eddie stuck the nozzle in the filler tube and moved on to the next customer. When the nozzle kicked off, Eddie finished filling the tank and Peter handed him his credit card.

    “Be right back,” Eddie said as he scurried off to the kiosk. When Eddie returned, he had a confused look on his face. “ Er, ah, gee Peter I think somethin’s wrong. You’re card won’t work.” “What? You’re kidding right? I really don’t have time for this Eddie, don’t screw with me today, OK!” Peter wasn’t laughing.

    “No joke Peter!” Eddie shot back. “The card won’t work.” He insisted.

    Peter dug into his wallet.

    “Here,” he said as he grabbed another credit card. “Try this.” ‘Maybe using a credit card as an ice scraper isn’t so smart,’ he thought.

    Eddie returned minutes later with a frown on his face. “Don’t get pissed Peter, this won’t work either.” He said tentatively.

    “You gotta be kiddin’ me! I don’t need this today Eddie. What the hell’s going on? I used that card yesterday, no problem. It has to be your machine,” Peter was beside himself. This day was not beginning well. “I don’t have time for this Eddie, how much is it?”

    “Sixty-two bucks,” Eddie replied.

    Peter reached into his pocket pulled out his money clip to reveal three twenties and nothing more.

    “Damn, nothing’s going right, I shoulda stayed in bed. All I have is sixty.”

    “That’ll do” Eddie replied, the line behind Peter was getting longer and he wasn’t about to hold it up any longer over two bucks.

    Hammond drove off shaking his head and talking to himself.

    ****

    Continued in the next thread.



  2. #2
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    Brian Casey hated working late. Worse still, he would have to break his date with Jessie. It was bad enough that Jim Rogers was sick and couldn’t do his shift, but this would be the fifth time in as many weeks that he would disappoint his girlfriend.

    Seems fine as opening. We get an impression of the immediate worries of your POV character

    Working in the world’s largest financial data center was stressful enough.


    The problem here is 'stressful' is a bit abstract. We don't know why it's stressful, beyond the stresses of any other office job, so it feels the purpose of this sentence is to shoehorn in that this is the world's largest data centre.

    Rogers had better be dying or he’d pay too.

    Good



    Although he didn’t consider himself fat, sitting in one of UNICORE’s cheap-ass office chairs for hours literally hurt. He had a bad case of numb butt and an aching back to go with it.

    I'd trim this to something like: 'Sitting in one of UNICORE’s cheap-ass office chairs for hours had given him a bad case of numb butt and an aching back.' Which says the same thing without the waffle. You certainly don't need 'literally', because we get that it doesn't 'figuratively' hurt based on your description of the symptoms. There are a few places throughout

    He needed a break. Getting up to pour himself a coffee - he was on his third pot today - he glanced out the window overlooking the peninsula. San Francisco was beautiful at night and he could see the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. The glow of floodlights created a golden aura around the bridge giving credence to its name, in spite of its red painted metalwork. The ribbon of white and red lights of the traffic on the bridge snaked from one side to the other. To the east, at pier 29 the Embarcadero, he could see his uncle’s restaurant. Always busy it was a great place to eat and the tourists loved it. He was supposed have dinner there tonight with Jessie. He cringed at the thought of the bitching he would have to endure.

    I'd trim down the description of the bridge, you talk about it for a while, but Brian has no reaction to it (Which isn't suprising as he's probably seen the view many times before) Brian's reaction is to the restaurant and not the bridge.


    Brian filled his cup and sat back down at his computer.

    He spent his days simply checking credit related transactions. He checked spending patterns, looking for abnormalities in the way people spent their money and flagging anything out of the ordinary. If someone made an unusually large purchase with no real history of such extravagance, the computer would flag the transaction and he would contact the client to verify the purchase. It was all part of Unicore’s ID protection plan.

    However, for the past few months he and Jim Rogers had a different assignment.

    It's a bit jarring that you spend quite a few words describing has job and then say, actually that's not his job at the moment.

    Casey could have found out but he had no reason to care.

    You've switched to calling him Casey again.

    he could from her tone she was already pissed off at him for being late.

    Not needed because the reader can tell the same thing from the next line.“We had a date, you promised,” she whined.
    So you're telling and then showing.



    “Look,” he said, “I know you’re pissed but there’s nothing I can do.”

    A screen popped up that said “Are you sure?” He clicked OK.

    “I’ll be home at midnight. We’ll talk then.”

    “I won’t be here, you’ll have to talk to yourself” she snapped and hung up.

    Good exchange lots of tension.

    The file disappeared from the left hand screen. Deep inside the central database at UNICORE, microprocessors calculated and juggled billions of bytes of information. A command given, the little black chips with their huge silver heat-sinks and fans whirring away began manipulating data. It was impossible; nevertheless, it happened. Maybe it was a power surge or a static charge no one knew or was aware of the consequences.

    This section is a bit confusing. Is this all something that Brian is aware of? The paragraph starts off that way, but then it seems to switch to a narrative POV within the same paragraph. I'm not clear what impossible happened. The last sentence doesn't make sense. Looks like it needs some punctuation.

    Brian waited for the next screen to pop up. It never came. He began clicking icons frantically looking for the file. A sick feeling came over him. He didn’t know what he had just done but whatever it was, it wasn’t good. He kept on trying to undo his mistake but it was no use. He sat staring at the blank screen before him. Damn you Jessie, he thought, it was all her fault for being such a bitch. Why do you have to give me such a hard time?

    It ends fairly well.
    I don't get much sense of the room he's in. Has he got his own corner office, or is he in a big shared office space. And if it is a shared office space has everyone else gone home, or are others working late shifts too?

  3. #3
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    Jan 2016
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    Dogsdinner,

    Thank you for your input.

    I did some revision and I think this reads better. I would appreciate it if you take another look.


    Casey Revised:

    Brian Casey hated working late. Worse still, he would have to break his date with Jessie. It was bad enough that Jim Rogers was sick and couldn’t do his shift, but this would be the fifth time in as many weeks that he would disappoint his girlfriend. He just knew she would make him pay. Rogers had better be dying or he’d pay too.

    Brian shared his office with Jim Rogers. It was small but it did have a window, which made it slightly more bearable to work in during the day. At night however the walls could feel like they were closing in. Two monitors sat next to each other monopolizing the majority of the desktop with just enough room left for the phone, mouse and the keyboard. The computer had no hard drive. It was simply a terminal connected to the rest of the network. A water cooler sat in the corner next to the window and an old coffee maker Jim had brought from home perched precariously on the window sill. Relegated to this office for the past ten months, all Brian and his compatriot had to do was monitor two files; Stay on top of the transactions on the screen and flag anything that appeared unusual.

    Easy work really but sitting in one of UNICORE’s cheap-ass office chairs for hours had given him a bad case of numb butt and an aching back to go with it. He needed a break. Getting up to pour himself a coffee - he was on his third pot today - he glanced out the window overlooking the peninsula. San Francisco was beautiful at night and he could see the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. To the east, he could see his uncle’s restaurant. Always busy, it was a great place to eat and the tourists loved it. He was supposed have dinner there tonight with Jessie. He cringed at the thought of the bitching he would have to endure. Brian filled his cup and sat back down at his computer.

    Grabbing the phone he thought, maybe if I throw myself off the bridge…shaking the image from his mind he dialed the number. Jessie answered,
    “We had a date, you promised.”

    “We did, that is - we do baby. It’s just that Jim’s sick and I can’t leave. I promise we’ll go out tomorrow night,” Brian countered, as he checked a transaction on the screen and clicked OK.

    She kept at him. “You always say that but you’re always so tired we never go out I’m getting fed up with it.”

    “Look,” he said as he continued to click transactions on the screen. “I know you’re pissed but there’s nothing I can do.” He clicked OK again.

    A screen popped up that said “Are you sure?” It was automatic, he clicked OK. The screen went blank. Brian went cold all over.

    “What the fu… Jess, I have to go, I’ll be home at midnight. We’ll talk then.”

    “I won’t be here, you’ll have to talk to yourself” she snapped and hung up.

    Deep inside the central database at UNICORE, microprocessors calculated and juggled billions of bytes of information. A command given, the little black chips with their huge silver heat-sinks and fans whirring away began manipulating data. It was impossible; nevertheless, it happened. Maybe it was a power surge or a static charge no one knew or was aware of the consequences.

    Brian clicked icons frantically trying to reopen the file. The belligerent machine would only respond with "FILE NOT FOUND" A sick feeling came over him. He didn’t know what he had just done but whatever it was, it wasn’t good. He kept on trying to undo his mistake but it was no use. He sat staring at the blank screen before him. Damn you Jessie, he thought, it was all her fault for being such a bitch. Why do you have to give me such a hard time?

  4. #4
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    It's getting there. At least as far as I can give you input anyway. I'll go into detail on a couple of points though.

    Quote Originally Posted by GPickstock View Post
    Brian shared his office with Jim Rogers. It was small but it did have a window, which made it slightly more bearable to work in during the day. At night however the walls could feel like they were closing in. Two monitors sat next to each other monopolizing the majority of the desktop with just enough room left for the phone, mouse and the keyboard. The computer had no hard drive. It was simply a terminal connected to the rest of the network. A water cooler sat in the corner next to the window and an old coffee maker Jim had brought from home perched precariously on the window sill.
    I did ask for a bit of sense of the office. Though this now goes to far. A block of text of visual description with very little in the way of story.
    You can get away with more if the character is noticing and reacting to the visuals, but this is the office he's been working with for ten months, so understandably he's not. It breaks Brian's Point of View and is all coming from a narrator. - and this location isn't interesting enough for that to work.

    I could go as far as to cut this off after 'At night however the walls could feel like they were closing in.'
    (Which I'd be tempted to make a little more immediate with something like -. 'But now it was night, the walls felt like they were closing in.')

    While some idea of location is useful, readers can fill in a lot of gaps once you've given them the seed of an idea. Details like phone, mouse and keyboard, are empty words. I'd assumed he has those things in an office.
    You can give a few more clues of the location as the action progresses, and he interacts with things. You kind of do this already. He gets a coffee. He talks on the phone. You didn't need to foreshadow the coffee machine and the phone.
    Also if you did want to give a real feel of being there, it helps to not just stick with a list of visuals, but to engage Brian's other senses. The hum of the air conditioning, the taste of the coffee, or the relief of the caffeine hit, are things which might be possible to work into the action. (These are only random suggestions off the top of my head.)


    Quote Originally Posted by GPickstock View Post
    Easy work really but sitting in one of UNICORE’s cheap-ass office chairs for hours had given him a bad case of numb butt and an aching back to go with it.
    Though you do that well here, with the discomfort of the chair.


    Quote Originally Posted by GPickstock View Post
    Deep inside the central database at UNICORE, microprocessors calculated and juggled billions of bytes of information. A command given, the little black chips with their huge silver heat-sinks and fans whirring away began manipulating data. It was impossible; nevertheless, it happened. Maybe it was a power surge or a static charge no one knew or was aware of the consequences.
    I'm still not sure about this bit.
    It sounds like you're saying that it's impossible for the computers to be doing some computing. - but of course they can. In retrospect I know you're referring to something happening that wipes out the guy's accounts in the next scene. - But it's ambiguous as to whether 'it was impossible' is meant to be ascribed to something else.
    You also seem to be speculating that the glitch was due to a power surge. (Or maybe even magic - you say 'It was impossible.' after all.) Yet this seems contradictory to the scene where we've seen it's something to do with the confirmation windows that Brian just clicked through.
    I'd guess you mean for it to be a combination of things. An unexpected selection of actions by Brian, combined with an obscure bug or three, (combined with the static charge/power surge/ magic gremlin) got round a bunch of fail-safes and bad stuff happened.

    The last sentence is still confusing, mostly because of 'no one knew'.
    Maybe you mean 'no one knew of the consequences.' - but that means the same thing as 'no one was aware of the consequences', so you're repeating yourself.
    Maybe you mean that no one knew how it happened, which kind of goes without saying, when no one even knows what's happened yet.
    Last edited by Dogsdinner; 01-20-2016 at 09:24 PM.

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