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The Phaseout

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  #1  
Old 04-25-2017, 09:45 PM
spshane (Offline)
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Default The Phaseout


The desert at night. A shred of ribbon flaps from the end of a garden-stake. Nothing grows near it.
********

The forest in amber evening light. A centipede noshes on a dead mouse. Clumps off white powder hang from the mouse's whiskers.

********
The park near a lake. A nun strides through morning dew. She passes an old man on a bench who smells of coffee and stale piss. "Pray for me, Sister." She keeps walking.

********
Headlights move along a dusty road. Two men in a pick-up watch for a marker. The wheel hits a pothole. A bottle of Jim Beam bounces from the cup holder.

********
A centipede wriggles. Backs away from the mouse. Stops moving.

*********
By a rock wall near the lake's edge, a hefty man in a greasy goatee waits. He thought he detected something in the nun's voice. A look in her eye. She asked to speak with him, not the other way around. She wants to learn about atheism.

*********
The centipede remains still. Not a single leg twitches. The shadow of a man hovers above him. Yellow suit. Breathing apparatus.
*********

Rubbing his eyes, a man in a John Deere cap glances in the mirror. He sees a speck of orange. He hits the brakes.

"See something?" His bald passenger ask of him.

"Don't know maybe."



*********

"Holy shit!" A voice carries through the mask of the man in the yellow suit."

"Richards, what's your 10-20?" A voice squawks over a radio.

The man in the yellow suit grabs the radio. "I'm a quarter a mile northeast of marker 74."

"10-4, Richard."

Richard raises the radio to his mask. "I have eyes on Rapier. He's dead."

Radio squawks. "10-4. You have a confirmed casualty."

"And a centipede too."

"Roger that."

*********

The man in the John Deere cap slides the pick-up into reverse. The truck lurches and rolls backward. The orange ribbon comes centers in the rear view mirror.

"That's it?" Bald twist his head to make visual with the ribbon.

"If the tag numbers match."

"Just how many orange ribbons do you expect to find in the fucking desert?" Bald asks.

*********

Mr. Goatee hands the nun a yellow envelop. "We don't exactly teach courses in Atheism."

"I'm not saying that there isn't a god or gods even, but I think we've been pretty clear about who God is."

"You have." Mr. Goatee stops. Snickers. "Still you took our money?"

"For research, not for tithes," the nun says.

"And what have you learned?"

"That knowledge may exist at the cellular level."

*********

"Check the tag number," the man in the John Deere hat says.

"No." Bald climbs out of the truck, grabs a briefcase from the floorboard.

*********

A Hawk screeches and glides directly over Richards.

The hawk circles and dives. Richards dives to the ground. Covers Rapier with a gloved hand.

"No, I can't let you take Rapier!"

The hawk lands mere feet from Richards. "Just step aside, and I'll let you live."

*********

"And that's what you've done with all our money?" Mr. Goat plops down on the rock wall.

"Cheaper than prosecuting a war," the nuns says.

"I'll buy that. What about your bishop?"

"He'll come around. He'll have to."

*********

Bald checks his cellphone. Pulls up the file with the tag number.

"It checks?" Mr. Johne Deere asks.

Bald nods.

"Are ya sure you can do this?"

Bald nods. Pulls a contraption from his pocket. Looks like a home-made bomb.

"You know this ends everything?"

"You act like I have a choice," Bald says.

*********

"Step away from Rapier," a voice passes through the hawk's beak.

"No, I can't let you do that. Rapier's my son."

"Not anymore he's not."


*********

The nun sits down on the wall. Takes Mr. Goatee's hand. "Look, I was planning on leaving the convent anyway."

"And why is that?"

She shrugs. "Ah, I kind of think I'm in love you."

He laughs. "You know I'm gay, right?"

"I know you think you are."

*********

Mr. Bald fastens the contraption the garden-stake. "This is it."

"You're sure there's no other way?"

Bald shrugs. "Only the profoundly arrogant would assume there's only one way. But in 10,311 years this the best chance that we know of."

"We can't wait?"

Bald shakes his head. "Now or never?"

Richards raises a hand to swat at the hawk.

*********

Mr. Goatee raises his coffee cup to his lips.

*********

Bald flips the switch.

*********

A a light as bright as the sun shoots out of the contraption[ as wide as a telephone pole it stretches into the sky.

*********

Mr. Goatee and the nun are stiff as boards. Not a single twitch.

*********

Richard's arm locks in mid-air. The hawk, too, is frozen. Its wings stuck in place.

*********

Mr. John Deere stands with one foot slightly off the ground. His arms stuck be his side.

*********

No a sound.

Not a single movement.

Not so much as a breath.

This is how it is. Forever.


Last edited by spshane; 04-26-2017 at 12:20 PM..
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2017, 07:43 AM
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Richards arm?
Stuck be his side?
Not so much as breath?

You should really look these over before posting.
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  #3  
Old 04-30-2017, 07:54 AM
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Hi spshane,

I've lingered with this over two coffees.

I like the concept - I particularly like how you flit between places and characters.

It would have been better if you'd accentuated or identified WHERE these locations are. You've told us it's night in the desert. Early morning at the lake. Sunset in the forest. I want to know where these places are to visualise them - Arizona, France, Russia...whatever.

The hawk that has intentions towards Rapier's corpse has circled and successfully swooped down into the middle of a forest? Not a realistic proposition.

The electronic voice from the hawk has thrown me - if it's a synthetic creature, it won't eat or scavenge. It's too small to carry a body away. Leaves me with unsatisfied questions...

The nun's dialogue made no sense. You haven't left any clues for the reader to assemble their own plot line for her transaction with Goatee.

I can see you're quite a prolific writer at the moment - which is excellent. I think you've got sufficient experience now to use more craft in your story-telling. You clearly had a vision of what was going on in your mind, but it hasn't translated on to paper. Nothing wrong with writing in an abstract style, but your audience needs enough information to join the dots.

I think this piece is worth more consideration and revision. x
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Last edited by Grace Gabriel; 04-30-2017 at 02:25 PM..
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  #4  
Old 04-30-2017, 09:12 PM
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Grace,

Thank you for taking the time to go through this and for sharing your feedback.

Write drunk, edit sober goes the old adage.

I wanted to created a series of seemingly-random disconnected events that are, in fact, connected. And I wanted to do it in a way that's not bogged down by narrative and omniscient point of view.

The hawk probably needs to be cut. There was a worm-hole thing that I was going to do with him and Rapier. Didn't give enough information for that. They also clash with realistic nature of the other characters.

The structure is experimental; I knew that going in.

Again, thank you.
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Old 05-01-2017, 01:16 AM
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I really liked the structure and the different stories going on simultaneously - just hard to keep track of who belonged to which snapshot with such minimal detail. I had to rewind to check which scene John Deere man belonged to.

Just needs some tweaking spshane. It held my attention.
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Old 05-01-2017, 10:27 AM
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I think simple slugs rather than *** will help to keep track of time and place. ---The desert near Preston, AZ; Friday 10:53 PM. etc.

I'll tighten the caricatures too, but stay at surface-level detail. I the characters to be how we see people in passing but don't really don't know their stories. The old lady with the scarf at the bus-stop, etc.

I think I need to run each arc at little longer to see more similarities based upon what they say and do.
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