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voider
January 18th, 2002, 04:38 PM
Please take the time to read my first chapter of my short story titled Mutant Anomalies and give any help and/or comments. Here it is happy reading.

Mutant Anomalies

At dark shade, a solitary figure scurried from his hiding place in the shadows and found another. In the distance the outline of the city was barley visible in the darkness. Dim lights blinked on in the background and ran to and fro up and down the street. The lights Searching, prying, peering into the darkness cutting through the veil of the unknown, reveling and exposing all that lies within its gaze.

Zare caught his breath, looking over his shoulder at the lights that were getting brighter and closer. He could now make out the outline of the floating platforms with an android on each one. Three of them in all, damn, the council sure didn’t spare any expense. He had seen plenty of the council’s deterrent squad before, and knew they were quite capable and would use all means available to capture him.

He had to reach his destination before light glow or he would be caught for sure. Jumping up, Zare ran to the next patch of darkness and crouched down just as the beams of light sliced through the darkness inches from his head. Waiting, as the beam passed by, he ran from shadow to shadow until the beams were a short but safe distance away.

Prying a cover of the street away with a knife, he descended down a ladder into the hole. He stopped and tried to replace the cover but the beam of the searchlight had caught up with his position, leaving a two-inch gap. Zare held his breath and was motionless as the beam came to rest over the cover. One move or sound now would be fatal. It seemed like a lifetime, but finally the shaft of light that came through that two-inch gap became dark once more. Zare relaxed his vice like grip on the rung and gasped for breath knowing that his pursuers have moved on.

Descending farther, he came to the tunnels that carry away the waste of the cities. With two choices currently at hand, he took the higher and drier tunnel designed for flood stage. Tired but safe for the moment, he sat along the soft mossy wall of the tunnel. Bacteria in the moss caused the walls of the tunnel to glow with a faint blue light. Resting now, he contemplated the things that led up to this event.

Breathing easier, he inhaled deeply the air and smiled as the fragrance pleased him.
The fact that no one on the whole planet of Altrose shared his unusual love of the stench of waste products amused him. He continued his line of thought, thinking that the two slits he had for a nose, which no one else had, might have something to do with it. His momma always said he was special. Special was not exactly what everyone else called him. Freak or monster was the most common names but the list was to long and painful to remember.

Zare arose, snapping to the realization he had spent too much time sitting deep in thought and must move on. It must be light glow topside by now and it wouldn’t take those androids long to figure out where they messed up. Was it the council’s fault for building them or the peoples fault for letting them be built? Zare wasn’t sure. When the deterrent squad was first built it started out to be such a good thing. Later it was like an ever-tightening noose and the opposition grew.

page 2

Everyone on Altrose was happy to see the criminals being sent to some off world penal colony to live out the rest of their lives. So the crime rate went down and the council started to implement other “beautifying laws” all in the name of beautifying the planet. Laws designed to make any person that was different a target.

Zare trudged on while thinking, his thoughts interrupted by a sound coming from behind him. Terror gripped his mind as he recognized the sound …hunter drones. They were
nasty little round things about as big as your hand equipped with lasers, stun darts, tracking darts and of course camera’s and two way communication.

Picking up speed he began a dead run, his heart pounded in his chest, sweat poured down his face with one thought on his mind, staying ahead of those drones. At least his oversized ears’ had provided early detection of that sound, a feat not possible by the rest of the people of Altrose.

The sounds were a lot closer now. His eyes scanned the tunnel wall for some way of escape. Then he noticed it, a crack in the wall of the tunnel. A place where the wall had broken down. Would it be big enough for him to squeeze through? He tried and tried but could only manage to wedge himself between the broken halves. With the drone almost in sight, he quickly stacked the remaining pieces up to about his chest. Since there were no more big pieces to stack, he turned his face away from the opening and waited. Within seconds the drone came and, after slowing a bit, took a quick look at the debris in the middle of the tunnel then quickly darted off.

Busting out from behind his self made wall, Zare leaned against and slid down the moss-covered wall exhausted. He had noticed that the walls had stopped glowing. It mattered little to him for he could see all to well in the darkness. He figured he should reach the waste station soon and looked forward to getting out of this tunnel. As he sat there, his two eyes glowing yellow in the darkness, a song of sort’s began to form in his mind. So he whispered it quietly to himself.

When beauties look is stripped away
It finds a heart that’s soft as clay
There it remains unto this day
From stony eyes cold stare

The heart will sing I’m free at last
From window dressing die and cast
No longer will my flesh be masked
No longer will I care

Zare hummed a tune that seemed to come with the words as he thought. He was not a bad person. His heart was pure; he hadn’t even broken one law. His only crime was that he was ugly or different from the rest. Would he ever know Friendship or love outside his family? No one had even given him the time of day. He didn’t even know where he was going. But one thing was for sure it wasn’t to prison.



[This message has been edited by voider (edited February 04, 2002).]

nicba
January 19th, 2002, 11:40 AM
OK voider, I'll try to write down my thought about your chapter.

I read somewhere that it's useful to start with a one-sentence summary of the work under scrutiny (this is supposed to let the writer know whether or not the reviewer got the point of the story). So I'll try that:

The chapter is, as far I understand, about a man (but perhaps not a human) fleeing through a dark city, chased by robotic police drones.

You manages to catch the chase well. The reader gets the impression that the drones is just on his tail and about to spot him at any moment.

Unfortunately, I felt that the opening paragraph wasn't quite as "powerful" as I think it could have been. I think it was a bit too unclear and mystic-like for my personal taste.

At the same time there's some switching of tenses that I found a bit confusing. For example in the second paragraph you wrote:



Zare catches his breath, looking over his shoulder...


In the next paragraph you switched to past tense:



He had to reach his destination before light glow or he would be caught for sure. Jumping up, Zare ran to the next patch of darkness

And then you switched back to present tense again in the fouth paragraph.

There were also some places were I stumbled a bit over the punctuation, especially near the beginning of the story. But nothing major - nothing a light edit wouldn't fix.

The ending was very nice, in my opinion. You have chosen a good place to insert a scene or chapter break. Zare is out of immediate danger, providing a decent sense of closure. At the same time the question of where he's going to flee to is left hanging, effectively prompting the reader to read along. And I liked your poem http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif.

voider
January 22nd, 2002, 03:57 AM
Thanks Nicba,

OK...SO ANYONE ELSE READING THIS?

estranghero
January 22nd, 2002, 04:50 PM
Yeah, don't rush us. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

Well, nicba had it right. Good atmosphere, interesting choice of character (shades of Frankenstein), good ending, and a decent poem at the end. Like the idea itself, good=beautiful, bad=ugly.

The negative points, on the other hand, concern itself with the editing of the story. Spelling, tenses (past or present?), and all the little nitpicking stuff that can be easily fixed.

Also, an interesting way to fix the info-dump in the middle of your story. Almost seamless actually, just a little polish. Makes me think you have an interesting way of handling it...

Anyway, keep on writing! http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

An8el
January 22nd, 2002, 07:29 PM
I like how you raise questions right away as you write...I found myself making mental notes in the form of questions. Even when you sort of answered the questions you raised, I still had the feeling that there was more to the answer than you were first revealing.
Why is Zare hiding, what is his own purpose other than to get away from what others think of him? what does his mutancy mean to the story that follows?
I felt instant empathy with Zare's character. Who wouldn't who felt "different" ?

voider
January 26th, 2002, 08:03 AM
Thanks Estranghero,
As you mentioned spelling, punctuation and tense need work (yuck!) I do want a smoother read so I’ll try to repost a corrected version a.s.a.p. Thanks for your comments.

An8el,
Your questions were right on and you can bet I have already included some of the answers as the story unfold’s. Funny how much we think alike, I had already had the answers before your post.

Thanks for all the great support…..Voider

An8el
January 28th, 2002, 09:57 PM
Yeah voider, erebus says the same thing about me. I like to try to read the author's mind about where the story might go. It's sort of made me a vicarious writer.

Maybe we should get around to adding onto one of those stories we were writing together here. Or work on another story of our own by e-mail with each other.