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June 14th, 2004, 05:13 PM
There and After - a short story by Paul W. Crosland

Pharo looked at the wonderously beautiful star-filled sky with complete emotionless. He had no reason to feel its powerful effect anymore, with its magnificant beauty holding no true value for someone who had lost all connection with reality. Pharo was a mere shadow upon this world, a form without body, nor shape of distinguishable features. Only his spirit remained, moving through the void alone, as did so many others. He had lost everything that he once knew and loved. There was nothing left to feel, as far as he was concerned. Even his thought to be feelings, Pharo had come to grimly accept as being completely irrelevant, with no one else to hear or sense them, let alone understand them.

Floating into the still night air, Pharo looked across the hilly landscapes of his homeland; the place he had been so greatly attached to in life. The small village in its midst, where he had grown, was the very same as when he had left it, though so many people had come and gone through the years. He didn't know why he lingered here, but the attachment to the only true reality he remembered could not be so easily departed with. Pharo knew he would never leave, no matter how things might change a hundred, or even a thousand years from now. Always remain, and remember those times of his existance.

Even though the other spirits were often trapped in their own solitudes, it was on rare occasions that they journeyed close to one another, much like lost birds flock together. This certainly seemed to be the case tonight, as a female essence decided to approach Pharo, the first to do so in a lengthy period. The essence was just as shapeless, and unnreal as his own, but held the memory of speech, which Pharo realized he had long ago forgotten.

"Hello there," she spoke politedly.

Even though it was no more than just a single thought linking itself with his own thinking, Pharo hadn't felt something as such for many years. He struggled to come up with a suitable reply, his memory joggling itself for an appropriate reaction.

"It's a beautiful evening." were the few words which his thoughts managed to produce. It seemed decent enough, and the essence gave him a show of thanks, or at least, rather the feeling of it.

Being completely unfamiliarized with these thoughts the female prescence was giving to him, Pharo fought hard to explore this opportunity. The next 'words' he spoke were more organized, and took all of his effort.

"I'd be honored if you might accompany me to the Border of the Stars."

This was the magical place which all the sprits knew as the one black spot in the universe where all the galaxies might be seen together as a whole. Its romantic appeal for male and female essences was sometimes even enough of a reason for spirits to join themselves together indefnitely, and he was even thinking about this possibility. After all, he had mourned so long over his birthplace, and it was surely time for something new and exciting.

"I accept your wish." the thoughts of the essence replied. Pharo felt a heated happiness filtering through his surreal mind, and readily returned the same feeling towards her. Feelings, so long forgotten.

"Let us go then together." his thoughts concluded.

As the two essences left the world and rushed into the great darkness beyond, Pharo took one last look at his tiny village. Rising higher and higher, he suddenly realized that he likely wouldn't miss his long solitude. His existance in the real world was far over, and many had already moved on. And now he had someone very special to be with.

"To become one?" the female essence said as they reached the spot.

Millions of tiny colorful speckles packed themselves together before them, flooding like spilled paints across the blackness of the universe. There were vastly more colors here than the human eye would ever be able to make out. After all, neither of them were alive, and could sense everything that life itself could not. Taking what would have counted as a deep inner sigh, Pharo made his decision, and it was a good one.

"To become one." he responded.

The heated feeling from earlier now became like fire from a rising sun, and he latched onto it with every bit of his spirit's unnatural energy. Then both of their thoughts drew together, colliding in a stockade of errupting fireworks.

Pharo suddenly felt like he was transforming into her, and she felt as if she were transforming into him. The fireworks stopped, and the collection of conscient thoughts which had previously floated as two, was now only one. He was half himself, and half her. And it 'felt' more wondeful than anything he could have ever imagined.

Just a clue of my writing style, but not at all related to the novel(s) I'm writing. Please give me some feedback.

June 14th, 2004, 05:24 PM
I liked the story. It was a bit '' woah, drug trip'' but thats okay in small doses. I did think some of the description was a little long winded. Words like 'completely' and 'utterly' can be overused. This had caused a problem in the first paragraph. I can remember the exact phrase.

About the abstract nature, I generally prefer the atmosphere of stories to be a little more concrete. I got confused about a few things too, like why should Paros or whatever remember his name, or even having an identity.

That said, the description improved throughout the piece and its certainly interesting.

Overall, the story is a lot better than many I've read here at ssf forums, but its not perfect.

June 15th, 2004, 10:47 AM
Words like 'completely' and 'utterly' can be overused. This had caused a problem in the first paragraph. I can remember the exact phrase.
I just noticed that I used the word 'completely' twice, which I rarely do, and it was a mistake in my own writing style - and not just because you pointed it out mind you (I wrote and edited the piece in about an hour and a half after all) Still, I have to ask, how does it cause a problem? Do you mean, in the fluidity? Or a major flaw that would turn off a publisher?

About the abstract nature, I generally prefer the atmosphere of stories to be a little more concrete. I got confused about a few things too, like why should Paros or whatever remember his name, or even having an identity.

As can clearly be seen (I hope - fuzziness covering my eyes), the story is supposed to be 'abstract'. You're absolutely right; Pharo does 'not' remember his name, and it is merely used to describe the character, nothing more. I felt that the similar egyptian term (not that I remember how to spell it correctly however), would be a good representation for a so-called 'essence'.

That said, the description improved throughout the piece and its certainly interesting.

The only really 'good' comment you've given me!!! Thanks ;)

June 15th, 2004, 11:57 AM
Sorry, I didn't mean to put so many negative comments, I was just picking up on things I noticed which I thought were wrong. I do like it, I just happened to focus more on the negative things, sorry about that. I know the feeling of a review on here though, and I know its rarely pleasent, lol, anyway, I apologise for focusing on the errors on what is otherwise a very good piece of work.

June 15th, 2004, 02:23 PM
I was glad to get the feedback. I'd just like to know the reasons for the critic(s), that's all. It'll hopefully help me to improve my work. Sorry if my reply seemed like it was attacking the statements you made. It wasn't meant to sound that way.

P.S. I live in Canada, so we apologize to everyone after they apologize. It's nothing personal. :)

Briar Flea
July 3rd, 2004, 12:15 AM
Hi. I too live in Canada. Your story has a bumpy start, ( I find your use of the phrase complete emotionless) some how inconsistant with the desire to remain near his place of ( death, life, birth? ) and the ability of a female to have any sort of lure.

That said, I had to read it over several times to get what you were saying, but once I did, it left me wanting more. Can more than two combine? If so, do they join a collective of some sort.

Also, how do they see? This is an interesting story and I am sure it could be fleshed outinto a longer and clearer version.

I liked it.


July 3rd, 2004, 03:06 PM
your story was interestesting in the fact that ive been writing one much like it...only a bit longer. about life after death and the lingering of the spirit on earth until it finds a higher self and meaning and becomes one with the universe. thanks for your story...maybe now i'll finnish my own.
but your beginning is a bit wordy. beautiful and vivid....but a bit clumsy. try reading it out loud, it will help smooth out repeted words and such. anyway, i think it terrific, and im glad to find someone else with the same idea. if i posted mine own up....would anyone read it?

July 4th, 2004, 08:03 PM
Hi Murkal,

This is a neat peice of writing. I think it has the ability to really connect with anyone who's ever felt alone in the world. The whole idea of forgetting emotions is intriguing. Overally the story seems to be about hope - that loneliness won't last forever. (That's what I get out of it anyway. I tend to see different things in stories than other people.)

I'm not sure if you meant this to be short just to avoid posting something larger up on the site or not, but in my opinion it was a little short and fast for the message that came across. The Pharo and the female basically meet, go on a date, and "combine." I think the story would come across better if you concentrated more on the internal conflict in Pharo. As it stands, he meets someone new and decides to leave, without question. There's a lot of room to build on the conflict that would be generated by him clinging to his old life.

Also the female seems to just "happen" on him. She makes the first move. In my opinion, stories move faster when the main characters make decisions and we see the consequences. If Pharo were to "see" her - and make the attempt at contact - you have much more suspence than if she approaches him.

Your first sentence reads awkwardly to me.

Pharo looked at the wonderously beautiful star-filled sky with complete emotionless. Perhaps you may want to say "with a complete lack of emotion"? Normally I try not to be nit-picky, but this was a first sentence, and usually if I find that to be a hurdle, I'll put the story down and move on.

Thanks for sharing. I hope this helps.

July 9th, 2004, 04:29 PM
To be honest, I only wrote the 'story' for the purpose of glimpsing into my 'style', but it was kind of akward for me, and here's the reasons why:

-I did not want the writing to be 'perfect' (when I'm working on my novel(s), I know it's impossible for me to get everything done the way it should be, because of the immense size of larger stories). I kind of skimped on many things here intentionally, leaving room for error in my much larger work, though I'm not sure if this makes any logical sense for most people - I was still beaten back by the critics though ;)

-I've never written a decent short story before, and had to kind of 'cram' things together to meet under a 1000 word limit I set for myself.

But it's kind of interesting that the story caught people's interests, so I might try a re-write, utilizing a much firmer and more intresting (but similar) concept. Thanks for the fine (and personally unthought about) suggestion.