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Fast Ripe, Fast Rotten (A one-off)

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  18:25:18  23 October 2005
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
 

Message edited by:
Amoki
11/27/2005 7:57:19
Messages: 273
Fast Ripe, Fast Rotten

It rained last night, the roof is leaking in a dozen places, with that the smell of mildew and decay is stronger today. Cobwebs are everywhere, yet I haven't seen a single spider, rat droppings litter the floor and papirossy stubs have burnt black rings into a nearby windsill.

Nothing lives here anymore.

The isolation hurts, so I focus on the transmitter, a short-range beacon I cobbled together from our equipment. It only goes on for two hours a day, need to think long-term, save the power, who knows how long I may be here. Truth is I could just walk out at any time, maybe find my way back to civilisation in under two days, but I won't leave them, they wouldn't have left me.

Three clips of ammunition left for my AK, less than half that for the SVU, I lost my pistol two days ago in a fight with some blind dogs, searching for food. They don't taste too bad, the meat is pretty stringy so you need lots of rainwater to wash it down with, I always feel a little sick afterwards. I ration the rainwater, set up some catchers for it on the roof, sometimes I forget and drink too much.

I sit outside of time and I wait, I wait to be rescued.

Someone has written on the walls, can't understand the language. Sometimes it seems familiar, nagging at me, I stand and stare, worrying at it like the solution is a scrap of meat stuck between my teeth. There's no answer of course, I stopped taking note of my thoughts a while ago; "Why am I here? What did I do wrong, how could I have, why didn't, maybe....."

Easy to drive yourself mad with that, when there's no-one else around, just you and the chatter. It's like.....I'm on a squash court, smashing the ball around those clean, polished walls, seeing how it feels against the racket everytime it comes back, if there's any difference, any new insight. Go too deep into yourself and you may never come back, they told me, that's why you start out in a faction. Get the measure of things, weather the experiences with others to watch your back, adapt, then you'll know if you can handle it alone.

I did what I was told, wanted to be a good Stalker, one of the best, everything became a test, a chance and a need to prove myself. I kept away from distractions, stayed clean, sober, soon they knew me as a rock, someone to rely on, someone who you could trust your life with. It was as though the zone itself was paying attention, no one creature ever managed to surprise me, anomalies would form in the other squads, I found the artifacts when they were fresh.

So how did it fall apart?

Simple, it didn't. This is just another test, the one I've been preparing for since the beginning, if you understand that then you can beat anything, anyone, because you know that the spotlight has been turned on you. Nobody tries to fail, unless they're afraid, but there's nothing to be afraid of here.

You don't understand, I can tell. There's nothing to be afraid of because this is a place built from fear, fear sustains the zone, you are little more than a conduit and if you think about it, if you stop and actually think, you'll see that the fear doesn't stay long before the zone takes it away. It needs us and we need it, there's a sort of beauty there, I think, a mutual need.

I switch on the transmitter, lithium-ion batteries power into life, the clock starts ticking down in my head.

The street outside is quiet, the only evidence anyone else has set foot here is a broken gas-mask, one glass eyepiece punched in and crazed. Greenery is everywhere, snaking up between the broken concrete slabs, coiling around a burnt-out Kamaz truck, there are even flowers, new species of plants rising out of the nightmare. I admire nature, it can exist anywhere, never falters, we Stalkers like to think we are that way but in comparison we're little more than children playing games, dressing up in clothes meant for someone far larger and far older.

I draw back the slide of the SVU, chambering a round.

Seems some creatures are attracted to the transmitter, easy enough to spot most of them from up here. They'll shuffle out into the street, staring up at the building with their head tilted to one side, as though it's trying to talk to them. I kill the most dangerous ones, scavengers are along soon enough to tear at the remains. Last night's rain washed most of the blood away, only a few dull, rust-coloured streaks left now.

My eyes are drawn back to the writing, the same way those things are drawn to my transmitter. Just looking at it makes my mind hurt, deep, boring pain like a cold steel tongue embedded in my head, tears come and I wipe them away angrily.

Whatever's on my hand stings my eyes, the two agonies fight each other.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but it's the words that'll hurt me.

I bark out a laugh, it sounds and feels flat.

I'm unsure of the noise at first, sounds like a sudden, distant rumble, maybe a blowout or explosion, then in the next few minutes it resolves into that of an engine. I shrug forward in my chair, clicking the safety off the SVU.

There's no excitement, no wash of relief, an engine can mean many things.

I've let others pass by, instinctivly I knew they wouldn't help me or my friends, my link with the zone tells me so. Clues are there for anyone to see them, sticking out like dirty footprints when you know how to look, kept me alive this long. Military Stalkers, Special Forces, they wouldn't help me, they suspect the signal is some kind of trap, one laid by thieves, or perhaps a mutant blundered into a piece of equipment and powered it into motion.

I shift the transmitter closer to me, within easy reach.

Fear comes in waves, has done ever since I came here; nothing, nothing, nothing, run-hide-run, nothing, nothing, nothing, run, hide-ru..

As I said it can't stay long, the zone sucks it in, regurgitates it back into new creatures, new births, deaths, blowouts.

The engine grows louder.

Next street along, maybe closer.

I ease down, draw the scope back to meet my right eye.

For a moment all of the scales are nothing more than scrawled lines, as though a mischevous child has jotted on the glass. One by one my mind snaps them into place; windage elevation, ragefinder, bullet-drop compensator. Every measurement seems rigid and complex compared to what it frames, but the better you know it the simpler it becomes, then suddenly the world outside of the scope is the complicated one.

Throwing up grit, a UAZ jeep rounds the far corner. The sun against its windows stops me from making out the occupants, but they're heading right for me, straight up.

The jeep brakes, engine idling, about 30 meters up the road.

Two soldiers get out, young and nervous, both brandishing their standard issue AK-74's like there's already something to shoot. They do a quick, visual sweep of the area, one of them twists back towards the jeep and says something.

There's a third figure; female, a little older, dressed in non-descript green fatigues and carrying a kit of some kind. Obviously a civlian, yet she exudes far more authority than the soldiers, her raven black hair has been tied into a pony-tail with eyes invisible behind small, black sunglasses. She slams the door, making one of the soldiers jump and round on her with his weapon, they're wound tight.

Walking over, she speaks briefly to them. Heated discussion, some kind of argument, she exerts that undeserved authority once again and they sprint out to check nearby houses. The civilian stays put, leaning against the bonnet like she may as well be wearing a bikini, she has no idea I could put her down right now, in a strange way I admire that ignorance.

Pieces of the puzzle slot together, I place the kit in her hands, body language and manner. She's a Scientist, the two soldiers have been ordered to escort her to a research outpost. They place the signal, the soldiers want to keep going, they know the risks, but she's determined and they're green, she bullies them into line. Is it compassion? The belief that what she knows of biology could be transferred into aiding a wounded man?

Or, just as likely, curiousity. She's new and everything is compelling, an iron filing surrounded by a huge magnet drawing her in all directions at once, the thought of arriving at the outpost with experience already under her belt is a good one.

Would she help me, would she help us?

The two soldiers finish sweeping nearby homes, one remains next to the UAZ whilst the other accompanies our scientist down the road. There are two more derelicts for them to check before they reach here, just as I realise I need to make a decision the power to do so is ripped from my hands.

Sniper shots ring out, the first is wide, blasting a chip out of the pavement as it whips past the soldier. He panics, shoving the scientist towards cover but not following, instead kneeling and bringing his AK-74 up, sweeping it frantically across the landscape.

The second slug doesn't miss, ripping through his jugular in a spray of crimson, he's dead from that exact moment on. One hand flies up to grab the wound, the other gripping down tightly on his sub-machine gun, trigger-finger mashes, bullets spray wildly as he lurches and crumples to the concrete.

Screams, yelling, the remaining soldier wrenches open a jeep door and crouches behind it, I've lost sight of the scientist. Squinting through my scope at the UAZ, I see the soldier slithering his way inside the cab, trying to stay as low as possible as he reaches for the radio set. The sniper has found his rhythm now, three shots punch through the windscreen in quick succession, exploding it inwards in a torrent of glass shards.

Two seconds pass.

Limply, the soldier slides back onto the street, the fingers on his exposed hand clenched and folded inwards like the legs of a dead spider.

Cursing, I upend the SVU and loop it over my shoulders, grabbing the AK.

Floorboards creak in protest as I race through the building, seems that every motion throws up a new plume of dust, soon these rotten stairs will probably collapse under me, but not today. Tugging away the old, half-rotten desks used to barricade the door, I shoot the rusty bolts back into their brackets and ease it open a crack.

I see the dead soldier, blood pooling under his body now.

'Hey!' I yell out, voice sounds strange, how long is it since I used it, 'I can help you! Are you still alive out there?'.

No reply, she thinks it's a trap.

Only one way to do this.

The door creaks as I push it wide, shifting the AK to point down at my boots, I take a step outside.

Everything is utterly silent, no breeze, no movement. She could be hiding behind any piece of discarded furniture, or stomach down in the shin-high grass, I have no idea where the sniper is or what direction he was firing from.

'I'm here!' I yell again, 'I can help you! I didn't fire those shots, I was the one with the transmitter! I've been waiting for help!'.

'Throw your weapons down!' comes an answering shout, at first I suspect the sniper, then a patch of grass rustles with movement, 'in front of you, throw them down!'.

Sighing, I bite back an objection. The AK clatters to the pavement, I unsling the SVU and drop that, then raise my hands to show my empty palms. 'Good enough?'.

She moves slowly from cover to cover, hugging the side of the burnt-out Kamaz then easing back into the undergrowth. The last patch is open ground, she sprints across it and joins me in the alcove, snatching up the AK and SVU before even catching her breath.

I play along, she leads me inside at the end of a gun barrel, 'alright then, who are you? Who killed those men?'.

I'm about to reply when she tugs off her sunglasses to stare at me in the poor light, her eyes are a brilliant green. The AK drops, I turn around and she involuntarily steps back, something approaching horror in her expression.

'You're sick'.

'What?' I mutter.

She tries to form the words, to explain, then gives up. Instead she reaches into a pocket on her pack and pulls out a plastic-framed mirror, hesitantly offering it to me. I find myself suddenly reluctant to take it, to finally resolve the question that's been spinning in my mind. Sometimes I wanted to look at my reflection to prove I was real, to try and trigger some kind of energy, hope. Yet every mirror in the building had been violently smashed, even the shards themselves stamped and ground into tiny fragments.

I must have done it before, looked in the mirror and resented what stared back at me, so I destroyed them all.

I lift it, I look.

Skin is deathly pale, yet patches of it are black and ripe, reminding me of a rotten apple. Most of my hair is gone, whispy strands hang on in clumps, pus-filled blisters dot the scalp. Blood is crusted under my nostrils, I look into my eyes and find them empty, blank.

Rage boils through me, I throw the mirror to the ground and slam my boot into the glass, shattering it. Suddenly that one act makes me feel so weak I can barely stand, I sag back against the desks like an old man, moaning pitifully.

She looks at me with a mixure of fear and pity, 'I....I'm sorry. But...you had weapons, why didn't you leave?'.

'The others' I groan.

'Others?'.

'I can't leave them' I explain, 'they wouldn't have left me'.

'Show me' she says, 'maybe....maybe I can help them'.

I hesitate then nod, heaving myself up and leading her up the stairs. We reach a room where the school-desks have been piled aside, old coloured charts lay crumpled on the floor, a black-board with one huge slash ripped across it lays overturned. Three bodies are sitting upright against the farthest wall, the boards around them tacky with dried blood.

The others, my team, my friends.

She knows they're dead without a closer look, I try to keep the flies out but the air is still thick with them, grown used to the smell but it pushes her back like a hard shove. 'Wh-what happened?'.

I close my eyes, heart slamming against my ribs, 'I.....we'.

Steel pins drive into my brain, yet I keep trying to remember, I access fragments, shreds, I taste blood in my mouth as it trickles from my nose. White light detonates behind my eyes, I fall to my knees, digging fingernails into my palms until the pain lances white-hot, I need to hold on! I need to remember...

I bawl in frustration, the agony of not knowing.

She turns and sees the writing, the words I can't understand, and that same look of horror returns to her face.

Won't help you, won't help any of you.

Turns and runs, runs for the door.

I'm on my feet before she reaches it, my hands around her neck, choking the life out of her. Some disconnected, helpless part of me wonders why I'm so angry, but the distraction is no more than a passenger, an ant trying to stop a ten-ton truck by dangling their feet out of the door.

Her eyes bulge open, arm shoots up and fingernails rip across my face, shredding the blisters and opening up one cheek with a pregnant pop. Pus and blood runs down my face, I don't feel the pain, my being is empty once again, blank.

She stops struggling after a minute, I let her drop to the floor.

The pain returns, uncoiling in my mind and licking through the rest of my body like sulphur, I open my mouth to scream but nothing comes out.

I fall, I die.









I come to in a strange place, dust and cobwebs everywhere.

There are four other bodies in the room, my squad.

I find a transmitter running, switch it off. Need to save the power, who knows how long I may be here?

Explore the building, there are some weapons downstairs, dead soldiers outside. I take what I can use from the soldiers, check their jeep. Someone has slashed the tyres, ripped vital parts out of the engine, the battery is missing. I drag the soldiers inside the UAZ, pop the handbrake and roll it out of sight.

Return to the building, there's writing on the wall. I feel like I should be able to read it, yet it hurts just to look, otherwise I feel numb, disconnected.

The transmitter seems to run on lithium-ion batteries, I salvaged some from the soldiers' kit, should give me enough power for a while. I decide to ration them, two hours a day, the number sounds right.

Slumping down in the chair I let my mind wander, and I wait.

I wait to be rescued.
  23:21:05  23 October 2005
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
While I'm tempted to say it's good: I can't, everyone is going to be saying it's only an effort to flatter the author of the great "The difference between you and me".

In short, it's good, as ever

I like the sick stalker who had lost touch with his human side, who still believes people still wanted to rescue him. Kind of melancholic when I put is that way, but hey - dramatic irony is what constitutes of a good story in a lot of time.

Great job, keep it up.

You want this story to be in the contest, Ian? Give it a title and it'll be in, period.
  02:01:31  25 October 2005
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
 

Message edited by:
Ian_C
10/25/2005 2:02:29
Messages: 273
Thanks Amoki, I definitely wanted it to have that kind of melancholic air, he's sick himself and he's sending out a signal to help others that are long since dead - in essence he's just repeating the one moment over and over where he could have changed things, could have made a difference.

That he's gone insane seems undisputable, though I speckled a few clues throughout that suggest there may be more to it than that ( the writing, for example ).

Entering it in the competiton would be great, seems I just need to think of a name. I'll need to get back to you on that one!

Wrote this one up over two nights, decided I needed a break from those waffly multiple-parters I tend to write, pleased to see that it seems to have turned out well. I welcome all other opinions of course!
  17:33:58  25 October 2005
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Chansd5
(Senior)
 
On forum: 11/26/2003
Messages: 124
As always, keep writing. Drab Cobwebs and a mind stale from holding on to that little beacon of hope on the verges of insanity. Reminds me truly of a dead man walking, the mind is dead, it heeds no real master but the last orders it has been set upon to accomplish, obsessive compulsive.

A more human side of the stalker world, keep knocking them pins down!
  01:56:31  31 October 2005
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
Messages: 273
Thanks chaps, a relief to know it turned out okay.

Came up with a title the other night, decided to use a Chinese proverb:

Fast Ripe, Fast Rotten.
  23:01:18  31 October 2005
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ThatGuy25
I'm lost... got a dollar?
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 12/22/2003
Messages: 90
Not too shabby, Ian C. Lots of good ideas here, and a fresh change from the mad firefight and 'kill everyone, walk out alone' stories. Only criticisms are a few grammar mistakes, the fact that an AK-74 isn't a sub-machinegun, and a few uses of commas where periods would be more appropriate.

All in all, well done. By the way, few stories have actually managed to make me think, "Ew, maybe I'll wait to eat lunch". The sickness and whole face scratching with the puss spurting out of sores thing got me on the gross level... and I liked it!
  23:48:13  31 October 2005
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
Messages: 273

---QUOTATION---
Not too shabby, Ian C. Lots of good ideas here, and a fresh change from the mad firefight and 'kill everyone, walk out alone' stories. Only criticisms are a few grammar mistakes, the fact that an AK-74 isn't a sub-machinegun, and a few uses of commas where periods would be more appropriate.

All in all, well done. By the way, few stories have actually managed to make me think, "Ew, maybe I'll wait to eat lunch". The sickness and whole face scratching with the puss spurting out of sores thing got me on the gross level... and I liked it!
---END QUOTATION---



Thanks very much.

Yeah, my sentences can get a bit run-on, I often get carried away with my thoughts and end up sticking a comma in where a full-stop ( period ) would be more appropriate.

AK-74 is an assault rifle, isn't it? Well spotted.

I'm glad to see that bit at the end made you feel vaguely queasy, was basically a pin to finally burst the conceptions of anyone who thought this Stalker was a little far gone but there was a chance of redemption, of finding his way again.

Pretty much all I write now are character pieces, when I first started out it was non-stop action with 2D characters who died as fast as I could think them up, now I've gone to the other end of the spectrum and find it a real challenge to write a compelling action scene, let alone a series of them.
  01:44:05  27 November 2005
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Midnight Rambler
(Novice)
 
On forum: 10/17/2003
Messages: 30
"Whatever's on my hand stings my eyes, the two agonies fight each other."

Loved that line Ian. You're going to be a well paid writer yet, that much is obvious.
  02:33:29  27 November 2005
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729

---QUOTATION---
"Whatever's on my hand stings my eyes, the two agonies fight each other."

Loved that line Ian. You're going to be a well paid writer yet, that much is obvious.
---END QUOTATION---



Oi Rambler, your email address need updating
  05:29:47  27 November 2005
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Chode
Token Weird Guy
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 12/30/2003
Messages: 381
Well done, WELL DONE!

You may have written the first Noir story of the zone. (I mean Noir, as in Sin City Noir. Very remniscent style!)

Well paced, and thought provoking. Though to be honest, I don't like your suggested title. I can't think of a better one though....
  14:12:04  4 December 2005
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Midnight Rambler
(Novice)
 
On forum: 10/17/2003
Messages: 30

---QUOTATION---
"Whatever's on my hand stings my eyes, the two agonies fight each other."

Loved that line Ian. You're going to be a well paid writer yet, that much is obvious.

Oi Rambler, your email address need updating
---END QUOTATION---



Updated and fixed Amoki.
  15:08:37  5 December 2005
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
Messages: 273
Thanks very much chaps.

It does have a kind of noir air about it, doesn't it Chode? I find myself slipping into that style sometimes, for better or worse, end up getting carried away with the similies.

In particular thank you for the kind words Midnight Rambler, they gave me a boost that I will not soon forget.
  19:22:37  10 March 2006
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Blank4G
(Novice)
 
On forum: 02/17/2006
Messages: 14
Hold tight. You´re about to probably get the boost of your life now.
This review must be the paramount laudation you will ever receive, and probably the most depressing, too.

I think you kind of reinvented the wheel without noticing it.
Even though in our times such a thing is almost impossible considering the density of information we are fed (up with) every day, in my opinion (and I mean it) it is the best story I ever experienced (be it prose, a movie or a computer game, or whatever fiction comprising a plot).
Sounds a bit much? Wait; I’ll give details.

Honestly speaking I did not notice its full beauty right away, only when the first impact began to settle and I began stripping the story down to its frame. I do not think you have even considered it that way, but let me explain myself. Only when you understand a diamond’s nature will you recognize its perfection. (No, that is no bullshit quotation).

You have used the two concepts that have proved to be the best humankind has thought up to confuse a reader (you can be sure it never fails the desired effect when well prepared and appropriately written) and interwoven them with a reasonable character motivation/conflict as well as a concise plot.

The effect of confusion relies 1. on the fact everybody expects the Plot to be Linear (by which I mean continuity and a linear travel from A to B, not, as often used, a plot where the protagonist faces no obstacles), which must ultimately be determined by the way we are taught to perceive time and the development of our life within it, and 2. the fact we are compelled to assume the narrator is objective. (Now that was Helluva sentence. Pat yourself on the back for reading this one.)

In other words you have put together what has always belonged together:

1. The circular plot (i.e. A and Z are one). A.k.a: The perpetual plot or plot loop.
This is the usual suspect when people are really confused after the show.
First appearance in a movie I know of: David Lynch’s Lost Highway. Guest roles in: Twelve Monkeys, Matrix 3 (poor specimen though).
First known appearance in prose: (sorry no info)
Only known appearance in a PC game: Hitman, Codename: 47, which must be the most professionally crafted pc game plot ever.

2. The twisted P.o.V.: A.k.a. The confused narrator.

Only appearance in a movie I can think of right now: The Secret Window. Great Movie. (By the way; No, the Matrix Trilogy is not a suitable example here.)
First known appearance in prose: The Tell Tale Hearth, by Edgar Allen Poe (A story which really does not have anything more than this asset to it. You see, I am in no way easy to impress.)
PC game: none that I know of.

3. Straightforwardness(and this is a short story’s greatest quality).

a) The best part about this (and the realization that let me grip this story’s exceptionality): Each part that constitutes the story serves both as an external and an internal motivation (thus keeping it really simple).

For example the fact the protagonist does not want to leave his comrades.
External purpose: make him stay put in this place.
Internal purpose: Make him a sad divergent personality. Give him a goal, and a human side, and give fate the cruel twist that his humanity is what made him inhuman at last (which is a great paradoxical situation creating tons of friction).
Or this loneliness.
External purpose: Reason he is in need of rescue and uses the beacon.
Internal purpose: Possibility to hint at his madness by the strange thoughts that can be placed in his head without arousing too much suspicion.

And even better, you pull off the outward explanation for both the perpetual plotline as well as the narrator’s confusion from the same element: The influence of irradiation (i.e. there is interdependence between these two concepts, thus permanently bonding them.)

b) In addition, there is no dead weight in your story (which certainly does not apply to the other story you have posted here.) The only exception is the bullshit fire-fight (which I certainly realize is the needed action part - still not well done). If the intention was that the protagonist fires himself, there are easier ways of implementing it more skilful, and if it should have been another guy: it falls out of the story’s frame = Dead Weight!

Still, all lines are clearly drawn, and each joins somewhere giving the whole plot an inner unity and a purpose in itself, as well as a topical issue to deal with. (In this case salvation both physically and mentally as well as other topics such as loyalty and its gains.)

All the aforementioned attributes weigh far more than the fact it is pleasantly dark (even noir) and excitingly cynical, as well as sinisterly gory. That is no big deal to pull off (not considering the boundaries of this competition). But what you created is in one word: the perfect (science-) fiction short story. (Ok, its six words.) At least from the outline. That is beacuse there is nothing more suitable to perfection than simplicity. (Nope this one isn’t a damn quotation either. I refuse to embellish myself with other feathers than my own.)

I have never seen all those elements blended together that well and as straightforward, and actually never seen them assembled that way (but believe me you can be sure it has already been done before. Ours are easy, but in the end cruel times for an author.)

As you see this is more than the usual inane laudation pouring all over the place. Yet, it is even more praise.

It must feel like playing with the rubick’s cube, and by chance hit all the sides right. Surely the STALKER background helps along a lot to make the story reasonable and concise.

Now, once I elucidated my opinion it is clear why I tell you it is best to get prepared for the fact that you will never best this one. While I predict the average quality of you work will steadily increase within the next time, be prepared for the insight you have left you zenith behind you.

Now, I will make getting this story somewhere my goal (right behind getting my own stuff published, and about a dozen projects.)

I think we should think about getting the best writers on this board together for some anthology. I can already think of a publisher (in theory). I think you know whom I mean.

Because of that, and other reasons of course, you’ll certainly see why we need to talk.
I’ll have to leave the modalities at your choice though.
  21:36:48  10 March 2006
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[dandan]
Ancient History
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 04/30/2005
Messages: 873
Well, I can't possibly give you the same comprehensive praise that Blank4G did. But I can say that was a fantastic piece of writing. A wonderful bit of prose. Well done mate.
  03:22:41  13 March 2006
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
Messages: 273
Taken me most of the day to fully digest your post Blank4G, needless to say I very much appreciate you putting such effort into analysis and explaining why you enjoyed the story.

It's difficult to not feel a little affronted with the Rubik's Cube comparison though. I'll be the first to admit that there is always an ammount of 'mess' involved with writing, there is with any creative process, and that while that mess is scaled down with experience it still remains even for the most accomplished writers. I've gone through my share of mess, I used to scrap huge segments of writing ( literally hundreds of pages ), trying to find out what worked.

I was certainly in a state of 'flow' when I wrote fast ripe, fast rotten, but the main ideas and basis of the piece had been floating around my head for a while, it was just that moment of creative diarrhoea where your unconscious has finished chewing over what you've fed it and suddenly evacuates with little warning ( pardon the colourful metaphor, but that's just how it feels to me ).

I'm obviously not prepared to credit the idea that this is likely to remain my best work ( not with a novel on the boil! ), I am pleased with it however which is more than I can say for most of my pieces.

The anthology sounds like a great idea, it's always struck me that GSC have used this literary contest as a means to draw attention to the game and paid little attention to the efforts/requests of the writers themselves ( can't blame them I guess, they are a business ), and while it's cool that all stories will be put on the DVD there is a danger of the better efforts not getting the recognition they deserve.

If you need to contact me then my e-mail/MSN is Clemofski@hotmail.com, needless to say I'd certainly be interested in chatting with you about getting my work 'out there'.
  09:34:03  13 March 2006
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729

---QUOTATION---
If you need to contact me then my e-mail/MSN is Clemofski@hotmail.com, needless to say I'd certainly be interested in chatting with you about getting my work 'out there'.
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Haven't seen you on MSN for ages. I take it that I've been blocked for good?
  16:34:27  13 March 2006
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
Messages: 273

---QUOTATION---

Haven't seen you on MSN for ages. I take it that I've been blocked for good?
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Not really the place to discuss it here, I've sent you an e-mail.
  17:01:44  15 March 2006
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Blank4G
(Novice)
 
On forum: 02/17/2006
Messages: 14
The need to clarify...

Ok... This time I`ll make the vain attempt to be brief... , but still try and avoid being misunderstood, so get your reading glasses.

I was in two minds about the Rubick`s cube statement myself, but then I resolved to stick with it just to see how you`d take it.
The way you understood it is certainly not the way I meant it though.

I know perfectly well that a story is not created by chance, even if any creative process is in fact random and destructive. (Only a fool without the slightest experience would doubt that.) I like to compare creation with a hurricane ravaging one`s mind, followed by a conscious re-construction into something new (wich is my explanation why the late hours alway bear the best fruit). Still your comparison with digestion kinda hits the nail on the head as well... .

My point with the previous stamemnt was in fact the assumption you did not start this story with the general Ideas I have mentioned before. Because if you`d have created this whole plotline from scrap, considering each implication and each element`s general suitability, I would have staked my nonexistent credentials on the fact you`d been a pro with 20 years of experience (it would not have improved the stories worth a bit though).
By the (of course conscious) effort to make the story "work" you still pulled off grand things behid the scenes, that you shurely have felt to be in place (i.e harmony of the story) and intended... I wonder if that makes it any clearer what I am trying to say...

Another approach: If you take an "outward approach" to story creation, it gets more complicated and intricate. Processing all the theoretical information and possible implications as well as their suitability and sense would have been an endeavour worth a novel or a movie-screenplay, not to mention its near impossibility.

It would have taken far too much time to implement in a fanfic story that in fact is thrid-grade literature (or anyway close).
So in my opinion, as we are a generation that has been (passively) confronted with plot and stories; with visual style and moviemaking since early childhood, we have developed sort of a "sixth sense" for cliche, and what will work in a story, what would fit, and what not and how to lure the reader onto the wrong path to thrill him.
You have sure seen it coming that your story turns out great in a sense of: good plot, interesting setting, unexpected turning point and consciously taken influence on those things (at this point I need to elucidate that the story's impact is simply "tripled" by the fact one has learned to "underestimate" the writers here. I have chosen this term so as not to offend anyone. Still is if the story would have been from a well known author, I would have anticipated far more things and you would`ve never caught me this wrong-footed (as you will never do herafter ). I have to confess that I have overlooked all the hints at what could possibly be wrong with the guy, thinking the detail would not be well thought-out . )
(Doesn`t that sound familiar? )

So to get it off my chest: I never doubted you deserve full credits for the story, it does not lessen its genius by the fact you have (assumably) taken the "inward" approach in its creation.

Well, I think there`s no insult on cutting short on my laudation in that way.

And concerning your future work: I have not objected that the quality of your work will improve. I have only said that the perfection of this story lies in simplicity.
It is obvious why you will never best this aspect with any novel you could possibly write.
The conciseness and inner unity of the plot is determined by the medium that is chosen for it. Imagine the horror of a novel with as many turning points per 10 pages as your short story has. Possibly I would even like the novel better, but I do not see the conflict with my previous statement there.

There is far more to a piece of literature than the plot; alot that is far more open to opinion, in fact so much, the word perfection seems out of place.

In my opinion any piece of literature consitst of: Style (i.e. pure descriptive ability) , literary mastery (i.e. the art part of descrtiption), ambition and message (awkward word for meaning behind the obvious), plot, feel and imagination.

Nowadays plot seems to beat all those others though.
It ocurrs to me that your story may be just that good because the other points have been (to some extent) neglected or did not fit in.

A simple example to clarify my point: If I was to compare the acknowledged "Matrix" with your story, and asked which one was the greater experience, I would choose Matrix without hesitation.
Still as I said before yours is still better devised as the Matirx regarding plot.
Surely it is hard to compare a short story to a movie, but if you bare it down to its essentials, it is far more comprehensive than one would think. Wait, I have to get my scalpel for that.

The Matrix story is by far overrated. First of all to clarify my statements about creativity I will expose the elements they have shredded and re-worked into this plot that. (still there`s one logical system-failure I do not see how they could have avoided (as the wacholski brothers themselves, obviously): put it simply: a man needs more than 80 kg of dissolved organic mass to survive his whole lifespan.)

Where they gathered stuff (general ideas not the plot) as far as I can tell...

1.Hong kong karate movies (for sure)
2.Terminator (obviously)
3.Total Recall: the point where they want to trick him into believeing that what he thinks is real is in fact only an implanted memory and he did never leave the company-building (note: the choice to wake up or continue is offered as a PILL to wake him up!)
4. Tron: the way programs are scripted, changed and controlled, as well as how they move along the "data highway" wich only became an issue in the later bullshit parts, especially the second.
5. Soylent Green: that is the name of the novel by I do not know whom, but there also exists a movie dealing with it. The main point there is that the dregs of future scoiety get dissolved and worked into a sort of cheap food with tofu-like quality coming in three ubiquitous flavours Soylent green, red and.... i think yellow (though I do not want to know the recipie for that! N)
6. there has been a series over ten years ago that the germans have translated into: The three-legged rulers (literally). I cannot help but think the original title was a bit more inspired, still the point there was that aliens ruled the planet, travelling in three-legged flying saucers implanting men mind control units, making them work for their survival.

So you see, by combining all those into a neat world of its own, the movie almost manages to fool the viewers into the illusion its makers devised anything of their own. Shure the visual style helps along pretty much, too.

I was the biggest fan of this movie but analyzing it made me a fervent critic. I felt kinda like fooled by it.
The Idea the world seems dull and pointless (for example seen in the Trueman-Show), that leads to the explanation it is only a virtual world, (and explaining why the damn chicken tastes so dull... ) serves only as an outline, not as a substantial plot-waypoint at least in my opinion. Sure it creates the idea of Morpheus being a terrorist, but that is whithout any later meaning as well as getting demasked as a ruse quite fast. In essence the plot revolves around the prediction of the oracle (a quite recurring motive, still fate and the possibiltiy to maipulate it seem quite interestingly picked as anathema to virtual, programmed worlds ruled by scientific rationalism. Hacking as a philosophical abstraction of existentialsim... hmmm). It is dealt with in a stisfactory way, but let`s face it: who of us ever realy Neo is The One?

Thus stripped down, there is not much left of it`s uncanny genius celebrated in many a review I think. Its well done, but in essence nothing new. So what remains is only plot, and that is kinda lame.

Getting back to what I wanted to explain, I would label the matirx better enterainment as a whole and a larger source of inspiration (simply because so many people have put so many good ideas into it), still your story is better thought (out plot-wise) and makes better use of plot. Period.
Now I think you`ll understand what I wanted to say. Your story is a pure diamond, but by no way the crown of mankind`s literary achievements or aspirtations.


Concerning your closing statement: I am no publisher or editor (or else I would not have gotten here ), so I do not "need" to contact you. (Now it`s my turn to get hung up on formulation ). I simply want to do so because I hope for a fruitful dialogue and collaboration. (No mentor-disciple thing intended either way.)

I leave the rest for my e-mail

P.S. My answers make stand-alone short stories it seems...
  17:32:46  15 March 2006
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Ian_C
The man lacking a plan
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 08/02/2003
Messages: 273
An intriguing and ( again ) very detailed response, thank you for expanding on your ideas/views and providing examples, an interesting read.

I see what you mean about not expecting any tricks/subtle clues when you approached as it is an 'amateur' work, there are some other stories on here which have had the same impact on me - you go in with modest hopes then they are exceeded by a good margin, therefore doubling your enjoyment.

I've attempted a collaboration in the past with mixed results, it mainly never got up to speed due to my erratic work ethic, but that doesn't mean I'd shut the door on such a project and am always eager to discuss writing with a like-minded person.

As to your e-mail, I look forward to it although I won't be able to reply for the next two weeks or so due to leaving for the Dominican Republic tommorow ( hope to find some fresh creative fuel there along with the sun and cocktails, I certainly did in Tunisia! )
  20:04:58  15 March 2006
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Blank4G
(Novice)
 
On forum: 02/17/2006
Messages: 14
If you check your email in a few minutes you will find it right there... would appreciate a reply before you leave.

The sort of collaboration I meant was a bit different but I am open for any suggestions, still I think time wil come, although not just yet. we eill be able to talk business soon though.

And: Enjoy yourself! (hopefully you will not ruin your stay with incessantly pondering your writing. That's what kept happening to me last year.)


Oh, and dont forget to take these
 
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