Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Beginning 266


For Jes, being blown up was like having a heavy, invisible blanket thrown over him.

He didn't see the explosion. Some reflex must have triggered his arms to move slowly around his head as his body lifted from the ground. When he opened his eyes mid-flight he could see glass fragments traveling alongside him, spinning tip over base. When his back met the wall it took its time to putty itself into the bricks. Then everything went dark.

Someone was dragging him through the smoke, their arms under his shoulders. He could feel his feet bouncing against rubble, which was a good sign, he thought. Time seemed to be speeding up again, though the invisible blanket still seemed to be wrapped around his head. He could hear nothing. He noticed other shapes in the smoke and dust, people-shaped figures hunched low as their arms fished across the floor.

Water sprayed out from fractured pipes and slicked the floor. Chunks and shards of porcelain skittered to rest. At last the dust settled.

Jes peered into the darkness and saw Marty shuffling toward him. After making his way over and around the debris, Marty crouched down next to him and studied the orange glow at the end of his cigarette. "Sorry, man," he said. "Indian food. Messes me up every time."


Opening: Rik.....Continuation: Anonymous

18 comments:

writtenwyrdd said...

I sent a continuation with the same gas/bad food theme in, but this is vastly superior! Funny stuff.

The actual opening was extremely well written, I thought. I really don't see anything to pick at. I found it visceral and vivid and would have read on.

nitpicker said...

I liked this, but I would remove the word "slowly". After all, his arms must not have been moving very slowly in any literal sense -- it just seemed that way.

The word doesn't add much, since we'll see elsewhere that time appeared to slow down for him.

CSInman said...

I like how the author wrote in slow-mo for the glass shards, though I'm not sure he'd get such a close look as to know exactly how they were spinning. I would keep reading as well.

The continuation made me hungry.

Hwalk said...

I really didn't get the invisible blanket metaphor. It just sounded off.

mjxzozyh said...

"The actual opening was extremely well written"

Well, not entirely.

Try this:

He didn't see the explosion. Some reflex must have put his arms over his head as his body rose from the ground. When he opened his eyes mid-flight he could see glass fragments traveling alongside him, spinning tip over base. When his back met the wall it took its time to putty itself into the bricks.

Someone was dragging him through the smoke, hands under his armpits.


Actually, if his arms are protecting his head he probably has them in front of his face, so chances are good that when he opens his eyes he'll see... his arms. The deleted sentence is hackneyed and unnecessary.

Wonderwood said...

I liked the opening, I thought it was well written and compelling. The pace matched the words well, I thought. I didn't care much for this line:

"When his back met the wall it took its time to putty itself into the bricks."

I found it awkward and it took the pace from slo-mo to stumble. It's probably just me. Other than that little detail I really liked it. Nice job, Rik.

The continuation was perfect!

Margaret said...

Actually, I like the original, more detailed version better.

Anonymous said...

Good writing.

Also, an explosion in sentence #1! You can't start off with a bang any better than that.

I do like it very much. It's visceral and visual. The only thing I'd change is to remove the weakening words from the third para: seemed, could hear, noticed. My taste prefers Time sped up again. He heard. In the smoke and dust, people-shaped figures hunched.

pulp

whitemouse said...

Also, an explosion in sentence #1!

Yes! Whitemouse does the ADD dance of joy.

This was well written, vivid and I liked it very much. Excellent work, author!

Anonymous said...

Jes wasn't really "blown up" though, was he..?

Dave said...

I have had several things blow up next to me. And I mean serious boom-boom, not silly little chinese fireworks or cherry bombs. Thankfully, in each case some sort of barrier was between me and the explosion because at least one explosion was glassware and the other was metal fragments. I don't understand the blanket metaphor because it didn't happen to me. Granted I wasn't thrown by a shockwave, but the explosion was loud enough for me to lose my hearing for an hour or so.
It all comes down to I don't understand the blanket metaphor. It doesn't seem real to me. It's a small part of the opening, though.

Dan said...

"spinning tip over base" -- this was a touch too detailed for me. Pulled me right out of the scene that up till then worked nicely. Try just "spinning", perhaps? Also, instead of "he could see", how about "he saw"? And perhaps replacing "alongside" with "beside" would make the flow better. So: "When he opened his eyes mid-flight he saw glass fragments traveling beside him, spinning." (Actually, now that I read it, maybe keeping in the "tip over base" would be better.)

Instead of this: "He could feel his feet bouncing against rubble, which was a good sign, he thought. " Try this: "He could feel his feet bouncing against rubble--a good sign, he thought."

In this sentence: "He noticed other shapes in the smoke and dust, people-shaped figures hunched low as their arms fished across the floor." Could you cut the word "other"? Also is there no word that means "people-shaped" you could think of? There must be. If there isn't, learn a few. Even just "human figures" could work better. And I'll grant you, "anthropoid" might not be in keeping with your style, but "people-shaped" says to me the writer was either too lazy to find a good adjective, simply didn't know one, or assumed his audience would not understand. I don't know which is worst.

Back to the beginning, could you not cut "For Jes" and leave the rest of the paragraph as is? Then instead of "he" say "Jes" in the 2nd ¶? Like this: "Being blown up was like having a heavy, invisible blanket thrown over him. / Jes didn't see the explosion..." Come to think of it, it might work better without the paragraph break.

Otherwise, the opening made me think of a slo-mo scene out of the Matrix, in a good way.

Oh, in your last paragraph, you have a lot of what I think they call the passive tense. I don't see why ou can't change "Someone was dragging" to "Someone dragged" and "He could feel" to "He felt". I'm all for passive tense but I don't see why you need it here.

Hope this helped. Actually, hope it just made sense, it's a bit late here... :)

ASAP said...

I'm going to go with my gut and jump on board the visceral train. I thought it was good stuff: vivid in need of a colon or two, but quite nice. Wrap it up on the blanket bit, I think; it's only one hundred fifty words and....hoping to make sense.

Very Nice in italics!(still working on the html thing)

McKoala said...

Great continuation. Hoping that's how the book's going to go!

No experience of explosions here. Liked the slow mo, that's real. Speaking as someone who once saw a car in her rear mirror. Upside down, in the air and coming towards me. It missed, but still. It took hours to do it. Not sure about the blanket, though. And the 'coulds' should go - 'his feet bounced' 'Silence' or similar, would be more effective. 'seemed' could go too, and 'noticed'. 'In the smoke and dust...' It just makes it more immediate. Not entirely sure about that last sentence at all actually: 'people-shaped figures' - aren't those just people? 'Fished'? Not sure what they are doing.

Saipan Writer said...

This is interesting and I'd keep reading.

But just fwiw, some comments: Why did I get a feeling that the narrative distanced me from the immediacy of the explosion?

Perhaps it was the first sentence, which seems to be looking back at the event.

Bits that struck me as out of place: (btw, I didn't mind the putty line.)

--"which was a good sign, he thought" [he's being dragged across rubble after an explosion that apparently has rendered him temporarily deaf and unable to move on his own. This observation seems too hopeful, or cheery, or not what I'd be thinking, I think).

--"fished across the floor"- I was unclear whether the MC was still inside at this point, so both fished and floor got me. It's poetic, but it didn't connect, for me.

--I thought the blanket analogy related to his deafness or blindness, a muffled after-effect from the explosion, an invisible wall that suddenly separated him from life. I didn't mind, but it didn't make me like the story better, either. Blankets seem sort of mundane compared to explosions.

Good luck.

takoda said...

I thought the heavy invisible blanket meant feeling claustophobic? I liked this a lot. Continuation was great also!

Cheers

Bernita said...

I thought it was engaging as well.
I wonder if the writer has had a real experience with an explosion close enough to drive one airborne. I would think the concussion would be enough to cause unconsiousness, not hitting a wall.
Nevertheless, there are anomalies in blasts and I liked it.

writtenwyrdd said...

Having dealt with munitions and explosives a teensy bit, I got it that the heavy blanket feeling was blast pressure. However, since this keeps being brought up, the author might consider looking at small edits that clarify this for the readers.