Monday, August 23, 2010

New Beginning 779

Dinwitty, our computer nerd, died last night. Six quick parries with an old-fashioned hunting knife to his torso and no one saw the killer. Dinwitty went to the rave parade wearing his facemask and swim fins along with a skin-tight, rainbow cat suit, his signature black duster and slicked back hair. He'll return in a shroud. Miss Silvia, Duchess of New Claysburg, stood aghast that anyone would try to assassinate her or hurt her adoring fans.

"Will no one be my Kavalier?" her voice echoed plaintively across the gray of Calder Benson Boulevard in the village of West Hovingshire. "The evening must have a Kavalier to deliver my gift to the party." Five of her followers stepped forward like modern-day Sir Walters and retrieved the marble heavy sack full of frozen Suzie's Brand Cream Cheese lying next to Dinwitty. She silenced the applause so the musicians and performers could harmonize a few soft chords of Libera me, of requiescant in pace and In paradisum deducant te Angeli over Dinwitty's dead body. Order and harmony restored, she pointed to the rave site where she would celebrate her twenty-first birthday.

Not far away, where Calder Benson crossed Dave Jenkins Avenue, the man in the Animal Collective tee shirt sat astride his fixed gear bicycle and watched her. He absently ran a hand over his upper lip, the moustache tattooed on his index finger lending his gaunt face a sinister air. I caught his eye and nodded. He made no response, save to pull his ski goggles into place and readjust his Walkman headphones before pedaling away. He disappeared behind the Tao Lin Teahouse as the techno quintet launched into the theme song from Alf.

It was a shame about Dinwitty, but in the game of checkers you sometimes have to sacrifice your battleship. And I was playing a high-stakes game of checkers, indeed. Miss Silvia would merely be the first to fall, followed by New Claysburg and then the Kingdom of Nova Brooklyn itself.

A cruel fate, but such was the way of the Hipsterpocalypse.


Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Sean

17 comments:

Phoenix said...

the moustache tattooed on his index finger
Loved that bit, Sean!!

Dave, check the definition of "parry" - I was brought up short by that word choice and couldn't really get into the opening from that point on since I didn't feel I could trust the narrator getting such a simple detail wrong in the second sentence.

I also wasn't clear about the tense shift of "He'll return" or why Miss Silvia would think "assassinate her" since a connection between Dinwitty's murder and her hasn't even been hinted at much less established yet.

Since you have a break in time after "saw the killer," you probably want to indicate that by starting a new paragraph at "Dinwitty went to the rave parade."

And much as you'll hate it, that paragraph will need either "went" changed to "had gone" or "stood" changed to "had stood" -- simply avoiding the word "had" doesn't make the reason it's necessary go away ;o) You give us two sentences in the near past, then immediately launch into backstory about what happened in a further-ago past. The proper tense for that is past perfect, and you'll have to drop a "had" in there somewhere.

Evil Editor said...

I don't understand why Silvia is bringing a gift to her own birthday party. Or why frozen cream cheese would be considered a gift. Or why the musicians would harmonize a few chords from three different pieces rather than play one piece. Or how anyone can hear them playing softly when they're out by the Boulevard and police cars are approaching with their sirens blaring.

Perhaps the tense problem would be resolved if the first sentence were Dinwitty, our computer nerd, died half an hour ago.

Then the body would still be there and everything just happened. (Change "went" to "came" in sentence 3.)

This assumes you can seamlessly shift to the next day, perhaps by skipping a line at the appropriate time.

Anonymous said...

Random mix. Usually amusing in short blasts but so often these manuscripts turn out to be 700 pages of chatter...

_*rachel*_ said...

I'm confused. There's so much going on here it's overwhelming.

Take it with a grain of salt, though. There are some stories whose style I just don't quite get.

Dave F. said...

I really like the "Hipsterpocalypse."

I'll comment later.

Khazar-khum said...

Bring on the Hipsterocalypse, I say!

Matt Heppe said...

I'd make the third sentence into the first sentence. Then I'd put how he died after the shroud sentence. Something like this:

Dinwitty went to the rave parade wearing his facemask and swim fins along with a skin-tight, rainbow cat suit, his signature black duster and slicked back hair. He'll return in a shroud. Six quick parries [thrusts] with an old-fashioned hunting knife and no one saw the killer. Miss Silvia, Duchess of New Claysburg, stood aghast that anyone would try to assassinate her or hurt her adoring fans.

You can't be parried to death.

Odd and kinda cool. I'd read on.

arhooley said...

I dig it. I wouldn't touch a thing, although it had better start resembling real life darn soon. I couldn't read this level of Alice-in-Wonderland nonsense much longer.

Phoenix, Dinwitty was evidently one of Miss Silvia's "adoring fans." She can't think why anyone would try to hurt them.

Phoenix said...

Hi arhooley: I got the 'hurt an adoring fan' part; I don't get how that translates to an assassination attempt on Silvia.

I adore EE. Just because I'm killed at one of his famous minion retreats doesn't automatically mean my killer actually wants to assassinate EE.

There's nothing in this excerpt to support that claim from the narrator here. I could forgive if it were said from Silvia's POV, but it's from the omni narrator's POV - the one who knows it was an "old-fashioned hunting knife."

Dave F. said...

I'm surprised that the commentators missed the point that the killer wasn't seen. Dinwitty is leading a parade to a rave holding something of dubious value to the Duchess and no one sees the killer?

The comments fascinate me right now.

I know what caused the time and tense confusion. This originally started out as a discussion of the previous day's events with Dinwitty's four coworkers discussing his death. In my first draft shorthand:
"Hello Pig-Face," he says.
"Yes, my tiny little gherkin," she answers, smacking her lips. Monaghan pouts.
"Last night I was your humongous kosher dill." The wit of love being lost on me, Deanna and my eyes cross and rise to the ceiling.
"Can we can not deal with this today?" Deanna says. Monaghan and Shirley glare.

Awful idea. I thought that was just a little sacrilegious and quite possibly blasphemous way to begin discussing a murder. I changed that a week ago and set the entire piece as happening today. EE's advice is on target. I fumbled those tenses.

There are no sirens because security is already there and that is explained in the next paragraph. Security was standing right there and couldn't see the killer.

As for the harmonizing of the Latin Requiem, I overdid it.

Beneath the surface, there is a layer of discontent and subversion. Think of Marie Antoinette being guarded by Robespierre. The cheese is her "Le Godmiché Royal." And we've gone way past eating Brioche.

The story is 2500 words long. It's set in some strange future that might exist and like all story futures is dystopic. The opening is dense and there is lots going on but it all ties together. I drop you in the middle of it all. Lady Sylvia is assassinated by a razor bomb in the climax and the assassin is shot dead while wearing an obfuscation field (invisibility cloak).

Redstarsix said...

Agree with phoenix. The parry thing put me right off.

Evil Editor said...

I'm surprised that the commentators missed the point that the killer wasn't seen. Dinwitty is leading a parade to a rave holding something of dubious value to the Duchess and no one sees the killer?


Actually, what we missed was the fact that Dinwitty was leading the parade. In the middle of the parade it wouldn't be impossible to kill without being noticed. Especially if you're in costume. Plus, it's not clear that Dinwitty was even in the parade, as he could have been a spectator.

Dave F. said...

Gee, that's obvious to you but not to me.

And that, as they say, is being way too close to the writing.

Dave F. said...

That last comment of mine is funnier than you can imagine. I'm reading Nick Harkaway's THE GONE AWAY WORLD where they latest military bomb, the Go Away Bomb" eliminates things from reality. Drop a Go Away Bomb and the city disappears from all existence, all memory and "goes away." Except, and there are always exceptions in Sci Fi, in Harkaway's world. The "stuff" left behind becomes monsters and not-human things.

Lady Sylvia's parade is like that. I had mapped out a discussion that occurred the day after Dinwitty's death by four characters and junked it. The thoughts remained in my head and were not obvious to the reader. Artifacts of revision left behind to haunt the story.

Anonymous said...

I got mishmash. No one tried to assasinate Miss S from what I read. Tense hopping was addressed. What is a rave parade? A parade ending at a rave? Suzie Cream Cheese and Hipster anything makes me feel old. The Sir Walters don't help. I don't think the blend of ancient and the contemporary which I believe you were trying for hits the mark you wanted. I get confusion, smatterings of different voices and it is too much work to try and figure out where this going.
Seems like some alignment is in order.
Best,
Bibi

Anonymous said...

Great continuation with the hipster thing, just me here, but found it depressing. It fit well in the continuation.
The music stuck me as wrong Dave. I'd chosen something different. Best, Bibi

batgirl said...

So this alt-future culture has reintroduced the shroud? I'd have expected 'come back in a box' for anything post-Victorian.