Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Beginning 780

The sunlight behind us faded as the cave twisted and turned in on itself, farther and farther into Zayt Mountain, until I looked over and I couldn’t see Sheridan’s face for the dark.

Then lights flashed on, blinking and bulbous: Welcome to Zayt Mountain Fun Park. Sheridan poled the boat over the side of the cave and we hopped out onto the ledge and clocked in.

“Want to get Death Falls over with first?” I asked, crossing my fingers, and Sheridan nodded. I took my time getting into my boots, and Sheridan was already sploshing down the ledge into Death Falls by the time I grabbed my net and followed.

Death Falls started out slowly enough; my headlamp flickered over the lazy water as it followed the narrow tunnel toward the rapids. I raked my net over the bottom, but there wasn’t much trash that hadn’t already been carried down to the pools.

There it was again—the light. The edges of the rocks across the stream glowed faintly. I checked the stream’s depth with my net: too deep for my boots, but shallow enough to wade. And Sheridan was around a bend in the tunnel, so she wouldn’t see.

Using the pole of my net for support, I felt my way across the stream, leaning slightly against the current so I wouldn't slip and get carried down to the rapids. I was careful to step over the metal rails that guided the gondolas through the caves.


The light shone out from a crack between the rocks. I pushed on a boulder and it pivoted away from me, revealing a room where Sheridan and two other people were gathered around a machine.

In the corner was a pile of garbage collected from the stream -- papers, burger boxes, lost hats and park maps, the usual stuff. They were feeding all this into the machine, which was belching a thick, gray paste into a bubbling cauldron.

"What are you doing?" I said.

"Duh," Sheridan replied. "Getting ready for tomorrow, of course. What? You think the Churros make themselves?"


Opening: -*Rachel*-.....Continuation: anon.

19 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


“Okay! You hold it right there buster!” I turned around to face the man. “Just march over into the grassy area.”

“Yes sir,” I said, “I just need to let my partner know to come back this way.” I wadded into the bend far enough that both, Sheridan and the officer could still be seen. “Sheridan?! Our guard says we need to rejoin the other inmates picking up trash.”

--Gwen Ever


Quickly, before Sheridan finished up his trash patrol and saw me in the weak light, I pulled off my boots, then stepped into the freezing water.

My toes instantly went numb, and I hefted my skirt up around my hips, squatted.

Marking your territory was one thing; but, being a Harpy, having to do it by literally pissing a river got old quickly.

--Writtenwyrdd



Wait, what? Sheridan's a girl? What was I thinking? Slogging around in this creepy freaking excuse for a tunnel of love, so caught up with the idea of a hot snog with a cute hunk that I didn't even pick up on the gender angle?

Sheridan came back around the bend.

"What are you waiting for, sweetcakes? We've got plenty of privacy."

I shrugged and waded up to her. Hell, a snog's a snog.

--Paul Penna


As quick as I could I opened my pants and wizzed away. Screw hiking back to the john.

--Khazar-khum

Dave F. said...

I've read this over five times today and I still keep losing the location. I keep forgetting that they are in a cave and doing...
Well that's another problem. Are they sightseeing, spelunking or cleaning trash?

I don't know if it is the morning, or the writing, or anything in particular. The scene isn't working for me. I keep thinking bright sunny fun park and then having to readjust my image of where they are. Then there's the boat and poling and all of a sudden the one character is putting on boots and wading around with a net. There's this huge blinking and bulbous light and the one character has a headlamp.
Maybe it's just me this morning but I keep having to refocus on the story for all the distractions. I just can't get this cave fixed in my mind.

Evil Editor said...

This sounds like it's one ride in an amusement park. But my guess is that there wouldn't be lights flashing Welcome to Zayt Mountain Fun Park in the middle of a ride that's set in a dark cave. It ruins the atmosphere.

I can't imagine the employees wouldn't have a better place to clock in than in a dark cave. Most employees wouldn't have any reason to be inside this cave, so why put a time clock here?

As the possibilities exist of a kid falling out of a boat or a machine malfunction, I'm guessing there would be have to be emergency lights in the cave, which would also be turned on so the cleanup crew wouldn't need to be in complete darkness wearing headlamps.

It took till the last sentence of paragraph 5 to reveal Sheridan is female, and we still don't know the main character's gender.

P2: "poled the boat over the side of the cave" sounds like it's going over a cliff. Add "to."

P5: "There it was again—the light." Whattaya mean "again"? The only light mentioned so far was the sunlight and the welcome sign and the headlamp.

BuffySquirrel said...

Nothing here matters cos the characters have no emotional investment in anything. They don't care equals we don't care.

arhooley said...

Well, I was kind of hooked. I think the writing is generally smooth and well-paced. I was going with some sort of LeGuin "Horse Camp" feel.

THAT said --

I could have sworn Sheridan was some no-nonsense long-timer -- and definitely male.

I, too, didn't get when the lights were on or off and exactly what we were seeing.

The place struck me as some incredibly dangerous natural formation that's been made into a fun park.

No, I don't have a lot of emotional involvement in the characters yet, but there's a sense of mystery that could keep me reading. What's the narrator about to do that s/he doesn't want Sheridan to see? Dump a gun?

Evil Editor said...

I thought it just meant she wouldn't see the light.

vkw said...

I read it a couple times as well and couldn't get it.

I stumbled over this part, "I checked the stream’s depth with my net: too deep for my boots, but shallow enough to wade. And Sheridan was around a bend in the tunnel, so she wouldn’t see."

If a stream is too deep for the boots, how is it shallow enough to wade? And what was Sheridan not able to see. She's around teh bend so, she's not going to see the narrator . . . how is that related to wading? and how is this related to the light?

It wasn't clear. I think with openings sometimes authors try to build up a lot of suspense,(aka known as making it difficult to read and forcing the reader to guess what is going on), believing this is what makes the opening interesting.

What makes the opening interesting is finding the dead body or discovering the light is an alien.

vkw

Gwen Ever said...

I had to read this many times before even coming up with a continuation. The story didn‘t make sense to me, I couldn‘t grasp where this was or just what these people were doing, so I wrote a part to it that equally didn‘t make much sense. Author, you need to set this scene better before getting into the what the characters are up to. I agree with Arhooley that you are building up a sense of mystery, maybe even suspense and that makes me curious to see where you go with this. I would read on and hope things clear up.

Anonymous said...

The boots/wading didn't sit well with me either. I ASSUMED Sheridan was a girl. The "again" on the light as Evil pointed out. Can lazy water turn into a current strong enough to wash the mc to the Death Falls in a few steps?
Mentioning the temperature change and different smell inside would help me get a cave feel.
Best,
Bibi

_*rachel*_ said...

Whoever did that continuation, I thank God I wasn't drinking anything at the moment. I'd need a new laptop.

Points taken. I've been dithering with this story, especially the opening parts, for a while. Chances are I'll rewrite this bit, and either way I'll come back to these suggestions.

For the record, Arhooley's right that it's a natural formation made into a theme park.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I liked this and the mystery of what the light is and why the narrator is trying to hide it from Sheridan. I just couldn't get a good sense of the location. You lost me on this paragraph:

"There it was again—the light. The edges of the rocks across the stream glowed faintly. I checked the stream’s depth with my net: too deep for my boots, but shallow enough to wade."

To begin with, you've already mentioned sunlight and the lights of the welcome sign. Naturally I assume that one of these is the light that the narrator sees again - and it takes me a moment to realize you're talking about a different, third light reappearing.

Second, isn't something too deep for ones boots by definition not shallow enough to wade? Unless your narrator is getting wet, which seems like it would deserve a mention when she/he goes into the water. At any rate, it's another thing I have to stop and figure out, losing the thread of the story.

Just a little revision to smooth out the confusion and I think you're good.

Anonymous said...

Second, isn't something too deep for ones boots by definition not shallow enough to wade?

I guess noone's heard of waders?

Evil Editor said...

Wading is walking in water. I don't think it matters if you're wearing waders or if you're barefoot. I personally recommend wearing rubbers. For protection.

Actually, I don't see the point of mentioning it's too deep for his boots if he's going to wade in anyway.

_*rachel*_ said...

I was thinking the water was deep enough the boots would fill with water and make walking awkward, but not so deep you couldn't walk across. But I've already thought of a way around that, so the point's moot.

Here's my attempted revision. I think I've changed a lot of the confusing things; let me know if I haven't.
---
The moonlight behind us faded as the cave twisted and turned in on itself, farther and farther into the depths of Zayt Mountain, until even the pale flickers of light on the water were gone. But by then we could see the yellow glow of the maintenance rooms ahead and the bulbous, multi-colored lights above the main docks: Welcome to Zayt Mountain Fun Park.

We reached the dock by the maintenance rooms; I turned on the lights while Sheridan moored the boat. I handed her her time card once she was done, and we clocked in together.

“Want me to get Death Falls today?” I asked, crossing my fingers, and Sheridan nodded. I took my time getting into my boots; Sheridan was already halfway to the Tunnel of Love by the time I grabbed my tools and headed for the Death Falls ride.

Death Falls started out slowly enough as the lazy water followed the narrow tunnel toward the rapids. I raked my net over the bottom, but there wasn’t much trash that hadn’t already been carried down to the pools. On the other hand, there was gum all over the walls and—thanks to more athletic or stupid riders—the low ceiling.

I stopped in the middle of scraping a wad of cinnamon gum off the wall. There it was again—the light. On the other side of the stream, something behind the rocks was glowing.

I checked the stream’s depth with my net, then sloshed across.

Anonymous said...

We still don't know the gender of the narrator. Might I suggest a slight edit:

I took my time getting into my boots, hampered as I was by my size D breasts...

Just a thought.

Evil Editor said...

You might delete: There it was again—the light.

Then we don't wonder which of the five different lights you've previously mentioned you mean by "again," only to find out it's none of them. Besides, the next sentence describes the light as something glowing behind the rocks, much more specific than the vague, "Hey, a light."

Anonymous said...

I've heard of waders. But waders and wading are different where I come from. Eh?
Rachel, are you bored with this piece? I usually lap up your stuff. This feels like you shrugged your shoulders and, my dear, the revision didn't turn my crank either. I wasn't grounded or invested from the get go in either version. The focus isn't there in MHO. FWIW.
Best,
Bibi

Dave F. said...

I think it's a little wordy.
For instance, I would make this:
until even the pale flickers of light on the water were gone. But by then we could see the yellow glow of the maintenance rooms ahead and the bulbous, multi-colored lights above the main docks:
into this:
"until the yellow of maintenance lights replaced the sky blue of the outdoors at the main dock. Welcome to Zayt Mountain Fun Park."

In the next paragraph you're describing the mundane drudgery of going to work. Nothing is more boring than mundane drudgery of going to work. What I think you need to convey is that these are maintenance of cleaning crew. So one says: You go clean this and I'll clean that. It's one sentence.

I would condense the next two paragraphs about Death falls and the Bubble Gum, I would end with the statement about the glowing light behind the rock. There's the interesting piece. What's glowing back there?

I know that is a lot of cutting but I think you need something this drastic to help you get to the story. In my experience, I find that I sometimes have to be drastic and ruthless to restart a story. I can easily write myself into a dead end by falling in love with the words and although they might be great words, pithy words and the best words ever but they dead end the story. In that case, change the words and restart.

Gwen Ever said...

Bravo for clarity in your revision, even if wordy. (Dave F. has some good suggestions here) I would never start a sentence with the word 'But'. Just drop the 'but' and start it with 'by'. Saying "There it was again- the light" infers that we saw this light earlier, but we didn't. This makes the piece a little confusing. I would change it to something like this:

A flash caught my eye, some type of light and it was coming from the behind the rocks on the other side of the stream. It was glowing.