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The Party

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Fluffballer, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. Fluffballer

    Fluffballer IncGamers Member

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    The Party

    I've been enjoying reading the stories in this forum and I decided I should take a crack at writing. This story is the first thing I've written since I was a freshman in high school (a damn long time ago) I think, so it definitely needs help.

    The plot is not even slightly original, but I'd sort of been rolling it around in my head for a while before I even dreamed of writing something. So it's what came out. It's pretty non-descriptive at some points; I sort of like that about a lot of it though. It's a first draft completely unedited writing style wise, but I read it over many times and am unsure where to go. I think I should describe Emily, because I know exactly what she looks like. Um... help! Thanks!

    It's probably rated about PG-13.




    I shoved my thumb into the doorbell and then stepped back. I looked around absentmindedly, checking my watch. 6:30. Emily had told me at work on Friday the party would start at 5:00, and as I didn’t really want to be there, an hour and a half late seemed like a good compromise.

    “Chris hi! I’m so glad you made it. Please come in and make yourself at home. You’re the first to arrive so far.â€

    “No one else is coming†I thought to myself. “Why am I here?â€

    But I couldn’t say no to Emily. Emily was the “office manager†where I worked, which basically meant she was in charge of ordering paper clips when they ran out. She was a sweet girl, but… not exactly the social elite. She never came out with the rest of us to happy hour; “I’m not really a drinker†she’d say. I really don’t think she had any friends at all at work. Or anywhere, for that matter. She’s the kind of girl you picture living alone with six cats. I was surprised, curious, and bored all at the same time when she asked me to come to her party Saturday evening. I guess I felt sorry for her, and here I was: the first and only guest.

    I stepped into her home. The living room was small, but Emily had made it her own, and I could tell she was comfortable there. It was sort of little girlish cute, exactly like her. I giggled to myself at the glass case sitting against the far wall. It was full of little ceramic unicorns. In the middle of the room was a couch adorned with too many throw pillows and even a toy stuffed turtle. Across from the couch was a small TV that looked like it was black and white. It sat on stubby little legs and had turn dials instead of volume and channel buttons. Rabbit ears poked out of the back of it. The floor was covered in an unfortunate pink carpet, too well worn, but Emily had done a good job of covering the worst areas with pastel throw rugs. The room had the look of being freshly cleaned in expectation of company.

    “Help yourself to some snacks…†Emily motioned nervously to the card table she had obviously brought into the room just for this occasion. She had cut fresh vegetables and arranged them delicately on a platter. Two matching bowls held some sort of dip I didn’t recognize. “The dips are homemade—just for the party!†she said with a forced smile and a look that said she was worried I wouldn’t find them acceptable. She looked at me awkwardly, uncomfortable being a host.

    I felt horrible for her. She had clearly put so much effort into her event. I glanced around the room and saw a single streamer she’d somehow hung from the ceiling, probably nearly breaking her furniture straining to reach. She had even taken the time to blow up a few balloons, which sat awkwardly in the corner of the room. I helped myself to a carrot and some dip.

    “It’s delicious,†I said. Emily looked relieved.

    “Would you like to sit?†She gestured with both hands towards the couch and the stuffed turtle.

    I nodded and sat. She followed and sat at the other end of the couch, half turning to face me. She gave me another forced smile and I smiled back. She looked over at the TV even though it wasn’t on, then looked back at me, then down at the floor. She fiddled with her hands.

    “So…†I strove to break the silence. “um… maybe some music? For the party?†I winced in my mind at calling this a party.

    “Well, I don’t usually turn on the radio because I wouldn’t want to disturb the neighbors, but I guess we can make an exception this time!†She stood and raced over to a table where a tiny radio sat, eager to have something to do other than try to make conversation. She flipped it on and it crackled out Debussy’s Clair de Lune.

    “Maybe something more upbeat?†I suggested.

    Emily rolled the dial, trying to find a station. Led Zeppelin grabbed my attention.

    “There! I like that song.â€

    “Would you like a glass of wine?†Emily asked abruptly.

    “Love one!†I said a little too enthusiastically. If I was stuck here, I might as well try to enjoy myself. I couldn’t possibly leave Emily alone. I’d feel awful.

    “I don’t usually drink, but I thought you might like some wine.†She yelled from the kitchen where it sounded like she was having an awful time trying to open the bottle, judging from the noise. I’m not sure how she was managing to knock over all those pans.

    “Do you need any help?†I shouted as I tossed the stuffed turtle around.

    “No, I got it,†she arrived back and presented me a glass of deep red wine. I gladly took a sip the second it was in my hands. Emily was watching me. I looked up at her and she looked away, then sat back down on the couch. She looked back over at the wine and then at me. She started fiddling again.

    We sat there for a while in difficult silence, me taking too frequent sips of the wine and her watching my progress and fiddling. Every once in a while I’d look over and we’d exchange a polite smile and she’d giggle nervously. When my glass was ¼ full, Emily grabbed it out of my hands and ran off to the kitchen. She returned shortly with a full glass and offered it back to me.

    “Ok.†I thought and began drinking again.

    I was feeling much better now with music and wine and I sang along to The Eagles in my head. “You can check in anytime you like, but you can never leaveâ€. Good song. Great song

    I tried my hand at polite small talk.

    “So tell me about your unicorns… do you collect them?â€

    Emily blushed, “I do.†I looked at her goadingly but she didn’t continue. The turtle climbed into my lap and I began to pet it as I tried conversation again.

    “I used to collect beer mats, but I stopped. It’s not very original, so it sort of bored me eventually.†Emily looked down at the floor.

    Oops, unicorns aren’t very original either. The turtle nuzzled my hand begging for attention.

    “So who else did you invite?†I asked, again wincing at my own bad choice of conversation. Surely even Emily knew no one else was coming.

    “Um, you know… um. Harvey, from marketing... just people.â€

    “Harvey…†I muttered to myself trying to picture him. “I don’t think I’ve met—“

    “Would you like some more wine?â€

    “Sure why not?†I was starting to get a bit of a buzz.

    The Doors came onto the radio and I briefly sang along in my head again.

    “There’s danger on the edge of town
    Ride the king’s highway, baby
    Weird scenes inside the gold mine
    Ride the highway west, babyâ€


    The third glass of wine was a bit much. I hadn’t eaten much earlier, and with this music playing I was starting to zone out. I needed to stand. I pushed the turtle off, and he protested by nipping my hand. I stood up and giggled as I saw one of the unicorns slip and stumble.

    “Of course,†I thought. "it’s trying to walk on that smooth glass, and with hooves… no traction.â€

    “May I use your restroom, Emily?†I asked, slightly slurring my speech.

    “Yes, it’s the last door, directly at the end of the hall.â€
    I waddled over to the hallway and looked down. Emily had really outdone herself for the party. The walls looked like they were freshly painted green. I stopped and wondered about it briefly.

    The bathroom door was facing me at the end of the hallway, and it reminded me I really had to pee after all the wine. I began the long trek towards the bathroom. Finally, I reached the door second on the right and turned to walk into the bathroom.

    “I must have the wrong door,†I said to the man who looked up at me, startled. I glanced around the room. It was his bedroom, and he was lying down. The carpet had been pulled up leaving a concrete floor. He had taken advantage of this by dripping dark red and almost black paint in a Jackson Pollock like mural all over the floor, but mostly under his bed. And what a peculiar bed. It was a metal… oh it was a hospital gourney, and the sheets he was laying on were clear plastic.

    I helped myself on into the room and walked over to the man. He was looking at me with the strangest look in his eyes and I was now curious. He opened his mouth, I assume to yell at me, but no sound came out.

    “You’re too skinny, you need food,†I poked him. He looked like a living skeleton now that I looked him over. I could see every bone and tendone poking through his skin, especially as he wasn't wearing any clothes. “Cat got your tongue eh?†I joked with him when I saw that he was missing his. He was now flailing around in his bed.

    “My goodness, no wonder you’re strapped in. You’d fall out otherwise.†I looked down at the stump where his leg used to be. I could see the bone. It looked like a cut banana.

    “Well, I need to take a piss.†I wandered back out into the hallway, which had been freshly painted orange. In the far distance at the other end of the hallway, I could see Emily. I remembered my dad’s binoculars he’d hand me at baseball games when I was growing up and wished I had them now, so I could see Emily better. I walked into the door at my end of the hall and found myself in the bathroom. I closed the door and quickly stripped so that I could finally get that wine out of me. Man I had to pee! I leaned over the edge of the tub and threw up.

    “Oh I’m terribly sorry Emily; I must have forgotten to close the door. I must admit I think I’ve had too much wine and am in no shape to drive.

    “It’s ok Chris. I have a bed waiting for you.â€
     
  2. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight IncGamers Member

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    Hrm... I think this works pretty well, so far. I’d say you do a good job of laying out the awkward social atmosphere here and throwing in some rather creepy elements for good measure; the detail and description actually seemed more than “non-descriptive†to me, and on the whole it felt quite sufficient. In terms of grammar and spelling, this looked pretty strong, though there was the occasional typo or something like that. Other than that, the only general comment I had was about the end; somehow, it seemed overly rushed to me. Anyway, some specific thoughts:

    A nitpick: writing out “5:00†sounds a bit too formal for the tone, so I’d suggest replacing it with “at five†or something like that. On that note, I rather like the tone; the narrator’s sense of humor is most entertaining.

    I think there should be a comma after “Chris.â€

    There should be a comma after “coming,†inside the quotation marks. In general, if you have speech or thoughts in a sentence that’s followed by narration, there should be some sort of punctuation, usually a comma, inside the quotation marks. In the case of the “office manager†in the following sentence, though, it’s correct as shown, since the quotation marks don’t indicate speech.

    Heh...well worded.

    There should be a comma after “drinker,†inside the quotes.

    This sentence sounds a little wordy to me; I’d think you could drop “really†and “at all†without losing meaning.


    I think that should be “you’d picture living alone...â€

    I liked these little details...they paint the scene very nicely. I’d say that up until Chris gets drunk and the story starts to turn creepy, elements like these pretty much set the tone quite well.

    If you intend to describe Emily (which is probably a good idea), this would be one place where you could probably weave in a detail. For instance, you could word this as “...awkwardly and twirled a lock of light brown hair around a finger, uncomfortable...â€

    I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but the repeated sentence structure of “She did X†made this feel a bit like a list. Either way, I’d suggest varying one or two of these; personally, I found the repetition distracting. It doesn’t have to be much of a change, really; something like “After a moment of awkward stillness, she gave me another forced smile...†for the second sentence would work, in that it breaks up the monotonous sound of the paragraph, even though it doesn’t say a whole lot more.

    Aw...how nice of Chris. On a different note, this has a slightly similar feel to the previously quoted passage, though it’s not as distracting. Change if you so desire (which is really the case with everything I say.)

    Hrm...I’d think the “She yelled†here shouldn’t be capitalized and the period after “wine†should be a comma, inside the quotes.

    I’d make this two sentences, separating the speech from the rest here. Alternatively, you could add something like “she replied†to the sentence, so it reads something like “...she replied, arriving back to present me with a glass...†These suggestions stem from the fact that if a sentence has speech in it and then continues from there, the following bit is usually an attribution such as “he said.â€

    I’d write that out as “a quarterâ€; in general, it’s a good idea to write out numbers in stories, unless they’re like 7,777,777 or something.

    Hrm...I remember that as “You can check out any time you like...,†which kinda makes more sense here.

    Typo: there should be a period at the end here.

    I’d make this two sentences by turning the comma after “blushed†into a period, though that’s just me.

    “Goadingly†isn’t really a word, as far as I know. Maybe “expectantly†would work here...

    Erm...you might want to clarify who the speaker is here. On a first read, I thought it was Emily, but that doesn’t really seem right.

    There should be a comma after “hand.â€

    There should be a comma after “myself.â€

    You need a comma after “sure.â€

    Typo: there should be another press of the “Return†key in between these lines.

    This sentence felt a little weak on its own to me; I’d suggest deleting it and adding this idea into one of the other sentences. For instance, you could add “so I stumbled towards it†at the end of the previous sentence.

    Erm...this transition, or lack thereof, was rather hard to follow on a first read; it felt as though you’d forgotten a sentence or two somewhere. I can see why you might want to set it up this way, but the surprise was, for me, blocked out by the awkwardness of the shift. I’d suggest easing the reader in a bit more.

    There should be a comma after “pulled up.â€

    There should be a comma after “oh,†“gurney†doesn’t have an “o†in it, and I think “laying†should be “lying.â€

    Hrm...if you can, I’d try to describe that “look in his eyesâ€; there’s a lot of ways this could be read, and, as it appears to be a rather telling image, it’d help if the reader got as vivid a picture as possible.

    The comma after “skinny†should be a semicolon, since the preceding and following clauses could each be complete sentences separately.

    That should be “tendon,†and I think “as†should be “since,†though I’m not sure.

    There should be a comma after “tongue.â€

    As it is, this sentence gets the action across, but not in a very notable fashion. It sounds almost like a newspaper article to me, in that it’s rooted solely in what happened. Personally, I’d try to play up this image some more, because it’s definitely unexpected and therefore a vivid, memorable portrayal will really grab the reader.

    On the whole, there’s sort of a quick-sketch feel to this last part, as if you were trying to rush through it and relay just the facts, as it were, to the reader. If you’ve got the time and the will, I’d suggest fleshing out some of this so it doesn’t read so dryly...unless, of course, the lack of detail was your point. Even if it was, though, I missed how it contributes to the overall story.

    Again, this read a bit like a list due to the similar sentences, which contributed to the rushed air of the end. My suggestions for this are more or less the same as for the previous similar instances; changing the wording of the second sentence to something like “Closing the door, I quickly stripped, bouncing unsteadily from foot to foot†would work (though it’s not exactly the best sentence ever.)

    The first thing I thought when I read this was “Wait...where the heck did this come from?†It’s a bit of a jump to go from puking into a bathtub to speaking, in my opinion. Also, Emily seems to have teleported or something here; while Chris probably wasn’t paying much attention to her, it couldn’t hurt to have something like “As I retched the last of my guts into the tub, I dimly heard footsteps behind me†would at least indicate for the reader that Emily noticed him. Additionally, the wording of Chris’s speech, particularly the second sentence, sounds stilted and out of character, given his one-sided conversation with the other man.

    Some grammatical thoughts: there should be commas after “oh†and “sorry.â€

    There should be a comma after “ok,†and dang...that’s creepy.

    Overall, I thought this was pretty strong up until the end, though even that wasn’t bad, really. Especially in the first couple of pages, the atmosphere you work up is wonderfully awkward, and it depicted the scene nicely. I look forward to any further chapters, and thanks for posting!
     
  3. Fluffballer

    Fluffballer IncGamers Member

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    Thanks so much, great stuff.

    Of my friends that have read it, many thought he was drunk (and Chris thought he was drunk too). Maybe I should have him drink even less wine, because Emily drugged it. Wine doesn't make you act the way Chris did. That's also why the tone changed so much from the begining, because he wasn't really aware of what was going on anymore. I'd like to keep some of that feeling, but I think you're right about adding detail in those areas you mentioned. I'll go over this again, and thanks again!

    Oh, and the "Chris hi!" thing... I know there should be a comma there but in my mind she says it almost as one word. I guess it's a lot better to write "she said it almost as one word" than to break the grammar rules. I did that in most places where a comma was left out. I'll fix that though.
     
  4. Clarke667

    Clarke667 IncGamers Member

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    Careful with that; you've bent the rules is a very acceptable (and widely used) way. I'd say there's really no reason to change it. An acceptable compromise, I think, is to write "she said it almost as one word" the first time, and then continue on with the comma-dropping technique. That way, the reader will know you're doing it purposefully.

    Listen, I like Revanentsknight, and I always will. But perfect grammar is not always the way to go. Sometimes, it's rarely the way to go. A quote like "Whacha doin there kid? Hope y'aint makin a mess," is a veritable grammar-holocaust, but I think it's colourful and valid, and it would be a shame to clean it up.

    Can you really see a bare foot dirt urchin of a white trash mom leaning out of her trailer with a smoke in one hand and a black label beer in the other, saying, "What are you doing there, kid? I hope you are not making a mess"?

    Do I rest my case? Yes, I think I do.
     
  5. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE IncGamers Member

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    I liked this. Very readable. The dialogue seemed natural and the nervous hostess was well drawn. As you say, the plot is not terribly original, but I think you did a very good job of easing the story from a normal social situation to a twisted horror. Honestly, about half way through I started wondering why someone would a post a story like this here. And then the story began to change, but, oh, so subtley.

    I almost didn't notice it, and by the time I did, I felt a little like Chris himself, walking blindly into a horrific trap without realizing it. I thought the way you handled the horror when it finally came was wonderful: the Jackson Pollack mural, a hospital gurney, "you're too skinny", "cat got your tongue", etc. You continued the deception even while you were exposing it, plus the distorted view helps the reader understand that Chris is somethnig other than just drunk

    Plus, the descriptions themselves are very original. Normally, on this forum at least, a scene like this would be dripping in gore, drama and high description. But all you do is compare a severed stump to a cut banana. Fabulous. I think it succeeds exactly because it is so understated.

    I could read "unoriginal" stuff like this all day. The setup was very convincing and the horror was handled in a deft and creative way. Great job!
    :thumbsup:
     
  6. Fluffballer

    Fluffballer IncGamers Member

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    "I look forward to any further chapters..."

    I hope you don't! ;)

    "I regained conciousness only to lose it again, due to the excruciating pain of Emily sawing my leg off with a dinner knife."


    Anyway, I think I need to just roll this around in my mind for a week or more. I agree both with the comments that the end is rushed and also the comments that the lack of detail is what makes it appropriate. If Chris doesn't recognize the look on the man's face, how can he describe it to the reader? Thanks for all the comments!
     
  7. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight IncGamers Member

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    I think it works as it is...personally, the hallway's color change was more than enough to point this out for me.

    Well...sometimes. If I didn't mention this already, it wasn't much of a problem for me when I first read this. Frankly, I'm going out of my way to mark down everything I can find, on the logic that the more the author's aware of the possibilities, the stronger he or she can make her story. I'm just here to present one perspective on it.

    I ain't gonna flag yer bleedin' sentences if it be clear that yer character's talkin' funny fer a reason. :D

    Seriously, in the case of your example sentence, while I'd advocate keeping the misspellings, etc. because they convey information about the speaker, I'd still say that you might want to punctuate it some, such as with a comma after "kid" and an apostrophe at the end of "makin," since there's a fine line between stylistically rough and hard to read. It may not be the most accurate wording, but if it helps keep your readers reading, then it's worth considering.

    From my own experiences, I read Their Eyes Were Watching God in high school, and just hated it, though not because of the plot or anything; it was simply too much of a pain in the neck to wade through the (in my opinion) overly heavy dialect. But that's just me.

    I do agree that the nonchalant air of the descriptions helps strengthen them a lot, though I'd still argue that you could still keep that while adding to them. For instance, "He was looking at me with the strangest look in his eyes" could be changed to "He was looking at me with the strangest look in his eyes, as if he was watching a horror flick while stoned out of his mind..." In this case, it seems to me that you could keep Chris's attitude intact even while adding in detail by carefully choosing the words and such that you use.
     
  8. Clarke667

    Clarke667 IncGamers Member

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    You just can't stop, can you? It's become an integral part of your anatomy; a mutated grammar organ.

    I will name this organ punctestine.

    Oh, and I hate apostrophes after you drop the tail end of an "ing". Just... irks me. Like: he was walkin' and talkin' and actin' all weird. It was makin' me crazy. Doesn't that send you into a apostrophe-shock? I mean, I just wrote it as an example, and I'm foaming at the mouth. I should probably call poison control.


    And I will dog you till the end of your days, Rev. Dog you with disco love.
     

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