Inkblots - Short Story - by Talkos

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Inkblots - Short Story - by Talkos

Postby Talkos » Tue Aug 21, 2007 2:17 am

A very rough draft, but I wanted to get the story out. What do you all think, does it work?

Inkblots - Rough Draft

“So what shall we call you today? Harrow the Devastator? Lord of Corruption? Mister Lear? Or just Howard.” He sat down across from me, white lab coat glistening in the harsh halogen lights.
“None of those. You aren't worthy of my name crossing your lips.”
“Do you know why you're here?” The good doctor was back, he had a new pen as well. In our last session his click top had run out, now he was using a cheap disposable plastic one with a removable cap. I wondered if this was because he was cheap, or simply because the guards were very wary about allowing anything metal into the room.
“Yes.” I nodded. “I'm here because I was captured by Mister Astounding over there. If it had been Vengeance Girl, or even the Empathy League at least I'd have death row to look forward to. Now it-"
“That was a rhetorical question.” He interrupted. “You are here because the Judge Noutsa was, in my opinion overly lenient. Anyone else would have sent you to death row, and I doubt that you're going to prove them wrong.”
“There's no need for the reverse psychology Doctor. That may work on your regular pre-adolescent patients but it won't work on me.”
“I had to try.” He smiled then, but I was not taken in by the buddy buddy image that he projected. “Now we know why we are here, lets focus on why you are here. Or rather, why you've decided to become such a disruptive force in society.”
“You're wrong.”
“Oh? And why do you say that?”
“I'm not part of society.”
“Yet you eat our food, you were educated as part of society, you lived in it for nearly your entire life, how can you say you're not part of our society?”
“The salmon swims in the stream, yet he is not part of it.” I answered. “Everywhere I turned society rejected my advances into it, relegating me to a minor role in a dime store novel about complacency. Thus I rejected it.”
“You rejected it?” He paused. “Is that why you've attempted on no less than four occasions to take over the city, along with two other attempts to destroy humanity?”
“Just because I attempted to improve my position does not make me insane.”
“I didn't say anything about you being insane. Do you feel that you might be?” He asked, so calmly that I wanted to rip his head off. Raging lions, rampaging horses, ravenous hyenas, flooding my mind with images of his execution. Perhaps a pit filled with snakes, or scorpions, those were always popular, hard to keep alive over the long term though. They never told you how much upkeep a pit of venomous creatures needed.


“There are no right or wrong answers but please say the first thing that comes to your mind when I show you the picture.” His face sneers at me from across the table, if only the guards were not there I would rip his throat out without hesitation. “Now, tell me what you see.”
He pulls the first paper from the file, a black and white image of tanks running down bystanders, their blood splashed in grayscale blobs as if on a camera lens that had come too close to the scene. “I see a pretty butterfly.” A woman cries out with long reaching arms for help before the tread falls upon her.
“Now this one.”
It's my third doomsday device, a cyclical regeneration matrix mean to wipe out all life on the planet and restore only those biological images programmed into it. Power was always a concern for that one, I considered it bad judgment all around that they had stopped building Nuclear plants in the States decades ago because there was never an extra one when you needed it.
“A Christmas tree.” I replied and he smiled. His inferior intellect missing totally the evasiveness of my plan, I could see the preconcieved notions in his brain boiling down, that perhaps I was not the madman everyone feared. That was only half true, I was sane, and that was why they feared me.
“Now this?” The card showed my torture chamber, complete with double medical tables, for when they brought along sidekicks. Perhaps the corner of my cheek pulled back in a half aborted grin, because his eyebrow shot up. Yes, think that you've found something dramatic, something that I was trying to hide, a key to my psyche. My expression vanished once more and I reminded myself to make up a good childhood story about the answer.
“An expensive vase.” He looked disappointed at the response, marking it down on the pad of paper with a pen pulled from his jacket. White, pristine, another sign that this simpleton had never truly worked a day in his life. Perhaps in another session I would tell him how my parents had beat me when I had broken theirs, yes, that would surely elicit some sympathy, all these shrinks had something that hit their weaknesses as well. How better to hide their own psychosis than behind the guise of professionalism and study. I would have to probe further, see what I could come up with once I escaped this imprisonment and took my vengeance upon those who had inflicted such indignities upon my person. It was only through the steel of my indefatigable will that I refrained from a triumphant grin in front of this inquisitor.
“And this?”
“DIE!” The words were ripped from my throat, my hands reaching out to his fragile little neck. The pain in my back and pressure on my arms told me that already the guards had pulled me back. I snarled, at the cowering figure in white, who clutched the rest of his pictures to his chest sobbing.
“They're only ink, just random ink.” He was nearly sobbing now, trying to save his own worthless hide. But I knew the truth, that they were playing games with my mind, their research had been impeccable, they had to bring her into it. From its place on the floor the two perfect eyes of the woman I had once loved stared back at me from the fallen paper.

“Hello Howie.”
“Don't call me that.” If it had been just a month ago I would have been able to order his incineration with a flick of a switch, a single finger's movement. Now I had to sit there, restrained.
“The doctors say that you're making progress. We might be able to wrangle a parole in a year or so as long as they don't have a repeat of yesterday.” Arrogant dog, to be speaking of getting me out of here when he was the one that put me in here in the first place. He'd probably been the one feeding them the information about me, helping them strike at my weak spots. Let that be a lesson, ghosts of the past come back at the most inopportune times. For the tenth time that day I was regretting not taking the optional laser eye surgery when I had a chance, with lasers in my eyes I could have melted him into oblivion.
“That's okay, you don't have to talk, but I know there's some good in you.” He paused. “I've seen it. I just don't know why you turned so, evil, so deceitful, after we were so close as childre-”
“Deceitful? I'm not the one with a secret identity.” I leaned forward as far as the restraints would allow. “And close? I've had a long time to think of that, and the more I reflect the more I realize it was just an opportunity to steal from me.”
“Steal? What are you talking about.”
“You took my bricks! You took my wife, and finally, you're here gloating over the fact that you took my freedom.”
“Your bricks? You mean in first grade?” I nodded. “Okay, first off, you were hogging them from the other kids when the teacher already told you to stop, you built the same thing every time anyways, 'a new superweapon' 'a new superweapon' every time, 'a new superweapon.' Secondly, she wasn't your wife, she was your captive. And finally, you put yourself in here as much as anyone else.”
“I put myself in here? That's a fine thing for you to say, you weren't knocked out and dragged here, restrained day and night lest you be a danger to humanity.”
“Because you are a danger to society. That's why you're here, to discover how you can change.”
“Society is not the same thing as humanity! Not all of us get to be rich playboys with secret identities parading about like kids in a candy store every night.”
“I didn't come here to be insulted.”
“No, you came here to mock me.”
“No. Not that either, I'm sorry.” He stood and turned his back on me, I was tempted sorely to test once more the restraints, but it passed. “I'll visit again.”

Twelve thirty, my hour in the exercise yard. They bring in a yellow rope, it is in a circle around me, well away from any of the walls. It is a kill line, beyond that they are allowed to use whatever force necessary, it was never stated explicitly but I know, it would be whatever force was necessary to kill me. They hated me, and they feared me, each day at twelve thirty they brought me out here, and each day at one thirty they brought me back into my cell.
There was grass here, but no shrubs or trees, it was a yard carefully tended, I didn't even see any rocks larger than a penny. Even those though might come in handy, they caught me once taking rocks back in, I made up a story about my fascination with geology, their feeble minds accepted it, though they did have enough sense to take it away from me. I learned my lesson, on the list of requested reading I added a book on slight of hand. For the last three days since the incident with the doctor and the pictures they had not let me out, but today was a return to normalcy.
My instincts had served me better than I had hoped, in my sleeve after I had awoken from the tranquilizers I had found the good doctor's pen cap. Such a little thing, but upon such a base I would build my plan for escape. It was now hidden in an imperfection in my cell, a wearing away of concrete that had been aided by the soft rocks that I had found here. Slowly blowing away the dust, ever so slowly returning--
A slight unevenness in the ground caused me to stumble and I was about to berate my guards for the lackluster performance of their landscaping when I saw it. A small glint of metal, falling back onto my hands I dug at the ground and palmed it, knowing that they were still watching, knowing that to reveal anything now would mean its confiscation at the least, a search of my room at the worst. It cut into the skin between my fingers, and I stood up, careful not to react. I had gotten a glimpse of it though, the remains of a can's pop top, one item at a time I would build up my escape.

“Do you remember in grade school?” His perfect teeth flashed as he smiled at me across the table. I wondered for a second if he was mocking me, but it seemed more like his ignorance and limited intellect would not have been up to the task. “You helped my sister out with her math homework, that was pretty kind hearted of you.”
“Why do you think that I didn't get anything out of it?” I did remember, fondly. Besides, to see the look on his face was food for the soul, but instead of disgust there was laughter.
“Help me out here old friend, I'm trying to think of things to recommend you. Or at least to broaden your diet.” His feet were up on the table, I'd stopped eating most of their slop after I realized that the lethe that followed the meals could only mean that they'd been drugging me. I'd only allowed myself to eat fresh fruits or vegetables and the results of prepackaged meals after accusing them. I was able to gorge myself on water from the tap though, it seemed unlikely that they'd reroute their whole plumbing system just to sedate a single prisoner.
“I saw in a tabloid that you and Valeria are an item now?” I had seen the headlines from my cell, the guard had used it as a shade, spread out over his face.
“Well, I hadn't intended it.” He paused and then grinned. “But she was very appreciative of my rescuing her from your evil clutches.”
“You're going to hurt her.”
“I, I'm going to hurt her? I'm not the one who abducted her, held her captive, made her commit unspeakabl-”
“You hurt everyone you touch. You never intend to but you do. One day she'll walk in on you with some heroine or damsel in distress, you know you've never kept one for more than a few months, or else she'll be killed by some other villain to make a point. At least I've always been honest about it what they're getting into.” I was on a roll. “Nobody has ever abducted my friends and family as blackmail, or to find out my secret identity. I don't torture myself with drama like yourself, and don't tell me it's not, you may not have kept up with my life but I've kept up with yours.”
“I've never intentionally hurt any of them. I've always had the best of intentions.”
“That's just it, you have the best of intentions for everyone, you think you know what's best for them.”
“But so do you! Why else have all those world domination schemes.”
“No, I don't. As I said, I'm honest, I only think I know what's best for me. And having myself on top of the food chain, not having to worry about money or lack of pleasure is definitely one of those things. If they couldn't resist my will then that's their own fault.”
“Okay, tell you what then. I'll marry her, that'll show you well enough that I won't make the same mistake with her as the-
“Marry her?” I laughed. “Poor reason to, just to prove a point. Do you even love her?” I asked, and he was silent.
“Love can grow.” He growled, pulling his feet from the table as he stood up suddenly, my laughs echoing at his back. Not because I thought it was funny, or even to mock him, he wouldn't have realized it anyways, I laughed to hide the tears.


Fools, all of them, but him most of all. Though he did possess some native cunning and luck to have outplayed me in my final bid, no matter, one day I shall escape this exile and repay all the horrors inflicted upon me by these altruists. The word was like ash upon my tongue, an idea so foreign to my very essence that I shuddered to think of it, another time, another place, perhaps I would have been hailed, and they jailed, but one must always play with the hand their dealt.
And so at night, every night, I scrape at the walls of my cell with the shards of plastic, and stone, sharpening the slight sliver of tin that I'd discovered, and dreaming of the day where the walls will wear thin enough to make my escape. But in truth it is not the walls I truly strive to break, the mind knows that years will pass before I make it through, or find an opportunity to escape the guards, or, of all ironies, get out on good behavior. No, what I'm really doing is carving hatred into my heart, so as never to forget.
When the time comes they will pay for what they did, all of them. I lay here, plotting to reclaim my love, my kingdom, my vengeance. But most of all his demise, for all that he took for me, all the injuries inflicted upon me. Once I returned from this he would never know rest, 'to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.' They have not seen the end of me, and I laugh, a throaty uproarious thing, deep in the heart of this concrete cage, all alone in the darkness.
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Postby Stanistani » Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:41 am

I feel this work is a flawed masterpiece.

It has a great deal of promise - I'd like to see you polish it.

Would you like me to suggest changes? I have two categories: grammar/spelling usage, and pacing/tone/thematic.

Let me know. I'll be back on later today.

It has great emotional force, and is a vision of descent into madness.
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Postby Talkos » Tue Aug 21, 2007 6:59 pm

Lol, thanks for the praise and I'd be grateful if you'd feel free to rip apart any of it you feel needs improvement before it goes to my ego.
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Postby Stanistani » Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:01 am

First category: grammar/spelling/usage

A few simple changes to correct these types of errors - but not all - for his run-on sentences are the brush strokes of madness.

Trying to keep the original voice... very long paragraphs - rants they are.

2855 words counted - the original had 2849
- - - - - - - - - - -
Inkblots - Second Draft

“So what shall we call you today? Harrow the Devastator? Lord of Corruption? Mister Lear? Or just Howard?” He sat down across from me, white lab coat gleaming in the harsh halogen light.
“None of those. You aren't worthy of my name crossing your lips.”
“Do you know why you're here?” The good doctor was back, he had a new pen as well. In our last session his click top had run out, now he was using a cheap disposable plastic one with a removable cap. I wondered if this was because he was cheap, or simply because the guards were wary about allowing anything metal into the room.
“Yes.” I nodded. “I'm here because I was captured by Mister Astounding over there. If it had been Vengeance Girl, or even the Empathy League at least I'd have death row to look forward to. Now it-"
“That was a rhetorical question.” He interrupted. “You are here because Judge Noutsa was, in my opinion overly lenient. Anyone else would have sent you to death row, and I doubt that you're going to prove them wrong.”
“There's no need for the reverse psychology Doctor. That may work on your regular pre-adolescent patients but it won't work on me.”
“I had to try.” He smiled then, but I was not taken in by the buddy-buddy image that he projected. “Now that we know why we are here, let’s focus on how you got here. Or rather, why you decided to become such a disruptive force in our society.”
“You're wrong.”
“Oh? And why do you say that?”
“I'm not part of society.”
“You eat our food, you were educated in our schools, you lived among us for nearly your entire life. How can you claim you're not part of our society?”
“The salmon swims in the stream, yet he is not part of it.” I answered. “Everywhere I turned society rejected my advances, relegating me to a minor role in a dime store novel about complacency. Thus I rejected it.”
“You rejected it?” He paused. “Is that why you've attempted on no less than four occasions to take over the city, along with two other attempts to destroy humanity?”
“Just because I attempted to improve my position does not make me insane.”
“I didn't say anything about you being insane. Do you feel that you might be?” He asked this so calmly I wanted to rip his head off. Raging lions, rampaging horses, ravenous hyenas, flooding my mind with images of his execution. Perhaps a pit filled with snakes, or scorpions, those were always popular, hard to keep alive over the long term though. They never told you how much upkeep a pit of venomous creatures needed.

“There are no right or wrong answers - please say the first thing that comes to your mind when I show you the picture.” His face sneers at me from across the table, if only the guards were not there I would rip his throat out without hesitation. “Now, tell me what you see.”
He pulls the first paper from the file, a black and white image of tanks running down bystanders, their blood splashed in grayscale blobs as if on a camera lens that had come too close to the scene. “I see a pretty butterfly.” A woman cries out with long reaching arms for help before the tread falls upon her.
“Now this one.”
It was my third doomsday device, a cyclical regeneration matrix meant to wipe out all life on the planet and restore only those biological images programmed into it. Power was always a concern for that one. I considered it bad judgment all around that they had stopped building nuclear power plants in the States decades ago because there was never an extra one when you needed it.
“A Christmas tree.” I replied and he smiled. His inferior intellect missing totally the evasiveness of my reply, I could see the preconceived notions in his brain boiling down, that perhaps I was not the madman everyone feared. That was only half true. I was sane, and that was why they feared me.
“Now this?” The card showed my torture chamber, complete with double medical tables, for when they brought along sidekicks. Perhaps the corner of my cheek pulled back in a half aborted grin, because his eyebrow shot up. Yes, think that you've found something dramatic, something that I was trying to hide, a key to my psyche. My expression vanished once more and I reminded myself to make up a good childhood story about the answer.
“An expensive vase.” He looked disappointed at the response, marking it down on the pad of paper with a pen pulled from his jacket. White, pristine, another sign that this simpleton had never truly worked a day in his life. Perhaps in another session I would tell him how my parents had beat me when I had broken their vase, yes, that would surely elicit some sympathy, all these shrinks had something that hit their weaknesses as well. How better to hide their own psychosis than behind the guise of professionalism and study. I would have to probe further, see what I could come up with once I escaped this imprisonment and took my vengeance upon those who had inflicted such indignities upon my person. It was only through the steel of my indefatigable will that I refrained from a triumphant grin in front of this inquisitor.
“And this?”
“DIE!” The words were ripped from my throat, my hands reaching out to his fragile little neck. The pain in my back and pressure on my arms told me that already the guards had pulled me back. I snarled, at the cowering figure in white, who clutched the rest of his pictures to his chest sobbing.
“They're only ink, just random ink.” He was nearly sobbing now, trying to save his own worthless hide. But I knew the truth, that they were playing games with my mind, their research had been impeccable, they had to bring her into it. From its place on the floor the two perfect eyes of the woman I had once loved stared back at me from the fallen paper.

“Hello, Howie.”
“Don't call me that.” If it had been just a month ago I would have been able to order his incineration with a flick of a switch, a single finger's movement. Now I had to sit there, restrained.
“The doctors say that you're making progress. We might be able to wrangle a parole in a year or so as long as they don't have a repeat of yesterday.” Arrogant dog, to be speaking of getting me out of here when he was the one that put me in here in the first place. He'd probably been the one feeding them the information about me, helping them strike at my weak spots. Let that be a lesson, ghosts of the past come back at the most inopportune times. For the tenth time that day I was regretting not taking the optional laser eye surgery when I had a chance, with lasers in my eyes I could have melted him into oblivion.
“That's okay, you don't have to talk. I know there's some good in you.” He paused. “I've seen it. I just don't know why you turned so, evil, so deceitful, after we were so close as childre-”
“Deceitful? I'm not the one with a secret identity.” I leaned forward as far as the restraints would allow. “And close? I've had a long time to think of that, and the more I reflect the more I realize it was just an opportunity to steal from me.”
“Steal? What are you talking about.”
“You took my bricks! You took my wife, and finally, you're here gloating over the fact that you took my freedom.”
“Your bricks? You mean in first grade?” I nodded. “Okay, first off, you were hogging them from the other kids when the teacher already told you to stop. You built the same thing every time anyways - 'a new superweapon' - 'a new superweapon' - every time, 'a new superweapon.' Secondly, she wasn't your wife, she was your captive. And finally, you put yourself in here as much as anyone else.”
“I put myself in here? That's a fine thing for you to say, you weren't knocked out and dragged here, restrained day and night lest you be a danger to humanity.”
“Because you are a danger to society. That's why you're here, to discover how you can change.”
“Society is not the same thing as humanity! Not all of us get to be rich playboys with secret identities parading about like kids in a candy store every night.”
“I didn't come here to be insulted.”
“No, you came here to mock me.”
“No. Not that either, I'm sorry.” He stood and turned his back on me, I was tempted sorely to test once more the restraints, but it passed. “I'll visit again.”

Twelve thirty, my hour in the exercise yard. They bring in a yellow rope, it is in a circle around me, well away from any of the walls. It is a kill line, beyond that they are allowed to use whatever force necessary, it was never stated explicitly but I know, it would be whatever force was necessary to kill me. They hated me, and they feared me, each day at twelve thirty they brought me out here, and each day at one thirty they brought me back to my cell.
There was grass here, but no shrubs or trees, it was a yard carefully tended, I didn't even see any rocks larger than a penny. Even those though might come in handy, they caught me once taking rocks back in, I made up a story about my fascination with geology, their feeble minds accepted it, though they did have enough sense to take them away from me. I learned my lesson, on the list of requested reading I added a book on sleight of hand. For the last three days since the incident with the doctor and the pictures they had not let me out, but today was a return to normal routine.
My instincts had served me better than I had hoped, in my sleeve after I had awoken from the tranquilizers I had found the good doctor's pen cap. Such a little thing, but upon such a base I would build my plan for escape. It was now hidden in an imperfection in my cell, a wearing away of concrete that had been aided by the soft rocks that I had found here. Slowly blowing away the dust, ever so slowly returning--
A slight unevenness in the ground caused me to stumble and I was about to berate my guards for the lackluster performance of their landscaping when I saw it. A small glint of metal, falling back onto my hands I dug at the ground and palmed it, knowing that they were still watching, knowing that to reveal anything now would mean its confiscation at the least, a search of my room at the worst. It cut into the skin between my fingers, and I stood up, careful not to react. I had gotten a glimpse of it though, the remains of a can's pop top, one item at a time I would build up my escape.

“Do you remember in grade school?” His perfect teeth flashed as he smiled at me across the table. I wondered for a second if he was mocking me, but it seemed more like his ignorance and limited intellect would not have been up to the task. “You helped my sister with her math homework, that was pretty kind hearted of you.”
“Why do you think that I didn't get anything out of it?” I did remember, fondly. Besides, to see the look on his face was food for the soul, but instead of disgust there was laughter.
“Help me out here old friend, I'm trying to think of things to recommend you. Or at least to broaden your diet.” His feet were up on the table, I'd stopped eating most of their slop after I realized that the lethe that followed the meals could only mean that they'd been drugging me. I'd only allowed myself to eat fresh fruits or vegetables and the results of prepackaged meals after accusing them. I was able to gorge myself on water from the tap though, it seemed unlikely that they'd reroute their whole plumbing system just to sedate a single prisoner.
“I saw in a tabloid that you and Valeria are an item now?” I had seen the headlines from my cell, the guard had used it as a shade, spread out over his face.
“Well, I hadn't intended it.” He paused and then grinned. “But she was very appreciative of my rescuing her from your evil clutches.”
“You're going to hurt her.”
“I, I'm going to hurt her? I'm not the one who abducted her, held her captive, made her commit unspeakabl-”
“You hurt everyone you touch. You never intend to but you do. One day she'll walk in on you with some heroine or damsel in distress, you know you've never kept one for more than a few months, or else she'll be killed by some other villain to make a point. At least I've always been honest about it what they're getting into.” I was on a roll. “Nobody has ever abducted my friends and family as blackmail, or to find out my secret identity. I don't torture myself with drama like yourself, and don't tell me it's not, you may not have kept up with my life but I've kept up with yours.”
“I've never intentionally hurt any of them. I've always had the best of intentions.”
“That's just it, you have the best of intentions for everyone, you think you know what's best for them.”
“But so do you! Why else would you have all those world domination schemes?”
“No, I don't. As I said, I'm honest, I only think I know what's best for me. And having myself on top of the food chain, not having to worry about money or lack of pleasure is definitely one of those things. If they couldn't resist my will then that's their own fault.”
“Okay, tell you what then. I'll marry her, that'll show you well enough that I won't make the same mistake with her as the-“
“Marry her?” I laughed. “Poor reason to, just to prove a point. Do you even love her?” I asked, and he was silent.
“Love can grow.” He growled, pulling his feet back from the table as he stood up suddenly, my laughs echoing at his back. Not because I thought it was funny, or even to mock him, he wouldn't have realized it anyways, I laughed to hide the tears.

Fools, all of them, but him most of all. Though he did possess some native cunning and luck to have outplayed me in my final bid, no matter, one day I shall escape this exile and repay all the horrors inflicted upon me by these altruists. The word was like ash upon my tongue, an idea so foreign to my very essence that I shuddered to think of it, another time, another place, perhaps I would have been hailed, and they jailed, but one must always play with the hand they’re dealt.
And so at night, every night, I scrape at the walls of my cell with the shards of plastic, and stone, sharpening the slight sliver of tin that I'd discovered, and dreaming of the day where the walls will wear thin enough to make my escape. But in truth it is not the walls I truly strive to break, the mind knows that years will pass before I make it through, or find an opportunity to escape the guards, or, of all ironies, get out on good behavior. No, what I'm really doing is carving hatred into my heart, so as never to forget.
When the time comes they will pay for what they did, all of them. I lay here, plotting to reclaim my love, my kingdom, my vengeance. But most of all I plan his demise, for all that he took for me, all the injuries inflicted upon me. Once I returned from this exile he would never know rest: 'to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.' They have not seen the end of me, and I laugh, a throaty uproarious thing, deep in the heart of this concrete cage, all alone in the darkness.
Last edited by Stanistani on Fri Sep 14, 2007 7:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Talkos » Thu Aug 30, 2007 12:10 am

Thanks Zoloft. :) And yeah, you can't really be a mad genius without maniacal ranting. lol
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Postby Stanistani » Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:08 am

Really it's shaping up well. Keep the original in the first post the way you wrote it. Always preserve the original until you're finished.

Take the version I corrected, make sure you absolutely agree with ALL the corrections. Back out any you don't like.

Now, the suggestions. These do not have the force of law. Mull them before you implement them.

Atmosphere: You have created a very good world here. It needs some more description, in my opinion. Some simple description of his surroundings, perhaps in between rants. Use descriptive words which reflect his mood. Example: "I stare at the gray, dank walls. Their blank and featureless expanse seems to close in on me, even when I shut my eyes. The mediocre cage for the superior intellect."

Mood: Your story is very evocative of the protagonist's mood. Don't mess this up, but by carefully examining the work you may be able to tweak it a bit.

Characters: You have painted a little of the back story. Paint a little more. It's adding a literary dimension I really like.

In all additions, go back and check for spelling and grammar errors, and try not to add too much length. If you want to punch anything up, always remember that the essence of editing is subtraction, not addition. Tighten a sentence rather than pad it. Aim for about 3000 words.

Add your changed version as a new post below mine.

*cracks knuckles*

Then I'll take another whack at it.
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Stanistani
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Postby Talkos » Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:29 am

Okay, first off, thanks for the tips. They're appreciated. The only one I didn't try and take to heart for the revision is the backstory...since I feel that's the real teaser, but anyways, here's version 2.0


------------------

“So what shall we call you today? Harrow the Devastator? Lord of Corruption? Mister Lear? Or just Howard?” He sat down across from me, white lab coat gleaming in the harsh halogen light.
“None of those. You aren't worthy of my name crossing your lips.”
“Do you know why you're here?” The good doctor was back, he had a new pen as well. In our last session his click top had run out, now he was using a cheap disposable plastic one with a removable cap. I wondered if this was because he was cheap, or simply because the guards were wary about allowing anything metal into the room.
“Yes.” I nodded. “I'm here because I was captured by Mister Astounding. If it had been Vengeance Girl, or even the Empathy League at least I'd have death row to look forward to. Now it-"
“That was a rhetorical question.” He interrupted. “You are here because Judge Noutsa was, in my opinion overly lenient. Anyone else would have sent you to death row, and I doubt that you're going to prove them wrong.”
“There's no need for the reverse psychology Doctor. That may work on your regular pre-adolescent patients but it won't work on me.”
“I had to try.” He smiled then, but I was not taken in by the buddy-buddy image that he projected, not fooled by the soothing glance and placating grin. “Now that we know why we are here, let’s focus on how you got here. Or rather, why you decided to become such a disruptive force in our society.”
“You're wrong.”
“Oh? And why do you say that?”
“I'm not part of society.”
“You eat our food, you were educated in our schools, you lived among us for nearly your entire life. How can you claim you're not part of our society?”
“The salmon swims in the stream, yet he is not part of it.” I answered. “Everywhere I turned society rejected my advances, relegating me to a minor role in a dime store novel about complacency. Thus I rejected it.”
“You rejected it?” He paused. “Is that why you've attempted on no less than four occasions to take over the city, along with two other attempts to destroy humanity?”
“Just because I attempted to improve my position does not make me insane.”
“I didn't say anything about you being insane. Do you feel that you might be?” He asked this so calmly I wanted to rip his head off. Raging lions, rampaging horses, ravenous hyenas, flooding my mind with images of his execution. Perhaps a pit filled with snakes, or scorpions, those were always popular, hard to keep alive over the long term though. One thing they never told you was how much upkeep a pit of venomous creatures required.

“There are no right or wrong answers - please say the first thing that comes to your mind when I show you the picture.” His face sneers at me from across the table, if only the guards were not there I would rip his throat out without hesitation. I could feel them behind me, their eyes boring into my back, statues hewn from the city's finest doughs. “Now, tell me what you see.”
He pulls the first paper from the file, a black and white image of tanks running down bystanders, their blood splashed in grayscale blobs as if on a camera lens that had come too close to the scene. “I see a pretty butterfly.” A woman cries out with long reaching arms for help before the tread falls upon her.
“Now this one.”
It was my third doomsday device, a cyclical regeneration matrix meant to wipe out all life on the planet and restore only those biological images programmed into it. Power was always a concern for that one. I considered it bad judgment all around that they had stopped building nuclear power plants in the States decades ago because there was never an extra one when you needed it.
“A Christmas tree.” I replied and he smiled. His inferior intellect missing completely the evasiveness of my reply, I could see the preconceived notions in his brain boiling down, that perhaps I was not the madman everyone feared. That was only half true. I was sane, and that was why they feared me.
“Now this?” The card showed my torture chamber, complete with double medical tables, for when they brought along sidekicks. Perhaps the corner of my cheek pulled back in a half aborted grin, because his eyebrow shot up. Yes, think that you've found something dramatic, something that I was trying to hide, a key to my psyche. My expression vanished once more and I reminded myself to make up a good childhood story about the answer.
“An expensive vase.” He looked disappointed at the response, marking it down on the pad of paper with a pen pulled from his jacket. White, pristine, another sign that this simpleton had never truly worked a day in his life. Perhaps in another session I would tell him how my parents had beat me when I had broken their vase, yes, that would surely elicit some sympathy, all these shrinks had something that hit their weaknesses as well. How better to hide their own psychosis than behind the guise of professionalism and study. I would have to probe further, see what I could come up with once I escaped this imprisonment and took my vengeance upon those who had inflicted such indignities upon my person. It was only through the steel of my indefatigable will that I refrained from a triumphant grin in front of this inquisitor.
“And this?”
“DIE!” The words were ripped from my throat, my hands reaching out to his fragile little neck. The pain in my back and pressure on my arms told me that already the guards had pulled me back. I snarled, at the cowering figure in white, who clutched the rest of his pictures to his chest sobbing.
“They're only ink, just random ink.” He was nearly sobbing now, trying to save his own worthless hide. But I knew the truth, that they were playing games with my mind, their research had been impeccable, they had to bring her into it. From its place on the featureless concrete floor two perfect eyes of the woman I had once loved stared back at me from the fallen paper.

“Hello, Howie.”
“Don't call me that.” If it had been just a month ago I would have been able to order his incineration with a flick of a switch, a single finger's movement. Now I had to sit there, restrained. They felt that straps of leather were enough to hold me back, but once I returned to my former station they would learn that nothing on heaven or earth could stand against my indomitable will. But until then I sat, listening to the endless prattle of my captor.
“The doctors say that you're making progress. We might be able to wrangle a parole in a year or so as long as they don't have a repeat of yesterday.” Arrogant dog, to be speaking of getting me out of here, when he was the one that put me in here in the first place. He'd probably been the one feeding them the information about me, helping them strike at my weak spots. Let that be a lesson, ghosts of the past come back at the most inopportune times. For the tenth time that day I was regretting not taking the optional laser eye surgery when I had a chance. With lasers in my eyes I could have melted him into oblivion.
“That's okay, you don't have to talk. I know there's some good in you.” He paused. “I've seen it. I just don't know why you turned so, evil, so deceitful, after we were so close as childre-”
“Deceitful? I'm not the one with a secret identity.” I leaned forward as far as the restraints would allow. “And close? I've had a long time to think of that, and the more I reflect the more I realize it was just an opportunity to steal from me.”
“Steal? What are you talking about.”
“You took my bricks! You took my wife, and finally, here you are gloating over the fact that you took my freedom.”
“Your bricks? You mean in first grade?” I nodded. “Okay, first off, you were hogging them from the other kids when the teacher already told you to stop. You built the same thing every time anyways - 'a new superweapon' - 'a new superweapon' - every time, 'a new superweapon.' Secondly, she wasn't your wife, she was your captive. And finally, you put yourself in here as much as anyone else.”
“I put myself in here? That's a fine thing for you to say, you weren't knocked out and dragged here, restrained day and night lest you be a danger to humanity.”
“Because you are a danger to society. That's why you're here, to discover how you can change.”
“Society is not the same thing as humanity! Not all of us get to be rich playboys with secret identities parading about like kids in a candy store every night.”
“I didn't come here to be insulted.”
“No, you came here to mock me.”
“No. Not that either, I'm sorry.” He stood and turned his back on me, I was tempted sorely to test once more the restraints, but it passed. “I'll visit again.”

Twelve thirty, my hour in the exercise yard. They bring in a yellow rope, it is in a circle around me, well away from any of the walls. It is a kill line, beyond that they are allowed to use whatever force necessary, it was never stated explicitly but I know, it would be whatever force was necessary to kill me. They hated me, and they feared me, each day at twelve thirty they brought me out here to this artificial abomination of nature, dirt and sod layered over concrete, and each day at one thirty they brought me back to my cell, which held no such illusions in its featureless expanse of implacable walls.
There was grass here, but no shrubs or trees, it was a yard carefully tended, I didn't even see any rocks larger than a penny. Even those though might come in handy, once they caught me once taking rocks back in, and I made up a story about my fascination with geology, their feeble minds accepted it, though they did have enough sense to take them away from me. I learned my lesson, on the list of requested reading I added a book on sleight of hand. For the last three days since the incident with the doctor and the pictures they had not let me out, but today was a return to normal routine.
My instincts had served me better than I had hoped, in my sleeve after I had awoken from the tranquilizers I had found the good doctor's pen cap. Such a little thing, but upon such a base I would build my plan for escape. It was now hidden in an imperfection in my cell, a wearing away of concrete that had been aided by the soft rocks that I had found here. Slowly blowing away the dust, ever so slowly returning--
A slight unevenness in the ground caused me to stumble and I was about to berate my guards for the lackluster performance of their landscaping when I saw it. A small glint of metal, falling back onto my hands I dug at the ground and palmed it, knowing that they were still watching, knowing that to reveal anything now would mean its confiscation at the least, a search of my room at the worst. It cut into the skin between my fingers, and I stood up, careful not to react. I had gotten a glimpse of it though, the remains of an aluminum can's pop top, one item at a time I would build up my escape.

“Do you remember in grade school?” His perfect teeth flashed as he smiled at me across the table. I wondered for a second if he was mocking me, but it seemed more like his ignorance and limited intellect would not have been up to the task. “You helped my sister with her math homework, that was pretty kind hearted of you.”
“Why do you think that I didn't get anything out of it?” I did remember, fondly. Besides, to see the look on his face was food for the soul, but instead of disgust there was laughter.
“Help me out here old friend, I'm trying to think of things to recommend you. Or at least to broaden your diet.” His feet were up on the table, I'd stopped eating most of their slop after I realized that the lethe that followed the meals could only mean that they'd been drugging me. I'd only allowed myself to eat fresh fruits or vegetables and the results of prepackaged meals after accusing them. I was able to gorge myself on water from the tap though, it seemed unlikely that they'd reroute their whole plumbing system just to sedate a single prisoner.
“I saw in a tabloid that you and Valeria are an item now?” I had seen the headlines from my cell, the guard had used it as a shade, spread out over his face. I had been tempted to take it as an insult that their guard around me had grown so lax, but any link to the outside world had been welcome. They had intended to imprison my mind, as well as my body, hoping to de-fang me, but in my heart now burned a venom potent enough to obliterate whole hosts.
“Well, I hadn't intended it.” He paused and then grinned, another made for TV smile. “But she was very appreciative of my rescuing her from your evil clutches.”
“You're going to hurt her.”
“I, I'm going to hurt her? I'm not the one who abducted her, held her captive, made her commit unspeakabl-”
“You hurt everyone you touch. You never intend to but you do. One day she'll walk in on you with some heroine or damsel in distress, you know you've never kept one for more than a few months, or else she'll be killed by some other villain to make a point. At least I've always been honest about it what they're getting into.” I was on a roll. “Nobody has ever abducted my friends and family as blackmail, or to find out my secret identity. I don't torture myself with drama like yourself, and don't tell me it's not, you may not have kept up with my life but I've kept up with yours.”
“I've never intentionally hurt any of them. I've always had the best of intentions.”
“That's just it, you have the best of intentions for everyone, you think you know what's best for them.”
“But so do you! Why else would you have all those world domination schemes?”
“No, I don't. As I said, I'm honest, I only think I know what's best for me. And having myself on top of the food chain, not having to worry about money or lack of pleasure is definitely one of those things. If they couldn't resist my will then that's their own fault.”
“Okay, tell you what then. I'll marry her, that'll show you well enough that I won't make the same mistake with her as the-“
“Marry her?” I laughed. “Poor reason to, just to prove a point. Do you even love her?” I asked, and he was silent.
“Love can grow.” He growled, pulling his feet back from the table as he stood up suddenly, my laughs echoing at his back. Not because I thought it was funny, or even to mock him, he wouldn't have realized it anyways, I laughed to hide the tears.

Fools, all of them, but him most of all. Though he did possess some native cunning and luck to have outplayed me in my final bid, no matter, one day I shall escape this exile and repay all the horrors inflicted upon me by these altruists. The word was like ash upon my tongue, an idea so foreign to my very essence that I shuddered to think of it, another time, another place, perhaps I would have been hailed, and they jailed, but one must always play with the hand they’re dealt.
And so at night, every night, I scrape at the barren cement walls of my cell with the shards of plastic, and stone, sharpening the slight sliver of tin that I'd discovered, and dreaming of the day where the walls will wear thin enough to make my escape. But in truth it is not the walls I truly strive to break, the mind knows that years will pass before I break through their mocking facade, or find an opportunity to escape the guards, or, of all ironies, get out on good behavior. No, what I'm really doing is carving hatred into my heart, so as never to forget.
When the time comes they will pay for what they did, all of them. I lay here, plotting to reclaim my love, my kingdom, my vengeance. But most of all I plan his demise, for all that he took for me, all the injuries inflicted upon me. Once I returned from this exile he would never know rest: 'to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.' They have not seen the end of me, and I laugh, a throaty uproarious thing, deep in the heart of this concrete cage, all alone in the darkness.
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Talkos
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Postby Stanistani » Sun Sep 02, 2007 11:32 am

Just about damn well perfect. I'll have some tiny revision suggestions later today. I'm talking about maybe five words.
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Postby Talkos » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:15 am

all right, anyone have any last comments or criticisms for this one? Because I think I'm going to be making it my goal to get it out into the world by New Years. Or even recommendations on better places to submit it to?
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Postby Stanistani » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:46 am

Mister Astounding? Maybe change to Captain Astounding?

Judge Noutsa sounds like Nutso. If deliberate, leave alone. If not, ponder.

Really it could go as is.

It's a fine story and I'm very proud of your work on it.
Be true to your reader and the rest will follow.
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