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C-Friday Fictioneers – Wire

6 November, 2015

It seems like barely a week since the last FriFic, yet here we all are again, gathered around the virtual bonfire, toasting a few e-marshmallows, wrapping a fictional potato inside tin foil and popping it into the literary flames. And since it’s Guy Fawkes night aka Bonfire Night aka Fireworks night aka November 5th this week, those in Britain will also be setting off enormous rockets and deafening bangers without standing clear by the recommended distance.

Rochelle began the whole party with her email which included this week’s prompt pic:

wiredcourtesy of Connie Gayer.

If you want to hear more of the stories told this week, step nearer the bonfire and enter the Land of the Blue Frog. (But don’t forget to read my 100 words too.)

From this week on, I will be participating in the ConCrit subgroup, as suggested by Jennifer over at Elmo Writes. As much as I appreciate any praise that you are kind enough to push my way, this week I set you a challenge – comment with constructive criticism please. I won’t be offended, I won’t be hurt, I WANT to know what didn’t work for you in my work as much as what you liked. So, grab your red pen and read on…

 

 

After the storm, I toured the base alone, checking its structure was intact, the airlock secure. The readouts showed we had suffered no damage, but an experienced interplanetary pilot only truly trusts his own eyes and hands.

Reassured, I could begin the search for my navigator. I suited and left the base, following his footprints heading towards what acted as West around here. Fifty yards on, I saw his suit’s torn neural wire, impaled into the ground. He wouldn’t have removed it, condemned himself, but could the winds have done this?

I looked closer. It wasn’t torn, it was bitten.

 

 

 

 

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36 Comments
  1. Nicely paced. Since you ask, I didn’t like ‘only truly trusts’ as a construction but I think that’s just me. In editing my own work I’d probably try to avoid the two fold differing repetition there between the first and second (both ending in y) and second and third (both beginning with tr). But that would be very much a final, final stage edit and not a glaringly obvious one. And I’d have added the word ‘up’ after suited, and maybe tried to find an alternative for the second ‘suit’. Again that’s probably just me. Nice ending that took me by surprise. Good job – my crits are just a reflection of my own ‘editing’ processes.

    • Hi Sandra, I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment. “only truly trusts” was a clumsy attempt at some poetic alliteration but on reflection involving three words may not have worked and it does jar a little, especially when read aloud. Omitting the word “up” was the narrator using his professional jargon (which conveniently also reduced my word count by one!) but maybe that sticks out more when so close to the other use of suit.
      Thanks again for commenting and for your kind praise!

  2. Ooh – wonderful last line – so sinister. I love how you manage to give us a whole world, a character and a situation in such a short piece.

    C – My only issue with it is the wire ‘impaled’ into the ground. I just can’t imagine it. Impaled on or by what? If I were the pilot I would be worrying about that as much as the fact that it was bitten through.

    • Hi Claire! Thanks for reading and for such generous comments.
      You’re right, impaled wasn’t such a great choice of word – As you say, how would it have become impaled? Plus it’s a bit of an overused word, if not a cliche. That’s the downside of flash fiction, there isn’t enough time for the words to settle or for giving them another polish. But then again, that’s all part of the challenge and the fun!

  3. I liked this in spite of the fact that, as I have said too often this week, I am not a great fan of Sci-Fi.
    Well constructed piece, good ending.
    Scary, but open.

    Since you practically insist on a criticism, I will say just this.
    In the last line, ‘closer’ should be ‘more closely’.
    Sorry.

    • Hi Ceayr and thanks for reading & commenting. No apology necessary, you’re absolutely right, that’s a grammatical clanger. Using “I looked closer” invites the question “who was watching you so that you looked, to them, closer?”

  4. Dear RG,

    First I’ll say that I liked the story overall. You left my imagination to wander with your sinister ending.
    I’ll admit that I stumbled over the first line “After the storm, I toured the base alone, checking its structure was intact, the airlock secure.” ‘checking its structure was intact’. feels awkward to me. If it’s a difference of American vs British English you can tell me. I’m learning. 😉

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • HI Rochelle, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Im not sure if “checking” is a Britishism but that’s how the sentence formed in my head. Having thought about it I think using it rather than “checked” suggests that it was a longer process that took place all the time as he toured the base, rather than a single check. And also for me the rhythm works better with that extra syllable.

  5. There’s a feeling of “alien” in your text. Somehow it took me a little long to figure out where and when it was happening, but once I figured it out it worked much better.

  6. I enjoyed the story and read it twice as the first sentence jarred me a tad. Upon the second reading, though, it was okay.
    I also wanted the word up after suited.

  7. Wonderful last line. And so glad he went out to check (I , too, stumbled over “only truly trusts”) things for himself. Although the biting thing makes me want to shout, “Run away!”

    • Thanks for your kind comments Alicia. Yes, only truly trusts wasnt a winning phrase, maybe another edit and more time would have made me realise that sooner 😉

  8. I’m not fond of science fiction as I find them hard to understand and follow but this is not the case. It flows easily and has that bite in the last line. The only two trouble spots are spotted already – truly trusts and impaled. So, well done! 🙂

    Lily

  9. Could you have shown us more emotion? Your protagonist doesn’t seem too worried about a storm, a missing navigator and a bitten tube. I know that we only have 100 words but maybe his actions could have portrayed some anxiety if not fear or is he genuinely not worried at all? I should be able to tell.
    Tracey

    • That’s a very good point Tracey, I got so engrossed in the plot and the wordcount it never occured to me to consider the narrator’s emotions at the time. I assume he would be professionally going through practiced procedures with an underying concern, but you’re right – I’ve omitted this all together. Oops!

  10. Great little story with the right amount of bite in the tail. I enjoyed all the detail – re the emotion, I reckon he’s been trained to blank these out and go into survivor mode at times like this.
    My blue pencil (red being for school kids) says lower case ‘w’ for west. I don’t think it’s being used as a proper noun here (as in West Wing).
    Hope the narrator has some navigational skills.

  11. C – This has a great sense of tension and aftermath, with a lovely sinister last line. The voice of your narrator is strong too – I get a sense of male superiority.
    I agree with Sandra on the ‘only truly’ and ‘suited up’ but those are linguistic preferences.
    A couple of other things that only appeared with repeated reading : ‘I toured the base alone,’ implies there are/ were others and I get a sense there is no one else. Also ‘following his footprints,’ – I would be surprised there was anything to follow after a storm that threatened the base’s integrity.

    • Thanks for reading Sarah Ann and for commenting. There is no one else inside the base, but the navigator is outside somewhere, hence reaffirming that he toured alone. That’s a good point – would the footprints have survived a storm. Possibly not.

  12. I love it, great scary ending, and full of lovely scifi details. C- what others already said: the truly isn’t needed. It would you allow you an if after checking (its structure…) to me that also read a bit awkward. The story drew me right in, it’ s easy to forget about criticism if you just want to read on .

  13. C –
    This feels to me like the opening to a movie, or at least a book that could be made into one. A strong hook, a character we’re already coming to know and an other-worldy scene (the line about West in particular, gives that without turning into exposition. Nice one).
    By way of concrit, I’m going to say that I wanted a little more disconnect between the question “could the winds have done this” and the reveal that it was bitten. You are hampered, of course, by word limit, but maybe if you could lose a few words from earlier in the piece, they would be more valuably placed in separating the mystery from its resolution.
    Also, although I’ve only just thought of this … would footprints survive a storm that threatened to breach an airlock? If not, you could use some sort of tracking readouts, for example.
    So glad people have taken the concrit plan on board; I look forward to more next week!

    • Hi Jen, thanks for taking the time to critique so fully – and of course for instigating ConCrit on FriFic.
      You’re right, i perhaps used too many words scene-setting rather than plot-moving but when the action takes place off-world it needs a little longer for the opening. Then of course the developments are a bit too bunched up when they come.
      Others noted the footprint too, which is a credibility howler I missed.
      Word limit is of course always a constraint, as is time, but that is also a good thing – the discipline makes us work harder and smarter, and hopefully improve. And we can also improve by the helpful ConCrit of others – after all we are all readers as much as writers!
      Thanks again for your input, I’m looking forward to Friday too

  14. Any criticism I could give would be a repeat. The last sentence was a great twist. Great tension led up to it. Well done, RG. —- Suzanne

    • Thanks for reading Suzanne and also for being such a regular contributor and commenter. It is much appreciated and makes WP a more friendly place to visit 🙂

  15. I’m not a big sci-fi fan but I enjoyed your story. Expect no CC from me. You right much better than I!

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