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#1 7/23/2012 11:08 pm

qubit
New member
Registered: 7/22/2012
Posts: 6

Qubit's Story Page

I've created this topic so that I can post whatever story I'm currently working on. Read, feel free to comment or give feedback, suggestions, etc.

I also want to make it clear that, while I would like for you to participate by giving me feedback, this isn't one of those topics where everyone in the forum writes his/her own addition to the story and everyone votes on it. Na. smile I'm the author. Don't expect me to add in any text you've written on your own. Instead, just give me ideas!

I'll begin with the story I started this past week. I really like where it's going so far, personally, but I need some outside criticism. I trust you're all avid readers (sarcasm, maybe). I don't yet have a title for this, but that comes later.

CHAPTER ONE

As he stared calmly through the window, fixated on a light-brown centipede inching its way across the wide face of a white oak, the cushioned kitchen chair on which he sat hardened into stone beneath his thighs and helplessness overcame him. He struggled to focus on the pleasant and familiar smells of the kitchen--the warm, sugary aura of a bottle of maple syrup left open on the counter, the slightly smoky air extending from the stovetop on which he had burnt pancakes earlier that morning, and the fresh scent of an assortment of his favorite fruits laid out decoratively on a wooden plate in front of him--but even as he focused and inhaled he could not break free, for just a few moments later a coarse jute bag fell violently over his face, scraping and suffocating him as he lost control and screamed.

Smell was always the last sense to betray him during an episode. He could usually pick out the most unique smells in a room within only a few moments of entry, even if he had never before been inside. He clung to those smells, committed them to memory almost immediately, and learned to recall them when the rest of reality deserted him. Even bad smells. Of course, he preferred interesting and enjoyable ones, but if something smelled so strongly that he couldn't forget it even if he wanted to, it didn't matter if it was horse dung; it was a lifeline.
    People smelled more than most things. Women, in particular, frequently wore generous amounts of perfume, which he found delightful. Fruity, flowery, or spicy, with hints of cinnamon, sandalwood, amber, jasmine, or vanilla. His mother's perfume was always lavender. Always. If lavender was in the air, it meant his mother was in the room, even when he couldn't see or hear her because his eyes were showing him the things of nightmares and his ears were telling him horrible lies. Her lavender scent always ensured that an episode didn't entirely conquer his mind.
    But when an episode did conquer him, the resulting scene was horrifying for anyone unlucky enough to witness it. If anyone had seen him that morning, rolling around on the kitchen floor with his hands clasped to the sides of his head, pulling at his hair and screaming, "Get off!" while he bruised his legs and face on the wooden floor and table legs, they'd have thought he was possessed by Satan himself. Their heart would skip a beat, their stomach would lurch at the sight of him, and they wouldn't know whether to dare touch the flailing boy to try to control him, or to call 911, scream for help, and hope that the boy didn't kill himself.

Naturally, the result of his incredible sensitivity and perpetual alertness was that his face--in particular, his small nose and meaty cheeks--twitched rather exaggeratedly. Without thinking, he would scrunch up his nose, upper-lip, and cheekbones and furrow his brow in concentration if he sensed something especially peculiar that sparked his curiosity or made him feel uneasy. Interestingly, it was during those instances that he felt the most content with himself. Just as a professional takes pride in his expertise, "Twitch," as he was commonly referred to throughout his school, took great pride in his ability to sense what few others around him had the capacity to sense.
    Nobody else, for instance, would have been able to smell his eighth grade Mathematics teacher's dirty little secret the moment she walked into the classroom one Monday morning with her usual travel mug full of coffee in one hand and shiny sapphire handbag over the other shoulder. He watched her set down her things, greet her favorite student, Connie, and proceed as if everything was normal to write the daily warm-up question on the chalkboard. To manage this, she first had to erase a sizable portion of the board that had been covered with graffiti by mischievous students before class. One of the particularly tall ones had, rather impressively, rendered a magnificently accurate human penis on the topmost righthand corner of the board, just outside the reach of her outstretched arms. So, using the step-stool that she had long ago requested of the principal be kept in her room for just this reason, she climbed, stretched to erase the offending drawing, and was immediately greeted by a chorus of whistles and howls from almost every boy in the classroom who had caught a glimpse of her legs.
    "John, Daniel, Colton, Harvey, Malcolm," she announced. "Please see me after class, bring nothing but a notebook and a pencil. Make sure you have plenty of paper, and please," she paused, and with an exasperated sigh added, "do try not to smell like animals."
    "Oh, sure thing Ms. Porter, we'll check in with Twitch--" started Colton, snickering.
    "That's enough, Colton. Another word and I'm calling your father."
    "Yes, ma'am," he grinned. As soon as Ms. Porter turned once more to face the blackboard, Colton leaned to his left, put his arm around Twitch's shoulders and whispered, "Feisty, isn't she? Anyway you know I'm just messin' with you." He paused, but Twitch didn't respond. Satisfied that he had been forgiven, Colton withdrew his arm and leaned back into his chair.
    "She slept with Mr. B.," muttered Twitch under his breath.
    "What?"
    "She slept with Mr. B.," he repeated just as quietly.
    "Wha--are you talkin' Barnes or Burton?"
    "Barnes."
    "Dude," whispered Colton, wide-eyed with disbelief.
    At that moment, Ms. Porter slapped the chalk back onto its metal shelf, glanced at the clock above the door which read 7:48, and announced, "Five minutes," as she wrote "7:53" on the board. She retreated to her desk and opened a magazine.
    "How do you know?" asked Colton, intrigued.
    "I just do, trust me. After class," said Twitch as he hurriedly opened his notebook and began to solve the warm-up.

Mr. Barnes was the guidance counselor at Henderson Middle School. He was a tall, good-looking bachelor in his early thirties with stark, shiny black hair and friendly blue eyes. He knew how to carry himself and was especially charming around women. As the school counselor, he was by far the busiest person in the building--he ran parent-school communications, managed the school newspaper, conducted all extra-curricular student clubs, field-trips, and school-wide projects, and dealt with the occasional student that came to his office during the school day with a pass, either seeking moral support or trying to skip class. Mr. Barnes knew how to deal with everything and everyone, and he always managed to do so without a wrinkle on his face or a bag under his eyes. He was secretly the envy of nearly every teacher in the school for his substantial salary, yet he managed to make friends with them rather than enemies.
    He was especially fond of Ms. Porter, the lovely Math teacher whose classroom was on the same floor as his office. She often stopped by his desk to chat between classes about how her students were performing, asking him to keep an eye on certain troublesome or struggling kids whom she simply could not seem to steer in the right direction. And he welcomed her visits gladly, for he admired her flowing brown hair and young face, and found her very easy to converse with. She knew this, and although she felt nothing for him but instead saw him as competition, she pretended to be very interested in him and often flirted with him at length.
        That Sunday had been his birthday, and in an effort to surprise him, she had left a note on his door that read:

        Dear Ronny,

            Meet me at my place at 8:00 tonight, I have a special surprise for you.

                                        Happy Birthday,
                                                      Sarah
                           

    That night, they had sex.

    "Okay so, this morning, when Port walked in, did you see what she was wearing?" asked Twitch, as the boys entered the hallway.
    "You mean the skirt?" replied Colton.
    "Yeah, isn't that a little weird, she's never dressed so exposed. And she always talks to Barnes after class, have you noticed?"
    "Dude you're such a virgin, just cause she talks with someone doesn't mean she sleeps with them."
    "I could smell his wood cologne on her bag, man. And yesterday was his birthday."
    "I don't know. Hey Derek," said Colton, now permanently distracted. "See ya later, Twitch." He hurried to catch up with his friend as they walked to their next class.
    Twitch wanted to tell him everything, that he'd seen her take off Mr. Barnes' clothes in the corner of the classroom before she even showed up that morning. He wanted to tell someone that he'd seen them have sex before his very eyes that morning, albeit an obvious hallucination, and that when, moments later, she'd burst through the door with her coffee and handbag, the strong scent of Barnes' cologne had hit his nose immediately and had pulled him back into reality. He was sure of what had happened on Sunday.
    On the outside, he never let anyone know he was hallucinating. He seemed happy, silent though he was, to the people around him. But he wasn't happy. He was paranoid. And who could blame him? He lived each and every moment of his life with the knowledge that something vivid, torturous, and horrifyingly bizarre might happen to him, and that all he had the power to do was to anticipate it or outsmart it. He didn't even know what was real and what was fake, but he chose to believe that his terrible experiences were what his mother called "mental follies": brief hallucinations that his brain perceived to be real because it was defective. And so he chose a defective brain over a perceptive one. He chose to believe that something was wrong with him, because the alternative was too grim to imagine.


TO BE CONTINUED...




Edited notes:
- fix weak verbs (excessive "was" and other forms of "to be")
- certain sentences are infested with commas, needs to flow more smoothly in places
- pronouns?
- add ¶ or two after "Naturally, the result of his..." explaining what's going through his mind during the kitchen scene
- "...proceed as if everything WERE normal..." not WAS smile
- change "virgin" to something more fitting for a middle-schooler
- maybe Twitch's family is poor so they can't afford treatment for Twitch, plus the medications haven't yet been tested enough. father left family or died?
- time period: late 80's

- first sentence of chp. 2 will give Twitch's real name
- clear up hallucinations linking to reality somehow.

Last edited by qubit (7/24/2012 5:34 pm)

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#2 7/24/2012 1:59 am

sulliman1
Member
Registered: 11/5/2009
Posts: 2673

Re: Qubit's Story Page

it's got potential. really like the idea of olfactory-triggered premonitive hallucinations. nice and descriptive overall, good adjectives and vocabulary, verbs could use some spicing up--too much of "was" and other forms of "to be." Example, at the end of the paragraph introducing Mr. Barnes and a long list of what he WAS: "He was secretly the envy of nearly every teacher in the school for his substantial salary, yet he managed to make friends with them rather than enemies." can easily be changed to "Nearly every teacher in the school secretly envied Mr. Barnes for his substantial salary, yet he managed to make friends with them despite that/anyway/rather than antagonizing them" you get the idea.

too many commas and long sentences, i had the same problem. call it stylistic if you will but it makes it less accessible. example: "Their heart would skip a beat, their stomach would lurch at the sight of him, and they wouldn't know whether to dare touch the flailing boy to try to control him, or to call 911, scream for help, and hope that the boy didn't kill himself." awkward sentence

pronouns got repetitive during the first two paragraphs. know that's hard to do with the naming thing (not really sure what you're trying to accomplish there besides being different as a challenge), maybe you could work in his nickname earlier

i like your pacing a lot. however if i were writing it i would insert short instances of the seizure/hallucination between flashback story paragraphs to keep things present and give us a slice of how his mind works

as if everything WERE normal, not was

lovely young math teacher haha definitely anti stereotype there

god dammit for some reason this made me think of this sci fi short story where everyone is a schizophrenic with a hyper and hypo personalities that take turns living as the person and it's not that relevant but it's really giving me the piss that i can't recall the name

Last edited by sulliman1 (7/24/2012 2:00 am)


They say you fight the greatest jihad in your heart and your mind, so I dream the impossible all the time

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#3 7/24/2012 2:17 am

Walrus King
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From: Tennessee
Registered: 12/2/2009
Posts: 4570

Re: Qubit's Story Page

I like it, I don't exactly know alot about literature so I can't think of any flaws immediatly with the writing so you'll just have to listen to everybody else about that stuff. There is one thing I'm wondering about though, would most middle schoolers really use virgin as an insult? I mean of course middle-schoolers would know about sex and whatnot but I doubt actually having sex is that common for them.

qubit wrote:

still unsure of time period, definitely before texting (hence the note), definitely before widely-accepted and commonly-administered schizophrenia drugs
     - anyone have an idea on what time period might fit?

It would probably be best to have it as recent as possible, so that the school works the same way as they do now and the bullshit the middle-schoolers do makes sense (such as the penis on the chalkboard). Early 90's or late 80's probably wouldn't be bad, texting was invented in the early 90's but I doubt it caught on immediatly. I don't know about the schizophrenia drugs and i'm not too sure why you want it to be before those were used commonly. If it's to explain the fact that Twitch never uses them you could go for his family being poor or the fact that they don't know exactly what's wrong with him. I'm sticking with late 80's as maybe the best time period to have the story in.


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#4 7/24/2012 2:33 am

shaft711
Member
From: Massachusetts
Registered: 5/17/2011
Posts: 2264

Re: Qubit's Story Page

I looked into it a bit, and thorazine, which is one of the pioneering schizophrenia drugs, was introduced in 1952.  However, most drugs administered for schizophrenic episodes became commonly used after 1990, so you might be able to set your story some time in the late 70s or early 80s.  Also, nice story premise, I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.


Now is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?

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#5 7/24/2012 5:34 pm

qubit
New member
Registered: 7/22/2012
Posts: 6

Re: Qubit's Story Page

First of all, thanks so much for all the feedback so far. Super helpful. To anyone who hasn't read and responded yet, I urge you to do so!

@sulliman1:

Before I respond to anything, olfactory is probably the coolest word I've seen in a few months.

Great points. I'm really glad you pointed out my weak verb usage as that's something I've been working on for a while now. Crappy past tense verbs give the reader the sense that everything is in passive voice, and while that's not always technically true, the fact that it feels that way makes it harder to read. I'll go back and reword some of the sentences where that's a real distraction.

Commas, good point. Yeah, that sentence was definitely a bomb, fixing that.

Pronouns, not sure yet. I see what you're saying, but my goal with the first chapter was to introduce Twitch without revealing his real name. This has to do with a broader storyline I'm developing, but in short, I don't want the reader to relate to Twitch on a personal level until the second chapter. As long as the "he, him, his, himself" isn't a super distraction for most people reading, I'd rather leave that as is. What do you think?

Keeping the story in the present was definitely an issue for me. You may have noticed that I don't go back to the kitchen scene at all after the beginning of the school scene. I think it would be a little jarring to re-introduce the kitchen scene after I've already begun the school scene, so I might just add a paragraph or two right before "Naturally, the result of his incredible sensitivity and perpetual alertness…" describing what's going on in his mind during the episode (just like the first paragraph). I think the reader kind of craves a continuation of that first paragraph at some point in the chapter because of the way I cut it off in the beginning.

Thank you, good catch with the "were" vs. "was." smile

Thank you for noticing the stereotype! Sounds weird, but that's exactly what I wanted. You're going to find out something weird about her later. Hint: "…she felt nothing for him but instead saw him as competition…"

Haha that's interesting, I'd like to know the name of whatever sci fi story that was.

@Walrus King:

I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking with the "virgin" insult hahaha. I think I meant to go back and change it to something more fitting, but my placeholder happened to be virgin…anyway good catch, I'll fix that.

I agree, a more recent time period would be better. Yeah, the reason I wanted it to take place before the widespread administering of schizophrenia drugs began is that I didn't want anything to inhibit Twitch's peculiar "mind follies" from occurring. Good thought with his family being poor, I might be able to make that work despite the seemingly large school he attends. Cell phones aren't a huge concern actually, that bullet point was stupid.

@shaft711

Thanks for researching that, I think I'm set on some time in the late 80's now. Good to have these historical facts at hand.

Main reason I want to establish a rough time period isn't that I necessarily need to inform the reader of the year or anything, but I want to make sure that if the reader were to investigate the question of the setting of the story he would be able to come up with a reasonable answer. Nothing should be inconsistent.



I've added these to the notes below the chapter in my original post. Thanks a ton!

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#6 7/24/2012 5:46 pm

sulliman1
Member
Registered: 11/5/2009
Posts: 2673

Re: Qubit's Story Page

no probs man thanks for responding, awaiting chapter 2 patiently

almost inspiring me to pick up some writing again


They say you fight the greatest jihad in your heart and your mind, so I dream the impossible all the time

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#7 7/29/2012 8:07 am

thebigdonginthesky
Member
Registered: 4/6/2010
Posts: 2033

Re: Qubit's Story Page

i think your story is a faggot


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#8 8/1/2012 7:10 pm

Crusher111
Member
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: 3/15/2012
Posts: 426

Re: Qubit's Story Page

How can his story be a faggot? it is not a person.


http://i.imgur.com/lgUvP8a.gifhttp://i.imgur.com/NqiEk.gifhttp://i.imgur.com/lgUvP8a.gif

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#9 11/12/2012 3:37 pm

Rodimus Mike
Moderator
From: Chicago
Registered: 12/20/2010
Posts: 3475

Re: Qubit's Story Page

Crusher111 wrote:

How can his story be a faggot? it is not a person.

Your prejudice is not welcome around here, Crusher. First blacks aren't people, then gays, now qubit's story?! You people make me sick.


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#10 11/17/2012 1:08 am

dragonrider7
Member
From: Why do you want to know
Registered: 7/11/2012
Posts: 724

Re: Qubit's Story Page

qubit wrote:

Happy Birthday,
                                                      Sarah[/i]                           

    That night, they had sex.

    "Okay so, this morning, when Port walked in, did you see what she was wearing?" asked Twitch, as the boys entered the hallway.
    "You mean the skirt?" replied Colton.
    "Yeah, isn't that a little weird, she's never dressed so exposed. And she always talks to Barnes after class, have you noticed?"
    "Dude you're such a virgin, just cause she talks with someone doesn't mean she sleeps with them."
    "I could smell his wood cologne on her bag, man. And yesterday was his birthday."
    "I don't know. Hey Derek," said Colton, now permanently distracted. "See ya later, Twitch." He hurried to catch up with his friend as they walked to their next class
    Twitch wanted to tell him everything, that he'd seen her take off Mr. Barnes' clothes in the corner of the classroom before she even showed up that morning. He wanted to tell someone that he'd seen them have sex before his very eyes that morning, albeit an obvious hallucination, and that when, moments later, she'd burst through the door with her coffee and handbag, the strong scent of Barnes' cologne had : brief hallucinations that his brain perceived to be real because it was defective.

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