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Just Another Day



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Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:33 pm
occasionalpessimist says...



It’s still cold. It’s the 14th of July, but it’s a freezing 5 degrees C. I don’t how longer it can go on like this.

The sky is always the same color – a uniform grey. Like the clothes worn by the soldiers outside my window. They keep marching, helmets and heavy-duty gloves protecting them from solidifying alive. They barely notice us, staring out at the war-torn landscape with our noses pressed to the icy glass of the dormitory windows.

The government decided to put us here during the war so that we wouldn’t be affected. Where is Here? Good question. I’d say it was a cross between a safe haven, a prison and a penitentiary. There are about seventy of us children in this dormitory, and we enjoy hot food and warm beds while the Third World War pounds outside our windows. Sometimes we can’t sleep for the noise, but we do not complain.

I’ve been here for nearly six years. I’ve seen more dead people than living, and I’ve grown used to seeing it happen. We are safe, protected by a nuclear-powered energy barrier and a sophisticated weapons system. Understandable, since our parents are major government officials. We get top priority.

The people who look after us, called the Cares, send the food to our rooms and clean the place every five days. I still haven’t figured whether they are robots or real people. I very rarely see them, and when I do they usually move away faster than my eye can follow them. Light bends around them, so much so that they are nearly invisible.

There is a knock on the door, and the Care behind it slips in two bowls of food. It is the same recycled garbage – a carbon shell filled with a regulated amount of nutrients and genetically altered additives to help us… ah, evolve. We inmates are a ‘testing lab’ for the government’s slightly more long-term experiments. And their lab-rat food is infused with a satisfactory amount of chemical flavoring to help us push it down.

“Not this stuff again,” said my room-mate. I didn’t bother saying anything. We’d had this discussion before. I simply took a bowl and, ripping off the polymer wrapping, helped myself to the liquid gruel inside. It was the exact color of vomit, but with pink and green blobs in. The pink stuff tasted like strawberry; the green like mint. It wasn’t bad, if you shut your eyes while eating. And it was piping hot from the microwave.

I looked outside; the soldiers had identical rations. But only one flavoring. The lucky git outside my window had chocolate flavored gruel for lunch. Strawberry-mint wasn’t bad, but they often added minute amounts of sedative along with the chocolate flavoring. For a while, you could almost believe that the war would end some day.

After we finished our food we would have to start on our research. The Cares regularly provided lesson plans, and regulated access to the Internet. We would have to school ourselves, and tougher subjects would be taught by online instructors. Every two hours, we would get a half-hour of recreation time, when we could play games and what else. Only computer programs, mind.

I haven’t stepped out of the dormitories for five months.

The only times we get to go outside are on festivals and other special days. And they expect us to celebrate. We just sit on the chairs and nibble at our food. What else do you expect us to do? Most of us do not speak anymore. I haven’t spoken a full sentence in the last three days, simply because I didn’t need to. Nods, shakes and shrugs are quite enough.
But there are some of us who love talking. They remember days of blue skies and flowery fields. We listen to their stories and dream, because all we see are barren, purple moors stretching as far as the eye can see. Occasionally puffs of smoke pop up in the horizon, and by the bitter wind that shakes the windows in their frames, we guess that somewhere a hydrogen bomb has laid waste to a city. We don’t ache for freedom, because we know we are safe. And we like it better here than out there. A frozen moor isn’t inviting, however optimistic you may be.

Just before lights out, we have to line up outside a room we’ve all come to dread. There we receive a shot. One shot every night. We can barely feel the puncture among the thousands others. But some of us know what it does.
It’s a different shot for everybody. There is the green liquid, which they’re giving me, and the red stuff, which they’re giving my room-mate. I don’t yet know what the red thing does, but the green goop permits me lucid dreaming. Then I can change my horrible smoky war-themed dreams to ones filled with rainbows and green grass and other happy things.

Every four months, an Inspector comes to visit us. The last one was a severe, silver-haired lady. Like all government officials, she wore a black jumpsuit with a ‘Government of R-’ on it. She checked our heights and weights and measured the nutrient content of our meals. Then she left, and everything returned to normal, as if she’d never come at all. That’s how it is here.

I sometimes wonder when the war will end. There isn’t much to do except learn, or look out the window. Once, there had been a young soldier outside. He’d taken to talking to me when they weren’t otherwise occupied, and I’d learnt that he was only two years older than me, not yet an adult.

When they called him away, he’d smiled up at me, and said that the main reason he’d left was for his mother and younger sister. He said that I reminded him of her, and to pray for him wherever he may be fighting. I’d nodded then. I don’t know whether he’s still alive. I hope he is. I don’t believe in praying, but I think of him before I go to sleep, and wish him luck.

It seems a dreadful waste, really. Children like us inmates (as well as many of the soldiers) ought to be able to live free lives, not kept cooped up in cages from the nuclear war beyond or play the role of the tethered goat. Why punish us for a government’s mistake?
I'm not insane. You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.

Read my story, Elements: The Trilogy! page.php?id=900
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Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:56 pm
TabbyGirl says...



Wow... this was really good!

I loved the atmosphere... I loved the writing, really, you did an excellent job.

Now, there were a couple sentences I thought could use revision... however I'm not really in a nitpicking mood.

One thing I might suggest is explaining who the MC is...

When they called him away, he’d smiled up at me, and said that the main reason he’d left was for his mother and younger sister. He said that I reminded him of her,


that made me think she must be a girl, but besides that we have no age or description, which is absolutely fine if you want that to be anonymous, and you want the reader to decide who the narrator is themselves, but, you see, I was sort of imagining a boy the whole time, and then I read that...

But, it's your story. You don't have to change anything... your decision.

--
TabbyGirl
  





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Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:06 am
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maxlovesfang15 says...



That was really good. Awesomeness!
But God forbid that we have a thrid world war.
And I think that you have a good imagination, thinking of how a third world war might look like.
Keep writing!
I found it interesting.
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Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:13 am
delmarria says...



Hi!

This was a really good short story, and I really liked reading it (a cool and spooy interpretation of what WW3 might look like...). The other reviewers already found all the nitpicks, so I'm going to focus on the story as a whole.

I liked your story. A lot. Problem is, it's not a story at all. It's more like a very long description of what's going on. I hope you change that perhaps expand it, or make it into a novel/novella, whatever. It's just that it has no point, besides the fact that it describes what's going on. We don't find out anything about the character. Nothing happens. All we know is that there's some person (for all we know, is a 8-year old, or a 50-year old) is trapped with a bunch of others while there is a war going on, and they get gross food. That's it. It could expand to something much more, if you would just let it.

Also I think it would be rather ironic if the date was the 4th of July, not the 14th (assuming this is the U.S.)

Good job, and keep writing!
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Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:55 am
Razcoon says...



Your cookie led me here, so I shall review! Just...when I'm not falling asleep at nearly midnight. xD
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Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:36 pm
Sins says...



Heya! :)

I'm here to review as requested. The title of this story amuses me because it's actually the name of the first Storybook I was in, funnily enough. Anyway, that's unrelated, sorry. If you have any questions or comments on my review after I'm done, I'll be happy to answer!

I'm not going to get all nit-picky with grammar, if that's alright with you. Instead, I'll concentrate more on the deeper things. Even though I'm not bringing up an nit-picks, there is something I notiecd about the first line that I'd like to mention. Okay, now this is me being really nit-picky, but I have something to suggest for you.

It’s still cold. It’s the 14th of July, but it’s a freezing 5 degrees C. I don’t how longer it can go on like this.


Including digits, not words, to write numbers down in creative is something I've never been a fan of. To me, it's always looked a little unprofessional. In the end, it's up to you how you write them, but I would strongly suggest that you change it to something like this instead:

It's still cold. It's the fourteenth of July, but it's a freezing five degrees celcius. I don't know how much longer it can go on like this.


It looks a lot cleaner overall like that really. Like I said though, it is up to you in the end. I think that a lot of people woudl agree with me though when I say that words are always better than digits! ^^

The main thing that caught my eye here was the fact that you changed tenses. You began in present tense, then changed to past tense, and then abck to resent at the end. Some parts had to be past tense: when your MC was talking about her memory with the soldier, for example. There were some parts though which were written in past tense, but should have been in present. I'm not going to point out every single area where you've done this because that would be too nit-picky and besides, you said you wanted a general review.

To be honest, I think that if you read over the piece, you'll be able to pick out theareas where you've used the wrong tense. The writing itself is very good, so I'm confident that you should be able to find the tense errors easily. So long as you remember when what tense is needed where, you should be fine. When talkign about a memory, you need past tense, but when talking about what's happening now, you need present. It's as simple as that. :) I know you can do it.

The only proper critique I can think of is what the others have said really. The problem with this is that, yes, it's a great description of a situation, but that's about it. There's no real story behind it. I'd like to know some background information, for example. What happened to the MC's family? How old is the MC actually? I know they're oldish because of their mature voice and the fact that they mentioned somewhere about being in the place for six years or so. I dont' actually know whether your MC's female or male either. I get the feeling of female, but I'm not sure. I'll refer to her as female for now!

What I'd suggest is that you maybe describe how your MC ended up in the institute place. Was it her family's choice? Did she have to go there? Does she have any siblings that went there with her. Also, how did the war start? Is it a world war, or is it some other kind of war? What does your MC remember about finding out abotu the war? Was she attacked? Did she see it on the news? Do you see what I'm getting at? I'd love to see you revealing some more details. That way, us readers can feel more connected to the story because we know a lot more about the whole situation.

Overall, this was a really good read actually. Your sentence flow is lovely and some of your descriptions were done very well. I got a good sense of atmosphere, and I have to say that I do like your MC's voice. With a little bit of tweaking and editing, this could be really great. If you fix yoru tenses and consider adding some more background into this, it would be wonderful. Oh, and I apologise for any typos or misspelled words in this review... I have no spell checker at the moment.

Keep writing,

xoxo Skins
I didn't know what to put here so I put this.
  





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Sat Dec 25, 2010 4:34 am
occasionalpessimist says...



Thank you, Skins! And I do agree with what you said. I can see the mistakes. [frowns]
I'm working on a novella version, with all those wonderful details. The first part should be up in a little while. If you'd like to read it, let me know!

- Alex :D
I'm not insane. You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.

Read my story, Elements: The Trilogy! page.php?id=900
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Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:23 am
canislupis says...



Hi! Here is the requested review, and sorry it took so long. xD Holiday craziness, and all that.


Spoiler! :
It’s still cold. It’s the 14th of July, but it’s a freezing 5 degrees C. I don’t knowhowmuch longer it can go on like this. Nice opening. 
The sky is always the same color – a uniform grey. Like the clothes worn by the soldiers outside my window. They keep marching, helmets and heavy-duty gloves protecting them from solidifying alive. They barely notice us, staring out at the war-torn landscape with our noses pressed to the icy glass of the dormitory windows. This is the best part of the whole piece—it's well written, engrossing, and unique.
The government decided to put us here during the war so that we wouldn’t be affected. Where is Here? Good question. I’d say it was a cross between a safe haven, a prison and a penitentiary. There are about seventy of us children in this dormitory, and we enjoy hot food and warm beds while the Third World War pounds outside our windows. Sometimes we can’t sleep for the noise, but we do not complain. 
I’ve been here for nearly six years. I’ve seen more dead people than living, and I’ve grown used to seeing it happen. We are safe, protected by a nuclear-powered energy barrier and a sophisticated weapons system. Understandable, since our parents are major government officials. We get top priority. 
The people who look after us, called the Cares, send the food to our rooms and clean the place every five days. I still haven’t figured whether they are robots or real people. I very rarely see them, and when I do they usually move away faster than my eye can follow them. Light bends around them, so much so that they are nearly invisible. 
There is a knock on the door, and the Care behind it slips in two bowls of food. It is the same recycled garbage – a carbon shell filled with a regulated amount of nutrients and genetically altered additives to help us… ah, evolve. We inmates are a ‘testing lab’ for the government’s slightly more long-term experiments. And their lab-rat food is infused with a satisfactory amount of chemical flavoring to help us push it down.  Up to here as been a total info drop. Spread this out. Show us it happening, one piece at a time. Yes, t'will be long. You definitely have enough material for at least a medium length short story. Now it's almost flash fiction.
“Not this stuff again,” said my room-mate. I didn’t bother saying anything. We’d had this discussion before. I simply took a bowl and, ripping off the polymer wrapping, helped myself to the liquid gruel inside. It was the exact color of vomit, but with pink and green blobs in. The pink stuff tasted like strawberry; the green like mint. It wasn’t bad, if you shut your eyes while eating. And it was piping hot from the microwave.  
I looked outside; the soldiers had identical rations. But only one flavoring. The lucky git outside my window had chocolate flavored gruel for lunch. Strawberry-mint wasn’t bad, but they often added minute amounts of sedative along with the chocolate flavoring. For a while, you could almost believe that the war would end some day.  Better, but a bit confusing. You're jumping around in time again. Is this happening, or is it more of his/her general observations?
After we finished our food we would have to start on our research. The Cares regularly provided lesson plans, and regulated access to the Internet. We would have to school ourselves, and tougher subjects would be taught by online instructors. Every two hours, we would get a half-hour of recreation time, when we could play games and what else. Only computer programs, mind. 
I haven’t stepped out of the dormitories for five months. Love this sentence. As for the previous paragraph, not so much. It's another info drop.
The only times we get to go outside are on festivals and other special days. And they expect us to celebrate. Instead We just sit on the chairs and nibble at our food. What else do youavoid sudden second-person shifts. expect us to do? Most of us do not speak anymore. I haven’t spoken a full sentence in the last three days, simply because I didn’t need to. Nods, shakes and shrugs are quite enough. 
But there are some of us who love talking. They remember days of blue skies and flowery fields. We listen to their stories and dream, because all we see are barren, purple moors stretching as far as the eye can see. Occasionally puffs of smoke pop up in the horizon, and by the bitter wind that shakes the windows in their frames, we guess that somewhere a hydrogen bomb has laid waste to a city. We don’t ache for freedom, because we know we are safe. And we like it better here than out there. A frozen moor isn’t inviting, however optimistic you may be.  
Just before lights out, we have to line up outside a room we’ve all come to dread. There we receive a shot. One shot every night. We can barely feel the puncture among the thousands others. But some of us know what it does.  
It’s a different shot for everybody. There is the green liquid, which they’re giving me, and the red stuff, which they’re giving my roomdeleted the dash heremate. I don’t yet know what the red thing does, but the green goop permits me lucid dreaming. Then I can change my horrible smoky war-themed dreams to ones filled with rainbows and green grass and other happy things. 
Every four months, an Inspector comes to visit us. The last one was a severe, silver-haired lady. Like all government officials, she wore a black jumpsuit with a ‘Government of R-’Where's the rest of the word with 'R' in it? on it. She checked our heights and weights and measured the nutrient content of our meals. Then she left, and everything returned to normal, as if she’d never come at all. That’s how it is here. Really? I thought that was how it was somewhere else (<--sarcasm. Ignore me. :roll:, just avoid unnecessary comments.
I sometimes wonder when the war will end. There isn’t much to do except learn, or look out the window. Once, there had been a young soldier outside. He’d taken to talking to me when they weren’t otherwise occupied, and I’d learned that he was only two years older than me, not yet an adult. 
When they called him away, he’d smiled up at me, and said that the main reason he’d left was for his mother and younger sister. Why would he leave for them? To protect them? Otherwise it seems like he'd prefer to be with them.He said that I reminded him of her, and to pray for him wherever he was fighting. I’d nodded then. I don’t know whether he’s still alive. I hope he is. I don’t believe in praying, but I think of him before I go to sleep, and wish him luck. 
It seems a dreadful waste, really. Children like us inmates (as well as many of the soldiers)avoid parenthetical remarks.Also, I'm not sure about the judgements here. Let us decide for ourselves. ought to be able to live free lives, not kept cooped up in cages from the nuclear war beyond or play the role of the tethered goat. What do tethered goats have to do with anything? Has she/he ever SEEN a goat?Why punish us for a government’s mistake?How is it a government mistake? That makes no sense...

I did one or two nitpicks, which are in the spoilers.

You asked about turning this into a novella. I'm not saying you *couldn't * do it, but it would need some more development.

1st: Character development. You have none. XD I don't know anything about your MC, and none of the other characters have any obvious motivation. Think about it. She's been here six years. Most people would be significantly withdrawn and/or see the world much much differently than you do in that situation. You even said she's not talking much; why, then, is she so snippy and complaining?

2nd: Info drops. Right now, you're doing a ton of telling. “Every day, we do xx” etc. Your readers are smarter than you think—don't spoon feed them information. Instead, show (yeah, yeah, I'm sure you've heard this before) each thing happening—the dull monotony of their daily routine, played out in front of us. Show them hearing the usual sound of the bombs landing. Decide what the conflict is, besides where the are and what they're going through, because that isn't enough. (Never-fail story formula: character(s) + goals +conflict +change. Without these things you don't have a story.)

Now, with those things aside, I like the idea of the kids living in a government building, undergoing experiments (but remember—they probably shouldn't know as much as your character seems to; they've been here most of their lives, and it doesn't seem like anyone's telling them anything, so it doesn't make sense that they'd know all about what experiments are even happening to them. Actually, it might be disturbing/cool if you could show the READER what was going on, while they remained ignorant) I like the idea of the war too.

All in all, I think that, if you work on showing instead of telling, and add some more details, then you could definitely expand this into a novella, but I'd definitely suggest letting the idea stew for a while first, to give you time to decide on conflicts, etc, without having to work with a huge, sprawling draft.

Hope I helped!

Lupis
  








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