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Imaginary Friends - 6: Alive & Kicking

by BellaRoma


Alive and Kicking

Layla

Have you ever noticed that things go wrong in threes – weird, isn’t it? In the space of a month, three things of yours might break down. Sometimes it takes less than that and, perhaps in the best cases, more. Occasionally, each issue is worse than the one previous. Whatever happens, it’s always threes.

About a week after where Mercy left off, my third problem presented itself. Aiden seemed truly out to get me.

“Ah! Miss Watts, we need to have a serious conversation.”

Doc’s tone of voice grabbed me by the ear. Way to initiate a conversation.

I paused and faced him a moment. “Haven’t we already had several?” I asked, gritting my teeth.

What could he possibly want now? I’d done this kind of thing for the last hour, in talk therapy with the others.

“It’s about something else”, he called after me, for I had resumed walking.

“And if I don’t want to talk?”

“Then we’ll have a shouting match in this very room, if that’s what it takes!” His voice rose, as if to show he’d make good on his word.

‘He’s going to keep a promise? That's a change’, Mercy commented. ‘What am I missing though? Oh… yes, he’s the one who said that shouting solves nothing.’

I couldn’t help myself; I smirked at the double dose of irony. Of course, now was precisely the wrong time for a private joke.

“This is what I’m talking about”, said Doc. “Grow up!” The words stopped me in my tracks.

‘Tell him to stop it’, Mercy laughed, ‘this is killing m-he-e.’ She burst into hysterical giggles.

“You’re sixteen”, said Doc earnestly, beckoning me to come closer. Sixteen…. It hit me like a wave of freezing surf. I’d spent longer in here, incarcerated, than in the real world.

“You ought to know better than to take your imaginary friends seriously by now. They’re not real - am I getting through to you at all?”

“Wouldn’t you like to possess the imagination to guess what’s really going on in my head?” I retorted scornfully. “Besides, when have I ever gotten through to you?”

“Come with me…” He cut off the exchange, soon to make me eat my words.

I guess I should have seen it coming.

I’m not sure what about it made me follow him. Doing so seemed the most sensible option, but simultaneously, I was asking myself what could be more idiotic.

A few minutes later, we turned down a (rare) unfamiliar corridor, my outlooks dimming along with the strobe lights above. I noted that they were older than the rest of the fluorescents. Had no one been down here?

The corridor’s entrance was so easily missed it felt more like a secret passageway. Where it led, I had no clue…

“Where are we going?” I asked, hoping my voice wasn’t shaking as much as my body. I rubbed my arms to warm them as we came to rest outside a heavy looking door.

‘I don’t want to stick around and see what’s behind it’, said Mercy. She wasn’t the only one.

He unlocked the door, held it and motioned for me to go in. The walls were lined with what looked like really deep, silver pigeon holes, which blended seamlessly with the clinical colour scheme. Immediately I noticed a faint but distinct rotten smell, like compost, but worse, hanging in the air.

“What is that?” I asked him, disgusted.

I leant on the metal lockers a moment, reeling back when I discovered they were ice cold to the touch. In the next moment it clicked; the smell had increased as I neared the lockers, and they were overly frigid.

‘Like - like on purpose’, stuttered Mercy. ‘Something is purposefully being kept in these locker things, something that needs to be kept cool’, she said, the pieces falling into place for her too.

‘A morgue – seriously? I had no idea they even had one’, said Mercy with chagrin that wavered until it became a note of fear. ‘Last I checked, we’re alive, so can we go now?’

The same thought crossed my mind as I backed across the morgue. Doc blocked the door menacingly.

“I – I don’t like this”, I simpered, hoping to evoke some sympathetic reaction.

He still looked ready to jump me. “I doubted you would”, he replied, turning me by the shoulders so I was facing away from the door. “You can run but you can’t hide”, he whispered in my ear, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

‘Ha bloody ha’, said Mercy. ‘Bite me!’ Sometimes I was glad that I was the only one who could hear her.

I was too paralysed with fear to even think coherently anymore, let alone do anything.

At that point, some survival instinct kicked in; I managed to shrug off the doctor’s hands and I stood unsupported. After rebalancing, I darted round him.

It looked like I would be running after all…

Calmly, he prised my fingers away from the door that I’d not long reached. He pulled me with him by the wrist towards the middle of the room.

Still running on adrenaline, I kicked, screamed and struggled against him but it would take more than that to save me. Next I knew, he let go of me and I was cast to the cold floor, dazed. What was to happen to me next?

“You can’t have a place like this without some… casualties”, he said conspiratorially. “It simply must stay quiet though. Don’t wish to – ah – alarm anybody.” Translation: don't breathe a word.

That made two of us with secrets, then. Two of us… more alike than it seemed; I couldn’t tell if this was actually good or bad.

‘Takes one to know one’, said Mercy in a sing song voice. She had rested her case.

Suddenly I became hyper-aware as he began walking away. The door handle made a definitive sound as he twisted it that I scrambled to greet. However, my feet still wouldn’t carry me fast enough, not even with the spur of hope.

The door’s locking sounded as if it had been amplified a hundredfold and felt like a slap in the face. I thought better of kicking the door, despite my exasperation, but I couldn’t stop a bottled up cry from escaping.

The lights winked, leering, taunting me with an opportunity I couldn’t take. What are you going to do about it? they mocked. You should’ve fought back. When they shut off altogether, having had out their joke, I got an eerie feeling like the place was in league with him.

‘Come on!’ growled Mercy.‘Seriously?’ The chagrin was back.

‘How did it get to this?’ she sighed. ‘He despises you so much, he’ll do anything to keep you here. How that works when he clearly can’t stand the sight of you, I’ll never know.’

‘What I don’t understand is how he shows no remorse whatsoever’, I replied, grateful for the distraction. ‘He couldn’t feel sorry for his own flesh and blood if they were in here. He’s so… detached.’

‘And to think he’s in the midst of a bunch of sociopaths’, said Mercy. Again, I got the impression she found this quite funny. All the while, I tried to ignore the pitch darkness and the nauseating thought of the corpses in the walls.

Mercy had very little left to say, apart from ‘It takes one to know one - I told you so.’


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Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:57 pm
Chaser wrote a review...



I quite liked this piece, actually.

Brimming with suspense, further characterization...yep, it's everything you'd look for in later chapters. The way you describe the mood of the morgue room is astounding.

However, I'm at a loss to where this chapter begins. Does it begin in Layla's cell? It just seemed a bit unclear and threw me off for a moment.
Also, the sentences where you describe the doctor's tone didn't quite sound right. I'd try varying their length for contrast.
The part where you said "soon to make me eat my words" didn't sound right. It kind of kills the suspense if you foreshadow at this point. Don't say "soon," as if you know it will happen.

How could the doctor cover up all this? It's nearly impossible to kill so many people without somebody noticing, even if it's a sanatorium.

But really, I love your characters. Mercy is brilliantly witty no matter what situation she's in, while Aiden makes a perfectly despicable villain. I'm having trouble getting used to the apostrophe-enclosed format of internal speech, but I guess there's not much you can do about that. Oh well. Cheers.


-Chaser




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Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:54 pm
OliveDreams wrote a review...



HI....

I like your mini prologue at the start of this chapter. You could incorporate this idea into all of your chapters. It’s a good way of setting up what we’re likely to expect. It’s also created a little intrigue for me...

Woah! This seems a little out of the blue for a verbal slanging match. Could he not have caught her talking to herself before having a go at her?

I don’t think you need the brackets around the word ‘rare’. It works perfectly well as part of the sentence.

It’s a quick jump from being paralysed to do anything then suddenly the survival mode kicks in. She needs to have a trigger for this to kick in.
The doctor could touch her on the shoulder or whisper something else into her ear...?

The door’s locking sounded as if it had been amplified a hundredfold and felt like a slap in the face.
- I like this description. It’s accurate.

Are they any nurses around? Or any other patients? We never seem to see or hear anyone else.

NEXT!

Olive <3




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Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:19 pm
Deanie wrote a review...



Hi Bella!

It's me again - Deanie - back to find out how we can work on improving your chapter in any way it could be! I feel like this was an interesting twist to the story. I wonder how Doc has managed to keep a morgue in there without anyone knowing? He seems to have everything he could possibly need to torture and rid himself of people at his fingertips! It's astonishing, but also goes to show how hard it is to get rid of some things as well. Sometimes people get away with the worst things and no one knows at all. I think this was well written in terms of us getting Layla's fear through very well. The only thing that was a shame was that Mercy seemed like she wasn't taking this whole ideal too seriously. And I think being locked into a freezing cold morgue is a problem, and not something worth mocking your best friend about? Seemed a little weird.

At one point in the beginning of the chapter you mention Aiden. At first I was like, who on earth is Aiden? I quickly realize it's the Doc's real name. But then you go back to calling him Doc and you never use the name again. On the terms of trying to limit the amount of names we see because it simply distracts the reader from the main idea if they have to keep remembering names that are unimportant. I would cut it because it's not really relevant information. It's worth it to keep him as Doc.

His voice rose, as if to show he’d make good on his word.


This sentence was worded awkwardly in my opinion. How about: His voice rose, as if he was trying to show he'd win a shouting argument if he kept his word.

They’re not real - am I getting through to you at all?”


How does Doc even know that she has imaginary friends in the first place? If it was Layla who mentioned it herself to him when she was young, I feel like she would've mentioned there was only one. In which case, this sentence should be 'She's not real' because then Doc would know there was only one. If he understood this some other way, do let us know what way it is! I am curious.

I also wonder why the Doc hates Layla so much. It's not like she has ever done anything necessarily bad to him at all. And she seems just like any other case in this mental hospital. For all we know Doc could've chosen anyone, and yet I doubt his hate would've stemmed as it is if he was just choosing randomly. To want to purposefully kill someone definitely means you need a reason and a lot of hate to do so. So, tell us something that Layla did which would drive the Doc to hate her so much he is willing to kill her. Once you have an idea what this could be, then tell us and include it in the chapter so we know why this is all happening! It might even be something Mercy did that Layla is simply getting blamed for.

“Wouldn’t you like to possess the imagination to guess what’s really going on in my head”,


This is a question so it needs to end on a question mark.

Where it led, I had no clue…


You use a lot of ellipses in this chapter. It's not that you are using them incorrectly, in fact your using them fine. But sometimes I feel like you're using them in places where they aren't exactly necessary. Like this one. It would work better as a sentence itself. When it comes to using an ellipsis, ask yourself if it would add anything to the story by having it there. It's one of those difficult things you need to choose for yourself.

‘I don’t want to stick around and see what’s behind it’, said Mercy. She wasn’t the only one.


Well, if she didn't want to stick around, why did she still enter? Did she feel like something was pulling her forwards, drawing herself in and she just needed to know now that she had come this far? If so, describe it to us! If not, she should've just turned around by now before entering. It would've been the only thing to do that makes sense, when she is not being forced inside xD

‘A morgue – seriously? I had no idea they even had one’


I feel like Layla should say this, not Mercy. Because then it seems like Mercy is just having a conversation with herself out loud and if you string the two speech pieces together after one another, it sounds a little awkward.

The door handle made a definitive sound as he twisted it that I scrambled to greet.


This didn't make sense on it's own, but I think I get the message you're trying to convey. How about: The door handle made a definitive sound as he twisted it. I scrambled to my feet, trying to read the door in time.

I don't think I have any more to say! I can understand why readers like Noelle may be confused, so just try and keep things as clear as possible so the reader can understand as well. I am going to read the next chapter!

Deanie x




BellaRoma says...


Dr Aiden (Aiden is his surname) wasn't trying to kill Layla. He locked her in the room, not the mortuary boxes.
Keep in mind also that he knows nothing of Mercy. He's talking about any old voice Layla could be hearing.
Since I am having to explain this so much, I'll make sure to look hard at this chapter when I edit.
Like I said to Noelle, sorry you're confused and I hope the next chapter works better.



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Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:32 am
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Noelle says...



Hi there!

Well, I have to be completely honest here. I am genuinely confused in this chapter. I'm not going to leave a review since I have no idea what's going on here. Although I think this confusion is on my end instead of actually being in how you wrote this.

So the doctor took Layla to this room to show her a bunch of dead people? And all of these dead people are previous patients at the hospital, right? So the bottom line here is that the doctor is killing people? Or did these people commit suicide or something?

One other general question/comment I have for you. Where are all of the other workers in this hospital? The doctor can't run the entire place by himself, right? Maybe you've mentioned a few of the workers already, I forget a lot of thing (I have a terrible memory), but it still seems as if the doctor is the only one who works there.

Alright, I'm going to head over to the next chapter and hopefully I'll be able to comprehend that one better xD I should probably stop trying to review things when I just woke up after getting four hours of sleep

Keep writing!
**Noelle**




BellaRoma says...


Sorry you're confused. :-(
As to the morgue, leaning towards the suicide idea... He locked her in there as an alternative to the shock therapy.
When I eventually rewrite I do intend to add more people around the asylum. I guess I was focused on making the doctor how I wanted.
I hope the next bits make more sense anyway...



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Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:08 am
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TriSARAHtops wrote a review...



Hello hello! I've finally got enough time on my hands to pay this the attention it deserves, so I'm going to launch into my review.

Firstly, quibbles. Nothing major, just a couple of iffy bits.

‘He’s going to keep a promise? That's a change’, Mercy commented, ‘what am I missing though? Oh… yes, he’s the one who said that shouting solves nothing.’

You've got the comma and the talking mark around the wrong way after 'change'. I've also noticed that you tend to jump around between using 'talking' and "talking" (the quotation marks are different, if I'm being too obscure). Either's fine, and it won't matter which one you choose to go with, as long as you're consistent. I can't remember seeing this in previous chapters, so just go with whatever you've used most.

“Thisis what I’m talking about”, said Doc, “grow up!” T

Different talking marks, as mentioned above. Main point here is a typo - you're missing the space in 'this is'.

“You ought to know better than to take your imaginaryfr seriously by now.

You're missing the end off 'imaginary fr'! :-)

‘Takes one to know one’, said Mercy in a sing song voice. She had rested her case.

I like this, but it kind of felt like the doctor should have called Layla something (could be as simple as 'crazy'). It just feels a little out of the blue. In character, absolutely, but kind of unprecedented.

Some general advice would be to include even more description. What you've got is excellent, but it still feels a little like there could be even more. You want the readers to have a sense of familiarity of Layla and Mercy's surrounds, because this has been, as you said, where Layla's spent most of her life. Keep some secrets, but don't be afraid to go into detail, about the surroundings, other people and how your narrator is feeling in relation to what'sgoing on. It's all there already, I just want more.

The shock therapy or whatever it is I feel like you've forgotten a bit quickly. You allude to it, but I reckon it would be something that would affect Layla pretty strongly.

That's all I've got advice-wise. It's starting to feel like the story's building up, and at a good pace. You've creating some fascinating characters, and whilst there are some elements I've seen before they all combine well into something that does feel original.

Off I go to read part 7! Great job so far!

And because I'm proud to have adopted your novel, and also cos I can...
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BellaRoma says...


Thanks!



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Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:26 am
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EmeraldEyes wrote a review...



Hello.
So I've spoken to you about this work and I have been dipping in and out of it.
I believe it should be out of the green room right now - because it's a very engaging story!
:D

Have you ever noticed that things go wrong in threes – weird, isn’t it? In the space of a month, three things of yours might break down. Sometimes it takes less than that and, perhaps in the best cases, more. Occasionally, each issue is worse than the one previous. Whatever happens, it’s always threes.


I liked this as an opening, you had the character talking, immediately engaging with the character and the story and throwing you into it. Also, you are talking about a universal truth here, so it's applicable and relevant to the people reading it. That's the best kind of hook you can have.

Calmly, he prised my fingers away from the door that I’d not long reached. He pulled me with him by the wrist towards the middle of the room.

Still running on adrenaline, I kicked, screamed and struggled against him but it would take more than that to save me. Next I knew, he let go of me and I was cast to the cold floor, dazed. What was to happen to me next?


You manage to strike a fantastic balance between dialogue and description, and your description intelligently incorporates the action, so it's good pacing.

Keep writing!




BellaRoma says...


Thanks. I intend to post the next part, then take a break from this novel.
I'll try to tag people in with the next part.



BellaRoma says...


BTW I've actually been using different speech marks the whole time. When Layla 'talks' to Mercy, I put single quotes. Double quotes when she's talking out loud, so the conversations with Mercy stayed seperate.



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Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:00 pm
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TimmyJake wrote a review...



Timmy here!

The first thing I am going to say is merely a comment, so don't worry. When you are writing a book, and you have a line of devoted followers, you need a title. You need something that will attract your reader--something familiar that they know! This random title thing is cool and purty and all, but doesn't really work for me, because I don't know where your next chapter is.
I say make a title of your book, and then do your title like this: Title here, Ch. 6 Alive & Kicking. You get your title and we get something familiar that we can recognize every time. :)

Okay! Onto the review, now!

You wrote this chapter in a much better way than the rest. You took the idea of the story and molded your style into something that fits it just so wonderfully. The entire segment is so tense, so putting me on the edge of my seat, and is so much more overall enjoyable that the previous chapters, (even though I thought they were amazing. This one is even better!) that I don't even know where to begin nitpicking...

This chapter was set up using the doctor a lot more than usual. In the previous chapters, he was in there as well, but there was a lot more internal thought than actual dialogue. Real dialogue can actually work just as well to state a character's emotions than internal, but can be much more difficult to express emotion. You did it perfectly, entwining their deepest emotions--whether the doctor's evil intentions or the two girls (rather one, but two)--in such a perfect way that I... I find myself just talking about praise rather than nitpicking here. But I don't know where to begin.

I paused and faced him a moment. “Haven’t we already had several?” I asked, gritting my teeth.

What could he possibly want now? I’d done this kind of thing for the last hour, in talk therapy with the others.


Technically, this is one idea. Her expressing herself, both mentally and verbally. So you could put the paragraphs together, to make things flow better. Think of a paragraph as a large sentence--a single idea. A single idea that is expressed as the paragraph goes on. Just like a sentence, once the idea has been expressed, its time to start a new. So new idea, new paragraph. But same idea, same paragraph. You get what I am saying. :P

Doing so seemed the most sensible option but, simultaneously,


I am thinking that you need to move the comma after "but" to before "but".

My second and final nitpick in this chapter would be the usage of italics. Italics is an amazingly powerful tool in writing, meant to pull out certain words and accentuate thing. Bring them out so that the writer can see them, focus on them. But when you use them almost once in every paragraph, it becomes overdone, and the places that needed the italics become bland and annoying, because you overused it everywhere else--places that didn't really need the italics. So I would suggest going through your piece, and looking for those places. Look for places with italics that would work just as well without. Then leave the places that truly need it for emphasis, and they will carry the amount of gravity they need to garner the needed attention.

So only three nitpicks! Your writing is becoming too good. This chapter focused a lot of the scenes around them, and their reactions to things happening around them. Adding in the morgue, the freezing lockers, was a touch that neared on genius. I love and hate this doctor at the same time. An amazing villain, and a horrible person. What an amazing combination!

Keep me updated! Finally caught up. Yay!
~Darth Timmyjake




BellaRoma says...


I have a title, but I thought it was too long winded to do the full title every time. I only did it for Parts 1 and 2. Are you recommending I use it all the time?
Alright, I'm looking into the corrections. I've removed some italics and just the one comma!



BellaRoma says...


In case you didn't see, it's called Imaginary Friends.



BellaRoma says...


It's changed. Okay, I see why it needs that.
Thanks for the tips. I'll tag you for Part 7.



timmyjake says...


Yay! Please do. :)



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Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:05 am
BellaRoma says...



I can assure you the next chapter will move things along, so just bear with me.
Oh, and if anyone was wondering about the 'short description', it was made up of lyrics from the song I named this after.





You wanna be a writer? You don't know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.
— Paul Simon