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Sunset in Wonderland

by FoolishForsythia


Quick note: This piece is quite a bit old, but I’ve been trying to edit and improve it as of late. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! :)

The sun is falling.

A decaying building stands tall, though its inevitable implosion looms.

What had it once been?

It was made entirely of concrete, as most buildings in the Old City were. Perhaps it had been a parking garage? Large grey columns and empty spaces possibly suggest such a history, but it has been a while since anyone has seen a car.

A girl emerges from the rubble, face covered with dirt. She grunts as she pushes some rocks aside, her blue dress tearing as it catches on a metal hook hanging off the building. She tugs on the dress, staring at the torn fabric with empty blue eyes. She picks up a piece that had fallen off, and pauses, observing it silently. She shrugs, and pulls off a white, bunny-shaped backpack. It is old now, worn and tearing, like most things.

As she continues down the cracked road in front of her, a voice calls out.

“Alice, we must be going.”

Her bag emits a stream of magic, forming the shape of a young man. His rose red hair shines, seeming to hold the light of the dying sun. He buttons a long black coat.

“Aren’t you cold?”

She does not speak, simply shaking her head in response.

He sighs, and his form dissolves into magic.

She saunters on, passing the dead and dying Old City buildings.

What had they been? What will they become?

Suddenly, her head perks up as she spots flickering lights in the distance.

A theater.

The building is fairly far off, but it still towers over her. It is not, unlike the other buildings, decaying. It stands proud, an aging beauty.

The girl begins to jog. The sun descends rapidly, burning out.

A sign, displaying long forgotten venue titles in bold letters, hangs off the building. Alice tilts her head, reading its name.

The Crown Royale.

“That looks dangerous,” calls the voice from her bag.

She presses on, the lone traveler on a long-abandoned Highway. She begins to hear a faint rhythm.

“Are those drums?”

The girl nods.

Surely, they must be. It has been years since she had last heard those telltale thumps, but the captivating rhythms she’d once known are etched permanently into the back of her mind. As she grew closer to the building, she paused to look back at the sky. The sun approaches the horizon. She picks up the pace, running desperately for the theater. As she turns a corner, the building reveals itself in its entirety. Two large velvet doors, framed with flickering lights, present themselves grandly. She can barely stop to admire them, pushing them aside impatiently.

The first thing Alice notices is the floor. It is, notably, not concrete. Her old, gray shoes rest upon a soft crimson carpet. She sighs, beginning to take in her surroundings. A beige wallpaper covers the walls, peeling in some areas. Despite being what once was a lobby, the room is set up like a lounge: several crimson sofas and chairs stand against the wall, dark wooden tables scattered about. A few of these seats are taken. Curious visitors whisper back and forth, gesturing towards the blonde-haired girl. A woman in a suit rushes past her, handing a drink to a joyous man. Yet the most important element rests in the center of the room. Alice can hear the music now. A smooth bass guitar is held by a confident cat. A wolf pounds at the drums. And, most notably, a dark-haired woman holds a microphone in her hand, her red dress glittering in the dim light. She sings of old times, the crowd listening intently.

“I haven’t seen one of those in years!” The boy in the bag whispers. “This is… a concert, right?”

As the crowd’s attention turns away from Alice, he emerges again, watching in awe as the woman sings. She smiles forlornly, the microphone nearly falling from her grasp. The music slows; her tone changes. She sings of decay and death, destruction and agony. As the song closes, she raised her hands to the sky and whispers:

“Oh Alice… isn’t in Wonderland anymore…”

The crowd cheers. The boy wipes away a tear, glancing at his companion. Alice watches curiously, placing her hand on her chest. She takes a deep breath. The earth rumbles. The sun expires.


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Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:32 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi FoolishForsythia,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

First of all, welcome to YWS! :D

You wrote a nice little, short story. I liked it in many ways, because as a reader you didn't immediately realise what the actual aim of the plot was. Followed by the constant mentions of the sunset, it gave me a very interesting and also dangerous opinion, about the possibilities of interpretation that arise here. These brief comments always gave me a little shiver, as if something dramatic and bad was going to happen as soon as the sun was gone.

Some points that struck me while reading:

You created a very good introduction. The short sentences at the beginning give the reader a short thought process by means of the questions before an answer is given. The descriptions also quickly give a vague idea, which allows the reader to get deeper into the plot.

She shrugs, and pulls off a white, bunny-shaped backpack. It is old now, worn and tearing, like most things.

Since I assumed from the title that this might be an Alice in Wonderland fan fiction, I was nevertheless pleasantly surprised by this little Easter Egg.

Her bag emits a stream of magic, forming the shape of a young man. His rose red hair shines, seeming to hold the light of the dying sun. He buttons a long black coat.

Here you have already shown a good approach to start a description, but I think you could add some more details to give the reader a more accurate picture.

She does not speak, simply shaking her head in response.

I am not always grammatically correct and if this is wrong, just ignore it. D I don't have a rule here as to why, but I think the "shaking" sounds wrong in the context of the first half of the sentence. I would rewrite it as "She does not speak; she simply shakes her head in response."

She saunters on, passing the dead and dying Old City buildings.

Here you could expand a little more. Describe what there is to see. What colours and impressions does Alice encounter on her walk? How does it feel to be in the ruins of this city? What does it smell like?

In general, there is not much I can say against the story. I liked it because of this certain mystery and even now I still have some questions that I ask myself - which is very good. The story left an impression. I didn't find anything grammatically conspicuous, and you have also shown a very good structure in the story. That makes it easier for the reader to follow the story.

One point where I think you could still work on is the descriptions. If you only mention short things and then continue with the story, it creates something like a black hole. Imagine a painting where someone puts all these black blobs on top, just where the most important details are; that's exactly how it reads. You start to describe something in more detail, but the overall picture is missing and lost. I don't know if it's because you want to continue with the story because you're worried it might get bogged down. If this is the case, you can try to link the descriptions to the plot.
For example, in a character description, you can try to describe the hair and link that to the wind. Or the facial expression with the current weather conditions. You can use the clothes to tell something about the character, etc...
Of course, this is not always the case in a short story to go into such extreme detail, but at least the face with the most important features and contours would have to be there so that you as a reader can best imagine it. :D

In summary, it was a very cryptic yet exciting and interesting story you presented.

Have fun writing!

Mailice.




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Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:50 pm
BlueGlow wrote a review...



This is incredible! Perhaps one of the best things I have read on this site! Such a shame it hasn't garnered more attention! I have to say that there really isn't much I can help you improve unfortunately, except for the use of implosion in the description of the future destruction of a building. It doesn't feel quite right. Perhaps collapse would be a better choice of words. Other than that slight nit pick I really don't have any other suggestions!

So now in a change of pace let me tell you what works well, and a whole lot of this does. First off that ending is amazing! Dystopian fiction is a personal favorite of mine and you nailed the tone and the ending tied it all together into one delicious literary knot. A pretzel perhaps? I hope to see more from you! Perhaps even revisiting this setting! Thanks for the amazing story!




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Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:18 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hi there FoolishForsythia, welcome to YWS!

I couldn't resist the title of this piece of work, so of course I had to come and read it and leave you a quick review :)

The sun is falling.

I love this as an opening sentence. It has such a sense of mystery and chaos but it's also stated so matter-of-factly. Perfect for drawing your reader in!

It was made entirely of concrete, as most buildings in the Old City were. Perhaps it had been a parking garage? Large grey columns and empty spaces possibly suggest such a history, but it has been a while since anyone has seen a car.

I like this idea, and I think maybe it would work well for the general flow if you did a little more around the old city, or just the general emptiness before you introduce the girl. The beginning of this has such a wonderful tone that I think it would be great if that continued just a little while longer :)

A girl emerges from the rubble, face covered with dirt. She grunts as she pushes some rocks aside, her blue dress tearing as it catches on a metal hook hanging off the building.

The blue dress lets us know instantly that this is Alice - nicely done! It's subtle but yet so obvious at the same time.

“Aren’t you cold?”

As you started a new paragraph here I assumed it was Alice speaking, so got confused for a moment.

What had they been? What will they become?

I know that you're trying to echo the beginning with this repetition but I personally don't think you need this line, it distracts from the moment.

“That looks dangerous,” calls the voice from her bag.

She presses on, the lone traveler on a long-abandoned Highway. She begins to hear a faint rhythm.

This seemed a little abrupt. It would be nice if we had something more about the theatre, otherwise it just seems like filler for her to stop and look at it.
Edit: Ok I just read on and now I'm confused - has she gone into the theatre? The pressing on I took to mean she carried on walking past it but now I'm not sure if she's gone inside? Perhaps this could be made clearer.

The end of this for me was a little confusing. I think the start was wonderful, and you set the pace and tone really well. But then I couldn't work out what was happening at the end - was she surprised to see so many people? And why were so many people there?

If you end up editing this one I'd focus on expanding the ending, but I really enjoyed the concept overall and this was a good one to read!

Please feel free to message me if you have any comments or questions about my review or about the site in general. It's lovely to have you here <3

Icy






Thank you so much for the suggestions!! I definitely feel like the ending has a different, abrupt change in tone/mood that I%u2019ll need to look into! Honestly now I%u2019m wondering why the theater was introduced in the first place, I wish I%u2019d covered that in my outline. %uD83D%uDE05 Also, thank you for the warm welcome! I%u2019m excited to be here :)





Oh my gosh, I just realized my response came out a little weird! That might just be because I%u2019m on mobile. I apologize!



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Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:14 pm
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FakeStories13 says...



This is really well written! I like how the piece starts off kind of mysteriously. I think it helps hook the reader in. The words you use to describe the setting and what is happening paint a very vivid picture.
I think that as long as you explain what is going on later in the story this excerpt is really good!






Thank you!!! I%u2019ll definitely look into making the ending more clear, I think there%u2019s a lot that goes unexplained, unfortunately! Thanks again!




Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.
— Carl Sandburg