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This Broken World - a sample piece

by Miraculor77


note: takes place before ashe's story in "this broken world" (prev. code: delete). i wouldn't call it a chapter, but it has the potential for it. haven't written in a while, and i might have forgotten everything i've learned, so feel free to point out all the mistakes/tell me how i can improve

edit: not a direct continuation. same world, same characters, though

*-*-*

POV 1

So this is where they went.

The low buzz of the machinery holding everything together flows like an undercurrent, constant and softly grating. Everything is too bright, lights blending to the point that there are no shadows and flattening out the scene in front of me.

They're suspended in tanks on the other side of the glass, frozen save for the occasional flicker of life passing over their features. Many of them have their hair partially cut away on the left side to reveal skin lined with scarring and stitches. Near the center of the group is a young boy, bruised with sharply visible bones. I vaguely recall seeing his face in the local news. He was missing, but the police had given up when they found no leads. Callen. Nine. Last seen in the park near his house, three months ago. His eyes are closed, but the thin veins on his eyelids and the bags under them are dark, visible even from here. And his face. A long gash starts from the corner of his eye and cuts through his cheek, ending at his chin. It looks a few days old--the skin has scabbed over, with some spots still pink and raw. When I manage to tear my eyes away, I see a young woman, maybe in her twenties. There is something familiar about her, but I can't seem to place it. Then it clicks.

My gasp is loud in the room. Ris. My best friend. She'd disappeared around the same time as Callen, and I’d looked everywhere for her. Is it really her? She has the same highlighted, choppy hair, the same crooked nose, the same faint scar on her chin. But there is something wrong with her eye-- But there is a strange bump under her eyelid that wasn't there before. When she slowly opens her eyes, I see it.

Her left eye is gone, and in its place is a synthetic one. The work is delicate and careful, a metallurgical wonder. The edge where metal meets skin is rough and scarred, as though it is pressing the skin too tight. Her other, normal eye looks glazed over, staring vaguely and detachedly into the middle distance. I want to run over, break the glass, grab her shoulders, call her name.

But I know better.

Instead, I pull up my camera and take several pictures of the facility. As I look closer at everyone, I recognize more faces. The entire time, my hands shake. If I can get these images to circulate far enough, maybe they’ll reach someone who can do something. Someone who has power. The photos could be used as evidence for a punishable offense―there have to be laws against this. I check my watch. Two minutes and thirty seconds left. I’m lowering the camera and sliding it into my bag when I see something shift. Ris’ metal eye has focused on me, following my movements. Her other eye is still unfocused, but the pupil on the metal one widens. I freeze.

And then I hear alarms in the distance.

*-*-*

POV 2 (Kath's POV)

“You can’t just let her go,” I say sharply, and I see Auren wince. He glances back at the footage in front of us.

“Why can’t I? She isn’t doing anything wrong. If anything, she should send those pictures out. Would serve them right for doing this.”

Why can’t you? Stars, how many times do I have to explain this to you? We’re new to this job. We have one thing to do, and that’s to make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen. We can’t let her go any more than we can let the rest of them go. That’s it. We don’t have any more options. This is our last chance. Why don’t you get it?

Auren looks taken aback at my outburst. He silently takes the keyboard and types in a series of commands, and I am too stunned to stop him. After a moment, he pushes it back. I see that he deleted the footage. No. I try to reverse it, to find it, but it’s to no avail. It’s gone.

“Are you crazy? They’re gonna find out. They’ll find out and then we’ll get kicked out and then we’ll be back where we started.” My voice is thin and high, even to my own.

“So what if they find out? It’ll buy her time. Maybe she’ll be able to do enough damage to end this madness once and for all.”

“Madness? Well, this madness is the only chance we have. Don’t you get it? It’s us or them. There isn’t a choice here.”

“What do you mean there isn’t a choice? This―” He waves his hand over the screen, “―isn’t much better than murder. With the way they’re collecting people, with how many are dying... And you want that to happen? You think we don’t have a choice? You think we can’t change anything? What’s the worst that’ll happen to us? We’ll end up back on the streets, back where we started. We’ll find a way, we always do. But them? They’re the ones who're being subjected to this by a group of “progressive” reformists. They’re the ones being… changed for this--for some sort of convoluted equalizing-- If it was so good--why did they have us sign that confidentiality contract? Can’t you see? You don’t want to face it, but this is wrong. You might be okay with all this, with ignoring your conscience. But you know I’m right. And I can’t put up with this anymore.” His eyes are shining with anger.

“So I’m selfish. At least I’m not throwing away everything Mom worked so hard for. She saw the future, Auren. And yeah, it feels wrong. But sometimes you have to open your mind to new ideas to keep going forward. Sometimes you can’t let your morals get in the way.” My tone drips with virulence.

“She was taken in by pretty words, Kath. She was a convert. She left us. I don’t think she realized what she was doing, and by the time she did, they’d gotten to her.” He shakes his head, sighs. “I think they’ve gotten to you, too.”

The disappointment in his eyes is too much.


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Reviews: 430

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Thu Oct 28, 2021 11:50 pm
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

I've never read any of your work before, but after this piece, I might have to go and check it out!! You've got such a great writing voice, and you set the scene so nicely in both parts. It seems to be set in a sci-fi/dystopian world, which normally isn't my thing, but I think your stupendous narrative voice and storytelling could sell me on it. Really great job!

One thing I really enjoyed about this was the second part, specifically the dialogue. It flowed so delightfully smoothly and really carried the story. I think the narrative you told through it was also really powerful; that despair that comes with truly arguing with a loved one was super clearly conveyed, but also the frustration that came along with it. I think the dialogue pacing was very naturalistic, and the punctuation only served to heighten it. Really nice work!!

Specifics

There is something familiar about her, but I can't seem to place it. Then it clicks.

My gasp is loud in the room. Ris. My best friend.


This part seemed a little strange to me, unless there's something I don't know about this character. I feel like if Ris was the speaker's best friend, she would probably recognize her? Especially since she wasn't too badly disfigured.

“You can’t just let her go,” I say sharply, and I see Auren wince. He glances back at the footage in front of us.


One thing I did notice was that you never named the "she/her" character in this section. I wasn't sure if that was intentional to keep the mystery, but I feel like having a name attached couldn't hurt to spare some confusion. It was clear that it was most likely about the narrator of the first POV, but you never named her in that one either. I assume it's Ashe, but it wouldn't hurt to clarify within the text.

Overall: nice work!! I really enjoyed this little snippet, and I hope to go back and read some more of your work whenever I have time!!




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Thu Oct 28, 2021 7:50 am
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: Well it has been a hot minute since I last read anything from this world so I don't know if I remember enough to really do too much story wise. I'm not terribly sure if this a continuation from the last chapter or a new beginning, from what I can faintly remember, this feels like a continuation? Sorry if I say something silly cause I can't fully remember what's been happening :D

Anyway let's get right to it,

So this is where they went.

The low buzz of the machinery holding everything together flows like an undercurrent, constant and softly grating. Everything is too bright, lights blending to the point that there are no shadows and flattening out the scene in front of me.

They're suspended in tanks on the other side of the glass, frozen save for the occasional flicker of life passing over their features. Many of them have their hair partially cut away on the left side to reveal skin lined with scarring and stitches. Near the center of the group is a young boy, bruised with sharply visible bones. I vaguely recall seeing his face in the local news. He was missing, but the police had given up when they found no leads. Callen. Nine. Last seen in the park near his house, three months ago. His eyes are closed, but the thin veins on his eyelids and the bags under them are dark, visible even from here. And his face. A long gash starts from the corner of his eye and cuts through his cheek, ending at his chin. It looks a few days old--the skin has scabbed over, with some spots still pink and raw. When I manage to tear my eyes away, I see a young woman, maybe in her twenties. There is something familiar about her, but I can't seem to place it. Then it clicks.


Hmm...so I recognize the name Callen or was that Callan. But hmm, we were in some kind of experimental lab situation with doctors last I checked so this feels like something that did happen after the events of the previous few chapters. Anyway, judging this opening as just an opening, its a pretty good one here. You're taking your time slowly establishing up this setting and I think you managed to do a pretty good job here at the start with this description of the people in the tank.

My gasp is loud in the room. Ris. My best friend. She'd disappeared around the same time as Callen, and I’d looked everywhere for her. Is it really her? She has the same highlighted, choppy hair, the same crooked nose, the same faint scar on her chin. But there is something wrong with her eye-- But there is a strange bump under her eyelid that wasn't there before. When she slowly opens her eyes, I see it.

Her left eye is gone, and in its place is a synthetic one. The work is delicate and careful, a metallurgical wonder. The edge where metal meets skin is rough and scarred, as though it is pressing the skin too tight. Her other, normal eye looks glazed over, staring vaguely and detachedly into the middle distance. I want to run over, break the glass, grab her shoulders, call her name.


Hmm, I think maybe this is meant to be the female protagonist from the previous one? I remember someone being experimented on after being captured punching a bunch of security guards or something. There were definitely a few things going on there. And this is interesting how we have someone suspended in this tank here having undergone some kind of cybernetic enhancement of sorts.

But I know better.

Instead, I pull up my camera and take several pictures of the facility. As I look closer at everyone, I recognize more faces. The entire time, my hands shake. If I can get these images to circulate far enough, maybe they’ll reach someone who can do something. Someone who has power. The photos could be used as evidence for a punishable offense―there have to be laws against this. I check my watch. Two minutes and thirty seconds left. I’m lowering the camera and sliding it into my bag when I see something shift. Ris’ metal eye has focused on me, following my movements. Her other eye is still unfocused, but the pupil on the metal one widens. I freeze.

And then I hear alarms in the distance.


OKay...well we can see a few things going on there. For once, love the little cliffhanger that the person whose sneaking around in this facility just might end up caught. I can't remember things well enough to know who is sneaking around or why exactly, but I vaguely remember a broken leg and someone that wanted to save a friend? At any rate, this part is a bit on the shorter side but done pretty well there.

“You can’t just let her go,” I say sharply, and I see Auren wince. He glances back at the footage in front of us.

“Why can’t I? She isn’t doing anything wrong. If anything, she should send those pictures out. Would serve them right for doing this.”

“Why can’t you? Stars, how many times do I have to explain this to you? We’re new to this job. We have one thing to do, and that’s to make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen. We can’t let her go any more than we can let the rest of them go. That’s it. We don’t have any more options. This is our last chance. Why don’t you get it?”


Okay...I think these two are meant to be inside the facility working for them, although a bit reluctantly and they are maybe also seeing what we just saw in the earlier POV and are debating whether or not to take action against it with the entire series of pictures that were taken.

Auren looks taken aback at my outburst. He silently takes the keyboard and types in a series of commands, and I am too stunned to stop him. After a moment, he pushes it back. I see that he deleted the footage. No. I try to reverse it, to find it, but it’s to no avail. It’s gone.

“Are you crazy? They’re gonna find out. They’ll find out and then we’ll get kicked out and then we’ll be back where we started.” My voice is thin and high, even to my own.

“So what if they find out? It’ll buy her time. Maybe she’ll be able to do enough damage to end this madness once and for all.”


For a second I was worried that the person typed in a bunch of commands that would capture the person from earlier, but now it seems like quite the opposite happened and the thing that was set in motion was focusing only about actually preventing whatever action could be taken to catch the person taking photos.

“Madness? Well, this madness is the only chance we have. Don’t you get it? It’s us or them. There isn’t a choice here.”

“What do you mean there isn’t a choice? This―” He waves his hand over the screen, “―isn’t much better than murder. With the way they’re collecting people, with how many are dying... And you want that to happen? You think we don’t have a choice? You think we can’t change anything? What’s the worst that’ll happen to us? We’ll end up back on the streets, back where we started. We’ll find a way, we always do. But them? They’re the ones who're being subjected to this by a group of “progressive” reformists. They’re the ones being… changed for this--for some sort of convoluted equalizing-- If it was so good--why did they have us sign that confidentiality contract? Can’t you see? You don’t want to face it, but this is wrong. You might be okay with all this, with ignoring your conscience. But you know I’m right. And I can’t put up with this anymore.” His eyes are shining with anger.


Okay...well the argument here is pretty good. A bit long winded on the part of Auren here. I feel like maybe he mentions a few too many points there. It is a nice bit of a rant there, but it ends up dropping a lot of information on the reader and I feel like it might be a little too much to drop in just one bit of dialogue.

“So I’m selfish. At least I’m not throwing away everything Mom worked so hard for. She saw the future, Auren. And yeah, it feels wrong. But sometimes you have to open your mind to new ideas to keep going forward. Sometimes you can’t let your morals get in the way.” My tone drips with virulence.

“She was taken in by pretty words, Kath. She was a convert. She left us. I don’t think she realized what she was doing, and by the time she did, they’d gotten to her.” He shakes his head, sighs. “I think they’ve gotten to you, too.”

The disappointment in his eyes is too much.


Okayy...well...now that I read more, I remember a Kath I think from earlier. There were a couple of questionable loyalty scientist earlier if I remember correctly and they were discussing something while some tests were being run or something...I think. I can't fully remember, but this scene has awoken enough hidden memory for it to latch onto something. At any rate, its an interesting little scene there, just that little dialogue situation you might want to look at changing up a little.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Okayy...so as a piece, I think this is actually pretty good. There are a couple of points I mentioned, but its not bad by any means and there is still a good amount of intrigue just in this part to draw a reader in. Anyway, that's all I have to say here. :D

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




Miraculor77 says...


thanks for the review~

yea, i wasn't expecting you to remember anything lol. don't worry about it. it isn't a direct continuation of any of the previous chapters, but it is set in the same world, with many of the same characters.

i don't know if you remember, but you once told me in a review that by just "going with the flow" and not planning, i'd probably end up needing to restart because of plot issues. i didn't believe you then--i didn't know much back then--but you were right.
now i'm here, planning and rewriting.

so this is a rewrite, a draft 2 of sorts, and not necessarily a continuation.

i did think auren's part felt a bit too long, but i wasn't sure. i'll keep that in mind for when i use the scene in an actual chapter.

again, thanks for the review, and i hope you have a good day!



HarryHardy says...


You're Welcome!! Have a great day yourself!! :D




The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
— Marcel Proust