z
  • Home

Young Writers Society



The adventures of Conrad

by shulchan


According to everything Conrad had ever known, leaving his dwelling was wrong. Dead wrong. That was what had made it all the more exciting. And, of course, there was the added bonus that he was going with Thalia.

Conrad had only met Thalia a week before, in a Socializing Session. Even before he had met her in real life, the projection of her image still captured the knowing look in her eyes and that perpetual smile. He had sensed something different about her right from the start. Her words showed an adventurous spirit, dreams of a world beyond her dwelling. This was nonsense, of course, but just talking about it with her made life into something of a dreamland.

Sometimes, he wished it were real. That life was more than a sterile white room with virtual objects. Everything he owned (except his clothes) was virtual, because anything real would be unsanitary and likely to carry harmful bacteria. He used a virtual comb to brush his hair, and a virtual basketball so he could play basketball with his virtual hoop.

There were more rules: No physical contact with anyone, ever- sickness would result from the passing of germs. Socializing Sessions were held twice daily. One must remain in the dwelling at all times, and exercise daily on a virtual treadmill. It was all routine to Conrad, who went through the list in his head almost subconsciously. He knew that every measure possible had to be taken to prevent the plague that had nearly wiped out the human race.

The plague had first broken out over seventy years ago, after the war. The land was dirty, smoky, and everyone (which was only a couple of people here and there- most had died in the war) lived in foul-smelling, dingy slums. There was no fresh food to be found; the occasional piece stale bread was rare, despite the limited amount of survivors.

That was when the plague had hit. People suddenly started getting sick, and within days the victim would be retching and coughing up blood. Soon after that they began to develop itchy, red sores all over the body. Everyone who caught it, died.

And everybody caught it, all except for five people.

Conrad knew the facts well, the same way he knew that his hair was brown and his eyes green. It was the way everything had been and would always be. That was what he thought.

But then he met Thalia.

Conrad had expected Thalia to be like every other girl he had met, giggly and shy and boring. Thalia was everything but that.

She was extraordinary! She was just like a character from one of his adventure books, beautiful, smart, and brave. Rules meant nothing to her; she always said they were meant to be broken. And when she had suggested they meet for real, he had jumped at the chance just for the thrill of doing something he wasn’t supposed to.

But then she had disappeared. When he had asked Provider about it, she just said it was for the best because “she was a danger to our society, and she had to be removed in order for the human race to thrive.” She continued, explaining the importance of keeping society pure and invulnerable. She explained to him the world’s history for the billionth time, telling him about the world’s perfect order and how it had come to be.

“…and when the frightening, painful plague had finally ended, the five survivors slowly began to rebuild what they had lost. After over seventy years, they finally created the modern world you live in today. They had reached perfection. “

Out of everything provider had said about Thalia, it was the word removed that had bothered Conrad the most. No matter how many times Provider had said it was best, he still had the nagging feeling that there was a piece of the story he wasn’t getting. He had thought about it, but he couldn’t quite figure it out.

Provider just told him that it was good because she was beginning to have a bad influence on him. What he didn’t tell Provider was that he had rather liked her bad influence.

Ever since Thalia left, thinking about Provider always sent a new feeling throughout his body. The feeling was fiery and passionate and it left his blood seething. According to his books, it was called anger. He wasn’t entirely sure he liked this new feeling. He had never felt angry before- there was simply no reason to. But now, every time Provider spoke of Thalia, it was to insult her, and that left him feeling angry.

He jerked up suddenly, realizing he had been staring into space again. He had been doing that a lot since Thalia’s disappearance.

He sighed and looked around his dwelling, the only home he had ever known. His walls were a boring white, and so was his bed, all plain and tidy. There was a sink too, because virtual water simply didn’t work. The floor was a dull brown. The whole room was dull, except for the bookshelf with its rows of colorful books. None of the books were virtual because they had stopped making books a long time ago, and virtual books didn’t yet exist.

His was the only dwelling he knew of with books, and he only had them because Provider had insisted he needed to use his brain more. At first he had despised the books; now he had learned to love them for the stories of intriguing mystery, fantasy and things long gone from his world. These history books were his favorite.

That was basically all there was there, except for his closet, which was filled with more boring things: pairs of pants in various shades of brown and black, white or blue button-down shirts. Today he wore a light blue shirt with tan pants.

Conrad walked over to the bookshelf and picked up a book. It was a picture book about plants. He flipped through it wistfully. He had never actually seen a flower, and they were so pretty! What would it be like to sleep in such a big field of soft grass?

He pulled out another book about wildlife. His favorite was the birds. Imagine waking up to the sound of birds every morning!

“Conrad!”

A voice spoke, interrupting his train of thoughts. Conrad whirled around.

He had expected anything but her, his beautiful Thalia, but there she stood. She was nervously twisting a lock of hair.

Thalia!? Where were you? How did you get in? Where’s Provider? Tell me-“

“Shhh, Conrad, there’s no time! We’ve got to get out before they see me!”

“See you? Where’s out? What are you talking about?

“There’s a whole world out there, with other people! There always was- the plague didn’t kill everyone!” Conrad didn’t budge. She tried again.

“A whole new world with-“She stopped and gestured to the books he had been reading. “With real plants and wildlife!” Smart Thalia had turned into a raving lunatic.

Conrad shook his head. There was no possible way that this was true. He pushed her away, saying softly.

“What did they do to you over there? Don’t worry, you can tell me- I won’t hurt you. We’ll have you fixed up in no time,”

“NO!” Thalia screamed desperately. “You’ve got to believe me! I can’t go out into the real world alone! Come quickly, Conrad, and we won’t be caught!”

Conrad didn’t know what to do. For the first time in his life, he felt like he truly needed Provider. She would know how to fix Thalia.

“Provider?” His voice was hesitant. He had never actually had to call her in an emergency like this. But Thalia was sick, and that mattered more than anything.

Provider materialized in the doorway. She looked around and saw him, and then spotted Thalia in the corner, sobbing “You got to believe me!”

“Thalia!” Provider’s voice was harsh and cold, and Thalia looked up and stopped crying immediately. Conrad had never heard Provider’s voice sound so serious. He though back to the time he had asked her about Thalia’s disappearance. He had felt then that something was wrong, and now that inner voice was back, persistently begging him to rethink.

What if Thalia is right?

Impossible.

But what if-

No way!

But what about Thalia herself? You really believe the junk Provider told you about her as a danger to humankind?

That caused him to stop for a moment and consider the idea. He had known deep inside that it wasn’t true, but he didn’t want to believe that something was happening to her. He couldn’t face the fact that his world would not have been perfect. Now it was coming back to haunt him, the cold voice in the back of his head getting increasingly louder.

Coward! Admit it. You were afraid, but you pushed it away.

Conrad ignored the voice. He wasn’t going to give in to fantasies, to collapse his world because of a stupid voice and a stupid girl. It was fun playing around in the dead of night, fun to imaginea different world… but there was no such thing. He wasn’t going to leave his dwelling forever for some nonexistent reality.

You really are a coward, afraid to believe in your dreams.

He pretended not to listen. He knew he was being cowardly when he turned to speak to Provider, but he didn’t care.

“She’s gone mad. Fix her, please! I don’t know what to do!”

His voice seemed to vibrate against every fiber in his being but he forced himself to remain emotionless.He compelled his body to remain still, to control himself from leaping up as Provider began to advance towards Thalia.

There is no such thing as more life. He repeated to himself. No such thing. Thalia is sick, mentally unstable. Provider will cure her.

Provider’s robotic body glinted in the artificial sunlight.

You don’t really believe that, do you? You know you’re lying to yourself.

This time Thalia didn’t bother to try and talk to Conrad. She just darted out the door.

“Wait! Thalia!” Conrad called. He shut his mouth before he could continue. Every part of his body ached to run after her, but he painstakingly continued his resolve to stay loyal to Provider. He believed Thalia, and that was precisely why he was afraid to join her. He had been afraid all along, even when he had followed Thalia out on her night expeditions to explore outside of his dwelling. He had been scared of the change his life even when he had convinced himself that he wasn’t.

But try as he might, he couldn’t let himself stand here idly while Thalia faced everyone alone. He had to go find her, before she disappeared and never came back! He walked towards the doorway, feeling almost detached from his body. Provider had moved to block him, and he barely felt himself pushing her away.

“Conrad, where are you going? Come back here!”

But he didn’t listen to Provider, and raced down the hall after Thalia. Provider gave chase, her wheels screeching crazily against the tile floor. Sirens went off, blaring red lights that meant they knew he was on the loose and would be sending enforcement police.

Conrad practically flew down the hallway, nearly slipping on the newly-polished tile floors. The hallway’s barren white walls seemed to watch him menacingly.

He didn’t think as he ran. He knew that if he thought about what he was doing, he wouldn’t have been able to run. Conrad didn’t know what would happen if they caught him, and he didn’t want to find out.

He moved his feet robotically. Right foot, left foot, right, left…. Thalia was still ahead of him. She was faster than he was.

“Thalia, wait up!” He yelled. “I’m coming with you!” The words were out of his mouth before he knew that he had said them, but now he didn’t want to take them back. Thalia stopped, and for a second he thought she was going to wait for him. Then, with a sense of dread, he watched as three robots cornered Thalia. The enforcement police! She was crying and begging them to have mercy on her. All rational thoughts escaped him when he saw his brave Thalia reduced to a sobbing lump on the floor.

If this was the world he had called perfect, then he was better off elsewhere. In a burst of energy, he leapt at the robots.

“Come and get me!” He cried. The robots moved towards him. Thalia jumped up and streaked towards a door at the end of the hallway. Conrad tried to jump away from the robots, but they were faster and they had him pinned against the wall.

He screamed, he struggled and twisted every which way, but to no avail. He started to panic- what were they going to do to him?! What if they went after Thalia and forced him to watch her die? What if- suddenly he noticed that one of the robots was holding a syringe. So this was it, then- they were going to poison him. He struggled with renewed energy, shrieking for help until he felt his lungs would burst. Provider would help him. She would save him, even though he had pushed her away so coldly before! She loved him, didn’t she? Then he noticed Provider standing at the end of the hallway as the syringe was injected. He tried to call to her, but he found that his tongue was too heavy to lift. He was too tired to think straight anymore, and the robots around him faded into nothing more than pale streaks of gray. Provider glided over to him and said, “It’s all for the best, Conrad, it’s all for the best.”

That was the last thing Conrad heard before sleep overtook him.

Conrad blinked his eyes open. The room he was in was bright with artificial sunlight. He was lying on a bed, the only piece of furniture in the room other than a small cabinet opposite him. The room was small, with clean white walls and a polished floor.

He tried to sit up but found that he had no control over his muscles. He tried again, straining against the invisible bonds that bound him to the bed. He couldn’t even twitch his fingers.

He tried to call out in his despair, but found that his mouth wouldn’t work either. He felt his heart begin to pound in terror. What if this was his punishment- being left to die, all alone, in a cold, windowless room? But surely they wouldn’t leave him here. Provider loved him. Didn’t she? Suddenly he wasn’t so sure anymore.

As if thinking about Provider had somehow summoned her, Conrad watched as Provider glided into the room. He felt light-headed with relief.

“Conrad! You’re up!”

When he didn’t say anything, she said, “Oh, the paralysis didn’t wear off yet?” She walked over to the cabinet and pulled out small vial of clear liquid.

“Drink.”

He couldn’t. She had to force it down his throat.

Several agonizing minutes passed. Provider sat on his bed with her head bowed and her silver hands clasped tightly on her lap. She sat so still that Conrad could almost believe that she had turned off.

He watched her dully. It was a miracle that his eyes still worked.

He thought about Thalia. At least she managed to escape, he thought wearily. He wished he had been brave enough to follow her from the beginning. Hopefully, she remembered him as a decent person, even if he hadn’t come through until the end.

What’s the world really like? That was the question that had been nagging at him the most, and the one that he was most avoiding. Are there really people up there, mothers and fathers and children? Are there really animals and plants? It went against everything he had ever known. But did that mean it wasn’t true? He owed it to her to find out.

He rolled over in bed. Rolled over! Did that mean that the drug was wearing off? Even if it was, was it possible for him to escape with Provider so close?

He twisted around so that he had a better view of the door. He saw eyes peeking through the crack between the wall and the door. Those eyes were familiar… Thalia! She had come back down to save him! She remembered him after all! He glanced at Provider, but she was still in the same position, gazing dully at her lap. He looked back to Thalia and put a finger to his lips, mouthing. “I’ll distract her…”

“Provider,” He said. “Does my arm look swollen to you?” His arm looked perfectly healthy, but he needed her to be facing away from Thalia.

Provider examined his arm. “It looks fine. Does it hurt?” Conrad nodded and crafted a bunch of other lies about his arm, all the while carefully watching Thalia.

Thalia crept quietly into the room, her footsteps light and slow. Suddenly, Provider whirled around and called, “You think I’m stupid? You think I couldn’t hear you? And now I’ve caught you too!” And she laughed raucously, an almost human sound. She grabbed Thalia and shoved her against the wall, pinning her arms to her sides.

This was so unlike Provider’s usual calmness that for a moment Conrad just stood there in shock. Provider smiled at him. He didn’t know what to do! Provider had always been there for him when he needed her, and now…. he was being forced to choose between hurting his friend or his caretaker! It didn’t matter who was right, because Conrad couldn’t bring himself hurt the one who had raised him as her son. He turned away from them, and he felt, rather than saw, Provider’s smile.

He heard Thalia squirm and struggle, but nothing she was doing seemed to be helping.

He changed his choice.

“Thalia!” He shouted. “Watch out!” He launched himself at them, hitting Provider squarely in the chest. She was so surprised she let go of Thalia.

“I’m surprised at you,” she hissed. “I thought you had better sense than to choose to hurt the one who has cared for you since birth!” She was right, but now Conrad knew that she was never the sweet guardian he had thought she was. She was brainwashed into believing that it was her duty to hold up a world that was as far from perfect as it could get, and at any price. He pitied her more than he feared her.

“Run, Thalia!” He yelled. “Run!”

Thalia streaked past him, running at full speed towards a door at the end of the hallway. He tried to run after her; to freedom… it was so close…

Provider held him in an iron grip.

But then Conrad noticed something. The piece blocking Provider’s controls were broken, probably from when he had slammed into her. If he could just press the off button, it would shut her whole system down.

He couldn’t. His arms were too tightly pinned to his sides. He let himself go limp. Maybe if she thought he had given up she would loosen her grip.

It didn’t work. “Oh no, I’m not going to fall for that,” Provider said softly. She only tightened her grip on him and pulled him closer. She doesn’t realize her controls aren’t protected, he realized suddenly. That meant that if he could just get himself a little closer, he would be able to shut her down even with his hands pinned. If he struggled, maybe she would pull him tighter against her. It was his only hope.

He twisted and wriggled every which way, and success! It worked! He jabbed his elbow on to the off button. Almost immediately he felt her grip loosen, and watched as her eyes went glassy.

“I’m sorry it had to come to this,” He whispered, and gave the only parent he had ever known an awkward and stiff hug goodbye. Then he raced after Thalia.

Running was tiring, especially because he had only been paralyzed a short half-hour ago. First his feet began to ache. His legs began to feel like lead, and his feet jumbled together. I must keep going, he told himself, but even his words were mumbled. He couldn’t think straight anymore, where was he going again? The hallway swam in and out of focus. He felt light-headed and dizzy.

When the blackness came to claim him, Conrad didn’t even think as he sank into the comforting depths.

___________________________________________________________________________________
PART 2

Thalia kept running and running, her feet moving as fast as she had ever gone. She was almost there… She made to the door, now all she had to do was climb the stairs and she would be free! The thought made her want to jump and twirl with happiness. It wasn’t until she had reached the top of the stairs that she noticed Conrad wasn’t following her.

She stopped. “Conrad?” she called, softly. No one answered. She suddenly felt cold. What if he had been caught… and it was all because she didn’t stay to help him after he had saved her?

“Conrad?” She called again, louder this time. There was still no answer. He was probably still fighting Provider! Normally she would’ve ran on, and left Conrad to deal with his own problems. She had come back for him because she was afraid to face the real world alone. She had thought that he wanted to escape, that he believed in a bigger world. But that hadn’t been true. Still, it was her mess that he had gotten himself tangled into, and she owed it to him to get him out.

She dashed down the stairs as fast as her legs would carry her, ready to fight for her life. Instead, she nearly tripped over a body lying sprawled in the middle of the hallway. She stopped, panting heavily, and bent down towards the unconscious body. It was Conrad. She took his pulse. He was still breathing, but barely.

Thalia picked him up and walked up the stairs. It was excruciatingly slow, having to go up all those stairs with Conrad in her arms, but she did it one step at a time, and finally she found herself facing freedom. She lay Conrad’s unconscious body down on the soft grass. He didn’t stir.

“You know what, Conrad?” She said softly. “You’re a better person than I expected.” She leaned down and kissed him lightly on the forehead, and when she lifted her head she could’ve sworn that she saw him smile.

The day passed slowly with nothing to do but wait for Conrad to wake up. Thalia started to explore. There wasn’t much to see; nothing but grass, stretching out in all directions. The sun was blindingly bright but Thalia smiled up at it anyway. She was truly free! She twirled happily.

A sudden bout of dizziness struck her. It was all-too familiar and she clutched her head, trying to fight it off. Her head pounded and she couldn’t think straight anymore. She felt herself fall on to the soft grass, felt her head hit the ground…. and the world turned black.

They were surrounding her, waving papers in her face. Sign it, they chanted, sign it…. So many benefits…. You won’t regret it…

What are the benefits?

So many things….

What things?

Beautiful, impossible things…

Tell me!

You will never age again, they told her. You will have everlasting beauty…

Thalia blinked her eyes open. Sunlight radiated down on her and she struggled to remember what was happening.

That had been the fifth time she had had a vision like that. She had been seeing visions lately, always right after a strange bout of dizziness. They were always so real, so vivid and detailed. But the strangest part was the familiarity. They were almost, but not quite like a memory. Something that she had once known.

She looked back at Conrad, who was still sleeping peacefully on the grass. She wondered fleetingly what he would think of the real world when he woke up. She remembered the first time that she had come here, on her first night expedition. It had been out of boredom that first time (and curiosity) but then it had turned into something more than that. She went for the freedom of being able to do what she wanted, to be able to be in control of herself, not tied down by protocol. Then she had realized that there was a world up here, with everything that she already had and more.

“Enjoying yourself?”

The voice came from behind her. Thalia jumped at least two feet into the air. She spun around. The boy who stood before her looked to be about fifteen years old, with oily blond hair that hung lankly on his shoulders. He was thin and pale, with brown eyes that watched her scornfully from behind thick, round glasses.

“Who- who’re you?” Thalia blurted out before she could stop herself.

“No one you know. What are you doing here? Are you deliberately trying to get caught or something?” He laughed. “What an airhead!”

“I’m not an airhead!” It came out sounding braver than she felt. “I just didn’t know this place was off-limits!”

The boy snorted but didn’t answer. He was looking past her, at someone or something behind her. She turned around nervously. A young man walked towards her, followed by what looked like a handful of dirty street thugs.

“Think you’re better than everyone else, girly? Think the rules don’t apply to you?”

Thalia looked up fearfully. The man was at least six feet tall and very thin, which made him seem even taller. He towered over her threateningly, grinning madly. Thalia had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming. The man turned to his companion and spoke.

“He’ll be happy. She’s a good catch.”

Thalia bit her tongue harder until she drew blood. Thoughts raced through her terrified mind.

Catch? Who’s trying to catch me? Why? Do they want to hurt me? She stopped herself before she got too worked up and couldn't think anymore. I must stay calm.She told herself, knowing it was impossible but nonetheless wishing it was true. I need to think rationally and come up with a plan.

She could see Conrad a couple of feet away, starting to wake up. He rolled over onto his back and squinted up at the sun.

“What is that thing?”

Not now, Conrad! Thalia wanted to say. She tried to signal him with her eyes, but they wouldn’t meet hers.

He’s never seen the sun! Thalia realized with a start. She herself hadn’t seen it for the first time until one week ago, but she thought about it so much that it seemed she had known it forever.

The man turned around to see what she was looking at.

“Got a boyfriend, huh?”

“I-I d-don’t know what y-you mea-“

He snorted.

“Catch ‘em. I’ve got a feeling these are the ones he’s looking for.”

Suddenly hands were grabbing at her, sweaty fingers grasping her arms and reaching for her legs; pulling at her hair. All she saw was a tangle of arms and legs and she smelled the odor of the unwashed bodies that surrounded her.She began to panic. Nightmares of what they would do to her flooded her brain and she screamed and struggled all the more, but it was no use. She felt herself being shoved into a sack and heard Conrad yelling something behind her.

Thalia’s head began to spin, a feeling that was achingly familiar. She felt the onset of another vision start to overwhelm her. God, please, no! Not now….

The world went dark.

Doctors surrounded her. There was something sinister about them, something that wasn’t quite right. She wanted to flee but she couldn’t; she was strapped to a bed, forced to watch helplessly as the doctors came closer.

You will not be hurt, they were saying. They surrounded her, pristine white lab coats almost gleaming in the bright lights. They held knives in their hands, but still they reassured her, chanting the same words again and again, almost like a melody….

Thalia awoke with a start. The room she was in was pitch black. She tried to stand, but something hard and metal pulled against her ankles, dragging her back down. Chains.

Thalia reached behind herself with one arm, trying to get a good idea of her surroundings. She could feel another piece of metal, which was probably the pole that she was chained to. She felt around some more; if she could just find a single screw- anything sharp to use as a weapon. She wanted to be prepared if those boys came back. Her hand bumped something large and warm.

“Conrad?”

“Thalia! Are you OK?”

“Yeah, I am. Any idea where we are?”

“No, but listen carefully because I have to tell you something really important about the plague. I overheard-“

He stopped suddenly. Thalia waited for him to continue. A minute passed, and then another. Thalia’s heart beat nervously. She heard a muffled thump and a gasp.

“Conrad?”

Suddenly a hand clamped over her mouth. Thalia reacted instinctively, chomping down hard on the warm skin.

“Don’t mess with me, little girl, or I’ll kill you the same way I murdered your boyfriend.”

Thalia gasped. She felt the sharp edge of a knife press against her neck and she couldn’t help herself. Tears began to leak down her cheeks, and her cries were silent at first and then grew louder, until her sobs echoed around the dark prison.

Oh, what have I gotten myself into? Conrad is dead because of me! And I’m about to go the same way- what should I do? My head is spinning and nothing is making sense! I’m falling apart! What was Conrad trying to tell me?

Thalia was pushed to her feet roughly. The man took his hand off of her mouth but the knife didn’t move.

“You will come with me quietly or I’ll kill you. I mean it.”

The man half pushed, half dragged Thalia up the stairs. She stopped crying but she didn’t say anything about Conrad. She felt completely devoid of emotion, almost detached from her body. She didn’t care what happened to her at this point.

When they exited the stairs, Thalia was almost blinded by the light after having been sitting in the dark prison for so long. She blinked her eyes a couple of times to get used to the sudden brightness. The room was small, with a rickety old table in one corner and a battered old couch in the other. The man pushed her towards the couch.

It was only after she had turned to face him that she realized that “the man” was actually a woman. She was tall and broad-shouldered with dark hair only just starting to turn grey. She pushed Thalia down and whispered, “Listen, I’m on your side. I’m trying to help you. I know that you probably have a lot of questions, but you’ve got to keep quiet for now,” she paused and then added. “Conrad’s not really dead, by the way. Just unconscious.”

Thalia’s relief was overwhelming, and she almost hugged the woman in her happiness. She stopped herself at the last moment and remembered to look sullen and angry. Questions still flooded her mind, clawing at her.

Who is this woman? Why is she helping me? Why did she have to pretend to kill Conrad- why not help him too?

Then another realization struck her. How does she know Conrad’s name at all?

But she didn’t have time to ask. She felt an all-familiar wave of dizziness. She cried out, although more from annoyance at the timing than from pain. There was a pounding in her ears so loud that she could barely hear the woman….

She collapsed on top of her and felt the nothingness envelope her in its cool grip.

She felt the knife pierce her skin and she wanted to scream but she couldn’t. Fear began to pinch her stomach and she squeezed her eyes shut, as if hoping that it would go away if she couldn’t see it. She heard someone mumble something and felt something cold being placed over her head. Suddenly, there was noise everywhere; an incoherent jumble of numbers and words surrounded her, bearing into her skull. Something seemed to be poking at her brain, pulling at it, probing. She felt something hard and metal clang against her skull. There was a sharp jolt of pain and the world turned black.

The first thing that Thalia saw when she woke up was blue. She lay on her back, just staring at the immense blue and wondering where she was. She hated this feeling of disorientation.

It took her another second to realize that she was gazing at the dark night sky. She must be outside, then. But where outside, and how did I get here?

She brushed herself off and stood up. There was no one in sight. The she noticed, at the edge of the woods, a small cabin. She walked towards it hesitantly.

She pushed open the door as slowly as she could, almost afraid that someone would jump out at her. She was sick and tired of being hurt and chased and she almost regretted her decision to leave her dwelling.

The cabin was made up of two small rooms. The first was rather cozy, with carpeted floors, a fluffy couch, and an antique vase balanced neatly on top of a small dresser. Nothing that would give her any clue as to how she had gotten here. The second room was a little more revealing. It was a quaint little room with a stove in one corner, near a sink, and on the opposite wall there was a bed. The sheets were rumpled as if they had been used recently. Thalia touched the bedclothes. They were still warm, which meant that someone had been there recently.

But who? Was it the woman? Why did she leave? I’m sick of running around looking for answers that aren’t there!

As if summoned by her thoughts, the woman walked in.

“We’re safe here. I’m sorry I scared you so much down there, but I was under orders. We still don’t have much time, but I can answer your questions now,” She paused and then continued. “But I have one of my own first. You blacked out before- does that happen to you often?’

Thalia didn’t know what to answer. Should I answer the woman truthfully?Maybe that way, someone would be able to help me. On the other hand, if she lied and she really is out to get me, it will be looked at as sign of weakness, something I definitely don’t need.

But I want answers. If this woman wanted to kill me, she’d have done it by now. I’ll tell her the truth. From the beginning.

She started off by describing her dwelling and the way things had worked down there. The woman didn’t ask any questions, just nodded along and motioned for her to continue when she paused. Thalia finally moved on to the onset of the visions.

“It all started with spilled food. Breakfast was pushed through the flap at the normal time, but I tripped over my chair when I stood up to get it. I landed on the food and it splattered all over the floor. It didn’t matter to me and I just figured that I’d be fine until lunch without it.

“But then the visions began. Unclear at first, but as time passed, became so clear they were almost like second memories. Right after lunch they disappeared and I didn’t worry about it anymore.

“One day I was bored. I decided to explore, even though it was against the rules. I found my way up here and found out that there was a whole new world with different rules and a new chance for life. The visions started coming more frequently and I didn’t want to go up alone. I came back for Conrad- that’s the boy who was chained with me.”

Thalia continued, explaining about her capture and everything else that had happened since then. When she was done the woman said quietly.

“I think I might have some answers.”

Thalia’s heart practically leaped into her throat. “Tell me!”

“I’ll start with the food. Did it ever occur to you that there was something in it that was stopping the visions from coming? That would make sense, especially if the visions stopped right after lunch. And after you started to explore, you probably missed a couple of meals here and there. Does that make sense to you?

Thalia thought about it. If that was true, then it only brought up more questions. How did they know she had visions even before she knew it herself? Why did they care enough to prevent it? Why are there so many questions?

Thalia wanted to cry again. Every time there was an answer, so many questions popped up that the answer barely told her anything.

She knew she was missing something important. Very important.

"If that was true," she said. “Then why would they do that?"

"I don't know. What I do know is that you must be valuable to them if they’re trying so hard to get you back. Very valuable. Use it to your advantage."

Thalia's mind spun. In order to be valuable to them, she had to have had something that they wanted from her. But what was it?

What if the visions are from the future and that's why-

Then they wouldn't be blocking them.

Thalia gave up. Everything idea she thought of had flaws! It always had something that just didn't fit in with the whole picture.

Then out of the blue, something occurred to her.

"What if it's an experiment? I think they took people like me- and experimented on them! I remember from one of the visions I had that there were doctors there, doing some type of procedure on me. But if that was true, then all of my visions must be memories."

Something finally made sense to her, no matter how far-fetched it was. Thalia nearly hugged the woman in her happiness.

Does Conrad have visions too? She wondered. I wish he was here! I have to warn him about everything!

"Your theory is absolutely right, girly. It's a pity we'll have to make you forget it all over again."

A voice spoke suddenly from behind her. Thalia spun around. Her heart hammered so hard that she was afraid it would jump out of her chest. She tried to back away slowly, one foot at a time, but her legs felt like jelly. She felt fear creep up, cold and prickly. The man stepped closer to her, a grin spreading slowly across his face.

She backed away even farther. The woman was doing the same on the other side of the room, but the man wasn't focused on her and didn't notice.

Another man stepped out of the shadows, dressed identically to the first.

"Don't run. We won't hesitate to hurt you if you don't do as we say."

Thalia suddenly noticed the knife glinting in his belt. Her heart beat even faster. The woman pressed herself against the wall, as if it would save her.

Thalia wished she could run but she was frozen with fear.

"I'm too valuable to you," She told them, hoping with all her heart that it really was true.

"Do you know why you're so valuable?"

"Because… because I have something you want." Thalia tried to sound confident. The only thing that could save her now would be her own wit.

The woman had started inching along the wall slowly, coming towards them.

Why doesn't she run? Thalia wondered. Why is she coming towards me?

The man was laughing."Is that what you think? Let me tell you the truth. You won't remember it anyway when I'm done with you."

Thalia leaned forward in spite of her fear.

"Over seventy years ago, there was a plague."

"The plague which killed everyone except for five people." Thalia finished. Provider had told her the history many times and she could practically recite it now.

"Yes. But there was no plague. That was a lie."

A lie created to keep me from thinking too much, to keep me from exploring outside my dwelling. Thalia realized now. But why?

"Do you know who you were? At age fifteen, you had one of the most brilliant minds on the planet. Can you imagine my ecstasy when we created the technology to transfer intelligence from one person to another?"

Thalia gasped. That sick, twisted psychopath! How dare he!

“You agreed, of course.” He added slyly.

Thalia remembered one of her visions, the first one that she had had after her escape. It described a benefit of eternal youth and beauty- that must have been why she had agreed.

"You kept your promise," she spat. Her anger overcame her fear. “But you neglected to mention the price: that you would leave me with the intelligence of a dog. You would have left me retarded and not even cared. That's why you put something in my food, isn't it? So that I wouldn't remember!"

"But something went wrong.” The man spat. “The procedure was interrupted. You realized what was happening midway through and severed the ties with me. If all had gone as planned, I would have been the most brilliant man on earth. The world would have known my name.”

He wasn’t looking at her anymore. His eyes were blazing with a fire that Thalia had never seen on anyone before. He spoke with fervor, lost in dreams of a world that would have been if not for her. “But now is my chance. You signed the documents and I gave you what I promised. Finally, it’s my chance to take what should have been mine!”

“The documents I signed were illegal. The government would not have allowed it.” Thalia was bluffing now, trying to bargain for her freedom. She had no idea what the government would or would not have allowed.

“Maybe so,” The man said slyly. “But you would die soon anyway even if you manage to escape. Your body is over eighty years old, even if you don’t look like it from the outside. Your immune system is weak because of your age. Even if you catch something as small as a cold, you're at risk for death."

That’s probably why everything had to be so clean! They didn’t want me dead because then they wouldn’t be able to finish the procedure!

“But why bother to wait so many years until continuing?” She wondered aloud.

“We didn’t. You fled, and when we finally caught up to you two weeks ago, seventy years after you had left, none of the doctors who knew how to perform the procedure was still alive. But I was smart. Right after you ran away, I drank the potion that gave me the same eternal youth and beauty as you have. Once I caught you, I hypnotized you to believe that you had grown up in that virtual world and to think of it as your home. I hoped it would keep you from running away again while I trained a new team of doctors. Alas, it did not work,” He smiled. “But it no longer matters. I’ve caught you once again, and the doctors are ready and waiting in the next room to begin the procedure.”

He stopped and gestured to the woman. “Look. That’s one of them, standing right here.”

Thalia gasped. That murderous traitor! That lying little piece of scum! I believed her when she said she was trying to help me, and all this time she was feeding information to him!

Wasn’t there anyone she could trust anymore? There was no more truth in the world. Everything kept changing, kept twisting, until the truth was nothing more than what you thought it was.

It was all a lie.

Her whole life, everything that she had trusted in, had believed was hers and hers alone… everything that she had thought was real in that virtual reality truly was virtual. Fake. Implanted by a sadistic doctor, a psychopath.

All of it, one big fat lie.

Lies, lies, lies.

Come to think of it, I really don’t have any memories from that virtual reality… aside from the past two weeks.

The woman lunged forward unexpectedly. She shoved the man against the wall and pulled out a knife from her pocket, holding it against the man’s throat.

“You didn’t bother to do a background check before you trained me, did you? Thalia is my grandmother. Conrad is my grandfather, another innocent victim.”

Thalia nearly fainted. She was a grandmother?!

How could they have kept that from me? Then she thought. And why on earth would I marry Conrad?

(I know I left off in the middle, but please comment on what's there and I'll post the last few paragraphs later.)


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
56 Reviews

Points: 6512
Reviews: 56

Donate
Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:11 am
DevanEWilliams wrote a review...



Hi there! Here to review as requested! Sorry it took so long to get back to you.
Wow, this is quite the lengthy piece here. I might even suggest dividing the parts and posting them separately, because honestly, you won't get many reviews with such a long piece. I, however, will be reviewing both parts for you, but I'll review each half separately (in one post, though, because it's kinda cheating to post twice xD)
For each part, I'm going to go through individual nitpicks, and then give you my overall opinions.

PART ONE:

According to everything Conrad had ever known, leaving his dwelling was wrong. Dead wrong. That was what had made it all the more exciting. And, of course, there was the added bonus that he was going with Thalia.


Now, as you probably know, the beginning of any story is absolutely critical. If the reader's attention isn't completely hooked immediately, the story will not be successful. Now, the beginning you have is certainly attention-getting. However, I think that it could be drawn out longer. Describe his inner turmoil, how this goes against everything he'd ever learned in his whole life. THEN tell us that he is excited about it. Describe his actions. Is he fidgeting? Is he pacing? Are his palms sweating? And THEN after that, reveal Thalia. This makes her feel even more important to the readers. It makes them think, "Oh, THIS is why he's so excited? There must be something going on between them..." It makes them wonder what's coming next, which is what you want.

Conrad had only met Thalia a week before, in a Socializing Session. Even before he had met her in real life, the projection of her image still captured the knowing look in her eyes and that perpetual smile. He had sensed something different about her right from the start. Her words showed an adventurous spirit, dreams of a world beyond her dwelling. This was nonsense, of course, but just talking about it with her made life into something of a dreamland.


This paragraph is an insane amount of summarizing. You have so much information to be conveyed here in so little space that it becomes just an overwhelming paragraph to readers. These ideas that you have: they are so creative and I want to learn about them! Socializing Session? That sounds like it could do an amazing job of "characterizing," if you will, the people in charge of the lives of Conrad and Thalia and everyone else. I really do want to know how it works! Instead, though, you gloss over it and leave me disappointed.

These are the questions I am left with here:

-What are socializing sessions like? How long are they, how often? (Okay, you do mention this later.) Why do they exist?

-Why was he able to see/be aware of Thalia before this Socializing Session? How did he know about her? If there are Socializing Sessions so often, how did he not know about her before this one?

-How do the projections work? Can you just look people up? Does someone/something dictate who you observe, or how long? Is it just a profile type thing, or is it dynamic?

-What do you mean by "words"? So you can write your own profile basically? Why don't you tell us what it says?
Now, don't give me answers to these questions. They are entirely rhetorical; however, consider answering them through changes to your story.

Sometimes, he wished it were real. That life was more than a sterile white room with virtual objects....
...He knew that every measure possible had to be taken to prevent the plague that had nearly wiped out the human race.

So, I might say the same thing about this as the last point. So much information is shoved into these two paragraphs. You could use action and dialogue to -show-this instead of simply telling us about it. Imagine the questions that readers might ask while reading this and aim to answer them. Add detail! I've noticed that in general, your story lacks detail. It's sad to me, because this has so much potential but I can't picture it in my head well and I was confused a lot.

But then he met Thalia.
 
Conrad had expected Thalia to be like every other girl he had met, giggly and shy and boring.  Thalia was everything but that.
She was extraordinary! She was just like a character from one of his adventure books, beautiful, smart, and brave. Rules meant nothing to her; she always said they were meant to be broken. And when she had suggested they meet for real, he had jumped at the chance just for the thrill of doing something he wasn’t supposed to.


Here, it's the same thing. This has the potential to build up much much more, and yet you just straight hand us the information. Why was this discussion not written out fully? It appears to me to be a rather important event, yet it happens before the current events. So much characterization can be built upon this one conversation. Consider adding more here.

But then she had disappeared.


How does he know this? And again, why is this in the past? Think about how much better you could get to know the character of Conrad simply through his reaction to this news.

Out of everything provider had said about Thalia, it was the word removed that had bothered Conrad the most.


First off, the word "removed" should be like I wrote it, in quotations. Second, the point I really wanted to make about this. Here is the first time that you truly give the dystopian impression; although it was sort of showing through before, here is really where it is said outright. But at the same time...something about this seems like you didn't take enough time to build it up. What would have caused him to come to this conclusion? Did he think about this for a long time or did he know immediately that something was suspicious?

According to his books, it was called anger.


I disliked this entire section, simply because you cannot force people to never feel emotions. It is impossible to not know what anger feels like until now. Besides, books cannot tell you what feelings are. Besides, why would whoever is in charge want people reading about all of these passionate emotions? It might give them bad ideas. I'm assuming that books are regulated, seeing as everything else is, so just be careful about what Conrad is "allowed" to read. This applies to the rest of the story as well.

He had never felt angry before- there was simply no reason to.

Yes, I know you say this, but I just have to generally disagree with this. No matter how sheltered of an environment one might live in, they cannot just go through their lives and not feel anger.

He jerked up suddenly, realizing he had been staring into space again. He had been doing that a lot since Thalia’s disappearance.


So, this is the first true part of the story in the "present" and all I am wondering is why? Because you have done this, I know virtually nothing about the characters (other than, of course, what you have basically handed the readers) and just as little about his surroundings and his past.

I'm going to stop quoting individual passages, because I would essentially be repeating the exact same things for each selection. More detail. Honestly, if you wrote everything out that you just barely touched on, I wouldn't be surprised if you had enough material for a full-blown novel. THAT is how much that I think you are missing currently.

Now, Thalia comes barging in (from where? Where does the door to his room lead? Why is it so easy to get in anyway?) and tells him about all of these wonderful things, and he completely disregards her?

Wait, what?

At this point, I thought back to the beginning, which said:

According to everything Conrad had ever known, leaving his dwelling was wrong. Dead wrong. That was what had made it all the more exciting. And, of course, there was the added bonus that he was going with Thalia.


Which makes me wonder...when on earth did this train of thought take place? No matter how you look at it, it feels more out-of-place the further you read. And then you wonder when the rest of the background came in, too. It's just all generally confusing since it's in different points in the past.

There was never a place where Conrad sat down and thought, "Okay, I'm going to leave and go with Thalia." it was a completely spontaneous decision.

Sorry, I got sidetracked. My real problem with this part is this: if what happened, then why in the world would he willingly disregard Thalia? Again, maybe it would make sense with more character development, but for right now, it doesn't make sense to me. That's my opinion, take it or leave it.

Well, based on what I'm about to say, I suppose I've reached the OVERALL OPINONS section. :P

I think your biggest struggle with this will be continuity, as it always is when creating entire worlds or societies. When you are trying to antagonize this "government" of sorts, you need to take a good look at what you have now and consider what would actually be allowed, especially considering that (at least, I am assuming so) people are being regularly monitored. I know I haven't really talked terribly much about this in this review, but to me, it is incredibly important. It makes the difference between a great story and just an okay one.

And then there is the thing that I have (unfortunately for you, I suppose) repeated many many times, and at this point probably sound redundant. But you have so much going on here that more details are absolutely crucial to keep your reader from getting confused, and also to keep them interested. If you just hand them the information, they will not want to read the story. I wish I could say otherwise. But even with an absolutely amazing idea and fantastic characters and a riveting plot, if you spoon-feed your readers, they will not be interested.

Next thing is a big one. Your MC's relationship with Provider confuses me to no end. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I warned ya, I guess. xD

What does Provider look like?

How does it function? Does it stay in his room or does it "belong" to multiple people? Whose side is it on, anyway?

What is it even supposed to do, anyway?

Answer all of these questions and this whole story will be so much less confusing.

Well, that's all for part one, I suppose. On to part 2!

PART TWO:

Again, I'll begin with nitpicks and then move to my general opinions.

She stopped, panting heavily, and bent down towards the unconscious body. It was Conrad.


Well, of course it's Conrad. And obviously this part is important. But without more description it loses its suspense. What does he look like? What position is he in? Is he cold to the touch? Use your senses to describe more fully.

A sudden bout of dizziness struck her. ...

...Something that she had once known.


I try not to be too mean, even though I really am mean, I know it. But this section here is so cliché that it really bothers me. Plus, all of this was revealed WAY too quickly. I think that action and more plot-oriented events should happen that lead up to this being revealed. I mean...the idea is good, how you reveal it and all, but not the when. You build no suspense whatsoever.

The boy who stood before her looked to be about fifteen years old, with oily blond hair that hung lankly on his shoulders. He was thin and pale, with brown eyes that watched her scornfully from behind thick, round glasses.


Now, this. This is what I want your description to look like....well, not all the time, I guess. But use this more often. It can be interspersed within dialogue and action. It can add so much more dimension to a scene.

I must stay calm.She told herself,


Watch spacing there. No big deal.

“Thalia! Are you OK?”


Another tiny thing. I'd write out the word "okay". I suppose it's a style thing but I prefer it written out.

“Don’t mess with me, little girl, or I’ll kill you the same way I murdered your boyfriend.”


Ooh, that's awfully risky, to "kill" off a main character, even temporarily. But I think you did it well and it was handled tactfully. However, I think more emotion could have been added in on the part of Thalia later on. I know some is there already, but I'd like to see more.

She was sick and tired of being hurt and chased and she almost regretted her decision to leave her dwelling.


This is too telling. Show us that she is feeling this way through her actions.

Watch out for word repetition, specifically the word "slyly", and reconsider word choice when you mention a "potion". It has a different implication than you may be intending.

I don't have too much to say for this one, both because they were addressed in part one and I think the second half was written much better. It made more sense, it was more (though, in my opinion, still not enough) suspenseful, and the twist at the end was interesting.

However.

Some things came just out of nowhere, the guy was needlessly revealing information. Try to come up with a more logical way for him to tell Thalia what is happening.

Another thing about this: It completely messes up the continuity with the first half of the story. For example, if this whole thing was run by one man, how on earth would he have the resources to have such hi-tech equipment? Why would he bother to organize things other than feeding people? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Think about continuity, suspense, and detail, for both halves of the story.

I think I've gone on long enough. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me.

Thanks for sharing, and keep writing!
~Devan




User avatar
46 Reviews

Points: 1383
Reviews: 46

Donate
Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:50 pm
MythWriter99 wrote a review...



This was probably one of the best short stories I have read in a while. I liked the drama, action, and bit of romance. The concept is pretty cool too, but i felt like you could have added a little more detail describing the facility where Conrad lived, I mean I got the basic idea of the place where he lived but a little more detail would be nice.

I think that this was a good read. I normally don't like short stories because i feel like they never really give you enough details and an entire story. But The adventures of Conrad wasn't like that. I mean sure it could have used a little more detail here and their but not in a frustrating way. What you wrote so far is great. It was entertaining, interesting, and a total attention grabber, which is generally what you want in a story. I look forward to reading more about Conrad and Thalia now that they are free.




User avatar
7 Reviews

Points: 720
Reviews: 7

Donate
Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:31 am
Aaradhia wrote a review...



Greetings Shulchan!

Your Adventure of Conrad story was very dramatic!The conflict that Conrad had and the hard decision that he had to make,his caretaker or a girl he loved?I also loved the worlds history.After a gruesome war ended,a deadly virus started to infect the remaining humans.I liked it.But who fought in the war?who won?

The character "provider" confused me.I didn't know if she was Conrad's mother,leader,computer something or just a servant at first.But the character began to develop as the story goes on.

The plot was good and well organized (A little bit predictable).You described most of the scene beautifully but I couldn't the environment when Conrad was being chased by police officers.

Anyway,the story was great and I hope to read more of the Adventure of Conrad.Maybe you could explain who's Conrad parents and how Provider became his caretaker.

Have an amazing day!
aaradhia-




User avatar
181 Reviews

Points: 8839
Reviews: 181

Donate
Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:29 am
JohnLocke1 wrote a review...



First, let me preface this review by telling you that I enjoy dystopia novels immensely. They are one of my favorite genre of books and I was so happy when I started reading because I have yet to read another dystopia on the website.

The Review

Grammar:

You had some problems with comma placement, quoting and some phrasing. I will give a few as examples. Also, when I recommend a change, please do not take it as me trying to write it for you. I am merely trying to give you a way that would make it more understandable to me. I, however, am not the rest of the world.

Commas:

"Sometimes he wished it were real, that life was more than a sterile white room with virtual objects."

This sentence just seemed to be awkward grammar-wise. It did not really flow. I would recommend, "Sometimes, he wished it were real. That life was more than a sterile white room with virtual objects." That would help the sentence structure and the flow of the story.

"When the plague had first broken out, over seventy years ago, it had happened right after the war."

This sentence was awkward as well. Grammatically and stylistically. But I will have a section for style. I would recommend, "The plague had first broken out after the war over seventy years ago." With that sentence, you don't need any commas and the intention of the sentence is clearer. When you start a sentence with, "When the plague had first broken out..." I except the sentence to be about the plague and its outcome, however you began to talk about the war. That confused me a bit.

"People started getting sick suddenly, and within days the person would be retching and coughing up blood."

This sentence confused me a bit, as well. You switched from talking about people to talking about a specific person in a single sentence. I recommend, " People suddenly started getting sick. Within days of a persons infection, they would be retching and coughing up blood." With the separation of sentences, the reader doesn't get confused about what you are writing about.

I think that is enough for commas, but if you need me to show you more, please just ask!

Quoting:

First, it is very helpful for a reader to see dialogue alone and not jumbled up in between important action. Try not to leave dialogue randomly in the middle of a paragraph. If someone is speaking, make sure the reader knows they are speaking. You did a good job with this overall, but sometimes I got confused.

"She looked around and saw him, and then spotted Thalia in the corner, sobbing “You got to believe me!”"

A lot is happening in this one sentence and, lets face it, readers need simplicity. Try to simplify your sentence by giving this dialogue a place of its own:

She looked around and saw him. Then she spotted Thalia crying in the corner.

"You got to believe me!" she sobbed.

With this structure, all of the action can be seen and all of the dialogue is understood.

Phrasing:

Sometimes, the way you phrased certain sentences made them seem lightly awkward to look at.

"He used a virtual comb to brush his hair, and a virtual basketball so he could play basketball with his virtual hoop."

My bone to pick with this sentence is the repetition of the word basketball. That may seem absurd, but I hate it when I see the same word used twice in a sentence. I relent if it absolutely has to be there, but most times I simply hate it.

"No physical contact with anyone, ever- sickness would result from the passing of germs."

The problem in my mind with this is sentence is probably very stylistic. I love bold and dramatic writing, so I often write with sentence fragments because I believe that they add style to any writing. However, there are also grammatical things wrong here as well.

"No physical contact with anyone, ever. The result of breaking this rule would be the passing of germs, which would lead to sickness."

With this structure, I am able to see that the character understands the correlation between physical contact and sickness. It clears the plot up a bit, unless you had intended for your characters not to know that physical contact led to the passing of germs.

"He knew that every measure possible had to be taken to prevent the plague that had nearly wiped out the human race."

Saying 'prevent' alone is strange. Prevent the plague? You can't prevent a plague from happening unless you go on a vaccinating crusade. Perhaps: prevent another outbreak of the plague.

“she was a danger to our society, and she must be removed in order for the human race to thrive.”

Thalia, which by the way is a fantastic name, has already been removed from society. Since she "was a danger to our society" then "she had to be removed". Keep the tense clear.

"He pulled out another book, about wildlife."

Without the comma, this sentence implies that he has been reading a lot of books about wildlife. With the comma, it seems like the fact that it is about wildlife is an off hand comment. If books are important to him, make sure he treats these books like they mean something to him.

"Sirens went off, blaring red lights that meant they knew he was on the loose and would be sending enforcement police."

Who is sending enforcement police? The way this sentence is written makes it seem as if 'he' would be sending enforcement police. And who is this 'they'? I like that it is ominous, but if you meant for the reader to be able to know who it is, I suggest clearing that up a bit.

Style:

This is written from the third person narrative point of view. However, at times, it felt as though it was from Conrad's point of view.

"That was basically all there was here,"

This sentence was spoken by the narrator. But by saying here, it is implying that the narrator is sitting right there in the room with him. I don't think that was your intention, so avoid using sentences that would make the reader think that the narrator was a part of the story.

"He had never actually seen a flower, and they were so pretty!"

This sentences makes me feel as though the narrator is a larger part of the story than he ought to be. The exclamation point, in my mind, is more for the narrator than Conrad. I don't think that it should be there, but that may be how you write. If it is, write on.

Dialogue:

I don't say this often, but your dialogue did not seem in the bit artificial. I read it all in a British accent. If it sounds cool in a British accent, it sounds cool period.

Little Things:

Remember to capitalize Providers name all of the time.

It is a little ridiculous that Thalia was able to carry Conrad after having run for her life for two pages.

There was a little inconsistency with the virtual world that they lived in. Are the books virtual? And I felt like you could have described the virtual objects more so that the reader wasn't confused.

Tell the reader more about the dystopian world they live in.

Talk more about Thalia and Conrad's origins.

I feel like you need to describe the setting better. I had no idea where they were. Only that it had a ton of hallways.

My personal thoughts:

You have written a great story. It is often difficult for writers to come up with an engaging dystopian scenario. You have. I thought that all of those little inner conversations that Conrad had were genius. His relationship with Provider was very well thought out. I thought that Thalia was a little too under developed. I wanted her and Conrad to have more one on one time so that I could really get a feeling about their relationship. In the beginning, you often used the world real. I both loved that and didn't. I loved that he didn't find what was around him to be real, but I hated the repetition because it seemed random. Planned repetition is entertaining, though. Overall, I cannot wait to read more of you. If you need anyone to review, I'm never busy. Happy Writing!





Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
— Thomas Edison