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Picking Through The Rubble. Chapter 1

by BEASTtheHUN


Percival woke up with a splitting headache. It was as if someone was mindlessly ripping apart the seams in his mind. Pop! One thread. Pop! Two threads. Pop! Three threads. Far away, somewhere in the recesses of his mind, he could almost hear laughing. Cackling. A constant cacophony of madness that made him want to curl into a fetal ball and scream. In the background, the radio droned on in its usual, vacuous, fashion.

“. . . the Year 2042. . . President Noble declares. . .”

Percival groaned, pressing his head further into his pillow.

“. . . President Noble declares new changes for the new year. . . President Noble. . . President Noble. . .”

“Good, God! Good, God!” Percival rose up in a cold fury, vengefully, smacking the infuriating machine into. . .

Silence. He instantly regretted his decision. Silence. The horrible, self-imposed, tomb-like silence that left him alone with thoughts and his whisperings. He stared dismally at the red, neon, numbers all aglow like the eyes of some fantastical beast just waking from its slumber and telling him the dreary hour of the dreary day. The silence stung like snow mercilessly pelting his skin. It dragged on. . . and on. . . and. . .

Turning it back on, he ran to the bathroom for refuge from the droning radio and the red-eyed fantastical beats, called time, that it harboured inside.

Percival closed the door softly behind him. The feeling of his bare feet on the cold. Death-like, white tiles shocked him awake. His feverish hands felt the desire to tear and burn, to scratch and beat the air about him with futile blows. Swallowing down his over-large breakfast pill, his hands reached out for the numerous pill bottles that littered his adajer. One by one he popped the tops off, watching detachedly as the multi-colored contents spilled out and onto the floor like polka dots on a clean white smock. He popped them down with the alacrity of an addict, ignoring their sand-papery texture, almost relishing in the discomfort it gave him. He popped them down. One pink, one white, blue, green, pink. Not really knowing if he accidentally took the same one twice, but not really caring either. His pills taken, he grabbed his syringe and with an efficiency born of practice, plunged it into his vein. The same place he had done every day for the past five years, watching fascinated as the last clear drops dripped into his arm, infected his bloodstream, and did whatever other things it did in his body. Percival stumbled drunkenly to the mirror, avoiding the pill bottles and the pills. The sight of his face caused him to stop and stare. What situation had altered his face so? This gaunt, haunted, chasm of humanity. When was the last time he had looked at himself in the mirror? He wasn’t sure, but looking at himself now he almost didn’t recognize himself. He looked older; thirty maybe.

“Nineteen and I look thirty,” he muttered to himself. “Nineteen and I look thirty. Nineteen and I look thirty. Good God! Nineteen and I look thirty.” He ripped off his shirt in a blind rage, ripped off his pants and his underclothes and posed questioningly in front of the mirror.

“I’m a God, I’m a God,” He cried out, his feverish hands traced out the neon-blue symmetry lines etched into his body. “I’m a God, but I look thirty. I’m nineteen, dang it! I’m nineteen!”

This realization made him want to cry, but he didn’t know why. Nineteen and he looked thirty. Make everyone look the same. Gather all the population up. Grind them up, mash them up, chew them up. Feed them to some giant, some political, beady-eyed giant with molars for mashing up the masses and watch him chew them up and spit them out into one grey-mush of a faceless void. Make them all look thirty. Make them all melaninless. Give them symmetry and make them perfect. Curses if that wasn’t true. Curses, if-

He shouldn’t be thinking this. Not here, not now, not ever. This is how it started. Thinking. You get thinking, and little harvesters crawl around your brain and lay eggs. Pop! Out comes one idea. Pop! Out comes two, and they would just keep on popping out and multiplying , and popping out and multiplying until your brain was a harvest nest of ink-poisoned thoughts. He suddenly had the notion that if he shook his head hard enough he could dispel the thoughts crawling around in his head.

Shake. And one thought would fall out and crawl like a spider to the dark recesses of the room. Shake. One more. Shake. Two more. Shake. And his mind was empty. Wonderfully and blissfully empty!

Fully clothed, Percival opened the bathroom door, releasing his thoughts with the stifling air. His sturdy black boots squeaked like a frightened mouse on the linoleum tiles. A constant squeak, squeak. Skree, Skree that blended in with the noise of the radio and the silent screaming of the demons in his soul. He grabbed his gas mask off the wall where it sat like some boar’s head hunting display.

“. . . President Noble declares cleaning crew to remove the rubble from cities across America. . . President Noble. . . President Noble. . .”

Percival picked up the newest thing and hurled it at the radio, missing. It kept crackling like fireflies in a bonfire, like dead leaves underfoot.

“. . .President Noble. . .”

Curse President Noble, he thought as he grabbed his bag and headed out the door. He kept shaking his head as he left the housing complex, hoping that one more would fall out. Just one more.


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Mon Nov 22, 2021 10:10 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: Okayy....so the start...wasn't the greatest. There was a little bit of jumpiness with the tone of the story and I think that needs a little bit of smoothing out there, but for the most part especially the end was pretty good and I love the general premise this seems to be hinting at.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Percival woke up with a splitting headache. It was as if someone was mindlessly ripping apart the seams in his mind. Pop! One thread. Pop! Two threads. Pop! Three threads. Far away, somewhere in the recesses of his mind, he could almost hear laughing. Cackling. A constant cacophony of madness that made him want to curl into a fetal ball and scream. In the background, the radio droned on in its usual, vacuous, fashion.

“. . . the Year 2042. . . President Noble declares. . .”

Percival groaned, pressing his head further into his pillow.

“. . . President Noble declares new changes for the new year. . . President Noble. . . President Noble. . .”


Hmm, this is a pretty powerful opening here. We see a person that's suffering through what seems like a pretty terrible situation there and they seem to be doing their best to make the best of things and survive through it. Its a chilling opening I think and it gets your attention as a reader pretty well, so good start here.

“Good, God! Good, God!” Percival rose up in a cold fury, vengefully, smacking the infuriating machine into. . .

Silence. He instantly regretted his decision. Silence. The horrible, self-imposed, tomb-like silence that left him alone with thoughts and his whisperings. He stared dismally at the red, neon, numbers all aglow like the eyes of some fantastical beast just waking from its slumber and telling him the dreary hour of the dreary day. The silence stung like snow mercilessly pelting his skin. It dragged on. . . and on. . . and. . .

Turning it back on, he ran to the bathroom for refuge from the droning radio and the red-eyed fantastical beats, called time, that it harboured inside.


Well that was kind of disappointing there. It sounds like that whole thing was about an alarm clock or some future version of it. Its hard to tell exactly, but I feel like that kind of negated all the excitement at the start and it feels like you've gone and dramatized that opening a tiny bit too much. I can sense that there's some heavy emotions behind this person and what they're going through but this whole opening ends up kind of making it seem like something small that's been made to look like its important but really isn't.

Percival closed the door softly behind him. The feeling of his bare feet on the cold. Death-like, white tiles shocked him awake. His feverish hands felt the desire to tear and burn, to scratch and beat the air about him with futile blows. Swallowing down his over-large breakfast pill, his hands reached out for the numerous pill bottles that littered his adajer. One by one he popped the tops off, watching detachedly as the multi-colored contents spilled out and onto the floor like polka dots on a clean white smock. He popped them down with the alacrity of an addict, ignoring their sand-papery texture, almost relishing in the discomfort it gave him. He popped them down. One pink, one white, blue, green, pink. Not really knowing if he accidentally took the same one twice, but not really caring either. His pills taken, he grabbed his syringe and with an efficiency born of practice, plunged it into his vein. The same place he had done every day for the past five years, watching fascinated as the last clear drops dripped into his arm, infected his bloodstream, and did whatever other things it did in his body. Percival stumbled drunkenly to the mirror, avoiding the pill bottles and the pills. The sight of his face caused him to stop and stare. What situation had altered his face so? This gaunt, haunted, chasm of humanity. When was the last time he had looked at himself in the mirror? He wasn’t sure, but looking at himself now he almost didn’t recognize himself. He looked older; thirty maybe.

“Nineteen and I look thirty,” he muttered to himself. “Nineteen and I look thirty. Nineteen and I look thirty. Good God! Nineteen and I look thirty.” He ripped off his shirt in a blind rage, ripped off his pants and his underclothes and posed questioningly in front of the mirror.


Okayy....this is getting mildly confusing I think. Here we've got a sudden transition back into what appears to be much more of a serious problem. I loved that description of him taking the various pills and just the emotions involved there but then that sudden and rather random bout of rage and ripping clothes just comes off as a little odd. I think its meant to show that he's so mad at this realization that he tears his clothes to inspect himself in the mirror, but this just sounds a little off to me. I think perhaps it's because this rage comes after he just mutters to himself, its a bit of an extreme jump in actions there.

“I’m a God, I’m a God,” He cried out, his feverish hands traced out the neon-blue symmetry lines etched into his body. “I’m a God, but I look thirty. I’m nineteen, dang it! I’m nineteen!”

This realization made him want to cry, but he didn’t know why. Nineteen and he looked thirty. Make everyone look the same. Gather all the population up. Grind them up, mash them up, chew them up. Feed them to some giant, some political, beady-eyed giant with molars for mashing up the masses and watch him chew them up and spit them out into one grey-mush of a faceless void. Make them all look thirty. Make them all melaninless. Give them symmetry and make them perfect. Curses if that wasn’t true. Curses, if-


Okay...and yet another mode swing of sorts and the tone shifts again to what appears to be some sort of internal rant almost about the state of whatever place this person lives in. This chapter so far hasn't really had a unified flow in one direction. It seems to be jumping from thing to thing a little too much.

He shouldn’t be thinking this. Not here, not now, not ever. This is how it started. Thinking. You get thinking, and little harvesters crawl around your brain and lay eggs. Pop! Out comes one idea. Pop! Out comes two, and they would just keep on popping out and multiplying , and popping out and multiplying until your brain was a harvest nest of ink-poisoned thoughts. He suddenly had the notion that if he shook his head hard enough he could dispel the thoughts crawling around in his head.

Shake. And one thought would fall out and crawl like a spider to the dark recesses of the room. Shake. One more. Shake. Two more. Shake. And his mind was empty. Wonderfully and blissfully empty!


Okay, this so far is the most consistent that feelings have managed to be in this piece and that's good. We need to see more of this where one action meshes well with the other. Here it seems these thoughts are somehow disturbing to him and he's just going a little crazy trying to get rid of them. Its a good way to show how potentially dangerous these thoughts happen to be.

Fully clothed, Percival opened the bathroom door, releasing his thoughts with the stifling air. His sturdy black boots squeaked like a frightened mouse on the linoleum tiles. A constant squeak, squeak. Skree, Skree that blended in with the noise of the radio and the silent screaming of the demons in his soul. He grabbed his gas mask off the wall where it sat like some boar’s head hunting display.

“. . . President Noble declares cleaning crew to remove the rubble from cities across America. . . President Noble. . . President Noble. . .”

Percival picked up the newest thing and hurled it at the radio, missing. It kept crackling like fireflies in a bonfire, like dead leaves underfoot.

“. . .President Noble. . .”

Curse President Noble, he thought as he grabbed his bag and headed out the door. He kept shaking his head as he left the housing complex, hoping that one more would fall out. Just one more.


Okayy...so that explains a lot more about the context of this world than the rest of this chapter dead and now we get to see that this President Noble fellow is perhaps some sort of key player and these citizens or at least a group that this particular person is a part of has been cleaning some sort of rubble which hints at some potential mass destruction and this little piece provides some neat bits of mystery here I think. Its a great point to end on.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, I think its a good start. I like sound of things and there's enough mystery here that I find myself wanting to read on...it just needs a bit of polishing there especially towards the start of things.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




BEASTtheHUN says...


Thank you so much for the review. I gotta say, you always give the best reviews.



HarryHardy says...


You're Welcome!! :D

And aww...thank youu!! :D



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Fri Nov 19, 2021 8:16 pm
MissGangamash wrote a review...



Gotta love a first chapter in the Green Room!

Okay, this is a very interesting beginning. You give just enough for me to get the sense that this is some sort of dystopian future but also didn't dump a load of information at the reader straight away.

Metaphors and similes... there is A LOT of them. It's best to use them sparingly so they really have an impact. If they are used to describe everything, it makes the piece feel overwritten, like you're trying to prove to your readers that you can write.

'red, neon numbers' - could be changed to 'neon red numbers' so it just runs more smoothly. You even use it later with 'neon-blue symmetry.'

I like the repetition of the 'popping' from the first paragraph and then again to the thinking. Does that mean the 'threads' are his thoughts? But I think that later when you use this again with 'Shake. One more. Shake. Two more...' it's a bit of an overkill.

I know the repetition is intentional here but as this is a lot and it's only the first chapter, it gives the impression that this will be a strong feature throughout the story which will quickly become tedious.

A little mistake, I think. You mention Percival turning off the radio and then when he leaves the bathroom it's on again. If this is a sort of control thing where the higher power doesn't let you turn the radio off so it comes back on, mention that. But it may just be a mistake :)

'Percival picked up the newest thing' - nearest thing?

Overall, interesting first chapter, it definitely draws you in and makes you question things, which is needed for a beginning!

Hope this helps and happy writing!




BEASTtheHUN says...


thank you so much for the review. it was very helpful.




Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess it.
— Antonio Machado