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Soul Cutters Chapter 6

by Gnomish

The next morning I woke up early, awakened from my dreams by the rising sun shining through the window. I slid out from under the covers and tiptoed out of the room so that I wouldn’t wake Darren, who was sleeping peacefully. Even before the sun was fully up it was warm inside, and I didn’t mind walking along the floor in my bare feet. Mother was sitting at the table eating a piece of toast when I came in.

“Where’s Marca?” I asked quietly.

“She’s in my bed. Can you tell Darren where she is before you leave?”

“Sure.” I crossed the room to the counter, where I cut a slice of bread off the loaf that sat there. I joined her by the table and we ate in silence. “What time does your shift start?”

“In fifteen minutes.”

I looked up at the clock that was on the wall. It was six forty-five. She finished her breakfast then pulled on her cloak and hat.

“I’ll see you this evening!” She said as she pulled open the door and stepped into the crisp morning air.

I put the rest of my bread in my mouth and returned to my room, where I dressed in my nicest clothes, a dress that Mother had bought me before we had moved to the city. Darren began to stir, and soon he opened his eyes.

“Darren, Marca is in Mother’s room. I’m about to go to the Cutting Center, and Mother already left. I’ll make you some toast.”

He nodded sleepily, and I crept out of the room and back into the kitchen. I had just finished toasting and plating a slice of bread when he walked into the kitchen yawning.

“Thanks,” he said as I slid the plate across the table to him.

“Did you hear what I said?” I asked him.

“That Marca is in Mother’s room, and you are leaving for training?”

I nodded. “Mother said she’ll be back this evening. I don’t know when I’ll be home. Do you have the map?”

“It’s in my pocket.”

“Okay.” I stood up. “Have a good time at the Museum. I put my hat on my head and left through the front door, waiting a moment outside before I began walking the half-block to the Cutting Center.

The sun shone hot on my face, despite it being nearly hidden by the towers of the Princess’s Palace in the east. It reflected off the glass windows of the buildings, and made the whole city sparkle and glow. The sky was clear, a solid blue that faded to pink.

It didn’t take five minutes for me to reach the Cutting Center, which stood just down the road. The view had been blocked from the house, and this was the first time I’d gotten a proper look at it. My first impression was that it was big. Once you pass the last row of houses blocking it, the Cutting Center rose up formidably from the street. At first glance it seemed intimidating and grim, but I got closer I noticed that the bottom floor and the top floor had windows. Gardens wrapped around the entire building, helping it look safe and comforting. The front doors were made of wood and very large, big enough to fit many people through at once.

I entered through the doors, and made my way to the front counter in the middle of the room. On either side their were two smaller desks, with signs pointing to them saying register here. The area between the counter and door was used as a waiting area, with potted plants and soft chairs.

“Hello, how can I help you?”

My eyes jerked back to the woman at the counter. “I’m supposed to come here for training to become a Cutter.”

She peered at me suspiciously. “Really? You seem a bit young.”

My cheeks flushed. “My father was Mr. Alander, he was a Cutter before he died.”

“I’m sorry.” She said softly.

“It’s okay, I don’t remember him.” I inwardly kicked myself. Of course you don’t remember him, he died.

“Well, the training wing’s in that room. There’s a desk in front of you as soon as you walk in, that’s Mr. Teller’s assistant. He works in the training department, so that John can concentrate on the logistics of Cutting without ever coming into the Center.”

“Okay, thanks.” I had been wondering why Mr. Teller worked on Brook Avenue instead of at the Center.

The room I walked into was smaller than the lobby, but it had so many doors off of it that it seemed almost larger. The “desk” was an over-exaggeration; it was more like a tiny table that had a couple of drawers randomly built in.

“Miss Alander! Welcome to the Cutting Center training wing.” The man who had spoken was thin and wiry, with greasy black hair and a waxed mustache. “Fredrick Hillington, at your service. John warned me you were coming, and I must say I was excited. Anyone with the blood of James Alander in their veins must be an excellent Cutter!”

“Excuse me for asking sir, but how do you remember that about my father if he was cut?”

The man smiled. “Simple. We have all our employees documented, along with how every other employee ranked him.” He leaned across the desk and whispered loudly, “I gave him a great review, so he must have been good.”

I smiled uncomfortably. “ That’s…nice.”

He straightened up again. “So, the information part of the training is through that door, the procedure is through that one and the door over there is for the practice!” He pointed to the respective doors as he talked, and seemed as eager as anyone could be about the training wing. “If you have any questions or you don’t understand anything, feel free to come out here and ask me.” He grinned broadly. “Oh, and, after every session come out so I know you’re done. Wait a minute, you have to come out! It’s the only way to get to the next room!” He burst out laughing as if it was the best joke in the world.

“Thank you,” I said as I backed away and entered the first room. I’m not sure what I expected, perhaps a teacher or another clerk, but in the room their was a small table with a stack of paper on top of it, and a soft chair.

I sat down slowly, and pulled the quill and quire towards me. The first few pages were just stuff about Cutting that I already knew, and I skimmed through it. After that there was a series of questions that I answered with ease. The second set of pages was more interesting. It had information on the history of Cutting, which I’d never learn anything about before.

A long time ago, we were neighbors with a separate people, called Falantes. The Falantes were considered barbarians, and for that reason we enslaved many of them.

Even at that time we had the problem of soul-drag. We realized that the soul-string was only attached to those you knew well, and so we spread ourselves out into separate villages.

I stopped reading for a moment. “Soul-drag.” I muttered to myself. “Soul-string.” Both terms were new to me, but they made sense. I continued reading.

Children married young and the couple moved to a different town where they would raise the child in solitude. This worked relatively well, however the number of deaths due to soul-drag was still very high.

The Falantes were curious about this strange custom, and eventually one man told his slave why. The Falantes said that they had powerful mages that might be able to solve the problem. Our people agreed to try this, and allowed the slaves to contact the mages. The mages were brought to the most recent death, and instructed to try and prevent the soul-drag.

When the mage went into the trance, they saw the soul-string attached to the deceased. This confused them, as the Falantes themselves did not have soul-strings. They traced the line back up, and found it was connected to others who were still living.

That revelation influenced their decisions as far as stopping the soul-drag, and the mage brought a knife with him, promptly cutting the string and saving everyone else.

In gratitude, we released all slaves, and promised to remain peaceful with them in the future. Our people cross married with the Falantes so that we could have Cutters of our own, and the Falantes, being a nomadic people, moved on. We stayed and settled into the main city and smaller surrounding towns.

I looked up from the text and yawned, stretching my back and arms. The sun was already halfway up in the sky, and I momentarily panicked, worried that I wouldn’t have time for practice. I skim read the rest of the pages and quickly grabbed my answers from the middle of the booklet, shuffling the other pages into a rough pile.

I hurried out the door, closing it behind me, and approached Mr. Hillington’s desk.

“There you are!” He exclaimed, smiling. “I was beginning to think you’d never come out!”

“Unfortunately I have!” I smiled back at him. For all his eccentrics he was beginning to grow on me.

“Well then. The next part is the process, it’s much shorter than the history, but read it thoroughly and make sure you could repeat it back to me by heart if you needed to!”

I nodded, and placed the papers on his desk. “Excuse me for asking sir,” I began. “But how recent are those history sheets?”

“Glad you asked miss.” He shuffled my answers into a folder as he talked. “That last few pages I wrote myself! The old records were quite out of date, so when I signed on to be a Cutter, one of the first things I did was rewrite the history sheets. The others are about fifty years old, nothing new was discovered about them, and they’re pretty straightforward documents, so when we looked over all our papers and systems, we decided to keep those ones the same.”

“Is that the only thing that hasn’t been updated?” I asked curiously.

“No.” He replied. “The process sheets in there are over a hundred years old, well, a few of them anyways.”

I nodded to him as I said the customary thanks, and backed away into the other room.

Like he said, there were only a couple pages on the process. One of the sheets was a page of instructions that looked old and battered. I sat down at this desk and began reading, taking my time so that I could absorb every word.

The Cutting Process In Six Simple Steps

  • 1.Prepare yourself for the Cutting by closing and locking your door, pushing all distractions away from you, and grabbing your knife. Every Cutter has the right of not being disturbed when the door is closed and locked, even in an emergency. If someone violates this law you are obligated to report him or her to the head of the Cutting Center.
  • 2.Find the physical location of the deceased soul. On the information file you should have received for this person, the address is located on it. You do not have to actually go to the address, but you must have an idea where it is, so that you know which soul you are in charge of Cutting.
  • 3.Go into a trance, by closing your eyes and focusing on the auras of light that come off of souls. Once you find the correct soul, you will be able to see that it’s falling through space. A soul-string will be attached to it, and using a knife/scissors, it is up to you to cut it. When you enter the trance, you will be able to float around and will yourself to move.
  • 4.Follow the soul-string up, until you see it break off and connect to many different people. You will not see the people, but you should be able to sense them, similar to how you sensed the soul. If you go back down so that you are just above the deceased you are in the ideal Cutting position.
  • 5.Using the knife, cleanly slice through the soul-string, than quickly retreat so that you do not get tangled in the soul-string.
  • Warning: If you do get tangled up immediately pull yourself out of the trance, using step six.
  • 6.To pull yourself out of the trance, grab onto something solid such as a table. If you have to, grab onto the hilt of the knife or even nick yourself with it. In the Otherworld, physical things do not occur except after the judging of the council. Any physical thing will be alien and it will ‘reject’ you. 

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800 Reviews

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Reviews: 800

Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:36 pm
ShadowVyper wrote a review...

Hey Gnomish,

I saw you had another chapter of this in the Green Room still, so I figured I may as well continue on in the reviewing since I've already jumped into this story in chapter five. You're already familiar with my reviewing style at this point, so let's just jump straight on in to the review...

The next morning I woke up early, awakened from my dreams by the rising sun shining through the window.

So this line seems a bit repetitive? You're not saying exactly the same thing, but what comes after the comma seems to just be another way of repeating what you said before the comma. I would suggest rephrasing it with stronger language. Something like "The rising sun sent rays of light through the window, waking me from my dreams." might work? That way it's not repetitive but also implies that 1) the sun woke her and 2) it was early when it did.

we ate in silence. “What time does your shift start?”

This seems a bit contradictory. You say that they ate in silence, but then immediately after you made that statement you put dialogue... meaning that it wasn't silent? If she asked that after they finished eating, or after a long silence, then you should probably phrase it like that because how it is right now doesn't make a ton of sense.

I put my hat on my head

I mean... where else would you put your hat on? A bit nitpicky lol but just a "I put on my hat" would probably be sufficient here.

The sun shone hot on my face,

You might want to be a bit more consistent here? You said mother stepped into crisp morning air, which implies chilliness, and then it seemed like not much time passed -- just enough for the narrator to wake her brother and make him toast -- and then suddenly it's hot outside? It doesn't seem overly realistic that the morning would go from crisp to hot in less than 15 minutes.

Of course you don’t remember him, he died.

I mean... you can still remember people even after they die? So it didn't really seem like an out-of-place thing to say, though this thought makes me a bit curious? Like my brother died when I was 9 months old -- and this is what I say when I mention it and people give me sympathy, I'll be like oh it's okay I don't remember him, because that's true. I have no memory of him, so while I have the sadness of knowing I never got to know my brother, it's not honestly overly intense because I don't have any memory of him so I don't actually miss him? Where like my grandma died a few years ago and I miss her intensely, because I knew her and I loved her and I remember her well. Maybe make it clearer why she thinks it doesn't make sense to say what she said?

“Excuse me for asking sir, but how do you remember that about my father if he was cut?”

Ohh, that's an interesting twist. Do you lose memory of people after they die in this universe? If so, and if you haven't already explained this, then you probably should. That's really interesting but a bit confusing at the surface.

~ ~ ~

Okay, wow, this is an interesting chapter! I like the world-building you have going on here. It helps clarify what's actually going on in your story and what the role of your narrator is in all of this.

One thing I might suggest is thinking about a new title eventually? When I first clicked on this story I honestly thought it was going to be about self-harm (that's what generally comes to mind with "cutter" and "cutting") and then the Cutting Center I assumed as a facility to help rehabilitate people with mental health issues that makes them self harm. So that was my expectation going in and I kept looking for it and trying to see indications of the mental health issues with your protagonist and not really seeing any, and now that I know what you mean by cutting it makes more sense, but the title does seem a bit misleading -- even though, as I said, it now makes sense to me.

Otherwise, I think that's all I've got for you this time around! I enjoyed reading this! Great work!

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)

Gnomish says...

Thanks for the review!
I'm really sorry about your brother.
I think I mentioned more about not being able to remember people after they die in the earlier chapters, that's what the Cutters do. I am meaning to change the title, I just called the Cutting Story while I was writing it because it's that's the name of her job.
Again, thanks for the review!

Gnomish says...

I'm considering changing the name to Cutter Story. Do you think that would be any better?

ShadowVyper says...

Hmm... a bit? But it still gives me self-harm vibes. Could you think of tying another theme into the title maybe? Like "Soul Cutters"? Or... I'm actually not super clear on the job yet since I only read a couple of stories lol. Maybe something like "Releasers" or "Rememberers" or something that has a sort of relation without using the word cut/cutter/cutting? I'm honestly not great at titling stories so take those suggestions with a grain of salt lol. But I think if you could migrate away from the "cut" words for the title that might be good?

Gnomish says...

I mean... I don't really want to change the word Cutter in the entire story, but I'm trying to think of other main themes in the story. Soul Cutters might work, if you think it would be any better.

ShadowVyper says...

Oh I didn't mean change it in your story, I just meant title. Once you establish what a cutter is in your story that's fine -- I just feel like the title is misleading as it is now. I do like Soul Cutters a bit more than what you have it as now :)

Gnomish says...

Okay, thanks for the advice!

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562 Reviews

Points: 14535
Reviews: 562

Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:25 am
FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...

Hello, FlamingPhoenix is finally here with another review for you on this lovely day. Sorry it took so long.

Okay let's get to it.

So as I was reading your your chapter and I saw so many things have been improved, so I'm really happy about that. I mean I think you started your chapter really well. It wasn't rushed and it aloud me to slowly ease into your world that you are getting a lot better at making.
It would be nice to have a little more description in the chapter and on the characters, but I think your getting a lot better and i will take time for you to get used to adding all these new things, I know it too me a wile to get used to it.
Another thing I just loved was the way you ended your chapter, it was just a great idea. showing us the rules to when you become a cutter, and I have to say it looks like a hard job so I'm looking forward to see what will happen next in the next chapter. I think you are doing a amazing job so far, and I'm just loving reading your story, it's not like anything i've read before.
Now the thing I love the most is the connection you are now making between the characters, there wasn't really much of that before but in this chapter I can see what type of character Darren is. And I can't wait to see more of him in the upcoming chapters.

Like I said I couldn't really find anything wrong, and I can't wait to read the next chapter. I hope you have a great day/night, and never stop writing, because I'm sure you will be come a amazing writer in know time.

your friend
FlamingPhoenix. :D
Reviewing with e fiery passion.

Gnomish says...


Your welcome.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
— Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"