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Vigilante

by Kylan


(This was really experimental on my part. Tell me if it's any good.)

The Mirror

Juan Gonzales held the magnum up to the man's face, clenching and unclenching his hands around the butt, sweat beading like pearls on his hairline. The man stared back at him – unmoving, silent, a cigarette dangling from his lips – holding his own gun with both hands, tense and wary. Oil, smoke and powder seemed to radiate from both guns. Smells he could taste and feel. This was a duel. Ten paces, turn, fire. He didn't want to kill the man, but he still couldn't help picturing his blood, his screams, a twisted expression. Blood would run in the grout. And he would drink it. Warm and rich and coppery.

Kill him, Papa said.

Juan exhaled and blinked sweat out of his eyes. The man blinked back.

Remind me why again, Papa. He hasn't done anything to me.

Papa laughed softly, clear and bell-like, vibrating. Mi hijo, I call the shots here. You do what I say. This man dies. Tonight.

Florescent lights hummed above them, cauterizing Juan's retinas, casting harsh shadows. The contrast was bright, white, like a poorly developed picture and smoke from the man's cigarette curled into the air and fingered the bulbs gingerly. The man waited. Juan waited.

Drugs, his Papa had whispered to him. Rape, murder, all kinds of vice. This man was a repeat offender. A criminal king pin. They would be doing the world a favor, knocking this bastard off of the streets. One shot would end it all. It would be a public duty, a public service; like cleaning trash out of the ditches and gutters...except on a larger scale. This man was a different kind of trash. Poisonous and deadly.

And this place – Juan glanced fleetingly around the room, bare and naked, except for himself, the man, and Papa – was a different kind of gutter.

And here they were. Barrel to barrel, eye to eye, the man’s survival-of-the-guy-on-crack-cocaine versus Juan’s higher moral dogma. But he didn't want to kill the man. His Papa wanted him dead. Integrity and principles and ethics had always been his father's métier. Papa was the kind of man who would fight escaping felons barehanded, cross swords with child molesters in the streets, and hang heroine addicts on the nearest tree if he could. Bad people deserved bad ends, he always said. Plain and simple. He was a white knight vigilante, draconian in his own twisted way. And if he had to take the law into his own hands a couple times, so be it.

It was better to ask forgiveness, than permission.

What are you standing there for? Pull the trigger!

The man pulled on his cigarette without a word, waiting for Juan to make a move. For some reason, Juan felt a sort of empathy for the man. He had made his own mistakes in life, after all. And yet repentance and redemption had always been available for him; a proverbial cup full of sweet, thick, cool peace of mind and purity. Juan wanted to reach out to the man and give him directions back to the straight and narrow road, the pathway back to the cup.

Hang a left and drive about a mile. Can't miss it.

Father, I have sinned.

I know this. Kill him and things will be better.

And what if I don't?

You will. I know you, mi hijo. You will make the right decision.

And then there was the blood. Also sweet, thick, cool, full of peace of mind and purity. He looked the man up and down. He would like to taste it, his blood. Salvation pulsed in the man's veins, pumped in his heart, flushed in his face, while God and Christ were arcane and out of reach. He blinked and the man blinked back.

Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.

I will say it once more, mi hijo, and only once. Pull the trigger.

Papa –

Kill him, you indecisive ass!

Under the florescent lights, his face contorted, tears running down his face suddenly, Juan Gonzales pulled the trigger. The bullet carved through the air, humming, buzzing, screaming.

And shattered the mirror.


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Thu Dec 13, 2007 2:45 pm
Golney wrote a review...



To me, something like that more implies that he wasn't just shooting at a mirror, but shooting at his reflection in the mirror. As it stands now, he may have just missed. Does that make sense? Let me know.

I agree with hunter. I understood the point you were trying to make, but it could have easily confused someone else. I got the connection that he was staring his own reflection in the face, because the mirror blinked simultaneously with him.

Come to think of it, actually, to some people, the connection may have been to obvious. You name the chapter, The Mirrorand usually, during, dueling scenes, writers don't mention when their characters blink. Why is are you mentioning it, I wonder? Is it to bring a connection across? If so, are you making it too obvious to some people? Some of your readers didn't catch the connection, so this may just be me.

I thought the scene was interesting, for some reason the character reminded me of Lenny in Of Mice And Men, probably due to the way the character has papap speaking to him in the character's consciousness. In the grand scheme of things, though, I don't know what this scene has to do with the rest of the book. Did you just write this scene because it was interesting? Perhaps that's sufficient cause in itself, but which story points does this scene resolve? You informed me, with this scene that this character has a conscious, is crazy enough to fall for his own reflection, and other things, but is it a necessary scene in the grand scheme of the story?

That's my thoughts, anyway.




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Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:10 pm
Ego says...



The psychological element is very interesting to me--I dig those stories that revolve around the character and his own demons, rather than flinging bullets at thugs.

I think you said it's a standalone piece? As such, it works very well.

However, I just had a thought--when you say:

Under the florescent lights, his face contorted, tears running down his face suddenly, Juan Gonzales pulled the trigger. The bullet carved through the air, humming, buzzing, screaming.

And shattered the mirror.


It just ends the piece (obviously :P). Now, it's implied that he intended to shoot the mirror, but I think you should bring that implication to the foreground and say something along the lines of "And shattered his reflection, the mirror dissolving into a million tiny daggers that rained to the floor."

To me, something like that more implies that he wasn't just shooting at a mirror, but shooting at his reflection in the mirror. As it stands now, he may have just missed. Does that make sense? Let me know.

--Hunter




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Fri Dec 07, 2007 8:40 pm
Kylan says...



Hunter -

As you said, Saint, he definitely wouldn't be holding the gun around the barrel.


How embarrassing! I totally meant butt/stock. Typing one thing, thinking another...

As for my own critique, the comments above stand for myself, as well.


There are both positive and negative comments on my story. Which do you agree with? Was it any good?

-Kylan




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Fri Dec 07, 2007 8:59 am
Ego wrote a review...



Confirming some stuff in Saint's Crit...

Should magnum be capitalised? I dunno if it's a proper noun or not. Or you could just save yourself the trouble and say "pistol." xD
Also, if the guy was holding a gun up to his face as if to shoot him, he wouldn't be holding the barrel. The barrel is where the bullets come out. I dunno the technical term for it, but I believe you mean the handle thingy.


Magnum need not be capitalised, seeing as it is neither the make nor model of the gun. I agree that it should either be called a pistol, a handgun, or called by its proper name.

As you said, Saint, he definitely wouldn't be holding the gun around the barrel. That stuff burns hot, and you run the risk of getting your skin caught in the action by holding anywhere near the barrel. The technical term for the handle is the butt of the handgun.

I'm not entirely sure, but I believe that when you have "mi hijo," it becomes "mijo" because that's how it's said. Don't take my word for it, though.


Yes, the word is "mijo." Spanish equivalent of a contraction.

lol, Saint--saying "Me gusta" would have been sufficient--the lo is superfluous.

As for my own critique, the comments above stand for myself, as well.

--Hunter




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Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:28 pm
Cuni wrote a review...



Well, as I'm taking a tour through your texts, here's my second review.

I understood that, being this a flash action piece, you should be fast. It actually reminded me of my own style. And the idea of corruption cleaning was also present in "The Priceless Bounty", remember?

I liked it, but thought that the whole point of Juan being the "man" should be more explored... I mean, draw more parallels, like how Juan understands what the guy's going through, or more differences, as to brake Juan's personality in two and make it more clear why is he shooting at the mirror. Maybe his father's influence.

In a whole, the text's well written, and maybe a little more story will make it really worthwhile...




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Sat Nov 24, 2007 4:12 pm
Teague wrote a review...



Sorry I didn't get back to this sooner, I was pretty busy yesterday.

Anyway, holy crackers! Your ending is just... so... very... holy chip. It took a brief moment for it to sink in, but really. Wow. Totally unexpected. Very satisfying. Just... wow.

Your first paragraph is really well done. The description made me want to wrap myself in a security blanket and hide in the corner. Spooky.

In fact, all of your description is like that, I just read the first paragraph first. If that makes sense. xD

And I love the presence of Juan's father. Makes things so much more... intriguing. Me lo gusta! [/not sure if that's grammatically correct]

Juan Gonzales held the magnum up to the man's face, clenching and unclenching his hands around the barrel, sweat beading like pearls on his hairline.

Should magnum be capitalised? I dunno if it's a proper noun or not. Or you could just save yourself the trouble and say "pistol." xD
Also, if the guy was holding a gun up to his face as if to shoot him, he wouldn't be holding the barrel. The barrel is where the bullets come out. I dunno the technical term for it, but I believe you mean the handle thingy.


Mi hijo, I call the shots here.

I'm not entirely sure, but I believe that when you have "mi hijo," it becomes "mijo" because that's how it's said. Don't take my word for it, though. [/second year Spanish]

and smoke from the man's cigarette curled into the air and fingered the bulbs gingerly.

This part of the sentence doesn't quite flow well with what precedes it. Maybe try making it its own sentence?

It was better to ask forgiveness, than permission.

Seems like an extraneous comma to me.

Anyway, very well done.

-St. Razorblade
The Official YWS Pirate :pirate3:




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Fri Nov 23, 2007 9:59 pm
BigBadBear says...



Lol...weight loss program. Funny.

Anyway, I re-read it and I thought that it was much better. It made much more sense. Well, there was only one line that I have never understood:

Hang a left and drive about a mile. Can't miss it.


I never understood that line. Other than that, this was great. I can't wait to read more of your stuff!

Don't worry, I still think you a great, yet twised author!

BBB




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Fri Nov 23, 2007 4:06 pm
Kylan says...



Hey everyone! Thanks for your comments. I'll have to admit, this was an extremely rough draft. The idea came to me and I just had to jot it down. Some clarification errors probably occured in the process. But oh well. I appreciate any critiques you gave me.

I have edited the original story above some and was wondering if you guys (and anyone else) could take another look at it. I felt it was heavy and had a lot of fat on it, so I took out some scizzors and glue and put it on a weight-loss program. It still may be a little heavy but tell me if any improvement was made.

-Kylan




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Fri Nov 23, 2007 4:14 am
alleycat13 wrote a review...



I agree with all of the above. Yes, there's a little bit of info-dumping, but, as flash fiction, I think it is justified.

I thoroughly enjoy your style. From the very beginning I could feel the tension, the insanity of the MC. The pacing is also very nicely done.

So, I'll just say--keep writing, you're good at it!




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Fri Nov 23, 2007 3:57 am
Icaruss wrote a review...



Well, I got it. And it's great. It's a nice little short story. He's father's not really there, this guy's crazy, he wants to kill his dark side, his sinful self, so he shoots his reflection in the mirror. I enjoyed it. There was some narration that didn't flow very well, I thought you were trying to sound too poetic, or too... I don't know, deep, and just ended up dragging the story a bit. But still, it was interesting. It's one of those short scenes in which the writer lets you in step by step, showing you small parts of the picture, until the end, when all is revealed. It's nice, and you do a good job of it.

Keep writing, and thumbs up.




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Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:35 am
Fishr says...



Actually, I did not pick that up. I thought Juan just had craptacular aim. XD




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Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:20 am
Kylan says...



Thanks you two for taking a look at this.

BBB >> That is one of the best compliments I have ever received. Thank you.

fishr >> This is actually a stand alone piece. Just flash fiction. And for it to be effective I feel I need that bit of "info-dumping". Juan is crazy. He's looking in a mirror, hearing his father urging him to "kill himself", and obviously has some sort of criminal past. A past his father abhorred. Also, Juan and "the man" are the same person - I'm sure you picked that up - and therefore it's not really a "duel". :wink: I merely used that word stylistically. I'm sorry if it casued any confusion.

Thanks!

-Kylan




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Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:04 am
Fishr wrote a review...



Hello there!

Well... thus far you have a decent start on something revolved around horror (murder) or mystery or both - horror/mystery. At least there is a backbone to support it for improvement.

Yes... ;) There is editing to be done.

Firstly, this piece is a classic example of info dumping. Why, so early into the story (a few paragraphs) should I care about Juan's Papa's morals with criminals, and basic background? Well, I don't. I wanted to know the reasoning for the duel, and the inner details were dragging the story. Too much pacing, and not enough direction into the reasoning of the duel. For example, Papa may have his personal vendetta with street scum but why should Juan care about his father's opinions?

Focus more on Juan's character, and less of Papa's history so early in the story. You can always drop us small clues here and there by showing us, not telling us every detail. You've already accomplished Juan's fear and indimindation - show us more.

A minor nitpick, but in a duel, I don't think Juan would be fiddling with the barrel but rather he'd be doing so with the trigger. Futzing with the barrel might render a bullet through his finger or hand...

Secondly, I feel there is too much description, which falls under info dumping. However, this opinion of mine; you can take it to heart or dismiss it because readers have different preferences with descriptions. I personally skip over blocks of it, and move on to the dialogue, action or find something important. This being said, going back to description, it's like you're trying to paint me an exact picture of what you see within your memory, and frankly I dislike perfect pictures. It's like my own imagination has been robbed. All I need personally, is a few lines of the setting, and I can set myself loose in the environment. If not a few lines, and by this I mean four to six sentences, then one paragraph equal to about eight or twelve sentences of describing the setting.

That is all I have at the moment. I did not however, catch any spelling or grammar errors so congrats! :)




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Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:29 am
BigBadBear wrote a review...



Has anyone every told you that you are a brilliant, yet twisted author? No, well, this is the first time. I have read your Honor, and I think that this will be a match. You are a very good author. As far as I could see, I spotted no mistakes. That's good. Your sentences are like picture perfect. Great job!

As for the content, I have never been into a shoot 'em up. Well, guess what? Now I am!


BBB

[EDIT] ...oh...Ha! I never understood the ending until now...so he was the man he was supposed to kill, no? He was looking at his reflection in the mirror...oh! I get it! hahah!





A ruler leads by example, not force.
— Sun Tzu