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Claustrophobic Chapter 1

by Raelyn723

I changed it from third person to first person, including the rest of the story. Tell me which way you like it best! Thanks for all the feedback!

I couldn’t breathe. All there was, was darkness… and the walls. I could feel the walls surrounding me, trapping me, caging me. I didn’t even have to extend my arm to feel the rough surface. What was it that they told me? “You’ll be fine! We’re just doing another little experiment,” but they were wrong! I wouldn’t be fine! I couldn’t breathe, or maybe I was breathing too fast? The blood was roaring in my ears, the only sound I could hear besides my quiet, desperate whimpers. My hand was lying open across my chest, just over my racing heart. Was it my imagination or was my vision blurring? The way the air was moving seemed to have shifted. Oh God I really was going to die. The walls were closing in. They were inching closer and closer towards me. They were going to—oh god no—they were going to crush me! My whole body started shaking and I felt my knees give out, but before I could hit the floor—or rather the opposite wall—my eyes closed and I stopped breathing.


I woke up with my mother holding my hand. Don’t get the wrong idea though; she wasn’t that kind of mom. She wasn’t understanding or caring, she didn’t kiss my cuts to make them feel better—no, she only cared about me when she needed me.

I felt a familiar sharp sting in the center of my hand. My mother had slipped another needle beneath my skin. The thin tube filled slowly with my blood and, after pulling the needle free, she wiped the area clean with an anti-bacterial wipe. Then she glanced up at me, finally noticing I was awake.

“You overreacted again. You know we’d never hurt you. Did you honestly believe that we would? How many times do we have to do this experiment before you finally get your part right? All we’re trying to do is prove that your… condition is curable. Why do you have to be so difficult?”

I sighed and closed my eyes. It had been five times now that I had passed out during their research. The first time it had taken a mere two minutes before my heart had reached its limit. Some people don’t believe that it’s possible to die of fear—but it is. It really, truly is. Each time, I had lasted slightly longer than the last, but that didn’t please my parents.

“Do you know how much trouble it is for us to have to bring you back every time you nearly kill yourself? When you hyperventilate like that you completely screw up our research. We’re not lying when we say that if you just cooperate you wouldn’t have to do this anymore. It would make our lives so much easier! Don’t you understand that?”

I nodded mutely and focused on the machine beeping next to my head. I had heard this before as well. In a second my mom would leave me, my IV the only company I would have for hours before she returned to bring me some juice and bread. My dad would come in the next morning and tell me about all the kids that they could help if I just proved that this would work to cure my condition. Everyone would look up to them as the scientists who saved them from the helplessness of being afraid of something that was nearly impossible to avoid.

After the door clicked behind my mother I sat up. I was in the room in our basement. It was right next to the room that my parents performed their tests in, and right on top of the underground observation room that I had spent the last three years nearly dying in.

The first time my parents had asked me for my ‘help’ in their research; I had just woken up and gone downstairs to make myself some breakfast. I had agreed enthusiastically. It was the first time they’d ever seemed like they needed me, and I was so excited, so happy that they had finally asked me to do something for them that I didn’t even think to ask what I’d be doing to help. Mistake Number 1.

After rushing through breakfast I had sprinted down the stairs to the previously forbidden basement. My parents ushered me into a small room. My hands got clammy the second I entered and I turned towards the doorway. My dad stood there leaning against the door, keeping it open for me. I smiled slightly at him in gratitude and returned my attention to my mother.

“Now we’re going to try a little experiment. See, we have been researching how to break you of this… condition for quite a while. Then we got this idea to see just how long you could put up with being enclosed in a small space. Daniel would you help us with this? Please? If you call we’ll take you out right away. We’ll be just on the other side of the door.

I hesitated for a long time. So long that my mother’s gaze flicked toward my dad’s anxiously. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my dad shift his body, ever-so-slightly, as if ready to block me. But no, these were my parents! They wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. And besides, I had finally been asked to help them. I nodded my head in agreement and my mom sighed in relief.

“Alright Daniel if you would just follow your dad, he’ll show you where the test is. I’ll follow in a second, I just have to check up on something.”

So I turned to find my dad already walking down a narrow hallway toward another set of stairs. I wondered idly why I had never been allowed to enter the basement, then pushed the thought to the back of my mind as I reached the bottom of the stairs. There was a small platform just before a door… and that’s all there was. My dad moved aside and I walked curiously toward the door. Once my dad was slightly behind me, the door was pulled open, fast, and I was shoved into a wall. The room was so small that the slightest pressure of my dad’s hand had sent me into a wall. Then the door was slammed in my face. I heard one, two, three clicks like locks before I threw myself against the door. There wasn’t enough room to get good leverage. I kept trying though, for what seemed like a lifetime, but had been only a minute. I slumped, not from exhaustion, but from hopelessness. That was when the walls had started moving.

I stopped myself from remembering the rest. I had ended up in this exact same room, days later, having been so mentally exhausted from the fear. My mom had gone through the same process she was now, maybe hiding a little more about their secret lives, but the same idea. She guilted me into doing it again… and again… until today.

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7 Reviews

Points: 823
Reviews: 7

Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:24 am
TickSeed says...

I'm sort of crazy in love with this. Your descriptions are simple, crisp, and beautiful! The story is entertaining, but also sticks right with the issue at hand.

You managed to get plenty of character development in a short amount of writing, and that’s a great talent to have. It also sucks you right in, the thing I found especially interesting was the almost twisted sense of love Daniel’s parents seem to display.

It makes you think, do his parents really care about his “condition” or are they just exploiting for their own gain? Was Daniel born with this fear or did something happen to cause it? What sort of work were his parents up to before they decided to “cure” him?

There is a lot you can explore and write about, and I can’t wait to see you do it.

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42 Reviews

Points: 1592
Reviews: 42

Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:47 am
Raelyn723 says...

I was thinking of having the first paragraph be third person, and the rest of it be first person. Do you think it would be too confusing or would it sound better/worse? Opinions anyone???

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42 Reviews

Points: 1592
Reviews: 42

Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:48 am
Raelyn723 says...

And I still can't get the stinking *** to work on this site. It works in word though, just so you all know! :P haha well thank you for reading my work! I appreciate you all!! :D

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Points: 842
Reviews: 10

Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:02 am
Daft Vader UK wrote a review...

This is brilliant... I can almost feel the frustration of Dan at the start of the story. I love the little things you put in here, the Dad shifting a little bit as to block Dan is such a nice touch and it makes the story very very creepy and believable.

Very original idea aswell, lots of questions are un answered that leave me in suspense. What 'condition' does Dan have? , maybe this could be answered in a sequel or maybe not.

It is very sick also that the parents are sacrificing their own son for medical research, but again adds to the creepiness of the whole scene.

Maybe in other chapters you could elaborate on what is happening outside the house? Did the parents have to fake the kid's death or something in order to trap him in the house so he couldn't escape and no one like the police or the school would investigate, does dan have any friends outside the house the help him? and are they actually going to let him out after the experiments are done ? Could this be not the first one of their children to do these experiments, maybe he had a sister or a brother who died doing them OR died from the disease his parents are trying to cure... it would be an interesting plot twist although my second idea has probably been done before.

But a really interesting story good job :D

Raelyn723 says...

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions!!! :)

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53 Reviews

Points: 4226
Reviews: 53

Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:20 am
zohali93 wrote a review...

Wow this was great. :)

I really liked this peice. Though there were just a few things I'd like to mention. Just a few. :)

First of all, when someone begins to talk their speech should start on it's own line. This will help in making this look even more neater.
Also those stars separating the first paragraph from the rest would look better a bit more on the left side.It's easier to see that way.

Also leaving a small space between the paragraphs would make this neater and easier to follow.
Things were really tense! It got me hooked. You did well in conveying the main characters emotions to the readers. You portrayed all your characters very well. You made the main character more pitiable by the way his parents treat him.
I like how you ended it off as well. very nice cliff hanger. :)

Raelyn723 says...

The layout you mentioned is how it is in microsoft word. Thanks for the suggestions :)

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10 Reviews

Points: 904
Reviews: 10

Sat Jun 16, 2012 8:33 pm
PrettyInPink wrote a review...

Very interesting. I like how Daniel's feelings were displayed throughout the chapter. It made it feel much more real. I also like how descriptive it was. It was easy to imagine being there with Daniel and I really like when a writer can bring me into the work like that.

There is only one thing I have to correct and that would be the spacing. It is a little difficult to tell when someone is talking or if a scene is changing into another room. However, other than that I really enjoyed reading this chapter and will definitely move on to the second one.

Raelyn723 says...

Thanks for the feedback! It's laid out a little differently in word, but now I'm going to go make sure that that spacing makes sense! I can see how the layout here would be confusing though! Thanks for reading it really means a lot!!

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15 Reviews

Points: 868
Reviews: 15

Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:24 am
Rav1209 wrote a review...

the begining of this was breathtaking. I was starting to feel fear from it and I love small spaces( there nice and cozy). I also like how you make sure the reader knows the mother has no kindness for her child unless she needs him for some reason which might not always benefit him.

Raelyn723 says...

Thank you!!!! I tried really hard to make the mom seem kind of selfish and in a way, evil. Glad it came across in a similar way and I'm really happy you liked it!!!!!!

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28 Reviews

Points: 871
Reviews: 28

Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:23 pm
thetraveler wrote a review...

The only that I dislike about this piece is that it's not published yet. This is incredible! I'm yearning for more of this mad, crazy, insane family's "experiments." Trust me, you don't want to leave me yearning.
This is horrific, and beautiful, and entrancing all in one. I had no idea that someone could cast witch-craft over the internet
If I had to critique something, (after much thought,) I'd say that you should make the Dad a bigger character. Also, I don't see how the parents could have been so nice in the beginning. It just seems a bit strange to me that they would make such a tight bond with their son, only to put him through some tests that just about kill him repeatedly......
Anywho, whatever I said above, I still want more, so if you don't write any, there may be trouble........... :0

Raelyn723 says...

oh gosh! I don't want any trouble ;) but thank you (again) for everything! And actually, this is just the beginning, so as the story goes on I will definitely try to make the dad a bigger character!

thetraveler says...

Fantastic :) Then, so long as you actually continue it, no trouble shall befall you :P

thetraveler says...

Oh dear..... I may not finish the fanfic very soon...... it will take me a while, sorry..... :(

Raelyn723 says...

That's fine! It's not like you have to do one! I would be honored if you did though!!! Will you post it when your done so I can see?

thetraveler says...

But of course :)

Raelyn723 says...

Awesome!!! XD

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94 Reviews

Points: 6016
Reviews: 94

Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:36 pm
Nook wrote a review...

Wow. Just wow. This is incredible! But I never expected less!
1. I love the tension in the first paragraph that just sets you on edge!But one thing I want to point out to you is your use of repetition in that particular scenario. Preferably, when I'm writing about tense situations, I keep the wording and the descriptions to a minimum cause all you think at that point is, "Oh my GOD, I'm gonna die!, I'M GONNA DIE!!!!" and nothing else right? But that's just me!
2. Excellent plot line! Like you know, I'm crazy about them! Good character personalities too that could give you very moving character developments in the future!
3. The family setting. It gives you a sort of Betrayal feeling.
4. The suspenseful ending/beginning! I want to read more! Be sure to rack up enough points to post the next chapter!
5. I'd go with Devan on the first person thing...Sure this chap. is awesome now but think about how better it will be when you use I instead of He!
Keep posting , Ri! I want to read more desperately!

Raelyn723 says...

Thanks! I'll just have to figure out how to keep going with it huh? You make a good point about the descriptions :) thanks!

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56 Reviews

Points: 6512
Reviews: 56

Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:42 pm
DevanEWilliams wrote a review...

Hello there!
This was a very interesting story, for several reasons. First, you have a very good idea of how your main character responds emotionally and physically to the situations he's thrown in. You do a good job of making his suffering seem intense and realistic. Second, the emotions of the parents are very real, and although they are quite extreme, you can see where they are coming from in wanting to cure him.
There are a couple problems that I want to point out. First, although the beginning was very intriguing and tense, it was also rather confusing. Honestly, it took me until most of the way through the story to realize that it was the parents that were doing this and that no other people were involved. This might have been because of the lack of labeling on dialogue. This is an easy fix, though. I do like the contrast between what seems to be incredible cruelty to the way the mother is portrayed right when you meet her. It shows depth to the character. However, it left more room for confusion, because I couldn't quite tell how she was really feeling. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's almost how I feel about the father as well. You would think that they value their own son over the idea of curing his claustrophobia, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Another thing, just a small nitpick that I wanted to point out--You have a lot of interjections into the narration that do a wonderful job at increasing the tension during his "experiments," but those are something that would be more natural in a first-person point of view. Actually, I would go so far to say that changing your story to first person would make it that much more emotional. You have great drama and excitement, but it has potential to be even better.
Another thing...the way you ended this piece, it definitely feels more like a beginning than an ending. If that's what you were going for, then great! But, if you were intending this story to stand alone, then you might want to consider a different ending.
Overall, wonderful job. Keep up the great work, I hope to see more!
Keep writing!

Raelyn723 says...

Thank you! I'll think about changing it to first person... that seems like a pretty good idea actually. I knew going into it that it was kind of confusing I just couldn't pick out where because I knew where I was taking it and everything. So thanks for helping to point that out! And it was supposed be a beginning. :)

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279 Reviews

Points: 40
Reviews: 279

Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:26 pm
MasterGrieves says...

This is highly impressive. I'm just rereading it now to see if I can find some nitpicks, but you have mostly accurate work. Where you really shine is your description of the characters, and that idea of escaping. I love how not only is Daniel wanting to be free and escape, but his family also want to do the same. Everyone is deeply affected by his condition- so much so they wish to cramp him into a tiny room. You are also very subtle in your wording. My favourite part of your piece is the last bit. Here's why:

1) You brilliantly link back to the central idea of your piece.
2) You get that repetition of the language to show the constant strain of claustrophobia.
3) The parents are seen to have no choice, and are guilty in conducting this test.

Overall, you have a strong idea. If this is a short story, then awesome work. However, if you are intending to write a novel about this, you may need to develop ideas even further. Perhaps it could be a chronological telling of Daniel's life from birth to death. It's just an idea, or something to think about.

If you have any enquiries, PM me. Your work is incredibly strong and I hope to see a lot more of you. You have impressed me.


Raelyn723 says...

wow. You have no idea how much this means to me... I have never shared my work with more than my 1 friend... but she pushed me to post on here. Thank you so much!!! I don't know what I'm planning to do with it yet, but I'll try to continue it!

"Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one's life."
— Kate Chopin, The Awakening