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Waiting for a Train (The Acolytes pt. 1)

by Smilykid


Waiting For A Train

The man had been sitting there for some time now. It was inhuman, the way he sat unmoving, unblinking; sucking draught after long draught of the wispy smoke from his pipe. His face was hard like marble and chiseled like the rugged features of a rock face. On his head was a black bowler hat and he was garbed in a long, brown button-down coat. The bench he sat on was just around the corner of a red brick wall in the train station. The iron rails sat on the ground just five feet in front of him. The only other soul in the station was a man in a black coat- his name was Dillan- who was around the corner of the wall.

“Don't think I can't sense you,” the man with the pipe said.

Dillan stepped around the corner.

“Your Consciousness is ever increasing, Michael.”

Michael chuckled. “Don't be a kiss-up, boy. It gets you nowhere.” He took another breath of smoke.

Dillan looked up at the orange sky. The sun was setting and it was a quarter-to-seven. The train would arrive soon.

“What's troubling you, kid?” Michael asked.

It was Dillan's turn to laugh. “I really can't hide anything from you, can't I?”

He shook his head slowly.

“I'm just wondering if we're about to make a major mistake.”

Michael cocked an eyebrow. “And what makes you wonder that?”

“This kid we're going to see... what if... what if he doesn't want what we're offering him? What if he doesn't want this life?”

Michael had a strange feeling that Dillan was talking about himself, but he just smirked.

“Do any of us?”

Dillan turned his head to the train track in front of them. He sometimes thought that life was a lot like being on a train. You can see far ahead what's in front of you, but you can't really see it in detail until you get close up.

“Why here, anyway,” he asked, “why a train station?”

Michael took the pipe out of his mouth. “The train is so different than the mind. The mind meanders and always finds different ways to travel, it's so unpredictable. Now, the train,” he nodded his head dramatically, “the train has one strict route to follow. And that's on the track. If it strays off then it's finished, crashes onto land.”

“Are you relating this to Consciousness?” Dillan said with a sly smile.

“Perhaps,” Michael replied. “Or maybe I just like trains.”

They laughed. The sound lifted the silence away into the breezy sky and suddenly made the empty station seem much more alive.

“Who is this kid, anyway? The kid we're visiting,” Dillan said.

“Not even I'm Conscious enough to know everything about him. All I know is that he just lost everything that was dear to him.”

“What happened?”

Michael blew a wisp of smoke. “There was a bombing in his town. Everything turned to ash. Everyone dead. Except him.”

“Can Consciousness do that? Allow someone to defeat death itself?” Dillan asked in wonder.

“I wouldn't be so arrogant as to say that he defeated death. But it does raise the question as to what a Heightened Consciousness can do.”

Dillan looked at his watch again.

8:00 P.M.

Sometimes he found it amazing how fast time could fly.

“Well, it's showtime,” Michael said, standing up with a groan.

There was a faint light that had appeared far to the left. It slowly increased in size and intensity, like the rising sun over the horizon. Soon, there was a shining platinum steam engine that pulled up to the platform. The grunting, hissing brute stopped with a high-pitched squeak and all the doors swung open as if by magic.

“After you,” Michael said, extending his wrinkled hand to the open doors.

Dillan boarded. Then followed Michael.


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Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:42 pm
Empress wrote a review...



Hi there!

So I was intrigued to this by the title. (I love Inception!)

First off, I love the opening sentence. A very good hook :)

This line: "His face was hard like marble and chiseled like the rugged features of a rock face." Lovely! Lovely imagery, beautiful.

This one, however: "The only other soul in the station was a man in a black coat- his name was Dillan- who was around the corner of the wall" feels slightly clunky, perhaps you could re-word it?

I find it intriguing how you capitalised "Consciousness", I'm interested to see where this goes.

Really love this bit: "They laughed. The sound lifted the silence away into the breezy sky and suddenly made the empty station seem much more alive."

I also really like Michael's little speech about the trains :) And the way you describe the "shining platinum steam engine" approaching. And great last line, it really makes me want to read more, although "Then followed Michael" is worded in a strange way.

Overall, I really loved this start to the novel! And I'm dying to know more about this mysterious Consciousness!

Keep writing!

Bethan :)




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Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:49 pm
barefootrunner wrote a review...



Hi there! Happy review day!

First off, I really enjoyed reading your piece! It's got a nice, easy to follow style and lots of atmosphere. You have set up the area quite well and your use of detail to develop characters is quite a joy to behold! Also great grammar and spelling! I'm very impressed with this piece. I thought I was going to be reading some fast-paced action-adventure with little literary value, and here I've got a lovely, atmospheric chapter with plenty of high-level description! Well done! I also like the way you've immediately introduced a plot and got solid characters going. However, though your characters are quite visible, they are not very distinct in personality and seem to become an entity, which could be damaging to the story and character development.

I'm getting a sort of Sherlock Holmes sense of this. I'm not quite sure what time period it's in, so you might need to work on that. Just give a small detail like the watch — is it a pocket-watch, a digital watch or something different? It's the small details that really count. Give just one or two and a reader can instantly position themselves in the correct timeframe without having to think about it.

Okay, so that's it from me!

Just keep writing!

barefootrunner




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Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:55 pm
StellaThomas wrote a review...



Hey there! So I was looking for your most recent post and found three chapters of this! I can only probably manage this first one tonight but I will also review the others in due course :)

A lot of this scene reminded me of Harry Potter and Dumbledore going to visit Slughorn. Even the setting is similar to the way it's done in the film- with the train station (and after all train stations play a big part in the HP universe). So I got a warm glowy feeling about it.

That said, I think that there definitely could have been a stronger feeling of setting here- I just read your short story so I know you're fully capable of evoking great atmosphere! I was imagining this being a small country station, not the kind of place where a platinum steam engine appears. So the setting seemed a little jumbled- not to mention the time period- is this steampunk? Dieselpunk? Cyberpunk? No kind of punk? :P Anyway, so I felt that setting could have been a little bit stronger!

Other than that, it wasn't bad, as beginnings go. It was a really enjoyable read, the only thing I worry about is that there's not a lot of action. And that's okay! But you want your second chapter to really pack a good punch to counter this- the beginning is, of course, the first part of your book that readers will read. You want it to really drag them in.

But to be honest I don't have much to complain about. I liked this, I liked your lovely way of working the plot in through dialogue- very impressed by that!

Hope I helped, drop me a note if you need anything!

-Stella x




Smilykid says...


Thank you very much for taking the time to do these reviews! I appreciate them.



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Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:04 pm
SushiSashimi333 wrote a review...



Heyo! Sushi here as she said she would be.
This is a pretty relaxed scene, it was nicely described and easy to imagine due to your description. There are slight parts where you were blunt, but otherwise I really like the mood of this beginning. It raises quite a few questions as to what Consciousness is and just who these people are, it makes the reader want to read on. Your dialogue was nicely done because it has a natural feel to it and helps show Dillan and Michael's relationship. I think the only thing that really bugged me was the way you ended this. It seemed far too abrupt to be an actual ending for a chapter.
As for grammar I didn't really see anything that needed fixing. There were some parts where the words chosen weren't the right ones, but if you read it over again you'll be able to find and fix those. Other than that keep up the good writing! Sorry I didn't have anything else to find that was wrong with this.
Sushi :D




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Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:35 pm
MasterGrieves wrote a review...



Yo, bud! 567ajt here, looking to review this chapter from your novel. I like your title, it's very basic and is blunt. Makes me know exactly what will happen :)

The man had been sitting there for some time now. It was inhuman, the way he sat unmoving, unblinking; sucking draught after long draught of the wispy smoke from his pipe. His face was hard like marble and chiseled like the rugged features of a rock face. On his head was a black bowler hat and he was garbed in a long, brown button-down coat. The bench he sat on was just around the corner of a red brick wall in the train station. The iron rails sat on the ground just five feet in front of him. The only other soul in the station was a man in a black coat- his name was Dillan- who was around the corner of the wall.


Hmmmmmm this is very interesting, and intriguing too! I want to know more about Dillan and what he's feeling. Already we are given a character and a sense of place, so well done. Dillan is so far looking to be a character I care about, so overall good start!

“Your Consciousness is ever increasing, Michael.”


Wait, huh? Ummm.......:/
Ok, so I was a little confused at this part, and it feels very supernatural. I mean, I always assumed Dillan would be, but this is a bit too soon. I wished some of the mystery in the opening paragraph remained.

Dillan turned his head to the train track in front of them. He sometimes thought that life was a lot like being on a train. You can see far ahead what's in front of you, but you can't really see it in detail until you get close up.


This is exactly what I want to see more from in this chapter: I want to learn more about Dillan, but not *too* much. I want to see more of an element of mystery, because he does appear to be a mysterious character from the way you write about him.

“Can Consciousness do that? Allow someone to defeat death itself?” Dillan asked in wonder.


I think your biggest setback is dialogue, to be honest. I think it seems overwritten.




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Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:50 pm
Sins wrote a review...



Hey there, Smilykid, I'm here to review your piece (as I'm sure you probably figured).

His face was hard like marble and chiseled like the rugged features of a rock face.

The repetition of like here makes the sentence sound a bit awkward, I'd consider rewording

The bench he sat on was just around the corner of a red brick wall in the train station. The iron rails sat on the ground just five feet in front of him.

Again, the repetition of sat here so close together sounds kind of awkward to me. icky, but ya know

“I really can't hide anything from you, can't I?”

This might just be where I'm from, but shouldn't it be can I? at the end of this sentence rather than can't I?

You can see far ahead what's in front of you, but you can't really see it in detail until you get close up.

This is very picky, but I can't help wanting this to sound more... poetic. Maybe have a bit of a mess around with it and see what else you can come up with?

“Why here, anyway,” he asked, “why a train station?”

You need a question mark at the end of anyway here

“...Now, the train,” he nodded his head dramatically, “the train has one strict route to follow....”
You need a full stop after train and dramatically.

“Not even I'm Conscious enough to know everything about him...”

Is there a reason you capitalised conscious here?

Overall


Right then! So I must say that I thought this was actually very good as a chapter, if a little short. I really love the amount of mystery you have in this as I think that mystery is a brilliant quality to have in a story, particularly the opening of one like this. By adding substantial mystery to a piece, you encourage your readers to read on by capturing their interest and intriguing them to find out what's going on. Your writing itself was good too in terms of technicality, and I didn't spot many grammatical mistakes at all really. You had a slip up with dialogue punctuation, for example, but you definitely didn't have any serious problems with regards to grammar and what not. So an awesome job overall really, well done.

Now in terms of critiques, one thing that I want to mention is the length of this. This is more of a suggestion than a critique to be honest, but I'm very tempted to suggest to you that you turn this into a prologue rather than a chapter. It's just that as it stands, it's a rather short chapter, and the actual content of this chapter is rather prologuesque (that's totally a word). I mean, you've got loads of mystery, the characters are about to embark on a journey of some kind, there's a lot of foreshadowing e.t.c. This is entirely up to you of course because it's hardly as if this is a necessity, but I would consider turning this into a prologue if I were you because I do think the overall novel will benefit from it.

As for juicier critiques, something that did stand out to me were your characters. Now in fairness this is the first chapter, and it's a short one at that, so your character development isn't going to be the most advanced. Nonetheless I do think it's something this chapter lacks as you don't really have any solid characterisation as it stands, and I have to admit that so far, your two characters sort of blend into one. I can't differentiate between Michael and Dillan. While I don't expect them to be worlds apart in terms of personality, and while I don't expect you to show what makes them unique in such a short piece of writing, I do think you can do more. Just try and show us readers how Michael and Dillan are separate people in whatever way you can think of, from body language to speech patterns.

The only other thing I have to mention is related to a bit of confusion. While I do adorre the mystery in this, I can't help feeling that some part may be a little too mysterious in a sense. I know that these two guys are obviously going to find some other person after boarding a train, but that's about the extent of my knowledge. I don't who Dillan and Michael are, how old they are, if they're merely work colleagues, if what they're doing in this train station is part of their job, I don't know qwho this guy they're looking for is, why they're looking for him, and I'm uncertain why the capitalisation of conscious is so important. Is it part of their business? I know I know, the whole idea of this is mystery, but you do have to be careful because otherwise, you might just end up confusing some of your more easily confusable readers (a.k.a. me)

But anyways, negatives aside, really well done with this. I do think that with a few tweaks and minor edits here and there, it could be even better and you could end up with something rather brilliant. :) If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, just let me know because I'll be more than happy to discuss anything with you.

Keep writing,

xoxo Skins




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Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:16 am
StoneHeart wrote a review...



Hey Smily, Black here for the longest review I presently have time for!

First off! This was amazing! Your action, idea, way of writing, and pacing are all really amazing. They add up to make a really, really, really interesting looking story that seems to be going somewhere really nice. I love the way you introduce the characters, with a kind of mysterious power that you hint to be more than just magical. Physically powerful characters are cool and all, but it's the mentally powerful one's that clique with me!

Anyway, if you had any problem . . . well, never mind, I'll just explain what I think, I don't have time for organization at the moment;). Okay, so what I see is not enough build up before you jump into the story. Don't get me wrong, this is a great way to start a story, and you're really doing a great job, but when you're writing something super-original like this you have to be careful to put in the right amount of build up to the action.

Fantasy writing is very centered around world building, you need to realize that and use it. If you know you're fantasy story-world then chances are that you'll do very well, but if you don't then you'll have a guaranteed large amount of trouble with organization. I think you should try to introduce a bit more of your story world with the first chapter. And also, be careful with your chapter size. This here chapter would do very well if it were much larger.

But be careful not to over-dose on your chapter size! There's a hazard there! Okay, so it turns out I'm going to have to cut off even earlier than I'd orginally intended to. So, sorry about that, I guess this is time out for now! Good luck here! Be sure to put in more story world detail and character development! You're really doing a great job, loved this piece! And remember: Keep writing! Do that and you WILL improve!


~Black~





Poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just don't get - and never would get.
— Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe