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The Quantum Mind: Chapter 1

by Ventomology


Theodore Wong hated Noel Finnard with a burning passion. It was only a temporary feeling, but he still felt resentment towards that ditz. The promised birthday message had been thoughtless, and stupid.

“Happy Birthday,” she’d written, “The Lyrids are at their peak tonight. Go watch them and get a second birthday wish.” Then she’d signed her name and attached a file of the usual dorky smiley face at the bottom. Theo thought it was a little unfair that she hadn’t paid him a snarky comment or told him which historical person he shared his birthday with like she did with her other friends. He only knew about John D. Rockefeller’s birthday because it was the same as Lillian’s.

Then again, Theo hadn’t given a thought to Noel’s birthday even once.

It didn’t matter. Once he was filled up on his mother’s special tiramisu, he sat outside and took Noel’s advice.

He didn’t wait long. The first shooting star streaked along less than five minutes in. Not ten minutes later, a second one came. Then a third a few seconds later. Noel knew what she was talking about. The Lyrids were a sight to behold.

Theo was about to head back in when a particularly bright meteor lit up. He counted that one in his head and opened the back door. Then one more look at the sky to see if he could catch one more.

The last one was closer.

He turned back to the door and blinked to clear his head before whipping his head around to make sure he’d been hallucinating.

No. It was closer still, bright and fiery even with the light pollution from inside. But even with that dangerous element, the meteor was beautiful. It flamed and sparked as time slowed around Theo.

Time returned to normal. Theo’s head was pounding. His glasses were on his face, but his vision was blurry, blackening. He rushed through the open door and crumpled, his last thoughts cursing Noel and her suggestion on the meteor shower.

***

Noel Finnard had a bad habit of laughing at every stupid thing she did. And since she was just then feeling like an idiot for sending Wong such a crappy birthday e-mail, she was giggling at herself while Carrie talked up a storm on the city bus.

“You make me so jealous,” Carrie teased, “You’ve got two dimples! I should post online that I know someone with two dimples. Angie will be so psyched.”

Noel kept laughing awkwardly at herself and adjusted her glasses. She’d had those frames for years and they slid off since they were too small.

“Angie’s your friend from that character design camp you went to over the summer, right?” Noel said after pushing all laugh-causing thoughts from her brain.

“Yup,” was Carrie’s swifty reply.

“Wish I could’ve gone,” Noel said wistfully, “it sounded like fun.”

“It was.”

“Rub it in.”

Carrie tapped the screen on her phone a few times before switching conversation topics. “So what was up with Theo today? He acted really suspicious during French.”

Shrugging, Noel said she didn’t know. “Maybe he was inspired by the meteor shower last night. I don’t know. He looked fine in zero-hour chem.”

“Since when does Theo watch meteor showers?”

“Since I told him about the Lyrids for his birthday.”

“Sure, and since when does Theo listen to you?”

“Maybe he listened and is thinking about thanking me for such a wonderful suggestion.”

Carrie tapped a bit more on her phone before putting it to sleep. She looked unimpressed. “Theo doesn’t thank people. You of all people would know that.”

Noel scratched her head and smiled sheepishly. “Wishful thinking,” she replied, drumming her fingers on the handle of the French Horn case between herself and Carrie. Too bad Yvette wasn’t there too. Her reasoning was usually how things turned out.

Carrie rolled her grey-blue eyes and shook her dirty blonde head to clear the bangs from her eyes. Her hair seemed shorter than it had last week.

“Did you get a haircut?” Noel asked.

“Four days ago.” Carrie peered out the window. “Did you not notice?”

“It took me a week to figure out that Lillian got contacts.”

“Wasn’t that a long time ago?”

“Yeah. But that’s not the point.”

The girls kept chatting, stopping once or twice to include Dieter in their conversations while they mixed up his rubix cube. That boy was going to give them a scare and fall over because of that little three by three by three cube.

They changed buses, but all three still rode the same one, and the conversation- and rubix cube mixing -kept on until Dieter got off, then Carrie four stops later.

Noel cheerily waved her off before staring out the window. She was contemplating everything. Her homework, how awesome rubix cube solvers were, and what her friends really thought of her. That was always a thought topic, a looming shadow in the back of her mind that doubted the friends who hadn’t yet betrayed her.

Her focus shifted on the almost-reflection of herself in the glass. Carrie always talked about Noel’s good looks. Did she really sit up that straight? Were dimples so rare? That scarf from her mother’s host mom, was it that nice? Did she really look like her mom? Why were appearances so important?

She pressed the button to alert the driver for her stop. There was an old lady standing that she hadn’t noticed earlier, so Noel stood earlier than she needed to and worked her way to the door, battering obstacles with her giant instrument. Carrie had always called it a battering ram, and Noel supposed it really was one.

The late-April air, though not freezing, was still chilly. “Stupid cold,” Noel muttered, walking along the road and watching for cars. Parents already lined up around the nearby elementary, ready to pick up children.

A group of middle school boys snickered at her as she lumbered across her yard and unlocked the front door.

Not five minutes later, her cat settled comfortably on her lap, Noel was checking her e-mail and typing up reports.

A reply to her e-mail to Theo popped up with a small ding. She clicked it.

Theo wasn’t happy. The reply was filled with curses Noel didn’t want to repeat.

Yeesh, she thought to herself, stroking her cat. He purred loudly. You don’t have to explode just because it’s not a hand-made card. "Besides,” she said, looking down at her cat. He yawned explicitly. “There’s no way Theo got hit on the head by a meteor, right, silly cat?”

She clicked reply and changed the subject. Then Noel reminded her foul-mouthed friend to watch his language and to at least thank her for remembering his birthday. It wasn’t like he ever sent her nice words for her special day.

The response speed was ghastly. Noel was fairly sure no one could physically type so fast. So instead of reprimanding him again, she asked, “Are you okay?”

He sent her a blank reply.


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Wed Jun 04, 2014 6:19 pm
Pompadour wrote a review...



Heya, Buggie! So I saw this a really long time ago, and actually read the first chapter and stalked the updates--don't look at me like that--but never actually reviewed.

This time, though, I'm intending to get through all your chapters, wheee!

He didn’t wait long.


I'd suggest changing this from active voice to passive voice, perhaps by restructuring it so it reads as: "He didn't have to wait long," or something like that.

No. It was closer still, bright and fiery even with the light pollution from inside. But even with that dangerous element, the meteor was beautiful. It flamed and sparked as time slowed around Theo.

Time returned to normal. Theo’s head was pounding.


This transition was a bit abrupt. I couldn't really feel the time slowing down; in fact, barely any time seemed to pass before it returned to normal again. I think this is mainly because you tell us more than you show and that doesn't intrigue the reader as much as it should. Elaborate a bit on this maybe? Other than that, your writing style is simply lovely and very enjoyable to read!

He rushed through the open door and crumpled, his last thoughts cursing Noel and her suggestion on the meteor shower.


This, too was a bit clunky. I'd rephrase the last bit to read something like: " ... cursing Noel and her suggestion to watch the meteor shower." Or something else along those lines. It depends completely on you, though!

“Yup,” was Carrie’s swifty reply.


Swifty? Are you sure you don't mean "swift"?

“Did you not notice?”


I can't really imagine anyone speaking like that, in such a formal manner. >.> Especially to a friend.

That's all I could find.

I actually really enjoyed reading this; you're character development is steady, but I do think you move a little too fast. Give the reader some time to settle in a new environment, recognize faces and develop attachments. I also think this chapter lacks a bit in setting; all I'm getting are vague pictures, and it's honestly hard for me to picture where everything is happening. Some detail would be nice, yes? While your writing style is simplistic and reminds me of Estes' style in The Middle Moffat because of how matter-of-fact yet entrancing everything is, I do think the characters you've presented here are wayyy more complex and instead of merely plunging into the "happenings," it'd be nice to focus in on the introduction aspect that first chapters usually cover. You've done this with Noel, and you've also showed us quite a bit of Theo's personality as well, but I had trouble keeping up with Carrie and Yvette. *checks spelling*

On the other hand, I absolutely love your natural way of writing, the way you write conversations and the lighthearted way you roll. I'll definitely be coming back for the second chapter, because I'm interested to see how you're going to insert the science-fiction in here! (I'm thinking meteors. *nods*)

I hope this helped.

Keep up the great writing!

Cheers,

~Pompadour




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Tue Dec 17, 2013 6:54 pm
JakAnthony wrote a review...



Hey, really loved this opening. You developed your characters straight away and hinted at the main plot whilst keeping the mystery. I especially loved all the seemingly pointless details towards the end, the old lady, the snickering boys and that kind of stuff. Really added some warmth to the story (as does the pretty female protagonist).
I really cannot find anything bad to say about this, it's pretty much of the standard I would expect from a real book. I'm very interested to see how this turns out.




Ventomology says...


Ooh! Thanks for starting this one!
Please do not be afraid to point out any little details you find awkward later (I'm sure there are many.)
Thanks again!



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Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:39 pm
barefootrunner wrote a review...



Hi there! Yup, I've got the order wrong, but after going through your last three chapters, I couldn't resist doing this.

Okay, greeeeeeaaaaaat start! Just saying :D I really loved it and felt it had a great deal of quality to it as well as plain natural writing style. You are very talented! Okay, I'm going to stop babbling about how everything is good, and try to find something to critique. Riiight.

Meteors. Asteroids. Meteorites. Stardust. Let's just look at your piece of space-rock, shall we? This isn't a big problem for me, but good to talk about. When your meteor hit (I'm assuming it did?), it just got brighter and brighter. Before a meteor hits, the streak of light actually stops and it's just a cold rock flying through the air, as explained here: http://www.meteorites.com.au/odds&ends/myths.html. Watch some videos of the meteor hitting Russia for more visuals, though that was a HUGE one! It's always good to research your work ;)

I really, really love your character development :D

barefoot




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Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:09 am
birk wrote a review...



Hey Buggie!

I'm here to bug you. With a review.

First off, welcome to YWS! I hope you like it here.

I was drawn in by the title of your piece, it sounds pretty interesting. However, not too much interesting happened in this first chapter though. So I'm looking forward to read your following chapters, which coincidentally are already up.

I look forward to these, because despite not too much excitement during this first chapter, your writing is excellent. The pacing of the scenes and how you move the story forward is very good.

The descriptions of what is happening, as well as the visuals of the environment is written very well and is properly executed. The characters, at least the one you focus the most on, Noel, has a good personality.

Dialogue is also great and to a degree it sounds believable. It would be nice with a little more descriptions of the characters thought. There are some, but more is better.

Alright, I'll go over some thoughts as I go along:

The promised birthday message had been thoughtless, and stupid.

The way you wrote this first paragraph makes it seems like this was the reason he hated her. I'm sure that's not the case.

and doodled the usual dorky smiley face at the bottom.

How can she draw a doodle in an e-mail?

He rushed through the open door and crumpled, his last thoughts cursing Noel and her suggestion on the meteor shower.
Well, I guess this is the essential plot of the story. As a first part in a series, I would have made things a bit more clear and used my main character a bit more. But I guess we'll find out what is going on. I'm thinking its in his head? But you tagged the story as Sci-fi/Supernatural, so who knows.

After this, you jump from the POV of Theo to the POV of Noel. And it all happens way to quick. Put in a section break here.

edit
the French Horn case between herself and Carrie.


That boy was going to give them a scare and fall over because of that little three by three by three cube.
Huh? I'm not sure I understand this line.

always a thought topic, a looming thought in the back

You used the word 'thought' two times in a row here. Try to mix it up.

“You don’t have to explode just because it’s not a hand-made card. Besides,”
In this entire paragraph, I would have used italics and made it her thoughts, instead of having her say it out loud. But there's nothing wrong here.

The response speed was ghastly.

Ghastly? This word is too intense here.

Now, I barely found any grammatical errors at all. Excellent!
Overall, this is solid writing and an okay introductionary post that got me interested in reading the remainder.

I'll move on to those, and review them if I can. Keep it up!

Cheers
Birkhoff




Ventomology says...


Thanks! This was almost like having someone go in with red pen and correct it physically (my absolute favorite kind of editing). I'll make sure to take your suggestions into account.



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Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:43 pm
Mai015 says...



This is really good! Its almost as if I were reading a piece of a published author! Keep going! (:




Ventomology says...


Thank you! I'm not sure I'm quite on the standard of the published crowd, but your saying so really helps!



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Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:51 pm
Skorpionne wrote a review...



Hey!

This is a pretty solid start- I absolutely love your dialogue and the little snippets of detail throughout, and you did a great job of establishing the characters early on. The Carrie/Noel dialogue is where this piece really comes into it's own, in my opinion.

Just a little nitpick- early on, you mention that Noel "doodled" on the birthday message, implying it was on paper, but later on it's referred to as an email, which initially confused me a bit.

Another problem is that the transition from Theo to Noel seems a little sudden and jarring. An asterisk divide or something similar would probably solve that, however.

The ending is also really well written- there's a lovely sense of finality, yet I'm still interested in reading on.

Good job! :)




Ventomology says...


Thank you so much! I was worried no one would want to read it.
Yeah, I'll admit that bit about the e-mail was inconsistent. And thanks for the hint on the view-switch. I didn't realize they took out my extra space.




Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.
— Winston Churchill