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E - Everyone

The Fire Underneath of Things - 11

by fortis

~1026 words


“How am I supposed to trust you when we’ve only known each other for a few days?” Ivy demanded.

Grey turned back around to face her. “I don’t know. But I trust you.”

Ivy met his eyes and was startled to find they were wet. Has he been crying? She began to feel a little uneasy. “Why?” She asked, though she knew the answer. How much easier is it for a man to trust a woman than the other way around? Ivy delivered paper roses to the jail several miles away every month. There were very few women incarcerated, and many men were there for violence against women. She knew Grey wouldn’t do something like that. Or rather, she hoped he wouldn’t. How much do I really know about him anyway? she asked herself again.

Grey, after struggling with his answer finally said, “I don’t know. Maybe you would be able to trust me if we got to know each other better? Maybe spend more time working in the workshop together? What do you say, will you come work with me tonight?” Then, he suddenly bowed low as if Ivy were some sort of hoity-toity noblewoman.

Ivy wanted to roll her eyes but was still too shocked that Grey would do something that pretentious. “I suppose,” she managed, and took the arm he offered. She held herself as far away from him as she could while they walked arm-in-arm.

Ivy couldn’t help but feel like Grey was suddenly being overprotective, now that she was on his arm. He insisted on helping her over a pothole in the road and opening a gate for her so they could take a short cut. She was quickly becoming exasperated with this behavior. She wasn’t one of those shrinking pansy rich folk after all. They turned a corner, and Grey moved to her left side so he could presumably protect her from passing wagons. He offered his arm again, obviously expecting her to take it automatically, but she ignored it, taking a page from Nikki’s book and skipping ahead. She flew down the street, racing past shop fronts and alleyways.

She continued to run until she was far in front of him and was pleased to hear a slightly panicked shout of “wait!” from Grey. She turned around to watch him catch up, catching her breath outside an unassuming, unnamed shop with darkened windows. He ran toward her, his jacket billowing.

When he reached her, he was doubled over, panting. “I didn’t… want,” When he reached her, he was doubled over, panting. “I didn’t… want…” he began, between breaths, “you to run… too far.” He pointed at the nondescript shop. “This is… the front door.” He hacked up something and spit it on the ground. Revulsion swirled in Ivy’s stomach. For all his noble airs, Grey certainly wasn’t too polite.

Leaving Grey to his tormented breathing, Ivy let herself into the shop. She found a mostly-empty room, painted a sickening yellow. In the center of the room was a rag-tag wooden table with some pamphlets and leaflets on it, all advertising the Lightbox Society. Across the room was another door. Ivy tried it. Locked.

Ivy wandered back to the table, and started leafing through the various advertisements. They were roughly printed, and the slogans were so cliché they made her cringe at times. She started shaking her head at one in particular that read, “DARKNESS WILL CONSUME! NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT OR BE ACTED UPON!”

“What, you don’t like them?” Grey’s voice came from right behind her, and Ivy jumped again. Luckily this time there was no desk directly above her head. It seemed like Grey had caught his breath at last.

“No, they’re actually… kinda terrible,” admitted Ivy.

“Well, that’s what your for!” he said brightly. “But right now we have other things to work on. I’ve decided to take your advice and work on some machines of my own! I want your help in building this one.” He went to the door in the back and unlocked it. “Come on!” He said, and stepped through the door.

Ivy followed. They passed through the room full of pews that resembled a church. It was dark and a little spooky, and Ivy was glad when they entered the workshop, where the electric lights were already humming. They cast a warm glow over the mysterious machines scattered all through the room.

“Grey! Ivy!” a voice boomed from somewhere in the shop. Alder Thornton stepped out from behind a machine that belched out a cloud of steam.

“Hello, Mr. Thornton,” said Ivy, timidly. She hadn’t see much of him since her first visit to the workshop.

“Please! Call me Alder,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

“Okay, Alder,” she said. She glanced at Grey who was looking a little pale.

“You guys about to work on the machine then?” Alder asked.

“Yessir,” said Grey. Ivy noticed his eyes shifting back and forth, as if he were lying. But he couldn’t be. They were really going to work on a machine. Ivy wondered what he had to hide.

“Well get to it! I’ve got some paperwork to fill out, and I need to rest my poor knees. You kids don’t know what it’s like to have every inch of your body revolting against an honest day’s work.” Alder stomped away, muttering about health bills and animatronic prosthetics.

“You ready?” asked Grey, leading Ivy to a different machine than they had worked on last time. This one was much smaller and far more incomplete-looking. It currently looked like a small tangle of gears and wires, but even Ivy could see that half the wires were only connected on one side.

“So what does this machine do?” Ivy asked, turning the mess of mechanics over in her hand. It was only about the size of her fist so far.

“Oh, nothing yet. You’ll see, I’m sure, when it’s finished. I hope you’ll be happy with the results.” Grey’s eyes looked edgy again, but Ivy shrugged it off as an inventor’s fear that his gadget would end up a total flop. 

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760 Reviews

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Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:19 pm
ExOmelas wrote a review...

I'm too hungry to sleep so while I demolish some crisps I figured I might as well pop in for a new review :)

Nit-picks and nice moments:

There were very few women incarcerated, and many men were there for violence against women.

This is going to sound strange, but it actually feels kind of utopic that so many men are being caught for this. Honestly one of the scariest things about going out at night is knowing that there are men who wish to harm you and who fear no repurcussions. I actually wonder if a society that had a good prosecution rate would actually lead to a lower incidence rate because of the deterrent value...

For all his noble airs, Grey certainly wasn’t too polite.

I mean, it's not like he's consistently trying to act above his station or whatever. I don't think it's quite believable to refer back to the same small thing so many times. Although making a joke like "For the graciousness of that bow, Grey certainly wasn't too polite" might work. (As in referring to the singular occurrence.)

“Well, that’s what you]b]'[/b]re for!” he said brightly.


I think if you do the back-writing for all of the chapters it is going to get old. It's useful to get across the fact that they have different views of scenes, but once I know this, I can apply it to my understanding of the character's actions and reactions anyway. At that point, it just makes the plot move slower, and even risks becoming a gimmick. I'm not saying this is too many, just saying that it would be very easy to do too many.

Ivy actually wasn't thinking what I thought she would be thinking at all. Well, actually "at all" is a bit strong. I thought she'd feel nervous and awkward, but I wasn't expecting the specifically gendered angle. You don't know me that well, but that plays extremely well into things that I find impactful. Careful you don't go too on the nose and become tell-y, but I think what you have done in this chapter is definitely worthwhile and important... *cackles*

Finally, I really like your ending. It's actually a little sinister. Now I'm thinking fairly bad things about Grey, so when Ivy shrugs off the suggestion that she personally will be happy with the results, it sounds like she's buying into something bad. From what I know of Grey, this at least isn't consciously true. I'm really interested to see where this goes...

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)

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1315 Reviews

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Tue May 02, 2017 1:22 pm
Hannah wrote a review...

Fortis! I read this yesterday, I think, and did not have time to drop a review. But I'm here now!

So what I feel like I get from this chapter is not a lot in terms of Ivy's feelings from the overlapping part -- I could probably figure out she didn't feel that comfortable if you'd just shown her refusing to take his arm later. I get Grey being a big jerk head when he just talks about Ivy like he's using her to make better pamphlets, not even like asking about how to make them better or explaining why they're bad, but "That's what we have you for". We get suddenly, too this unease about Grey because apparently he's doing something that he's not "supposed" to be doing.

I think his sudden secrecy is the most compelling part of this chapter, but I also think you could spend a little more time considering how to communicate it. Right now, we've got shifty eyes, which seems a little cartoonish! And the way Grey avoids Ivy's questions seems similarly cartoon villain-ish, like we KNOW something's up but she doesn't. It might work better if you could give us really subtle hints, but have us as the readers not know as well until Ivy does! That way, we get surprised just as much as she does. If it's something we need to know beforehand to have any kind of emotional payoff, you can keep hinting at it here, but just see if you can't find a more subtle body language cue to play it off of.

I am looking forward to finding out what Grey has in store and wondering when Nikki will come back! Haha. Thanks for another installment.

See you next time!


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Mon May 01, 2017 12:23 pm
Kaylaa wrote a review...

This is Nikayla here dropping in for another review!

So, I haven't read much of this novel. I believe that the most I've read is a chapter, and if any, it was probably the first one. I may as well jump on now that it's in the Green Room and see how this chapter turned out! I found it a little odd that you've gone from doing chapters in sections with 1.1 and 1.2 to just chapters being of this short length and wanted to point that out. It could very well be just because you're busy with life and don't have the time, but I found that to be a little odd.

Nonetheless, I found this chapter to be a little rushed, in regards to the pacing. It's a little too quick for my tastes and I would like to see some more atmosphere put into this conversation between Ivy and Grey as well as the one with Alder Thorton, short as it is. I'd like to see it fleshed out a little further. That being said, I highly enjoy the dialogue in this chapter and I love how down-to-earth and realistic it is. It isn't often that I find dialogue that I actually prefer over other elements of a story, but I believe that you've got me here. It's a lot of fun, and I like how lax but real it is.

The end of the chapter is also quite the joy and it leaves off at the perfect point. What I do have to say is that this could use some general refining and fleshing out to beef the chapter up and make it have some more meat and potatoes around the backbone that's already built up here. Overall, solid chapter with some interesting characters and dialogue! I'd like to see more of Ivy and Grey, so I might end up reading the previous chapters for fun sometime in the future!

If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask. I hope I helped and have a great day.


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Mon May 01, 2017 11:33 am
BluesClues wrote a review...

Grey bothers me more from Ivy's perspective, but I guess that makes sense since I only get to see his neurotic behavior and pushing-too-hard-too-soon ways and not the inner thoughts they spring from (or the inner thoughts where we see he feels guilty about it/like he made a mistake, which I know is what I really liked last time around).

Plus Ivy's sort of bothered by him herself, so it also makes sense. And I like that she is bothered by him somewhat, not like a lot of novels where some guy is acting controlling/pushy/clingy/suspicious and the girl's just like "*le swoon* I know he's a jerk/kind of creepy, but he's so hot!" which, like, c'mon, writers. Give us more credit than that.

I love love love Alder Thorton's name. I'm really curious as to whether Grey is actually doing something sneaky/covert/illegal/bad or if Thorton's bad news and *that's* why Grey looked all nervous and stuff. Guess we'll find out! Although right now I feel like I really should give Grey the benefit of the doubt, since I know him better. Even though I also know he just kind of recreationally breaks into places, so...

Wow, those pamphlets make this place sound like an end-times Christian church.

Ivy wandered back to the table, and started leafing through the various advertisements. They were roughly printed, and the slogans were so cliché they made her cringe at times. She started shaking her head at one in particular that read, “DARKNESS WILL CONSUME! NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT OR BE ACTED UPON!”

It surprised me that it appeared to just be Grey, Ivy, and Alder Thorton at the workshop. In the first chapter I remember this was referred to both as "the workshop" and "the Society," which made me imagine a lot of people around on the nights of their meetings (or whatever). I'm not saying that's good or bad, it's just something that caught me off guard.

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