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Spaceship

by shaniac


The hike was my idea but discovering the broken silver disk was not apart of it.

I guess I should start from the beginning, where my friend Richard and I decided to go hiking in the woods surrounding my house. It wasn't supposed to rain but there were gloomy clouds that hung in the air. My parents packed small lunches inside of brown plastic bags and warned us about not getting hurt, and if one of us did get hurt, to call one of my parents. I was getting kind of tired of my parents being overprotective. This hiking trip was to prove that I could take care of myself and that I didn't need the help of others.

Richard suggested we take a camera to take pictures. He was such a photo nerd. All he did was take pictures of random stuff, like last week he took several pictures of a rusted slide, saying stuff like "I'm going to have my mom develop these and I'm gonna hang them up on my wall." What kind of 17-year-old does that? I was more concerned about beating this stupid monkey in my new video game.

Anyway, we left the house and went around my house. My house was pretty big with two floors and white outer walls. There were potted plants that my mom insisted on buying because it "attract hummingbirds and would make the front look more pretty". I'm allergic to flowers, you see, and I did my best to avoid them at all costs. Pollen doesn't do great things to my face and nose. Thankfully, before we went hiking, my mom gave me allergy pills, which I was hoping could work. 

Now, Richard and I were deep in the forest. I could hear birds calling to one another, the smell of the great outdoors, and the feeling of humidity lurking over my shoulders. Richard was behind me, pointing his camera at the trees and the ground. I couldn't stand hearing the snapping of the camera but I did try my best to block it out. I just looked ahead of me with a walking stick in hand, focusing on outward sticks and roots.

We were finally making some more progress more into the woods. I guess I didn't notice the thing because there was a giant oak tree in our way. Richard was still taking pictures, pointing at different angles. I suggested we take a break and eat the lunches my parents made. He seemed alright with it but wanted to take one more picture. He went around the big oak tree while I untied my brown plastic bag lunch.

"Hey, Daniel," Richard called out. I noticed his voice was shaky and when I looked over, his face was white as a sheet. "You might want to see this."

I narrowed my eyes, thinking this was some prank or something. Basically, I didn't believe him. Anyway, when I headed over, I could see something silverly through the oak tree's branches. When I made it over to my friend, that was when I could see it. A metal disk was laying on top of some broken tree branches. Rust was covered the dome cover and branches were stuck near the front. I didn't know how I can describe it but I felt overcome with a lot of different emotions all at once.

Richard started to go ahead of me but I grabbed his arm, worried it was a trap of some sort. He looked at me a little odd and pulled his arm out of my grasp. He told me, "I'm not going exploring. I'm going to take a picture. Maybe your parents could help us." He then went ahead as I watched, unsure of what really to do. I guess I should've gone but I stayed behind because I feared for what was there. Richard, as far as I could make out, was nearing the disk when he disappeared. Like a ghost does when going through a wall. I'd liked to blame my imagination at this point, but I knew it wasn't possible for him to just disappear.

"Richard!" I called out several times but I got nothing, except for the distant calls of birds. The sky above me was darkening and I thought I heard thunder. I wanted to go back home. I reached for my phone to call my parents like they had said when we left, but I had no service. Panicked, I decided to go to the silver disk. This was a horrible decision on my part because it was going against what I had said earlier about, you know, not going to it.

Anyway, when I neared it, a huge wave of sickness washed over me. I blinked a few times, trying to find my balance but it was so strong. How did Richard stand this? I asked myself before continuing. The sounds of the forest, I realized, stopped as I neared the disk. There was a hush that certainly created my hair to stand up on end. A small part of my brain was telling me to escape because that's what a sane person would do in this situation. But, I fought against it because I needed to get my friend or else the guilt would ride on my shoulders.

I didn't realize I disappeared until I looked back. The forest changed and it looked like I was looking into a dirty mirror. I tried to move through it but it didn't work. I was left with a hurting shoulder and another wave of panic. I looked over at the disk, which was now looming over me. It's appearance changed now, looking cleaner with polished silver and I could see some windows at the top of the dome. Richard has to be in there, I thought.

I walked to the silver disk but as I neared it, my entire body tingled. Like I was being sucked into something. Looking up, there was a sleek tube pointing out of the top. And I knew before long, I was off the ground and sucked in. I screamed, closing my eyes and thinking I had just died. This wasn't the case as I felt the environment around me shift from cold wind to the smell of s'mores.

I stopped screaming and peeled open my eyes. I was surrounded by LED TVs that circled a seat that I was placed inside of. The picture quality was realistic as I could see flashes of forests, smell the crackling fire and s'mores, and the sounds of birds calling to each other. I got up from the chair and pressed my hand against one of the TVs.

"Daniel!" I heard Richard's voice cry out. I looked away from the TV and towards a room next to mine. My friend was in the same room as me and looked as terrified as I was. I pressed my hand against the glass separating us and he did the same thing.

"Where are we?" He asked, scared. I didn't have an answer nor did I know how long we were going to be in here for. 


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Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:33 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...



Hey shaniac!

Elinor here to give you a review. I wanted to thank you for sharing this story! I quite enjoyed reading it. Overall this is a simple set-up, but it's well executed. I enjoyed the beginning especially, and how it led to the eventual payoff.

I'm not sure if you planned on expanding this at all, but I think a main point that you could focus on when revising is the why. Right now, what happens in your story? Two friends go for a walk, and they're kidnapped by aliens. While that, on its own, is interesting, it still leaves me unsure as to why I read this story and what you, as an author as saying by writing it.

The boys seem a touch arrogant at the beginning -- no more arrogant than average seventeen year old boys -- but arrogant nonetheless, or at least naive about the dangers that they could face in the woods. Regarding how the first few paragraphs are constructed, I would work on refining Daniel's voice. I like the idea that he teases Richard about wanting to take pictures, but it didn't seem quite how a teenager would talk. For example, rather than: "This hiking trip was to prove that I could take care of myself and that I didn't need the help of others" you could have something like "Don't they know I'm old enough to go out on my own?"

The story also ends quite abruptly for me. I want to know what happens to them now that they're in this predicament.

Overall, I enjoyed your story. Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions.




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Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:15 pm
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Panikos wrote a review...



Hi, shanaic! Pan dropping in for a quick review. Because this is pretty short, I'm just going to give you my comments as I read and then round off with my overall thoughts at the end. Small grammatical corrections will be shown in blue, if relevant. Let's go!

The hike was my idea but discovering the broken silver disk was not a part of it.


If this was just a typo, I really apologise for the spiel I'm about to subject you to, but I'll go over the difference between 'apart' and 'a part' just in case. The former is an adverb, with a general meaning of 'not together; separated'. The latter is an article + noun, with a general meaning of 'a piece of a whole'. In the sentence above, the latter is required.

A good way to test if you're using the right form is to see if you can substitute it for 'part' on its own. Contrast these:

It was a part of the problem - It was part of the problem
We have been apart for so long
- We have been part for so long

In short, if you can delete the 'a', you should have 'a part' as two words. If you can't delete it, you need 'apart'. And so concludes Random Grammar Tips with Pan.

However, let's talk about the general feel of this first line. This is ultimately up to you, but part of me thinks it would have more punch if you split it into two. Consider this:

The hike was my idea. Discovering the broken silver disk was not.

I just find this snappier and a bit more engaging. There are two main themes in the first line - the hike and the discovery of the disk - and I feel like they'd be contrasted more starkly if you dedicated a sentence to each. Phrasing matters are pretty subjective, though, so I'll leave it up to you.

I guess I should start from the beginning, where my friend Richard and I decided to go hiking in the woods surrounding my house.


Would 'when' not be more appropriate here, given that you're referring to a time rather than a location? Though it is a point of fascination that humans so often think of time as a physical space

It wasn't supposed to rain but there were gloomy clouds that hung in the air. My parents packed small lunches inside of brown plastic bags and warned us about not getting hurt, and if one of us did get hurt, to call one of my parents. I was getting kind of tired of my parents being overprotective. This hiking trip was to prove that I could take care of myself and that I didn't need the help of others.


Hmm. The narrator says 'I guess I should start from the beginning', but why should they? I don't think it's adding anything to your story to wind back so far. With short stories, you're really on the clock when it comes to grabbing your reader's attention. Your first line hooks me, so don't abandon the notion of the silver disk and jump several hours back to when everything was normal. Details about rain and brown plastic bags don't really stir anywhere near as much intrigue. I'm a huge believer in starting stories within spitting distance of the inciting incident. We only need enough background for us to understand what's going on.

All he did was take pictures of random stuff, like last week he took several pictures of a rusted slide, saying stuff like "I'm going to have my mom develop these and I'm gonna hang them up on my wall." What kind of 17-year-old does that?


Hey, whatever makes him happy!

My house was pretty big with two floors and white outer walls. There were potted plants that my mom insisted on buying because it "attract hummingbirds and would make the front look more pretty". I'm allergic to flowers, you see, and I did my best to avoid them at all costs. Pollen doesn't do great things to my face and nose. Thankfully, before we went hiking, my mom gave me allergy pills, which I was hoping could work.


Why do we need to know all of this? Is it actually important? There's too much preamble here. I'm not interested in allergies and allergy pills and the colour of the narrator's house - I'm interested in the silver disk. I want to get to the inciting incident.

I noticed his voice was shaky and when I looked over, his face was white as a sheet.


Ah, let's steer away from clichés. 'White as a sheet' is such a common colloquialism that it's stale to use in writing. Can you think of anything else more unusual to compare him to?

I narrowed my eyes, thinking this was some prank or something. Basically, I didn't believe him.


The second sentence is unnecessary. If he thinks it's a prank, it's already obvious that he doesn't believe him.

I didn't know how to describe it but I felt overcome with a lot of different emotions all at once.


Hmm, this feels like a bit of a cop out. As a reader, I want you to try and describe it. The physical sensations of shock are easy enough to pin down. Does he go cold despite the stuffy warmth, or does his stomach drop a few inches? Does excitement spark in his chest despite that?

Richard started to go ahead of me but I grabbed his arm, worried it was a trap of some sort.


Try to avoid stating what can already be inferred. If he's grabbing Richard's arm, we can probably guess it's because he's suspicious about the disk. You don't need to tell us explicitly.

I guess I should've gone but I stayed behind because I feared for what was there. Richard, as far as I could make out, was nearing the disk when he disappeared. Like a ghost does when going through a wall.


Considering what a dramatic moment this should be, I feel like you should build up to it more. He disappears so suddenly that I almost missed it. I think you could spend a few more sentences drawing out how slowly Richard approaches the disk, feet crunching on the undergrowth, raising his camera, his hands tremoring, until--

He disappears.

In all seriousness, you do need more suspense in this moment. I like it in outline, but it needs to be more carefully executed.

Panicked, I decided to go to the silver disk. This was a horrible decision on my part because it was going against what I had said earlier about, you know, not going to it.


The way you segue into this just seems odd - it makes the decision seem abrupt and quite idiotic. I don't think it's necessarily unrealistic that he'd go up to the disk, but it's all about how you do it. If he was just completely set on finding Richard and blundered after him without thinking, it could work. But the fact that you have him pause and try to call his parents takes away the unthinking panic that could motivate a decision like that.

Okay, I'm going to call the specifics here because I think I'm getting a bit repetitive. Reading the end, I'm assuming that this is only the first part of the story, because you leave it on quite a cliffhanger. I'm guessing they've been abducted, but by who, exactly? Friend or foe?

I think my main issues with this story so far are with the pacing and parts of the writing style. As I mentioned earlier in the review, you spend far too long dwelling on fairly uninteresting details before you properly address the matter of the silver disk. Having read the whole thing, I can say with confidence that you could delete practically all of the opening paragraphs. We don't need to know precisely how the characters got into the forest or what they did beforehand. All we need to know is that they're friends, they're hiking, and they've found something strange in the woods. No more is required. Always get to the conflict and the mystery sooner rather than later.

Your writing style is a little on the rigid side. I wasn't really able to relate to Daniel's emotions or panic that much, and I think that's mostly because you just tell us that he's panicked rather than giving us details about the sensation. Try to think more about how Daniel feels physically. Tell us about his heart beating in his throat and the sweat on his neck and how difficult it is to breathe in the stuffy air. Tell us about how silent the forest feels after Richard vanishes. If you put more into the description, we'll be able to immerse ourselves in the world better.

As far as the positives go, I think that the idea of the story is solid and could have real potential after some redrafting. If you cut out the excess detail and started the story with Daniel and Richard finding the disk in the woods, you'd have a great hook. You've also got the potential to build up some real suspense when Richard disappears, and the cliffhanger does leave me wondering what will happen next. You've got all the right parts for a good story - they just need a bit of polishing and rearranging so they fit in the best way.

I hope this helped! If you've any questions or want me to elaborate on anything, please ask.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




shaniac says...


Thank you so much for the review! I'm still trying to find my writing style and I agree that some of the stuff inside of the story could be rearranged and funnily enough, my English teacher told me to get more into describing to get the reader involved. Anyway, thank you again!



Panikos says...


You're welcome! :D




Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
— G.K. Chesterton