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E - Everyone

Devoid: Chapter 1.1

by thefreakfantastic


CHAPTER ONE:

VIBRANT oranges and yellows streaked across the sky as the sun slid down the horizon. The day was finally coming to an end but the celebration had yet to begin. Thousands of people crowded the sidewalks and waited impatiently for the parade to start. Many adults began chattering excitedly as others scrambled for a better view. Children squealed from their strollers as vendors bounced around to make last minute sales. It seemed like good feelings were unavoidable, but Elena was putting up a hell of a fight. Her small lips were pulled into an unpleasant frown as she wrapped her thin, red sweater around her body. She had been shoved twelve times in the past twenty minutes and the cold was sinking in at an alarming rate. To top it all off, she had no idea where her friend Alison was. Deciding that it would be easier to meet in a restaurant, Elena picked herself off the concrete and weaved her way into the throng of people.

Abruptly, loud music blared from speakers stationed on either side of the street. Shouts of joy echoed throughout the crowd and Elena clamped her hands over her ears as she walked. She had been coming to this festival for years. In the beginning, there was a couple hundred people and about five floats or so. Now, it had quadrupled in size and felt oddly suffocating. Elena spotted a dive across the sidewalk and made a beeline towards it. Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain in her stomach and doubled over. Clutching her side, she glanced up and saw a man in a black hoodie frantically shoving his way through the crowd. Annoyed, Elena rolled her eyes and hobbled her way over to Rusty's.

The place had way more than its fair share of business for the festival, but it didn't seem to be too overcrowded. Elena frowned at the tacky mustard colored wallpaper and the rustic red pleather of the booths but slid into one anyways. It was comfortable despite its hideousness. Tucking a strand of black hair behind her ear, Elena hoisted her purse up onto the table and allowed herself to relax slightly. An ache in her stomach reminded her of the guy in the black hoodie and she quietly swore to herself.

"Ma'am," a soft voice broke through her bitterness and she turned to look up at a girl about her age. Her mousy brown hair was pulled into a bun and half-apron was sloppily tied around her waist. A name tag under the lapel of her shirt named her 'Christy' and she had a small notebook with a pen poised to write. "What can I get for you today?"

"Umm...Can I just get a coffee? Black, and thank you." Elena responded with a half-hearted smile.

"Sure thing!" The waitress jotted it down and walked off towards the back.

Elena peered through the large bay window and watched as street performers danced across the road. It wasn't so bad watching the festival from here; she had a nice view but didn't feel so overwhelmed. Suddenly, she remembered the reason she had ducked into this place. She dug through her purse for a few seconds and retrieved a five dollar bill and her phone. Alison had probably already called a bunch of times wondering where she was and it was best if they met up before it got too dark. Something was off, however, when she grabbed her phone. In fact, it wasn't even Elena's phone. It was the exact same brand, color, and even had the exact same background as hers. It was so well duplicated, Elena wouldn't have even known something was wrong if it hadn't been for the fact that she scratched it last week. The scratch was small -- about the size of her fingernail-- and was at the bottom of the screen. Since it happened, Elena would absentmindedly run her thumbnail across it a dozen times a day. A feeling of dread starting creeping up her throat. Someone had gone through a lot of trouble to deliberately replace her phone.

Elena swallowed down her fear and swiped to the unlock screen. Slowly, she pressed her passcode like she'd done a hundred times and it worked like a charm. Without thinking, she instinctively typed in her own phone number and waited for whoever stole the phone to pick up. A thousand things ran through her mind, but she couldn't think of anyone who would do this to her or why they would. Christy returned with the coffee and set it down on the table. Elena slid the five dollars over and mouthed for her to keep the change. The waitress offered a polite nod and sauntered off to help other guests.

Soon Elena was greeted by her own voice telling her to leave a message and a sigh escaped from her lips. She canceled the call and tossed the phone down on the table. Sipping her scalding coffee, Elena debated what to do. She could call the cops, but they probably couldn't do much and she'd have to fill out a bunch of paperwork. She could donate or even keep it. However, it seemed pointless to go through all this trouble for a worthless phone. Feeling exhausted, Elena decided that she'd just leave it on the table and let someone else worry about it. She finished her coffee in one last gulp and swung her purse over her shoulder. She stood up and turned to leave as a group of guys walked in. Suddenly, the sound of her ring tone cut through the air like a knife. Despite her best judgment, Elena whipped around and grabbed the phone.

"Elena Cromwell?" A deep, gravelly voice scratched through the phone.

"Who is this and why did you take my phone?" Elena blurted out and was immediately met with dirty looks from other patrons. She quietly ducked back into her booth and took a deep, calming breath.

"I have your mother."


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1080 Reviews


Points: 125
Reviews: 1080

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Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:53 am
Kaylaa wrote a review...



Hi there TheFreakFantastic! This is Nikayla here dropping in for a review. First of all, welcome to YWS! If you ever have any questions, don't be afraid to ask me or any other names in green or red. Without further ado, let's jump right in.

I found this to be an interesting first chapter, or first part to a first chapter. The description here is easily a strength with the vivid imagery and detail spread throughout. I can say that I enjoyed that, though the first paragraph is more rooted in thought than reality. This is a bit of a complaint because while thoughts in moderation are fine, I don't see them being the best way to start a novel. There's a lot of set-up in that first paragraph about the scenery and I wish that these details were spread a little more over the course of the chapter or the first couple of paragraphs at least.

Makes the content introduced feel a bit more natural and less info-dumpy. That being said, the paragraphs and their length is quite long at points and I'd suggest breaking them up a little bit. There's specifically the large one in the middle that could use a bit of deconstruction. A few of the paragraphs here fall into the passive voice with words such as 'was' and 'had'. Instead of using these words, substitute stronger and more powerful verbs.

Elena peered through the large bay window and watched as street performers danced across the road. It wasn't so bad watching the festival from here; she had a nice view but didn't feel so overwhelmed. Suddenly, she remembered the reason she had ducked into this place. She dug through her purse for a few seconds and retrieved a five dollar bill and her phone. Alison had probably already called a bunch of times wondering where she was and it was best if they met up before it got too dark. Something was off, however, when she grabbed her phone. In fact, it wasn't even Elena's phone. It was the exact same brand, color, and even had the exact same background as hers. It was so well duplicated, Elena wouldn't have even known something was wrong if it hadn't been for the fact that she scratched it last week. The scratch was small -- about the size of her fingernail-- and was at the bottom of the screen. Since it happened, Elena would absentmindedly run her thumbnail across it a dozen times a day. A feeling of dread starting creeping up her throat. Someone had gone through a lot of trouble to deliberately replace her phone.


I wanted to point out this paragraph in particular since this uses the word 'was' ten times. This is what I mean by the passive voice. Instead of there being an actual scene here. This is arguably the largest complaint that I have for this chapter. Instead of telling the reader what's going on, show the reader. Ever heard of the famous tip of "Show, Don't Tell"? That's basically what I'm going to suggest here. This first part doesn't give a lot of character for Elena.

She seems nice, though we haven't gotten to see her actual personality or what she's like in this first section. That might help, especially since we haven't even got to meet her mother before we hear that this person on the phone has her mother. Maybe give her mother a bit of humanization and reason for the reader to care that this person has her mother before having this scene occur, though that's just a suggestion to help build on the characters a bit more before this cliffhanger appears. Overall, I'm interested by this and the sense of suspense is well-executed with the cliffhanger, but a little development and focus on characters instead of description wouldn't hurt.

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

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Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:53 pm
jamgalloway wrote a review...



Hi, there! I see you're new here, so welcome! If you have any questions or just want to talk or whatever just hit me up. I'd be glad to. But for now, I'm gonna make this review, hopefully, pretty short.

I really don't have much to say about the actual writing of the story, because overall it was really well done, but there is a couple things. The first being, and this is a bit of a nitpick, is how you started it. Describing the weather/sky/setting is kind of a cliche for how people start books. It happens a lot. So, personally, I'd change it and start it another way, but that's up to you. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, per se, just very common/cliche. Another problem with the writing is it's kind of hard to focus on it because of all the descriptions. It just...drags, almost. I'd have more dialogue, more of Elena's thoughts, something. Right now, and maybe it's just me, I have a hard time reading it as it just feels...dull. No offense whatsoever because it's still written pretty well, just like I said, it feels kind of boring. And the last thing I wanted to point out for the actual writing of this is the ending. I personally could not take it seriously, and it made the entirety of this chapter just seem ridiculous. It's just so...cliche, and the way Elena reacted to the call felt over dramatic.

Now, ignoring all of that, what my main problem with this is, it doesn't feel like this is the start to a story. It feels like it's the middle of it. There's no introduction or character development to Elena or any other characters, just Elena going into a coffee shop after getting frazzled at a festival and finding out that her phone is not actually her phone, which also comes across kind of ridiculous. It's happening way too fast, yet at the same time there's really no suspense and it feels dull because there is no reason to care about this Elena girl. Stuff's just happening, and there's not much context either. Personally, I'd have more introduction to Elena's character, have a long chapter of the audience getting to know her/her life/ how she interacts with people/ what's going on with her family/ etc., and then at the end have something happen where it reveals her mother has been kidnapped, or just that she's missing.

These are my thoughts on it anyway. It's up to you in the end though, of course, and I honestly love the premise. It's written relatively well--no grammar mistakes, run-on sentences, contradicting statements, or things like that--but it has room for improvement in the pacing department, as well as the other stuff I pointed out. I guess basically my main thought on this is it has a great premise and tons of potential, but the actual execution of it needs work.

Anyway, hopefully this helped and I didn't come across too harsh or anything. If you need any help, want me to edit or review something, just want to talk, or whatever, just let me know and I'd be happy to. Good job so far and good luck continuing! :)






Thank you so much for all this constructive criticism! I really appreciate it and I will definitely take everything you said into consideration.




If you don't know where you're going, any road'll take you there.
— George Harrison