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Old 12-29-2006, 03:56 AM
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Michael. A Michael. A is offline
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A Few Chapters

This is a novel I'm writing. Its got all my ideas in there so its kinda flowery and needs editing but I'll do that when I've writen more of it. Tell me what you think .

Chapter 1 - Scratching

“Days were never meant to be this long,” he muttered as he trekked back from work. In Thel’s mind the otherwise pleasant scenery of his seaside town had faded like an old disinteresting newspaper cutting. A short journey home, 20-minuets or so, was always a burden at the end of the day. It was as if each moment of boredom and hassle were weighted around his legs until he could release it with a long, satisfying stretch in front of the T.V.
Several years of living under strict office regulations was beginning to insight a fresh streak of rebellion in him; ordinary just didn’t work anymore. Mr Crum, his boss, was a particularly rigid as far as regulation and control went. He suffered from a particularly “nasty condition” that the other employees found themselves falling into, the absurd world of Office Bureaucracy. Mr Crum had a list of bizarre bureaucratic acts; some were written as official set rules and others were left unsaid but made felt by his presence. It would just be a cough when they said something he didn’t agree with, or a grimace when he disapproved of something they were doing. This created a kind of tension and lack of spontaneity that made a typical workday very dry and monotonous. The two 15 minute breaks they had each day were also under this strict kind of surveillance by Crum. He would even take his break at the same time as them so that he could sit with them and discuss work preventing any real conversation.
Other employees had decided to just work through their breaks to avoid contact with Crum, but Thel had decided early on to feign an on going stomach disorder to give him the opportunity to sneak out of the toilet window during his breaks. It was a hard decision he faced, enjoying the comfort of having Mr Crum watch him as he ate, or roam free around town; cautiously of course. Thel didn’t have to worry about the Boss discovering him out of office grounds in his “toilet breaks.” The normal hypocrisy behind bureaucratic ways had leant Mr Crum his own toilet facilities, which Thel and his Co-Works guessed was set in marble with gold plated flushing handles and a large aquarium of strange exotic fish.
Of course, the aquarium had to be the only explanation… Why else would Mr Crum keep an assortment of fish food packets on the shelves in his office? After all, mused Thel to himself, only a fish enthusiast would actually buy something labelled “Fishy Foods.” Thel had brought it up with Mr Crum in one of his breaks that he hadn’t sneaked off in and asked about his peculiar fish food collection however, with Crum’s annoying knack of ignoring anything he didn’t want to hear he had spouted something about “breaking the laws of office decency” and ended the conversation abruptly with “right, back to work then.” There had been some mention of “the laws of office decency” during Thel’s initiation into the company, but the basic underlying avoidance of Mr Crum from certain topics lent to the idea that he was just a closed secretive personality.
Thel sighed as he realised his mind had wondered of onto office life again. He made a point of trying to forget about it unless he had to. Tightening his forehead and grinding his teeth a little, he willed his thoughts to stop and on glimpsing up after a few paces he found himself just outside his home. Fumbling for his key in the cold winter air as he reached the door and twisted the key in the lock. After hanging his coat up on the banister, he kicked off his shoes to regretfully damp, smelly socks, and settled down on the couch. He switched on the T.V.
An image slowly frizzled onto the screen and an alarmingly loud music channel he had been watching the night before made him cringe and mute the volume. The screen changed suddenly and there was an unusual elderly man giving what looked like a very sombre speech. Curious, Thel turned up the volume until he could make some sense of what the man was saying.

“ I …….. would like to state…. The war has….. leading me to believe that we were…..”

The sound quality was terrible and now blurred into nonsensical blurbs and white noise. Thel looked closer at the man. He wore a weather worn expression marked by wrinkles by the sides of his eyes. His discomfort at being on air made his hands tremble as he clutched his notes and gazed at the camera crew somewhere off screen. He wore a dark purple almost brown cloak and had brown greying hair wildly askew about his head. The sound whistled back into clarity and the man continued.

“I know some of you don’t like the way things are going right now but you mu…”
It cut out again. The T.V had completely blacked out at this point. Thel swivelled around to sit up and flicked through the other channels. They were all the same. He waited a moment then turned off the television when the signal didn’t come back. Thinking nothing of it Thel resting back against his couch and listened to the cars hiss past the window as their tyres rolled across the worn tarmac road; bigger cars and vans rattling the old Victorian windows of the house.
As another car hissed past it left in its wake a faint scratching noise like something moving across a tin-like surface. Thel glanced across at the direction of the sound as though for some reason it would let him hear it better. The sound had stopped quite abruptly. As another car passed and settled into the distant nuances of the Thursday evening Thel forgot the scratching noise and made his way to the kitchen for a drink.
Outside raindrops settled on the garden patio and plants around it; rising in intensity until it sounded like a faint patter of applause. It created an excited feeling in the air and a soft breeze that fluttered some fallen leaves on the floor. A slow rumble attracted Thel to his bubbling kettle. He mixed a bitter coffee that he could spend some thought dwelling on then made his way back into the sitting room. Before his lips had touched his mug a loud scratching made him jump and spill coffee down his trousers. Yelping Thel carefully suppressed the feeling of searing coffee working through his trousers until he could put the mug down without spilling more on himself.
“Ahh” he jittered rubbing his leg where the coffee had spilt. The scratching noise remained and had increased in volume as though it was in the house. “What the hell is that!!!!” he pined, checking the reddened skin on his legs. He thought about running the scolded leg underwater quickly but the scratching got louder still until he couldn’t stand it any longer. With his trousers still undone he marched up to the front door mustering all the spiteful remarks he could think of as he went. He dramatically swung open the door with his fists clenched and with a heated look on his face spun to face the noise.
On the other side of the pavement a young mother was glaring at him with her baby wrapped safely in its pram. His trousers were somewhere around his legs. Thel let out a large embarrassed smile and quickly pulled up his trousers as the women hurriedly walked by. The situation had diffused his temper but he still felt curious about the scratching noise. He waited for a moment and strained his ears to see if he could hear anything. A light scratching, much quieter then before, was coming from somewhere just to the side of his head.
His satellite dish was bent out of shape with a jumble of brown feathers in the middle. He could only guess that the bird had flown into it. Distracted? Blind perhaps? It was quite a peculiar thing to do. All the same, it now fumbled hopelessly about in one spot trying to fly away. A little eye from somewhere in that mass of feathers was staring at him.
Recalling several wildlife programmes, he was led to believe this bird probably regarded him as a predator of some sort, gathering around its corpse to feast on its damaged form. He needed to do something, it certainly didn’t look like it had taken the crash well. Grabbing hold of a chair he got from inside he climbed on it and slowly stretched out his hand to reach for the bird. It stumbled onto his hand so suddenly that it completely freaking him out. He let out a surprised cry and teetered on his chair until he half leapt, half stumbled off it having the sense to carefully sheltering the bird in his hands. Uncertainly, he moved slowly inside the house and settled the bird in amongst some soft cushions on the couch.

Chapter 2 – A Birds Letter

The phone line was dead. Clutching the receiver in his hand, Thel bit his lip in thought. He hadn’t planned on doing anything past calling the RSPCA… Screwing up his eyes and biting hard on his lower lip he tried to force some kind of useful action from his mind, but nothing came. Restless, he marched back into the sitting room hoping his hurried pace would solve something purely because of the urgency he put behind it.
The bird rested motionless on the cushion. “It was probably going to die,” thought Thel. He’d seen this happen before as a child. A bird had flown into a house window and crashed to the ground with a broken wing. After first regrettably poking it with a stick to discern what it was, he dragged his father from his tea to show him it with a “look what I’ve found” childish enthusiasm. They’d rushed it to the vets but it had died long before they got there.
Quite alarmingly the bird in front of him let out a loud chirp. It seemed to make a habit of shocking him more then he did to it. Something on the bird caught Thel’s eye. There was something wrapped around its Talon, bound with a thin red metallic string. The note, though very small, seemed to have a distinct red and gold boarder to it. Thel decided to take it, preferring some action to his indecision and began to approach the bird. He hesitated a little as he held the bird’s talon still and gently prized the note out of its bindings. The pearl white parchment felt delicate to the touch. Smoothing his hand over it, he noted the boarder was furry and the parchment seemed to have small indistinct contours or indents making a complex pattern. The bird fidgeted a little, drawing Thel’s attention towards its gaze. It eyed him intently as he fumbled the small note open and slowly stretched its talons a little. Thel noticed this momentarily and gazed back down at the note in his hand and started to unfold it. In his enthusiasm he hadn’t noticed the bird fly out of the room.
The lines on the parchment were vague at first. He had to squint to make them out but they seemed to change shape. First much wider, then taller, then quite rapidly the note had out grown his right hand and was many times it size; now being propped up in both his hands. The words began to settle into place.

“19 Free-Grove way
Marx
England
C189PF”

It was his address though the eloquent scrawl made it seem much grander then he thought it deserved. The writing grew wider, then stretched into a simpler shape before springing back to form another line of writing.

“ I wonder Thel, does it still seem real? Do you want it to be so… dull?”

Thel read it through a few times unsure of what it asked. He kept looking at the word “dull” and found himself answering the question as though a part of him wanted to speak. “Dull means too much to me” he thought, suddenly being reminded of the fatigue of the days work. “A lot more then it should.”
The thought lingered a moment in his mind, as he savoured this truth he hadn’t realised he cared for. It was like testing a new foods texture and discovering its taste.
The weight of the delicate paper shifted in his hand. Bringing his eyes back into focus from a vacant stare he was carrying, he saw the paper fold itself in two, making crinkling noises as it formed, then further folding itself until it was shaped as a paper aeroplane. It flapped its paper folds and struggled into the air, then flew towards the front door. Thel rushed after it just in time to see it squeeze through the letterbox at the end of the corridor and ascend into the air distorting oddly behind the rippled glass of his front door.
“Did that just happen?” he thought to himself. Excitement, curiosity, wonder, too many feelings to distinguish between at once, raced through his body. Thel paced the room trying to burn out this energy brimming inside him. Finding himself at the window he couldn’t help peering through the curtain screen, at the grey cloud mass and streets bathing beneath its rain, curbs reflecting light as an occasional car passed by.
“A lot more then it should,” a simple truth had been ushered forth from his brain. The thought was true now he thought about it, but how had it come so quickly to him? Why this mattered more then the mysterious birds letter he wasn’t sure, but a childhood spent reading fantasy novels had played through his head many times and made the letters existence entirely plausible and somewhat comforting.
For the rest of that evening Thel kept thinking back to the letter. He rested, stretched out on his green sofa, subconsciously running his hand against its fabric as he remembered its intricate fabric lining. The T.V had resumed its “normal programs,” which he noted to himself with a wry smile, and so he lost himself in a gangster film remake he had seen a few years ago. It was suitably awful for him to watch without getting too involved in it, so that he could stew on his thoughts for a little while longer.
After a few hours he went to his room and rested down in his bed, enjoying the comfort of his covers and the animosity of the darkness around him. A few clouds high up in the atmosphere travelled past his window partly illuminated by the crescent moon. The houses outside his window stood mute of their quaint seaside palette. A calm breeze brought the freshness of the night air into his room through his open window.

Chapter 3 – No Neck

The air was cold in his room. It nagged at his legs and feet until he had to shift his covers to try and wrap himself tighter and seal in warmth. “It must’ve been just before dawn now” he thought to himself. He wasn’t going to wake up this early. Thel was very determined in sticking to this rule even if his consciousness had already pulled him out of his dreams; so he still slumped in mock sleep trying to end his dream that had been cut short.
The faceless image that was going to reveal the next new moment, complete the dream, and move it into something new and exciting, it just couldn’t stay in my mind. Stay! But, no it wont. Come on. That face must’ve had shape, and must’ve been an identity. I just find a blur of peach. Skin I know should be there. Not a person. Not a face.
Thel opened his eyes. His room was like dark blue brush strokes of oil on canvas, soft and ethereal. He sighed preparing himself for the morning cold, then threw off his covers and stood in his boxers stretching his arms wide to aid a very long, enjoyable yawn, before rushing to pull some clothes out from his draws and put them on. It always surprised Thel when he awoke fully alert in the morning. He always expected a lingering tiredness in his eyes but at that moment he felt completely revitalised. It felt so calm through his window and the outside seemed entirely welcoming. He smiled at the soft morning light and decided, on a whim, to go for a walk.
After putting on his winter jacket and two pairs of socks, to block out the cold, he made his way up the hill of which his house was about half way up. There weren’t any cars out this early during winter, or parked in the seasonal car park a little further up the hill. The lack of abundant tourists and travellers of the summer at that time of day leant to a peaceful kind of tranquillity in the air however the summer warmth was lost and it always seemed Thel’s clothes never suited his body temperature; too hot or too cold for the time of year he needed them. His jacket was warm enough to make him overheat and had done so within a few minutes of putting it on and traipsing around the house as he got ready. He had to unzip it and let the breeze against his t-shirt cool him down which made his coat fly open dramatically against the wind. Towards the top of the hill was a house his friends often talked about it in his school years. They’d take it in turns to finish each other’s descriptions and add more as an on going game. Since then Thel always glanced at the house for a long while as he past it.

“NO NECK”

“He’s a real person”

“There is this house down Free Grove, it’s all messy and covered in thorns, old and decrepit looking. That’s where he lives.”

“He’s this guy with long hair and beard so you can't see his neck”

“He chases after kids that walk too close to him down the Kino sits just there, across the road from it”

Again Thel looked at the house closely as he walked by. He could hear a TV playing loudly somewhere inside but only the bass tones cut through the walls, too indistinguishable to make out the voices of what No Neck was watching. The sound of the TV didn’t make the house seem any less lonely from outside, or make sadness that lingers around it any less intense. Thel had seen No Neck wondering around town, in his black, full-length coat and hat. He would carry sadness with him where he went.
You could see him most often sitting by the seawall with his back to the ocean, just listening to the movements of the sea as they crashed on the sand. It was like the sea behind him was his strength and trust; it must have given him some comfort to be close to; even if it meant forever being vigilant of the youths, Chavs, nearby. They were his threat, everyone’s threat in the town and those that stuck out as he did were always extra cautious of them.
From the front of the house, the only window without a curtain you could see through had an old photocopying machine and computer behind it. Thel imagined pangs of remorse surrounding those appliances in the old man’s heart. A sickly reminder of the old man’s middle age, where he was forced to modernize to fit in. He had looked ridiculous attempting to bumble around with this new machinery, taking a little joy in achieving simple tasks while the youths at his work laughed behind his back at his simple mistakes.

Why does he keep it there? You never see him by it, its just some derelict; an unused reminder of how he couldn’t keep up with the times.

Slowly No Neck had slipped beneath any value in society, suffering and scorning it every day; just reminded of his bitterness every time he saw those appliances. Feeling that bitterness as he approached his house, when he walked in the room where it was and saw it illuminated by the natural light against the window. In an odd way this now outdated equipment was his fellow inmate. It was a relic of the 80s, long past any use itself. If it could speak it would be as bitter as him and probably completely alone but for No Neck coming by everyday and looking up at it. Thel made all these assumptions, as he often liked to guess the qualities of a person and run a dialogue and narrative with them through his head.
He carried on up the road to the top of the hill. From here you could see the sea just beyond the slope on the other side of the hill. It had many beach huts laid into it and a long set of stairs down to the sea. It was low tide. Thel made his way down the cement steps, brushing against the metal rail that ran down the middle of the steps for support. At the bottom was the cement sea wall and to the left, the pier extending a couple of kilometers out to sea. He liked to sit on the sea wall and watch over the ocean, or slowly walk away from the pier towards his neighboring town, as it was a nice horizon to look at against the setting sun. Now though, during dawn, the sun was behind him as he walked his normal route. He knew the sights very well. In places where the sea walls connections had been broken and worn by the tide, the different parts linked like the bones of some giant with very long thin fingers and odd, uneven knuckles. To the other side of the promenade, painted beach huts looked bizarrely out of place at this time of year with no people crowding the beach and no summer sun to compliment their primary colours.
Thel had come to another set of stone steps that led up the hill again via an alternate route back home. He started to walk up them thinking again of No Necks house, he wanted to take a closer look at it on his way back home. As he approached the top of the stairs he saw a familiar black coat and hat. No Neck had seen him; he had glanced at him from the corner of his eye to see Thel’s head disappearing under the top stone step. It was probably quite bizarre for No Neck to see that happen but it was instinct on Thel’s part. He had instinctively ducked down to avoid being seen and backed down the stairs like a crab side crawling from danger. It was a particularly dumb thing to do to react the way he had. He hadn’t been doing anything wrong, just innocently walking around, most dog walkers tended to be out about now it wouldn’t take much to say he just fancied a walk.
Thel was breathing heavily. Would No Neck come and check on him? How would this bizarre person react to have someone sneaking up on him? Thel tucked himself inside the bushes to the side of the steps as quickly as he could and remained silent. He waited, ready to pounce out and run as soon as he saw No Neck running down the stairs; he would surely be found on closer inspection. But No Neck didn’t appear, not after a few seconds, 30 seconds or a few minutes. He relaxed and breathed easier, after a little while walking up the stairs with a broad smile on his face following the excitement of his little thrill. No Neck had cleared off somewhere down the path and couldn’t be seen anymore.
This was Thel’s normal route home from his walks by the sea. He used to stop here and sit on a memorial bench that overlooked the neighboring town. It had been there for a long time and had some carvings on it from people that had sat there over the years, including some of his own.

Carved into the bench…

“S heart R”

“Chris. C - June 2004”

“ We woz ere”

“M heart S”

In black permanent marker…

“Phone this number if you’ve got Big Bazongas 01255****** I’d like to meet you…”

Why ruin a perfectly good bench?

Some of the beams were missing that made up its backrest, kicked away or leant on by particularly fat people? He had never decided, but still it was the best view around.

For a flittering moment Thel felt someone’s enormous presences behind him then a hot hand was around the side of his neck and another gripping him under his rib cage. He struggled frantically but it just put more pressure on his neck and made him gag. The smell of the person’s sleeve, a smell of the weather worn clothes, rubbed into his nose from the man’s sleeve. All he could see was sky, and the top of a hedge as he passed out.

The first thing he sensed as he came to, was sound; the distant noise of the sea. He couldn’t be too far away from where he was before. There was a window with bright white light coming through it. Compared to the darkness of the room it was close to blinding on first opening his eyes. Slowly lifting his hand up he put it on the ground before him then locked his arm to support himself. The floor was cold and very rough, probably cement. He pulled his other arm around and found his footing, then slowly got up to stand. The room wasn’t very big and as far as he could tell had no decoration what so ever. He went to the wall and felt it; it was cement too. “A rather bleak room to be in,” he thought to himself. In front of him was a door, metal like the hatch on a ship, with a port in the top to look in from. He pushed up against it, but it was as solid as the walls and wouldn’t move.
“This room would particularly suck to live in,” he thought to himself. What on earth could it be for? There was nothing inside. A dread settled on him, an image of all other “abduction” stories he had seen on T.V erupted through his mind.

Abduction… Death, Rape, Torture, A family crying, news reports, forensics searching the ground on their knees for any telling detail, checking where my body might be… dumped in the woods, the sea, a marsh somewhere.

Thel always let his mind run away with him. He had to consciously calm himself down, shutting out any emotion of fear or thought. Just listening to his breathing, only letting whatever he was looking at be in his mind and occupy his thoughts. He hadn’t looked out of the window yet, it still seemed blinding to him compared to the darkness around him. The white light had a very sharp piecing quality that wasn’t illuminating the rest of the room, like it had its own boundary and wouldn’t enter the darkness. Only the door directly opposite it was lit. Thel walked into it and let his eyes adjust tell he could make sense of what he could see.
He had been dragged inside the house closest to the bench on the hill. This building had always fascinated him from the outside; a tall hedge surrounded its entrance and it had a fence on either side, one of which backed onto a small caravan park. The hedge had an opening to it, a metal gate through which you could only glimpse a cream coloured wall. You’d expect the front door to be there, for symmetry, but it must’ve been around another side of the house. He had often wondered what it was like inside but never expected to find out. From what he could guess he must’ve been in one of the three large windows on the top floor. The curtains were usually drawn shut so he couldn’t see inside. He certainly would’ve never expected the house to look like this. But where were the curtains? They weren’t inside the room. So… were they outside the room? Why on earth would they be there?

Chapter4 – The Fire Room

Thel waited by the window, watching for anyone that might walk by. He was planning to break the glass with his elbow and shout out for help.
It must’ve been around midday by now. People should be passing by… It wasn’t a busy route… locals liked to walk by it for the view… better then going along the road on the other side of the houses.
As he waited there was a different feeling in the room around him, a subtle change in his peripheral vision and movement in the atmosphere. In the air itself? Turning away from the window he looked closely at the walls.
Were they changing or was it just his imagination? He looked for a little longer but still wasn’t certain; blinking his eyes a few times he glared closer at the walls. Was it the focus of his eyes that was causing the change? He continued to squint determinedly. After a few moments he noticed something was definitely happening to the room.
The walls had begun to glow a burnt brown. Thel could feel heat in the air, carried across his arms and through his hair. Specs of glowing light, ethereal spheres gradually getting lighter until they became a brilliant white then began to move randomly in spirals around the room.
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  #2  
Old 12-29-2006, 07:52 AM
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Dromiceius Dromiceius is offline
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Editing... you need line breaks between paragraphs.

insight = incite
Quote:
that the other employees found themselves falling into, the absurd world of Office Bureaucracy.
A colon instead of a comma, methinks.

Quote:
one of his breaks that he hadn’t sneaked off in and
I had to read that twice... the construction is a bit awkward. Properly, it would be "his breaks in which he hadn't..."
But, it's probably better that the voice be consistent, rather than grammatically correct, so it's your call, of course.

Scolded should be scalded.

I only read the first chapter so far, but I like it. Kinda reminds me of the stories on poopreport.com... There are a lot of office stories that relate the sort of alienated business atmosphere you've used here. That, and the fact that in those stories, somebody usually ends up crapping their pants, and then waddling around in public with the mess around their ankles.

Heh heh.
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Old 12-29-2006, 01:22 PM
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Michael. A Michael. A is offline
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What about indenting? I did do that but when I pasted it, it lost that.

I'm finding in the pace of the story I'm having to keep a very specific rhythm which is as much musical as anything. So I'm kinda of phrasing it in that way. The style of writing I find is changing depending on the situation of the book, so the first chapter is somewhat different to the others but I hope still has consistancy. My worry is that my short chapters and abrupt pauses and changes might take away from the readers ability to let the words flow properly.

Thing is I always read very slowly and make sure I enjoy every line so thats how I've written it but I know a lot of people just speed through books. I Imagine it all spoken.
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Old 12-30-2006, 05:31 AM
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Dromiceius Dromiceius is offline
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The software eats whitespace for whatever reason. I think you could use[indent] or put the entire thing between [code] tags, but neither of those are particularly good solutions.

Quote:
Thing is I always read very slowly and make sure I enjoy every line so thats how I've written it but I know a lot of people just speed through books. I Imagine it all spoken.
Aye. That's a good practice.
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