Thursday, August 11, 2011


For contest rules, go here.

          Eight tiny legs skitter across my left shoulder in search of its target. Soon the nefarious bug tickles the side of my neck before it enters my ear and establishes his mind-control habitat buried deep inside my cerebral cortex.  I lay motionless strapped to the experimental table like a lunatic at an asylum. My ankles and wrists raw from my repeated escape attempts. Why me? I’m a 16 year old self-proclaimed narcissist from a small town in upstate New York. What would a terrorist want with me? I wonder dumbfounded.
I make one final push to relieve myself from this madness by jerking violently to my left, noticing the right strap squeezing the blood from my aching wrist has loosened some. Unfortunately, the end result doesn’t quite happen the way I plan as the entire table flips over, and I slam face-first into the sterile black floor. Thud. Hot liquid sprays from my crushed nose penetrating into my already stinging eyes. I move my jaw from side to side tasting bloody saliva and tiny tooth particles inside my cheek, more evidence of the damage I’ve done just trying not to be another victim of the Skwirls. Don’t ask me who came up with the name, but good old Mother Earth hasn’t been the same since insane terrorists figured out yet another way to torture America. Who would have ever thought something so small could cause such big problems? Wasn’t it Orwell who said that “If the mind is controllable, what then?” I guess a bunch of radicals were sitting around one day after  reading 1984 and decided, wouldn’t it be cool if we could create an electronic insect that could bore its way into a person’s brain to enable mind control? Wouldn’t that be a little easier than steering a jumbo jet into a building or setting off a shoe bomb in the mall?
Still weak from my spill I wrench my arm from underneath my 175 pound frame and manage to tear the rest of the strap away from the silver support. With one hand free I reach quickly for my nose, pinching it closed but splashing a puddle of  accumulating blood across the tile. The weight of the heavy table presses against my ribs making it difficult to breathe deeply as I inchworm my way toward the rows and rows of electronic gizmos and computers above me. My only goal at this point is to disengage the device that in less than one hour will turn me into one of them. A mutant. A will-less moron bent on the destruction of the planet I’ve grown so accustomed to loving. Should I somehow get out of this alive, I hope to recycle more and give to more charities like Save the Whales and stuff.  I, Gabriel Morris, vow never to throw another McDonald’s bag out the window. My throbbing nose tightens as blood coagulates, and I work to free the rest of my body. Tick-tick beep!


Kyle G said...

Hey Don,

I've picked up on a few things you could improve on in your piece.

'I lay motionless strapped to the experimental table like a lunatic at an asylum' could probably do with separating out with parentheses i.e. semi colon or full-stop/period after 'table'. This will also add to the tension by decreasing the sentence length.

The free thought should probably have a separate paragraph and I'm not too sure whether 'dumbfounded' should be 'dumbfoundedly' as it doesn't quite flow right.

The onomatopoeia shouldn't have the same stylisation as your free thought. You've already selected italics for your free thought therefore onomatopoeia could perhaps be either in quotations or simply described by the character.

'Don't ask me who came up with the name.(etc)..torture America' could do with separating and rewording after 'name' as the rhyme of 'name', 'same' and 'insane' becomes distracting and compromises the tone.

Overall it's not a bad concept and I found myself wanting to know more about the Skwirls is just that the prose is slightly convoluted in places and jeopardizes the reader's immersion.

I hope you don't hate me too much for my criticisms and I understand that one can become so involved in a story that it becomes hard 'to see the wood through the trees' as it were. However, once being made aware of such things it is a lot easier to spot such anomalies in the rest of your MS and you begin to grow as a writer.

Best of luck in the competition and I'm liking your premise.

Kyle Grubb

Don said...

Thanks Kyle...I think that keeping it to 500 words or less had some influence on how things turned out for me, plus the fact that the deadline was approaching. Some of the rhyme scheme stuff you noted probably also comes from the fact that I've been a songwriter for a long time. Definitely not planned; it just happens that way sometimes. I will carefully consider your ideas should I pursue this story further. Probably one of those pieces I needed to let sit for a while, but I didn't have the luxury. Thanks again!