To read this story or to participate in this writing event, you only need a free account.
You can Login with Facebook or create regular account
To find out what this event is about click here

Frank Chapel's picture

Imaginary Friends

By Frank Chapel in Teleport Us

How It Rates

Voting for this event has ended
Once you have read this story, please make sure you rate it by clicking the thumbs above. Then take a few minutes to give the author a helpful critique! We're all here for fun but let's try to help each other too.


Adam's conscience is getting to him...his conscience being one part of a complex hive of androids controlled by an artificial intelligence called "The Queen."  Seeking answers to a secret in his past, he finds more than he expected.




Steven Zore's picture
Steven Zore from Brooklyn, New York March 1, 2013 - 7:02am

I loved it it was very poignant it made me cry! Your writing style is very clear. The 

only thing is the last line, "nowhere"  fell flat for me 

it was not satisfying, i wanted a little something more

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works March 1, 2013 - 7:28pm

Thank you for taking the time to read and reply Steven. I'm glad you enjoyed it to the extent you did. 

A note on the ending: I thought about having Adam die in the end, either by the hands of his sister, or some other device, but I wanted him to live knowing that he had a hand in destroying the Society, especially after his implant kicks in. 

Matt Hebert's picture
Matt Hebert from Vermont, originally, now in Dublin March 1, 2013 - 5:38pm

An almost surreal piece, it left me with a bewildered sense that reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. :)  Good company, I think.

I like the opening, where Adam and Jacob are clearly delineated. You get a taste for the madness in Adam, but at the time it comes across as his humanity.  I liked the way that played a double role in my head.

I thought the scenes themselves were well written, although I was hoping they would tie together better. We seem to follow Adam through some random events that help paint a picture of the problems of the world, but don't hang together as a story. The scene with the boy building a castle seemed especially hard for me to work in.

I loved some of the technological details, like the watch that unfolds into a tablet.  Other elements didn't work so well for me.  Unless I missed it somewhere, the term claytronic isn't defined exactly, and as it's used for everything from sensors to devices to foam, it lost any significance it might have collected along the way.

From the point where he is taken to the hospital for observation, I had trouble holding onto the story. I guess his reflection that becomes his mother, then images, then the Queen could be the result of the Trojan he's means to infect the hospital computer with ... but all these things blurred past me.  I think it's this part of the story that got a bit surreal for me.

The characters are strong and the plot is detailed and nuanced. I would have to read it a few more times to everything out of it, I think, but that's not a bad thing.  It's just tricky to digest in one or two passes. :)

Very creative with strong writing, though.  Thanks for posting this. :)

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works March 1, 2013 - 7:50pm


Thanks for taking the time to read and leave such a great reply. I see what you're saying about how it didn't seem to tie together, I think there were some parts I didn't elaborate on that perhaps I should've. Sometimes deciding what to leave in and what to take out seems like a complex balancing act. Thank you for pointing that out.

The effect that I was trying to acheive with the castle, was that Adam is manipulative, but is forced to veil this part of himself. He repeats that he's just warning the boy about the castle, but he's really telling him to destroy it. I did wonder whether or not I should leave it in.

About the tech, Claytronics are actually a real thing, a potential technology of the future. I foolishly thought I would not have to explain this and got so into the plot, etc, that I never took the time to explain the functionality of one of the main pieces of tech. I fell into that trap of just referring to it and not giving it a sense of why its there or how it works. If you get a chance to read Gentry's "Transport" he really nails how to describe some of this without being too jargon heavy, had the right balance.

I wanted the end to be a bit fast paced when it came to what Adam was being forced to experience/remember that moment, and it seems like it just came off too fast and too vague?      The information on the screen was a mixture of the Grinder's hacking of the mainframe, and the Queen trying to get Adam to understand why the society existed. But you know what they say about endings you have to explain! 

I'm glad you liked what you did, hopefully I can tighten it up and make something more engaging, I am still interested in tweaking it. I think I'll attempt a version from the POV of the Queen. 

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce March 2, 2013 - 2:27pm

Frank, you've definitely nailed my dystopian nightmare. I can't think of anything more soul destroying than being constantly monitored and never having a minute alone to think by myself. I enjoyed your characters and I really loved the scene at the funeral. I was curious why they get funerals to be alone but not sex! And Jacob's little scene around pages 11-12 was a nice surprise, and the descension into madness at the end was pretty awesome.

I think the link between the creation (or the evolution, more accurately) of the Hive and the apocalypse that happened needs to be stronger. It;s a bit of a strech to go from altered human DNA causing sickness and violence to a supercomputer... but all I think it needs is some information about the current society that would cause it to make such a big leap, e.g. the current state of freedom the people have (or don't have) or a political party trying to make certain changes, then the apocalypse comes along and they take advantage of that chaos and create the Hive.


Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works March 8, 2013 - 12:44pm

Thank you for taking time to read my story, and leave helpful comments as well. That is a good question about the privacy of the funerals over privacy of intimacy. The truth is they are always watched on some level, whether their personal Hive droid is there or not. The man at the funeral was just a bit more conscious of it.

I understand your comments about the world, I should have simplified it more, made it less convoluted. I tend to have this problem or habit of wanting to fit dozens of ideas into a very cramped space. The grinder in the story, for example, played a bigger role in the ending, but i had to cut that for the word limit. The story benefited from that cut, i think.

Thanks again

Wendy Hammer's picture
Wendy Hammer from Indiana is reading One Night in Sixes March 15, 2013 - 1:25pm

This has so much potential.  I liked a lot about it--but it feels constrained here.  I think it needs to stretch beyond the limits of the word count.  

The idea of the Hive and the Society is a good one.  I think it becomes especially rich with characters like Adam and Sybil.  I really wanted more from both.  I don't mind some ambiguity, but I think I need to see more of Adam's sociopathy.  It doesn't have to be anything drastic, but I need a nudge.  For awhile, I thought this might be one of those flipping the script on terminology pieces.  Maybe you intended his state to be up in the air...but if so, that kind of diminishes some of those great moments like the sand castles, the Othello, and so on. I loved the first connection between conscience and Imaginary friend so very much, I'd like to see the elements tie together. 

I like the idea of the resistance as well and there are some very clever bits with the meetings, etc. Yet, I found those pieces to be loosely hung together as well.  

I did like the story and I enjoyed reading it.  I hope you get the chance to flesh it out some more.  A solid blend of thought-provoking sci-fi, philosophy, and general creepiness is hard to resist! 

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works March 17, 2013 - 4:55pm


Thank you very much for your comments. I didn't want to mention that this is really one of my first really finished stories, (I've been dreaming up things like this for a while but never wrote it down fully), mainly because it sounds like a crutch or something. Anyway, early on I thought Adam would be more sadistic and more homicidal, but I wanted to represent a different sort of sociopathy, one that was more psychologically manipulative but still destructive, (his sister is an example,) unfortunately I did not pull that off as well as i'd hoped. The grinder resistance played a bigger role too, in earlier versions, but I had to cut it out for the word count.

I wonder if it'd be ok to PM you with some questions later? I'm definitely interested in making it a much more solid piece.

Wendy Hammer's picture
Wendy Hammer from Indiana is reading One Night in Sixes March 17, 2013 - 7:29pm

Please do so! 

 I think the idea to make it a more subtle form is excellent and will ultimately be a richer kind of reading experience. 

It is also awesome that you've come this far.  Good for you! That first step is a doozy, but you've got something cool to work with. 

klahol's picture
klahol from Stockholm, Sweden is reading Black Moon March 17, 2013 - 11:25am

Very cool story. I have to admit, it's become kind of a challenge to tackle a 4K story this long into the competition, but you pulled it off. 

Reminded me about the hive-mind Resuna in the books by John Barnes. A kind of cool, self-sure attitude of 'we've already won, resistance is futile.' 

Well done! 

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works March 17, 2013 - 5:04pm


Thank you sir, i'm happy that you had a chance to read my entry and reply. I do have a tendancy to overwrite and over-think a concept, to the point of convolution. I tried to cut that back, best I could. 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 22, 2013 - 9:34am

I can't fault your choice of dystopia, being monitored all the time is an horrific thought, yet it is also easy to imagine it happening. I liked Adam as a character, and his subtle sociopathic nature is very well done. The story is a little disjointed in places, the scenes don't connect perhaps as well as they should, but it is well written. I started to get lost from around the Othello scene, and I'm still not certain I really grasped what was going on from the moment Jacob turns. The concepts were strong enough to keep me going, but I'd like to see a little more coherence. My favourite was definitely the opening - it does a great job of giving us background without seeming like an info dump, and that shouted line is perfect. There is a lot of potential here if you keep on at it. If this is your first completed piece though I am impressed. You have talent, just keep at it.

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. March 24, 2013 - 1:15pm

A reasonably smooth read from start to finish. Being followed around by a mechanical chaperon would quickly turn life into little more than a prison. You did a very good job of conveying that in Adam's desperation. Excellent work!

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations March 29, 2013 - 6:32am

Ultimately, I think you might be overreaching what you can do in a 4000 word story. And as a result, the reader is somewhat lost, we don't fully understand and therefore emphasize with Adam, or the Hive, or Cal. It's not that some mystery and strangeness isn't a bad thing, but in this case I felt it didn't fully describe what you were aiming to describe. I suspect a part of this is because it is from a Transhumanism viewpoint, which people familiar with those concepts might get more out of, but which leaves me somewhat cold.

I think you can slim it down somewhat, focus on the simpler side of things. Drop things that aren't entirely necessary in a short story. The "golden age" after the holy wars, and the illness, and Osaki - these are background, but does the reader of this story need them? The Shakespeare play - in a "controlled" world, would shakespeare be performed in what might be considered inflammatory original fashion, or would it have been edited to remove the crimes, the passion? Do we need the external link to Cal? is that purely to get Adam into a place closer to the "Queen"? Does the Queen not have backups? Disaster recovery?

The bits I DID like were more self contained - the kids playing in the sand pit, the aside at the funeral (though this goes nowhere, unless that was Cal) - all little cameo's that give an insight  into the world and into Adam. If you write like that - simple, but observational, and can string enough of them to tell the story of this world without diving into philosphical discussions between long dead characters, then I think it would be a knockout piece.

As it is the profusion of characters and attempts to explain things leads to a bumpy ride, (right from the start as well) and it doesn't alas quite do the job of a short story for me!

Minor points :

I seem to have a copywith edit notes already in it, which is a bit distracting!

Some proofreading necessary :

"I believed the key to individuality lied in human empathy" - lay?

P.s. I like the "Went to sleep with an angel on your right one night" rhyme - unfamiliar to me. Googled it, didn't find an exact match. Intrigued by what this story might have been if that was worked in much earlier.