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Jimmy M.'s picture

Pale Farewell

By Jimmy M. in Arrest Us

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Description

Welcome to 2036. The mysterious ECSS rules the East Coast, supplying fear and organic organs, and for one man, possibly some sacrifice.

Comments

Liam Sweeny's picture
Liam Sweeny from Albany, NY is reading Country Hardball June 17, 2014 - 5:29am

Good story. I didn't see the ending coming. I think there was one spot, between the beginning, "present" and the bast, where he and Walt are working, that you could have used a scene break. Just check to see if one's there. Other than that, you didn't overload it with future terminology, everything gets folded back in nicely. Good job!

Liam

 

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England June 17, 2014 - 11:36am

Hey Liam, thanks a lot! Exactly what page did you see space for a scene break?

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England June 17, 2014 - 9:24am

Hey Liam, thanks a lot! Exactly what page did you see space for a scene break?

Liam Sweeny's picture
Liam Sweeny from Albany, NY is reading Country Hardball June 17, 2014 - 1:14pm

It was right after he was first talking with Flint, just before he was talking with Walt. In the beginning, not sure what page.

 

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England June 18, 2014 - 1:55am

Okay. Thanks again!

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 18, 2014 - 3:11pm

Hahahahah I loved the opening dialogue, but the redacted bit had me in stitches. Unexpected and clever. Pushed the feel of a first person narrative knowing it was somehow being monitored.

In the realm of speculative fiction, I always feel its hard to bring something new to the table, but you did it in under 5,000. Well done.

I also dig that your word choice is expansive without feeling too high brow or 'L'iterature. It's nice to see a rich vocabulary used effectively. Makes the cussing mean more if you have an arsenal of words.

Thanks for the solid tale. 

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England June 19, 2014 - 1:53am

Hey, thanks a lot, Erik, that means a lot!

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 19, 2014 - 8:13pm

I really like how clear and easy this is to follow without sacrificing style. Also love the notion that your MC's pretty much dead as we're reading this, since the strike-through passages imply someone's reading this after-the-fact. Nice DOA touch. I'd scan it over one more time for some minor spelling errors--sorry, I'm doing this on my phone so I can't provide an LBL--but otherwise you've written a cool, stylistic piece. Nice job.

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England June 23, 2014 - 1:15pm

Thanks a lot, man!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 22, 2014 - 3:54am

Nice and interesting. There's a few spelling/grammar slips but all in all it's a very well written piece. I have to say the opening didn't grab me, it was only after the story proper kicked in that I was drawn into it, and all the unexplained acronyms threw me a little, but by the end I really enjoyed this. Nice work.

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England June 23, 2014 - 1:14pm

Hey, thanks a lot, Keb-- I keep hearing spelling and grammar problems, I'll really have to look into that.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 2, 2014 - 6:06am

Very interesting. This reads a little like a melding of two other stories in the contest – The Quiet Detective and Heart, both of which are amongst my favourites.  Right from seeing the title I was expecting a pulpish take, and I wasn’t disappointed. The narrative is good, the characters are individuals with their own voices, and it all flows very well. It all builds to a nice crescendo as well, though I had some issues with the ending (more of that shortly).

There are some great passages here. My particular favourite was the description of Walt, “He was a dragon; smoke poured from every oral orifice when he spoke,” and that he gave off, “a stench reminiscent of some high-cultured son of a bitch who listened to Bach concertos in his winged leather armchair, with a walnut-panelled humidor on a nearby table”. It is one of the best character descriptions I’ve read on here.

There were a few issues I had though. The redacted name struck me as a pointless gimmick. I saw Dino’s comments on it, and I have to say I did not view it in the same way. Written as it is in the first person, I don’t see how anyone could be reading it after the fact. If they were, I’d have thought Flint’s name would have been redacted. Maybe I’m completely missing the point (which is more than possible), but I can’t see any reason for redacting the name, and can’t see how doing so serves the story.

The ending also confused the hell out of me. Again this may be just me, so take it with a pinch of salt, but it took me another read just to realise that Flint was ECSS. I don’t understand Flint’s motivation. Why does he need to kill Mr Redacted? Revenge for killing his “partner”? He claims that the protag is a chink in his armour, but this is a guy who has no idea that Flint isn’t exactly who he says he is, a WHOP. It feels like a twist ending, just for the sake of a twist ending. If I have missed something, than maybe it just needs clearing up and making it a little more obvious.

Also, one question occurred to me while reading… why do they only harvest one organ? Why not swipe all the originals at once, rather than waste decent organs? I thought that maybe everybody had replacement organs, and there were few originals, but at the end the job is to swipe the heart, and obviously he takes the kidney instead for Shay. It’s not a major point, just something that niggled me a little.

Apart from those few minor issues though, I really did enjoy this one. Best of luck with it.

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England July 3, 2014 - 12:12pm

Hey Adam, thanks for your feedback. I'll see if I can answer all your queries for you:

  • The name--yes, after taking a break and looking at the main character, it does seem gimmicky. One of my main ideas going in was to create an almost completely ambiguous character, in terms of moralty and basic traits. He took another name as a precaution as being part of ECSS, but I can understand confusion, as I wasn't exactly clear about it.
  • The ending--there was a small part where the main character noted that nobody really knew what happened to people who rubbed the ECSS the wrong way--I would've mentioned some hitman, but I wasn't sure whether even the mention of one would infract upon the rules. Flint is taking out the main character because he's a liability--although the ECSS has wormed its way into the WHOP, the company won't stand for narcs. If it wasn't clear, Flint and Walt started the ECSS together, with another doctor, who was replaced by the main character for unknown reasons. I guess the ending is sort of a twist, though I tried to hint at it with Walt's final words. The main character is a chink in the armor, because since he killed Walt, he has declared himself as working for himself, which is bad news for someone who knows that much about the ECSS's process of extraction.
  • Why only harvest one organ--I honestly didn't think about that until you brought it up, but thanks for letting me know. Although this is a plothole of sorts, you could assume a number of things--the person in question could have other organ problems that don't affect the targeted organ, and that it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between an artifical organ and an organic one except for its protein strains and the AO's limited capacity to last (it needs to be replaced usually twice in a person's lifetime), so it could only be safe to steal the one organ that you know for a fact is organic. Again, if I could change the copy of it on this site, I would probably just have the ECSS harcest everything and inspect it later.

 

Again, thanks for your feedback--I really do appreciate it.

Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 10, 2014 - 4:49pm

Hey James,

This was a good futuristic noir.  I liked your MC and your prose was solid all the way through.  In terms of character, I think Flint could use a little bit more distinction, but all-in-all these are unique people.

Adam pointed out some of the points where suspension of disbelief could be strained and I agree with him for the most part (e.g. if the MC's name was redacted, why wouldn't the fact that Flint runs ECSS be redacted too).  But the truth is none of these pulled me out of the story.  The one thing I didn't love though was the ending.  The trouble with twist endings is if they don't work for a reader, then the whole thing feels like a bit of an anti-climax - which is how I felt after finishing.

I think the dialogue could also use a little work in the scene with Shay.  It feels kinda on-the-nose.  I could use a little more subtext and maybe a little more hope that she might come around.

This was a thumbs up from me.

P.S. It might not seem like I've given a thumbs up, but that's because I rated it a few weeks ago and today I finally felt I was decent enough at this reviewing business to come back to yours.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 11, 2014 - 8:46am

Hey James,

I dug this. It has a good, pulpy quality to it mixes well with the future world you created. I wasn't digging the redacted name thing, but it seems like you're already thinking over that, so I won't focus too much on it. One of the things I will mention is that reading your comments, it seems like you wanted the character to be ambiguous, and honestly, I'm not sure if that's the best way to go. Right now, the characer really isn't that ambiguous- his narration is too personal, and you show is his connection to Shay and how much he cares for her, both things that paint a vivid picture of the type of person he is. Again, I enjoyed all this, but if you really are focused on making your character ambiguous, you need to pull back. Give him a more detached voice and maybe not focus so much Shay.

I agree with Adam that the ending didn't feel like it came together as neatly as I would have liked. I didn't have an issue understanding the deal with ECSS, or why Redacted had to die (he did after all killed Walt's partner), but I'm just not sure I really cared. Part of it is because I felt that Flint's scenes dragged the story down, and part of it was because I was a lot more vested in whether Shay would get the organ or not. Those last scenes between Flint and Redacted almost make Shay an after thought. There is that line where he asks Flint for help with Shay, but that's kinda forgotten as soon as Flint makes his big reveal.

If you want to stick to the word count, I would suggest trying to figure out either a way to tie the two things together more strongly, or deciding on just one. Either could be a good avenue to go to, but right now neither felt like they had a satisfying resolution.

I hope this helped. I think you have the begining of something really good here.

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England July 12, 2014 - 5:47am

Hey Hector,

Thanks a lot for the feedback! I'll try to add some changes--and what I mean by ambiguous is more in relation to his name, and his exact feelings about extracting--he realizes that he is killing people, but it's unsure whether he feels any guilt over it or not. Again, thank you very much!