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FoxyLenz's picture

Why We Can't Feed the Ducks in Winter

By FoxyLenz in Arrest Us

How It Rates

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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.


The insular world of two addicts in the middle of a cold winter testing the limits of a drugs ability to help them escape. 


Hooper Triplett's picture
Hooper Triplett from Tucson, AZ is reading Fever Pitch June 6, 2014 - 7:26pm

Clever and enticing title, but the beginning is slow and I had difficulty quickly understanding through who's eyes am I seeing the story.  With so few words, I want to dive into story and characterization quickly.  Even the suspenseful parts (her nightmares) feel flat.  Doesn't need more action necessarily, but more tension.  What's the conflict?

Devon Taylor's picture
Devon Taylor from Allentown, PA is reading Doctor Sleep June 7, 2014 - 12:06pm

This was a good read. I liked the title as well. Although, I'm not entirely sure how it correlates with the story. The writing itself was interesting. Aside from a few grammatical things here and there it worked well. I enjoyed the dynamic between Jesus and the narrator. They seemed to have a genuine chemistry. My only critique is that I had a really hard time fitting everything together. It was definitely a psychological story. I just had difficulty staying with it. I think a lot of it has to do with the tone. It seems pretty flat throughout. But for the most part it was very intriguing. Thanks for sharing!

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb June 9, 2014 - 12:12pm

Hi Foxy,

Most of the time during this story I felt like it was more of a horror story than a crime one, but that doesn't really matter I guess. It has a murder, and the narrator reflecting on some of the details, and the question about what's really happened, so that makes it crime enough for me. I'll admit to enjoying getting lost in the details of this. I enjoyed your two main characters (paradoxically, because they're well-walked on the path to fucked up, but that's part of the fun - more on that in the LBL.) I liked the backstory behind all of them, and the well chosen music references you put in their present. 

In general, stories where people keep having dreams don't work for me. At least you did me the favour of not using italics for the dreams, and creating a blur of dream and reality that suited your main character's drug habbits nicely. The real trouble I've got with the dream vs reality ideas here is that I feel like I don't know what exactly I've read by the time I reach the end of them. Perhaps that's the idea - leave it to my interpretation as to whether this character has premonitions, or was somehow involved in a crime and blacked it out in a haze of insomnia and drugs and weird dreams and My Little Pony binges (and I loved that touch, by the way.)

I feel like you're on the verge of something really good here, if only you can lead the reader down these interpretation paths more. There isn't really much detective work involved in this by any of the characters, so perhaps the key is making the reader the detective. You've got me asking the questions, but I want more that makes me ask them and maybe leads me to one or two firm answers. (I like closure, and I admit that's a personal preference.) Perhaps use the timings of the dreams to co-incide with the details of the murder you give at the end, or the details given out by the dead man who keeps appearing (which again was very horror fiction to me, rather than crime). 

Gramatically, you are the queen of comma splices, but not to worry, because I confess to being the king, and that makes me a good hunter. I find them all the time in my own stuff...just a disclaimer before the number of semi-colons I've edited into your story get your back up!

I gave this a thumbs up. LBL attached and hope it helps. And sorry for sounding like a competition judge when I'm not and for stating the obvious, but at the moment you're 189 words over the limit, according to my version of Word. 

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 11, 2014 - 8:51am


I really enjoyed this story.  It wasn't necessarily gripping action wise or intense, but it fell under my favorite kind of story which involves people just being people.  I got so wrapped up in the oddity of the two main characters that I sort of forgot about the murder after a while.  I could see where readers may want a bit more conflict, but it's not a deal breaker for me.  Best of luck.

Kim Nottage's picture
Kim Nottage June 11, 2014 - 7:55pm

The writing format was great - kept my interest not too detailed and no rambling.  The story line was a little raw for my taste but it wrapped up very well.  Keep writing you are going places!

David Puerner's picture
David Puerner from Sacramento, Ca is reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey June 12, 2014 - 2:05pm

I think your characters are nice, especially the POV, and the more fantastic elements to your story really take off for you.

Sometimes there were little things that were a bit too silly for me. The bit about the Chinese food, and the My Little Pony stuff ...what it did for me was undermine the parts of your story that were really interesting. Here we are talking with a dead guy, but even the POV character is more interested in the food than the fantastic. She can be quirky, but I'd like her to engage a little more.

Great ending, and some bursts of really great imagery, but the story line was hard to follow for me. One thing that began to bother me was all that "waking up suddenly," and I know that's one of the weird elements in your story but it was disorienting.

All in all good vision, and you certainly have a way of putting together an ending. Keep it up, polish it, and I think you'll get better and better.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 13, 2014 - 7:49am

I liked this one. It’s an understated slow-burner, and if it lacks tension in places, it still held my interest all the way through. The characters are good, and the way they play off each other feels natural and believable. I liked the silly touches too, with her watching My Little Pony to stave off the nightmares.

I’ll have to go against the grain here in terms of the title. It’s a personal thing, but I’m not a fan of long unwieldy titles, and in this case I’m still waiting on an answer as to why you can’t feed ducks in winter. Jesus on Heroin seems a little controversy baiting, but I can see why you went there, and genuinely don’t think that was the intent. I also think you have a better title appear a couple of times in the story itself – Never Say Never To Always. Again though, that’s just me, and it looks like I’m in the minority of not liking it.

Dreams in stories is problematic, but I think you handled it fairly well. I like the way you blend them in, so for the first time I actually thought you were going down the supernatural part. I loved that she was bothered by him eating the Chinese food. That’s exactly the sort of silly detail you get hooked on in dreams. I’d prefer to see a subtle blending back into the “real world” rather than the breaks. If you are trying to keep the reader on their toes, go the whole hog.

I also agree with Chacron that it would be good to see more resolution here. I read the story, enjoyed it, but I don’t really have a clue what it all means or what happened. Who is coming? It’s a key part of the nightmares, but we never get close to getting an answer. These are clearly premonitions, but how is she getting them, and why are they are coming to her? Are you suggesting that they killed the publisher? I’m all for having the reader filling in the blanks, but it feels like I’m having to provide a lot of the story.

You are close here to having a very strong story. It gets a solid thumbs up from me, but I think it’s worth taking another run or so at this, to make it special.

FoxyLenz's picture
FoxyLenz from Shangri -L.I is reading Mists of Avalon June 13, 2014 - 8:10am

Thanks! I'm terrible at naming pieces...This has been a piece I've been working on for a bit. It's gone through a ton of changes, but I think I may be close. Thanks for the input! 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 14, 2014 - 4:52pm

Nice story, although everything I'd suggest has already been mentioned, I think.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine June 17, 2014 - 9:26am

Your characters work well together and are authentic. I agree that this seems more like a horror story then a crime story, but of course the two aren't mutually exclusive and the confusion that arises out of the constant dreaming keeps a feeling of mystery that's common in both. The piece is a great read, enjoyable and interesting the whole way through. Aside from some petty typos that are hardly worth mentioning I have no other criticisms Nice job.

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. June 25, 2014 - 10:18am


I loved this. I loved this story so, so much. Maybe I'm just a sucker for slobs and heroin addicts and Eyes Wide Shut references but this was brilliant. I loved it. You had a few typos and awkward bits that could definitely use some smoothing out and I personally think a more in depth description of the duck attack in her second dream would really enhance it but bottom line is that even in its rough form this story is phenomenal. Well done.


Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 1, 2014 - 5:51am

Sneaking over the 5000 word limit, and you KNOW you could have trimmed it to sneak under, and (usually) a light trim tightens things up nicely. Lighten up on the backstory (keep it in mind, but in reserve, that she is wearing his band t-shirt is almost enough, the fact the band didn't go anywhere should be obvious from their current situation)

That said, I bought in pretty quickly. (at the drowned man in the kitchen...)

I'd challenge some cliches - the mercedes in the lake (how do you get it in deep enough to sink?)

seaweed - pondweed ?

"And did Mr. Lovecraft say anything else why he was at it" - While, I think!

You lose me in the middle a bit, I think. The meandering into the failed writer. This can be done much more efficiently, we only want JUST enough time to get "bored" before we reconnect with the drowned man.

Ultimately, these two have it a little too cushy. (Earl grey tea cushy...) I'd like to like it more, but for that you need to actual arrive at a solid conclusion. I want her so wound up by the visions (which she seems fairly comfortable with) that explains the breaking of her no heroin rule. Maybe the end is her driving to Brady's for herself, not Jesus. (Which means who is coming is her addiction, and therefore, probably oblivion). And if we're meant to read anything into the fact it is the CEO of Montgomery Publishing that is the news story, you need to set that name up earlier. We get to the end, and we don't really know if it's premonitions, nightmares, or a crime these two have had anything at all to do with.

It's not quite enough of a story for me, but I still loved the nightmare visions, and the dialogue is pretty good, overall, it's an up vote.


Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 22, 2014 - 7:07pm

Really liked this one.  Trippy as all hell and beautifully composed.  Any flaws I noticed have already been mentioned above.  The only thing that bugged me is how easily the MC gave-in to the heroin in the end.  I could have used a little more reticence in that moment - but that might just be me.

Good work.