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Sean Joseph McCann's picture


By Sean Joseph McCann in Scare Us

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Something terrible happened here, a month ago. Now a man and his daughter must confront the forces of evil in their town. In doing so, they are forced to explore their relationship with each other.


lspieller's picture
lspieller from Los Angeles July 2, 2012 - 2:19pm

I really like the idea of this underground city, and not seeing the monster works, particularly at the end (was it Ms. Fitzgerald? or did it come out of the ground?) 

I'm a little confused about the father-daughter relationship. Obviously she's scared of him in the beginning, and she's freaked out in general, but what's really going on there? Was he raping her? Beating her? He's got a lot of physical tension (drumming his fingers, shifting his weight, etc.) which suggests to me that it was physical abuse. But if he was abusing her, and she knows this monster is coming for him, why is she so scared? I think there needs to be a little bit of development there. Also, your summary says he's a police that important to the story?

The conversation gets a little repetitive since he has to ask her again and again to answer his questions. Is there some other way to show that she is distracted and freaked out? I know you want to have the daughter's emotions broadcast via her speech, but I think the dialogue is alittle labored right now. Maybe you could find a way to SHOW her fear a little more (like how she dug her nails into her palms).  I think that might help give the story a little more action.

thanks for the read!

Sean Joseph McCann's picture
Sean Joseph McCann from New Zealand! is reading NOT The Hobbit July 2, 2012 - 10:55pm

That's some solid advice - thank you! I'll admit the summary was written rather hastily; I'm never quite sure how to promote my own work.

I'll work on what you've suggested and hopefully come back with an improvement.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 7, 2012 - 7:52am

I thought I had commented but it must not have posted. I can't even remember what I did say, so if the other post suddenly shows up out of electronic limbo, let's agree that that's my evil twin talking.I keep thinking about this story, which is a tribute to its power. I think what I like most is the very frightening father-daughter dysfunctional dynamics. For me, this is much more horrifying than the story's boo-factor and the gore at the end. Similar to "Itch," we are wondering whether what she describes is a huge psychological reaction to some internal horror, and in this case, all the more chilling, its locus seems to be the father who is controlling her with a hint of barely suppressed violence. At this point when I read horror, I' m often thinking, "So why make it literal?" in the right hands (I'm thinking Kafka), taking the horror literal is absolutely the most effective thing. But usually it isn't. Only my opinion, though. I had the same reaction to "The Shining," and he's Stephen King and I'm not.

That said. . . Nothing is more frightening than bugs, and where bugs are concerned, NOTHING is more frightening than spiders. To imagine what spiders say. . . Now I have the distinct feeling something is crawling on me. Back to "Itch" . . .

Chad Stroup's picture
Chad Stroup from San Diego is reading Primal Screamer by Nick Blinko July 8, 2012 - 11:03am

Overall I thought this story was good, but I also agree with much of what Ispieller said in the comments above (especially in regards to the dialogue). Additionally, I think the sense of mystery is what works best in this piece. Bits of information slowly unravel and let the reader know what's happened (but not completely). I just wish there was a bit more tension. It's there, but the combination of the abusive father/daughter relationship and the otherworldly experience that has just occurred demands more of a distinct reaction from both of them, I think. The mother dying seems like kind of an afterthought.

I also really liked the title. It was odd enough to make me want to read it.

A good start...I would say keep working on it and you might have something pretty cool here.

WesFord's picture
WesFord from America (CO, NE, NC, AK, NY, WA) is reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Portable Atheist by Hitchens, 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill August 1, 2012 - 12:18am


I too agree with everything that's been said. There was a bit too much repetition for me. Repetition is fine, but when words and actions are both repetitive (trying to keep Syria focused and the father clenching his fists and touching the back of his teeth with his tongue) then, as readers, we think of the story as kind of flat. As if those are the only words and actions these characters are capable of doing.

I really did like the tongue touching the back of the father's teeth, that was a great descriptor for me. And the entire city underground, oh man, definitely wanted to know more about that.

You've got a great beginning here and it's just a few steps too far on the side of ambiguous (as some of the others have pointed out). A little more detail about the father daughter relationship, for example. You don't need anything much, we're all getting the idea, but just a little something that will help lock what's happening between them; Syria touching an old scar he gave her, mention of faded bruises, etc.

Lspieller had asked that if Syria knew the monster was coming for her father then why was she so scared. I'm on your side with that. She knows nothing but fear for her father and a monster coming to get him is not a monster sitting at her side protecting her. She's still going to be scared of him until the creature arrives. The one thing I would say is that it sounds as though the monster arrived at the same time she did which would negate her fear of him. If there is a way to delay their arrival then her fear in the beginning will still work, but if not then she's going to be a lot bolder when speaking to her father.

I also really liked that she kept getting distracted while speaking to her father and then later learning that the creature communicates by telepathy. It gave me the impression that when she was unfocused it was because they were speaking to her and she to them. I didn't get that impression until the end and when I went back through the story a second time it gave me a deeper appreciation, which is an awesome thing for a story to accomplish.

Lastly, and this is purely personal preference, I am a whore for present tense and think that this story would work better in that format. Past tense puts too much distance between the story and me. For something as emotional and layered as this story has the potential to be plopping the reader right in the midst of things would be one heck of a ride.