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Andrewch7's picture

Mojave Blood

By Andrewch7 in Scare Us

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You have two choices: trust a pair of brittle organs connected to man's most fragile or listen to the Mojave blood- dark thick syrup that pumps through your veins and allows you to see the real dark side of the world. Pick carefully.


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks August 1, 2012 - 8:03am

Guess I'll give it a thumbs-up. Not sure what it's about, other than a bad trip, but I liked it from sentence to sentence.

Colin Speirs's picture
Colin Speirs from Glasgow, UK is reading Heroes (Joe Abercrombie), Russian Faerie Tales, historical Lovecraft, the Sickly Stuarts, Seabiscuit August 1, 2012 - 12:52pm

Seems more like urban noir than a horror story, though I guess Ethan is going through a horrific experience.

I could appreciate the journey though

lspieller's picture
lspieller from Los Angeles August 6, 2012 - 11:54am

i can appreciate a vague start to draw the reader in, but this story was so vague in the beginning that I found myself losing interest. Drop a few more concrete hints, and give us a reason to relate to main character.

ChokingGame's picture
ChokingGame from New York is reading American Psycho August 6, 2012 - 12:38pm

I agree that this feels like a hard-boiled noir more than a straight-up horror piece.  Which isn't a bad thing - I'm all for mixing genres.  However, while the characters have interpersonal conflicts, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of actual overarching dramatic conflict. Like Jane said, it's a long, bad trip.  And (and, CAVEAT, personal prejudices ahead so do with it what you will) something weird happens for me when a narrator is high - as the reader, I'm always wondering whether what's happening is real or not.  And if I don't know what's real (particularly within the confines of Horror), I don't know what the real-world consequences of the characters' actions are. (A prime example, albeit in a Sci Fi movie, is "if you die in the Matrix, you die for real.") If I feel like the peril is all in their head with no real world ramifications, there's no sense of danger so I have a hard time staying with it. I stayed with it because I LOVE your language. But know that this drugged-up, dreamy quality you have going has made the whole thing feel languid and, as a result, it lacks the urgency you need to make this a truly scary story.

I'd recommend going back and looking at the bare-bones skeleton of your story and shuffling your structure to add a goal, a catalyst, something dramatic or dangerous.  Also, on-the-body sensations would do a lot to establish the consequences of reality.  Pain is sobering - it doesn't matter what you're on.  But overall, good work!

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. August 7, 2012 - 6:28pm

The writing in this story is very good, but the story itself starts to get really confusing in the middle.  I ran into trouble after he was turned down by the first drug dealer.  It took me two or three tries of re-reading that sequence to figure out what who was speaking.  After that, every other paragraph felt like a flash back to some earlier time.  I *think* I kept what was going on straight, at least for the most part.  The effect could be really cool if there was better distinction between the present and the what was being remembered.  Shifting to the seen in John's house so suddenly also seemed a little off.  It would have been nice to have a little cleaner transition there.  The ending scene also bugged me, I couldn't quite figure out what was going on there.  Did he die?  Was this how his sister died?  Just a little too confusing.

Still, I think I'm going to give it a thumbs up.  Your opening really grabbed me and nothing about the writing itself bugged me.  Well Done.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 10, 2012 - 5:56pm

I have to agree with the above readers. I couldn't stop reading because the laungauge drew me in. I feel that the story itself was lacking, however. There wasn't enough continuity to pull a coherent plot out of it. Based on grammar, theme, and content i will go ahead and give it a thumbs up. I would like to see exactly what conection his sister has with the "bear." Or atleast a reference that lets us know if he is halucinating from withdrawl or what the "magical" effect of the drug he is on is. But if it is just a bunch of random trippy stuff you did a great job describing it, guess i'd just kind of like to know what i'm reading.



sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres August 11, 2012 - 10:54am

I never want to criticize a story on the basis of me "not getting it."  I see that almost always as my fault, not the writer's.  (I also hate to ever admit that I don't get it).  

I'm not going to give a thumbs up OR a thumbs down.  There was some amazing imagery here, the panic that was settling over the scene at the end, a girl hiding behind chairs she set up as a fort/jail, a guy holding a door closed as a bear-like creature was trying to smash it down upon him, a sense of fear causing screams and laughter and anxiety.  That was really great, definitely my favorite part of the whole thing.  But how they got there...I don't get it.

I can't decide if there were flashbacks within hallucinations, or hallucinated flashbacks, or flashbacks that involved hallucination, etc...I guess I felt there were a lot of moments where I wasn't sure who was speaking, which threw me off.  And a couple times when I couldn't place the setting, which also caused me to stop and read back a few lines, trying to catch what I missed.

Everyone has already said it, but I'll echo: there is some good writing in here.  And with any kind of drug-story, I refuse to say the structure isn't linear enough because, let's face it, the mind is not working in a beginning, middle, end structure, especially if the characters are high.

If there was just a tiny bit of clarity, I have a feeling this would be great.  

Andrewch7's picture
Andrewch7 from Philadelphia, NJ August 13, 2012 - 2:24am

Thanks everyone for the reviews! It's incredibly encouraging to hear so many people enjoy my language.

I think that is what scares me as a writer. The ideas are plentiful but I am constantly doubting my ability to deliver them in an entertaining manner. Regardless of what everyone thought of my half-lucid story, I'm coming away from this first litreactor submission with a bit more confidence.

I'm going to try and get to all of your stories and return the courtesy of your awesome feedback. 

So to get down to business, I assume it's kosher for me to address some of the questions and critisicms in a comment, so here goes:


This story was cut down. A lot a lot. And it's still a first draft.

When I originally got my ideas down on paper, it opened with a completely different scene. Eventually the "important" parts of that scene are shown through the dialogue flashbacks that Evan has while buying drugs in the city. 

Reading the comments, I now realize that a very important part of that scene inadvertantly ended up on the cutting room floor: Evan is a recovering schizophrenic. In this draft, you could easily interpret his problems as just substance abuse. In the other version, you found out that he was self medicating, which is quite a common thing for people suffering from that condition.

Anyways, the theme I wanted to explore was the process of escaping your past. It's not always easy. Many times, it's almost impossible. This literally manifests itself in the monsters that begin creeping into his life. 

I still see this as the main theme of the story and maybe it will help people looking for a more solid meaning to it.

This theme was to be more concrete and delivered with deeper character development, but I just plum ran out of words. The Captain was supposed to be a bigger character. The past relationship between Evan and John was planned as something much bigger. The sister and her suicide was also supposed to be more of a catalyst for Evan's downward spiral than what happened in this draft.

But it was a 4000 word limit and I admit to rushing it. 

I hate to be that author, but in this incarnation of the story not everything is clarified on purpose.

Part of that was to pose a question about monsters. If you look at all of them in this story, which ones are real and which ones are fake? It's up to you. 

So yeah, I am that asshole. *Spins a top on the table and walks out the room*

Shawn I.'s picture
Shawn I. from New York is reading Important Things That Don't Matter August 14, 2012 - 11:00am

Can't really add anything to what's already been said. I liked it enough to keep reading until the end but I definitely struggled with it at points. It seems like you're trying to do too much in a confined space. Would like to read either a fleshed out version or something pared down to make it a bit crisper. Thanks.

Craig Clevenger's picture
Craig Clevenger from Joshua Tree, CA September 27, 2012 - 3:24pm

You’ve got my attention with your title, as I have a huge soft spot for the Mojave.

Nice opening graph; very fluid, natural prose that opens up a lot of questions thus quickly hooking the reader.

I’m a little confused about the Captain. I do love the moniker; I first took him for a stepfather or boyfriend of the mother, and an overbearing, ex-military one at that. We later learn that Ethan lives with his sister, then later on it seems that the Captain is, indeed, with Ethan’s mother. The fact that he’s referred to as “the Captain” speaks volumes of exposition, very succinctly. But he talks to Ethan as though Ethan’s an adolescent, including narrative mentions of “belting” or boot camp. But it turns out that Ethan’s twenty-five, so while he might me under his parents’ roof, this sort of treatment seems odd.

The activities on the periphery, these “beings,” are very artfully placed just there… on the periphery. They’re common knowledge for the characters of the story, but you don’t pander to the reader by laying a bunch of ground work or back story. This speaks a lot to your credit as a writer.

“The Captain was an imposing man…” This isn’t necessary. You could simply tell us that Ethan wilted under his gaze; the Captain’s imposing demeanor is loud and clear in the details you’ve shown us.

“The eyes levitated in the dark, vanishing with an occasional blink.” Vivid and succinct. Really nice.

“If his kitchen was surrounded by monsters, then the dining room was full of ghouls.” Oh, snap. Again, really nice.

“Ethan was seething.” Not necessary; you’re telling us something that you do a splendid job of showing us in the very next graph.

“…shaped like a man and moving like a violin’s bow.” I really like this.

The further I read, the more the shadowed beings seem like some sort of personification Ethan’s possible addiction. I may be reading too much into it, but the thought did cross my mind.

“It then went rambling off with an almost joyful spring to it’s strange step.” Should read its, with no apostrophe.

I love the crescendo of the last two pages; it reads like a disjointed memory and it seems to me that Ethan’s less in control of himself than he’d like to believe. I think it might be a little easier to comprehend if you made the flashbacks (I hate that word, but it’ll have to do) to his dialogue with John a little more distinct, either by an extra break between paragraphs, or a dingbat of some sort, or maybe both. That would help keep the reader oriented, without sacrificing the hallucinatory quality you’re going for.

I really liked this; I like your sense of language and your notion of reality and chronology being filtered through a warped subjectivity. Really good stuff, here.