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Jeff's picture

One Last Prank

By Jeff in Scare Us

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A down on his luck card player, drags his cocktail waitress girlfriend out on the road with him.


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 29, 2012 - 8:28pm

I'm on the fence here, but I do think you write well, so I'll give your story a thumbs-up. I liked the story a lot until the murderous buddy started doing his thing. It stopped seeming real to me at that point. I'd have thought at least one of these people would have been a little bit scared, yet they all just seemed annoyed. I didnt really get that part.

Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes July 30, 2012 - 4:24pm

Thanks for the thumbs up!  I appreciate your feedback on the ending. I wasn't necessarily going for realism. 






Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On August 1, 2012 - 4:00pm

One of the things I most liked is the slasher-movie type build-up to the end, complete with the cheap sex. I half expected them to get killed right in the middle of it, but glad you resisted the trope. I also think you did a good job building their story quickly (Not sure the cause of Neicy's shoulder injury, but not sure it matters either. Pole dancing?) and getting them on the road.

I don't mind the non-realism; I did have some minor quibles with the realism though, specifically with Mitch's and Neicy's lack of reaction. Not that you have to dwell on it, but some hint or expression of terror from Neicy as her boyfriend being beheaded and sliced up would add to the tension of the moment. Likewise some panic as she's being lowered into the acid. The way it's portrayed, it seemed like they were still too drugged up to realize what was happening (maybe they were and I missed it?). Hopefully not, as part of the horror is the anticipation of it. Anyway, hope this helps some. I like your style and attention to details, esp. about being able to stear that car with a pinky. Good stuff.

Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes August 2, 2012 - 5:37pm


Thanks a lot for the encouraging words!

The ending was the part that gave me the most trouble. I didn't want to overdo the reactions by getting abject, but based on your comments and what others have written, I may have dialed it too far the other way.

Pushpaw's picture
Pushpaw from Canada is reading Building Stories by Chris Ware August 4, 2012 - 12:06pm

Wow--this is a really bizarre creature. Like the creativity.

I also like the way you describe action--can picture the events and can tell you picture them quite clearly too. The strongest parts are when you're relating sequences of action.

Loved the chicken/cat story he tells, and how the girl reacts. Says a lot + good foreshadowing. The venetian plague masks are cool too.

The opening of the story and the car trip felt somehow too long and unnecessary, while the end felt clipped.

Couple of suggestions:

-Words like "regarded" and "pronounced" (at least how you're using them) could probably be changed to something simpler, like watched and said. The problem is they end up sounding out of place/overdone.

-some of the dialogue was a bit cheezy. I know the guy's a bit of a douche, but it could be toned down a bit. Also, sometimes the dialogue was contrived. Example:

Hey honey, let me turn in here. I need to piss. I'll tell you the rest later.”

Mostly noticed the dialogue issues in the opening pages, between the MC and his girl. As the story progresses, it gets better.

Thanks for sharing.

Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes August 4, 2012 - 3:00pm


Thanks a million. It's good to hear that the action played well.

I agree that some of Mitch's edges need to be sanded smoother.

My POV skewed toward the cinematic, when it might have gone more toward a 3rd person limited viewpoint.  It's amazing what you can find out through this workshopping thing!

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. August 5, 2012 - 12:17am

This one had me running to Wikipedia to look stuff up.  You did an amazing job of pulling in things like the Venetian Masks and various alchemical references.  I could really get a feel for the characters in this one. Wonderfully done!  The ending is a little weak though.  It would have been nice to explore the creature and the deaths a little more.  I also found myself wondering what kind of surgery nicey had undergone. 

Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes August 5, 2012 - 7:46am


You said the magic word -- Wikipedia. Yeah when it came time to trump up the weirdness, that's where I turned and it delivered.

The ending --- thanks for letting me know how it struck you. I was going for a smashcut to black and then your imagination fills it in. I'm still uncertain if I should meddle with it. It might be fun to set the creature loose on the world for a bit though. Hmm.  

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep August 6, 2012 - 7:36pm

Ok, out of the ones I've read, this and Sparkle Bear are up there on my unique monster list. Kudos.

I think your plot is fine, and I felt like Mitch and Niecy were real. Everything's not all happy between them (which is one reason I don't totally buy the sex scene--it seems contradictory that Niecy would be that eager), but they're together.

Jonathan doesn't do a whole lot except get killed. But, for that reason, you need him, because you're totally correct to kill him first so that Mitch and Niecy can react to it. And their reactions need to be HUGE. They should assume it's a prank, payback, and then when he dies, they need to be completely insane with panic. do not be afraid to dial this up to 11. What you are doing to your characters is completely off-the-charts crazy, so they need to react appropriately. We need to feel what they're feeling while this is happening.

I think also, it would be good to clarify Roland's motivations. This needs to have stronger ties back to the original pranks. He's crazy about trying to transmute, but also he wants to get back at them.

I think it takes a little long to get to the horror. It goes a long way toward helping me like your characters, but I'd like to have seen the horror last longer--have them be able to fight back a little, question him--at least know why they were being killed. Give them the chance to apologize. Something along those lines.

You have about 800 more words to play with, and this can be used to flesh some of this out. I hope this helps.

Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes August 6, 2012 - 1:41pm


Thanks for what you said about the monster and then putting it in the same company as the one that appeared in  "Sparkle Bear" which I have since read and thought was fantastic.

Thanks even more for your insights into the ending!


shanonco's picture
shanonco from SE WIsconsin, USA is reading Taiko August 6, 2012 - 9:01pm

I did enjoy the construction of the monster. I don't think something similar has turned up, yet, in something I've read, and to have chanticleer appear as an adjective was a pleasant surprise.

The injury also stuck out to me. There was something alluded to, there, that could have been more dark. It could have been a domestic abuse injury that would have strengthened the desire for the reader to see a character "get his." If you want to slaughter a character, make it feel vindictive. Enjoy it,

I feel kind of bad that you've shown your hand re: your source (Wiki). It felt like more than that, and I was going to suggest miring your story in the lore. The story turned into something else in the last couple of pages, and there either wasn't enough shock or there wasn't enough transition... if that makes any sense. There was a grey area that it made its way through.

I liked MItch. I liked him because I didn't like him. If I were to admit what I felt your biggest strength in the story was, it would be that character. Your murderer was odd, your supporting characters were background. Mitch deserved the spotlight, because he was the driver in the story. He pushed the other characters to their respective ends. If anything else, I'd give more to him if you wanted to expand. Outside of the creature, he's the element of the story I'll remember most.

Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes August 7, 2012 - 7:42am

Thanks for the succinct review!

I suppose I did tip my hand a bit with the Wiki reference.  A hell of a card player I turned out to be!  But that's not to say there weren't other larcenies as well -- Jung's work for example.

I appreciate your suggestions about how to blend the horror further out from the ending.






Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 10, 2012 - 8:50pm

Mitch and Niecy's relationship was actually really believable for me. I've known many couples with "sex" based relationships. They have absolutely nothing in common, barely "know" each other, constantly bicker, but both love sex and love having sex with each other. That's the type of relationship i felt like you built for them. The terms of endearment a nice touch.

I agree that no one seemed too freaked out at Roland's rage. Amp that up!

I think you did a good job forshadowing that Roland was "abnormal" and i belived his revenge was set up well by the dialouge and backstory. But i fell like Roland is the type of guy who would be like "this is why i'm doing this" Most of your dialouge was great. I really need some morbid speech from Roland near the end.  I don't need the monster to go an a rampage later but i actually thought it would  eat Neicy. I got the whole follow the leader concept. Or "do as your father" so to speak. But i think instead of feeding on Mitch the monster should had been let loose on Neicy before turning on Roland. And that would give even more opportunity for you to build up fear for her charachter and for me as your audience. There is alot of great writing here and i can't wait to read your next draft. Thanks.


Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes August 13, 2012 - 8:02am


Thanks for reading this. I appreciate your remarks.