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Jairo Arana's picture

Slither

By Jairo Arana in Scare Us

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Description

A horrendous creature terrorizes a jailhouse.

Comments

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read July 28, 2012 - 10:49pm

Been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of reading one of your stories, Jairo. I’m pleased to see you here.

Strong opening. Great hook. Captivating set up and premise, and despite how we know what’s going on, we’re also taken into another world or foreign atmosphere. Well done.

Thumbs up for the story, to get that out of the way. And for the competition’s sake, yeah it got scary here:

“The sluggish creatures crawled to the floor and met. They convulsed and joined together into one larger worm, and spasmed several times, in the process.”

That’s a great scene and couple of sentences right there. Really well done. Liked the combination of the crime world and the sci-fi/horror world.  Has the 3 deaths it needs…

And then to nitpick, the use of the em-dash could use some correcting throughout, and without the pages being numbered, it’s a challenge to critique but there’s a scene that I felt could use some more dialogue tags. Basically when he’s in the cell, and they have an exchange with this included:

“I was here, fifteen years ago. I was one of you.”

“Drunk old man.”

Things start to blur in that exchange while the rest of the story is crystal clear, so maybe a tag or two there.

Other than that, solid work. I was entertained throughout and it made for a good, quick read. I enjoyed this. 

Jairo Arana's picture
Jairo Arana from Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory) / living in MIami, Florida is reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon August 2, 2012 - 11:50am

Hi Nathan,

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review my story. I know there are a lot of stories out there. Me? I have to get moving and start reading and reviewing. I'm way behind on that.

I’m very happy you enjoyed the story, I'm glad you found it scary. Thanks for the thumbs up!

The m-dashes. Yep. That’s a bit of a problem with my writing dialogue. That’s more fit for scriptwriting, but I do like it when characters interrupt each other, every now and then, which is where I use the m-dash. I have to work on this. Don’t know how to have characters interrupt each other without using a dash. Perhaps I should just do away with that and try something else to make it work.

Dialogue tags. I’ll be more careful with the dialogue tags, so I don’t confuse the reader, so Thanks!

I am very happy you enjoyed it. Now, time for me to read and review your story, which, I’m already expecting to be really scary. So. I look forward to it.

Again, Thanks! And Cheers!

Pushpaw's picture
Pushpaw from Canada is reading Building Stories by Chris Ware July 29, 2012 - 7:42am

Kind of a medusa creature here, except she does a lot more than turn people to stone. I liked all the messing around with identity and the mixing of the crime world/horror world. Not sure I was into the punitive element of the creature--but maybe that was just what the victims thought was happening. Could definitely use a thorough copyedit, and I agree with Nathan that some passages/exchanges were confusing. I take it this isn't a finished draft though, so I focused mostly on the plot and ideas, both of which I like.

Jairo Arana's picture
Jairo Arana from Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory) / living in MIami, Florida is reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon August 2, 2012 - 11:57am

Hi Pushpaw!

Wow. I never thought of the creature being like Medusa, but that’s awesome! I love Greek mythology, so that’s an awesome complement. Another complement, kind of, is... you’re right: this was not a finished draft. I wrote it in one sitting, after writing several short stories, different ideas I didn’t like, until this one just, like those dark shadows in the story, just took over me and just came out out my quick typing fingers. In my defense... I found out about this contest a few days before the deadline. So, I was in a real hurry and...

... I know, I know. That’s no excuse. That’s just me being whiny. You’re right. It does need a thorough copyedit. Too bad it’s already past deadline. From now on, I’ll pay more attention to copyediting, by rewriting and being a bit more thorough in the future and paying attention to deadlines, to give myself more time.

About the punitive element of the creature. That’s something for me to think about. It’s not so horrific if the victims of the creature are nasty people, which, I’m guessing, is why it didn’t work for you. It’s more horrific when bad things happen to good people, when they’re attacked by monsters, when you do care about the characters and find yourself yelling at them: “No! Don’t open that door! Don't go into that dark hallway! The monster's in there! No! Don’t! Aw, damn it. There goes what’s his/her name. I really liked that character."

Why did I make the character punitive? My approach was more of a philosophical question: who’s the real monster, or monsters? which is scarier? everyday people, who do horrific things? or monsters we know don’t exist - horrific, yes, but a thing, or things, of fantasy? That was my approach. Kind of like the end of Night of the Living Dead, when the protagonist sees humans torturing zombies and goes, “We’re them. They’re us and we’re them.” 

Also, I liked Raiders of the Lost Ark. A bit of punitive horror, there, in the climax of the movie. But, yes, perhaps in the future, I’ll focus more on horror happening to good people, rather than nasty people, which I’m guessing is the reason you didn’t like the punitive nature of the creature. A good point for me to keep in mind.

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing. I’m happy you liked theme of identity and the mixing of genres. Sorry about the lack of a thorough copyedit. I’ll be more careful, next time.

Again, Thanks so much and I look forward to reading your story!

Cheers!

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch August 2, 2012 - 9:50pm

Jairo! I didn't realize you'd posted a story! Nice to see you around here.

I really liked your story, but it also made me very sad because I realize you created a metaphor for a lot of the things that are going on involving politics, drug cartels, all these things that are all too real and all too monstrous. I live in South Texas after all. So I think you captured some of that despair: how can we tell the monsters from each other? The dog thing... I cringed reading it because I remember you posted something a while ago on FB about something similar? So that made me realize you do use a lot of reality in the story, which makes it scarier than fantasy.

But hey, we have 2 weeks to revise, if we want to! (I think that's what Kirk said). So you can do some proofreading - I did notice a few slips that are probably just from being in a hurry. I think you have a chance to fix them, probably as long as you don't post the revision as a new story. But you can ask Kirk, I'm not sure I got all the details right.

Liana

 

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch August 2, 2012 - 10:09pm

P.S.

I actually can't find where anyone said "you can keep revising" so I don't know if that's the case... Anyway, typos aren't the worst problem possible, I'm sure they don't count as much as other issues in the grand scheme of things.

Jairo Arana's picture
Jairo Arana from Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory) / living in MIami, Florida is reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon August 3, 2012 - 1:42pm

Hi Liana!

Thanks for reading and thanks for the comments. Yes, indeed. The monster is a metaphor. The question of which is more monstrous is a theme I like to explore. It’s a philosophical question that I like. I feel like I’m saying something. To me, this was not only a horror story, but also a statement. It was both. It felt good to write. I felt I was expressing myself. I felt I was telling a story and saying something about the world. This monster was a metaphor and creating it was cathartic.

Yes, that story about the dog still angers me.

When you commented the story made you sad, I felt a little bad. I don’t like to make people feel sad  :(  

However, that means I evoked the desired emotion in you, which is what I wanted to do. I want people to feel sad, but not for the purpose of making them feel sad, but to feel, through that sadness, an empathy for Humanity and a sad disgust for outrageous actions humans inflict on one another.

I also want people to feel hope, at the end. I chose to make the man, unnamed, and his wife good people, show the newscaster express disgust. It’s my way of expressing that, despite the evil in the world, there are still good people out there. I know Horror is meant to make people feel a sense of hopelessness at the end of the story, which makes it even more horrific. Even if the monster is killed... it might come back to terrorize the protagonist in the sequel, or series. I decided to break that rule and offer some hope, without getting all sentimental.

Thanks so much for your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Sorry I made you feel sad, but, there’s something cathartic in that... I hope.

Too bad I can’t correct silly little mistakes I made, like punctuation errors and other  few things I spotted.

Again, Thanks for reading and for your comments! I look forward to reading your story!

Cheers!

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia--now living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Kindred, by Octavia Butler August 3, 2012 - 11:36pm

I had a really hard time following the story. There were so many names and a lot of them were confusing: "the man," "the young man," etc. it was hard for me to tell them apart. With revisions, this could be a compelling story. The situation certainly is. In a way, though, I'm not sure you even need your monster. The situation/ backdrop is horrifying enough by itself. Of course, I know you had to have a monster because of the terms of the contest, but I'd like to read a straightforward, realistic story about this.

Jairo Arana's picture
Jairo Arana from Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory) / living in MIami, Florida is reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon August 4, 2012 - 7:35am

Hi Jane!

Thanks for reading my story and for your comments.

I just found out, through the discussion board, that we can post revisions of our stories. At least that’s what I understood. I also noticed someone posted a revised version of their story, so, in my mind, that confirms that we can post our revisions.

I’m going to reread it and see about the number of characters. I chose names that were uncommon, though true to the language from the setting of the story. “The man,” is a nameless character. He’s everyman, in that part of the world. So I chose not to name him, for that reason.

I tell you, Jane, if the terms of this contest would not have required it being set where we were raised, I would’ve been more than happy to set in somewhere else. Maybe in America, which is where I was born, though not where I was raised. I have lived here several years, on and off, but when the terms stated we set the story 'where we raised' I imagined it would have to be where we grew up and went to high school. I groaned when I read the terms of the contest required the story be set where we were raised.                                                   Me: "Great. Now, where's that bottle of whiskey? Oh, wait. I forgot. I don't drink. Damn it! Fine... I'll write about the place where I was raised," followed by grumbling and angry typing. 

 

It’s true. The situation/backdrop is horrifying by itself. The monster is a metaphor, but also a perfect buffer for writing the story. Without it... writing this story would’ve been almost impossible for me. The monster made it less real. It made the story more distant. Writing in a language that is not the official language of that part of the world also helped, as a buffer. I wrote about where I was raised, so I needed the monster as a buffer.

The terms of the contest said we had to have a monster, or a fantasy monster - they were already monsters before the one I created - so I was happy to create one and create that distance, that buffer.

Like I mentioned, in the disclaimer above the title of the story, many of the things that happened in the story are true. Except for the monster, of course. But most of the events in the story are everyday things. You can’t read a newspaper, newsmagazine, watch the news or hear the radio news and not hear the same stories all over again, with different names, but the same situations: cartels, violence, police brutality, animal cruelty, more cartels, more violence, injustice, more injustice.

At some point, you either get so used to it, you don’t care anymore, or you've just had enough, buy a ticket, board a plane and get out of there and come here to the U.S., which is what I did.

Unlike the man and woman in the story, I was lucky. I don’t need a visa. I’m an American. Others don’t have that good fortune and have no other choice but to stay, either because they’re denied a visa, or they lack the economic means to leave. Or because it would mean leaving behind their loved ones. They're stuck and there's no way out. It's why so many people in Latin America want to leave and start a new and better life, either here in the U.S., or in Europe.

I like the fact that you’d like to read a straightforward, realistic story about this, which means ridding the story of the wormlike monster with wings, but I don’t think I could do it. It would be even more horrifying, in my mind, because, without the fantastic element, which is the creature, it would be much too real. Maybe I should write it without the monster. Now, where's that bottle of whiskey? Jack Daniel's would be perfect. Damn it! I don't drink. Groan.              I live in Miami... and I don't drink. Like that doesn't put a damper on my social/dating life. Oy.

 

I’m going to see about the characters. There were parts of the story where I didn’t use dialogue tags. I got comments about that, so that might've been what added to the confusion. That and maybe if I get rid of a few characters in that jailhouse, but I have to study that possibility.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. 

Cheers & Enjoy your weekend!