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StarscreamPierce's picture

The Russian Rule

By StarscreamPierce in Scare Us

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Description

A man meets up with some old high school friends at a mysterious restaurant.

Comments

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia--now living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Kindred, by Octavia Butler July 31, 2012 - 5:45pm

Fun read, but I wish it had told me more. I think we need to know why Mark wants revenge. All we really know at the beginning is that Paul doesn't like Meghann. But Mark's animosity comes out of nowhere. I did enjoy it, though.

cdregan's picture
cdregan from outside of Philadelphia is reading The Corrections August 3, 2012 - 6:43am

SPOILERS AHEAD!!

Interesting premise! Why 'Russian' at all? I was thinking that the Russian Roulette came into play with what they ordered - specific appetizers or drinks were tagged with certain outcomes, but you went completely away from that.  If Donny had a Russian accent it would make it fit a little better. And it turns out to not be a random effect at all in the end. "It's a trap!" 

I made some comments (attached) but let me give you a quick synopsis:

1) You have the groundwork for a lot of interesting character development - a potentially underworld-connected guy with a supernatural flair for vengeance, a caddy busy-body woman, and a couple of others who were all connected through high school. The info is handed to us in explanatory passages. This info would be much more powerful if you INFER what their relationship is (who hates whom) through dialog instead of data dumps. Let the reader put the pieces together and build the tension over what is about to happen that way. (I KNOW all about the 4K limitation, but it doesn't have to make it longer if you try this)

2) I would avoid giving a hint about the haunted restaurant. Don't warn the reader, just give us a reasonable justification for them getting together and drop us into the weirdness right along side your characters. 

3) Give us a hint of what Mark gets out of throwing his friends under the bus, and why Paul is worthy to survive. It's gotta be more than just 'I like him better than you' - if Mia did something to piss Mark off, give us a hint - nervous glances from Mia, etc. 

4) What is not seen can be scary. Don't describe every bit of Donny right away - it sounds like a biology textbook. Okay, you've proven that he is your unique invention, but he's weird, but not terrifying after we get a good look at him. Give us hints at his intro with a 'that's not right'... and 'oh, that's really not right'... and finally 'what the crap did he just do??!!' with his trunk. 

5) Instead of needing to use a puppet, maybe the lady-Donny is a shapeshifter? That would go along with her ability to re-form into tiny versions of herself. (adjusting nerd glasses)

A solid story. I think it just needs a few refinements. 

StarscreamPierce's picture
StarscreamPierce from Richmond, VA is reading War and Peace, Bag of Bones, Heidi August 4, 2012 - 9:01am

Thank y'all for your suggestions.  I sent Jane a PM which included some explanations after I discovered she and I had a small-world connection, but forgot to add those here for other readers.

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Laconic restraint is not my strong suit, and the original story was 6,500 words.  I was able to get it down to 3,999, but by that time it was the evening of the deadline (procrastination IS one of my strong suits), and here we are.  I couldn't find a way to lose a plot element in a timely manner, so I copped out by dropping some of the explanations y'all requested; they're in the full version. 

How the restaurant really works with a combination of rules and chance is suggested by some happenings at some other tables that were completely cut from the story.  It actually is very Russian Rouletteish, though now that you bring that up in the condensed version, I can see why people are confused.

Why nobody likes Meghann is touched on, and Mark's willingness to throw his old friends to the dogs is very briefly brought up as well, but it could use some more development, now that you mention it.

Thanks.

-Pierce

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 7, 2012 - 5:44pm

I really enjoyed this. I had the same problems as Jane and Dregan though. I think.after the contest you may want to add back and consider making this novella length. There are so manythi doors left unopened. Litterally and metaphorically. I want to know what's behind them all. --Jonathan--

Regina Peacecraft's picture
Regina Peacecraft from the Philippines is reading Android Karenina August 7, 2012 - 8:26pm

I really liked the story! I didn't catch the part where "Mark's willingness to throw his old friends to the dogs" was brought up, though. Regardless, I think Paul's survival is justified by the fact that only he and Mark have kept in touch in the past few years. I really liked the ending; Mark acting all cool about everything, and telling Meghann he liked Paul so she can't have him killed, then casually offering to drive Paul home - These contrasted nicely with the brutal scene of dead friends sitting on their table; amusing irony. 

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. August 10, 2012 - 8:46am

I liked this one a lot.  The flow of the story felt natural and kept me interested pretty much the entire time.  I would have liked to know a little more about Mark and Meghann's deal and what Mark was getting out of it.  As it sits, we just know that they made some sort of deal with Mark and that he doesn't seem to like her very much.  It almost sounds like she has something on Mark rather than gave/did something for him.  The reason for Paul's survival would also add a bit to the  story.

Still, very good story!