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cristina's picture

The Thing That Killed Mr. Campbell

By cristina in Scare Us

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Something among the moss-draped pines of a Florida forest left Mr. Campbell shriveled like a prune. A young high school girl looks for refuge in her trusty science fiction novels. But soon she'll have to take her nose out of the book and confront Florida's creepiest crawlies when her little brother goes missing.


Jeff's picture
Jeff from Florida is reading Another Side of Bob Dylan by Victor Maymudes July 31, 2012 - 11:01am

With many  sharp details, you evoked a surprisingly untamed side of Florida. The fact that your creature limped was another surprise, that made it all the scarier.

 The narrator needs more personal conflict to deal with in the middle part of the story.

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 - 3:11pm

I liked it very much until the end. Then--it just stops. I don't mind ambiguous endings. In fact, I like them a lot. But you have to leave us with some options that you have developed to some extent. I'm sure we can all imagine two or three different endings, but I don't think you should leave us with nothing. Nevertheless, I like your main character very much, and you do a nice job with the other family members, too.


P.S. I just went back and opened up the story again. Could I have missed a page? That's what I was wondering. You don't want us to wonder that!

cristina's picture
cristina from Tucson, Arizona is reading The Peripheral by William Gibson August 1, 2012 - 2:27pm

thanks so much for the comments. and yes, I was taking a bit of a risk with the ending. But I'm very new to writing short stories and have never attempted this genre at all so it's been a personal adventure. The feedback is great, thanks again.

Pushpaw's picture
Pushpaw from Canada is reading Building Stories by Chris Ware August 3, 2012 - 6:57am

Enjoyable read - quite a spunky narrator. Also like the father and brother.

I also felt like it wasn't over at the end.

One other comment-- this has the tone of a scary YA story aimed at young teens. It's not just the age of the MC -- the tone reads like this. But in moments it's like it tries to aim at an older audience (using "fuck" for example). For me, it'd be stronger to stick with the YA tone, as it works well in this story. It's more spooky than terrifying (but I think you can't be as terrifying in YA as in an adult story, so it's perfect). As an adult, I also found it quite spooky.

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz August 8, 2012 - 1:09pm

Hi Cristina,

Enjoyable story, I think you do a good job of convincing the reader that we're in a teenage girl's head. You do a good job of us getting to know her, she's a bookworm, doesn't like the outdoors, etc. Very well done.

At times, it does get a bit exhausting. I think you're going for a frantic pace, especially towards the end, but at times for me, it read like the rambling thoughts of a teenager. That can get a little tough. I'm not saying abandon this entirely, but break it up some. Throw in more dialog scenes. Have the other characters tell the story that way. That will give us a break from the narrator's head, which again, works, but can be a little much at times.

The story within the story - when the snake got the baby. That does a good job of setting up that Florida is a dangerous place. I do think it takes us a little too out of the story though. I'd like to see this part tightened up some. It has it's purpose, but maybe just make us a little shorter and get us back to the story that much quicker.

I don't mind the ending. It seems to work. I get more of a YA adventure feel, so my impression is that she'll win. I think folks who want to root for the narrator will have that. Not every horror story needs to end up so dark. With that said, you can also inject a little more horror. How about we see the creature feeding? Just a thought.

Anyway, thanks for sharing. See you round the boards!


sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres August 12, 2012 - 10:36am

Definitely has the young adult feel, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I like this, I think you do a great job of giving us the perspective of the young girl, the way she talks and thinks.  And I love the monster, very cool idea.  You describe it well.

I think the side-story, about the dad and the snake, is good and needs to stay in, but I wonder if it could be shortened.  We find out something has happened to Mr. Campbell, but then it strays for quite a while.  And I understand it's Lisi's mind kind of taking us along with her while she thinks back, but it takes us pretty far from the main story.  

I kind of like the fact that it becomes so frantic at the end, when she's looking for her brother, running from the monster, etc.  I picture, the way you wrote it, mirroring in a horror movie where the camera gets shaky and cuts are fast-paced in order to keep the tension and help to disorient the viewer while putting them in a bad place.  

I think you've got a good story here.  And I LOVE the way you end it.  Leave it completely open, with the image of the little girl holding a's stayed with me since yesterday when I read the story.  Nice work!

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 12, 2012 - 1:25pm

Hi Cristina, I'm fine with how the story ended. Quite liked it actually. But i do agree with Jane that the ended felt rushed. You didn't even introduce the monster until like the second or third to last page. It's a good monster so I was hoping to see it go to work a little more. See what all it could do. If you cut a little bit of the flashback and get us back into the myster of Mr. Campbells death sooner you could have more time toward the end to play with your monster. I think you did a great job with your charachter development and i really like the 17 year old girl charachter. Overall, really solid story. Keep up the good work.



cristina's picture
cristina from Tucson, Arizona is reading The Peripheral by William Gibson August 14, 2012 - 2:30pm

wow thanks for all the great comments and feedback. i'm new to this and am VERY open to constructive criticism. it's also interesting how different people like or don't like different parts. i admit i felt constrained with the word count limit and could see myself expanding this in a future version.

i never would have thought of this as YA story - but I can see it now and that's definitely an intriguing thought. I did use profanity because it's kinda based on myself at that age - and i surely would have thought a few in that situation. but isn't it funny that in YA you are free to describe all kinds of horrible violence (ala Hunger Games) but mustn't use the f word?

The comments about tightening up the flashbacks are really resonating with me - tightening up in general, so I'm more and more inspired to rewrite this. and i'm especially happy that folks like the monster. that was THE hardest part, coming up with an original monster.

thanks again for the feedback yall! i'm just getting around to reading the other stories, so i'm sure i'll be commenting on yours before long.

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts August 15, 2012 - 8:15am

I really enjoyed this story. I love the details of the wild creatures of FL, the oppressive humidity, and the creepy noises she hears throughout the night. I think the thing that spooked me the most was the visuals I got from your descriptions of the night noises, the dog barking and her fear of traipsing through the woods. Very cool stuff! 

I had a few YA comments on my story as well and while I hadn't thought of it that way when I wrote it, I can see the influences from all those creepy story books and TV shows I watched as a kid. ;-)