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During the first half of the twentieth century, construction of a freight-line railroad awakens something deep in the earth, something that begins to feed, slowly taking shape. It waits. It feeds. It grows bigger, hungrier. It waits. It feeds...
I liked the way the trainride drove the story from the spacious outdoors to the dank terrors of the tunnel and out again. The campfire scene was well done. I could see those shadows dancing on the tunnel graffiti.
Maybe the scene with Emily Davis and Max could be edited out, since the other two pieces fit so well together.
Thanks, Jeff. I'd considered removing the part about Emily and Max, since the story doesn't depend on that portion necessarily. I decided on leaving it in because I thought it might keep the passage of time consistent, show the creature's slow transformation, and make it known that Emily was just one in a long list of victims. Also, Emily's death is dialed back quite a bit compared to the others, which I'd hoped would make the final scene pop a little more, and I'd recieved some compliments on using Max's POV. But you might be right. I'll see how it reads without that part and maybe I'll repost it.
I really admire this story. I think it's hard to have so many characters and time-frames in such a short space (I know I struggled with that in my own entry), but you manage it beautifully here, connecting the first part of the story with the last, and in a very skillful, unforced way with the very subtle revelation of the relationship between the first character and the kids at the end. I also loved all the authentic details-- the Stroh's, etc. And I can see that tunnel in my mind's eye. The descriptions were extremely vivid and real to me without ever once descending into pretentious "fine writing."
As for the Emily/Max part, I'm wondering if you might not be able to make some equally subtle connection between that character and the others. I do like some sort of transition incident in the middle to get us from the tunnel's past to its present. You cover a lot of time in this story and this method allows us to feel the full force of the passage of time. But I agree with the other reader that this part is much less vivid.
Very well done. Your monster's description and evelotion were great. I've got a really good grasp on what the characters where dealing with here. I like the middle scene in the 70's. I like max the dog. I would not cut the scene. I also know what you were doing here. Not only was this a device to help pull the time together in a contiuos flow. It was also to show us that the monster had been growing. As Jane, suggested a subtle detail linking the girl or even the dog to the past or future. That could be really tricky. I think it works well the way you have it too. The hole 70's section did serve it's purpose when we arrived in the present. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Jonathan and Jane. I apprecicate your comments and am glad you saw what I was trying to do with the passage of time in this story. It's definitely difficult to pull off both significant detail and smooth pacing of more than half a century in under four thousand words (I wouldn't say I was successful in pulling it off, but at least I tried, so that's something I guess). I think I just might take your advice and, when I have time, try to connect the middle part more to the other parts of the story. That would certainly make it more cohesive (provided I do it right). Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I hope to read everyone's stories and offer the same courtesy. (I believe I read and commented on Jane's already, but I haven't gotten to Jeff's or Jonathan's. I will soon...I promise). Bye all!