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Johann Thorsson's picture

With Covered Eyes (Revised edition)

By Johann Thorsson in Scare Us

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Description

Jon is a police officer in a town with above-average child molestation cases. He gets called in to work to help review a tape that reveals the sick truth, and then his son doesn't answer the phone.

Comments

Andrew Kelly's picture
Andrew Kelly from Florida is reading Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton July 2, 2012 - 8:06pm

Am I allowed to like a story with a primary focus being child molestation? I'm feeling a bit quandaried.

I see shades of Silence of the Lambs in the story, but I imagine that's the feel you were going for. I'm not complaining, just commenting.

Overall, I liked the story, but have a few issues:

I enjoyed the beginning, until Stefansson got to the police station. I had a hard time accepting Valsson's reaction. I'm guessing you were trying to stress the terrible nature of the video, but I had a hard time accepting it as a legitimate reaction. Is there some other reason he could've passed out, like a Ring response (some kind of paranormal effect exuded by the face-covered bad guy)?

I also had a hard time following when bad guy is erect and limp. The time on the top of page 9 is the one I had the most trouble with. Is it always dripping, hard or soft? Shouldn't the child be a 'he' and not an 'it' in the next paragraph? When it lowered its hands, what did the rest of the face look like (not sure it's important, just curious)? Or, were the man's eyes bulging? This should probably be elucidated better.

How'd all the people get in the house? Why then? Another effect of the video, maybe? How are they 'alive'? And, if undead, how'd the gun stop them? Or, were they not there? I was confused. Then again, I'm one of those types that like everything spelled out for them; the analytical mind condition.

Finally, I'm not enamored with the font, but that's easily remedied.

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake July 3, 2012 - 2:18am

I'll be honest.. I had problems both writing the story and submitting it due to the subject matter. But hey, this is Litreactor and they asked for horror.

You are right, I'm probably pushing it with Valsson's reaction, and will tone it back in the next version. And I'll fix the... erm... penis issues.

The basement scene was written in a bit of a hurry (please don't tell anyone though) and will also need to be cleared up in the next version. As will the font. 

Thanks for reading and for commenting.

CStodd's picture
CStodd from NY is reading Annie Prouxl's Fine Just the Way It Is July 2, 2012 - 9:49pm

The subject matter is quite heavy and I was reluctant to accept it, however I thought this was very suspenseful and the creature from Pans Labyrinth with eyes on its hands came to mind, also the movie A Serbian Film, which by the way, is totally F'ed up. I would agree with the font change and the clarification of the physical state of the creature. I thought the video was a nice way for the reader to see the event but the supernatural element took me out of it slightly. The strength of the narrative allowed me to accept the terms of the undead in the basement. Firing at mugshots and an imagined 'monster' could have revealed a deeper character.  Perhaps out of the grief of a lost son and the job has mentally broken him and he finally snaps, but that is only a suggestion. 

 

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake July 3, 2012 - 2:21am

Hey, thanks.

Yeah, the subkect matter is a bit heavy, but it was a story that I, understanably, needed to get out of my head. For my parts, horror should have an element of the supernatural and in this case it is a beast that makes men into monsters.

I'll work on making Jon's character a little deeper.

Blair's picture
Blair from Southern California is reading Needful Things July 3, 2012 - 6:47am

Hi Johann - notes attached. You've got talent in spades but some of the story elements didn't ring legit, for me:

The hardened cops seemed to over-react to the video. I was befuddled by the sudden appearance of twenty guys, some living and some dead, in the narrator's basement.

Also, you looked away just before things got really nasty. I'd like to feel a bit of physical human suffering before you cut to the prologue.

It would also be cool to see some explanation as to why, right then, it happened? Maybe the MC's name and face were just in the newspaper, bringing him to the fore as a target?

I liked the story overall. Creepy shit, sir. Your next draft will be a knockout, I'm sure.

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake July 3, 2012 - 7:27am

Thanks Josh (I assumed from the name of the file).

Yeah, I need to tone down the reaction to the tape in the next version, it is clearly too much right now. And the reasoning for this happening to the main character need to be clear.

Thanks again for reading, and taking the time to critique.

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz July 3, 2012 - 7:35am

Hi Johann,

Your description brought me in and I will say that as I was reading along, I did feel horror. You succeeded in that respect. Your scenes were tension filled and the descriptions were solid - enough to put you in that little room watching the video tape. Very good job. 

There's 2 plot holes that are a little tough for me to get past:

1) the fact that Lisa just kind of springs on Jon that she's going out of town and he needs to take the kid and find a sitter. It just seems too convenient. You don't even need to make it that complicated. Just have him as a latchkey kid, have him drop the kid off and say something like, "I have to stop in work, I'll be back in 2 hours, there's PB&J in the pantry, see you soon" 

2) the murder-suicide. If I'm not mistaken, Valsson lived and he saw the video. He'd immediately be able to relay that info.

The ending seems slightly rushed.  If you don't want the happy ending where they escape, maybe consider the compromise. Jon has 2 bullets left. His son is about to be raped and there's no escaping it. What's more horrific than a father having to shoot his son in order to "save" him from certain death and then turn it on himself. A scene like that is just ripe for tension & horror.

In any case, you have a lot of great elements working here. Dark, scary story - just like the contest called for. 

Thanks for sharing.

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake July 3, 2012 - 8:50am

Hey Otis,

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I'll get those plot holes patch up in the next version, along with some great points from the other commenters.

And you know what... I totally forgot about Valsson.

 

Brit Cole's picture
Brit Cole from Las Vegas July 4, 2012 - 12:26am

The exposition at the begining bored me, but once things picked up (when he got to the police station) I was hooked and quite happy. Of course, it was awfully rushed and lacking in description. It was actually a bit annoying that the most interesting bits were so rushed.


I adored the abrupt ending, but it does seem a come off a bit weird. I think it's fine to leave that ending as it is so long as you really draw out the action bits. Just build up tension so that that abrupt end becomes a shocker. 


I enjoyed reading it.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia--now living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Kindred, by Octavia Butler July 6, 2012 - 9:25pm

I don't know--I have a hard time with stories that begin very realistically and get us to care about the characters, and then kill them off, seemingly for no other reason than the convenience of the genre. I actually liked the beginning. I could believe in the characters. By the end, I really wasn't buying any of it, and it was also disgusting. However, I think I just don't get this genre.

Marc Ferris's picture
Marc Ferris from Carmel, California is reading Animal Attraction by Anna David July 8, 2012 - 9:49pm

Once the video tape started rolling so did the story.

I don't know if your character needs to have a son, or if we need his family situation to make the story work. For me the story starts when he walks into the station and they hand him the remote control. You describe Keflavik's pedaphilia problem well enough it can stand alone as background. 

Your monster is genuinely frightening, and you have a lot to work with here.

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake July 14, 2012 - 8:45am

Thanks, both for reading and the encouragement.

I'll work on the story soon and have another version ready, with a shorter beginning and a better ending.

WesFord's picture
WesFord from America (CO, NE, NC, AK, NY, WA) is reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Portable Atheist by Hitchens, 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill August 1, 2012 - 12:54am

Johann,

It's a decent start to a quite disturbing story, although one I rather enjoyed. A monster making men into monsters... fantastic.

The story does start about a page before it has to. The mother leaving town, promises of pizza, and playing chess with an older girl can be sprinkled into Jon's arrival at the station. Which, for me, I wasn't sure why he'd leave his kid alone if his kid is a supposed target for those Jon keeps locking away.

There are some gruesome details that aren't here. Which is understandable, writing about something this heavy can make the writer's stomach ache even more than the reader's. However, it felt like things were just starting to get some gut-wrenching build to it and you'd cut away.

The suicide of the captain felt unnecessary (I know, we have to have three deaths). There wasn't even much of a reaction to him shooting himself.

The end has also been covered by other reviewers. The one question that I haven't seen yet is if this monster can bring these guys back from the dead then why does he eat the fat one Jon shoots instead of bringing him back?

Overall fun and tons of potential here to be one of the most disturbing stories in history and I hope to see it again some day.

Best to you,

Wes

Johann Thorsson's picture
Johann Thorsson from Reykjavik, Iceland is reading Echo Lake August 7, 2012 - 1:30am

Thanks, 

I've gotten great pointers from the readers here and will start working on it again this week (dam summer holiday has been keeping me from writing).

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

 

Now... *cracks knuckles* let's get this thing into more gruesome shape.