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courtshipofthemonsters's picture

kill (command)

By courtshipofthem... in Teleport Us

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Description

It's tough to be a teenager. Especially when all the malls are closed, thanks to the machine apocalypse. Where's a girl supposed to get shoes that match her fatigues? Alex Green has it even tougher than most. She's been assigned to infiltrate the machine headquarters and take out their leader. NBD, amirite?

Comments

Linda's picture
Linda from Sweden is reading Fearful Symmetries February 22, 2013 - 1:13pm

Evening,

First, welcome to LitReactor, I hope you will stick around.

I like your concept, and you do a good job providing background. The story is well written overall, although it does get slightly too wordy in places for my taste. Alex is a fun character, although her attitude seems a bit out of place, and her fiestyness (and the synopsis) runs contrary to the overall tone of the story, IMO. Maybe this was intentional though. If you plan on revising, I would suggest spending more time developing the scene with Alex and her brother, as it seems to be the most important one

Just so I got it right, was her brother the leader?

A short note regarding formatting, consider setting line spacing at 2, or at least 1,5.

Thanks for sharing!

courtshipofthemonsters's picture
courtshipofthem... from Seattle, Washington is reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen February 22, 2013 - 7:36pm

Hi Linda,

Thanks for the critique. And thanks for taking the time to read my piece, I was worried no one would! I also really appreciate the feedback on my story, you brought up a lot of stuff I hadn't considered and it will help me a lot in the revision process. I look forward to seeing you around the site!

Thanks again!

Tim Needles's picture
Tim Needles from Port Jefferson, New York is reading Stories edited by Neil Gaiman February 26, 2013 - 8:00am

I really enjoyed the story. I thought the concept was intriguing and the character was fun to follow!  I was a bit thrown by the present tense at times but I think that's just a stylistic thing.  I'd suggest tightening it up a bit in order to make it move quicker in the action segments but the inner thoughts and description is great!

courtshipofthemonsters's picture
courtshipofthem... from Seattle, Washington is reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen February 26, 2013 - 11:45am

Thanks for the read and comments! I'm glad you mentioned the tense problem, because I have a real issue with that. I switch tenses without even realizing it so I'll have to go through and fix that. Bad habit to have as a writer. This will really help in revising, thanks!

klahol's picture
klahol from Stockholm, Sweden is reading Black Moon February 26, 2013 - 8:48am

Liked it! 

I was way relieved when i realised the machines you spoke of were not actual nuts-and-bolts robots but rather subverted human beings. In many ways the setting reminded me of John Barnes books, where humanity has been subverted by a hive-mind called Resuna. 

I'd maybe work a bit more on the personality of the 'machines'. Or rather, the lack of personality. If te ex-seal guy has been subverted, how come he is still angry, agressive?

The scene with the brother was a bit confusing. Maybe if you made it clearer that it is because he is the leader machine and inhabits the body of her baby brother that he is taking her to see him. Because inside every machine there is a human being trying to get out.

good job nevertheless. 

courtshipofthemonsters's picture
courtshipofthem... from Seattle, Washington is reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen February 26, 2013 - 11:53am

Thanks for the read. Yeah, I was very wary about doing a "machine" apocalypse since that can be pretty cliche'. I'm interested in checking out the Barnes books you mentioned now! The comment on the machine personality is great, I hadn't even thought of that. And it seems like I'm getting a lot of feedback on the clarity of that last scene with her brother, so that definitely needs to be revised. Thanks, this helps a lot.

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep March 4, 2013 - 10:08am

First off, let me say that I seriously love your synopsis above.

Second, I upvoted your story the second I learned it was about machines taking over. There, now you know my true weakness (that, and Oreos). We all have stories we like no matter how good or bad they are, right? The only other way you could have got an automatic thumbs up from me was if your story was about a girl. a werewolf, and a vampire.

I did not just write that.

Kudos on your wisecracking protagonist. Everybody loves a smartass (one of my guilty-favorites is Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity). Coming up with retorts can't always be easy, but during any revision, look for any opportunity to take this to the next level. For example, when the SEAL tells her to be quiet, I don't think she should actually shut up. Keep her defiant to the end. I personally don't think her attitude is out of place at all. Levity is a very common coping mechanism, and in her case, she's also using it to distract the machines from what she's doing.

I am curious why the machines didn't simply scan the syringe to find out what was in it. I don't think you need to spell out exactly what's in it--we know it's something to either simply kill the leader or infect all the machines with a virus.

You do need a good editing pass on this thing--knock out some of those past tenses that sneak in there. Believe me, I understand. My story is in present tense, and every time I revised, I found more!

I appreciated your ending. The sacrifice really ups the weight of the story--especially when it's contrasted against the verbal levity earlier.

I think the last section (with the female machine) needs to be reworked to make it a little more engaging. For example, I'd give this female a name (some sort of machine name I assume). Referring to her as "a female" reads awkwardly.

I really enjoyed your story. Your prose is clear and very easy to read. Tons of fun for me personally.

courtshipofthemonsters's picture
courtshipofthem... from Seattle, Washington is reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen March 8, 2013 - 1:13pm

Hey, thanks for the read! I know what you mean about certain stories, I too have a hard time passing up a good werewolf/vampire love triangle! Ha! 

You know, I thought the same thing about her flippancy, but apparently not everyone agrees with that. I'm glad you appreciated it though. Yeah, those darn tenses get me every time, I don't know what it is!

In my head (see, this is how things get lost in translation), I had pictured the syringe as empty. I was hoping a good enough stab from a thick needle to the jugular would be enough to kill someone. But, it might've been more interesting if it had been actually filled with something... Hmm, things for me to consider in a rewrite! 

Also, the female's name- I thought that could be confusing too, later on, especially since the reader might confuse her with the female machine at the beginning of the story- they are not the same! Good catch, thanks.

 

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. March 6, 2013 - 10:37am

Nice story! You had me pulled into your world almost as soon as I started reading.  A classic machines take over believing they are "saving" humanity while succeeding only in destroying it.  Interesting trick with the syringe as well.  There are a couple of ways I can think of to make that kind of attack fatal: air bubble, insulin overdose, more exotic poison, etc..  Did it actually have anything in it?

A small note: holstering a rifle in such a way that it can be drawn quickly is difficult because of the length.  Plus, the male obviously does not have his rifle holstered latter on.  A pistol would make more sense for a holstered weapon or you could simple change "butt of his holstered rifle" to "his rifle".

Excellent work!

courtshipofthemonsters's picture
courtshipofthem... from Seattle, Washington is reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen March 8, 2013 - 1:19pm

First off, thanks for the read! 

I really should have explained the syringe better, especially since it's such an important part of the story. To clarify, it was just an empty syringe. I figured if you planted a sharp object firmly enough in someone's throat, it would kill them. Initially, I had it written as filled with a virus but that ended up taking too long to explain in a short story, so I cut it out. It's a lot cooler though, right?

And the rifle- I totally should have caught that- my dad is a hunter and I'm super embarrassed about that mistake. Ha! Thanks for pointing that out.

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. March 8, 2013 - 2:04pm

Your welcome!  As to the syringe, I'm not sure that the needle alone would do the trick.  If she filled it with air first that could do the trick particularly if she ussed a slightly larger than normal syringe.  Which would leave the needle completely harmless until she was ready to use it ;)

 

12thkey's picture
12thkey from Richmond, VA is reading Cards as Weapons by Ricky Jay March 9, 2013 - 4:37am

Well written from an engineering standpoint and a good story.  The problem is that there is a fantastic story in here that's trying to escape.  Where is the symbol that could tie all of this together into a fist that would pummel your readers in the jaw, smack them around the room, and render them unable to forget your story as long as they live?

Sugar.

Her blood sugar is high -- she's sweet.  In fact, she's so "sweet" that she has to take insulin to keep her sugar in check.  And Nick, who has lost his "sweetness" is taken over by the hive program.  What if you expanded the symbolism?  Imagine she prepares a syringe under ruse of treating herself, but instead of insulin it's glucagon -- the medication that raises blood sugar -- and she injects Nick.  His body fights the glucagon with somatostatins that are produced in the brain; the resulting change in brain chemistry liberates him!  Something like that would really water-board your readers to tears.

Also you need to torture Alex a little more.  We need to feel her pain and suffering.  The more the thorn hurts, the more joy we feel when it gets pulled out.  I want to hear about her crying herself to sleep, searching for him everywhere, getting shot and stabbed and sleeping homeless covered with lice, etc. etc. etc.

Oh yeah, and give ALICE a male name.  Men are the ones who're always trying and failing to create utopias and Edens-on-Earth (Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh, etc. etc.)  Girls have more sense than that.  And more genuine "sweetness" if you see where I'm headed.  And jettison the movie-villain dialogue, as in "Your manners are sadly lacking"  and "Why have you resisted me?"

Now please go rewrite this thing and kick my ass.

courtshipofthemonsters's picture
courtshipofthem... from Seattle, Washington is reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen March 9, 2013 - 4:38pm

Hey, thanks for the advice! Sugar really would be a great motif for this thing, I'll have to explore that in my rewrites. I loved your comment, "Girls have more sense than that". Ha! I can't say I disagree. I really appreciate the tips, it makes revising a lot less painful. 

12thkey's picture
12thkey from Richmond, VA is reading Cards as Weapons by Ricky Jay March 10, 2013 - 6:13am

You're welcome!  After you rewrite it, please submit it somewhere, will you?

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 9, 2013 - 6:59am

I do like Alex - feisty heroines are always a good read.  Giving her a weakness like this is good writing.  I assumed the syringe was filled with insulin given that she is going into insulin shock.  The main concept is good, organically programmed humans makes a nice change, and I liked the 'science' behind it as well.  It has a nice arc to it, and a good ending - sacrifice but also saving her brother in the only way she still could.  The little touches you had with her talking of her brother were well done too.  It's a good story!

courtshipofthemonsters's picture
courtshipofthem... from Seattle, Washington is reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen March 9, 2013 - 4:47pm

Thank you! I have to admit, I really liked writing Alex, she was a fun character. I thought about filling the syringe with insulin, but when I researched diabetic kits, I found that most have to be prepared... not sure if that's really the case but it got a little too complicated trying to explain, so I decided to just leave it empty. There was a lot I could've done with the syringe, I wish I would've had more time (dang word limit) to put something really cool into it. Thanks for the comments, I appreciate it!