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Adam Jenkins's picture

The Memory Remains

By Adam Jenkins in Teleport Us

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Description

In the near future where death can be conquered, an immortal struggles not with what he has gained, but with what he has lost.

Comments

adrenokrome's picture
adrenokrome from United Kingdom is reading Altered Carbon February 14, 2013 - 4:26am

Classic sci fi elements and the theme of identity is something I always find interesting, I would have liked to know more about the world this tale is set in though, all in all I enjoyed.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 16, 2013 - 12:37am

Thank you mate - the idea of identity and humanity fascinates me.  I did rather ignore setting, partly because of word limit, but also because I wanted most of the description to be internalised.  The setting is almost irrelevant.  Likewise I've not given the characters names or even faces.  This is to try and get the reader to fill in the blanks, to identify with the characters and even place themselves and their loved ones in those roles.  It's a conceit, and I don't know if it works, but I enjoyed writing it that way as it's different to how I usually write.  Thanks for your comments!

IrishMak's picture
IrishMak from NH February 14, 2013 - 12:21pm

Nice story. I like the internal nature of it, and the human/non-human questions it explores, and the way it deals with emotion almost as pain. I enjoyed reading it.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 16, 2013 - 12:41am

Thanks for reading and commenting.  I found while writing it I became enthralled by the idea of how we feel pain.  I once broke my ankle, and can remember the pain that first night (before I realised it was broken and went to hospital) and flexing the leg to try and deal with the ache.  I can still remember quite well that pain, despite this happening over 20 years ago.  It would be intriguing to know if we would still feel it as pain if we could remember it with absolute clarity.  By extension of this, would the pain of lost love ever go away if we could revisit the memory with absolute clarity?  But I'm rambling now.  Thanks again for the kind words.

Tobacco Jones's picture
Tobacco Jones February 15, 2013 - 2:48pm

I think this concept could work, the idea that he has landed in the worst possible trap given his desire for some kind of exit. BUT, the main believability problems that I have are:

1. He walked right into a fairly obvious trap, becoming immortal must have been a known / desired outcome

2. Once all the rules are set up and he is stuck in the trap, then he just busts out of the whole thing with a little virus. That part drove me nuts because I felt like it just defied the whole system you just built in a very cursory way. I always like when once the rules are set, you are really stuck with them. (Also the virus details did not resonate with me, but I'm a software guy so you never know.)

I thought it was a bit wordy too, could stand come condensation. 

The time shifting wasn't bad, although I would have liked to feel more about the characters. I think maybe if there was more there to grab onto, especially with the wife, then I'd feel more of the emotions that are being described as him feeling (which I wasn't).

I liked this line:

 Within this creation, this pale imitation of humanity, he could not even seek the relative release of madness

 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 16, 2013 - 12:58am

Spoilers ahead if anyone else is reading this reply without reading the story first.

 

Thank you for reading!

I'm sorry it wasn't wholly to your liking.  It may help if I explained why I went down those paths, though obviously it would have been better if that had been clear from the story itself, rather than comments after the fact.

It's not really a trap.  Immortality is fairly enticing obviously.  He volunteers because he wants to deaden the emotions.  Without an organic brain, he believes he will have the memories without the pain:

"When she died, he had lost count of the amount he been told that ‘It will get easier with time’.  He had waited for the pain to lessen, for the hole in his soul to shrink.  It hadn’t happened.  Each new day brought with it the old familiar pain.  Sleep was hard to come by and he had little appetite as all food lacked taste to him.  They preached patience, but he had none left.  He longed for release.
     When they had asked for volunteers at work to test the units they had created, he was one of the first to put his name forward.  For the others it was a chance at immortality that they would otherwise never be able to afford.  He cared nothing for longevity of life and wanted only to be released from his current life.  He longed to be able to put aside the pain, and felt bitter that this chance had come too late for her to be saved."

Feeling pain - whether physical or emotion should theoretically be impossible.  This was his way to get rid of the pain withot doing anything drastic (which of course he has to do by the end).  Not that it works out the way he thinks it will though.

The virus is certainly convenience, a little artistic licence used.  I have no idea about software, hardware or even fashion wear.  The idea is that he can only erase all memory stores by using his own memory against them.  Why would anyone want to erase themselves and thus lose their immortality?  It would have been unthinkable, and thus who would have thought to protect against it?  He'd know how to do it because he was on the inside - "There was no awareness of the data being passed to his processor, but having been on the design team, he knew it was going on."

I'm not sure what you mean by condensation I'm afraid.

With regards to feeling more about the characters, as per my comment to Krome above, it was a conceit to try and get the reader to project onto them.  These are nameless / faceless characters, to keep the description internalised and to keep them as blank canvases so place the reader and loved ones into that situation.  I openly admit I had no idea if it wold work, and some of the off-site feedback has been split. 

Glad you liked that line - it's one of my favourites as well.

Sorry for the long and probably very dull reply, I just wanted to go into a bit more detail in case it helped you understood why I wrote it in this way.  I appreciate the time you've taken out to read it given how many submissions there have been, and the comments you have left.

Shane Berryhill's picture
Shane Berryhill February 18, 2013 - 11:04am

Adam, very brave of you to bleed out on the page and then throw up for the world to take a look at. I like what you're going for here, but I think the "going" could use some work. One overarching thing I see...I'd suggest striking adverbs (and even adjectives in large part) from your prose. Most successful writers agree the best writing comes from nouns and verbs (notice I didn't say, 'strictly nouns and verbs' haha). Just something to keep in mind for future reference. Best of luck!

-Shane Berryhill

http://litreactor.com/events/teleport-us/burn?fb_action_ids=10200636629378173&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 19, 2013 - 6:53am

Thank you Shane.  I shall take the stuff about nouns and verbs on board. 

Not so sure I agree with you on the bravery front though.  I'm always willing to bleed and vomit in front of people, that's why I'm always such a hit at parties. 

Shane Berryhill's picture
Shane Berryhill February 19, 2013 - 6:57am

haha. "throw IT up for all the world to see."

See, Im not immune, either. Best of luck, my friend.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 19, 2013 - 7:02am

Happens to the best of us buddy!  You may have been more accurate with what you first wrote though.

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 20, 2013 - 10:40am

Wow!  There is an enormous degree of sadness wrapped up in your story.  You've done an excellent job conveying that emotion to your reader in such a way that they get pulled into without really realizing it.  Excellent work!  I wish I could do more than just thumb up the story.

One comment on formatting, using the first line indent feature would probably work better than using spaces.  It should be relatively easy to find instructions on how to set it up with a quick Google search.

Also, page three: "word that familiar to him" I think you missed a 'was' or should drop the 'that'.

Awesome read!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 20, 2013 - 11:33am

It is incredible how much your comment has picked me up after a knackering day at work.  I couldn't be more pleased that you liked it, and I'm very grateful to you for taking the time to read it and make this reply.

Formatting is not my strongest point I have to say.  Tabbing looked wrong, but no indent at all was just as bad.  I shall look for the first line indent feature immediately.  Thanks for picking up on the mistake as well.  Countless read-throughs made me blind after a while.

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 20, 2013 - 11:42am

You always miss something, no matter what or how many eye's you have on a story!  

This might be helpful on the first line indent.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 20, 2013 - 12:00pm

Perfect, thanks for that!

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On February 22, 2013 - 11:28am

Adam,

I like the concept a lot, especially how you kept the parts with the lovers together out of continuity, which is how memory would work. I kept hoping that the future sections (his artificial self) and the past (the lovers) spoke to one another in a more direct way. In other words, a future event prompting a recollection of a past event; like a an inability to feel a certain kind of pain in the future reminds him of the same kind of pain--albeit a pleasant one--emplyed by his lover. Does that make sense? Just brief little arcs that stitch the segments together.

Really appreciate that he has embraced death in the end. I don't mean in a morbid way, but that he recognizes the natural cycle of life. A part of me was hoping during that first part where you reveal that he's walking up to the volcano, that this was going to be a kind of motif--that he keeps trying to die, but fails. But seeing how you ended it, I'm glad you didn't go there, and rather opted for a dignified, very elemental/primal exit.

Apart from a little tightening up (the beginning two paragraphs get a little repetative; can be condensed some and still achieve the same impact) and just a little more connective sinew--or in this case, neurons--between your two separate times, will help make it a more cohesive whole. But all in all, a really good effort with a ton of promise. Certainly fearing "to go there" isn't an issue with you, and for that I offer mad props.

--Dino

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 23, 2013 - 12:49am

Thanks for the feedback, I really do appreciate it!

The stitching arcs make perfect sense, it wasn't something I thought about, and in a slightly longer piece that definitely would be a good way to go.  I'm certainly tempted to dabble further in that way.  Odd you mention the possibility of him trying to die, but not succeeding.  A friend suggested a darker way to end it would be to have the lava not affect the body, but solidify around, thus making him spend eternity encased in rock in the volcano.  I was tempted to go there.

This is really useful feedback for me - thanks.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 23, 2013 - 12:52am

Thanks for the feedback, I really do appreciate it!

The stitching arcs make perfect sense, it wasn't something I thought about, and in a slightly longer piece that definitely would be a good way to go.  I'm certainly tempted to dabble further in that way.  Odd you mention the possibility of him trying to die, but not succeeding.  A friend suggested a darker way to end it would be to have the lava not affect the body, but solidify around, thus making him spend eternity encased in rock in the volcano.  I was tempted to go there.

This is really useful feedback for me - thanks.

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words February 23, 2013 - 1:30am

A very sad, very lyrical piece. Examining the side-effects of having a life of memories always there, unavoidable, was a good call. Heck, even without the traumatic memories, I'd think that just having to relive moments when one acted the idiot would be horrifying enough (or maybe that's just because I've acted the idiot so often).

My only real suggestions (that aren't just proofing issues) are small ones. First, I'd almost rather see the narrative start in the 'present', with him walking toward the mountain and then do the flashbacks. It wasn't clear to me that that first scene was memory (doesn't have to be clear, of course, but I don't think the narrative would be harmed any by it and it might make the emphasis on memory more quickly accessible to the reader).

The second one is very minor, but it provides foreshadowing and eliminates a problematic scene that I've been gnawing on since I read this. When the protag encounters the yutes on the way to the mountain, they don't attack. The line 'Effectively he was immortal' explains to us why they don't. Changing it to "[They knew] that effectively he was immortal' creates the slight difference we need between their perception (the common perception) and what the protag knows.

Hmmm, on that note, if they knew this about him, why'd they bother? Somebody just dare 'em to go up and poke at the immortal, super-powerful being with a stick? Or would they go ahead and attack him anyway, getting out their aggessions like they would on a car, even knowing that it wouldn't do any good in the end?

So maybe that one isn't so minor after all. Plays to motivation.

Also, I'm thinking out loud here. Feel free to throw balls of lava at me. Heh.

PS (post reading the comments, above): On reading Tobacco Jones' comment #2, it certainly seems likely that the protag could come up with a go-around, since he was on the design team, but--and this just ocurred to me and I have to share it even though it steps very close to the "If I was writing it, I'd..." edge of the reviewer volcano (even more than I usually do)--how much more tragic would it be if he was...wrong? Thus, the last scene is not him melting away, but being 'reborn' into yet another new body?

And kudos to ArlaneEnalra on the indentation formatting fix. I was going to recommend that myself. Much better than using spaces, tabs, or the Indent Button. Using the direct formatting works so much better when you are trying to format something for e-publication (which I do a bit of). Also, it's handy in that once you set it up, you don't have to think about it; you just hit Enter and there's your indentation. Ta-daaa!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 23, 2013 - 5:09am

Thanks - these are all superb suggestions!

I suppose given we don't see the volcano aftermath, that he could actually have woken in a new body afterwards... it would have been nicely tragic to have that scene though.  Such is the sympathy I felt for the character, I guess I wanted him to be released.  But to not give him that would certainly have been a good alternative.

Good call on the alternate beginning as well.  The opening scene was the one that first popped into my head, and it led straight into the tragedy.  I didn't even think about altering the order, but what you say makes a lot of sense.

Also I like the idea of adding just those few words to show about the immortality to explain why he's not attacked.  In my head I was seeing those news reports of armed forces going through hostile territory - the locals looking on in open hostility, but not attacking because it will do no good and they fear reprisals.  There's no suggestion of the protag being a threat in the text though, and I do like the idea of getting out their aggression even if it does no good.

I've learnt a lot about formatting from comments both here and on other stories.  It's not something I've ever really thought about before.  Incredibly useful advice.

Thanks for going into detail in your comment, I really do greatly appreciate it.

Tobacco Jones's picture
Tobacco Jones February 26, 2013 - 11:50am

how much more tragic would it be if he was...wrong? Thus, the last scene is not him melting away, but being 'reborn' into yet another new body?

 

That is a really neat idea...

 

 

Matt Hebert's picture
Matt Hebert from Vermont, originally, now in Dublin February 28, 2013 - 10:43am

Very engaging story, and you touch on some interesting issues. I especially appreciated the concept that transcending biology could mean transcending children ... that had never occured to me before. :)

Great control of language, although I did feel the abundance of adverbs.  It's a strong, emotional piece, but at times it felt as if the modifiers were trying to squeeze more meaning and emotion out of every line than probably was good for them.  I think you can trust your good choice of structural words to carry the weight of significance.

The other emotional aspect that hindered things *mildly* for me was its pacing. Your first scene is warm and loving and emotionally powerful. As you return to these two characters again, the emotion isn't always maintained. I like the way you vary the narrative when you tell us again that she dies, but the subsequent scenes don't keep up the emotional level.  That's a hard task, I grant you. But I was on the verge of saying to myself, yes she left him and he's alone, I understand.  It shames me a bit to say that about such a lovely piece, but there I was.

It was a bit cheeky to pull the memory marble out just at the end, but it was easy to go with it.  If you had spent lots of time trying to justify it or explain it, it might not have worked so well.  

Overall, a really nice piece of writing, very moving and full of meaning.  Thanks for that. :)

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 28, 2013 - 11:21am

Thanks for the comments, I really do appreciate them.


I always knew the danger with this is that the protagonist could come across as too mopey, and it was a bit of tightrope walk, so I'm not surprised you noticed me wobbling on occasion. 


Adverbs do tend to be my downfall when writing.  I’m one of those annoying people that litter my speech with them, and so they unconsciously find their way into my stories.  One of these days I’ll get over my blindness and eradicate them. 


Glad you liked it overall.

Matt Hebert's picture
Matt Hebert from Vermont, originally, now in Dublin February 28, 2013 - 12:41pm

I didn't feel he was mopey.  I got the sense the emotion was real.  It was just that the engery of their later scenes together couldn't keep up with that of the first one. :)  It was pretty strong.  

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 28, 2013 - 12:44pm

Superb - thanks for the clarification.

SamaLamaWama's picture
SamaLamaWama from Dallas is reading Something Wicked This Way Comes March 6, 2013 - 12:45pm

Very touching story. Your words are poetic. I especially liked: He waited...for the hole in his soul to shrink, and time heals because memory crumbles around the edges. Both are very strong and lyrical. Great job there. My only suggestion is that most of the story is told instead of shown. I don't get a sense that I'm really there. I would go back and add senses to the scene to make it more well rounded. You also use a lot of passive voice—I have a tendency to do that very same thing. I'd highlight those words in your MS and rewrite them out if possible. Overall it's very touching. Great job. ~Sam  

 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 6, 2013 - 2:02pm

Thanks for the comments Sam, I very much appreciate it.  Some good advise here, especially regarding the passive voice, which is certainly an issue of mine.

Wendy Hammer's picture
Wendy Hammer from Indiana is reading One Night in Sixes March 15, 2013 - 1:07pm

Lovely, lovely, lovely.  This was very moving and thought provoking.  I think that the wordiness it falls into at times actually fits quite well with the narrator's situation--both as someone locked in grief and as an EB.

The opening sections really hit hard.  The opening in contrast to the Ravage? Brilliant. I like how you created contrasts (the EBs, the humans, the media image, the reality, before and after--etc.). I also admired the connection.  The interest in volacanos? Perfectly sensible. 

The main thing I'd suggest working on has been touched before. The virus is just too convenient. I kind of figured that something like that would happen (very Mt. Doom). In all seriousness you did build solid connections to actual story elements. It may be an easy enough fix...maybe seeding it in with his research interests, background, something? I didn't want to chew at that when the moment is so powerful, you know?

Liked the story a lot! 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 15, 2013 - 11:50pm

Thank you very very very much.  I am delighted that you liked it, and that the connections worked.

I didn't really get what others said about the ending and the virus at first.  Having read a lot of other submissions though, I've finally understood what everybody was saying.  I thought it a convenient way to end the story, and while I always planned to end it that way from the inception of the story, I didn't think about seeding it earlier.  It's a trap I've seen others fall into, and as a reader I've felt slightly cheated by that. 

While I hadn't planned on working this anymore, I think I will now give it another run when the contest is over.  It's going to nag at me otherwise.

Thank you for the read and the comments, I really do appreciate you taking the time to do both.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations March 16, 2013 - 11:25am

Good work!

I know people who get very ... uptight... about the use of a double space at the start of each sentence. Apparently, general advice is avoid. So I do - now!

The opening (which is lovely) - this is told by the guy, so it needs to stay with him. When we switch to three years later, maybe start with the "He sat on a chair by the side of the bed and held her hand" - keeps us in anchored in his POV.

When we flip back to the :

“Why would anyone want to?” she said.

Consider putting it in past tense. We're back were we started, but we've also been on the volcano, so... again, a POV transition.

The pain in the knee needs, I think, resolving. It seems like a key part as to his decisions, but this isn't quite worked through so that we - the readers - can empathise. And we need to do that whenever any protagonist takes drastic action.

I'd like to see something more about this world as well - how do the non-converted live? How many of them are there? Probably not great to refer to them as "human" - irrational, superstitious yes, but they have the same origin as he, even if a different end point. I'd like to know if this conversion if purely driven by the risk of being lost to the Ravage.

Love the idea of their ashes mingling, and then him releasing them - I'd like to see something at that point that suggested his "memories" are overiding the "wiring"

Very good work though. Nicely told.

Liam

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 16, 2013 - 1:05pm

Thanks for the comments Liam. 

The whole single space at the start of the sentence is completely new to me, only saw that on a comment on someone else's story after I'd posted.  That is going to be a hard habit to break.  Still, have to fit in with the e-book crowd these days. (Edit - I've done it here too I notice.  Damn it!)

The tense changes were intentional, but I can understand how some would find these annoying.  This isn't a linear story, and the idea was to make it so nothing was truly occurring in the present.  Apart from the final moment, this could all be occurring in the mind.  Everything is memory.  However, that memory is so clear to him, that to think of it is to relive it.  That is why the memory of pain hurts as much as pain itself.  Works for some, not for others I guess, which is good to know.  The memory doesn't override the wiring - these are not programmed robots.  Picture yourself in a completely synthetic body, and that's how you should think of the Evolved.

The knee has nothing to do with his decision.  The pain is there to show the power of memory, to continue the theme, and also to link into the idea that the memory of 'her' is just as painful to him.  The empathy should come from understanding how when you love someone, the loss of that person hurts more than anything you can imagine.  If that didn't come across then that is my failing.

I would have liked to have gone into more depth on the background and the place, but the word limit was a bit restrictive for that, and it had nothing to do with the central story.  It means the reader has to make some leaps, I'm interested to see you filled in the gap in terms of conversions being due to the Ravage.  I'm happy with that.

I really do appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on this.  It is useful to learn what works the way I'd intended, and what really does not.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce March 20, 2013 - 9:00am

Adam, this was just heartbreaking stuff to read. I'm going through some family terminal illness right now, so this made me tear up a little. You packed a lot of emotion into the first couple of pages and this really impressed me. I loved the end, too, how he found a way to prevent his consciousness from being downloaded again. I enjoyed the serene and strangely comforting resignation about death he reached in the final scene. 

After I finished your story, I had a quick skim through the comments you already had so I wouldn't double up too much on issues that have already been raised, but the only issues I had have already been mentioned!

Thumbs up from me. Thanks for sharing your story with us. If you get a chance to read mine, I would really appreciate it.

Jess 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 20, 2013 - 11:19am

Hi Jess

Thank you so much for your comments, I'm delighted that you liked it. I'm very sorry to hear what you are going through at the moment though. It would probably not surprise you to know that this stems from a very difficult year dealing with serious illness in family and friends, and a recent family bereavement. My thoughts were fairly dark, and this was quite cathartic. A few tears were shed while writing this.

I'm aiming to get through all the stories - I have less than 50 now. I'm really looking forward to reading yours, having seen in mentioned in the main thread a few times now. 

Thanks again!

Linda's picture
Linda from Sweden is reading Fearful Symmetries March 20, 2013 - 10:54am

Like Mess_Jess's I find that what few concerns I had have already been raised.

You do a fine job exploring immortality, and love was probably a good choice of backdrop because it's so very human. I have to say you handle the 'love story' aspect well, I usually get bored and start skimming the gooey parts, but you actually manage to describe their relationship and evoke emotions without scaring me off. Even though you don't spend a lot of time describing the surroundings, I think you hit on the right details to help me imagine the setting, especially the mountain village and the bedroom/apartment. 

This is not a suggestion for revisions, but when I finished the story and started thinking about the themes, I thought it would have been cool if he had not expressed a lot of emotion as an Ex-man (sorry, but the media name stuck), so you had the intensely emotional history between him and her, and then the immortal version of him as a contrast.

Thumbs up, thanks for sharing!

 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 20, 2013 - 11:24am

Thank you for your comments, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

This was a bit of a departure for me, so I'm glad the heart was there without going overboard. I was determined to keep it simple, heartfelt and real, so hopefully that comes across well.

Thanks for the suggestion as well!

Maria Stanislav's picture
Maria Stanislav from the UK is reading ALL the submissions! March 22, 2013 - 5:16am

First of all, let me say that I love the way you structure the story, switching between present day, and two streams of memories (damn, I feel self-serving complimenting this structure, considering what I did for this very challenge... bear with me). There's only one thing that nags at me a little about it, and that is the second half of the first segment, starting with "A little over three years later she lay in the same bed." I would probably recommend cutting that section short, keeping it purely sweet and saving the bitterness for a later moment. If you cut away to the mountain village right after the lovers' morning, you give the reader a hint that things have changed, happened, etc., likely bad things, too - but you don't drop her death on their heads right away. The way it is right now, it feels like you've shown your hand that little bit too early. "He loved her, she died, now he's broken" has less initial intrigue than "He loved her, now he's a robot-like creature walking to a volcano". For me, anyway.

In the rest of the story, I think you reveal things at the right pace. Everything seems to flow smoothly. Initially, I had a slight problem with how you lean more towards telling than showing - but for a story set mostly in the memory, that works. The only bit I'd change would be:

She looked up at him and smiled, and he knew there could be nobody else that would make him feel this way.  There would be nobody else so full of zest and vigour.  She made him feel more alive than he thought possible.  Every sensation was heightened.

It feels a bit too heavy-handed. I think the feelings expressed in this paragraph could be incorporated into the previous one, something along the lines of:

This was life; the simple pleasure of being with the one you love, and knowing nobody else would make you feel this way.  Each kiss and caress was savoured and treasured. Every sensation, heightened.

She looked up at him and smiled.

Don't describe her as 'being full of zest and vigour', especially not here. If possible, show her character traits through the sections where she is featured. If not possible, bring it up when she's already ill, contrasting her healthy past self with the wasted shadow she's become, or indicating how the illness couldn't break her spirit (you mention that when you say "He collapsed, but she was amazing.  She eased him through her illness as if she were the carer, and he the patient.")

[There's also an akward sentence here: "The human brain is a thing of wonder. The very weaknesses are what protect it." If the second sentence wasn't misphrased by accident, then it's a bit awkward. I understand what it means, but I think something's mangled there.]

Ahem. Sorry about the wall of text. That's all for specific criticisms from me. The virus issue has already been touched upon - but I think that with more wordcount to work with, you could tie it in more organically. Also, the phantom pain in the knee probably deserves more attention - it's brought up enough times to feel like a loose thread if left unaddressed.

Before I go, I'm compelled to point out my favourite line from the story.

Time heals because memory crumbles around the edges.

I think the imagery here is beautiful, and the metaphor works perfectly.

Ultimately, it's definite thumbs-up from me. Save for the nitpicks, the story works, your world is compelling, and I'm not going to join the readers who would've wanted to play the cruel trick of having the protagonist fail and wake up in another body. Let him have his peace.

Thank you for posting!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 22, 2013 - 5:40am

Thanks for taking the time to comment in such detail, I really appreciate it.

I'm glad you liked it, and there are certainly crossovers in terms of theme with your story. Your criticisms are incredibly useful to read.  It's been a few weeks since I've read my story properly, but those sentences do seem obviously in need of a bit more finesse.  I also love your re-phrasing of the paragraph and will be stealing that for sure.

Thank you!!

Cipherscribe's picture
Cipherscribe from Michigan, but all my exes live in Texas. is reading Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight March 22, 2013 - 6:59pm

Wow, man, that was a powerful story. I loved the language you used, the pacing was great, you actually felt the pain he was going through and the longing to be with her in life, in death...I'm not going to say that it brougtht a tear to my eye, but I'll just say you nailed it. I'm a dude, I don't cry. haha That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Great story! I was humbled reading it. I hope I'm as good at capturing and evoking emotion as you one day. Thumbs up.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 23, 2013 - 12:29am

Thank you very much. To say I'm delighted you liked it is an understatement!

Hildur Enola's picture
Hildur Enola from Iceland is reading The Anansi Boys March 24, 2013 - 6:30am

What a sad story it really connects emotionally which makes it a success.

Perhaps it is a bit too wordy for my taste.

Personally, I think these 2 paragraphs. Starting with:

"Still battling with the overwhelming emotion of the situation..."

and ending with:

"...yet it had its roots in a wonderful place."

should shortened and rolled into one with little less wordiness.

The main character is memorable and sympathetic.

Keep up the good work and good luck with your writing.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 25, 2013 - 12:43pm

Thanks for the feedback - very much appreciate it!

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep March 31, 2013 - 12:09pm

I think it's hard to like a story where the main character commits suicide in the end, and yet, here I am, liking your story. You did well with a difficult subject--loss and pain, and the drastic actions that people are willing to take to deal with them.

It all worked for me personally. Flipping back and forth between the memories and the present was effective, underlining your title and all your main points. The thread of love and sorrow were believable. I don't think I can identify with your characters in real ways, but you made me understand them.

I don't have any specific comments to make for improvements. I enjoyed what you wrote.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 31, 2013 - 11:52pm

Thanks for the read and the comments.

Interesting you mention the suicide at the end. Tthere is a shout for saying he commits suicide when he is technically evolved. It all depends on your view of what makes us human though - biology or memory.

I'm glad you liked it!

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep April 1, 2013 - 8:15am

I guess self-termination might be a better way of referring to it. Sounds more sci-fi, right? :)

Thinking about it some more, I think I used "suicide" because I didn't perceive it as something that was sacrificial. In the end of Romeo and Juliet, both of them commit suicide, but other characters in other stories self-terminate, and it doesn't feel like suicide (T2, The Exorcist) because their actions are sacrificial.

I guess I hadn't fully processed whether erasing data was suicide...maybe it's a matter of semantics. You made me care about your character too much for him to be anything other than human.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) April 1, 2013 - 9:01am

I had an argument/discussion with a friend over the ending, where I tried to argue that it wasn't really suicide. I lost. The way I'd written the character was to present him as fundamentally still human even when he becomes an EB. It transpires that it is pretty hard to argue that it is anything other than suicide because of that. I'm glad you cared about the character though. That was certainly what I was aiming for.

I really like 'self-terminate' though. It fits really well.

 

Dana Fredsti's picture
Dana Fredsti April 25, 2013 - 2:44pm

First of all, let me share my favorite passage in the story: 

Within this creation, this pale imitation of humanity, he could not even seek the relative release of madness.  He was condemned to see it all, explore every aspect of everything he had ever seen, heard, felt or tasted.
It was more than the ghost itch of a lost limb.
It was more than just an echo of pain.
It tore at him with wild ferocity and he could not escape it.

Truly lyrical, poignant and pretty much (to me) sums up the core of the story.  I love the concept that phantom pain can be emotional as well as physical, and love the framework you used to present it. 

I agree with other commenters in that I'd like more "show" and less "tell," as well as would like more connective tissue between the two timelines.  The adverbs didn't bother me; I didn't notice an overabundance of them, but I did notice a tendency towards passive voice. 

I love the ending, although yes, if you wanted to go for the absolute "man, it sucks to be you" fate for the main character, you could have him wake up in another body... but I'm just as glad you didn't.  He deserved the peace he found.  Well done and looking forward to more of your work!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) April 25, 2013 - 9:41pm

Thank you for your comments Dana. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it.