Lightning (oirowin) wrote in wordvines,

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I wrote this short story for my high school portfolio. it was one of four pieces that receieved a distiguished. I live for comments about my work and would appreciate any you could give me.

i do have a concern about the end battle scene. something seems confusing, even from the author's standpoint.

Robert sat near his flames, his eyes the color of the clouds. He watched the rain fall like tears; the sun was crying for salvation. A cat crawled into his lap and he mechanically stroked her. It was his last night in this house of despair. His search would lead him far away from his current Seattle home. The furniture was gone and his final suitcase was packed. He was a hunter, not of creatures, but of answers. He threw a bucket of water atop the flames, the color fizzling to nothing but ashy smoke. The final answer was just outside his door, lurking in the shadows that taunted him to come closer. He sighed as he stepped into the everlasting drizzle. He watched his old house vanish as he drove north in his red pick up truck.

It was late March, the green clovers and drunken sailors had vanished and Easter was just around the corner. Gabel’s View was just far enough away from Calgary that few people passed through Main Street. It was well known that the sidewalks rolled up at night fall and the young children were tucked into bed at the reasonable hour of nine. Farmers littered the wide expanse of land; their tiny red barns the only color on the wheat filled plain. Here, in this quaint town lived Garren, tall, lanky, and strong. His glory days at Gabel’s View High had just ended; his record breaking sports season never to be forgotten. Garren was constantly reminded of his high school days; the days everyone wanted back before darkness covered the horizon and the sun never shined.
Only a month ago, Robert, seemed to drop out of the sky into the sheltered town. His presence is always noticed, his actions always watched. He lived alone, his shaggy brown hair a faux pas in tiny Gable’s View. He relished the seclusion the small town life gave him, the silence that was deafening at night, the brightness of the stars every cloudless night. Everyone delighted in the cloudless nights. The stars brought hope for a brighter tomorrow, one not veiled in destruction and death.
For the fourth week in a row, the sky was a misty grey. Robert rose unsurprised to see the same old sky. It was tempting to go back to sleep, just curl up and forget about everything. He was forced out of bed by the constant ‘meow’ of his cat.
“It is breakfast time?” He rubbed her head, bending her ears. The cookie-cutter day continued as he watched the fog lift to the sound of his cat gobble up her meagre food. Robert sighed as his daydreams whisked him away to a world happier than his.
A winged figure, dimly lit, walked nearer to him. His eyes followed the trail of glittering dust that was left in each footprint. The figure was a man; he spoke gently. The voice rang in his ears, each syllable sounded like a chime. The baby blond hair blew in a celestial wind; his piercing eyes forced him to believe every word.
“His name is Glory.”

Garren blinked, focusing back on his untouched bowl of oatmeal.
“Garren,” a male voice called. “The cows are mooing again.”
The pride of Gable’s View sighed as his daily chores began, the cows only the first to complain of his lack of alacrity.
“Morning gals,” he yawned.
By noon he had broken a sweat and his muscles ached with the everyday satisfaction of hard work. A red pickup truck caught his eye; its shine forced him to focus on its journey up the long driveway. A tall man slammed the door and headed towards the country yellow home. Wiping his hands on the nearest cloth, Garren headed back to uncover this mysterious arrival.
The newcomer knocked on the door with held breath. He heard a rustle behind the barrier and felt his heart skip a beat as a lock clicked.
“May I help you?”
Robert found it hard to inhale. “Um, I was directed here for a Garren Patrick.”
The back door opened and gently fell closed.
“Garren?” the man who opened the door called.
“Yes, pa.”
Robert blinked multiple times before his mind realized who he was looking at. His name is Glory. Robert didn’t hear Garren’s father introduce him but the blond extended his rough farmer’s hand and Robert shook it.
“I just recently moved here and was pointed your direction for a tour of the town,” Robert lied.
“Oh, well,” Garren blushed. “I’m in no fit state to entertain a new comer.”
“Don’t be ridiculous son; let me offer your pal here a cuppa coffee while you change and what not.”
Robert caught the small smile that flickered across the blond’s mature face before he raced off with a nod. His father quickly picked up the conversation.
“Garren was the star of his high school,” he began. “But since all his pals rode off to the university he’s done been left alone on this farm. Gets pretty lonely ‘round here I suspect.”
“I didn’t mean to intrude on anything.”
“Not at all, you might just be the salvation he needs to get outta this funk.” He handed Robert a cup of coffee. The steam floated to the ceiling.
“I’m glad to give you hope, but I’m just asking for a bit of town knowledge.”
“Ah, well he’s the boy to tell you all about it. Been livin’ here his whole life.”
“Sadly,” Garren added, hustling down the stairs. “I know every nook and cranny of this joint.”
“Good to hear.”
“I’ll see you later pa,” he waved and ushered Robert out the door. Once the pair was in the car, Garren began to speak.
“So why did you really want to see me?”
“I’m sorry?” Robert questioned.
“I could tell in your voice,” he continued. “That you were lying.”
Garren smiled. “And besides, I had seen you around a couple of months ago. It’s kind of hard to blend into a small town like this.”
“I’m afraid my real motive is going to sound highly strange and extremely out there.”
“Go on.”
“These clouds, you ever wonder why they’re here?”
“All the time.”
“They’re not just here,” Robert spoke. “They’re all over the place, the United States, Canada, Mexico. Everywhere. I’ve traveled the world to try and find where they started.”
“It’s here isn’t it?”
He nodded. “I think I know what’s causing them,” he paused and pulled over. “And I know a way to stop them.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“You have to trust me.”
“Trust you?” he said, aghast. “I know this is a small town, but I can’t just trust someone who walks up to my house and starts talking about clouds.”
Robert began to think he had the wrong person. His dream clearly pointed to the man sitting in his passenger seat, but Garren was being more difficult than he expected.
“I’m sorry,” Robert back peddled. “Let me start over. My name’s Robert and I’m a hunter.”
“A hunter?”
“I’ve devoted my life to searching for the origin of these clouds and a way to stop them. I finally feel like I’ve succeeded and…”
“You’re the person my pa told me about, the one who could stop all of the pain and suffering. You’re the man who is supposed to come here and rescue us.”
Garren’s voice flowed over Robert’s ears. He stared in awe. “What else has your father told you?”
“Not much of anything,” he continued, suddenly shy.
“Do you believe him?”
“I’ve only dreamed of the day when this town would see the sun again. I’ve only imagined what the warmth would feel like on my skin. I could do nothing but hope that what my pa told me was true.”
“I need your help.”
“Why me?” his eyes went wide. “W-what would I have to do?”
“I need someone who knows what its like to be a hero. Someone who is strong and believes in what I’m saying. Someone like…”
“Me,” Garren completed.
“Do you trust me?”
There was silence as Garren milled over what Robert had just offered him. Eventually he extended his calloused hand once again.
As Robert took his partner’s hand, a loud clap of thunder rang out and the already faded light turned to blackness. The evil in the air was unhappy; the powerless had become the powerful.

Robert and Garren became closer as each day passed. They spent endless hours together plotting their life risking actions. The sword felt powerful in Garren’s hand; he caught on quickly to Robert’s daylight instruction.
“Keep your head up!” Robert yelled. “Your enemy will never be shorter than you.”
Garren chuckled and took a stab at his mentor.
“Stabbing only works with a fork, Garren. Trust me, this battle will not be with food.”
Robert showed Garren the proper way to slash at an opponent before challenging him to another duel. The technique was easy under his hands, Garren was a natural.
He studied old books and manuscripts by night, details of old battles and the history of the dark magic that flooded the planet engrossed him. Robert felt satisfied as he saw the promise in him. There hadn’t been a dark day in weeks; only faint clouds covered the fading sun. He knew, however, that time was drawing closer to an end. The simple thought caused his stomach to contract, he dropped his pen.
“Are you ok, Robert?”
He sighed.
“Keep reading.” He rubbed his temples and rose from the ancient desk that filled most of the room they were in.
Garren felt the fear in Robert’s breathing. The room hinted of future despair.
“I’m leaving for a while, Garren.”
“Why,” he said, shocked. “You have to teach me!”
“The books have all you need. I won’t be gone for long.”
“Where’re you goin’?”
“Away. To a paradise one last time.”
“You’re talking crazy, like you’re life’s ending here soon! You’re as young as me, you can’t be going so soon!”
“I’ll be back,” he comforted him.
Garren watched as his mentor walked out the front door. He feared his time was limited. The blond refused to let him down and returned to his books.

Robert arrived at the house in just under four hours. The gate stood parted, the light in the front window was on. He took a deep breath before he walked the path leading to the white door. He didn’t have to knock, the man he came to see was already in the door frame.
“My son.”
Robert fell into his father’s arms and cried.
“I’m so scared.”
“I know,” the man comforted

The night had grown dark, most the stars were blotted from the sky, candles and lanterns did little to brighten the air. It had been three weeks since Garren had seen Robert. Each day the shadows engulfed more, the nights became darker, days became greyer. He could feel the evil, the fear. A knock broke the thick silence.
“It’s time.”
Garren recognized the figure at once, the glowing blue blade identified the stranger as Robert. He followed him blindly into the dark.
There was one hill in the proximity of Gable’s View. It was used for sheep herding and was rarely visited; the red pickup headed straight for it. Robert was silent, his eyes burned with determination. Garren forced himself away from the fear he felt but the night only seemed to grow darker, the two beams of Robert’s headlights the only light upon the path.
The main road only went so far before it ended. Robert turned off the car and sat, waiting. There was a hum; a hum Garren recognized as magic. There was happiness on the other side of the darkness, he believed it. He believed in Robert.
“Are you ready?”
They stepped out of the comfort of the car. The air was thick, it’s weight held them still. Robert moved first, grabbing his weapon from the back seat, he tossed the smaller blade to Garren. The ancient weapons glowed faint blue inside their sheaths.
On the horizon, behind the hill, a red hue clouded the black. Garren’s breath caught in his throat, the Glory of man was about to be tested. The air tasted bitter, the scent of death hovered around them.
“Never lose trust.”
Garren followed him; the trek up the final hill began.

The climb was troublesome; every step was met with a slip. Garren never lost sight of the blue glow that led his way, Robert’s hand always a second away. The pair reached the peak, the challenge had just begun.
“Sgaith!” Robert’s voice boomed.
Garren had heard that name before, each syllable rang throughout his body. Evil was only half of what they were about to face.
“Salvation has come.”
A snicker echoed in the night. “Your father promised you’d be here. Finally come to grips with your destiny?”
The chill of Sgaith’s voice forced Garren to shiver. Robert kept his eyes on the whirling cloud of red. The blackest creature emerged from the cloud, all color was erased. The eyes of this creature were hidden deep within the evil that surrounded him. The blackness was familiar; it was the plague that suffocated the planet. Robert proudly drew his sword.
“I came here to fulfill what I was placed on this earth to do.”
“Let the battle begin,” Sgaith’s sinister voice echoed. A red blade appeared amidst the darkness.
Robert circled to the left, Garren to the right; Sgaith’s eyes followed their swords with vigilance. His sword slashed at Robert, red met blue sending rich purple into the jet-black sky. A second set of sparks lit the air as his sword hit Garren’s. The scent of magic filled the air as the wind picked up. Robert glanced to Garren, his eyes blazed with passion. Garren’s fear subsided.
Sgaith lunged, his first slice of offence. Robert dropped to the delicate earth he fought for and rolled into a crouching position. The blade barely missed him. Garren matched swords with Sgaith once again; he jabbed at his opponent, slipping behind him. Robert glared towards Sgaith, his eyes alone enough to instil fear in fear itself. Those glares were the only facial expressions shared as the battle continued to escalate.
Sgaith spun with inhuman quickness, his sword was the first to draw blood. Garren’s left arm fell unavailing to his side, warm red soaked his shirt. He felt the pain splinter into every inch of his body as his sword fell to the soft earth. Sgaith turned from his original prey. Robert breathed deeply the scent of destiny.
“You alone can not bring this race into the pits of despair. I was brought here to destroy you!”
“And I was created to make you pay the disgrace of the entire universe!”
Robert lunged, his sword aimed at the shallow heart of his opponent. The darkness met him halfway. The world’s last hope fought with zeal outnumbering a hundred men. Robert’s sword scraped red into the night, their faces almost touching.
Sgaith caught Robert, his flesh the only thing separating life and death. Sgaith’s blood red sword playfully slid across his neck. Robert’s breath was heavy.
“Face me.”
Sgaith shoved Robert away; the last Savior stood facing his destiny. Evil was too quick for one man. Sgaith rammed his blade into Robert’s side. Garren’s cry was suffocated in the spiralling darkness. Robert’s eyes blazed with consternation after the searing metal was yanked from his gut. His senses became vague as he staggered to keep upright.
“That was for every person who never believed, every face that belongs to me, every soul you will fail to save right here, right now,” Sgaith hissed. “You will never see the light of day.”
“I won’t need to,” Robert spoke breathlessly.
“Fall to your knees! Bow to me!”
“He will never bow to you.”
Garren watched the devil before him crumble to his knees, the small sword he held dripping in blood. “You can not win.”
The howl of the wind deafened the trio’s ears, Robert the only one to listen with intent. It was the first true wind since the darkness first covered the world. It was the final hope.
“There is nothing to fear,” Robert’s voice bellowed over the raging wind, his face lifted to the dying clouds. “The future will be bright, it will be glorious.”
Sgaith became a blurred darkness, his very form blended with the dispersing cover. Garren felt a warmth meld over him, it was a new day. He looked to the sky and watched the brightness of the sun peak from behind the veil it had been suffocated with.
“Garren,” came a breathless cry. “Isn’t it perfect?’
The blond caught his tumbling mentor. Robert gazed into his golden eyes and felt the calloused hands wrap promise and glory around him.
“It’s just what we always wanted,” Garren agreed, brushing a stray lock of hair from the raging blue eyes.
“Protect it,” Robert continued. “Believe in it always.”
“I was born to believe.” Garren felt the first sting of a tear. “Don’t go,” he breathed.
“I will always be with you.”

Salvation’s Glory rose from the battlefield that night. It was the first sunrise the next morning that caught Garren off guard. For the first time in his life, glory seemed like such a small token to true happiness. His father gazed out the window, transfixed on the brightest star.
“It’s morning son,” he smiled. “A new dawn has come.”
“I know, pa,” he sighed, joining him at the window. “I was there when this world was born.”

crossposted to wordvines, fictionwriters
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Hi there.
Your story was a fun read. Short, trim, and exciting. The pictures you painted were vivid and lively, though I have to admit that I had difficulties finding your rhythm in the first section (but that is a personal thing. I always take a few lines till I catch up on such things). Afterwards, however, I found the phrasing very smooth. (By the way: your metaphors are inspiring.)

Although the story in itself was good, I found a few tweaks that either confused me or threw me off. Here are a few:

He nodded. “I think I know what’s causing them,” he paused and pulled over. “And I know a way to stop them.”

“I’ve devoted my life to searching for the origin of these clouds and a way to stop them. I finally feel like I’ve succeeded and…”

# You’ve repeated yourself here, and in my opinion, you should try to rephrase either of those brief speeches. You’ve written a short story, and repetitions of this kind make reading lumpy… (I hope this makes sense).

“Why me?” his eyes went wide. “W-what would I have to do?”
“I need someone who knows what its like to be a hero. Someone who is strong and believes in what I’m saying. Someone like…”

# As the “star of his high school” Garren ought to be a bit more confident, but this is more of a personal than objective opinion on my side.

“Sgaith!” Robert’s voice boomed.
Garren had heard that name before, each syllable rang throughout his body.

# When I pronounce “Sgaith,” I only come up with 1 ½ syllables. *grins* Would it really be dramatic to have those ringing through my body, I wonder?

“I came here to fulfill what I was placed on this earth to do.”

# Um… Your story seems to be taking place in modern times, maybe even in the near future. The words sound queer to my ears, more suitable for a historical setting in a fantasy scene. I seldom hear people speaking so.

“You alone can not bring this race into the pits of despair. I was brought here to destroy you!”
“And I was created to make you pay the disgrace of the entire universe!”

# I think this could be what disturbs you about the conflict. The dialogue here sounds a bit stilted to me. Would two adversaries really say that to one another? (Unless, of course, they are the heroes in a Star-Trak movie, or something similar. But that is Hollywood, no?)

Okay. I hope this is the kind of critique you are looking for, and I also hope I was not being too blunt or rude. But now at least, you have my opinion, and perhaps you’ll find at least some of it constructive.

Good luck with your further endeavors!
thank you so much. this is exactly what i was looking for. i see all of your points very clearly and will be glad to break back into this story. :D
'twas nothing. You are very welcome.