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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Hidden Sunlight - 1. Something Else Entirely

I've been writing casually since I was a teenager, but this is the first I've ever really shared anything on here. I hope you enjoy!

My first and most enduring memory of the day we arrived was as the new horizon slipped into view out the shuttle window. Spread in front of us was the vast curve of a foreign world, the surface a mesh of blue and green shapes, much like Earth, though the pattern of land and sea was unfamiliar. Yet it was the sky of Lucere that drew my attention more than anything. Cloud cover spread in great windswept banks, interrupting the view of the ground but not enough to spoil the vista; solar heat was striking the planet as it was the middle of the day where we were due to land. Very much unlike Earth however, as the sun's light struck the atmosphere, it seemed to come alive with warmth and vibrancy. Everything was illuminated in a soft warm glow, as if some kind of radiance had been switched on from the surface and splayed upwards to the heavens.

The process of arrival took no more than about 45 minutes, and although my father had been studiously talking to me about what we'd just seen, I was in no mood to be engaging my brain to pay attention to the words he was using and figure out just what the hell he was actually saying. His detailed explanation included terms like 'atmospheric absorption', 'particulate dynamism' and 'native refraction' to describe the phenomenon that was the planet's sky, and he combined this with his assumption that because I was unusually smart I would also want to pay attention to his fascination with meteorology. Nodding my head and pretending to show a slight interest was enough.

In truth I didn't remember all that much about the rest of the day, nor the next couple that followed it. It was a blur of travel and information and sights and sounds and my parents being, well, my parents really. My mother, the endless wellspring of concern for her dearest child and my father, the eternal optimist and paramount geek. All of it was just distraction; I knew very well why we were there, and I couldn't stop thinking about it, not for a second. Every sight, sound and smell, every word and thought was striking this wall that had sprung up in my mind; a wall that encircled the core of my emotions and very being. Inside that wall, I felt as if I had curled up tight, safe and alone with only my fear of what the future held. A fear to which I clung tightly, because I didn't think there was much else.

The future ...

And on the fourth day, that wall was shattered.

-o-0-O-0-o-

After closing the door, the doctor turned, offering his hand to my father and giving a polite nod to my mother. "Marcus, Elizabeth. It's great to finally meet the both of you."

Dad shook in response and mom nodded back, mirroring the doctor. "Please call me Beth, Dr Albans. Elizabeth is a bit formal."

"Beth it is then," he chuckled. "Likewise for me. I prefer John. Of course you must be Shay."

"Yeah," I managed, softly, uncertainly. "Hi." John's face curved into a reassuring smile as he gestured towards the seats. "Take a seat guys, I will be with you in one second, I just want to double check Shay's file to make sure I know exactly where we're at today."

After sitting down behind his desk and skimming over his computer screen, he looked up at the three of us, his expression not giving away a thing. "I know how difficult it was for you to come so far, because of the expense and stress involved, but I want to tell you that there is a very good chance we will see a positive outcome from this treatment."

"The trouble of making this happen doesn't matter," replied my dad, not taking his eyes off the doctor's face. He was attentive as I'd ever seen him, his gaze fixed purely on John as if to pin him to the chair. "If there is even a chance that it will help Shay, we would do it."

Albans sat back and looked across to me. "Well, I will go over it a final time. Shay, I know you're a smart boy but I have to make sure you understand the risks and possible outcomes, since there is still time to back out now if you should decide you don't want to. How much do you know about what the treatment will actually do to your body?"

Again, finding it difficult to speak at all let alone find words to make a meaningful response, my reply came out in barely more than a hoarse whisper. "Not much Dr Albans. I kinda try not to focus on that."

Standing, he wheeled his chair around the desk in front of me and sat again, leaning forward to look into my face. I held his stare, still not knowing what to think or feel about any of this. Just that if it didn't work I would inevitably die, much sooner and much younger than I should. He exhaled audibly, sensing my fatalistic attitude.

"You already know your condition is genetic and normal medical treatments can only address the symptoms. They are not curative, they will only serve to respond to what's happening to you, not to actually fix the cause of it. Our treatment is different and will attack the root of your condition: the genetic structure within you that causes the defects to appear. Most people know it from the media and internet as 'gene therapy', although contemporary science has advanced this part of medicine quite a bit further past this simple label from what it used to mean. Are you with me so far?"

I nodded mutely, still keeping my eyes even with his.

"Good. Now, basically what would happen with you is that we put you into what's called a Hoffstadt chamber, which slows your body right down almost to the point of death. Normally it wouldn't be safe or possible to maintain this without causing severe and lasting damage to your internal organs and brain. We are not yet able to put living humans into suspended animation indefinitely, but this genetic 'virus' for want of a better description, has properties that will allow this state to be sustained temporarily, for the duration that it is present inside you. In this time, the 'virus' will be completely flooded throughout your body and will make the changes it is engineered to do. The entire process would take somewhere from five to seven days, although we won't know for sure until it is started. Still with me, Shay?"

Taking a breath and willing away the feeling that threatened to make my hands start shaking as I casually gripped the edge of my seat, I looked out the window, sky and trees distantly visible. "So what you're saying is ... you'd put me on ice long enough for my DNA to be rewritten by this virus?"

Dad laughed. "Told you he was smart, doctor. He definitely gets that from my side of the family."

"Marcus!" The admonishment from mom was inevitable and expected and met with a sheepish look.

"Actually," countered John, suppressing a grin, "he's right. About your son at least."

Feeling anything but amused, I continued my line of thought. "But ... why do I have to be, um, asleep, like that? Can't you just do it while I'm awake or maybe just knocked out from drugs or something? What if it doesn't protect me at all? I mean I could be brain damaged by it or ... what if the virus makes me worse rather than fixing anything? Or what if ... I don't wake up at all ... and ..."

Unable to finish speaking, the nervous tremours that promised to attack my limbs had broken into my voice. I couldn't look straight at my mother and continued to watch the distance through the office window. The people inside were far too much for me to handle right now, but out of the corner of my eye I knew she wore a horrified expression. John moved closer to me, blocking the window and deliberately drawing my focus back to him.

"Shay, listen to me. It has to be done this way because of how the treatment works. It won't hurt you either. At worst, it will simply fail to fix anything at all, and you will wake up no different than before. Best case is you will be completely healthy and free from any problems. This type of medicine is still being developed for wider use and you will be one of the very first people to receive it, but I wasn't exaggerating when I said I think it can really help you. Understand?"

"Yeah," I whispered. "I understand."

"I'm glad," he said, reaching forward to give my shoulder a squeeze. "You don't need to be afraid, but it's okay if you are. Did you have any other questions you wanted to ask me?"

"Just one."

"Sure," he replied, the same serious-but-sympathetic look still dominating his attitude. "Ask me what you want to know."

Not for the last time that day, it seemed as if I were a fly on the wall and events were moving without my say in them at all. From a million miles away I heard my voice speaking, saw the surprise register on the face of Dr Albans and my parents as they heard. There was no mistaking my intent, no way to interpret me incorrectly. I knew I had to face it, and the sooner it happened, the sooner I would be free.

"Can I begin today?"

In one way or another, I would be free.

-o-0-O-0-o-

The chamber was number 14 out of 15 total that had been constructed in a room on the basement floor of the building, arranged in a line along one wall facing the interior. Each was connected to a central station on the opposing wall; a thick mass of cables emanating out of the base of the machine and running along the floor, safe inside a convex opaque covering. Although the doctor had described it as a chamber, the word 'capsule' seemed to fit better, the design and shape reminding me of an enlarged version of the express courier bots in San Francisco. The front of it hatched when opened, popping out and sliding upwards on dual hinges.

As I sat back against the soft material of the interior, my body settling into the indents like it was a couch that'd gained a permanent impression from a little too much use, Dr Albans was still talking away in that friendly businesslike manner. First about how the basic regulatory functions of the chamber were integrated into its housing and weren't visible even when you were resting in it like I was now, and then something about how the air and power supply were filtered and circulated independently, but at that point I was only faking attention. Far too absorbed in where I would be spending the next few days, I could hardly believe that this was as high-tech as the doctor claimed. It looked and felt like someone had just put a piece of comfortable furniture inside a chunk of metal and plastic, like a movie prop from when my great-grandfather was a boy.

"Shay?"

I snapped back to reality. John was studying me with a slightly amused look on his face, as he leaned in to watch me relax into the chair.

"Uh, I'm sorry doctor. It's just, well- ... it's ... "

"-more like a very expensive armchair than a piece of medical equipment?" His smirk was unmissable as he finished my sentence for me, tapping a finger on the glass of the exterior.

"Yeah," I agreed, trying hard not to smile despite myself. "I mean, I don't know what I was expecting to see but I guess it was something with more needles and tubes and ... stuff."

"Well, you know, not long after we received these things, several of my colleagues became rather infatuated with the craftsmanship and put in furniture orders with the manufacturer. Between you and me, they must have made a killing." He leaned back from the machine and walked around to the far side of the control station. "So, you aren't the first one to be fooled."

Fooled. The word echoed in my thoughts as I lay my head back onto the surface of the chamber. Then, suddenly, with zero warning, it was back again. Like a rush of vertigo or nausea, it pushed through me, a crippling black wave of depression and fear. The headaches, the days and sometimes weeks off school, the exhausted drug-induced sleep and all too frequent hospital visits. The journey to another world, the stress and burden of cost on my mother and father of having a sick child, of having me. The disconnection from everything around me human, everything around me that was truly real.

Most of all: the fear. Fear that I would never know a life without pain. A normal life where I could experience the same things everyone else did.

"Shay?" Albans voice drifted across to me again, questioning, insistent. "We're actually almost ready to begin."

I cleared my throat, blinking quickly, the sting of emotion fading as I buried it, hid it beneath the reality of where I was. "Okay, Dr Albans."

His eyes lingered on me, fixed with a concerned 'I don't think you're perfectly okay' look, but he said nothing. Tapping at the panel in front of him, focus again on the screen: "Actually 'almost' is an understatement. We are ready to go. Your lab results are all green lights. The chamber is prepped. All you need to remember is that once the process starts, you won't regain consciousness again until it's done. The only reason that would be different is if there was a problem with your vital signs, but trust me Shay, that is NOT going to happen, okay?" The doctor looked at me again sternly, wanting some sign that I understood and accepted what he said. "Okay?"

I nodded.

His expression softened and he stood, coming back across to where he stood before. His hand rested on my arm gently and I tried not to let my emotions betray me. Controlling them was what I had done my entire life, the only possible way to remain sane. This wasn't about to change.

"This is all a lot for someone your age Shay, and I know how much you have heard it recently, but after meeting you all I can say is how impressed I am with you. You are intelligent, very self-aware and mature. Not only that, but brave. Incredibly brave. It takes a special kind of courage to do what you are doing. Keep in mind, this will all be over before you know it. The past will be no more than a bad memory."

The words stuck in my throat. All at once I wanted to thank him, to tell him I wasn't sure I believe in happy endings, that I did miss my parents but didn't want to look like a needy child by saying so, that I also wasn't sure I even knew what I wanted to say and I just wanted it to be over ... but nothing came out. The doctor could read my mind though, his lips pursing into a tight smile, giving a little shake of his head, as if he were subconsciously letting me off the hook. Then back to the control station.

He sat down in the chair, tapped a couple of things on the central panel. Then, sitting up straight, looking directly at me. I met his gaze. He held it, for about 10 seconds.

Then, without looking down, his fingers touched the panel again. A click of sound came from above and beyond me, and the hatch moved in and down, the gentle whine of electrical motion dying away and the doctor's face vanishing as the front closed. Then the door clicked into place and I was finally in complete darkness, the only sound being the faint hissing as the chamber became airtight, and the sigh of my own breathing.

Then, for a few seconds, nothing. Just a blackness that didn't admit anything. No sound, no colour, no movement. Briefly I worried if something had gone wrong with the start, but then I stopped thinking. I realised I felt sorta sleepy. Very relaxed and at ease, warm.

The last thought that went through my mind before I passed out, comfortably ensconced in this tepid lightless cocoon, was to wonder if dad would ever buy us a couch like this one.

Then, nothing.

-o-0-O-0-o-

Trying to describe being in stasis is difficult.

On the one hand, it's kinda like being asleep. Heavy limbs, mind just slowly kinda shuts down, everything goes into hibernation.

On the other hand, it's also kinda like being dead. No more body control, no sensation of breathing, no movement, no suggestion that you are alive. Nothing other than stillness.

Yet it wasn't sleep and it wasn't death. It was some halfway point between the two, a breathless, thoughtless, extended dreamworld, without any dreams. Without any pain or emotion; without any conscious or unconscious change. At least, that's what it was supposed to be, but somehow, I was aware at some level. Deep down, even with everything held a hair's breadth above being motionless, somehow I could still perceive.

After, I didn't remember anything specific. No actual memories and real sensations, because my body and mind weren't tuned to any of that, weren't recording it. Just lurking at the very distant shadowed corners of my consciousness, some part of me was still capable of knowing. That part of me could feel the tiniest thing. It felt like this golden glow. How it seemed, even with no concept of time, to warm slowly through me until I bathed in a pleasant harmless subsistence of a dream; less than that, a non-dream really, that seemed to continue for an eternity.

Then, I woke up.

-o-0-O-0-o-

The first thing I remember was the click of the chamber opening, the hiss of the air pressure changing, just as it had when it had sealed shut. Those little sounds were the catalysts for me to properly wake. Eyes were still shut as sensations entered my notice again. My arms and legs, feet, stomach, head; everything felt normal. My throat was dry -- really dry, almost parched -- but otherwise, it was like I'd woken up from a nap.

The room was dimly lit as I pulled myself upright, rubbing my eyes. No-one else was there and I wondered where my parents and Dr Albans were. The doctor had said they would all be around when it was time for me to wake up, but it didn't look like anyone had been into the room in a while. A carpet of dust lay across the floor and I padded slowly across it, small puffs of it rising as I moved, swirling around my toes in a nearly ticklish fashion. My mind was trying to piece together coherent thoughts about what was happening. I was still wearing the clothes I arrived in that same morning, since the doctor had assured me it didn't matter what I wore into the chamber. My shoes were left on the second floor, outside Albans' office. The Hoffstadt chambers were on a basement level, a couple below the ground floor.

Making my way up the stairs, I began to notice something. This place was a mess. The layer of dust had been obvious enough, but as I climbed up to the ground floor, there was a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something wasn't right.

In fact, something is very wrong with this place.

As I thought more, I realised I had not seen a single light turned on so far, nor even a sign that anybody else was here. It was quiet.

Uncomfortably quiet.

This is just like an abandoned building.

The feeling intensified as I climbed the final stretch of stairs to the lobby, now apprehensive. Creeping along the darkened hallway, the dust at this level gave way to a grimy stained-looking patina. Cautiously, I rounded the corner and was stopped motionless in my tracks by the view.

What in the ...

The lobby had been filled with comfortable red leather couches, magazines, a water cooler and the long curving moulded white synth-wood desk where the reception staff had greeted the clients. Now, this was gone. The broad window which took up nearly all of the exterior wall had been smashed, clearly quite a while ago since there wasn't really any broken glass visible, apart from fragments still clinging to the frame. All the furniture and decoration was gone, replaced by a scattering of scraps of wood and leather, sticks, leaves and dirt. Outside wasn't much different. The carpark was littered with weeds and debris, broken branches, random bits of rubbish. No cars. No people. It was the middle of the day, overcast, the clouds glowing dimly in the sunlight, much more muted than the last time I saw them. Even the road leading back to Palatus looked empty, the town itself not visible from here.

Staring, confused, dismayed, I stumbled forward onto the cracking asphalt of the parking lot. Still blinking from the natural light, not yet used to it, I just stood there and took it all in. This place looks abandoned, deserted. For days, maybe for weeks. My breath came faster and faster as I tried not to hyperventilate. Tried to ignore the rising sense of panic.

Where is everybody?

What's going on?

Why am I alone?

Is this some kind of horrible dream?

Am I even awake at all?

Looking up at the peaceful glow of the sky, the panic that'd been growing reached breaking point and it hit me like a speeding truck. Tears welled up and overflowed, and the anger, the frustration, the unfairness, the fucking injustice of how demented the world seemed came out in a scream. A wordless scream of suffering and grief that continued until my lungs hurt and I slumped down onto my knees, fists balled so tightly my knuckles hurt. Tears dripped onto my pants and shirt as I looked down and with my next breath, shouted again, this time every single curse word that I could think of. My vision was so blurry that I couldn't make anything out at all and my eyes were burning, head aching, from the release.

Until finally, there was nothing more to yell at in the empty parking lot, the empty building, the empty countryside. Taking a deep breath and wiping my face on my sleeve, I simply sat there, exhausted from everything.

I just want it to go away. I wish that I was ... that I ...... I don't know. That I'm ... someone else. Anyone else ... so I don't have to be here, now. So I don't have to be so fucked up.

So broken.

I took another deep breath, at last managing to calm myself down a little bit. In. Breath out. Then, this simple act made me realise for the first time, sitting on the uncomfortable gritty surface, so alone and mixed up in the cool air of the afternoon, on that alien world, that the pain was gone.

With the inexplicable way things were after waking up, it hadn't occurred to me. There hadn't been room in my head to think about this on top of trying to figure out what the fuck had happened. Instinctively, my hand came to my chest and my stomach, and I took another breath, slower and more deliberate. Again, I couldn't feel anything but the sensation of breathing, the rise and fall, muscles moving like they normally should. The slight twinge in my lungs and the pangs further down which always seemed to trigger at random times when I exerted myself, or even just with no prompting at all ...

Are they gone?

There was no headache until after crying. That's normal. No chest pain. My arms and legs feel fine, just like when I woke up in the chamber.

Slowly, I climbed back to my feet and with a rising sense of excitement, ignoring my salt-stained face and clothes, I was realising that my body felt normal. All the signs of my condition had vanished. Now that I really thought about it, I felt fine. Normal. I had NEVER been this way before. There was always something wrong, but now? Now, there was nothing. Now it was just life.

I'm thirsty, and really hungry, and ... and ...... I am CURED! There's nothing wrong any more.

The relief was huge, and gave me back some sanity. Like hell I was going to let all this beat me. I was fucking cured! I'd never had such motivation before in my life and with the revelation that I was almost certainly not sick anymore, I felt renewed -- in spirit as much as physically.

I really want to get out of here. But first, I need to find my shoes ...

-o-0-O-0-o-

As I followed the road away from the parking lot and back towards Palatus, I tried to remember everything I could about the surrounding countryside. I had been far too distracted when we arrived to pay much attention even after we got to the town. I didn't even remember the drive to the medical centre itself, just vaguely the place we were staying. It was a motel on the outskirts that dad had booked for a month. If I can make it there, maybe I can find them, or someone who knows where they are.

Whatever had happened at the Volkov building, the place I was leaving, must have been serious. It didn't look like anyone had been along the road for a while. Perhaps it was more than weeks. Perhaps it was months since I went to 'sleep', but the doctor told me that it wasn't possible to stay 'hibernating' for that long without big problems. I'd be like a vegetable or just dead if that were true. So it couldn't be, could it? I mean, I feel 100% fine. In fact I feel better than I ever have. The treatment worked. I still can't believe it worked!

The reverie was interrupted by my stomach growling and the equally intrusive itch of my throat. How far had it been from Palatus? I thought hard, the gravel crunching under my sneakers as my legs continued on autopilot, plodding doggedly, mind still occupied. We were driving for, um, like more than 15, almost 20 minutes from town and dad was doing 90 kilometres per hour almost all the way, because he's a freak and likes to go slower than the speed limit. Whatever. So that means, uh, 30 kilometres? Less, maybe 25 or something.

I groaned aloud. It was going to take me probably four or five fucking hours to get close to town. I would be starving by then. I already felt like I hadn't had anything to eat in forever and combined with being this thirsty, it wasn't going to be fun.

I was so occupied I didn't notice the faint rustle of movement in the trees off the roadside and then a stinging slap, a jolt into my shoulder as something struck me. The shock of it was electrical and pretty powerful and my limbs seized, momentarily stunned and I was falling backwards. What the fuck? Dizzily, I grabbed for the dart, still stuck painfully into my flesh and pulled it out, trying at the same time to stand. There was no time though, because a split second later, I was being yanked off my feet again and dragged away from the road, vision spinning.

The next thing I knew I was hitting the ground, my face pressed into sticks and dried leaves. Then pulled around, forcibly rolled over, onto my back. People were standing over me. There were two of them, maybe another further away, I wasn't totally sure. Both men, one younger, one older. The younger glanced down at me, a look of pure contempt on his face and turned to the other and began speaking rapidly in another language. It took a moment to register what it was as I lay there, blinking and rubbing my forehead as the last mental fuzziness from the shock died away.

Spanish? Why Spanish? Then I remembered. Lucere was settled by European colonists. A lot of European languages were commonly spoken here. I couldn't understand what they were saying but he was animated as he pointed at me, gesturing again. The older didn't speak, but when his gaze flicked down at me, his face was impassive. Cold. Handsome, but in a very arrogant hard way. A long straight nose, dark hair, olive skin and iron hard brown eyes. He looks like he'd hurt me if I don't give in to whatever he wants. Oh, fuck.

Then his eyes moved back to the younger man, but in a moment they were back on me, as he did a double take, fully turning his head to look down at me, now seeming surprised. Then without changing his angle: "Carlos, ssh."

The younger man immediately shut up, frowning as he too turned to look at me. The older crouched down, close to my face. He looked at me for another second or two, intently, then spoke, his voice soft but extremely insistent. I could smell sweat and dirt, and could see in fine detail a line of black stubble across his jaw from when he'd last shaved. I didn't know why but everything about him freaked me out.

"Hablas español?"

I shook my head slowly, a lump forming in my throat.

"Italiano? Deutsch? Ou français?"

Again, I shook my head. My mouth felt as dry as cotton and I wasn't sure I could speak even if I wanted to right now.

Then a little slower and strongly accented. "How about English? I think so, you look like the kid of some gringo. I think I am right, ?"

"Yeah, English," I croaked, my voice as rough and dry as the leaves I was lying on.

Without hesitation, his hand came up, grabbing my chin, pushing it first left then right, examining my face. Then down to my right wrist, pulling up my arm. Then the other arm. The other man began to speak again in Spanish, but was instantly hushed.

"I don't want to repeat Carlos. We have a guest here, can't you tell? Some courtesy, favor."

Carlos sighed irritably, still glaring down at me. "León, now will you ask him? Ask him why there are no-"

"In good time, chico." León cut off the younger smoothly. "First I have a question or two of my own for our new friend here." He smiled at me wolfishly then leaned back a bit, pulling me abruptly into sitting position, his face still unnervingly close to mine. Friend? I wonder how he treats his enemies.

"Where are my manners? As you have heard I am León and this is Carlos. You would be ... ?"

"Shay."

"Well hola mi amigo Shay. I apologise for our meeting, but these are dangerous times, you understand." Dangerous times? No fucking kidding. "It is no place to wander, this country. You don't want to be caught in the open. But, this does make me think. What is a young man like you doing out here on his own?"

Something told me it would be a big mistake to tell him the complete truth, but at the same time he seemed awfully sharp. My gut instinct wasn't to lie, because I didn't really know what was going on anyway, and I felt it wouldn't end well if he realised I wasn't being honest, or if he didn't believe my story, which was just as likely. Think fast. The partial truth. A half truth, just not all of it.

"I, uh, got separated from my family. We haven't been here for long, I just got lost."

His expression didn't change. "Lost hmm? May be true, I think. You don't look like one from near here. Your clothes are foreign, easy to be smelled, especially on a road like this." His eyes narrowed and the grin faded somewhat. Involuntarily, my throat tightened. "It seems Carlos is interested in something else about you, amigo. I am also, I will admit. You see, it is not often I meet anyone who is as clean as you are. You must tell me, how is it that you are so untouched?"

There was no way to bluff my way out of this. I didn't even know what he meant. Untouched? Clean? Is he talking about some kind of disease? My hesitation and confusion must both have been evident, because León drew up the sleeve of the jacket he was wearing and held his forearm in front of me. In patches and splotches, the skin on his arm looked discoloured and wrong. From the amount of time I'd spent in hospitals and around doctors, the word 'lesion' immediately entered my mind. They weren't too big, maybe coin sized, but they were sprinkled across his arm, looking like something had taken root in his flesh. It looked unhappily merged with the normal skin, the texture seeming hard to the touch. It looked almost inhuman and I struggled not to recoil from him. Okay, so, definitely a disease.

"So, tell me Shay. I will bet there is nothing of this on you. You must tell me why, ? Nobody escapes from this, but here you are."

"I-I don't know!" I stammered. "I don't know why! I swear it."

The older man grunted, turning to Carlos. A look passed between them and León pulled his sleeve back into place and abruptly stood. The movement revealed a few paces behind them a girl. Hispanic like the two men, nearly a full foot shorter, her long black hair tied in a ponytail behind her head. Soft chocolate eyes and a demure, gentle face; she was beautiful, although I didn't have a second to admire it before Carlos moved forward blocking the view and grabbed me by my shirt front. His fist wound back and was about to come thundering down, when from behind the girl grabbed his arm. Carlos released me and turned to face her, already complaining in Spanish, his face red in anger. Words traded back and forth between them rapid fire, ending in the girl raising her hand and slapping him resoundingly across the face. Breathing heavily, he turned, spitting at the ground in front of me and stormed off through the forest growth. León, who had watched this exchange motionless and silent, said a single word.

"Sofia."

She turned to him. Closer to me now, the resemblance was clear. She had to be his daughter or related to him at the least. The face, the set of the body, was very close. Except she doesn't seem to be as psychotic as the others around here. Maybe I can have a 'normal' conversation with her. Maybe there won't be the same hidden suggestions of torture.

León said a single sentence to her in Spanish, looked down at me, his gaze calculating. Then he turned and strode off in the direction the other had just gone. The girl grabbed my hand, pulling me to my feet for the first time since all this had started.

"I'm sorry," she said to me, giving a small half-smile. "They can both be very difficult to strangers. I am Sofia. That is my father and my cousin. Carlos is a brute. I can't believe he was going to hit you."

"Me either," I mumbled, then quickly added: "Thank you. For stopping him."

Her half-smile grew, becoming a full blown one. "It's okay. We need to travel and you will come with us now, so there is no sense in being hurt."

"Travel?"

"." She nodded quickly. "My father is not going to let you leave us. Please do not try to run or ... " She left the sentence unfinished though she didn't need to. Or I'll be hunted down and probably killed or tied up like an animal. Then, she grabbed my hand again and began to pull me along with her. "Also, if he hit you, he'd leave a big mark. He hits very hard and your face is too pretty to be bruised."

Wait, what? Pretty?!

"Come, Shay. We must move, we do not want to fall behind. Let's go!"

So then, with little choice in the matter, we were off.

-o-0-O-0-o-

I don't know which direction we were going in exactly, but even if it was away from Palatus, I was at least thankful that León and his two cohorts were kind enough to feed me and provide me with some human contact. Though the two men barely said a word to me and Carlos could hardly disguise his hatred, which seemed to largely be directed at anything he didn't approve of for the slightest reason, most of the time my only attention was from Sofia. She was conversational and would often ask me pointless, meaningless questions to pass the time, trivia about whatever small things came to thought and it certainly helped take my mind off everything else.

Yet, 'everything else' was still there. The number of unanswered questions had only increased the longer I was awake. What happened to the Volkov Medical Centre? Where were the people that I knew? Did this disease have anything to do with it? Why weren't we travelling into town along the road and what made it dangerous? Now, after a day and a half of travel with the three, I had begun to feel strange. It wasn't like any symptoms of my previous condition. No sign of that had returned. It was something much weirder. It was like I was filled with this strange upwelling of ... something.

I couldn't really define it.

The only description that fit in my mind was to call it a sort of energy. Warm, pulsing, vibrant energy. Only, there was no physical sensation. I didn't feel any warmth, pulsation, or vibration. I simply felt different. I knew it was there, building inside me, like I was a lightning rod slowly accumulating static electricity and becoming more charged. Still, there was no evidence. No proof of anything.

Just an intangible awareness.

That was the latest question that I had no answer to: where had this come from, and why was it happening?

That evening we reached another building complex in the countryside and this was where León intended us to sleep for the evening. The individual structures were smaller than Volkov, but there were several outlying buildings, easily covering a greater floor area. Also unlike the medical centre, there were clear signs of violence having happened here. There wasn't much left to see on any of the apartment interiors and many of them had nothing but garbage inside, but more obviously the walls and floors of most were blown open, leaving twisted concrete and steel, gaping holes all over. The place looked like it had been hit by explosives; rockets, mortar or something similar.

I had very little time to see any of it before Sofia pulled me into one of the more enclosed smaller outer ruins, what remained of the walls serving as a windbreak and privacy from the elements. We settled down near an overhang of broken concrete from the next floor's remnants. She ripped off a large chunk of jerky we'd had for all our meals, plus a chunk of dry floury bread, following it down with a mouthful of flask water, which tasted surprisingly good.

As the cool of the evening kicked in, I shivered, unable to help it. It must have been more obvious than I thought, because a second later Sofia was sitting right beside me and then her sleeping blanket was around our shoulders, sliding up close. Surprised, I smiled at her as she leaned in a bit.

"Thanks," I whispered. "I don't know why you're so kind to me."

"Don't thank me Shay," she whispered back. "I like you. You don't act like an ass towards me. Like some boys do."

Carlos snorted from where he was sitting a couple metres away and shot us a withering glare.

"Ignore him. He is jealous because he doesn't have any luck with girls. He never had and he never will."

"Luck?" He sneered, speaking up now, his voice beginning to rise in volume somewhat. "You should tell your little boyfriend there about your own luck. Maybe he won't like you so much if he knows?"

I felt Sofia tense beside me and then her head lifted slightly and glared daggers at her cousin. "You really are an ass. You can't say anything at all about that!"

Then from across the other side of the ruined floor, León quickly turned, his voice cutting short the discussion. "Sofia, Carlos. Both of you be quiet."

Carlos predictably began to protest at being denied a response but León spoke again, this time his voice in an urgent angry low-pitched hiss. "Carlos! Silencio!" Then with no further word, León beckoned to all of us. Sofia touched my arm and tipped her head towards them, indicating. She pulled the blanket off and we stood and moved to where León was. He ushered the three of us to the ridge of concrete, so we could just see over it in the gathering dusk to the other buildings beyond.

Not more than 30 metres away and moving between the buildings in a lazy loping stride were at least a dozen ... creatures. I wasn't sure what they were, just that I knew two things as soon as I saw them. Firstly, that they were so different from anything I'd ever heard about or seen on Lucere before that they had to be alien to this planet.

Secondly, that they were predators.

Each was bipedal and humanoid shaped, roughly mirroring the outline of a person, but as far as similarities went with humans, that was the stopping point. The bodies were lean and appeared muscled, the surface covered in a mottled mass of overlapping green, black and brown platelets, chunks of armor that seemed to undulate and flex as the musculature changed with motion. The head was set and angled slightly further forward than a human and the skull seemed to be almost triangular. Though the face appeared to be rough and leathery, the eyes were nearly invisible, hidden under the solid protection of thick forehead bone. The jaw and lower face were almost distinctly leonine or at least feline. Combined with the enlarged hands and forearms and the fingers that ended in extremely terminal-looking razor claws, they were very definitely predators.

A mutant cross between a lizard and a lion. On steroids. If I get out of this alive ...

They were moving languidly parallel to our location, not coming any closer but not getting much further off either. Stopping every few steps, they'd sniff the air or look around cautiously. Testing. Then, loping onwards again. Their breathing was audible from where we were, a rasping sighing wheezing sound that sent chills through me. Exactly like a lion. A man-shaped human-eating extra-terrestrial lion out of a horror movie. Fucking brilliant.

León's hands on our shoulders carefully pulled us back. His whisper was extremely quiet, though now I knew exactly his concern in making minimal noise. "They came up from the west and I am sure they will circle north from here, the land favours this. I will take no chances, we must leave now to the east," he indicated with a nod towards the far wall and the forest beyond. "There is another safe place I know we can reach before it becomes too dark, not too far that way."

All of us nodded our heads, wide-eyed. Pausing only to scoop up the blankets and what little provisions they had into bundles, Carlos and León both tied them up and flung them over their backs. Then drawing us close again: "We go one by one. First me, then Carlos, then Sofia, then Shay. We cannot be caught together or we all will die. Leave a minute before you follow the last person. Keep to the wall along this building and the next and then stay low until you are at the trees. Then run east as far as you can, for some distance. I will be waiting."

Then he crept to what served as our entrance, took one look out between the broken concrete foundations and slipped outside.

Not too long later, Carlos turned to look at both of us, gave a curt nod and followed his uncle's path out. Sofia glanced at me, both of us still crouched by the half-wall, too nervous to even do anything other than wait in silence. Then about a minute after that, she darted forward, kissed me lightly on the cheek, whispered "Good luck," and was gone before I could respond.

Now, I was alone. I shimmied along the wall and peered out the opening. They're not aware we've even been here. Just passing through, cruising along to somewhere else. I don't mean to let that change. In fact if anything, the creatures seemed to be gradually meandering north between the buildings, exactly as León had thought, although this did nothing to calm the shakes that seized my body, my uneven breathing. All it would take is one of them to look over this way and I would be ... fucked.

Please, just carry on doing what you're doing. Nothing to see here.

Finally, judging it to be long enough, I took a deep breath then slipped out the front and began to creep along the wall of the building. My heart felt as though it were pounding in my throat and every inhale and exhale seemed to be loud enough to wake the dead but in a few seconds I was at the edge of the first building. I cast a furtive glance over my shoulder, back towards where the 'patrol' had been walking. The field of view from where they were was almost totally blocked by masonry now and my nerves started to calm.

Nothing. No movement. No change. They have to be continuing on their way. Good.

Then I focused ahead again, crossing between the buildings and as I was starting along the wall of the second, from my left, close to the north, there came a soft shuddering sigh of breath.

I froze.

Oh god.

With a surprisingly soft patter given the size, one of the creatures jumped down from the crumbling wall of the building opposite the one I was standing against, as still as a statue. It was a little younger than the others, not so bulky. Whether due to the fading light or because I was standing perfectly still and blending into the background, I wasn't sure, but it didn't see me. However it must have known I was close, as it stopped, raised its head in the air and sniffed.

Not having fixated on me, it looked right past, back in the direction I'd come from. It held that stare for a good 30 seconds. Appraising, calculating, observing. Then the head swung around, as smooth as clockwork and the creature began to stare in the exact opposite direction.

A wave of chills swept over me. This thing is fucking smart. It knows I'm here. It's searching for me, and this could be my only chance. Seizing it, I slid carefully along the wall, no more than three metres away, to the intact doorway and slipped inside the building. Just as I made it inside, the head swiveled back. Doing a visual sweep of the room revealed nothing but piles of concrete rubble, heavy welded steel grid mesh used in the construction of the walls itself, sections of it here exposed and torn off, and to my surprise lying in the junk in the corner: a crowbar.

Just as my hand closed around the rusting piece of iron, I heard a breathy hissing sound. The creature was standing in the doorway. The head was cocked slightly to the side and through the gloom it was impossible not to tell that it was staring directly at me.

Oh. FUCK.

The jaw opened, two lines of jagged fangs appearing in view and it hissed again somewhat louder. Then it charged. Bounding horribly quickly across the room, the right foreclaws raising to perform an aerial slash, I brought the crowbar up from beside my body, having kept it as inconspicuous as possible. Whether it was pure blind luck or immaculate timing, I don't know, but the full force of a couple of feet of solid iron smashed into the side of the creature's head, completely derailing the attack a millisecond before it could reach me, sending it flailing to the ground from the momentum.

Holy shit.

Utterly shocked, I stared for a second as it spasmed and twitched from the unexpected blow, concussed. Then the adrenaline kicked in. Don't stand there. Do something Shay. FUCKING DO SOMETHING. Grabbing one of the steel meshes, I heaved it up frantically, sliding it across the floor, and threw it onto the creature, jumping onto the mesh with all my weight. It was trying to stand again, but the sudden weight of me and a bunch of bonded steel lattice was too much and we crashed back to the floor.

The limbs were tangled through the meshing and useless, the claws unable to get to me, but as it struggled underneath, the jaws poked through the gap and the thing snapped at me, jabbing and biting at my face. The crowbar became a bludgeon and I tried to stab down at it, to hit it in the eye or any other vulnerable spot but everything seemed to be too tough to penetrate. Fuck. Take a fucking hit.

It pushed upwards, trying to move out from under the mesh or free itself and I pushed downwards, desperately trying to keep it trapped. Then the teeth latched onto the crowbar on a downward thrust and it wrenched it free, shaking its head and flinging the object away across the room. At the same time, one of the errant hind-claws slipped through the bars, stabbing into my lower leg. I gasped as intense pain shot up my leg and lost my balance, half sliding and half rolling off the mesh.

Vigorously, the creature bucked and the bars flipped nearly vertical, standing on end for a second before toppling right over onto me. Before I could do anything at all, our positions were reversed and the weight of the creature was on top of the meshing, its head pushing through the nearest gap, jaws wide. My fist striking the side of the skull as it literally tried to bite my face off did nothing but misalign it by a few inches and cause me to gasp again in pain, my knuckles feeling bruised from the contact. It was enough for me to get both hands on the creature's head and try to force the mouth shut. It thrashed about, snorting and writhing as I kept my grip on its head.

Just fucking die already!

This thing was a writhing spitting avenging demon. Nothing in nature was this deliberately vicious and cruel, and as I tried to ignore the weakening sensation of being wounded and running out of energy to fight, I poured all my own hatred and strength of will back onto it, as if the power of righteous umbrage alone could make it pause.

Then something happened that I couldn't explain. As I stared that thing down, grappling with it for survival, the intangible undetectable vibrant energy that I had felt within, building up slowly since I had first woken, poured out of me. Like an otherworldly invisible torrent of golden ... something, it burst forth and flowed into the creature.

It jerked back, as if it had been burned by acid, disengaging from the mesh. Shaking its head from side to side, like trying to dislodge something, it backed up away from me, scrabbling on the concrete as it pushed itself into the corner. Limbs shaking, it collapsed on the ground, curling up tight as it stopped moving.

Exhausted and bloody I lifted the mesh and pushed it off me. Standing, I limped across to the back wall, sitting up against it as I double-checked that the motionless thing in the far corner was apparently dead. Looks pretty still. Good enough for me. Not like I have the strength to fight it if it's actually still alive. Then I winced. Motherfucker, my leg stings like hell. I looked down at the wound, which had punched a clean hole through my pants leg and into my calf. It wasn't half as bad as it looked or felt. The cut was pretty shallow and wasn't bleeding much.

I'm lucky. Beyond lucky. I should be dead, but I did ... something, to that thing. I don't know what I did but ... I'm alive.

With those thoughts in my mind, too fatigued to do anything other than sit there, propped against the wall as the adrenaline wore off, I fell asleep.

-o-0-O-0-o-

I must have slept for the entire night because when I woke the next morning, a gentle stream of light was slowly inching in through the eastern window. I yawned and rubbed my eyes. Hopefully I haven't bled too much. There was a crusting of dried blood around the puncture wound on my right leg, and it felt stiffer than the other. It would be uncomfortable to walk on for maybe a day or two. A little time and it would be fine though.

I arched my back and stretched, my body aching all over. As I turned my head back and forth to loosen up, my gaze passed over the corner of the room where the creature was. Only the creature wasn't there.

Not exactly.

What ...

Given the amazing things that had happened to me the last few days, perhaps I should not have been surprised. Yet, surprised didn't quite cut it. It took my brain a few good seconds of staring to catch up with my eyes. All of this because In the exact spot where I last saw the creature, in the exact position it lay in, in the exact same posture, was something else.

A human being.

A boy.

Apologies if I managed to misuse Spanish where it appears. I took care to keep it as much within context as possible.I think I'm happy with this first chapter, but I am a perfectionist so I doubt it will ever quite make the grade - at least for me. There is still a whole lot of story in my head, yet to make it into text. I am just crossing fingers that I can do justice with words to what my imagination has painted in my head, once it's all finished.
Though I'm scared to death of feedback, I still want to hear what you think! Please let me know.
Copyright © 2013 Stellar; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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  • Site Administrator

Interesting beginning. You certainly lay the groundwork for an elaborate fantasy. Even better, you left me with a lot of questions about what is going on, which would make me want to keep reading. That's always essential in a good fantasy story. I sort of picked up on the lesions and then the 'creatures' having a similar sort of skin, so I wasn't super shocked about the creature turning into a boy. The whole 'virus' thing was unclear for Shay though. Was it something he picked up on the new planet? Has he always had it? If so, why does it let him change the creature to a human, if the virus performed the changes it was always meant to to his DNA? How did an 'earth' virus have anything to do with whatever is going on at the new planet?

 

See, lots of questions, lol. I would advise getting a beta and/or editor though. The chapter is pretty clean of mistakes, but there were some awkward phrases and your flow could have used a little help. Having a team is essential, imo, to help your writing really evolve.

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On 03/29/2012 02:17 AM, Cia said:
Interesting beginning. You certainly lay the groundwork for an elaborate fantasy. Even better, you left me with a lot of questions about what is going on, which would make me want to keep reading. That's always essential in a good fantasy story. I sort of picked up on the lesions and then the 'creatures' having a similar sort of skin, so I wasn't super shocked about the creature turning into a boy. The whole 'virus' thing was unclear for Shay though. Was it something he picked up on the new planet? Has he always had it? If so, why does it let him change the creature to a human, if the virus performed the changes it was always meant to to his DNA? How did an 'earth' virus have anything to do with whatever is going on at the new planet?

 

See, lots of questions, lol. I would advise getting a beta and/or editor though. The chapter is pretty clean of mistakes, but there were some awkward phrases and your flow could have used a little help. Having a team is essential, imo, to help your writing really evolve.

Hey Cia! Thanks for your review.

 

Perhaps I was too ambiguous about Shay's condition. He has (or had!) a genetic disorder that is unrelated to events on Lucere and was simply inherited from his parents. The intention is to give more information as the story continues, as they are both important to the plot for differing reasons.

 

The flow and phrasing is definitely something I've always found hardest to get down. There's a tendency for rambling run-on sentences that still do make sense, but are twice the length needed. Also, segueing suddenly from one scene to the next - I do that a lot more than I want to.

 

Definitely seeing the use in having an editor and reader though. I've always been one to "fly solo" but as you said, that's not going to help me grow and improve so much. So I will have to begin that search xD

 

Thanks again for taking the time to comment. :)

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Perfection has been the death knell of many an author...and others as well I'm sure. So cut that out!! battleaxe.gif Just tell us your story. thumbsup.gif

So far you're doing great! thumbsupsmileyanim.gif More please!

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On 03/31/2012 08:09 AM, Conner said:
Perfection has been the death knell of many an author...and others as well I'm sure. So cut that out!! battleaxe.gif Just tell us your story. thumbsup.gif

So far you're doing great! thumbsupsmileyanim.gif More please!

Thanks very much Conner! Self-criticism is ingrained, it's hard to stop the endless cycle of "must fix the damned flaws in this!"

 

But I will try to relax. :) Glad you enjoyed it.

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Very promising! Just wanted to say I didnt find the genetic disorder part ambiguous at all. Seems like a very clever way to have set things up actually. Can't wait to read more!

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I noticed from your status update that chapter 2 was almost ready and I decided to check your story out. I'm "hooked" and will be looking for the remaining chapters. Thanks!

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Wow.

Totally enthralled by this tale of intrigue. So many questions that it leaves you with no option but to carry on reading, and that is the key to any Chapter 1.

I love the way our imagination is left to catch up on so much of the detail, the narrative is not bogged down by detail. I really enjoyed the focus on the characters too. Really enjoyed this chapter and can't wait to see where this goes. :)

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  • Site Administrator

Well that was a very interesting start to the story. I'll have to read more when I get the chance.Good job!

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I'm out of likes for the day, but this is crazy good. From the beginning with Shay's illness to the end of Ch 1 with the boy, I am totally hooked. So many questions!

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On 07/23/2012 04:13 AM, CassieQ said:
I'm out of likes for the day, but this is crazy good. From the beginning with Shay's illness to the end of Ch 1 with the boy, I am totally hooked. So many questions!
thank you! :) Glad you enjoyed it. More is in production.
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I like it, Stellar! :) I mentioned it to you I don't usually read sci-fi, but yours is a good read. Like Cia said, there are so many little things that keep you from wanting to find out more. The relationship between the three Spanish speaking people are mysterious as well.

I am baffled about Shay's genetic disease, but you said it's not related to later story line. But in my head it might be a genetic disease like muscular atrophy or maybe some disease that affects metabolism (like it ages Shay faster than normal kids) or something that affects his life function. But that's just my head imagine things. :-)

Your story paints a lot of detail on how Shay felt. I love how you describe his parents and the interaction between them. I am not sure if it's missing in the story, or they already did the paper work over the Internet (and have it digitally signed...). For a surgery of this scale, especially an experimental procedure, Shay probably needs to sign some liability waver and all that legal thingy before everything begins. I think have him looking at the paper work might lead to his bleak thought about death and not going to see his parents again. I have a feeling he is a bottled up inside kind of person, and very precocious for his age, so a very well written characterization! :) Great start!

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On 08/09/2012 08:21 AM, Ashi said:
I like it, Stellar! :) I mentioned it to you I don't usually read sci-fi, but yours is a good read. Like Cia said, there are so many little things that keep you from wanting to find out more. The relationship between the three Spanish speaking people are mysterious as well.

I am baffled about Shay's genetic disease, but you said it's not related to later story line. But in my head it might be a genetic disease like muscular atrophy or maybe some disease that affects metabolism (like it ages Shay faster than normal kids) or something that affects his life function. But that's just my head imagine things. :-)

Your story paints a lot of detail on how Shay felt. I love how you describe his parents and the interaction between them. I am not sure if it's missing in the story, or they already did the paper work over the Internet (and have it digitally signed...). For a surgery of this scale, especially an experimental procedure, Shay probably needs to sign some liability waver and all that legal thingy before everything begins. I think have him looking at the paper work might lead to his bleak thought about death and not going to see his parents again. I have a feeling he is a bottled up inside kind of person, and very precocious for his age, so a very well written characterization! :) Great start!

there is more detail on his condition in chapter 7, so if it was at all obscure in the brief description you see in the first chapter, more comes later. The fact you do not see them signing paperwork is because it has no significance to the plot; it happens 'off-camera' so to speak
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I love the matter of fact way this was told. It slipped seamlessly from the hi tech of the procedure into the total post apocalyptic nothingness and poor Shay's total confusion was fab

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I liked it so far, just one thing, the words you used in spanish are more common used in countries from LatinAmerica, not from Spanish from Spain.

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On 09/02/2012 12:18 PM, Manu said:
I liked it so far, just one thing, the words you used in spanish are more common used in countries from LatinAmerica, not from Spanish from Spain.
yes. The Spanish is authentic, but is the sort you would find derived from Latin American natives, not European Spain. In context, all this means is that it has become a dominant type of this language that is still being spoken. Why? Any number of possible reasons.
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I really like the beginning. Chap. 1 is as far as I've gotten. You got right to the point, the young man is sick, the parents are worried and he opts to begin treatment NOW. No extraneous discription, no talking about the narrator's hair, eyes, height, or appendages. And, wonder of wonders, (but not as true on Gay Authors) you pay attention to spelling and grammar. Forget the Spanish. I have come to the point where I stop reading if the writer doesn't know the difference between lose and loose and past and passed. Was pleased with the way you handled his descent into treatment. His feelings are scary, eerie, what I think I would feel when going to sleep, if I could remember it. AND a nice cliff hanger. All in all, thanks and hugs for a very good start and will look forward to more.

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On 10/12/2012 08:20 AM, stanollie said:
I really like the beginning. Chap. 1 is as far as I've gotten. You got right to the point, the young man is sick, the parents are worried and he opts to begin treatment NOW. No extraneous discription, no talking about the narrator's hair, eyes, height, or appendages. And, wonder of wonders, (but not as true on Gay Authors) you pay attention to spelling and grammar. Forget the Spanish. I have come to the point where I stop reading if the writer doesn't know the difference between lose and loose and past and passed. Was pleased with the way you handled his descent into treatment. His feelings are scary, eerie, what I think I would feel when going to sleep, if I could remember it. AND a nice cliff hanger. All in all, thanks and hugs for a very good start and will look forward to more.
hey thanks for reviewing me! Glad you liked the beginning :) Technical skill (spelling and grammar and so forth) has always been a bug-bear of mine, so in most cases you will find it well tended to, though one or two mistakes slip through here and there.

 

The first chapter was a bit tentative, and the characterisation felt odd, probably because I hadn't quite launched into it properly yet. However, this is the basis for the story and it's all there. I hope you enjoy the coming chapters!

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For someone who has written for a while but never put anything on here until this story; you are doing quite well! Maybe you should have posted before now. :)

 

Interesting start to what I am hoping will continue to be a story that captivates my attention. I hope tho that further into the story we learn a bit more about what happened while Shay was 'being repaired'. Are these creatures genetic mutations? I doubt they are aliens from another planet because the one Shay accosted seems to have turned back or just turned into a boy. Looking forward to finding out more about Shay, what happened and what these Alien/Mutations are.

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On 12/04/2012 03:36 AM, CW Prince said:
For someone who has written for a while but never put anything on here until this story; you are doing quite well! Maybe you should have posted before now. :)

 

Interesting start to what I am hoping will continue to be a story that captivates my attention. I hope tho that further into the story we learn a bit more about what happened while Shay was 'being repaired'. Are these creatures genetic mutations? I doubt they are aliens from another planet because the one Shay accosted seems to have turned back or just turned into a boy. Looking forward to finding out more about Shay, what happened and what these Alien/Mutations are.

Haha .. thank you! Hidden Sunlight is a bit different from any other fiction that I've written in that I have been organised in my approach towards writing it and will actually finish it, as a work. My other pieces have never received that kind of honour and are all half-done! The price of having an imagination that dreams and won't stay still, I suppose.
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I can't even fathom how amazed I am by your writing. It is both gripping and poetic, skillfully painting a world in which I became almost instantly immersed. The story is fascinating and ripe with emotion, and I cannot bring myself to quit reading it. I do wonder what background you have as a writer and what preparation has gone into this story to produce such masterwork. I anxiously await its completion and possibly future works from you. Best wishes and high praise!

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On 04/01/2013 05:29 PM, Shinoai said:
I can't even fathom how amazed I am by your writing. It is both gripping and poetic, skillfully painting a world in which I became almost instantly immersed. The story is fascinating and ripe with emotion, and I cannot bring myself to quit reading it. I do wonder what background you have as a writer and what preparation has gone into this story to produce such masterwork. I anxiously await its completion and possibly future works from you. Best wishes and high praise!
apologies, I forgot I had not replied to you. I am honoured by your praise, and I take great pleasure knowing my work is regarded so well and enjoyed thoroughly. Thank you.
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When I used to go to the bookstore, often the reason I bought a book was because of what was written on the back dust cover or inside leaf. Your opening chapter did the same. It caught my attention, then pulled me in wanting more. This was a great beginning, I am looking foreward to your next posting, thank you.

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Wow! What a great introduction to what I'm sure will be a great story, Stellar. This is exactly how I like the beginning of books-full of new, unanswered questions. And I loved the twist at the end. I'm looking forward to reading the next 20-something chapters and beyond. You have a new fan.

Thanks for the great read.

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Take two! My tab closed as I was writing this, which was.... Unfortunate. At any rate, I'll be brief until I've caught up with before, so I apologize for that. It's 7AM and I haven't slept, so I'm a tiny bit... Sleepy? Ah, at any rate. The story's great, but work on the action. And as always, take this review with a grain of salt.

Firstly, your character seems a bit inconsistent. He feels as if he's changing too much in this story, with the first few paragraphs being very distant and distracted, where as later it's extremely sharp. The issue that I have isn't the change itself (the change is actually fine; people do that all the time, and I'm actually kinda glad someone painted that in their story), but with how you describe the change. It feels a bit clunky at times, and most notably, the flow of the story changes. From being very eloquent at the start to very choppy later on, it doesn't really piece together.

Secondly, the dialogue later in the chapter is very choppy. I mentioned this just a moment ago, but it's worth a mention of its own. In the next few chapters, you have actual dialogue being scarce, and most of the communication is either being described from the past or between Mira/Shay where it's almost no verbal communication. That lack of dialogue is fine (it's actually good, I would prefer that to very dialogue heavy books), and I'm only mentioning it because I have no way to judge your dialogue. I don't know if it has improved or what.

Something that I do when I have a simple problem like that is open up a Word document, grab a few characters, and throw them into a room with no door, and somehow being lit up without any source of light. That gives enough backstory to make them interact, and you can force pure dialogue from that to figure out what best works for you. Of course, since all characters are a bit different, you may want to use Shay/Konstantin/Mira/Lily to figure out how to Dialogue.

Then again, I could be completely wrong.

But I must praise you for something! I absolutely am stunned by how perfectly you lay out the groundwork for such a complex and vivid story in these few thousand words. It is amazing, and while a tiny bit clunky, an editor could easily clean it up to perfection. You grabbed my interest, forced me to read your story, and then forced me to make an account just so I could say that it was amazing.

--ielsgred

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