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You know something strange has happened when the slowly dawning consciousness doesn’t seem quite right. Your brain slowly climbs towards the light of day, picking out anything out of place on the way. What is with this bed? It’s hard – hard and cold. And the pillow? Something is definitely wrong with the pillow. And the smell? It smells disgusting, like week old meat when the fridge has failed. You try opening your eyes, the light burns like two red hot pokers. You try again. It still hurts but it’s unbearable. You try again – success. You blink, slowly taking in your surroundings. You realise you are lying on metal, which explains the coldness, but still doesn’t help you place where you are. You grope around. You explore an edge with your fingers. Another edge on the other side as well. Okay, so you are on a table. You swing your legs around and try to get up and almost pass out from the pain. Your chest hurts. You run your hands over it, realising there is a line of stitches running up from your belly to each shoulder. You try again and manage to control the pain, but only succeed in rolling off the table. Pain blooms all through your body and darkness pulls at your vision
Slowly things brighten again. It’s darker down here out of the brightlight, which is nice. You slowly look around. The table you were on is one of many. You try to count and fail. That part of your brain just doesn’t want to assist at present. You slowly get to your knees, ignoring the pains of protest from your legs. It hurts. You slowly put one leg beneath you and raise yourself up, feeling dizzy you grasp hold of the table. The dizzyness fades, but your reactions feel sluggish, like your brain is a 1000 miles from your body. You look around again. Okay… metal tables, little metal doors on one wall… sudden realisation dawns that you woke up in a morgue. You hear shouts outside the main door. Someone is coming. Perhaps they can help. You start to stagger towards the door. Suddenly it crashes open. A man with a baseball bat stands before you. You don’t think he is here to help. The last things that go through your head are ‘why did he hit me?’ and ‘why did the man yell “Die zombie!”‘?
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My initial reaction was that this reminded me of a dream (I had this very morning 5:00 am/CST) about being in a zombie game, “Dead Island.” Then, after I had awaken, I started thinking about how Stephen King wrote from the the monster’s perspective in his book, “Desperation.” Only moments later, a clear thought came to being: “I wonder if there are any books that actually have written from the zombie’s perspective.” Come to think of it, there was a movie that had this same approach: that is, revealing the protagonist as a zombie.
So, I’m a fan of zombie and apocalyptic themes. The voice was somber yet inquisitive. Of course, I loved the first person angle while using a second person voice. Also, in the second paragraph, make sure you correct the spelling of dizzyness to dizziness. I’m an American, so I do not know if that spelling is a different, yet accepted, standard where you live.
Continue to write, for your story was definitely a breath of fresh air. Now, I’m off to work. Take care…
Lillian Browne says
I love where the story is headed. I started to feel anxious and hurried along so I could discover where the protaganist was! Terriffic anticipation and tension to open a book with. I would suggest using different descriptives throughout the section. Your use of the word slowly was quite repetative. Perhaps you could substitute other words .. such as painfully (I don’t know much about zombies, do they feel? LOL) Another suggestion, try a different POV. “I” am already wondering how “I” and going to function as a zombie. Are you on a table or were you on a table? I really enjoyed this. Very creative. You had me at “You are on a table”. !
Marty Sorensen says
I don’t read this kind of stuff, so that may temper my critique. I agree with Lillian Browne that this story would work better as first person narrative. the “you” language made me feel distant from what was happening. As a story, I thought it was a good description of how someone might wake up and go through the process of discovery. The last words, “Die, Zombie”, make the lack of first person narrative more important. The writing concentrates entirely on the feelings of someone waking up in one of the most horrible possible situations possible. Now maybe genre allows things that I found off-putting. “Something definitely is wrong with the pillow.” That’s not the language of a person in this situation. It’s too casual. I feel the same with the very opening line: You know something strange has happened when the slowly dawning consciousness doesn’t seem quite right. Your brain slowly climbs towards the light of day, picking out anything out of place on the way. What is with this bed?” It’s not serious writing, by which I mean the person who wrote this wasn’t in the position described because the writing is just too analytical. It’s the slowly dawning consciousness, the doesn’t seem quite right, the brain slowly climbs, the picking anything out of place. Writing that the steel slab explains the coldness is not part of the experience of the person in the story. It doesn’t work that way. This person is on a steel slab, and that alone would dominate the consciousness. Well, for me, that’s why I believe that re-writing in first person would be better.
My immediate reaction to the story is that I’m not fond of the use of 2nd person POV. It is hard to pull off and while I understand what might be the motivation behind it, it is still jarring. The constant use of ‘you’ immediately jumps out at me as an issue. Personally, of all the POV’s available to us as writers, I think this is best suited for 3rd person POV, though 1st person has its possibilities. Please bear in mind that this is my opinion only.
As far as the concept, I love it. I’ve actually toyed with the version of writing from the POV of the zombie, but have never started to tackle it. I commend you for doing so. I think, at least to me, rewriting it in 3rd person will clear many of the issues I have with this story. As it is, I personally could not read on.
Cathryn Leigh says
I found the use of You intriguing, perhaps it’s because I used to read choose your own adventure books, or perhaps it’s because I’m trying it out myself.
As I read these were some of the thoughts that came to mind.
1) “I” was in an opperating room, until it became clear that it was a morgue
2) “I” had become a vampire
3) I giggles at Die Zombie Die… even if it was “I” that was being blugoned.
I don’t know where you are going with this, but it’s an interesting start.
Cynthia Robertson says
You use the word ‘slowly’ 7 times in two paragraphs. Sometimes repetition is nice, when used to create music in language. But since this writing is not musical in any way, or literary, the over use of that word just feels like inattentiveness to your language use.
Is this going to be a humor piece? Or genuine horror? If it’s going to be humor, then the second person works. But if it’s meant to be genuine horror, it’s far too light and silly in tone.
I agree with much of what Marty says, about there being too much distance between the character and the sensations being described. Again, if it’s going to be a bit of silly spoof, then this might work out okay. but for serious horror you need to put the reader ‘right in it’, which this doesn’t do. If it’s meant to be scary, then first person might work better, and you would need to lose the humorous tone. I’m just not sure if that was intentional, or not.
Not at all scary, but somewhat funny, like the beginning of a good zombie spoof.
I liked the concept, the slow awakening, the realization of who/what you are. I’d stick with the POV, just drop some of the “you’s” and add more on the initial feelings as you come to “life”.
I found the repetitive short sentences annoying by the end, would have liked some longer ones to vary the pace. Would have liked a catchier first sentence, and the ending sort of hit me over the head, could have been a little more subtly phrased and I still would have got it.
RICHARD TORTORICI says
I applaud the writer for venturing into the 2nd person POV. However, he overuses the pronoun to the extent that it takes away from the building tension. I suggest he use shorter sentences to build the mood; use less direct language for description. e.g.: he tells us about the stitches rather than leading us toward that conclusion. It’s an interesting effort, though he would be advised to take another look at editing it.
Ginger G says
This genre is foreign to me so you will need to take that into consideration.
I loved the “surprise” ending in the excerpt, revealing that “you” are indeed a zombie. I think the idea is cool. I just wonder how you can sustain this POV and keep the audience engaged for a extended period of time? Maybe you can, but it seems like a huge challenge to me. If you are committed to this POV, then I would make a gentle suggestion that the language needs to be less analytical. More sensuous, more descriptive.
I CAUTIOUSLY dive into this part of my critique, (I hate it when people “re-write” my stuff to help me:) As a reader I wanted the language to create a sense of slowness rather than the continual use of the word slow.
For example: “What is with this bed? It’s hard – hard and cold. And the pillow? Something is definitely wrong with the pillow. And the smell? It smells disgusting, like week old meat when the fridge has failed.” As a reader, this all came at me too fast.
Slow down a bit. Maybe try using more in depth description: “This bed. Bed? Wait, wait! Hard and uncomfortable, this is not your plush mattress. So hard you just want off. It’s cold, real cold, like a slab of ice, but dry. Ahhh, every back muscle is screaming. Willing your aching muscles to move, take a deep inhalation and. Yuck! What is that rancid smell? Meat. No, worse, rotten meat. Disgusting. The bile creeps up your throat. …Maybe the fridge failed?”
I am just taking a shot at giving you useful feedback because the idea is good and the POV intriguing. I just felt pushed through it. It’s kind of odd because you keep saying “slowly” but the actual rhythm and tempo of the text make me experience the “slow” dawning much too quickly in my opinion. If you have ever actually been rendered unconscious and wake up in a different environment, you come to and move much more hesitantly. You may want to consider actually talking to some people who have had major surgery to get a handle on the experience?
Keep at it! And let us know how you develop the POV. It is very interesting and that is always a good start! And if you are actually a zombie and writing to give your kind voice, please disregard all the above critique…the piece is genius! Oh that those of us that still draw breath could create it’s equal! 🙂
Jo Danilo says
I was hooked. What a great idea! At first I didn’t know where it was going. You reveal little facts, and the mystery deepens. Then the last sentence clicks everything nicely into place.
I agree with a lot of the points other people have made e.g, showing rather than telling the stitches. Drop some ‘yous’ or try first person and see if that reads any better, though 2nd person immediately got my attention and adds humour to the piece. I’m guessing, though, that you would not stick to 2nd person beyond this initial opening chapter?
For me, a huge chunk of paragraph looks off-putting, particularly for this genre. I think it would read more easily if split up a little. Eg – in the first paragraph, I would split it here:
NP You try opening your eyes…
NP You swing your legs around…
Best of luck with it!
florence fois says
I agree with the general consensus that this is a story that can be intriguing and definely something you need to continue.
Thinks about openings, endings, the “ings” and the “lys” that suck the life out of a sentence. You wrote: “You know something strange has happened when the slowly dawning consciousness doesn’t seem quite right.”
You have the talent to find another way to say … the slowly dawning consciousness … With such a strong subject you don’t want to weaken your first line … and “slowly dawning” … stopped me cold.
Keep up the good work 🙂
Rose Byrd says
I am going to stick with my first set of reactions to this excerpt: Do NOT change a single word. The narrative flowed rapidly and pointedly, clearly picturing the narrator and “its” circumstances and actions. Exactly the right amount of information was provided to allow the reader to understand the situation exactly at the right points in the narrative. I am hopeful I will be afforded the opportunity to read this entire work when it is published, as it definitely needs to be. This “zombie” story is powerfully symbolic of much of our global society today. We NEED much more of this type of truth-telling.
Alexandra Smith says
I do not read horror but my husband took a look at it. He says he does not know about writing but enjoyed this and would like to see a full story come from this and asks please carry on with it. Please carry on with the story in the first person as he loved it from the zombie’s point of view.
Laurel Lamperd says
Two thoughts which struck me 1st para – the character has opened their eyes but still ‘feels’ instead of ‘sees’.
2nd para The character doesn’t need ‘slowly’. It would read sharper without it.
I don’t normally read this kind of stuff, and it doesn’t quite seem interesting to me. Nor do I write this stuff. But personally as a writer, I do agree that I love where this is headed. It definetly keeps your reader hooked. I love it!
Melissa F says
I loved it! I don’t usually like reading Second Person POV but it doesn’t stand out at all. I think it may throw the reader off further into the story, but that also depends on the content too.
The sentence “You try again. It still hurts but it’s unbearable.” bugs me. I think it’s the ‘but’ in it. If it were me I would be saying It still hurts BUT it’s bearable. That would be how I’d use it. But then, I’m just an aspiring writer though so I could be wrong.
This is a great start and if this was given to me to read I’d be hooked for sure on this first part. Keep up the good work..