#1 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

How folks,

Some of you around here know me, and some of those know that I am an amateur writer. For those who don't, I write a lot of short fiction, most of wish would fall into the horror category. Anyway, it's now in a contest on Reddit, and I figured I could include it here, and if anyone thought it deserved it, maybe they could toss me an upvote? I'd really like to win, to be honest, since it would guarantee a reading on the NoSleep podcast.

Voting: The story is named "I'm No Angel" in the comment section. Just an upvote for that comment is enough. Please don't downvote any competition, though!

http://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/mmxit/noveember_nosleep_writing_contest_official_voting/

Anyway, the story is included below:

It's 3:17 in the morning, and I leap from the bunk as the tone rings. To an outsider, they might just sound like a series of beeps, like a more elaborate form of morse code, but to me, and to folks like me, it sounds as clear as if it were announced over the loudspeaker. Two short beeps, one long, two fast. This is what it sounds like when EMS Rig 6 is brought into service.

My shoes are on my feet before the tone even stops, and I am out the door prepared in under half a minute. We don't need to inspect the rig to make sure we were ready, we do it at the beginning and end of every shift. Lord forbid you arrive on scene and find yourself without Oxygen, or airways. I'm in the passenger seat a full 15 seconds before my partner, Jonathan Torres, a man who always looks better than he is. You have to give the man credit, it's admirable how he can hide himself behind hundred dollar sunglasses and hair gel.

We are pulling out of base as Dispatch comes over the radio. It's a trauma case, and it sounds severe. An early 20's woman, signs of head trauma, likely altered mental status. This was a major league deal. Most people think EMT's ride around in an ambulance all day, like some sort of angel in a blue coat. I'm no angel, just a guy with a job. The fact is, most of what we do is just drive the elderly between hospitals and long-term care facilities. We're a taxi for the fucking geriatric, by and large.

We're on scene long before ALS, and there's a black and white there to greet us. Torres must know the guy, since they give each other a friendly nod and quick, informal greeting. The officer tells us that they were called to the scene of a bleeding, incoherent woman. They suspect drug use. I glance over, my hand tightening on the green bag in my palm. It weighs maybe 40 pounds, and has everything in it that you could ever hope to need in case of an emergency, most of which goes unused for practically everything.

We approach the woman, and I'm a little taken aback. She's beautiful, even with the dried, caked blood holding her blonde hair to her forehead. I feel empathy, something as an EMT, I'm usually completely desensitized to. She's younger than the reports, maybe 16, if that, and is very apparently nude beneath the fire blanket the officer must have draped around her shoulders. She clings to it. For the briefest of moments, I am jealous of a piece of flame-retardant wool.

All she says is that "he almost got her", and that she is terrified and needs to go. We try to assure her that she is safe, and we'll get her going in just a moment. A focused examination of her head reveals discoloration behind the ears, often common with sudden, swift blunt force trauma. Her eyes are banded like a superhero's domino mask, not unlike a raccoon. I'm a little amazed that she doesn't have brains leaking out of her skull at this point. It's a fucking miracle that she's not dead, much less walking and talking.

ALS arrives shortly after, and label her as an unstable patient (due to the altered mental status more than the bashed in head, admittedly), and decide to transport her to St. Francis, the closest trauma center with any kind of cranial specialization. And just like that, the miracle woman, the beautiful, nubile girl with a mysterious past is out of my life as soon as she stumbled in.

I'd like to tell you that I let sleeping dogs lie, but I just couldn't. This girl stayed in my brain, infecting me, affecting me. I laid down my head, and I dream of her. I answer calls and I hope they're her. I let this go on for a week and a half, until I can't keep up anymore. As I go to load a patient, I drop my end of the stretcher. Torres yells at me. I don't hear a thing.

That night, I drive to St. Francis.

It's 5:30 in the morning when I arrive, entering through the emergency admittance entrance. The code for the door is *911, as unimaginative as that is. I work my way past nurses and Doctors I know well, citing a need to pick up a Billing Form I had forgotten. They all nod and give me a knowing smile. These things happen. Accidents happen.

I find her room easily enough, somehow drawn to it. She's not in the ICU anymore, just resting in a bed. She looks so bored, so tired of this hospital. I can relate, I tell her. Sometimes I wish I could just get away. I ask her if she wants to leave, and of course she does, but she's afraid her parents will be upset with her. I tell her they never have to know.

She smiles. Today I am a hero.

I wheel her out in a stretcher. I make sure to time it as soon as the morning charge nurse is away from her station. Dahlia, as I learned her name, pretends to be asleep and motionless. She's so smart, too. Once we're in the elevator, we're in the clear. People just assume I am transferring her. It's funny how easily you trust a man in a convincing uniform. Briefly, I'm terrified to think of what I could get away with if I had a fake badge.

We're to my house before long, and Dahlia sleeps the entire way in the car. I understand, it gets so exhausting in a hospital. How is a person supposed to rest with all of those people, constantly shuffling in and out, all of the pills they give you "for your own good". What a joke.

I carry her across my doorstep like my bride. She's wake now, and she thinks it's adorable. She's practically screaming with happiness at this point, and I'm once again glad I live in such a remote area. It's a half mile of forest and interstate between myself and the city itself, so the privacy is always abundant. Faintly, we can hear voices below us, in the basement. I sigh softly, reminding myself to make sure I turn off the television before I leave my rec room.

I take Dahlia to bed, as any man does with his new bride, and I love her patiently. She's hesitant at first, but some reassurance is all it takes before she bends to my will, much to her benefit. She's so appreciative of how slow we take it, how I respect her virginity and take it with the most delicate of touches. She cries with joy, now, and I smile.I carry her to the family room below, and the voices greet us more urgently this time. I remind Dahlia not to be so forgetful as me, and that she should always remember to turn off the TV before leaving the house. I apologize for not setting a better impression, and I tell her I'll show her to her room again before I take care of it.

We walk down a long hallway, lined with doors on each side, until we come to the end with a more ornate door than the others. There's a small, circular window in it, similar to a porthole, and you can see her beautiful room. There is a shelf with beautiful dolls for her, and a wardrobe full of clothes. I tell her it's all for her, and that I'll never let anyone hurt her again. I lay her in her bed, and she rolls over, crying with happiness once more. It must feel good to be this loved.

I leave her room, quietly locking it behind me so as I may not disturb her. She'll be safe here.As I walk back to the family room, the screaming finally comes to me, from behind the doors. Faces of other brides stare back at me, faces twisted with jealousy and envy. They know how much I will love Dhalia, and they're ungrateful for all I've given them. I shake my head slowly. They'll have to be punished for such impudence. A better man might be more understanding, but, afterall, I'm no angel.

#2 Posted by SuperSambo (2849 posts) -

To read something that long the first few paragraphs need to draw you in, and for me they didn't.

#3 Posted by Matfei90 (1288 posts) -

I skimmed it, and just saw a bunch of 'I did', 'we did', 'and then this happened'. That kind of thing is really awkward to read.

#4 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

@SuperSambo: @Matfei90: Well, it's currently in third place among some of the biggest names in amateur horror short fiction from the last year. You'll understand if I'm not super eager to change how I write based on a couple of folks who were unwilling to actually read it.

Not trying to be a jerk, but that's how I feel.

#5 Posted by Cloudenvy (5891 posts) -

Sorry, but I voted for somebody else.

Good luck!

#6 Posted by DeeGee (2113 posts) -

@Mmmslash said:

@SuperSambo: @Matfei90: Well, it's currently in third place among some of the biggest names in amateur horror short fiction from the last year. You'll understand if I'm not super eager to change how I write based on a couple of folks who were unwilling to actually read it.

Not trying to be a jerk, but that's how I feel.

I actually read it all and I totally agree with what they say.

Plus you totally sounded like a jerk.

#7 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

@Cloudenvy: That's completely fair, there's some really great stuff there. Out of curiosity, which was it? Wished Upon a Star and TM&UE are stellar, in particular.

#8 Posted by Cloudenvy (5891 posts) -

@Mmmslash: When You Wish Upon a Star was the one I voted for. : )

#9 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

@DeeGee: I'm fine with criticism, and I'll happily listen to it from you, since you read it. My issue wasn't with being critiqued but with being critiqued without the story having been read.

@Cloudenvy: It's really great, they deserve your vote. If I lose to THAT, you know, I'm pretty much happy with that result.

#10 Posted by Vodun (2370 posts) -

@DeeGee said:

@Mmmslash said:

@SuperSambo: @Matfei90: Well, it's currently in third place among some of the biggest names in amateur horror short fiction from the last year. You'll understand if I'm not super eager to change how I write based on a couple of folks who were unwilling to actually read it.

Not trying to be a jerk, but that's how I feel.

I actually read it all and I totally agree with what they say.

Plus you totally sounded like a jerk.

I read it too and I agree as well that it's a bit difficult to read. I liked the over all story, and it's an interesting twist but your way of writing just feels a bit choppy. I have no idea of how to improve it as I have no experience in writing stories, I can just say what I felt as a reader.

#11 Posted by Buscemi (1106 posts) -

@Mmmslash: I also dabble in writing things and asking people to read anything too long is a hard sell. I haven't read your story yet, but I will later tonight, maybe give you some kind of critique. Sound good?

#12 Posted by Aklimakks (11 posts) -

Some of the descriptive text seemed a bit redundant. Though i'm not completely sure if this actually helped in occluding the revelation at the end, or stood in the way of it having a greater impact.

It's a disturbing little tale nonetheless, made even more so by the fact that you're donning an EMT logo as your user icon.

#13 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

I read it, and enjoyed what was there, though your style leaves a little to be desired.

One very specific phrase I didn't enjoy was 'infecting me, affecting me', which reads a little too much like it came from a writing seminar.

Positives: your sentences are clean, and for the most part, well-constructed. The story itself took the right beats, and moved at an appropriate pace for a short, though the plot seemed well-worn.

I'll go give you a vote, since you actually have the balls to post something you've written, and my criticism comes off quite harshly, reading back. All my writing is left at the center of my labyrinthine hard-drive, ambiguously titled; so kudos for that.

Edit: Yeah, I'm definitely harsher than I meant to be. I enjoyed your piece more than I let on.

#14 Edited by ape_dosmil (514 posts) -

I enjoyed it. I get the feeling those posters who are highly critical don't read that much fiction written in a first person narrative? It held my attention, the writing seemed pretty good for the most part, the narrator was interesting, the switch from the fairly mundane to the sinister was genuinely surprising. I've not read any of the other short stories but it seemed pretty good to me. Some people just like to knock others down I guess.

EDIT: That's not aimed at anyone providing genuinely constructive criticism by the way.

#15 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

@Titus: Constructive criticism is always appreciated. Please and thank you.

@Aklimakks: I am in fact an EMT, you write about what you know. However, I don't do any kidnapping, and I am fairly well-adjusted, I think. A lot of inspiration was borrowed from the antagonist of Koontz's Intensity.

@GetEveryone: I appreciate the vote and the input. I've never been to any sort of writing seminar, or any sort of formal writing training other than the usual stuff you are put through in public schools.

#16 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

@ape_dosmil: I appreciate your input and support. Some folks just don't like how I write, and that's perfectly alright, I think. I'm proud of what I write (usually), and some dissenters are to be expected.

Again, thank you.

#17 Posted by Moreau_MD (402 posts) -

@Mmmslash: CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: Sorry mate, but to be honest, the whole thing came across as really cliche to me- the writing style in particular felt rather forced. Originality is key in horror; your writing comes across as a something written by a 12th grade high-school student who's trying, and failing, to emulate the feel of Steven King's and some of David Lynch's work. You do have some talent and are at least descriptive. However, your method of description, verbose though it may be, lacks subtlety and often lends nothing to the overall narrative other than to showcase your own vocabulary- this frustrates the reader, as it's clear your simply playing with words rather than actually putting them into a cohesive structure for them to become engaged in. I wouldn't take the fact that this is 3rd place on some amateur internet competition as a good sign by the way- most of the 'amateur fiction' online is terribly written, contrived, self-obsessed shite that people with emotional problems and too much time on their hands sit and read for hours and, because they actually have very little experience of good writing, choose the one they think is the 'darkest' or 'the most emotional'. Eugh- this is why Twilight is so popular. To cut a long story short, your own story isn't great and being third place in an internet 'competition' means nothing and just makes you sound pretentious and bitter when you mention it as a comeback. I think you need a reality check, but hey, what do I know?

#18 Posted by SuperSambo (2849 posts) -

@Mmmslash said:

@SuperSambo: @Matfei90: Well, it's currently in third place among some of the biggest names in amateur horror short fiction from the last year. You'll understand if I'm not super eager to change how I write based on a couple of folks who were unwilling to actually read it.

Not trying to be a jerk, but that's how I feel.

Well I just read it since it was third and...

Are there only three competitors?

#19 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

@SuperSambo said:

@Mmmslash said:

@SuperSambo: @Matfei90: Well, it's currently in third place among some of the biggest names in amateur horror short fiction from the last year. You'll understand if I'm not super eager to change how I write based on a couple of folks who were unwilling to actually read it.

Not trying to be a jerk, but that's how I feel.

Well I just read it since it was third and...

Are there only three competitors?

Classy. No, there are 15 of us, out of hundreds of entries in from the last month.

#20 Posted by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@Mmmslash: Thought I'd pop back in to see what others were saying.

Dude, like you said earlier, it's an online message board. Don't take too much of what these guys are saying to heart. Your writing, for being a short piece, does a decent job. Some of the reactions in here are either rude or overboard.

#21 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

@GetEveryone: I honestly wasn't expecting folks to try to eviscerate me, but that's the way things are, I suppose.

#22 Posted by deathstriker666 (1337 posts) -

The key element in the whole "unreliable narrator" device is that the reader is meant to be shocked after getting attached to the story and its characters. It's hard to pull off especially in short story. Worse is how it's so overused in horror fiction making it just comes off as cliche and cheap. Even worse is how the twist is only revealed in the last paragraph, very typical. Then again I didn't expect much from short story writers, nonetheless from amateur short story writers. Sorry man

#23 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8698 posts) -

I'm doing writey thingies to, so I know your pain is what I'd like to say first.
 
But I really dislike your style, I had a book once that read kinda like it and I had to put it down as I just couldn't feel the emotion.
Which holds true here, this reads like a blog and that is not my preferred reading style, so I will not tell you if its good or bad, I will just say keep on writing, keep on believing, keep on improving.

#24 Posted by Mmmslash (2166 posts) -

@TaliciaDragonsong: Thanks much for the input, appreciated.

#25 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -
Shakes head Meh goes back to playing Skyrim.
#26 Posted by Cloudenvy (5891 posts) -

@Moreau_MD said:

@Mmmslash: However, your method of description, verbose though it may be, lacks subtlety and often lends nothing to the overall narrative other than to showcase your own vocabulary.

As rude as some people may think his post is, this was more or less my problem with your writing style as well.