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Darkest Moment

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Old 06-30-2014, 10:27 PM
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Default Darkest Moment


I hate parties. They’re always so full of… people.

Over there is Samantha Hobbs, chatting away and charming everyone within a two metre radius. They don’t know she cheated on her husband with two men. There’s Beck Brooke. She stole a child’s bicycle and gave it to her niece. Beck’s talking about global politics like she knows how to save the world and plans to do it after she’s finished the canapés.

Jono appears. “Jilly! This is Pete. Pete, my little sis.”

A stocky man sticks his hand out. I don’t take it. “Oh, hi. Sorry, I have a cold. Don’t want to infect you.”

Pete says no worries and touches me on the shoulder. All of a sudden, I am Pete. I’m drunk and screaming. “Who asked you what you think? Huh? I didn’t ask you… Don’t you talk back at me! I will be as loud as I damn well please in my own house… What did you call me?” I hit my girlfriend across the face. She stumbles back and I press forwards and follow up with two more. She crumples to the ground and I’m Jilly again.

Jono and Pete are looking at me expectantly. One of them’s asked me a question I didn’t hear. I’m good at covering by now so I say, “Oh well, what can you say?”

They look at each other and I excuse myself. I weave my way through the gathering and into the bathroom, where I put my face under icy cold running water. I don’t quite vomit but I sure feel sick.

I am cursed. The first time I make physical contact with a person, I become them when they were at their worst. I’ve felt the rush of adrenaline as I smash a beer glass over someone’s head. The thrill of sliding someone’s wallet out of their back pocket. I have lied, cheated, stolen, assaulted, sexually assaulted, carjacked and even kidnapped. The things I’ve done keep me awake every night.

I’m nauseous and want to go home. I’ve been here long enough to keep my brother happy so I go back out and tell him I’m leaving. He hugs me. It’s the longest I’ve stayed at a party in two years and the subtext of that hug is, “I’m glad you’re getting better, sis.”

That night my dreams are tortured and I come to work exhausted. I tell my PA I’m flat out with the Dawson Project – which I made up four months ago – and shut myself in my office. If I wasn’t on the executive I’m sure I’d have lost my job a year ago.

There’s a knock at my door and in comes John Millicent. “Jilly. You look like death tied you to a tree and buggered you all night.”

He used to deal cocaine and once sold to a thirteen year old. “Thank you, John. Lovely of you to notice. Do you want something?”

“Auditor’s here.”

Crap! Forgot about them. I head to reception and there’s a young woman and a man about my age. I lose time when it happens so I use a strategy to touch them at separate times. I greet the younger one first with a smile and a nod, then step forward to shake the older one’s hand.

I am Steven Holsworthy. I am fifteen and sitting in music class. Dawn Summers is at the front of class playing flute for her exam and I supress a laugh as she makes a mistake, then stops, then false starts, then rushes out of the room. I crack up. I switched part of her score for a photocopy of my butt.

The auditors are looking at me strangely and I smile at Steven. If that’s the worst thing he’s ever done he mustn’t be half bad.

We go to the meeting room and talk about the joyous topic of corporate tax for twenty minutes. It’s all fine and dandy until the young woman hands me something and brushes my fingers. I’m Chloe Wilkins. I’m texting my boyfriend. And I’m driving. I glance up and there’s nothing on the road. I type in “lol babe, love you so so much.” I hit send and look up and there’s a dog in front of me. I swerve to miss it and… I hit a child. My stomach drops and my whole world shatters like a jigsaw puzzle thrown on the floor. I look out my window at the girl and puke in my lap. A minute later I wipe my mouth, take a deep breath, and drive away.

Chloe is leaning forwards with concern on her face. I look at her, horror on my face. There’s no way she can know about my curse but as our eyes lock she knows that I know. I excuse myself and hurry out. I slam the door to my office and dry retch for two minutes with my head in a wastebasket.

Shaking and feeble, I call my brother. “Jono? It’s me. I need to see that doctor. Mum’s old one. I’m going to need something to sleep.”

My brother gives me a number and they book me in for tomorrow. I leave work in the early afternoon to “attend meetings for the Dawson Project.” I need to clear my mind so I go for a long swim then power walk for more than an hour. Play online chess until two AM then fall asleep, utterly exhausted.

Thankfully I don’t have nightmares; they tend to feel as real as the flashbacks themselves. I can’t help but feel grateful that I still have sick leave as I wait in the doctor’s surgery reading National Geographic.

“Jillian? Come on through.”

I head down a corridor into Dr Forsyth’s room. He’s a skinny sixty-year-old with sparkling grey eyes. “What’s bothering you, Ms Williams?”

I tell him about insomnia and stress and he takes my blood pressure. He touches me and I’m him. I’m administering a flu shot to an elderly gent. There’s something in the shot. Something I put in there. Diamorphine. Enough to kill a, well, a person. It’s not the first time I’ve done this. Not even close. I push the plunger and smile as the liquid leaves the barrel of the syringe and seeps into his arm.

“Ms Williams?”

I’m aghast. This doctor is a killer. A serial killer. “Dr Forsyth, have you been murdering your patients?” His jaw drops. I wouldn’t normally comment but he was my mother’s doctor! “I know what you’re doing. Did you do it to Edith Williams? Did you inject my mother with heroin?”

He tells me to leave. I go straight to the police station. I’ve never told anyone about my curse before but this man is a monster. I have to put an end to what he’s doing no matter what it costs me.

But I don’t go inside. They’ll never believe me, what with him being a respectable member of the community and my total lack of evidence. Crap. I return to his surgery and wait in the street for over five hours for him to come out. He shuffles past and I start the engine. I look around and no one else is in sight. He crosses the road a few metres ahead. It would look like an accident. Even if I got caught, it would be worth sacrificing myself to stop him. I put the car in gear and pull out. I press down on the accelerator.

Pause.

I lived in fear every day for three weeks but then something miraculous happened. I met a guy called Jake at a work function, shook his hand, and nothing. No flashbacks. No visions. I had just made contact with a stranger and absolutely nothing happened. I was so elated I missed the absent look in his eyes as our hands clasped.

Four months later, I realised the significance of that handshake. Jake follows me home one evening and slips inside as I shut the door. I try to scream but his hand clamps down over my mouth. “You’ve been a naughty girl, Jillian. You thought no one would ever find out? Not only do I know what you did, I know you meant to do it.”

“He was a murderer! He injected his patients with lethal doses of drugs. He killed my mother!”

“Sorry honey, it’s a little late for the theatrics. You did what you did and you’ll face the consequences.”

“You’re doing what I did.”

He sneers contemptuously at me and his hand clamps over my throat.

I close my eyes, lest I see one more person at their darkest moment.

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  #2  
Old 07-01-2014, 12:17 AM
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I enjoyed this immensely. It reads smoothly and naturally so that the bizarre curse seems like an irritating but potentially useful ailment at first, until it finally backfires with Jake.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:19 AM
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Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the feedback!
Pete
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:12 AM
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I just read the synopsis Eyes and Knives and am itching to read the book now....but have small child home for hols so I'm most likely to be reading a Julia Donaldson book tonight. Hmmm The Gruffalo with an indefinite lifespan....;-)
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:49 PM
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Hi Catski,

Ha ha, it's a fun read, Eyes And Knives. Geared towards teens-late 20s but enjoyable for anyone with a youthful streak!

I'd happily send you a copy for about the cost of postage if you're interested. I'm in Australia though, so that isn't necessarily super cheap!

PM me if you're keen
Pete
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:02 PM
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I feel ripped off, Peter.

This is a cracking good story, but it's too short. I want sooooo much more! Thanks for posting this, it has made an otherwise dull day for me
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:10 PM
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Thanks Risk! That's very kind of you.

It probably could be the basis of an entire novel, but I don't have time these days to write those (sadly).

But I've sent it to a filmmaker friend, who wants to collaborate with me (again). Perhaps we can make this a short film!

Pete
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:15 PM
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Totally! This would make an excellent short piece - probably a good 20-30 minute project, I reckon. Would definately love to see that.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:16 PM
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Yeah, agreed. It's very filmic, and a professional production of it could look really nice.

It's already been performed around the world as a monologue for stage, so it has a track record. Be nice to see it have new life breathed into it!

Pete
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:23 AM
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I would definitely watch a short film version of this - keep us posted if you and your associate pursue this option.

Like Risk10, I'd be interested to see this as a longer work, but enjoy the "punch to the gut" of this short form as well.

Looking forward to more!
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Old 07-02-2014, 04:46 PM
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Thanks Jynx. I'll certainly make a post if we ever go ahead and make this.

Glad you like the short. Not sure I'd really want to drag this out to a novel length - it works in short form as it is. Perhaps one day, when I can afford to write full time!

Pete
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Old 07-03-2014, 05:22 AM
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I love the premise and it would work well as a full thriller or possible crime novel.

I did struggle with it as a written piece as it left a lot out in emotional connection but if it was done as a monologue I can see where it would come across completely differently.

The bit that jarred me the most was the Doctor scene. If you'd just come face to face with the person who murdered your mother is that how you would react? It felt like there should be more there.
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Old 07-03-2014, 05:46 AM
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Hi Adrian,

Thanks for the feedback. That's a good comment - reading it, it's fairly utilitarian in its descriptions. We don't go too deeply into the character. As you say, in a performance, that comes across quite differently and is easy to convey with the non-verbal stuff.

I'll mull over your point re the doctor. It makes sense in a performance (the actress shows the depth of her feelings in her reaction) but as a plain narrative I can see what you're saying.

Pete
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:32 PM
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I very much like this idea, Pete. Well done.

M
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:24 AM
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Thanks!
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:06 AM
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Icon14 Darkest Moment

Good job. The story features the Man vs Self conflict in which the narrator has to come to terms with a curse. The curse causes him to channel other people's aggressions and fears.

In first person point-of-view, the narrator demonstrates how he suffers symptoms caused by the curse. Yes, this narrator does a pretty good job making it his affliction as he attempts to cure it. A reader should feel like this is a somewhat believable person, although not trustworthy. We can entertain doubts about the narrator's dislike of the other characters. This is technique.
Keep.

You give us many characters to side with in the plot. Some flat, but others are round and may be affected. The narrator's dislike of the characters may work the reader's sympathy.

However, to improve make an attempt to break up the action. In this draft it seems a little linear. If you don't prefer flashback, use interior monologue in which one of the characters responds to the narrator or use white space with narration.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:10 PM
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Thanks for your feedback, Escriber.
Pete
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:37 AM
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Very interesting idea. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I feel some parts could have used a bit more umph, like the reveal of the Doctor and his murders. I loved all the little tidbits, the worst of people. Gives a good sense of realism for the smallest characters.
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Old 07-10-2014, 03:19 AM
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Thanks MB. Glad you enjoyed it.

Yes, you're probably right. It's written for stage and hence I keep it as time-efficient as possible. To really make this a good stand-alone narrative I'd explore her response to the doctor in greater detail. We don't get much of her thought process beyond the obvious...

Thanks
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Old 07-17-2014, 03:33 PM
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I enjoyed this! at first i was a bit confused and just thought i was getting some great insight into someones twisted mind and when i figured out what was actually happening i thought it was very cleverly demonstrated throughout the story. it's interesting that i found a recurring feeling of "disgust" throughout the story both physically (puke) and emotionally such as at the party, at the doctor's office..

sorry for the lack of constructive criticism i am just beginning to critique creative writing..hope it was useful
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Old 07-18-2014, 02:00 AM
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Hi Julie,

Thanks for the response. I always appreciate hearing from people. Even just a simple "I liked it" lets me know that someone liked it, even if there's no data in there to help me improve the writing. At the end of the day, I distribute my work for people's enjoyment so the key thing has been achieved!

Welcome to the site. I look forward to reading your own work and chatting to you.

Pete
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