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Hell on Earth

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Old 07-24-2006, 01:43 PM
pugh7755 (Offline)
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Hell on Earth


I must have visited a thousand graves that night, before I found the right one. I first found myself at the cemetery earlier that day, chilled to the bone despite the sunís warm radiance, with no clue as to why I was there or how I came to be there in the first place. I would have given up, if it werenít for the dire need to find out the truth as to whose body Iíd watched lowered into the cold November ground earlier that morning.

As I continued my search, the moonlight mesmerized me as it washed over the sea of granite monuments for the dead. I didnít have the slightest idea as to how long my search had gone on, nor did I know what time my quest began. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was there, in the cemetery, alone, drawn by some unknown force to search for what I wasnít even sure I wanted to find.

As I walked among the headstones, the strangest sensation that I wasnít alone swept through me. I turned and glanced behind me, lost my balance, and almost stumbled into a large marbled crypt, but I was alone.

The wind picked up and leaves, as dead as those unfortunate souls buried beneath my feet, swirled about my head, whispering of lives long departed. At first, the air was clean and cool; however occasionally, from somewhere in the gloom, an underlying stench drifted by on the breeze. It reeked of death and decay. I didnít know the source of that foul odor, nor did I care to think about it.

Iíd walked no more than fifty yards when I heard, to my left, sobbing similar to that of a lost child. It wasnít an ominous sound as one might expect, but my pace quickened. I tripped over a small foot marker and nearly tumbled to the ground, so I slowed my pace to a safe, if not comfortable walk. I would have searched for that lonesome child, but I found myself unable to deviate from my original pursuit.

Soon, a towering shadow, darker than the night itself, appeared in the sky on the other side of the cemetery. My heart raced. The oak I sought was the largest tree in the cemetery. Therefore, I knew Iíd found it. Risking injury, I quickened my pace.

Iíd gone just a few yards when off to my right a slight movement caught my eye. I stopped for a moment, gazing intently into the shadows. A luminous fog emerged from the forest bordering the cemetery. At first, I attributed it to warm air, caused by the decomposition of those buried deep beneath my feet, rising to meet the frigid night air. I watched for a moment as it drifted aimlessly among several headstones in an unkempt part of the cemetery. I realized, as I gazed at the vaporous mass, that it drifted methodically, not at all aimless as Iíd first thought, from one small stone to another as if searching for one particular stone. Suddenly, my heart stammered in my chest. I couldnít believe my eyes when the mist coalesced into the form of a woman dressed in a long, graceful gown. She began to weep as she knelt in front of a small granite marker. I donít know why, but I felt my heart ache for her. I tried to tell myself that it was nothing more than a wisp of fog, but her sorrow bored into my chest and seized my heart. I had to get away. I felt that if I stayed a minute longer her pain would consume me. I turned from that sorrowful image and continued deeper into the cemetery.

As I made my way through the cemetery, the womanís weeping continued to haunt me. I turned to look behind me several times fearing that she was following me, but I saw no one there. By the time I reached the center of the cemetery, halfway to the large oak, Iíd grown somewhat anxious. A dreadful feeling began to penetrate my bones, deep down to the marrow itself. I continued walking; I needed to know the truth. Like it or not, I needed to know the truth.

For that reason, I continued my quest, further into the cemetery than I felt comfortable with at night.

Clouds, darker than the night sky on which they rode, drove away the mercury moonlight, my lone source of illumination. They cast deep shadows upon me, which caused my body to tremble in the prevailing darkness. I just wanted to turn and run, as fast as my shaky legs would allow, toward the cemeteryís entrance and the peace of mind that lay beyond.

At last When the moon surfaced from the clouds, I was delighted, if that was possible in my current state of mind, to find that the large oak and the grave lay a mere hundred yards away. Despite my quivering legs, I ran as fast as I could toward the grave. In just a few short minutes, I would have the answers I sought.

By the time I reached the tree, I needed to lean against its rough bulk to steady my breathing and my nerves. My breath came labored and with great pain. The cold night air burned my lungs. I was certain they would burst from my deep inhalations. After a short time, I recovered to some extent and left the support of the tree. I staggered the last few feet to the grave and dropped to my knees in front of the headstone. The ground was soft and spongy, as the sod had not yet settled after being disturbed and then put back into place after the burial.

Just when I needed it the most, clouds once again stole the moonlight.

Anguished cries of men, women, and children like those heard earlier, surrounded me in the darkness, but in greater numbers than before. The weight of their sorrow was unbearable. I felt as if I would go insane before they ceased their torturous cries. I tried to force the sound from my mind, but it ricocheted through my body.

I reached out with a blind, tremulous hand and touched the stone in front of me. I traced my finger along the depressions left by the stoneworkerís tools. Unfortunately, I was unable to make out the name carved into the cold, grey stone.

When the clouds released the moon once more, it took a few moments for my vision to adjust to the moonlight. However, when it did, I looked at the stone and felt my heart ice over, tumble to my stomach like a broken icicle, and stab my gut. My stomach clenched. Tears flooded my eyes. I heard once again a childís mournful sobbing, although much closer than before. As the cries increased in intensity, I realized that a child was not there source. I was hearing my own frightened cries. I began to tremble. It was impossible. It couldnít be true. But, it was.

I traced my finger along the name carved into the stone, just to make sure it was real, and what I discovered was all too real. I wiped the tears from my blurry eyes, so I could see it more clearly. I stared at the name of the graveís occupant. It was familiar to me, because it was my name. Carved right into the granite was my name.

Marcus Allen Baker.

I was kneeling on my own grave, and I felt the hairs on the nape of my neck prickle and rise.

Memories of my life crashed over me, memories of those murdered for a few dollars and some change, as well as those murdered for no reason other than for the sheer pleasure it. Memories of a man strapping me into a chair flashed through my mind. The odor of charred flesh filled my nostrils. My body shook, not from fear but from the memory of the electric current that had coursed through my body until I no longer existed among the living.

I lay down upon my grave and wept for those whose lives I had stolen and for the loss of my own life.

However, as I lay here weeping upon my grave, I have come to terms with what I learned that horrible night. I still cry when the moon is full, but I am not alone. Those whose lives Iíd taken, haunt me as I search for my own grave, night after night.

I know there are others who suffer the same fate as my own, and together, we walk among the monuments for the dead in search of our own graves as punishment for our transgressions.

Every night is the same for us. When the moon rises, we find ourselves back at the cemeteryís gate searching, searching for the truth. I am repentant for what I have done, and donít know if I deserve this eternal punishment for what I did while alive. It is true what they sayÖHell really is on Earth.


Last edited by pugh7755; 07-30-2006 at 05:58 PM..
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  #2  
Old 07-25-2006, 04:49 AM
gary_wagner
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You have some good imagery here and the story itself is interesting. I was a little disappointed with the ending, though. Compared to the long buildup of suspense and fear it was very abrupt and rather unsatisfying.

One thing that was a problem for me was a lot of passive voice. For instance, phrases like, "must have", "would have", "had watched", "hadnít gone far", "had only gone" are passive and if you make them active voice the story will be stronger.
I would have given up if I hadnít had the dire need to find out the truth.
Not only is this extremely passive, "hadn't had" just doesn't sound right.

I remember the moonlight that night as it washed over the sea of granite monuments for the dead.
The "I remember the" detracts from this statement. Of course you remember it, you're telling the story.

The wind picked up and leaves, as dead as the cemeteryís permanent residence that rested beneath my feet, swirled about my head, crisply whispering of lives long departed.
This is a great sentence. I think it could use the comma I have in red but it is still very good.

I still felt my heart hammering against my ribs with more enthusiasm than a small child at a birthday party swatting a piŮata with a bat.
While this is a very good image, I don't think its appropriate for this situation. If you could find something that causes a heart to beat hard from fear - instead of from joy, I think it would work better here.
As you might have guest,
Should be "guessed".

towards the cemetery entrance
In American English, "toward" is correct, only in British English is "towards" correct.
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  #3  
Old 07-25-2006, 05:00 AM
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Hello! Just a few things I picked up - a few of them are purely opinion, so you can take or leave them as you see fit, a couple are typos:

'as dead as the cemeteryís permanent residence that rested beneath my feet' - 'residents'

'So, I continued my search for the grave in question.' - I think 'So' is unnecessary, and possibly also 'in question.' 'In question' kind of implies discussion (I think), of which there is none since there's only one character.

'As you might have guest,' - 'guessed'

'A luminous fog drifted haphazardly' - I'd question 'haphazardly', especially as a sentence or two later you use 'methodically' to describe the same fog.

'But I pressed on. I had to know the truth. Like it or not, I had to know.
So I did just that, I pressed on further into the cemetery than I felt comfortable with at that time of night' - even if this was deliberate repetition, it sounds forced. Personally, I'd just find a phrase that means exactly the same, and use it the second time round.

'I looked at the stone and felt my heart ice over and tumble to my stomach like a broken icicle, piercing my gut.' - well, I really liked that!

'I reached out and traced my finger along the name carved in the stone just to make sureit was real. But, it was all too real.' - I'd lose the comma, and maybe think about the repetition of 'real'.

'Carved right there on the grey stone' - dont know why, but I thought 'in' sounds better thatn 'on'.

'standing on my own grave, and yes I felt the hair on my skin prickle and rise.' - hmm, I think you might be better specifying where, eg 'back of my neck' (cliche, cliche), 'forearms' etc etc.

Very neat ending, and I can't tell you what a relief it is to find a 'horror' story written in ordinary language. However, (very rare for me to say this..), in some places I think the tone comes across as a bit too matter-of-fact for what is actually a supernatural story. There are a couple of colloquialisms which I don't think sit quite right, but maybe you're right to vary the tone a bit - the actual tale is a bit of a stock ghost story, so it's got to be the way you tell it which makes it stand out. Good start!
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Old 07-26-2006, 05:35 AM
gary_wagner
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I read through your edited version. I noticed some of the areas you cleaned up and the story is looking better.

I noticed you still have a fair amount of passive voice in there. A good way to spot those things is to find all the occurrences of "had" (you have 25 in this story). Some of them are necessary, such as, "I had no clue" or "I had the strangest feeling". The ones that are hurting you are the ones like, "hadnít had", "I had been searching", "I had begun". While they indirectly change a present tense word to past tense, they more strongly imply passivity and uncertainty. I think they weaken a story.

Instead of "had been" you can use "was". Instead of "had begun" you can use "began".

Last edited by gary_wagner; 07-27-2006 at 04:28 AM..
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Old 07-27-2006, 05:22 PM
gary_wagner
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This version is even better. You have made a lot of progress with your edits. This is just so much better than the first version you posted. You've done some good work. Hopefully you take notice of the things you changed so you can watch for them when you write your next story.

Also remember that editing and rewriting is a critical part of developing a well crafted story. Some famous writer once said that no story is ready unless you have edited and revised it at least 10 times. He also said as soon as you get a story to the point that you are really happy with it - completely rewrite it because that is a good indication that it isn't ready yet.
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  #6  
Old 07-28-2006, 01:57 PM
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Hi!

Sorry about the delay! I agree with Gary - everything you've changed has improved the way the story reads - it now sounds like you've really thought about what you're writing, without it sounding stilted, which is great. Well done!
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Old 07-30-2006, 04:49 AM
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Very nice additions to the story. The ending is much better now that we have a little more reason for what is going on. What I have now is fairly nit-picky but this story is getting down to the final polishing.

The moonlight mesmerized me that night
The first sentence of the previous paragraph also had "that night" in it. You might want to avoid that repetition.

The only thing I knew for sure was that I was there, in the cemetery, alone. Drawn by some unknown force to search for what I wasnít even sure I wanted to find.
I think this needs to be one sentence. Right now, the second one is a sentence fragment.

however occasionally, from somewhere in the gloom, an underlying stench drifted by on the breeze.
However, nonetheless, and nevertheless are fairly strong contradictory words. I noticed you used however eight times and the other two at least once in the story. I think you need to think about that because a story with a lot of contradictions loses some strength. You might be able to rearrange some of your sentences to show the contradiction without stating it.

At last When the moon surfaced from the clouds,
Typo - you have "When" capitalized.
I realized that a child was not there source.
Typo - should be "their".
I lay down upon my grave and wept for those whose lives I had stolen and for the loss of my own life.

However, as I lay here weeping upon my grave, I have come to terms with what I learned that horrible night.
You crossed over into present tense with these two sentences. They need to be past tense to match the rest of the story.
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Old 07-30-2006, 06:56 PM
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I absolutly loved this piece, I was very shocked that I liked it so much, it kept my attention the whole time, I even remembered saying to myself half way through the reading, "I hope this guy is looking for his own grave."

Awesome piece my friend, awesome piece. Thank you.
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Old 07-31-2006, 02:52 AM
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Hi,

'no reason other than for the sheer pleasure it.' - ^'of'

'coursed through my body until I no longer existed among the living.' - wasn't so keen on this for some reason. It sounds a bit pretentious somehow - I would have said something like 'coursed through me until my body could withstand their assault no longer' or words to that effect, anything to try and keep it a bit more concrete. It's a totally personal thing, of course, just the way I read it!

Well, if that's all I can find, you've done a good job. (I found two typos but Gary got there first...). I'm glad 'haphazardly' has disappeared, I think that's a great improvement, and I like the additional bit on the end. It does make the story feel more complete. All-in-all, it's always nice to read a classic-style horror story, and I think you've done a good job of writing one.
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