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Chapter 2
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 5:51 pm    Post subject: Chapter 2  

The story so far: Robbie is a boy with an overactive imagination. He can talk to the ghost of his dead brother, but his parents are distressed when he reveals this fact to them. His brother's ghost, in order to console Robbie, offers to transport him to a different world where people will appreciate his imagination. Robbie wakes up in a different world, sure enough, but it isn't as wonderful as he expected. There is only barren terrain and faraway industrial towns. Then he notices a figure approaching...

Chapter 2

The figure shuffled towards him up the hill, carrying a large, bulky brown sack on his shoulders. As he came nearer to the top of the barren hill, Robbie realized the man must be very strong, because the length and size of the sack nearly eclipsed the man's figure, and at the same time it caused him to stoop like a hunchback. His bent form and his stringy, sparse hair impressed upon any observer an air of morose dreariness. To add to this effect, he dressed in mud-splattered white cotton pants and sported, bare-chested, a tattered and scruffy brown leather jacket. His hefty arms and large, coarse hands strained to maintain the tautly tied sack onto his broad back. The stranger was sweating profusely even in the absence of an abrasive sun, and he was so focused on the sack protruding with indistinct objects that he did not realize he was approaching Robbie until the boy called out a timid "Hello!"

The startled man, as if suddenly waking from a sleep-walk, directed a glance of amazement at Robbie before stumbling, losing his balance, and lurching to the earth together with the brown sack, which burst open and spilled it's contents throughout the hill. A bewildered Robbie watched as a bizarre wheel-like object flew from the sack and rolled down-hill, fleeing out of sight.

But the man did not even bother to pursue any of the possessions which he had worked so hard to carry on his shoulders; he simply stared at Robbie mutely, and Robbie too stared back because to avert his eyes would indicate unfriendliness and perhaps guilt. If the man sprawled sideways on the floor, rubbing his nearly bald head in wonder was only a few moments ago burdened by his possessions, Robbie too was burdened by his consciousness; as he looked into the green eyes of the outlandish stranger, Robbie could not avoid recollecting his father's intellectual gaze.

"I'm Robbie," he said, endeavoring by means of conversation to disremember his father and break the silence with the stranger, "what's your name?"

The man furrowed his brow, creating multiple creases throughout his pale forehead and regarded his worn jacket wordlessly, as if only the grimy leather contained the answer to Robbie's question. Finally, as Robbie repeated the question, the man picked himself up and wiped the dust from his jacket, then he hauled the sack on to his back and began to recover the misplaced objects.

"My name is Citizen 103... Citizen #103." he muttered hoarsely, as Robbie abandoned discretion and followed the stranger in his search.

"That's a strange name. I'll call you Jack. Waddaya think, Jack?" grinned Robbie. The man halted and slowly swiveled around, bearing his depleted sack on his shoulders, until he faced Robbie. His green eyes sparkled with excitement like two jovial emeralds.

"Jack?" he enunciated, probing the syllables, "Jah-cuh. Jack. My name is Jack." He smiled for the first time, revealing a solid set of choppers, albeit a missing tooth. "How did you make that up?" asked the Goliath with the twinkling eyes.

"Are you kidding?" answered Robbie incredulously, "there's like a million Jacks everywhere. I don't know, Jack was the first thing I thought when I saw you." They ambled around searching for more of the runaway objects. "What are these things, anyway?" demanded Robbie, scooping up a small gear intertwined with steel wire and a mechanism of triangular cogs.

"I don't know, Raw-bee. I'm ordered to carry them to places, that's all anybody ever told me." His morose manner returned, and he grappled the sack more tightly.

"Which town do you live in?" said Robbie, thinking it wise not to pursue his previous question, lest Jack should become unresponsive.

"Town #3." was the laconic reply.

"You mean the Steeple Town?" queried Robbie. The bulky man chuckled, stretching his lips and exposing the gap in his teeth again.

"That's funny. Steeple Town." then he remained silent for another moment, "I like you, Raw-bee, you're funny."

"You're funny too, Jack. Funny lookin'." cracked Robbie, eliciting a roar of laughter from his companion, who almost released his load. "So, where you headed, Jack? Are you coming back to Steeple Town?"

"Yeah. I always come back, because they tell me to. Not my granddaddy, though. He did whatever he ever felt like. He helped to build the steeple, damn straight. That's what he always used to say all-a-time, damn straight. Those two words."

"I never met either of my grandpaws, they died before I was born." explained Robbie, "My mom told me once that her dad wrestled against a circus bear and didn't get taken down. And he swam across a frozen lake to escape a band of robbers." For a second, he pictured his mom narrating stories and then saw her crying; then the visual was gone.

"My granddaddy gave me this jacket," detailed Jack, still lumbering along with his heavy sack and bare chest, "It was a gift he gave me before he died. He said, 'dis jacket is yours, damn straight. And I've been wearing it ever since, damn straight."

"It's nice." lied Robbie, averting his face so that his companion would not discern his involuntary grimace. "Hey look, we're getting closer." pointed Robbie, noticing that the road had become clearly outlined and that the towering steeple was growing more proximate.

"Yeah." ascertained Jack glumly, "That's Citizen 75. He's the guard to Steeple Town."

Soon enough, an emaciated figure wearing slacks and an ill-cut linen shirt came into view. He yelled for the boy and the hulk to halt, and then accompanied his order with an authoritarian hand gesture.

"Who goes?" he challenged, squinting his eyes suspiciously in Robbie's direction.

"Citizen 75, it's me." Jack answered, "And this is Raw-bee."

"Robbie." the boy affably corrected.

"I don't care what that is. What's your number, Citizen?" glowered the guard, a man with a pinched nose and arched eyebrows.

"My name is Robbie. And you look like a Thomas. Not a Tom, only a Thomas." replied Robbie impertinently.

"Thomas?" mused the guard, sounding as if in a trance, "It sounds so peculiar, and yet it seems appropriate. I am Thomas."

"Thomas, can we..?" mumbled Jack, still clutching his sack.

"Absolutely not! You cannot pass until both of you are properly identified." responded Thomas gruffly, returning to his former tone. He was standing alone in the middle of road; there were no doors or gates barring the way behind him.

"I told you, my name is Robbie!" the boy said, anger mounting within him, "Why don't you let us pass?"

"It is strictly forbidden for anyone without identification to enter Town #3. I must retain you until my superior arrives, or wait for you to leave." pinched-nosed Thomas informed about the protocol.

"And when will your superior arrive?" echoed Robbie.

"That is impossible to know for certain. And you are hardly anyone to be asking such questions." replied the haughty guard.

Robbie frowned, exasperated, and Jack shrugged, resigned. "Wait, look!" an inspired Robbie exclaimed, pointing at the sky, "It's a flying donkey!" The guard raised his eyebrows, taken aback. "Yeah, really, a winged donkey, over there!" insisted Robbie, training his eyes towards a spot in the sky behind Thomas. Both Jack and the guard turned to look at the sky, and Robbie began stepping away before returning to tug on Jack's sleeve. Pinched-nosed Thomas remained rooted to the spot, shading his eyes with his hand and gawking at the sky as Jack and Robbie ran towards Steeple Town.

After a few minutes, the pinch-nosed guard cleared his throat and asked uncertainly, "Uh, where'd you say you saw it..?" Then he turned and cursed as he realized he was alone in the middle of the road.

By this time, Robbie and Jack were approaching one of the first small farms which marked the entrance to Steeple Town. Ahead of him, Robbie could discern an uneven cobbled road which twisted into the town's main street; it was certainly not the best place for vehicles, not even for horse-drawn carriages. The houses were rather beautiful, even if unkempt and slightly decrepit; their architecture was medieval, and they preserved within their wooden shutters, worn stones and old frame a noble spirit which the overshadowing factory to the west of town could not completely subdue. It was a strange arrangement, as if someone had simply forsaken three hundred years of development and jumped to industrialization. Robbie wondered how the townsfolk would react to his presence; so far, the reactions appeared to be polar- he had befriended Jack and run away from Thomas.

"Raw-bee, do you wanna go into town alone, or do you wanna come with me to my farm? I have a farm, they gave it to me so I could grow plants. I have to pick up something there." said Jack, interrupting Robbie's observations. To all appearances, the town was deserted; the only movement originated from the trail of factory smoke, oozing through the sky like a trickle of ink. Jack's farm, detached from the south of town by half a mile, was composed of a shabby shack and a tiny plot of land speckled with vegetation. To the east, where the sun sets and rises, the steeple beckoned; in the west abided the great factory, and to the north, away from town, the marshes glimmered like the north star.

Where is Robbie headed? To marshes in the north; to the farm in the south; into town, heading westwards; or into town, heading eastwards? Or somewhere else?

Don't forget to add this storygame to your favorites. Nominate it for Storygame of the Month, too. :D
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Crossfire



Joined: 07 Apr 2007
Posts: 479
Location: Somewhere between here and not-here, now and not-now... in the half-light, the borderlands, between.

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:07 pm    Post subject:  

On a quick glance, what I suggest is that you split the first paragraph after 'hunchback' and the second-last paragraph after carriage, so as to make it easier to read. This looks like a promising start from an accomplished author on IF and I do agree that it has a somewhat cleaner feel than many of your other stories. :o

I can't really think of a decent response to the DP just yet, although I would probably go for into town, heading east, if I thought about it. Give me a little while and I'll try to rustle something up, 'k? :)
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Mephistopheles



Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 612
Location: Not where I want to be.

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:27 pm    Post subject:  

I would suggest that you have robbie hang with jack. he can show him around and explain things, maybe guide him to other people that would be friendly and receptive to a stranger. then he learn why his deceased bro sent him there, maybe.
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8809
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:18 pm    Post subject:  

Well, nicely written again D. I'm not quite sure about just giving people names straight off like that though, it seems a bit rude:

"What's your name?"

"I'm Tom."

"You look like a Jack."

"Well you look like a dick, want to make something of it?"

;)

Anyhoo, I f5 Messy, lets take things slowly and see what's what. The farmhouse, damn straight.

BTW: This tale reminded me of a kids story in a way, everything seemed very simple and straightforward. I'm guessing you intended it that way though.
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:27 pm    Post subject:  

Chinaren wrote: Well, nicely written again D. I'm not quite sure about just giving people names straight off like that though, it seems a bit rude:

"What's your name?"

"I'm Tom."

"You look like a Jack."

"Well you look like a dick, want to make something of it?"

;)

Anyhoo, I f5 Messy, lets take things slowly and see what's what. The farmhouse, damn straight.

BTW: This tale reminded me of a kids story in a way, everything seemed very simple and straightforward. I'm guessing you intended it that way though.

It is a bit rude. But Robbie is a kid, and they can sometimes do that. I know I've given people unwanted nicknames sometimes. Like this kid who's name was Richard, I just started calling him Nick. But you're right, it is impertinent. And the more Robbie does this, the more powerful he will believe himself to be. Pretty soon, Robbie will begin to make up other things, and not just names.

And yes, I intended it to be very simple and straightforward. Yet soon it will grow twisted. ;)

Thanks for reading, China.
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8809
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:29 pm    Post subject:  

Ah yes. I'd forgotten he was young. In that case it fits well. o-)
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:20 pm    Post subject:  

Alright D, I've read it and here's what I think...

I like the simplicity of the tale so far and you're keeping things well on track. You've managed to give us helpful history on the character without overloading us and you've given us a mindset for Robbie that works for a kid. Keep it like this and I think you're going to have a successful story on your hands.

Now as for the DP, as much as Robbie might want to go haring off and explore he's probably smart enough to know to stay close. And I, for one, am interested in what Jack has to pick up from his farm.
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Aponi



Joined: 29 Nov 2007
Posts: 51
Location: "Calderia"

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:40 am    Post subject:  

I think a flying donkey ought to show up for real - let's give Robbie's imagination some practical applications! :-)

I think Robbie is going to stay with Jack - Jack is weird, but he's friendly, and pretty soon Robbie's sense of adventure could wear off and he'll need a friend.

Questions: Why does there need to be a guard? Is there a history of war? Perhaps something to do with the gap between architectural style and the industrialization? Have foreigners recently come in and changed things from a pre-industrial society to an industrial slave nation reminiscent of Orwell's 1984?

Nitpicks: If you're going to primarily use third-person POV with Robbie as your focus character (you don't show the thoughts of other characters, but you do show Robbie's thoughts, though without telling the entire story from Robbie's first-person POV) you may want to consider editing a few words in your second draft - "lest" "emaciated" "eclipsed" "avert"... your authorial voice is messing with your narrative voice a little - which is probably what makes it easy to forget the protagonist is a kid.

Other stuff: Robbie has a charming, quirky, bold personality - and he's fairly naive, which makes him interesting and keeps me just a bit worried about his safety. There isn't a single really safe thing he could do at this point, and he's not going to realize that he's in trouble until he's really in it deep.

Good story!
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NeverNeverGirl



Joined: 18 Jun 2007
Posts: 1216
Location: dreaming away of tomorrows to come

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:25 pm    Post subject:  

Okay D i say go to the farm.

What is he growing out there?

as for aponi's questions about the guard.... lets explore and figure it out rather than wanting all the details right out..

breadcrumbs my friend breadcrumbs!
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:33 pm    Post subject:  

Chapter 2 Polling!

This poll is limited to four options, so rather than waste time, I am posting it now. Hopefully, there will be a clear leading option by friday, and I can close it and begin writing the next chapter.

Rai- Thank you for the encouragement.

Aponi- you have a knack for pinpointing my weaknesses, and I am thankful for that. So far, you are providing the best commentary on this story. Keep it up and you might receive an award! ;)

Your questions will be answered in due time; even so, you are thinking in the right direction. I was hoping that the details I included in the story would lead readers to ponder these questions.

I will be more careful to make the POV more consistent throughout the next story. By the way, did you notice I followed your advice concerning the adverbs?

Quote: Robbie has a charming, quirky, bold personality - and he's fairly naive

This is a good general statement. I will keep it in mind.

Quote: I think a flying donkey ought to show up for real - let's give Robbie's imagination some practical applications

Don't get ahead of me! :D

NeNe- He's obviously growing marihuana. Drugs should always form part of any comprehensive child's tale. Robbie will learn the thrill of smoking... hey- preteens smoking marihuana- what story does that remind me of? ;)

Also, I'd appreciate a nomination for SGotM! :)
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The Dark



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 108
Location: Tome.

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:19 pm    Post subject:  

The marshes.

An area of nightmare for the young and naive, filled with all the childish terrors of the night that will twist and corrupt the innocent, turning them away from the path of light.

Thus The Dark votes.
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:37 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: Iím not sure if you meant it, but Jack sorta sounds a little mentally retardedÖ unsure if this was your intent, I was left in a gap there trying to figure out how his voice must have sounded

Not specifically mentally retarded, but obviously he hasn't had an education, and he's not especially intelligent either.

Poll Closed.

Which direction does Robbie choose?
South- accompany Jack to his farm.
57% [ 4 ]
East- through the town, towards the steeple.
14% [ 1 ]
West- through the town, towards the factory.
0% [ 0 ]
North- explore the marshes.
28% [ 2 ]

Total Votes : 7

South- Accompany Jack to his farm... wins. :cool:

I will begin writing the next chapter today.
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NeverNeverGirl



Joined: 18 Jun 2007
Posts: 1216
Location: dreaming away of tomorrows to come

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:20 pm    Post subject:  

DAMN did i even get to vote

*tries to remember*

and i may be way off base Zephyr but i imagine the voice of billy bob thornton in Sling Blade..

'French Fried pohtahtoahs.. mmhmmm' lol

if you havent seen it you wont get it.
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