Author Topic: Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.  (Read 1224 times)

Offline ablelaz

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Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.
« on: July 03, 2011, 09:34:53 AM »
Revenge of a Nerd --- by ablelaz.

George Chouse rolled out of bed, Monday morning about eleven o’clock. It was an hour later than was his customary hour of rising. 

George was considered a nerd. Oh he knew—even though he wasn’t sure just what was meant by the term.

It had to do with a person’s education, he thought, specifically education in the sciences. There was a social issue of course—it’s hard to react to people, who don’t have the education level to understand. George’s considered reaction to this problem was to ignore those he felt were his inferiors.

George was challenged in so far as communication on an oral level was concerned. It was the one and only facet of education he couldn’t master. The few times he had tried were etched in his memory, in horrific proportions. George was tongue tied—the very thought of public speaking terrified him.

Since leaving university with a master in medical science, George was working on a master serum. He had won critical acclaim based mainly on his written submissions.

His professional papers were flawless, generally accepted without question, such were his credentials. 

 The reaction of the academic world was, if anyone can create a super serum it would be George. That won him a research grant of respectable proportion. Seven years had passed since his first grant and it had been renewed several times, but now it was being questioned, money was becoming scarce to say the least.

George traced most of his problem to the feet of Alex Baker. He graduated from university the same year George had, but with a BA in political science and a master’s in public speaking.

Now the cancellation of George’s pet project was in the wind, fueled largely by Alex Baker and his gift of the gab. There was little he could do about it. Alex spoke elegantly against the project, arguing that we were throwing good money after bad.   

Well, he thought, there was one chance to save this project; he would have to push up the human trials. The trials have passed both the rodent and monkey stages, human trials were all that was needed. He had hoped to do some in-depth checks and reviews first, but thanks to Alex Baker that was no longer an option.
Scratching his butt, he waddled to the bathroom of his loft. It was the upper floor of a trendy warehouse and sported three bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and a rather spacious lab/work shop.  Looking in the mirror, he was always shocked by his own refection. ‘If ugly was a million dollars you would be a person of incredible wealth,’ he told his refection.

Looks and appearance were things beyond his control, so he ignored them, but he couldn’t help wondering how perfection, could be packaged in such an unbecoming shell.

George walked south on Brant St. It was just a few blocks to the slums where homeless people would be available. George was rather particular in regards to his choice of a human for the final test. It couldn’t be some mindless wreck—no the specimen would have to be rather high functioning, someone who could at least communicate logically.

He wandered around for an hour without running across anyone with the grey cells necessary to paste two words together. Disappointed he sat on a bench in what the City Administration laughingly called a park. It was in reality a vacant space between two buildings created when a restaurant burned down. No one was interested in rebuilding on what could only be called wine-o-street.

There was a diner just across the street, so George decided to have a bite before resuming his search. When he stood up he noticed a man sitting on the stone wall that ran along the front of the park. He was rocking back and forth, both his hands firmly clasped to his head. George headed toward the restaurant, but when he drew near the man he stopped.
             “What’s the matter pal—you got a headache or something?” The man looked up at him through blood shot eyes.

“Yea, it’s not unusual, I get one every time I go without food for more than three days.”

“I’m sure you have your problems, hell I have some of my own. I’m going across the street for a bite—come on the food will do you good and perhaps we can solve each others problems for a while.”

“I haven’t any money?”

“Oh never mind. It’s on me.”

The strange duet crossed the road and entered the diner.

George watched his guest leaf through the menus several times, but still no selection.

He waved the waitress over.

“My guest seems to be having a hard time deciding what he wants. He is perhaps a little overwhelmed by the scope of your offerings. Maybe you could recommend something—well if you don’t know what’s good who does?”

The waitress reached across to the menu and pointed to the beef stew.

“That is without a doubt the best bang for your buck. Thick rich gravy, lots of meat and an interesting selection of vegetables all in a large bowl, you can’t go wrong.” The street man was nodding eagerly and pointing to the stew.

“Two bowls of stew, two orders of bread and butter, oh yea coffees please.”

George was genuinely concerned about the welfare of his potential lab rat, but certainly not to the extent of seeing his passion of over seven years fail. What’s the value of a human life—when weighed against the betterment and welfare of society as a whole?

The man’s reaction to the food was not what George expected. He seemed almost aloof, slowly savoring the flavor of the food. He seemed to genuinely enjoy the food, but at a slow and measured pace.

“I would have expected you to wolf your food, seeing that you have been without for so long.”

“I don’t know why I would do that. I know what its like to be without food and I don’t like it, so why would you expect me to hurry back to it?”

“Yes I can see your point. Maybe when we are finished you would accompany me to my lab where can discuss our individual problems and how we might assist each other.”

“I’m more interested in the possibility of another helping of stew right now.”

“Of course, when ever you’re ready signal the waitress.”

George wondered why he was reluctant to learn this man’s name. Was it tied to the fact that he was trying to exploit him?  It’s after all a lot easier to use and abuse someone you don’t know, than it is to stab a friend in the back. What in the hell did he know about friendship, at just short of thirty-five years old, he couldn’t even remember a friendship. Even as a child he was on the outside of the loop, the nerd that just didn’t fit in—well when this serum is proven we shall see who fits in.

George was brought back to reality with a jolt. The street man was examining him, like he was some kind of specimen.

“You okay pal?—gee you were in the other world there for a while. I sometimes go there myself, often wondered what it would be like if I never came back.”

As the two men walked back to George’s living quarters/lab they were indeed a study in contrast. George dressed in the latest fashion, still managed to look seedy, while his slim almost gaunt companion, dress in rags almost looked regal.

Back in the loft George got right to business

“I’m rather anxious to get this underway. Here’s what I expect and need from my volunteer. Let me finish first, then I will answer any questions you may have. I have been working on a super serum, one that would render those taking it, immune to all known diseases. I have been working on this serum for about seven years and I believe success is at hand. All the tests I have subjected this serum to have been satisfactory. Mice, rats, dogs and yes even moneys have all been tested and found disease free.

The next step is for human tests. Normally human tests take upward of seven years, sometimes even decades to get approved and quite frankly, I just don’t have that kind of time available.”
“What do I get for doing this?”

“I’m offering five thousand dollar and that’s very generous considering that there is no risk involved in these tests, at least in my humble opinion.”
“Okay what are you going to do to me?”

I will inject you with a dose of my serum combined with a sedative. It will take one hour for your body to completely absorb the serum. I will after two hours infect you with Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A & B and a rather nasty strain of Flue. At four hours I will test you and find you are free of any of the nastiness I have exposed you to. Then I will wait until you come out of the sedative, so we can celebrate a great success.”

“Hell! I have little to lose, let get on with it.”

“First I want you to take a bath. I will lay out a pair of pajamas. I think they will fit you well enough to cover the essential areas. When your done I will get you to sign a consent form and then we will be hours away from fame and fortune.

George went to the kitchen pour himself a cup of coffee, sat down and then pinch himself just to be sure this was reality. Seated at the table drinking coffee George could barely contain himself. Already plans of a gigantic celebration were being formulated in his mind. Rummaging around in a cupboard he found an almost forgotten bottle of bourbon. He poured a generous shot of the fiery liquid into his cup, smiled and raised his cup in a silent toast.
Finally on his third lap around the kitchen, the sound of the shower finally became silent. George forced himself to wait until the man had time to get into bed. Then armed with the consent form he made his way to the bed room.

The change a bath made to this man was dramatic to say the least. Gone were the deep angular lines, sharply imbedded in his filth incrusted face. His whole persona was so dramatically changed he could have been a different person.

George pointed out on the form, where he needed to print his name and where his signature was required.

He prepared the hypodermic shots, while glancing at the name on the form: Arthur Gant, so the mystery man, now had a name.

With time to kill George was too antsy to just sit and wait. A couple of circuits around the kitchen and he was off. He walked several block till he found a men’s clothing store that was not top of the line. A pimply face attendant who looked like he was the result of not enough education and too many sweets, greeted him.
“May I serve you sir?”

“Yes I want a complete outfit for a man with a thirty-two waist and a thirty-one inseam. Two pair of socks and underwear, one each of the rest, pants, shirt, spring jacket and winter coat.” The purchases came to just a little less than a hundred and forty dollar. George pay by cash and took a receipt.

He glanced nervously at his watch as he hurried home. The two hour deadline for the next injection was drawing near and although the timing wasn’t that important, it was an insult to George’s work ethic to prolong it.

The shot was given fifteen minutes late and the clock started counting down to the climax.

The sandwich was as much a nervous habit as it was a sign of hunger. Coffee and sandwich in hand he paced the limits of his rather small kitchen. The time seemed to have stopped.

Glancing at his computer, George thought that was a good way to kill time. He called up a poker game and waited fifteen minutes until an opening appeared at the table. One thousand dollar stake and a participation fee of two dollar was the cost of playing.

George was smart enough to realize he wasn’t a good gambler, but he also realized he was a much better player on line then he was in person. He could count cards pretty good and without his presences, his excitement was invisible.

He played as a means of passing time, rather then a real interest in the game, but an hour and a half later when he punched the bank/exit button, he was a rather impressive winner.

Scooping up the needle and vials necessary to draw blood samples he hurried in to the patient’s room.

Ten minutes later he was in the lab running tests on the samples. George was a no stranger to the procedure, but when he got perfect results, he reran the tests just to make sure.

George, back in the kitchen laid down the test results, as if he was presenting a copy of his homework, to a very strict teacher.  Just as Georges’s excitement was nearing the uncontrollable stage, he heard a sound from the bedroom.

Rushing into the room, George found his charge sitting on the edge of the bed.

“We have succeeded; the serum is everything we could have expected. We will be famous Arthur.” George stop, all of a sudden aware, that Arthur’s reaction to the information was not normal.


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Re: Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2011, 07:05:05 PM »
You frontloaded the work with backstory, backstory, and more backstory. While I'm tempted to lineout like crazy, I suspect that'll make you burn me in effigy.

Instead, I recommend you start around here:

“I’m offering five thousand dollar and that’s very generous considering that there is no risk involved in these tests, at least in my humble opinion.”

I also found your dialogue to be a bit . . . unrealistic. Humans rarely speak in perfect, clipped sentences.


Offline jvk1120

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Re: Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2011, 12:45:57 AM »
You really need to proof this better before posting.  I stopped reading after a few hondred words...

your  /  you're

pinch  / pinched

Dialouge with a quotation mark to start but none at the end of the dialouge...

and Wolfe is right about the unrealistic conversation...I'm not buying it either.

Offline Mickey D

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Re: Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2011, 05:25:52 AM »
I have recently been working on building up on back story for my characters and this is a good example, following George's like at a pace like this makes from the intro to him searching for human test subjects makes the time almost seemless but with great amount of information obtained about the character is what has me hooked.

However I do have to agree on the punctation and spelling errors points from jvk1120 and the dialogue did seem a tad unrealistic but at first i saw it as how Geroge speaks, showing his intellect through crisp clear sentences.

A good tip to remember his proof read and proof read. After i finished one of my redone novels i proof read it and the task did take time but as long as you are confident in that you proof read it at all and now where in the story it is a bit weak then aleast you patched it up best you could.

Offline Butterfly21

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Re: Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2011, 05:59:35 AM »
I think the opening is kinda, eh.

Don't really get why him waking up an hour earlier than usual is a big deal. Customary too, sounded weird.

I don't like how you say, he is considered a nerd. It's too telly.
Just show me he's a nerd by his appearance, awkwardness, his textbooks or something. I'll figure out he's a nerd when he's searching for test subjects.

Also, I think the dialogue is too long in parts and doesn't flow as naturally as it could. You should shorten bits. It's also ok to use sentence fragments as dialogue, because its a natural way people speak. I don't mean to make every second sentence a fragment, but the sentences of dialogue are soo long I run out of breath half way through and just skip to the next line.

All just my opinion. Good story though.  :)

Offline junel

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Re: Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2011, 11:34:06 AM »
Hello ablelaz,

well, you begin with George getting out of the bed, that's not done these days I'm afraid.

From then on it reads like an account of George's life as though he'd passed away. Considering he's your mc, that's not good.

If your familiar with 'showing', what you could do is open with action and put the reader straight into the story. And all the 'backstory' you can work-in as and when it becomes relevant, but I'll think you'll find most of the begining of your story isn't actually needed, after all, it is a short story right, so why would we need to know every little detail of George's past life.

I think there maybe a good story lurking in there somewhere, just a matter of getting it across to the reader.

Good luck.


Offline Kowboy

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Re: Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2011, 01:20:53 AM »
Better'n most of the stuff I read here.

Offline Butterfly21

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Re: Short story --- part one, of two. about 2200 words.
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2011, 05:26:15 AM »
If your familiar with 'showing', what you could do is open with action and put the reader straight into the story. And all the 'backstory' you can work-in as and when it becomes relevant, but I'll think you'll find most of the begining of your story isn't actually needed, after all, it is a short story right, so why would we need to know every little detail of George's past life.

I agree.  :)