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Crimson

Red Star PG-13 Fortnightly Fiction

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#1 Offline L'Etranger

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Posted Oct 06 2012 - 03:37 PM

Crimson

It rules the night sky, it hides and plots when the red fingers of dawn rise above the horizon, vying for a position in the world above. Crimson at night, Crimson at morn, there is no respite from the color of blood, save the hours of day. And they are not enough. I spend my time watching, always watching, for the return of the red orb that haunts me always. As I stare at it tonight, the night I will, the night I must decide, it is no longer a curse, but a companion. A friend when no others comfort, a consular when no others give advice. When I first decided to listen to its advice, advice I then thought unkind commands, I had regrets. I wept, I hid, and I cursed it and its help in my ignorance, in my folly. But now… Now, I realize the errors of my way. I realize how wrong, how terribly, terribly wrong I have been. And I weep. I weep, for I did not listen sooner. I weep, for I did not escape this world at an earlier time, but refused to accept the truth in my foolishness.And so now I make amends, now I give myself to the beacon of light in the black void above me, the crimson salvation I love and trust. There are footsteps behind me, the sound of heavy breathing, the marching of boots, the swaying of the tall grass in this peaceful, tranquil field. In my hands is the way to eternal peace, and lo and behold; It is crimson as well!The first time I accepted the beacon of crimson, this enabler of tranquility was with me, in my hands as it is now. But it was not the color. It was not red. They didn’t understand, they begged me to stop, they tried to convince me that I was the one who didn’t have knowledge, that I was without wisdom. But I believed in the beacon, I believed in the one that is crimson, and I still believe, I believe more than ever.Grasping my aide, my helper and the servant of the beacon above, I realize that the color of my savior is no longer only on my helper. It covers my arms, splatters of it are located on my face. It is a badge of my salvation, and a badge I will wear proudly. With a final cry of euphoria, born from the beacon above, I plunge the aide into my heartlight, and the beacon covers me, carrying me skyward, now part of it as well. I join the Red Star above, and find eternal serenity.The Guard found him sprawled among the tall grass, a knife plunged through his shattered heartlight, blood stained almost every inch of his body, as crimson as the Red Star above, twinkling steadily in the shadowy void. His face was frozen in a smile of pure ecstasy, his glazed eyes staring upwards. His hands, stained crimson from his own blood, were frozen, his fingers curled in the grass, a sign of final struggle.The night sky, black and sparkling white, was stained with a streak of red, as was the field below. But they both ignored these dots, they both forgot how they were tarnished with crimson, the color of blood.

Edited by Lord Darkon, Oct 06 2012 - 09:08 PM.

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#2 Online Tolkien

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Posted Oct 12 2012 - 05:42 PM

Hey Lord Darkon, an Official SSCC Review is coming. Prepare yourself.First impressions: a good piece of flash fiction—fitting for the nature of the contest and for the theme itself. I thought this was a very unique take on the concept of the Red Star. The fact that the Red Star has become, to some extent, an “afterlife” for Bionicle characters has certainly opened up a variety of possibilities for story-telling, and you’ve developed one of those possibilities in a chilling and evocative manner here. The slow revelation of the true nature of your main character is well-paced and effective, and I especially enjoyed the vivid imagery with which the star and your character’s surroundings are described. The inner-dialogue of the narrative also works rather well in presenting the crazed and off-kilter mindset of the Matoran. All in all, well done.-------------Of course, this wouldn’t be a critique without some criticism, would it?Due to the short nature of flash-fiction, it’s not necessarily as relevant to suggest that the story should have been longer—that’s not the point of flash fiction. However, in this case, I do think that a bit more detail would have made this story better. There is definitely the implication that the Matoran didn’t only kill himself (i.e. he’s some kind of serial killer), but it wasn’t developed much beyond a few lines. As a reader, I was expecting there to be a revelation on that account (maybe related more to the Matoran’s identity), but it didn’t happen. This aspect of the story could easily be added in a few lines, perhaps in the ending sequence with the guard (maybe he recognizes the Matoran?). Otherwise, I don’t have any other suggestions regarding the plot itself.In terms of the writing structure, as mentioned, I thought the story was well-paced overall. I didn’t catch any typos, so bravo there. But I did notice a few lines that felt somewhat awkward and which might benefit from rewording, as follows:

As I stare at it tonight, the night I will, the night I must decide, it is no longer a curse, but a companion.

Actually, I’m not quite sure if this was a typo or if the intended meaning of “will” here is something like “I will it to happen”. Either way, it reads awkwardly.

And I weep. I weep, for I did not listen sooner. I weep, for I did not escape this world at an earlier time, but refused to accept the truth in my foolishness.

I understand that the repetition here is most likely purposeful, but in this case it doesn’t flow very well. I would actually suggest removing the second “I weep”: “And I weep, for I did not listen sooner. I weep, for I did not escape...” That way, the repetition is actually placed on “I weep, for...” and the narrative moves a bit more smoothly.

In my hands is the way to eternal peace, and lo and behold; It is crimson as well!

This is more of a stylistic thing, but I would suggest using a colon here, instead of a semi-colon, due to the nature of “lo and behold”. Semi-colons are generally used to connect closely-related clauses of the same type (e.g. “The man was tall; his hair was red.”) while colons are used to introduce and set off whatever follows them. In that sense, “lo and behold” almost requires a colon.

It covers my arms, splatters of it are located on my face.

First, I’d suggest putting a semi-colon or a period between the two clauses here. Second, the phrase “are located on my face” feels really formal compared to the rest of the prose. You might even simplify this to “It covers my arms and face”.

The Guard found him sprawled among the tall grass, a knife plunged through his shattered heartlight, blood stained almost every inch of his body, as crimson as the Red Star above, twinkling steadily in the shadowy void.

The second comma (i.e. between “heartlight” and “blood”) should technically be a period. Also, the phrasing at the end of the passage could be clarified a bit: “twinkling steadily above in the shadowy void” feels like it’s actually modifying “blood”. Maybe reword as follows:“Blood stained almost every inch of his body, as crimson as the Red Star that hung above, twinkling steadily...”

The night sky, black and sparkling white, was stained with a streak of red, as was the field below. But they both ignored these dots, they both forgot how they were tarnished with crimson, the color of blood.

Let me just say, I love the final image here. The night sky and the field are stained with red. It’s a great juxtaposition, and I (believe that I) understand what is being conveyed, but the grammar is a bit odd. The antecedent of “they” in the second sentence is ambiguous. I assume it’s referring to the sky and the field together. I’m not quite sure what the “dots” are though. Are the dots the streaks of red? That should be clarified. If my interpretation is correct, I’d suggest simply rewording as follows:“Both sky and field ignored these dots...”------------And that’s where I’ll end it. Once again: a very well written piece of short fiction. With a few slight adjustments, I think it’ll be that much more effective. Well done.JRRT

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#3 Offline L'Etranger

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Posted Oct 15 2012 - 02:47 PM

Thank you very, very much for this review. As always, a critic from the SCC has made me want to strangle myself for not noticing some glaring errors. My thanks for your very-much appreciated opinion on this story. I'm glad you thought the idea was unique, and that you appreciated the detail, something I feared I added to much of. I agree that the story was a bit short; I could have fleshed it out a bit more and reached 800 words. The fact that you've given me so many typos that I can't fix in the main topic is both appreciated and infuriated(But mostly appreciated), and I'll definitely change the story's original form to fix these.Once again, thank you for such an excellent, detailed, and constructively criticistic review, I appreciate the fact you devoted time to review my story immensely.
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