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David Foss

Anyone who enjoys reading sci-fi

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Due to Akuma's constant nagging, I've agreed to post a section of a story that I'm intending to get published. Take a read and let me know what you all think. Please note that I've already copyrighted this material.

It's my first spin at writing something suspenseful. Please let me know if I was successful or not

Akuma: And he's scared to push the New Topic Button...Low self esteem and all... Isn't he cute? *presses button*

--

Lance slowly opened his eyes. Goodin was looking at him, but something was wrong. As he looked past her, his eyes focused, not on the viewscreen, but instead on the ceiling of the bridge.

Then he realized what had happened.

“I passed out?”

Goodin nodded. “Thought we’d lost you there for a minute, sir. You had us pretty worried.” She whispered.

Her voice sounded strange, then he saw the short-range communications headset that she was wearing. He had one as well. She was whispering for some reason. Then, without warning, the entire ship shook around them. He was instantly alert, coming to his feet and about to bark his first orders. Then, the blood rushed from his head, and he nearly fell back into his chair. Goodin steadied him, then sat him down easily.

“We’re in the nebula, sir. All main systems are shut down and we’re holding position about two minutes past the perimeter.”

“Distance?” Lance said, as the rush of memories came back to him. Oddly enough, he was whispering too.

“Unknown. I had to clock it. Sensors are useless with this new shielding.”

“How long have I been out?”

“Only a few minutes. I sent for a medical team.”

The ship shook hard again. Lance fought the urge to start barking orders.

“What is that?”

“Unknown as well, sir. I’m guessing, but it’s probably a new kind of weapon. It’s either not very accurate, or it’s blowing up all the other ships before it targets us.”

“Pleasant thought.” Lance said.

Chel spoke up. “Sir, I’m somewhat familiar with the old wartime tactics from the mid-twentieth century. To target submarines, surface vessels would use something called a depth charge. It was also inaccurate, but it didn’t have to be accurate in order to inflict damage.”

The ship jolted again, nearly throwing Lance out of his chair once more.

“What are you saying, Chel?”

“We’re in a nebula, and according to my earlier scans, it doesn’t have much in the way of oxygen. What if they are using something similar to depth charges? If one of our ships is damaged, and their sensors can penetrate far enough into the nebula…”

Lance swore softly to himself, finishing the young officer’s thoughts. “Then it won’t matter if they can see us or not. They’ll see the oxygen or a surge of other gas from the breach, and it’ll pinpoint our exact position.”

“We’re sitting ducks, sir.”

There was nothing left to be done. All they could do was wait and hope. “Then let’s just sit tight and see what happens. With luck, we’ll sit low enough that they’ll keep missing.”

Another jolt, this one harder than any of the others. Abruptly, the feeling shifted, though. Lance instantly recognized the trademark of space travel as he drifted up from his chair.

“Gravity’s gone.” Goodin reported, buckling herself into her chair.

“I noticed, Goodin, thank you.” Lance said calmly, placing his feet against the ceiling and pushing off, guiding himself back into his chair. “Are we hit?”

“I don’t think so, sir.” Goodin said. “Just a close call.”

“Let’s hope they don’t get any closer.”

***

Franks flinched as the ship jolted under her. She was hanging on to a console, hoping that she wouldn’t be thrown into a bulkhead. With the gravity generators gone, it was a lot easier to get seriously hurt, especially in the hangar. Sparks was beside her, just as scared as she was. They heard a sharp hiss, and for a moment, they both thought there had been a breach. But there was nothing beyond the hiss. No steady whisper of escaping air, no sharp bang or crunch. Then, she heard something awful. Another jolt threatened to tear Franks from her console, and a terrible groan sounded from overhead. Sparks and Franks both looked around wildly, trying to find the source of the noise.

Nothing. Then the worst thing happened. The seconds ticked by, and the ship jolted again. Several consoles overloaded, throwing people clear only to slam into walls or ceilings, even the floors.

Then, suddenly, she could see nothing. Franks looked around, trying without success to see what was happening. She still heard noises, but she couldn’t see anything.

I’m dead. She thought. Explosive decomression. I didn’t feel a thing. I’m dead.

No, if she was still hearing things, then she was still very much alive. “Sparks?” She called out. Her voice sounded so tiny, and she realized there was no way to keep the fear out of her voice. She wished she had been able to at least hide some of it. But it was all there. She was terrified beyond words.

“I’m here, Caroline. We’re gonna be fine, don’t worry.”

“I’m blind!”

“You’re not blind, Caroline. The lights are out. Just calm down, everything’s gonna be okay.”

She had been panicking about being blind. Now she wished she was. That would have been better than this. Her eyes were still open, still seeing, but she was seeing nothing. That was the worst feeling she had ever had. To die here, in the dark, knowing that people were around, floating through the huge hangar bays. She imagined being the last one, unable to see anything, bodies drifting around her, even right past her, not making a sound.

Even bumping into her, and she would never be able to tell who was alive and who was dead.

Then she screamed.

***

Menkowski tried desperately to fight back the fear. Not now. This will not happen now! There’s too much to do. I’m not letting them down now. I don’t care if you’re afraid of the dark, Steven. Every soldier is afraid of something. You just happen to be afraid of the very thing that’s making it impossible to do your job. But there’s no choice, old friend. You’ve got to get through this or it’ll be dark forever.

He shouldn’t have said that. Sweat beaded on his forehead. He couldn’t tell how much of it was perhaps floating, because he couldn’t even see his hand in front of his face.

Okay, just pretend. See the engineering section. You are at the main console. The utility closet is real close to you. It’s just behind you.

Well, so is the entrance to the cooling room. Never really spent much time in there. If you float in there, you’ll never find your way out again.

Shut up!

What? It’s true, Steven. You’ll eventually hit a wall – or a body – and you won’t even know which way you’re pointed.

Steven shook his head. Of all the childish things to do in an emergency, he was talking to himself. Not only that, but he was talking back to himself.

“I’m getting too old for this crap.” He muttered out loud.

“Sir?” One of his engineers asked.

“Nothing, Lieutenant. Just stay where you are.”

“Aye, sir.”

Menkowski pushed off from the console, arms spread wide, hoping that if he was off, one arm or the other would catch the corner of the corridor leading to the reactor cooling system.

He floated for what seemed like forever. For a moment, he thought he’d floated right through a breach in the hull. He imagined himself, tumbling, unable to breathe, watching the Excalibur drift away during the agonizing thirty seconds that it took to die from exposure to the vacuum.

He would have shaken that thought off eventually. He would have been able to redirect his mind into thinking of something else. Fortunately, the lack of site caused his mind to misinterpret the distance to the utility closet.

Unfortunately, he had been right on course. With his arms flung wide to catch the corners of a corridor if he was off, he had forgotten that he had nothing but his face to catch the wall with if he was on course. His fear was sniped by the sudden pain from his nose making contact with the wall. He continued forward, legs and back pivoting up for him to make a successful, if ungraceful, landing against the far wall.

He felt along the wall, finding the catch for the utility closet and pulling it open.

He swung around the door, finally grabbing one of the engineering tool kits from the bottom of the closet.

Wait a minute… The kits are at the top of the closet. He checked his mental map of engineering, then realized he was upside down. He reached around to his head – the bottom of the closet – and felt his hand close around the comforting grip of one of the utility lights.

With a cry of triumph, he pulled it free and switched it on.

Nothing.

Terror threatened to freeze him as he tried again. He moved the switch back, then switched the light on again.

Nothing.

Frantically, on the edge of complete loss of control, Menkowski reached back into the closet, pulling another light. He tried again.

Nothing.

He tried every light in the closet, finally pulling the last out of thirty lights. He switched the light on.

Nothing.

Menkowski simply floated there, thumbing the switch on and off again, completely oblivious to the engineer he had been talking to. Completely unaware of his frantic voice, asking what was wrong. All he heard was the hollow clicking sound from the utility light as he vainly switched it on and off.

Click. Click. Click. Click…

--

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Guest Commander Hamblin

Want an honest critique, or do you want me to stroke your ego?

You never know, they could be one and the same.

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Honest opinions are preferred by far. I'm trying to figure out whether or not I should rewrite it.

Anyways, time for bed. Thanks for your replies, guys. Wasn't expecting them so soon!

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This is one of the few and far between topics that Foss has actually posted. I for one am impressed that he went throught with this. I've read his entire story which currently consists of sixty two pages all standard size font etc etc. It's very difficult for him to show his work.

This story is one of the reasons why he's not on this board very often...Well that and he's a perfectionist. ^_^

I expect to see some good critiquing and comments (maybe even some bad ones if they're to help him) On here! He's away for the enitre day and probably won't see this! Let's move it people!

GO FOSS!!!!!

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Well, if you want some tips, here you go:

-Get rid of references to a "viewscreen". That is WAY overdone in sci-fi these days. Change it to something new and interesting or get rid of it altogether. I mean, I just can't see why any futuristic ship would have a screen to show them, well, absolutely nothing. You'd think they'd be using more technological methods rather than relying on sight.

-Story-wise, I can't really help you there. You more or less just posted a random scene.

-More physical detail. When the ship was shaking (consider using the word "jolt" or some varient thereof), there was plenty of detail regarding what was happening to the personnel, but not to their environment. The best way to incorporate physical detail is to tell it from the eyes of the charactor. For example, I'll take a line from your story and add some surrounding to it:


Her voice sounded strange, then he saw the short-range communications headset that she was wearing. He had one as well. She was whispering for some reason. Then, without warning, the entire ship jolted sharply around them.

Lance was instantly alert. Coming to his feet and preparing to bark his first orders, he noticed blood rushing from his head. The gaping wound made him feel dizzy, though not sure if it was real or imagined.

Goodin steadied him, then sat him down gently. “We’re in the nebula, sir. All main systems are shut down and we’re holding position about two minutes past the perimeter.”

Lance could hardly hear him. The pain from his head only added to the confusion that surrounded him on the bridge. He watched as crewmen scurried about, assuring that no major damage was incurred.

"Distance?" Lance finally managed with a whisper. He felt a rush of memories invade his mind.

Goodin shook his head. "Unknown. I had to clock it. Sensors are useless with this new shielding."


That should help a little, I hope. All I really did was add some surrounding to the characters. You don't want to be insanely verbose about it, however, you don't want to neglect it either.

You should also add some expression to the dialogue. You'd be surprised at how a brief "He nodded" can bring a character to life. You don't want to be too liberal with it, but don't be too conservative either. Just play the scene out in your mind when you're writing it. Whenever a character makes an expression worth noting, try to work it in.

If you want to get the novel published, here are a few things of note:

  • Keep it around 120,000 words. There's NO way you'll get a first-time novel published at a higher word count. This is due to shelf-space considerations. Publishers usually rent shelf-space at retailers. So, they will warm more to risking putting out 5 copies of your 100,000 word book on the shelf rather than 3 copies of your 150,000 word book.

  • Get a professional critique before submitting your work. Or, even better, find a good editor. Most literary agents prefer works that have been refined.

  • Don't bother going to a major publisher. They won't even touch your work unless it is submitted to them by a litarary agent.

Well, there are a few tips. Hopefully they help!

[ 07-22-2001: Message edited by: aramike ]

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Very good critisism and tips there Aramike!

I'll get Foss to read it right away! *hack cough* Heh...Got a bit of a sore throat today..had it yesterday too...

Killing it with Anticeptic to make it (And my tounge) numb and then taking Benalyn (Or whatever it's called) To kill the rest of it...

Hot dang I hate being sick ya'll....

Keep those opinions and comments coming! Foss is going to be sooo happy!

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Pretty good so far. I happen to love sci fi and science in general. If you have any physics or quantum physics questions give me an email and I'll be happy to answer them for you. I'm scetchy on the math but pretty good with the laws and I have a friend who's even better at it than I am. Other than that, I'm interested in why the lights don't work.

Patiently waiting for more

Malleus

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quote:

Other than that, I'm interested in why the lights don't work.

lol. But seriously, it really is good. It's suspenseful, and I like suspense style stuff (Stephen King, along with others).

---

Keep it up Foss! Keep us updated, on your quest to get it published! Good luck!

And if you didn't notice, I've joined ORION Fleet, and I'm in your Battle Group, sir! Hehe.

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