This is my first story, “The Fear of Knowing.” I hope you enjoy and offer me some tips, as there are things that can always be improved in this story. The first person perspective I feel fits the story, as it goes through what the main character is thinking, so please don’t complain about that.
I opened my eyes.
I began to blink, looking around for anything in the immense darkness that surrounded me.
A small shiver went spiraling down my spine. Where was I? The cold air loomed upon me, as I slowly descended in to a panic. The revelation washed upon me, an incredible horror realized.
I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know who I was. I began to think of the past, but only ended up drawing a blank. My memory was fuzzy, and I could only vaguely remember anything. I began to look for any kind of explanation in the back of my mind. I attempted to think of my personality. Would anyone I know want to put me in this situation? What manner of a guy was I before this?
I attempted to scream, yelling out for anyone who may have been in distance, but only a whimper managed to escape my throat. I coughed, but my throat was incredibly dry, and only a tiny, raspy voice managed to speak.
Feeling around, I only managed to hit some dirt and something metal… something… sharp. I could only feel one wall, covered in moss, but it seemed to be all the other walls were out of my grasp.
In my attempt to stand up, I discovered I was shackled to something… perhaps a wooden pole? It didn’t matter anyway, as I appeared to be too weak for standing. I dropped down on my knees, resting in the dirt and stone.
I was stuck.
As I lied in the dirt, I began to realize that I was going to be trapped here longer than I thought. I was alone, in a room with my own thoughts. My thoughts seemed to be my worst enemy in the moment. My imagination was running wild with new ideas, one worse than the last. What a painful life it was.
I began to search for new ideas in the back of my brain, but gave up, and went for a much simpler thing to think about.
Where the hell was I?
The first answer to pop in my head was not a pleasant one. What if I was dead? Was this the afterlife? Alone in a room, for eternity? Just to sit here, until your own thoughts tore you apart? Or perhaps, this was Hell. Then the question came back to me, what kind of person was I before this? I began look at myself, thinking. Was I a person deserving of this? What if I was? Could I have been that un-grateful, that I my fate was to be stuck in a box?
What if a maniac was holding me here? While it seemed unlikely, my thoughts jumped to conclusion after conclusion on why I was stuck. My worst fear was realized when I put my hand on my chest.
I started to panic, my eyes widening as I realized the blood was mine. It was emitting from my stomach. I had an incredibly large wound. A stab wound.
It was a clean cut into my lower stomach. The blood wasn’t coming out fast, but it was just enough to soak my shirt. It was recent.
Suddenly, both theories started to make sense.
Suddenly, it seemed like the truth was dawning upon me.
Suddenly… I didn’t want to know the truth.
If I truly was dead, I would just have to sit here for eternity? What kind of life was that? What if a murderer was holding me here, waiting for the right moment to strike me? What if, I was insane, and this was there method of curing me?!
If I was insane, why would I be in this kind of condition? In the moment, anything seemed possible.
I sure felt like I was going insane. It began to feel cramped, despite all the room around me. I couldn’t breathe, like my panic was clasping at my throat.
This truly was an endless torment. I knew in the moment that this would end up being my fate. It was the ultimate punishment. I was going to turn on myself. Our own mind will always be our worst enemy.
I stuck my head down on the stone.
Now, all that really mattered was that I was going to die here.
I started crying, a whimper echoing through the hall.
I tried my hardest to think about my life. Was it a good life? To me, it seemed like I had lived my entire life unknown to the fact that death was lurking around every corner. I never truly appreciated what I had. I just ignored all the good things in my life, and always wanted more. I wonder if I was truly successful, or if anyone loved me, or if I had a family.
I tried not to think about the rest. If I did have a family, they would be worried sick. A sharp pain began to form in my stomach. In my mind, I knew I had someone to come back to. I couldn’t give up, people were worried about me, right? Someone out there had to be looking for me. I needed to get out of here. I needed to make it back. In this moment, it didn’t matter if I was dead or insane, or even being held captive, I just needed to get out. I had a life to live, a life to complete. Death was my worst fear, and I wasn’t going to let it grab a hold of me.
I began to tug at my chain, trying to pull forward, but it proved to be worthless. I didn’t care about the truth, and wasn’t afraid of it. The truth is something we can never avoid, and we are going to have to live with, no matter how horrible it is.
I wasn’t ignoring the horrible truth in my life. At the time, it seemed like in my past life, I did ignore the truth. I cut corners, trying to avoid that big black blob of horror that was hiding in front of me the whole time. I enjoyed staying in a fantasy land, where all the problems would just vanish as I continued my life. I think we all did that. It was an idea that worked. An idea that continued to push us forward until the very day it didn’t work. The day were the truth confronted us. Today was that day for me. I was going to escape, and confront the truth on my own terms.
Even if this was Hell, or a psycho’s basement. There had to be a way out. Even if it was to some more torment, anything was better than this.
As I pulled forward one last time, I let out a shriek of pain. My leg began to burn of agony, and my chest started to explode of pain as well. The pain was a sudden wave of agony, and I couldn’t take it.
It began to dawn upon me that my ankle was twisted. It was pushed into a position of unimaginable pain. My own doing? Or perhaps the work of someone else?
The pain then started to become incredibly unbearable. Everything seemed like it was on fire. I couldn’t take it any longer, and I began to succumb to the torment.
‘No’, I began to think to myself.
Suddenly I began to feel dizzy, and rather light headed. I felt my vision get blurry, even if everything was darkness. I began to realize that I wasn’t going to make it. I had given up so easily in the moment. I rested on the floor one last time, and began to drift off. It felt like I was floating.
Floating through the darkness.
When I woke up, I coughed out blood. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Everything just seemed so… painful. I felt like a giant ball of agony drifting through darkness. I couldn’t even feel the floor, and it was right there.
At moments, I feel like I can see someone. A man opening a door, looking at me with a knife in his hand. I can no longer tell what my imagination is and what reality is. Everything just seems like a blur now.
I saw the balls of light in the corner of my eye. I knew they were there. I wasn’t going to pretend they were just my imagination. I could see them. I could hear them. They speak to me about death. They tell me that I’m going to die.
Don’t even get me started on the hands. The hands were agony. To feel them squirm on top of your face, and not even see them was torture. Some days, they are all over me. I can even hear the whispers. Horrible, indescribable whispers which sliver into my ear, planting ideas inside my head.
The snakes and bugs take some getting used do, but that’s not to say they aren’t annoying.
Time is impossible to keep track of. My mind tells me it’s been a couple of hours but it feels like months. Imagine staying in darkness for months. Just imagine. Think about how your thoughts can turn on you, and rip you apart. Think about. Just think about it.
It surprises me how quickly I’ve given up. What once seemed like the simple task now feels like an impossible dream.
I was right. My imagination was my worst enemy. Sometimes I lay here, wishing I would die, but deep down, I know that isn’t the truth. The truth really is that none of us really want to die. We all say we can accept it, but honestly, we all have the fear. We have the fear of knowing. We don’t want the truth, we don’t need the truth. Only a couple of hours ago I thought there was nothing to be afraid. Now I know that there are some things in the world that we need to ignore, to bury inside our subconscious and continue life without it.
The truth is terrifying. We should never know the truth.
Stuck down here, I should know.
‘I don’t want to die.’ I think to myself.
‘I don’t want to die!’ I repeated in my head.
I took a deep breath, as the tears rushed down my face.
I could see the light, I really could see it. A glowing red light at the end of a tunnel.
I closed my eyes and was ready to embrace death. Whatever happened, happened, whether it was to my liking or not.
I didn’t know who I originally was, but in the moment, it didn’t matter. It honestly didn’t matter.
I was going to have to face death, right then. We all are going to have to face death someday. No one can deny that. It’s just part of the truth.
It amazes me how much I’ve discovered in my agony. Even if I didn’t know who I originally was, I felt like I had learned something about myself.
I was ready to die.
My hands clenched, a rumbling happening around me, everything felt different, until it happened.
What was that?
I began to remember that I’ve heard that sound before… somewhere in the back of my mind.
Was that a… a…
The ending stays like that, with nothing else added.
A man sat down, grief upon his face. He hadn’t known what he had done.
A few hours ago, he had hit a man inside a train tunnel.
At first, he honestly didn’t realize what happened. He stopped the train, looked in to the tunnel, and dialed 911 as fast as he could.
When the cops arrived, the entire rail-way was shut down. After a thorough examination of the tunnel, they found the body. He had been run over by the train.
The train conductor realized tears were rushing to his eyes. He honestly didn’t mean to do it. He had no control. He was going to have to live with this grief the rest of his life.
The cops were confused. They didn’t understand how a man like this could end up in a train tunnel, or even stuck in a train tunnel. He was suffering a major wound to the chest, and a twisted ankle. They couldn’t draw any positive conclusion, but they did recognize the man.
The man was a part-time crook, who lived on the streets. He was kicked out of his house a couple of months back, and resorted to crime and drug use ever since. The cops didn’t know anyone who really knew him that much, so they didn’t have a lead on anything.
“Poor funeral this one’s gonna get,” said one of the cops as he wrote something down.
The conductor still couldn’t comprehend the events. The grief was too much. The horror of reality struck every bone in his body.
‘A terrible life and fate this one succumbed to’, he thought to himself.
I was lucky to get out in time. The conductor managed to see me before I was ripped to shreds.
With my life now, I can’t say I’m lucky anymore.
What happened in the tunnels changed me. I can’t look at anything the same now. Not after what I had to sit through.
Upon my escape, the cops took to me to the side. They didn’t have any clue what had happened.
A great help they were.
I was rushed to the hospital, where they treated the stab wound and my ankle for a couple of weeks.
‘What a lucky one you are’, they would say.
‘It’s amazing you’re still alive’, they would say.
In all honesty, I was not a lucky man.
The cops took me into interrogation for questioning, but I proved to be no help. I served jail time for a couple of weeks, as for I had partaken in petty crime in my past life.
Inside the jail, I learned that I was homeless. They promised me they would help me get started in life, but I didn’t believe any word of that crap. It was going to take years of counseling to get me back to normal.
The worst part of it all, are the nightmares. At night, I still feel the hands squirming around me in the darkness. I hear the honk of the train on repeat, as if it is now the chorus of my life.
The cops have also concluded that someone had to stab me.
Someone wanted me dead.
As I walk through crowds, I feel like he’s there. I can see the stares, and sometimes feel him follow me. I can never be sure. He might still be out there. I know he’s out there. The cops tell me there is nothing to worry about, but I see him everywhere now.
I see him in the supermarket, I see him in my own apartment.
I can no longer walk outside, since it seems like he is always a couple of feet away.
He might be right behind me.
I locked myself in my home. I felt like it was going to happen again. I couldn’t bear to think of ending up in a situation like that again. Everyone seems like they are out to get me.
I thought escaping would grant me a new life, a new path to walk down, but it only turned me in to a paranoid freak. I once thought I learned something in the tunnel, but I only learned that we are our own worst enemies. We will tear ourselves apart in a fit of panic if we have to.
I don’t know why I ended up down in the tunnel, and I might never know why.
But honestly, I don’t want to know the truth.
Thank you for reading, constructive criticism is welcome! Keep in mind this is my first story, and I am not the most experienced writer. Remember to vote which ending you liked the best, as only 1 will make it in to the actual story. I’m a big fan of all three of them.
Punctuation: I would suggest italicizing and putting thoughts into quotations to distinguish it from the rest of the story. Also quoted words can be in a single quotation for the same purpose. ((')What a lucky one you are,(') they would say.
(')It’s amazing you’re still alive,(') they would say.)
Wording issues: "thoughts teared (tore) you apart?", "My leg began to burn of (in) agony, and my chest started to burn (redundant, use another word) as well.", "When I woke up, I coughed out (up) blood.", "I wasn’t pretending they weren’t there." (double negative), "I was rushed to the hospital, were (where) they treated the stab wound..."
Story issues: "How did I end up in this situation? I tried to think of my personality.", The second sentence is a bit awkward and a bit of an odd jump for them to make. "The cops took me into prison for questioning" (Prison is typically for people who have already been questioned, jail/interrogation might be a better choice of words) "hear the honk (whistle) of the train on repeat," I would also suggest building up the protagonist's physical situation as well as his reflections on where he is to balance out the story a bit.
Ending it with the roar of the train with no explanation is a bit too vague and in conjunction with the man's reflections might result in too much uncertainty. I think ending two does a good job of wrapping up the story. If you want to use the third ending, I would suggest doing away with the stalker and instead imply that the man's paranoia/trauma is pursuing him and it's all in his mind as opposed to a physical person.
It's an interesting premise, but I feel like the third ending over-developes it a bit. I would enlist a bit more help and see which ending they favor and any suggestions they might have.
This is a really good idea. putting someone in the mind of someone who is going mad, or thinking they are going mad is wonderful.
There are some things that I would suggest however. There is too much left open with all three endings. The first ending was far too vague. I thought he was about to be hit by a car not a train, or even that he was inside of a trunk or something. I know that doesn't add up with the rest of the story, but I am tired and couldn't think with an ending that obscure at the moment. Sorry.
The second ending was good and most likely the best you have at the moment. I also like the idea of the man living, which I feel is always the correct way to end a first person narrative.
But there are still a lot of unanswered questions I have on the story that kind of kills it. Who is the person who had attacked him? You should make that being more known, unless his wounds are self-inflected, which would also need to be made known.
If it is a person, give a little more details about that in the end, maybe have the cops looking for a killer who has been dumping bodies on the subway tracks, something. This story is great for leaving much to the reader, but it is leaving a little too much to figure out.
The concept is really good though and you can make this a really good story. I would like to read it when it is finished.
Thank you! The first person perspective is a bit of a style choice, as I feel like it allows me to delve inside our protagonists thoughts a little better.
The ending is a little vague, but I tried my hardest to not give everything away. I personally wanted the killer to be the biggest mystery of our story, but I guess I can always add a paragraph or two in the second ending.
I know that, and you used that perspective well, the only thing that I was saying is that you shouldn't kill off the person telling the story. Although, when you ended it with the person being killed, you did switch the writing style, which is a plus.
First person perspective is a wonderful way to write, and you do it well. So let me start by saying that, I wasn't trying to tell you not to write the way that you did, because that would be a terrible suggestion.
Leaving everything vague is fine if there is going to be more to the story, like latter additions, but if it is a stand along then you should leave less to the reader, in terms of how this man had been injured, who had hunt him if anyone, how did he get into the situation he was in when he woke up.
All of these could be developed as the story progresses, this would be great for an intro to a novel or much longer story where the cops have to find the answers to these questions. Sure you can be vague with some details, but the way that nothing had been answered at the end of the story is a rather disappointing, to me at least. You build up such a good mystery, you should reward your readers with at least some answers at the end of the story.
You could also make this story longer and leave the answers at different points through out the rest. It would leave people with some closure.
I don't want to come off like I didn't like your story, because that is not the case, or that I think the way you have written this was bad, which it was not. I really like the idea of this story and how you have written it. The only thing I think it needs is some more answers.
But this is your story, write it how you would like to. If you feel like something is going to work well use it. Write what you find interesting and others will find it interesting as well. You have a talent for building tension and making mystery, which is really important in writing. This last paragraph I wrote is the most important suggest I can give you.
This was an interesting story, all in all. I like the concept quite a bit, and it certainly is an idea that could make a great story.
My main problem with the story isn't so much the way it is or some sort of problem, but more so the lack of anything truly great. I know that sounds odd, but I will explain in a bit.
The story is written well. I have my own personal nitpicks and awkward-ish sentences that I could point out, but those are mainly a matter of my own personal preference on how to word things, so I won't delve into those.
The majority of the story kept me interested, and I never felt like I was completely bored. I'm sure a couple sentences or so that just restated what was already said earlier could be shortened, but otherwise, the length is justified.
I didn't really care much about the "person" exemplified in the story, but since that is not what the story is focused on, I suppose I don't have to.
The main focus appears to be that twist, and, as others seem to have said, Ending 2 is probably the best one. Ending 1 is the most vague (but you knew that already). My problem with Ending 3 is that it feels very familiar and not too original, even when the concept in the story is actually quite new.
Ending 2 gets across the twist fine, makes the most sense, and is written the best. It definitely needs to be at least a little bit less vague, but as it is, it isn't a bad ending.
However, as I said in the beginning, the fault here is that nothing is particularly amazing. The twist here is nice, but that is really all it is. It doesn't scare me, and while it is intriguing to think about for a few seconds, it just doesn't leave much of an impression on me.
It just doesn't have much of a lasting impact, and it is a problem that I don't really know how to fix. Perhaps it is the fact that I don't care about the character and have no emotional attachment to him, or maybe the story needs stronger word choice. It is a difficult thing to approach.
One of the bigger reasons I do like Ending 2 is because it does have some more memorable word choice to go along with the twist, and that section goes that extra mile into making the story slightly more interesting to think about.
Hopefully this was of some help. If you wanted a grade out of 10, I can't really pin point exactly where. Somewhere around 7, perhaps.