Any suggestions? I want to see what people think about this before it goes up on the main wiki.
"Your situation is an unusual one, Mr. Jones."
The man wore a black hat and a black suit with shiny silver buttons. Something about them was distracting- Anthony was having a hard time focusing on his face.
"You, Mr. Jones, are dead. Heart attack, Atlanta, Georgia. 7:07 and 8 seconds EST, as you waited at a gate to board a plane to Taiwan. 36 years, 8 months."
Anthony jolted out of his stupor, trying to ignore a rapidly approaching migraine. "Dead? As in, dead dead?"
"Yes, Mr. Jones," the man said dryly, "Dead dead."
He spoke without menace, but a chill rose up Anthony's spine. "What... what happens now? Heaven? Hell?"
"That, Mr. Jones," the man said with interest, "is the reason your situation is unusual." He toyed with his watch, then resumed speaking.
"I will not burden you with the details of the normal process, but as it turns out, you aren't part of it at all. You weren't supposed to die when you did. Your life- approximately one hour of it- was removed by a... fugitive, let us say. A deviant from the normal course. He brushed past you three minutes ago Maroon suit and hat. Briefcase. You won't remember him."
"You're right, I don't. He killed me?"
"Not exactly. We're currently locating him, but the essential fact is that there's one hour of your life unaccounted for. We want it back, and we're never getting it from him... which is where you come in."
"You, Mr. Jones. You see, my influence is limited by his presence. I can find him, with a mild expenditure, but I cannot capture him. You, however, can.
My proposal is this: I will grant to you the one hour of life which you are owed. Using that one hour, you will detain him under my guidance. I will remove him to elsewhere, where he will await trial."
Anthony's mind was beginning to clear. "Wait. What do I get out of this? What's my payment?"
The man smiled. Or did he? Anthony suddenly realized he could not see the man's face, although nothing seemed to be obscuring it. He concentrated, but to no avail- his eyes could not focus correctly.
"You, Mr. Jones, will receive a percentage. A great deal of resources have been tied up in this man, you see- he has been on the run for a very long time. Over six thousand years of life. You will be paid one percent of that total: 67 years or so, to use as you see fit."
Anthony stared. "And you'll tell me what to do? It'll be as easy as that?"
The man nodded again. "You will have sixty minutes, the sixty minutes you have anyway."
"Why the time limit? Can't you give me more than that?"
A shake of the head. "We can't expend time on cases like yours. We can only give you back what was taken. Your situation is so unusual because you died so quickly after his intervention. It's a tight loophole, but technically I'm allowed to contact you in this way, then send you back. If I may be frank, I'm risking my job on this exchange."
The room was beginning to fade. Or had it been there at all? He noticed all at once that he had no idea what it looked like. “Yes or no, Mr. Jones? It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Anthony felt a sudden jab of electricity course through his nerves, knocking the breath out of him. "Yes!" he gasped. "Please! I'll do it!"
He experienced a sudden lifting sensation, then a flash of heat. And then the body of Anthony Jones, on the tiles of the airport floor, gasped once, twice, and breathed again.
A blurry crowd around him dispersed as he staggered weakly to his feet, nearly slipping on broken glass. He kicked aside his briefcase, shrugged his laptop bag off his shoulder. "Where? Where is he?”
He glanced at his watch, the watch he hadn't been wearing before. He heard the voice of the man again; Sixty minutes, Mr. Jones. You're on the clock. The second hand swiveled like a compass needle, pointing towards- Anthony froze, trying to map out the airport in his head- the main terminal. He sprinted to the balcony- there, four flights of stairs down, a man in a maroon hat. He glanced at the escalator, then the elevator, unsure which would be faster.
The elevator door opened as he stood, paralyzed by indecision. On impulse, he scrambled inside and pressed the button for the ground floor. Ignoring the dumbfounded man in the corner, he forced the doors shut, hoping to gain any time he could.
Breathing heavily, Anthony stood there as the elevator began to lower. His mind was racing with options, preparing him for the chase, laser-focused on the man he had to catch. He knew he could not afford to lose a second, or become distracted...
"Buddy? Hey, buddy, listen!"
He snapped out of his reverie, turning to the other man. He had a mustache and an angry expression, and was carrying some sort of box. "What? What is it?"
The man’s accented voice dropped with sarcasm. "This elevator's broken, buddy. I tried to tell you. I'm here to fix it, see? And we're stuck here until I can."
Anthony paled as the reality of what the man was saying penetrated his thoughts. "Stuck? How... how long are we stuck?"
"Well, this isn't an easy job to do, see. If I could get to the stuff I left outside, I'd be done pretty quickly. But now we're locked in, and those doors took a beating. You're not supposed to do that to 'em."
Anthony shook the man by his shoulders, violently and abruptly. "How long, damn it? How long?!"
"Could be a while," the man said, startled momentarily out of his annoyance. "But at the very least, I'd say... oh... sixty minutes."
I like the plot. It needs cleaning up though. It's bare on description. I get the end but it just doesn't logically connect. WHY send the guy to Hell if he can't find the guy in an hour? Why limit it to an hour? Those are gotchas I'd be wanting to know the answer to before I risked my eternity like that. Eternity in Hell vs 33 years? Bad worst case there, not acceptable to me.
The way it sounds like, people have been trying to get this guy for six thousand years. So the odds of Anthony getting him are real low. Either the risk must be very low or the pay off must be astronomical. I'd turn that down based on bad odds and HORRID cost if I lost, which I know I probably would.
What if Anthony were told it would cost him a year to live, but the guy in the hat and Anthony both know he's got less than a year to live so he'd die in an hour. Otherwise Anthony gets 1%, or 66 years. (Let's assume Anthony is in like his 20's or 30's). Live a normal life or die now.
Anthony knows he will won't get out of that elevator alive. This is a lot more attractive gamble than eternal damnation, yet still pretty horrible when you lose.
Thanks for the advice! Those were all things I had an answer for in my head, but I hadn't realy made them clear. I've edited them out (or in, or whatever.)
- The time limit is because time is a finite resource. They can't give him extra time because they're not really giving him that hour as it is- it already belongs rightfully to him.
- The Hell thing wasn't serving its purpose, so I took it out. It was a stretch anyway.
- The odds are actually quite good, because it's not that they've been trying to get at him for that long- they just didn't have a way to get at him. Anthony is the first time they've had any chance at all.
I would start with reading it out loud to yourself several times. You want to make sure it flows very nicely off the tongue of any would be narrator.
Why is this guy going to Taiwan? What airport is he in? What airline and flight? Where is he in the airport? It sounds like before security, but I am guessing. What else does he see or smell? What baggage does he have?
Why doesn't he get in the escalator?
I get no feel for where Anthony is when the story first starts. Bright, dark, green with yellow polka dots, loud, silent, smelling like a Greek restaurant, etc.
If someone said "Here's an extra 66 years of life, take it" then I'd be thinking like what I will do, where I will go, retirement benefits, stuff like that. OK, no time for a lot of that once he is back in the airport, but the idea of 50 years on a Maui beach or writing the Great American Creepypasta has to cross his mind before being sent back.
Actually, I get no feel for Anthony. Old, young, tall, short, rich, poor, healthy, sick, married, single, I don't know what but something.
If I were the repair man, I would be REALLY pissed. He's stuck in there with some bozo who got the two of them stuck. He's be shouting "You idiot, I should break your face. You got us stuck here for the next two hours, until my supervisor comes back. Do you know how much money I am losing?" Yet he seems really calm, even when shook by a violent weirdo.
Alright so this way too easy. The moment there is a time limit, I know he won't make it - it's a Creepypasta, the ending "has" to be bad. Even though it doesn't, I don't get catharsis from that, nor do I get the spooks from the whole story. It's dark, sure, but is it scary? Nah. Do I have anything to make me care about the pratagonist? No.
This whole thing is just too obvious.
Why can't he make it? That requires something different obviously, either like Bob suggested, in a sense, "killing him" momentarily after he completes the mission and "reviving" him on a remote island because "logistics" or something. Imagine being able to survive for decades alone. Christ.
Another route you could take is giving the lad an unnaturally long life span, nothing too crazy, just a couple centuries or so, that's a horrible fate as well because he'd literally outlive three generations. It's horrible.
In both cases you can add a somewhat gruesome description of how the culprit is transported or physically dealt with in the land of the living that can possible serve as a traumatic memory that haunts this guy.
The guy is lacking in the emotional department, why is he taking everything so lightly for the duration of his conversation with the celestial being? Kinda weird seeing a guy care about living but wonder so aloofly, "did I get killed".
As for structure, if you write a third person decisive story, please do not use indecisive language like "or did he?" it's just distracting and does not serve any purpose.
If sixty seven is a single percent, the whole total is six thousand, seven hundred. I suggest using for "nearly seven thousand years" instead of "over six thousand"
Changed some stuff:
- The room is low on description because Anthony can’t really see it.
- He thought about the escalator, but the elevator doors opened and he went for that instead.
- Added his age, but I actually want to avoid a lot of description in this story. It’s just something I’m trying out.
- He has no time to think about anything other than survival.
- Repairman Sims now react appropriately to attackers.
- He’s not aloof, he’s in shock. He pales, gasps, shows visible confusion, etc.
Didn’t change some other stuff:
- It’s too obvious? Cry me a table. The very fact that you came up with an alternate ending proves that it couldn’t have been that much of a foregone conclusion.
- The horror element I’m trying to invoke is the feeling of being trapped. I’m not going to rewrite the entire ending.
- You did the math? Really? Why do you care at all? Because I guarantee no one else will.
- Using indecisive language highlights Anthony’s confusion, which ties back in to why he’s not obviously emotional.
I took me about three seconds to do this basic math, it's not like I had to sit and think long and hard about this, but then again, I would not like to see a character that has no eyelids not going blind in a story.... even though iTs jUsT a sToRy
Just because I can make up an alternate ending, it doesnt really mean much about an existing ending
"What's my reward" indicates Anthony is fully aware of himself and in a clear state of mind. He seems to be slipping in and out of confusion throughout the whole story rather randomly.
Okay so, about the indecisive language, if you have a all-knowing narrator anything you say addressing the audience, is breaking the forth wall. Questioning "or did he" as you did in this story is directed at me, the reader, in a bad attempt to confuse me, I guess.
What in this is meant to make me related to Anthony's (none visible) sense of entrapment?
Also, here's another, lighter better switch for the ending, make the waiting time 50 minutes, or 55 minutes... give him a sense of false hope, actual one.
And "you were" not "you was". (Also, I'd switch the part where the celestial being says "the time you already have" to "you were meant to have" or something similiar, just have it in past tense)
You've said your piece. I've legitimately considered the points you brought up. And all that being said, you have mostly just told me the story was bad and that I should rewrite the whole thing according to your specifications. You have been sarcastic and mocking in a situation where it was in no way necessary.
"A bad attempt to confuse me, I guess..."
"iTs JuSt A sToRy"
"Uh, you asked me for help..."
"The whole thing is just too obvious"
"this is way too easy"
I believe you that you are trying to help, but you could have said any or all of these things in a direct but non-aggressive way. I would welcome your feedback, but not your confrontation.