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  • “Ah. John Benjamin Muller.”

    “What the hell?”

    “You don’t recognize me?”

    “...fuck, um, you’re... Olivia?”

    “Hmm.”

    “...you’re not Olivia. Who are you? Where the hell are we?”

    “You’re angry.”

    “No shit, Sherlock! Where are— how’d you—”

    “Yes?”

    “...no. No, no no. Where the fuck did you take me? My neighbors will know I haven’t come home. They’ll call the cops!”

    “Hmm. Such a pitiful creature you are, John Muller.”

    “What— get away from me! Don’t touch me!

    “I’m afraid it’s too late for that, John Muller. I’ve already removed you, you see.”

    “...what?”

    “I have consumed your entire existence. I have deemed you irrelevant to reality, cut you out of the world and scrubbed it clean of your footprints. There is no more John Benjamin Muller of Verlow Lane. There never has been.”

    “...This isn’t funny. Get me out of here.”

    “There is no ‘here’ to get you out of. This is simply the imaginary placeholder where you will dissolve into nothingness.”

    “Get me out of here! I need to get out of here!

    “You cannot need anything anymore. You are existentially incapable of doing so. There is nothing that can need here.”

    “I.. I… fuck, isn’t there something I can do? Anything? Isn’t there… isn’t there some sort of game to play?”

    “A game?”

    “Yes! Yes. A game. If I win, I get to go.”

    “A game. I do recall that being a rather popular notion among you folk. What kind?”

    “Uh, well—”

    “A riddle game! Yes. I do enjoy riddles.”

    “...o-okay. Okay, a riddle game. Sure.”

    “Would you like to go first?”

    “I— yeah. Sure. Yeah. Um…”

    “That’s not a very good riddle.”

    “No! No, that wasn’t it! Um, um, what’s a raven and a writing desk have in common?”

    “Oh! Oh, what an interesting riddle! I know the answer, of course. They’re both too sour to eat easily.”

    “Uh—”

    “Now it’s my turn. It’s a rather short one, to be honest: who am I?”

    “I— you... you’re... Death, right?”

    “That’s rather disappointing. Even I know that’s wrong. Do I really look like that young fool?”

    “N-no, I just—”

    “Well, it looks like I won. You didn’t make a very good riddler, anyway. I’ve seen better.”

    “Wait! Wait! I can— I can give another riddle! Another round, just—”

    “No; no need. There’s only ever one true riddle for me, anyhow. Thank you for your riddle, though. I’ll remember it.”

    “No, no no no, wait, please———”


    “......Perhaps I shall go out for lunch today. I do have a craving for raven now.”

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    • Barring the fact the entire draft is written in dialogue, it's hard to glean any meaningful content from this. I'm assuming the riddle of who the being is is irrelevant, unless you intended that to be the point, then I don't know. I'm not sure what options we have that frame it's existence (or nonexistence) in a meaningful light. Is it supposed to be "Nothing"? "Entropy"? It's very broad and vague to a fault.

      Additionally, what was the point of the encounter? The entity was apparently keen on destroying John to begin with, he's already floating in the void, why prolong the encounter? I dunno, it just feels like a shorter, less progressive version of Asimov's "The Last Answer". You could do something interesting with the idea this creature likes riddles, but you probably need to space it out more and have there be a plausible/entertaining reason this presumably cosmic being is fooling with a mortal for an infinitesimal period.

      Yes, vanishing into nothing is a very common, heavy fear. But it has to go a little beyond just framing it as a conversation. Much of that fear relies on the viewer standing at that very precipice, so a metaphorical (and literal) lack of detail can be the deciding factor in scariness.

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    • Yeah, I did make it a little obscure, didn't I? I was trying to go off on anonymity but it probably is too vague for anything meaningful.

      Thanks for the insight!

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    • StorySword wrote:
      Yeah, I did make it a little obscure, didn't I? I was trying to go off on anonymity but it probably is too vague for anything meaningful.

      Thanks for the insight!

      I definitely think both options of perspective could work on paper (both dialogue-heavy OR first/third person perspective/narration); the biggest hurdle aside from the ambiguousness of it is the lack of detail, including the bit about Olivia at the start. I don't know how much you plan to let on, but any sort of tiny detail the reader can latch onto might make a big difference in the end product. Good luck!

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    • If one cannot "need" anything, one cannot really be sentient either. It's a tricky thing to pull off but basically the lack of any needs means the lack of the tools of life in this case. I guess it was a more figurative thing, but still, it just feels really flat and shallow. I didn't really feel much depths to this. It was a more of a "here's a being that does cause it can, even though it shouldn't really bother" it's felt a little shoehorned really. 

      The characterization of Death felt also somewhat unflattering with no good reason. This being doesn't really come off as interesting either since it is really guillable in a way. "Hey give me a chance to survive" "sure mate" why? I get it that it's meant to come off as apathetic and just doing things for "no reason" or "no reason a human should be able to comprehend" but this just seems like a "above-universe-being really childlike" - a trope that doesn't really make sense if you think about it. 

      If you want to go with the "disappearing into nothingness" trope, you should make the dialogue only a part of the story, reduce the supposed importance of both character, just have the being be the informant and the human ne a sort of confused receiver of information, and add the process of disolving out of reality, that's the actually scary part we'd like to see. It can be very effective if done right. 

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    • Okay, this could work well. It's a good concept, but isn't very strong. Make it know that theres nothing around him. Maybe make it a dim area, that he cant see in. Don't give the person that kidnapped him a name, it's not worth it. Have it be a mysterious figure, maybe vaguely human, but clearly not. Olivia gives me the image of a woman, but if he sees it and is like "what the fuck is that" and the thing responds it will make it creepier.

      To make it know it's dark, have him looking for a light switch, but have him walk for a while to find the wall. That can all be done in a monologue. Also, have him wonder what's happening a little longer before the creature appears. Maybe have him ask what he's stepping on, it will give it a feeling of a strange place that nothing is like how we know it.

      It's a lot harder to do all this via dialogue, but it's not impossible. as for not needing anything, I disagree with those you said there's no point in having that. Make that more of a discussion point. You really have to get your characters fleshed out strong for this to work for though. And if you can get that going good, you'll be able to make it work well. It'll end up being a lot longer, but it'll be a great story if you're able to nail it. That being said, it will be really hard to get this one perfect, and it's a fine line between it working and falling flat. Good luck.

      The easier way is to make it not just dialogue though. It will also require a lot of work, but either way it's going to have a lot of work to work. Pick how you want to do it, and dont stop until you feel this is the best you can do.

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