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  • I live in an area which has unusually many weird inhabitants. One woman is for example locally known for going around in the neighbourhood in a winter jacket all year and always having a napkin decorated with flower-patterns covering her face. But these strange individuals are however almost always completely harmless, so therefore do people seldom react to stories told by children about them. When I was ten years old did for example my mother dismiss my account of an especially strange encounter as just a product of my childish imagination. This event took place when I after school one sunny October day made the choice to take an alternative road home. The road I used to take had some large building blocks on one side and a football field on the other, and on the other side of that football field there was a road that had a forest of oaks and maple trees on its opposite side. Since this was early during October where almost all of the red and yellow autumn leaves still on the trees, which looked spectacularly beautiful. I therefore thought it would be nice to go nearer this forest by taking this way home I had never walked on before.

    After some minutes on this alternative road home I came across a gathering of five children hysterically laughing at a person who told them to not laugh. After getting closer I saw that the children laughed at an old man that appeared to be homeless judging from his shabby clothes. His white hair was greasy and spiky at the same time, he had a white five-o-clock shadow and his tattered clothes revealed extremely thin and almost skeletal arms and legs. But both his skin and clothes were covered with irregular spots of some reddish-brown substance which I then assumed was some kind of mud or paint. He stood there holding a cap with the same kind of spots while all of the children but me laughed at him. I did instead just stare at the strange man with out making any sound at all. But suddenly did the man start to look at me and said with a raspy voice: “Finally, a person that takes a retired surgeon seriously during this day! My name is Steve, and we are going to my home in the forest!”.

    Before I could even react to these words, he grabbed my arm and ran into the forest with me. The man smelled like rotten leaves and something ironlike that I couldn’t identify in this moment. After having been running for a time that seemed like fifteen minutes we came to a small, cave-like opening in a cliff. There he stopped running while I fell to the ground which was covered my something reddish that I could not identify. Then did the man say this without showing any sign of being exhausted: “My insides have started to disappear since my retirement so I have to do a surgery on you. I hope your heart will not be rejected by my body like the hearts I have tried to insert during the preceding days!”.

    Then I suddenly understood why the ground was red and what the irregular spots on the man’s clothes and body was made of. He took of his jacket and opened his shirt which revealed a black cavity there his stomach and chest should otherwise have been. From one of his pockets the man now took up a scalpel and drew it over my chest. This gave me a small cut on the part of my body where my heart is. But before the surgery could go any further, I succeed to get out of his grip and ran as fast as I could from the place without ever looking back. After about a half-hour I came home to my mother who had been worried if something had happened to me during my way home. But when I told her about my experience and showed her my cut, she just dismissed it as a product of my imagination and said that I just got the cut from a thorn bush.

    After that I never took that way home from school again, and after I had finished primary school, I started to theorize that the man had drugged me and that all that I had seen during that afternoon was just hallucinations. But yesterday, about seventeen years after the encounter, I meet an old friend of mine when I was out walking my dog in my old neighbourhood. We then preceded to talk about our lives since we finished primary school, but suddenly she said: “It’s a bit sad that one hasn’t seen Crazy Steve for so many years now.”.

    When I asked who this “Crazy Steve” was she answered: “Oh, he was a homeless street magician that claimed to be a retired surgeon. Steve showed up outside the forest every day there he was laughed out by almost everybody for his failed magic tricks. And I can remember you saw him one time if I don’t misremember it entirely?”.

    I then confirmed for her that I had really met him but did only say: “Yes, he was a real original.”.

    She then replied: “Whenever a person didn’t laugh at Crazy Steve, they were always taken into the forest by him. I’m not entirely sure I saw many of the people again after that happened, but since I saw you after he took you into the forest, I guess the others also came back.”.

    But when I heard these words my face faced and I felt the need to throw up. Because now I did not just understand that what I experienced there was indeed real, but also what happened to all those who didn’t laugh at Crazy Steve’s failed magic tricks.

      Loading editor
    • There are a lot of things you've written down that just aren't necessary.  The story of Crazy Steve can be told, for instance, without explaining that there are weird people in the area.  You can cut out the entire beginning and start with the walk through the woods and nothing would be harmed.

      Secondly, if I were you, I would cut the "street magician" angle.  It's clumsy and unnecessary.  Nothing is gained by including it.  In fact, it does your story more harm than good.  The guy doesn't need to be a street magician to kidnap and kill children, and "not laughing at his failed tricks," doesn't need to be the criteria he used to select his victims.  If he's not a magician then you don't have to have the crowd of kids gathered around him who are totally witnesses to a kidnapping and would turn him in so fast.  This lack of reaction to the kidnapping makes it incredibly hard to believe because it doesn't make real-world sense.  Your story would be much better off without it.

      Another thing that doesn't go anywhere is the cut over the main character's heart.  This serves no purpose and is in such a specific area that no parent would just dismiss it.  Getting rid of that will make your story stronger as well.

      Next, the kidnapping itself is completely unrealistic.  You can't just grab someone by the arm and expect them not to resist as you drag them into the forest.  It can't be that simple if it's going to work.  Kidnappers often first disorient their targets, then scoop them up, put them in some kind of vehicle and take them to another location.  All of these things are why kidnappings work.  If a guy grabs your character and just tries to drag her into the forest, she's going to be out of his grip and running in a matter of seconds.

      Finally, even if you fixed all of these things, you would still have a ton of grammar and punctuation problems.  You need to find some resources on grammar and study them closely before you can consider writing a story.

      I hope all of this helps.

        Loading editor
    • Okay, I'm not sure I want to finish this story now, but there are nonetheless some ideas in my head that maybe will fix the observed plot holes and I want to know what you think of them.

      I can for example scrap the whole idea with the protagonist being forcibly kidnapped and instead let him be lured by Steve to enter the forest thinking that nothing bad will happen. This version of Steve will be a sad figure that the protagonist firstly feels pity for, and it's therefore he agrees to follow him into the forest. The woman which the protagonist meets in the end of the story should have met Steve on some other occasion, and the encounter between the protagonist and the mysterious man can therefore be between only these two individuals. Then I can also entirely scrap the street magician angle of the story without making my story go too far away from my vision.

      Since it's explicitly hearts Steve wants it feels somewhat logical to let the protagonist get a cut over the place on his chest there the heart is, but if it's really that bad in your eyes I can replace it with some small cuts on let us say his arm. He could have gotten them when he got out of Steve's grip, and I guess many smaller cuts will make it easier for his mother to mistake them for cuts from a thornbush.

      The part in the beginning where it's established that the protagonist lives in an area with many weird inhabitants does in my mind make it easier to understand the mother dismissal of her son's story. But that's however an element I can take away if it disturbs other people's reading experience, because it's not really even that important for me.

      But all this after I have improved my knowledge of English grammar. Through I can't really say when this will be (or if it will be), because English is after all a second language for me. 

        Loading editor
    • I think you can still keep the scene with the friend at the end.  Otherwise, all of those changes sound like they could work really well.  The main thing is to make your story believable, and that means honoring the way things would happen in reality.

      One thing that will help for grammar is punctuating dialogue properly.  For this, you need commas instead of colons.  Here's an example:

      "I need to go to the bathroom," said Jane.

      See how there is a comma at the end of the quote, followed by the speaker tag?  You can format your dialogue this way.  Colons (:) are really never used for dialogue.

      Also, when it comes to the end of a quotation, you only need one piece of ending punctuation, and it comes inside the quotation marks.  Here's an example:

      "Wait for me," she said.  "I'm coming, too."

      See how there is only one period at the end of the quote?  It goes inside the quotation marks.

      Keep these things in mind and you will already be doing a lot better.  Best of luck.

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