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 PostPost subject: First short story written in English from scratch        Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 4:32 pm 
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Well, to tell the purpose of this, I've been writing short stories for 15 years or something like that, but, until now, mostly in German. My English works were mostly stories written in German which I have translated to English. The following story is the first which was made up and written completely in English from scratch, so a new territory for me.

What I ask you to do if you can spare enough time is: Read the story, tell me if it's good or bad (be honest, please!), in which ways it's good or bad if you have the time, and especially analyse if I've managed to build up the tension adequately. I can do this in German, but I'm not sure if I can also do that in another language. So please focus your "review" on that.

The reasons I posted this in the VIP section initially: Here are mostly people I know and trust (more or less), i.e. people that won't bash anything just for the hell of it, and, if this story sucks, it's better to have five people tell me that instead of 50 or 500. :) If the replies are staying positive, I might put a copy of the story in "Offtopic Discussions" as well so every member can read and rate it.

Now, enough of introduction, here it is:
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

The Road Virus (after a short story by Stephen King)

“Bye, Mum”, said Sandra and hugged her mother.
“Bye, honey”, her mother replied, kissing her on the cheek. “Make sure you prepare for your exam!”
“Of course I will!”, Sandra assured her mother and freed herself from her mother’s arms.

Her mother was referring to the biology exam due next Tuesday. Sandra liked studying biology, it was a lot of fun but she didn’t look forward to writing this particular exam because she hadn’t adequately prepared herself until now. This was mainly due to the separation of her and Tom, her (ex-)boyfriend after sharing ten months of life. After the last argument, she had finally determined he was not a true intellectual equal and knew little more of her than her sexual preferences. Well, Sandra was attractive, that much was for sure – 26 years old, her body measuring 170 cm and 52kgs, this was nothing to be ashamed of. She also knew what clothes to wear to amplify the positive aspects of her appearance. Her beautiful face with nut-brown eyes was framed by long black hair.

Beauty was not everything, Sandra knew that. She was a very intelligent young lady, self-conscious and eager to do anything as well and exactly as possible. Her ambition was not to be neglected either and her exam marks proved that combination of qualities to be well-chosen and balanced. Her uni professors appreciated that, but Tom hadn’t done so at all. Sarcastically, she thought Maybe he wouldn’t even care if I literally lost my head – as long as my bosom remained.

Returning from the world of thoughts to the real one, she found herself still standing in front of her mother’s house, but facing the gate, ready to leave the house in which her mother had been living for the past 38 years. Upon unlocking and opening the driver’s door of her silver Volkswagen, her mother said something to her, something that made her blood run cold: “Be sure that you don’t get caught by that crazy monster!” Sandra’s face darkened with anger. The police had called the individual “The Roadhouse Slaughterer” in lack of a better name.

This particular man who had not been seen unmasked by anyone so far and who noone managed to accurately describe had been turning America’s roadhouses into places of fear and horror for several months. In the evening, protected by the darkness, he waited for his victims – young, beautiful ladies who were on their own, to capture, rape and murder them in an incredibly cruel manner. For example, he had cut off his last victim’s head after finishing his work of debasement.

Only yesterday, the newspaper had written about “him” again:

The Roadhouse Slaughterer appeared again. Last night, a 24-year old woman was found on a roadhouse. The committed crimes – rape, murder – point to the person known as the Roadhouse Slaughterer. Witnesses testified the sight of a black non-American sports car parking on the roadhouse at the time the crime was being committed. Further investigations are in progress.

Angrily, Sandra had rumbled the newspaper and hoped Hopefully that piece of sh*t will soon be captured and arrested forever. She found herself thinking exactly the same in this second.

“No, Mum, I’ll take care of myself!”, Sandra answered and tried to hide the fear arising in her. But her mother seemed to have noticed it nonetheless. She got into her car, fastened the safety belt and started up the engine.

One hour after Sandra’s departure, she glanced at the clock. Half past seven.The remaining 120-something miles would take her at least two hours, she figured, given her preference for moderate speeds. Then she thought of the exam and lowered her right foot on the accelerator. The speedometer increased from 60 to 70 mph, only to settle at 75 she felt most comfortable with. Driving faster would make her uncomfortable, she disliked driving at insanely high speeds, contrary to her boyfriend who had said everything below 100 was too slow and who had been nuts about sports cars, frequently showing her pictures of ever-new models she had soon forgotten. When she had been on the highway together with Tom, he had driven as fast as he felt like driving, ignoring her concerns. Another good reason to ditch that guy actually.

She looked at the speedometer again, assuring not to exceed her comfortable speed range. She did not, however, check the amount of fuel that was left. Approximately one hour later, darkness had settled in and Sandra turned on the headlights. Looking at the dark road in the shine of the headlights had something... mysterious, she thought, but also... romantic. 70 miles to go, she thought, and verified the speed. 50 mph. Great, I won’t be home anytime before 10 o’clock PM. But, and this thought was even more important and threatening, I hope I don’t need to stop anywhere because something bad happens.

Despite her self-consciousness and her ability to tell annoying guys to get lost, she was afraid of meeting the Roadhouse Slaughterer. What was she supposed to do upon meeting him, alone in the captivity of that lunatic who raped and then crippled women? – “Stop, Sandra.” She told herself. “Cut that out now. Nothing like that’s gonna happen to me. Why should I need to stop? And if I meet him, I’ll have someone to show my karate tricks to. I won’t give up too early.” Yes, that was her, the real Sandra.

She changed the lane some miles later, and upon checking for other cars in the mirror, she realized a black car with active headlights behind her, its targa roof removed. The driver was apparently a man, with an enormous hat hiding his face completely. Initially, she didn’t think too much of that incident, but then, the newspaper article made its way into her mind. The witnesses had seen a black non-American sports car! The car behind her was black and looked like a sports car from what she could see in the distance. Fear tried to invade Sandra’s mind as she realized the parts fit together.

The driver behind her acted strangely as well. He drove behind her at a casual speed of 45 to 55 and didn’t even try to diminish the distance to her car or pass by. “Like a hunter waiting for the prey!”, Sandra thought. A loud sputtering violently interrupted her thoughts. She appreciated it for a tiny fraction of a second, then, as the cause came to her mind, her face features froze in horror.

The rev meter’s indicator moved quickly and unstably, falling back to idle level from time to time while the engine started to utter strange noises and the speedometer’s indicator fell slowly. Damn, what’s up now? The car’s been fine up to now!, she thought.

Now was the first time Sandra’s eyes fell on the fuel gauge. The indicator had reached the empty level. She realized her mistake and her hand hit her forehead. Her car’s headlight revealed a sign, a discovery that allowed her to relieve herself: A roadhouse was soon to appear. The Volkswagen managed just to drive onto the roadhouse’s parking lot, then the engine died. Sandra knew trying to start up again would be no good, so she would have to walk the forty yards to the gas station to fill the jerry can, then fill her car with some fuel to reach the station with it and then completely fill it with gas to head home. This particular roadhouse was huge compared to those she knew, there rarely was such a distance between the parking lot and the station.

Just as she was about to get out of the car to look for the jerry can, she turned around and saw something that made her blood run cold. The black car that had been pursuing her drove onto the parking lot! Sandra was sure that he was inside the car, he had seen her car die and then recognized the chance. As soon as she left the car, he would seize her, then rape her and then...

Her brain ceased to function properly. An insane fear invaded her. The car passed her and she recognized it, she’d seen it previously on one of Tom’s posters he’d decorated the walls with. It was an Acura NSX, the breathtaking Japanese sports car of the 90s. A Japanese sports car!, she thought, it must be him!

The Acura was now standing approximately five yards in front of her, his powerful engine being turned off. One of the lights lighting up the road to the station fell on its rear, and Sandra saw the rectangular rearlights. Between them, something was written. Not only the name of the first Japanese luxury car brand, but something else:

The Road Virus

If she’d had any doubts about the identity of the man in the car, this invalidated them. She’d meet her fate now. He’d wait for her, like a virus and then destroy her. But that virus didn’t act inside her body, that one acted on the street. She began to cry. Silently and desperately. What the hell was she supposed to do now? Call the police? She rummaged in her jacket’s pockets. No mobile phone, she’d forgotten it. Cry for help? She’d have to be insane to do that, as the man would then be forced to kill her immediately, so that was contra-productive. She didn’t even want to think of what he might do to her if she managed to somehow frighten him.

No other car was to be seen where her Volkswagen and his Acura were stranding. A dozen yards or so away stood some other cars but apparently that distance was far too big to negotiate without triggering his attention. Additionally, the other cars were all empty as far as she could see. She realized she was in a trap like a rabbit. She was doomed. All that was left to do for her was to prepare herself for the final battle, the battle for her life.

She checked the clock again. 9:09PM. She waited, one minute passed, then two. 9:12PM. 9:13PM. 9:14PM. Damn, that waiting got on her nerves. She didn’t manage to calm down enough to successfully conquer the tears. One after the other ran down her cheek. Tears of fear, that nameless fear infecting the brain like a virus and preventing it from thinking logically, but also tears of anger due to that [censored] out there. Why didn’t he leave her alone for god’s sake?

A short instant, Sandra thought about leaving the car, approaching his, flinging open his door, and then, before he was able to take any action, slamming her fist into his face. But how? Sandra was a rather weak woman even when taking her karate knowledge into consideration. It was very unlikely for her to be able to take that guy out with one blow – and if she failed, he would take her out, forever.

The fear reappeared, intermittently, growing stronger and more agonizing with every reoccurance. She began sobbing, loudly and desperately. Through her eyes she watched the Acura’s driver’s door was opened slowly and the driver got out. He was very tall, thin and strong, wearing a black trenchcoat, black shoes and that huge, somehow ridicolous black hat. Sandra couldn’t see his face at all. She noticed the fear attempting to paralyze her but she fought against it – she needed to remain agile!

The guy had reached her car in the meantime. He knocked at her door’s window. Once, twice, thrice. Do you really think I’ll open the door for you, you sonofab*tch?, Sandra thought furiously. The moment of truth arrived. He fiddled with the handle (why hadn’t she locked the door?) and opened the door.

“Excuse me, can I...?” He didn’t manage to speak any further. “It won’t be so easy, you goddamn a..hole!” Sandra cried furiously, trying to hit the man with her fists, then with her feet as well, in a random pattern, all her karate knowledge somehow rendered inaccessible to her overloaded mind. For an instant, the Acura driver was paralyzed with surprise, then he grabbed her hands and held them, rendering them immovable. Sandra desperately tried to free them, but it was no good, his strength was her doom. She prepared herself for being dragged into the woods, violently undressed and...

But nothing of all that horror happened. He carefully took her head in his hands, held her face, looked her into the eyes to calm her and asked “Hey, please calm down. What’s the matter? I just wanted to ask you if you need any help as I saw you having trouble with your car.”

“Yes... ran out of fuel... forgot... But you... the sports car... the black sports car... the roadhouse–––” she uttered incoherently, then her voice muted into silence and she broke down in tears again. Faintly, she realized that if this man turned out to be the roadhouse slaughterer, she would be lost.

“You are saying...” he looked at her in astonishment. “You mean I am that lunatic that kills these poor girls?” Sandra nodded, not without realizing how ridicolous that situation was. He started to laugh, visibly amused. “Hell, no, the roadhouse slaughterer..., if my wife heard that!” he exclaimed, carefully holding Sandra’s shoulders. “Don’t worry. Look, I’m Anthony Blackwood, an assurance agent. I just stopped here because I saw you were having trouble with your car. On the other hand, I also stopped because I need some coffee.”

“But the writing on your car... ‘The Road Virus’...” whispered Sandra. She still hadn’t fully registered the situation. ––– “Aw, this”, he replied, “well, that’s because I’m a fan of Stephen King, sort of. His short story is about a sports car that commits all those murders. And well, because the NSX is a sports car, I’ve decided to have it written on its rear. But I assure you, this has nothing to do with that incident.”

Sandra sighed. She was done. Relieved, infinitely relieved, but done. Her nerves were shattered.

“Ah, I remember – I bought a newspaper when leaving the last city on my route. It said they finally managed to capture that weird guy. Better late than never. Wait, I’m gonna get the newspaper so you can see for yourself.” He stood up, assuring Sandra was able to stand on her own, went back to his Acura, rummaged in it and returned holding the newspaper. “Read”, he told Sandra. She looked at the page, initially only seeing a photo of the murderer, a photo she knew, a face she knew although the eyes were covered.

Roadhouse Slaughterer captured and arrested. Today, shortly after 8PM, the police managed to capture the murderer known as the Roadhouse Slaughterer. The murderer, the 30-year-old Tom P. was discovered along with sufficient prooves, such as the car used, an older black Mercedes SL 500. The arrested has so far refused to tell anything concerning his crimes.


The letters started to move and dance in front of Sandra’s eyes, she failed to focus on them when she realized what she had just read. Tears began to run down her cheek again. “Hey, what’s up?”, Blackwood asked. But Sandra couldn’t answer. Her voice was dead. And somebody else was dead for her as well.

End.
––––––––––––––––––––––––––

So, well, I hope you managed to finish it. What's it like? If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask! :)


Last edited by empireum on Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 PostPost subject:        Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:03 pm 
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When I read the first paragraph I thought: Oh no what is this......
But after reading the whole story I only can say: Great!
I like it very much!
If I wouldn't know that you are a German, like me, I wouldn't have noticed that by reading the story. Keep it up!

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 PostPost subject:        Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:16 pm 
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That was a very nice story empireum, you've done well there :)
p.s. Your English is a lot better than my German

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 PostPost subject:        Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:20 pm 
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Wow. That was a pretty damn good short story. Better than 99% of the native english speakers here.

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 PostPost subject:        Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:45 pm 
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Well, thanks for all the appreciative comments! :D

D.Konieczny: When you say "first paragraph", do you mean the one in which Sandra leaves her mother? If so, I agree it's not that interesting actually and it makes you think what kind of story this is, but I had to initiate all the action somehow and I chose to start slowly to gradually raise the tension and the "speed" upon going further. The "in medias res" approach is not something I like.

To all: Are there any parts/points you like very much/the most, any you don't like very much or not at all?


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 PostPost subject:        Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:50 pm 
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2 questions: Why the body measurments?
and what is s road house?

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 PostPost subject:        Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:57 pm 
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Fireware wrote:
2 questions: Why the body measurments?
and what is s road house?

The body measurements to tell that she's quite an attractive woman (to the majority of men or to me, at least) and to emphasize the fact her boyfriend (the murderer) only cares for her body, not for the personality inside. And a roadhouse is a place often found regularly along highways where you can stay for a rest, have something to eat and there's also a gas station. Another word is "(motorway) service area" AFAIK.


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 PostPost subject:        Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 3:07 pm 
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Very Well done! It's Interesting, and keeps you at the edge of your seat!

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