Feedback Friday – Widdershins

It’s time for Feedback Friday!

Feedback Fridays is that wonderful time of the week when I read over your submissions and let you know what I think. It’s fun, I promise!

Want to participate? Look over the “Writing Prompts Wednesdays” posts and find something that speaks to you. Send it in to me at Tickled Ink Blog , and maybe you’ll get featured!

Let’s get to this week’s submission!

 

THE PROMPT:

Widdershins: adverb; In a left handed, wrong, or contrary direction. Counterclockwise. Unlucky. To walk around an object while always keeping it to the left. Against the direction of the sun.

 

THE PIECE:

“How do you know what happens?” I asked.

“I… I can’t explain it,” Cal stammered. “It’s just something I believe. It’s something people know.”

I walked around the pylon and looked out over the sharp angles of the city. The grit of pollution coated every surface no matter how many times the sanitation bots went back over the slick edifices of the city’s toothy grin. I could see it. Always. It was as clear as the lines etched into my hands.

“It’s not something I know,” I informed him solemnly. “If I don’t know, does that mean I’m not a person?”

I returned to Cal’s side to watch him shift uncomfortably under my gaze. People always did that.

“I didn’t say that,” he replied hastily. “I mean it’s personal. There’s lots of different ways to go about it. No one knows for sure. It’s uh… something you just feel.”

“Something you feel,” I repeated wistfully, my eyes sliding back to the blinking safety lights along the edges of the structures beyond the crumbling structure we inhabited. I forced my body to relax. “What’s something you feel?” I whispered to myself.

Cal coughed with an uneasy fatigue. I scanned his hunched body as he sat on the ashen concrete, listing to the side. My sensors revealed a third broken rib, and his liver laceration had worsened since the last round of questioning. It would be too late for help soon. A pity, really. The dislocation of his shoulder from when I lashed his wrist to his ankle was perfection. Another professional would have appreciated the artistry.

I slid down to the floor, sitting beside him.

“I don’t feel it,” I said flatly. “I think I used to, before all the mods,” I gestured down the length of my body at my cybernetic components. “I don’t remember though.”

“It’s different for everyone? I don’t know what you want from me!”

“I want your faith. I need to understand it.”

Cal looked up at me, the mix of blood and saliva dripping from his chin. His eyes changed. He was no longer bargaining, he was finally angry. “Why do you care? It has nothing to do with you!”

He tried to spit at me but coughed and collapsed to the ground, choking and wheezing to the tune of his collapsing lung.

This was my favorite part.

Anger.

Resignation.

Intoxicating.

I closed my eyes and reveled in the shiver that set my flesh quivering, and pushed a tremolo through my mechanics.

Blood bubbled past Cal’s lips, mixing with the dust and ruble. His eyes shone brightly with righteous fury past the cloud of tears and mucus.

I lay down in the dirt, my face close to his.

“Do you see it?” I asked.

“See what?” he gasped through his anger.

“Death. You said you were a believer. That you knew what happened. Can you see death?”

Cal sucked in a shallow breath.

“You’ll never know,” he choked out. “You stopped being human long before the cybernetics. You kill people for money. You’re not just a machine, you’re a monster!”

I frowned.

So disappointing.

Cal’s eyes began to glaze over as he slipped away.

“What do you see?” I asked again. “Tell me what you see!”

Cal stopped moving.

 

 

THE FEEDBACK:

Wow! This is super intense. I love the slow build, how details are revealed to pull you deeper into the story. There’s so much packed in to just a few hundred words. It’s really wonderfully handled. I think you’ve got something really interesting here. I’d love to know more about the narrator, and the futuristic world the live in. I’m hooked!

I really like your use of language. Everything feels lush and real. I’d like to pull in some other senses. There’s some great opportunities to include smell like ozone, copper, or iron. It would help make it even more visceral.

Check over your dialogue tags in the first section. There’s some repetition of “ly” words that sounds a little off when reading. There are also a few sentences that have some alliteration. One felt like it was a bit much. The might be a personal preference of mine so just make sure it’s intentional and what you wanted.

Some of my notes might seem overly nitpicking, but everything here is really tight so I’m looking at the final polish.

Lastly, I really enjoyed how you took the word prompt and ran with it. Widdershins is a challenging word to work with and sometimes creative exercises take you unexpected places. Don’t be afraid to go there!

Keep up the excellent work!

 

-R/AC

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