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Old July 27th, 2011 (3:04 AM). Edited July 27th, 2011 by Townes.
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Townes Townes is offline
Gentlemanly Hazard...
Join Date: Jun 2011
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Posts: 106
Ok, this is my second shot at a piece of writing. My first was just too... Bland. So, I have once more returned to grace this hallowed website with my amazing wordsmithery. Enjoy!

Rated PG-14 for violence, potentially complicated themes and potential romance.

The Stranger in White
Chapter I- A Black Inception
Part 1/3

The only thing notable about that day was the snow, and the bitter chill Winter always gave us during her short embrace. Yesterday. Because, even though the rest of the world just saw snow falling for the first time of the year, I saw so much more. It is impossible to forget, and if I ever did, then I'd be committing the greatest crime of my life... And that is far more drastic than it first seems.

I woke up to grey skies. That's always been my favourite weather, really- no-one was out then, so it was perfect for long walks where I could just think without being interrupted. I wish the world was always like that- just still, quiet and unbroken. It was especially tranquil in sleepy Nuvema, where I lived, went to school, and on that day, got my first Pokemon. And lost far too much to make it worthwhile. But still.

"Amelia! Amelia dear, come in, it's freezing outside!" My mother called to me from the doorway. It wasn't particularly cold, but the snow made it seem much worse than it was. But still, I was perfectly fine- I was wearing my fake-fur lined coat and I'd been in much colder weather. Anyhow, I never liked making my mother worry, so I decided to go in anyway. 'Now, have you done your homework? You know Mr. Weatherfield won't be happy if you haven't.' I rolled my eyes and smiled. My mother and Mr. Weatherfield, Professor Juniper's partner in marriage and work, both insisted that all of my work was perfect. I'll have to admit, it came quite close a lot of the time. 'Yes, mother. I did it last night, and you helped me with the Classical Literature, remember?'

'Oh, yes, of course,' She says, tapping the side of her head. 'That's all fine then. I wanted to make sure that your last day was as good as it could be!' Those words made me cringe. "Last Day!" was what I'd been hearing for all of the last week.

I wasn't particularly sure I wanted to go on a Pokemon journey. I mean, yes, I'm sure it would be fantastic, but I can't really face the prospect of leaving my family, friends and home behind for... What, a year? More? I don't know. My father always used to say that being timid was his greatest downfall. And on that day, in the snowy grasp of Winter's cold hands, he was wrong. It was his bravery and heart that was his downfall.

'Well then, Amelia, are you totally ready for school?' Where my mother was a perfectionist, my father had just worried about getting me by in day to day life. I suppose that's why I always got on better with him- he didn't want everything perfect, he didn't need everything wonderful- he was just happy with me being happy, and he knew his own weaknesses, and looking back, I think he knew that was his last day as well. His eyes were grey, and always calm, calculating, with a driven happiness behind them. But today, there was none of that happiness. Just a sort of... resignation? I remember smiling at him, and giving him a hug. 'That's my girl. Although... You're not really a girl anymore, are you?' He sighed. 'Fifteen, and about to go on your Pokemon journey at last. I'm so proud of you. And your mother is too, she's just a bit more...'

'Like mother?' My father laughed, for the final time.
'Exactly. Now come on, let's get you to the Academy.'

We called my school the Academy, as its full name- Nuvema Town's Academy for the Education and Training of tomorrow's Pokemon Masters- Was a bit of a mouthful. It was nice, but they always pushed us to our limits. But not today. This was the day of the Winter Festival- to mark the coming of the snow that was so beloved by the people of the town. And the day when I was to receive my first Pokemon and go around the world, catching more of them... It's nostalgic just thinking about it. But I don't remember that day of schooling- just the end of it...

'To Amelia Winters, a great student, beautiful young woman, and a fantastic daughter!'

The crowd burst into cheering. I blushed as everyone's eyes fell on me. And then I just happened to look out of the massive stained-glass window. And saw Him. I know who he is, now, at least, but back then I didn't. He was wearing a white trench-coat that reached down to his knees and a pair of white chinos, rounded off by a white trilby. I couldn't see his face properly, but he was wearing a white face-buff. He tipped his hat to me, as if we'd known each other, and started walking towards the window. And for some reason I screamed.

Even to this day, I don't know how I knew, but I just needed to get out. I grabbed the Pokeball, that was meant to be given to me anyway, and dived out of the stained-glass window, shattering it into beautiful tears of my old school. Then I heard my father cry out after me. And then I heard screams. I ran towards my home, knowing nothing but fear, and felt an arm wrap around my stomach and a hand cover my mouth. I tried to scream, but the sound was muffled by his cotton-gloved hand. 'Stop fighting, Amelia, just stay still. If you go home, you die.' His voice was harsh, and commanding. But I knew I had to get home- to my mother. And then I heard my father running, howling in rage at this stranger. 'Get your filthy hands off of my daughter, you scum!' The stranger turned with a snarl of anger, but I heard him draw in his breath before the gunshot was fired. The stranger picked my legs off of the ground and started running, carrying me with him, another hand supporting my back. I screamed at him, nearly incoherently. 'What happened!? Tell me now, and LET GO OF ME!' I bit into his sleeve and he grunted, not slowing his pace. I felt a tear fall from his face and onto mine, and it was even colder than the idle snowflakes landing on my exposed skin.

I fell asleep in his arms after a while. I had been screaming, punching and kicking, but it hadn't been long enough to fall unconscious. I woke when another snowflake fell onto my nose. I bolted to my feet and looked around. I was in a clearing in the forest, where the now had been trudged into ice upon the ground. There was a tent a few metres to my right. On the snowy, icy ground there was a small mat and on it a few of my things. A mirror, a hairbrush, my bag, and a coat. Looking at the coat, I suddenly shivered and realised it was freezing cold. I quickly put it on and zipped it up, rubbing my hands together to warm them up. I picked up the mirror- a simple affair, just plastic backed, not one of my nice ones- and looked at myself. My
skin was marred by a cut on my right cheekbone, but my honey-blonde hair had been brushed over my left shoulder, in the way my father always liked it. Looking at my face, I could see why people always tell me I'm pretty. I try to ignore them, but it's difficult to avoid the truth. A twig snapped behind me and I span around. It's the stranger who took me here. I back away, but he takes another step forward. 'I'm sorry. Your father... He gave me these to give to you.' he held out a locket, in the shape of a snowflake, made out of what looked like pure silver. I opened it, and there was a picture of him and I together, smiling at the camera. I looked up at the stranger and he pulls a note out of his coat pocket, handing it to me.

'To my Darling Amelia,
I'm so sorry this has happened. I knew it would, but not today of all days. But you mustn't blame Aron, because he's only doing what I told him to do. He's an old friend, and I trust him with my life, and now yours. He will look after you on your journey. I know, in spite of all that has happened, you will not want to leave, but it is important that you keep moving. It is important that you listen to what Aron tells you and that you follow his advice. It was my greatest hope that one day, we will meet again, but as you are reading this, it seems likely I will never see you again. Your guardian will tell you what you need to know when you are ready- and he will guide you through it. But you must always beware people wearing all black, and especially your mother. I wish I could tell you more, but it's too much for now. Just keep going on, for me.

With all of my heart, I love you, and will watch over you

Michael A. Winters
Your loving father'

He took the letter and puts it back in his coat. 'How are you feeling?' He said, his voice laced with concern. But I didn't hear him. I didn't hear anything. Everything went black and I hit the ground with a heavy thud.
I welcome Constructive Criticism, but not flaming- I hope you enjoyed it, and chapter 1, part 2 will be here soon!
The time is nigh
When shadows fall
This is the day
Your day of Judgement

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Old July 27th, 2011 (7:57 AM).
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Scourge of Nemo Scourge of Nemo is offline
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This is neat. I was a bit dubious at first--the emotions in the first paragraph came across as more... exaggeration? than a genuine melancholy. I feel like there might be a bit of a disconnect between how she frames the weirdness when she starts to tell it and how she frames the issue by the time she's through explaining. Part of this might be because you don't really describe her emotions. You describe her actions well, and they do a pretty darned good job at showing her basic reaction. That impressed me. However, the advantage of writing in first person is that you can really, really get inside your character's head. Show the reader what makes 'em tick. 'skinda tricky to get a hang of, but maybe experiment with it a bit more as you write the next chapter? Take us through a thought process, slip in a bit of emotion, connect some of that emotion to her actions (is she kicking out of fear? anger? confusion? some combination thereof that she can't quite put her finger on?).

Grammatical sidenote: You have a funky paragraphing thing. Some writers do put dialogue from different characters into massive clumps when they're writing a first-person recount of an event. 'Cause the speaker is technically the first-person narrative, so they talk in single paragraphs that include several others talking. That's fine; what you're doing isn't technically wrong. BUT, in fanfiction, especially on forums (because the pages are so wide), it doesn't work quite as well. Makes it hard to read. So you might want to make a paragraph break between every new speaker/action or action group/thought process.

OKAY. Now to the fun stuff. Like I said, I was dubious at first. There was some rickety stuff. But by the end, I was pretty much enjoying myself. There's a bit of campy, Pokémon intrigue to it already. That's good stuff, right there. This "watch out for people in black" was nifty enough, but then you chuck in, "especially your mother." 'sjust like, OKAY, GIVE ME MORE. NOW. The black-white clothing quirk is just melodramatic enough to be awesome and have lots of potential without sounding explosively ridiculous. And family stuff always has potential for awesomeness. Kudos on that. Plus, you have the interactions of Amelia Winters (in the snow... baha... icwatudidthar--it could be cool to do some fun stuff with concepts like "the dead of winter" and the fact that everything withers and dies, so you can be all LOOK, MORAL AMBIGUITY, SHE COULD BE BLACK OR WHITE. But I digress) with the mysterious man in white. There's enough guilt in there for the relationship to be a bit turbulent, and he's coolly brutal, but he's also protecting her. I'm kinda getting a Giles-y vibe from him, almost. ...Except I'm guessing this might get somewhat romantic tension-y? It looks that way, currently. Might just be the "he cried on her face" thing that makes me think that, though.


Anyway. Point being, you have some rocky stuff going on, but you actually have a pretty darned sweet setup. It seems like you'll iron out kinks as you go--a lot of it is just experience stuff. Your baseline skills are pretty solid. And like I said. Plot? ME CURIOUS. I hope to see more. :D
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Old July 27th, 2011 (8:10 AM). Edited July 27th, 2011 by Townes.
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Townes Townes is offline
Gentlemanly Hazard...
Join Date: Jun 2011
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Posts: 106
Thank you very much for the comments- I'll be certain to take into account what you said.
I'm afraid the paragraphing and speech comes as a side effect of potentially awful English teaching- it's a terrible habit I simply must break. You are totally correct about the emotions, and that will be sorted in the next post.

The whole Black and White thing is a bit of a homage to the new games, as well as a tribute to the very classical Good/Light vs Evil/Dark combination present in many good stories. And as for the mysterious man in White? Mother? I'll keep you guessing just for now...

The next part of chapter one will be up by 20:00, London time, for all those interested.
To hell with that, I'm bored.

Chatper 1- A Dark Inception
Part 2/3

'It's my sister, you see... We were walking from Nuvema to here, but she collapsed in the snow. Is there anything you can do?' I'm coming round, slowly, but surely. I feel like I'm waking up, but as if I'd been asleep for a long while. I open my eyes and they snap themselves shut again- it's far too bright in here. But I feel a hand on my arm. 'Amelia? Amelia, sis, can you hear me?' In my head, I know it's not my father- it's the strange man in white, but I can't help murmuring; 'Unh... Dad?' I hear him give a sigh of relief. He props me into a sitting position, and my eyes start to adjust to the light. 'Thank god... Thank you, sir, you've been brilliant. Come on, let's get you some fresh air.' I feel myself being half-guided, half-pulled to my feet and through a door out into the cold.

It's been about an hour since I woke up in the surgery. We're sitting on a bench, and it's still snowing softly, and the sky is growing darker. The man, Aron, is fiddling with some sort of electronic widgety-thing. Apparently, he carried me through the woods into Accumula Town. He clicks his tongue and puts it into his coat. He puts an arm around my shoulders. It's an odd feeling- only my father ever used to do that- but it's not unwelcome. We just sit in a slightly awkward silence for a few minutes until I can't take the tension anymore- I had so much to ask! 'So... Everything that's happened... Is it too much to hope that it's all a dream?' Aron sighs. I know the answer, but I just had to ask. I need to know. 'I'm afraid so, Amelia. I'm not a psychiatrist, so I'll tell you in the only way I know how- your father has died and so have most of your friends, along with Mr. Weatherfield and Professor Juniper.. There are now people trying to do the same to you.' At his last words, the sense of depression that's been welling up inside of me turns immediately to fear. 'What do you mean, why would people want to kill me?' Again, he sighs. 'Because, Amelia, your father was a very important man. And you're a very important young woman.' His words have changed- he talks about my late father as if he were a hero, with a reverential tone saved for funerals. Although I suppose, this is all he's going to get for a funeral. A guy I've never met dressed like a private investigator with an obsession for white and a girl who's apparently going to be killed. But it left so many questions unanswered. 'How are you feeling now?' Aron breaks the silence with a simple question, but one that I can't answer. 'I feel... I don't know. Angry, upset, confused... I need to know more.' I look up at his face and see that it's still in its dead set emotionless expression. 'Why don't we take a little walk around, then?' I nod, silently, still feeling numb. He stands and offers his hand to me, but I draw myself up to full height on my own- I'm not a china doll. I don't need to be waited on hand and foot. But even thinking this, next to him I must look a bit fragile. He's almost a head taller than me, and most of his face is covered by his collar and hat. He shrugs and we walk off, side-by-side.

'So then. You have questions.' He says in a slightly bored tone. I feel a surge of anger rising up, and for a moment I think about slapping him, but I decide against it. I don't know how fine a line "Guardian" as my father put it, and total psycho this man was. Although, he wasn't really a man- he must have been maybe two years older than me, only just eighteen? Still. 'Why do I have to beware People in black and my mother?' It wasn't a thought out question- just something that sprang to mind. 'The people in black are trying to kill you. Don't ask me why, because Michael... Er, your father, didn't tell me. And your mum... well, she's not above a bit of bribery.' His voice is so smooth, and silky, but still frosty and blunt. It's a contrast from the person who grabbed me yesterday morning before my father... he... I let out a choking sob. Aron's head snaps around at a high speed. 'Is something the matter?' I shake my head and crush my eyelids closed. 'No, I just... I'm fine.' He pats my back and keeps walking. Another thought springs to mind. 'Are you actually my brother?' For once, Aron's face changes into a tight smile. 'No, but your father was my God-father, so I suppose that makes me your... I don't know, God-brother?'
'Oh. So, you knew my father well, then?' I'm suddenly overcome with the need to know about what could be the closest thing to a sibling on the planet. 'Very well indeed. He gave me my first Pokemon, in fact...' He suddenly palms his forehead. 'Of course! I can't believe I forgot, even for a second. Amelia, you should take this.' He rummages around inside his coat and pulls out a Pokeball. I wonder how he can fit so much in there, but still. I take it, with trembling hands, partly because of the cold, partly because of the anticipation. I've never seen a Pokeball up close, let alone held one. 'Do you know what's inside it?' I ask Aron. He shrugs. 'A Pokemon. Go ahead, let it out.' I give him an evil ook before pressing the button in the centre of the sphere, and a pulsing blue light beams forwards onto the snow. I frown. 'Aren't Pokeball beams usually red?' Arons rolls his eyes and tuts. 'Honestly, your first Pokemon and you're worrying about pretty colours. Look...' He points to where, a few moments ago, there had been nothing, but now there was a small, blue and white, bearlike Pokemon. 'Cachoo!'

My first reaction was to squeal and pick up my new Cubchoo. It shies away from me at first, but settles into my arms and gives a contented sigh as it settles down and starts sniffing all around itself. 'Oh, it's adorable!' I scratch it behind an ear and Aron chuckles quietly. 'And it's got damn good lineage. You know, that Cubchoo's mother belonged to the Champion at one point.' He gives it a single stroke from its forehead down to its back and his hand falls back to his side. 'Well, it's a male, so how about a nickname for the little tyke?' I scowl at him. 'Tyke? Who uses the work tyke anymore?' Aron laughs slightly, and scratches the back of his head. 'How about... Me?' He grins. 'Come on, do you want to give him a name?' I think for a second, and it comes to me instantly. 'Mike.' I look at him and he nods in approval. 'After dad. I'll make him proud with you. Yes I will, oh yes I will!' At that point, I gave in entirely to my urges to speak to him in baby-talk- even in the middle of a fairly crowded motel. I glanced up and saw Aron looking away, attempting to form a semblance of distance from me. In the end, though, he was forced to talk to me. 'I've booked us one room, although if you'd prefer, I could book two.' I sense an opportunity to get to the root of why he seems to dislike me so much. 'Well, if you can stand my company, then I'm fine with one room.' He sighs and takes a key-card from the concierge with a cheerful 'Thank you,' and we walk down a corridor to a room.

'I'm so sorry, Amelia, I did specifically ask for separate beds.' Aron grimaces as I step in to see what he's talking about, and he's right- other than a large, queen-sized bed, a television and a few tables, as well as a door to the en-suite bathroom, the room is mildly under furnished. I suppress the urge to laugh aloud and to make a sarcastic, witty comment. 'You take the bed, I'll be fine in a sleeping bag.' he says, pulling one out of a rucksack that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. He looks at his watch and smiles. 'Right then. It's nearly ten. Get Mike and we can have a little talk.' I declined to put Mike away into his Ball, partially because I didn't want him to be on his own, and partially because the way he walked was positively adorable. We sit on either side of the massive bed, facing each other. Aron opens his mouth, but I have another burning question to ask. 'Why are you here?' he seems confused and stops dead at being asked the question. 'What do you mean?'
'Well, it's obvious you don't like me. You never smile. You've barely talked to me, other than when you had to. What's the point?' He shuts his mouth to consider this, and I press on. 'You dress like a demented Sherlock Holmes. My dad would never even talk to someone like you, let alone trust you. I think you're a liar. I think you had something to do with the people who kileld my father!' Before I can even register it, he's got a hand around my throat and is pushing me against the headboard. 'Don't you even THINK about insinuating I would ever hurt your father. Don't you dare.' His eyes are barely an inch away from mine, and looking into the dark brown irises I can see that every word he says is deadly serious. I'm suddenly terrified for my very life, as his hand tightens. 'Your father saved my life. Had it not been for you, he would have adopted me as his own son. Had it not been for you, he wouldn't be DEAD. The ONLY reason I'm here is because of him. Don't even pretend for a second that I care about you AT ALL. As far as I'm concerned, you ruined my life the day you were born.' He releases me and I bring in a welcome breath of air. How could he possible think that was acceptable? To strangle a sixteen-year old girl in a motel!? 'I ruined YOUR life? My dad gets shot, a psychopath turns up with a letter and a locket and says "Don't worry Amelia, I'll look after you even though we've never met before and as far as you're aware I could be a killer!" And that's not suspicious AT ALL!?' I screech in his face. I raise my hand to slap him, but before I can he grabs my wrist and twists it. 'You don't have a chance against me. So stop trying.' Mike snarls at him and leaps up to bite him, but he lets go of my wrist and storms towards the bathroom and slams the door. I hear the lock turn and for about ten minutes, there's nothing but a stormy silence. I shoot daggers at the door, but as hatred turns to wonder, I can't help but think- have I made the person who's supposed to protect me hate me? And did my father really care about him that much?

Almost an agonising hour later, Aron emerges from the bathroom, clothed in pyjamas and a white- surprise, surprise- dressing gown. He doesn't look at me and walks straight to the television. He turns it on, find a news channel, and lays back against the bed, watching words scroll across the screen and a female reporter tell how the world's going to end within the next five days, or so it seems with all the bad news. After a few more minutes I start to feel a terrible guilt. If someone had suggested I'd tried to kill my own father... That I'd lie to the thing most precious to them in the world... I know I'd never let the get away with it, and had it been me in his position, I would have come away with a lot less than a slightly sore neck and wrist. And if what he'd said about my father adopting him was true... I turn to look at him, and notice for the first time he's been crying. For the first time, his face is clearly visible, and I take in what I can. He's handsome, in a way. His skin's quite fair, and his face is well-structured and ever-so-slightly angular. His mouth, currently, is in a fixed straight line and his face is red and his eyes strained. He's been running his hands through his hair and tearing at it slightly, but I can tell it's usually kept in a neat style. Now it's just a bit ragged and messy. I reach a hand out to place on his arm, and notice again how much larger he is than me. He's also quite muscular, and very well toned. Mike nudges me, sensing the discord between us, and I speak, for the first time in two hours. 'I'm... I'm so sorry.' He looks at me as if I were something he'd found on his shoe. He goes back to watching the news, and my heart drops. I could have just made an enemy of the only friend I had left.
The time is nigh
When shadows fall
This is the day
Your day of Judgement

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Old July 27th, 2011 (2:59 PM).
Cutlerine Cutlerine is offline
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Ooh, I'm driven to review something. How novel.

Right, well, let me say straight away that I like this. Amelia and Aron (is the unusual spelling significant?) are both intriguing characters. As Scourge of Nemo said, it's true that at some points they come across as caricatures of themselves, but that seems to have improved with the second chapter, and I think it'll probably sort itself out fully with practice.

However, something that does leave me slightly confused is the shift between tenses. In Chapter One, you used the past tense pretty continuously throughout, but in Chapter Two, you've used mostly the present tense. I'm not entirely certain why that is, and would probably recommend choosing one and sticking with it.

Also, it would make the dialogue much easier to follow if you did indeed start a new paragraph with each new speaker. At the moment, the paragraphs are a bit overwhelming.

Oh, and this:

I don't know how fine a line "Guardian" as my father put it, and total psycho this man was.
doesn't quite make grammatical sense. I get what you mean by it, but it's a bit weird.

I think that's... No, wait. I have but one more little piece of constructive criticism.

And that's not suspicious AT ALL!?
Those capital letters get the job done, but it'd be better to use italics. It'll look nicer, and it's more correct. I think. I could just be imposing arbitrary rules on you now.

Right. That's my steel-capped boot of negativity set firmly down. Now to change to the sandals of positivity, and distract you from the massive footprint I've left on your hard work with some well-deserved praise.

First off, it's interesting. Very interesting. Once the emotional expression thing sorts itself out, the dynamic between Amelia and Aron looks set to play out very nicely - and that's completely ignoring the fact that your plot itself is one of those cloak-and-dagger jobbies that sets up a nice mystery that'll doubtless be revealed in small, tantalising portions over a series of chapters.

Nextly, you appreciate Cubchoo, which automatically earns you a figurative cookie. The fact that Amelia likes him because he's cute is a nice touch; it'll be interesting to see how she takes it when he becomes a less than beautiful Beartic.

Oh, and finally: take care that Aron doesn't just become like all the other characters in his style (that is to say, people who hate the main character but have to protect them for whatever reason). From what we learned of his history in Chapter Two, though, I don't think that'll be a problem. I just thought I should mention it.

Finally (again), I'd just like to mention that I like the stylisation of the piece: the breaking of the colourful stained glass window leading into a monochromatic world of black versus white, et cetera. You don't emphasise it too much, which is good; it's there, but not so strongly that it's hackneyed. You also cast doubt on whether or not white is, in fact, the colour of the good guys, introducing a nicely ironic shade of grey in a world you've reduced to stark black and white.

And... that's about it. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to more from you.

For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
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