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A Night For Death

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Old 07-18-2009, 09:54 AM
Jeremy Law (Offline)
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Taking a deep breath, he stepped up onto the ledge. It wasn't a matter of whether he would or not now, it was only a matter of how long he could stand there.

His mind raced, and for a moment his body's natural impulse to pull back almost took him. Bracing himself against the statue beside him, he closed his eyes again and grabbed one of the thoughts from his turbulent mind. 'Am I ready for this?' As he concentrated on the question, all other thoughts melted away and he stared across the gap at the next building over.

He involuntarily wrapped his arms in front of his body and closed his eyes.

"Beautiful night, isn't it?" A voice broke the long silence.

The man on the ledge was so startled, he nearly fell, but managed to grab hold of the statue.

"What the hell?" He yelled. He looked toward the spot he had heard the voice, but he could only see darkness.

Confused, he looked around.

"Who's there?" He asked tentatively. He openly wondered to himself if he had imagined the voice, and almost turned back to the ledge.

A small scratching sound drew his attention back to the first place he looked and he saw a small flame. Clearing his vision a bit he realized someone was holding a match. As the match came upwards it disappeared for a moment before it was discarded. His eyes followed the match until it hit the ground with a fizzle. As he looked back towards the other man, he could make out his outline. The man was wearing all black, which was why he hadn't been able to see him.

"What the hell, indeed." The man said in a scratchy voice, lifting his head to look at the jumper. He wore a wide-brimmed black hat that protected his face and freshly-lit cigarette from the rain. He also wore a long coat, gloves and boots of the same color. Lifting one hand to his mouth, he took a long drag of his cigarette and slowly breathed out the smoke.

The man on the ledge edged away from the new arrival, flattening himself further against the statue.

"You a cop? Don't try and stop me." He hissed the last part, sounding odd to his own ears.

The man in black held up his hands in a defensive gesture, his cigarette pressed between his lips.

"I wouldn't dare do such a thing." He said, putting his hands in his pockets.

The jumper looked the man over, from the clothes to the unshaven face, with its sharp features. He decided the man wasn't a cop after all.

"So who are you?" He asked the man in black.

In response, the man walked to the ledge and peered over, tossing the butt of his cigarette over and leaning against the railing. He looked at the jumper and shrugged his shoulders, before taking out another cigarette from a pocket somewhere and cupping his hands to his face to light it.

Once he had taken a long drag, he took a deep breath.

"I'm not really sure anymore." He said.

The jumper was confused for a second, but got over it quickly. He accepted the answer, and in his dark frame of mind it seemed to make sense.

"You might want to get out of here, unless you want to watch me jump." He said calmly, looking back over the edge.

"Why would you want to do something like that?" The man asked, lighting another cigarette. "What's your name?" He continued before the other man had a chance to speak.

"F-Frank, and what's it to you? I have my reasons." He said over his shoulder.

"For you to be up here, they must be some pretty big reasons." The man said, taking another long drag of his cigarette.

Frank tried to ignore the man, but the words began to bring memories to him. Tears threatened to run down his face along with the rain, but he stamped them down.

"Or maybe they're really not much, and you're just being a child?" The man offered.

Frank snapped. "What the hell would you know about it?" Now tears were flowing from his eyes, but he didn't care. It was hard to see anyway.

The other man shrugged his shoulders, but didn't move. "I just don't think anything could be bad enough to make you stand up here, on a night like this." He said evenly.

Scenes of the past few months raced through Frank's mind. Catching his wife in bed with his best friend was the catalyst of course, and he said that out loud. Then the divorce hearing where he lost custody of their youngest son was next.

"That's it?" The man in black asked, tossing his cigarette butt over the edge.

Frank was astonished. Everyone he told his story to sympathized with him, or felt pity. This man was chuckling at him.

"Go to Hell man, my world was taken from me in less than a month. I've been trying to deal with it, even my psychiatrist doesn't want me around. I don't want to live anymore, do you have a problem with that?"

"No. I just have a problem with your reasoning. You have two sons, right? What about the oldest?"

"He lives on his own, he hates me."

"Well, I doubt that. I'm sure he doesn't like you, but you're still his father. And what about the youngest? You lost custody, that doesn't mean you can't see him now and then, right?"

"One hour every Sunday, supervised. Yeah, what a great relationship that would be." Frank snapped.

The other man lowered his hat slightly against the rain which was coming down harder. A cigarette appeared at the corner of his mouth and he lit it, twirling the used match over the ledge.

"He still needs a father, doesn't he? You sound selfish. Think about it, Frank, what will happen to your sons when they find out you killed yourself? Who do you think they'll blame?"

When Frank didn't respond for a few seconds, the man in black took a long drag and continued.

"Well, the oldest might blame himself for not being closer with you, but the younger one will most definitely blame his mother. Have you thought about any of this aside from how you feel? Have you always been this selfish, Frank?"

"Rot in hell." Frank replied.

The other man smirked, but continued.

"Who else depends on you, Frank? What about the people at your store? What will they do when you're gone?"

"They'll be fine...well, they might lose their jobs but they'll probably find other ones...did I mention my store to you?" He asked, suddenly confused.

"You must have." The man replied. "So by taking the easy way out, you not only aren't curing anyone's pain, but you're adding to everyone around you. This can't be about just your wife. You can get another woman; you're not ugly or deformed, Frank. What's your problem?"

"No one will even notice I'm gone..." Frank whispered.

"You know that's a lie. So what if you still love her, you're not that old yet. You still have half of your life to live. Your kids need to know they have a father when they grow up. Don't you think they'll be screwed up in the head knowing their father jumped off a high-rise?"

Frank couldn't speak; he simply hugged his arms around him tighter, and closed his eyes. The other man placed his hands back in his pockets and took a step toward Frank, still leaning against the ledge railing.

"Is that what you want for your kids? To be messed up in life because of you? Of course not. It's not too late; I'm the only one who knows you're up here. You can come down, go back home to bed. In the morning you can wake up, and get your life back on track. You can go call your son, and apologize for whatever you did. You can do all of this, your life should mean something."

Frank opened his eyes, and his arms dropped to his sides. He looked over his shoulder at the other man's piercing, blue eyes.

"You think that's true? My sons need me, even if I'm not there in their life all the time, right?"

"Of course they do, what did you think? They would replace you like a hamster?" The man in black scoffed, tossing his cigarette butt off the ledge.

"You're right...being up here was only for me, I...I never even thought about what my actions would do to them." Fresh tears leaked down his face, and he steadied himself against the statue as a strong wind came up.

The man in black nodded slowly.

"They need a father, and you need your sons. You need to see the youngest graduate still; you need to make sure the oldest gets help for his addiction. You need to see and do so much; your life should have immense meaning."

Frank sobbed quietly, nodding his head. He didn't remember mentioning Scott's addiction to cocaine, but he didn't trust his mind much anymore.

"You're right, I need to live for them, if not for myself."

The other man nodded.

"Thank you. Seriously, you saved my life tonight. I would have jumped had you not come up here." He started to walk across the ledge, holding the statue for support.

"You don't need to thank me, Frank. In fact, you really shouldn't."

The man in black moved to help Frank into a sitting position on the ledge.

"What do you mean?" Frank asked, trying to get down off the ledge. The other man held him where he was.

"You're of no use to me if you go willingly, Frank. I needed you to realize your life was important to you, so that your death would mean something. Don't worry, most people die of a heart-attack half-way down."

And with that, the man in black shoved Frank backwards.

He stood there, peering over the edge for a few minutes, as the wind howled louder around him and the rain pelted him harder.

Taking a deep breath, the man turned his sparkling blue eyes up to the moon and his coat started to flail wildly around him. As the wind picked up stronger, and his coat whipped more fiercely, it started to break up into small parts. All at once, his body broke up into a hundred black crows, and they flew off into every direction.

Just another night for Death.




(Wordpad formatting isn't my favorite, but Ms Word is down for me.)

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  #2  
Old 07-18-2009, 11:34 AM
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A good story, if slightly predictable. From the moment he appeared, the identity of the man in black was never in doubt. Maybe you should have cast him against type. And lines such as: "What the hell, indeed." only make it more blatant, while the chain-smoking is another clue in six-foot neon letters.

Since I've mentioned the chain-smoking, in the following passage, the man in black lights a cigarette before he's finished the one he's smoking. Don't know if that's a mistake, or if he's smoking two at once.

In response, the man walked to the ledge and peered over, tossing the butt of his cigarette over and leaning against the railing. He looked at the jumper and shrugged his shoulders, before taking out another cigarette from a pocket somewhere and cupping his hands to his face to light it.

Once he had taken a long drag, he took a deep breath.

"I'm not really sure anymore." He said.

The jumper was confused for a second, but got over it quickly. He accepted the answer, and in his dark frame of mind it seemed to make sense.

"You might want to get out of here, unless you want to watch me jump." He said calmly, looking back over the edge.

"Why would you want to do something like that?" The man asked, lighting another cigarette. "What's your name?" He continued before the other man had a chance to speak.
There were a few places where the wording didn't jibe for me. For instance:

"Who's there?" He asked tentatively. He openly wondered to himself if he had imagined the voice, and almost turned back to the ledge.
The openly doesn't sit right for me. While we're at it, he wondered to himself - well, who else would he wonder to if he thinks he's alone?

Sorry to be pernickety, but these things always catch my attention. There were a few other places where the wording seemed off to me, but I won't bore you with my niggles.

Overall, it's a good story. Solid, dependable, does what it says on the label. It would be great, though, if you could give it a little twist somewhere to make it stand out.

Thanks for posting!
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Old 07-18-2009, 03:16 PM
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Really nice! I agree with Q Wands, the identity was given away a little to quick and easy. Make us earn it!

The rest of the back and forth (besides too many cigs) was excellent. Now, near the end where he changes his mind, that was a little "in role" for "jumper-talked-down", if that makes sense. As in: he changed his mind quickly and then repeated cliche'd lines, like "My children need me.". I don't see most people talking like that. They'd at least use the child's name, but more likely have something more personal to say, less generic movie terms.

Don't let criticism bring you down, just some tweaking. The story was great, the idea was great, and your presentation was excellent.

Good job!
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Old 07-19-2009, 09:22 AM
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my sister and i both agree, this story was quite disappointing. We both thought, aside from what the others have said, that this man in black was either an "angel" or his imagination coaxing him from the ledge. It was confusing when he said "you're no good to me willingly" because it didn't make that much sense. Anyways i loved the flow throughout the whole story. It was quite interesting.
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Old 07-19-2009, 11:05 AM
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Not sure what Victoria means... angel?! Angel of darkness, maybe, lol.

It made sense to me. In fact, it made too much sense too early on. Great story, I like the dark, grittiness of it. My only hold up is the pacing of the cigs and too many clues about our mystery person.

After we know he's an agent of evil and he said
"I wouldn't dare do such a thing." He said, putting his hands in his pockets.
I kinda already knew he was going to push him. The misdirection of talking him down was good though. My advice would be to take out some hints so we don't know he's going to push him. Him appearing out of the shadows is too big a hint. If he seemed like an stranger passing by or had a reason to be on the roof, then cleverly talks the guy down, then pushes, it would be perfect.

You could try just using the constant cigs as something wrong.

The ending line about going willingly. I think too much explanation for us readers. I would suggest something like "You're no use to me if you go willingly, Frank." and shoves him. Less is more, that way, imho.

Critiques aside, I like your dialogue and story quite a bit. I like how it takes a while to talk him down, which seems more real to me. Some of the end bit where Frank says cliched lines ("Yes. It would be foolish to jump.") could be more personal. People don't say stuff like that. Not so generic, but very detailed thoughts of what brought him down. "My son growing up without me" could be "His baseball game is next week...", just the hints are enough. We don't need to hear his conclusions.

May seem like a lot of criticism from me, but it's because this is one of my favorite stories so far. I'd love to see it tweak itself to being even better.

Keep re-writing it and reading it with fresh eyes. Good job so far!
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Old 07-19-2009, 10:38 PM
Jeremy Law (Offline)
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Heh, the amount of cigarettes he lit up was quite intentional, and so was the reader knowing the motives of the man in black.

The only disappointing thing I have to say other than that, is I wrote this in 30-45 minutes and didn't edit or spell-check it.

I have taken in and absorbed the critiques you've all given and I thank you - but this remains in rough draft. It will not be edited as of this time, and most likely never.

At least now I know you guys give honest feedback, I feel more confident posting my actual novel pieces on this forum!
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Old 07-20-2009, 02:30 AM
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Aha! So you were testing us. Well, glad we passed the audition.
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Old 07-20-2009, 10:10 AM
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Trickster! Get him!
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