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Algeny


ONE




The young doctor sat with a sigh, rubbing his temples with his fingertips.  Moving very slowly, he pulled out and spoke very quietly, but gravely, into a tape recorder.

"Audio log of Dr. Ian Kovane, 25 January 2041."  He sighed briefly before continuing.

"Vanity has been an integral part of the human psyche, the human spirit, and all human society since the beginning of time.  It has always existed; it will always exist."

A man trudged quickly through a seemingly endless field of snow.  Ahead of him, trees swayed in the breeze of a coming storm.  His child rested, wrapped in tattered, grey blankets, in his arms.  He had begun to lull her to sleep with a gentle lullaby as they walked tirelessly through the frozen landscape.

Despite the thick layers of ragged clothes and blankets between them, the little girl felt her father's heart beat like a war drum.

Fear had set in and the wolves were upon them.


"In the later twentieth century and on into the twenty-first, vanity took the form of plastic surgeries.  Exercise routines and healthy diets-all remnants of working at one's own health-they fell off the face of the earth.  They never really stood a chance."  He laughed to himself darkly before continuing.  

"Everyone was looking for that quick fix-an access road to perfection."

As the man continued into the mouth of the forest, he barely heard a car engine hum.  It was far behind him, but it was shortening the gap with each breath he took.

Closer now.

Closer still.


"Eventually, vanity evolved.  Soon, plastic surgeries weren't even enough to quench its thirst; the super-wealthy started dabbling in eugenics.  And this science, which started out as a means for curing genetic diseases, became a vain attempt to be the prettiest, strongest, fastest, and smartest we could be.

"Soon, eugenics became the tool in our misguided pursuit to become perfect."

The man quickened his pace to a near run as he heard the car coming nearer and nearer to them.  He didn't stop moving until he heard the car stop right behind him.  There was no sound as the engine stopped-all he could hear was his breathing as his heart began to thud up against the walls of his chest as fear crept up into his throat.

As he heard the doors open and shut, his drumming heart stopped.  He tried to breathe deeply and remain calm.  Not knowing what more to do, he clutched his child closer into his chest.

A voice from behind the man rang out very loudly and militantly, "Are you Dr. Walter Allan Polk?"

He paused for only a few brief moments before answered shakily, "Y-Y-Yes."

"Dr. Polk, are you aware that you are in direct violation of Federal Ordinance 52-9G?" the voice rang out more loudly than before.  Its owner audibly loaded a rifle behind him.  A second body followed suit.  They were officers of the law-"chlorinators," as they'd come to be known over the past few decades.

"Yes."

"And you are aware that the law states that within five days of the conviction of your crime, you were to have shown up at Vadium Plaza for termination?"

Trying to stay emotionless, the doctor said, "Yes."

"And you are clearly aware that you failed to do so and that my orders are to shoot you on sight?"

"Yes."

The two officers encircled Walter, keeping their guns pointed at his chest.  It was the shorter of the two that first noticed the blankets swaddled in his arms.

"But there was a problem," the doctor began after a long pause.  He began to breathe more deeply.

"Sir, what are you carrying?" one of the officers demanded, snarling, bearing his teeth and ready to lunge in for the kill.

Walter did not move or say anything: fear had devoured his ability to answer.

"Sir, if you do not answer me, I will be forced to shoot.  What are you carrying?"

Walter remained silent.

"I repeat, if you do not answer me, I will be forced to shoot," the officer continued.  "Dr. Polk?  Do you understand me?  I do not want to hurt you.  Show me what you're carrying, and no one will be harmed."

Now, he didn't even seem to breathe.

The officers reared back, ready to deliver.

The doctor breathed deeply and continued, tearing up slightly.  "…because in the pursuit for a perfect society,"

Without a moment's more hesitation, the shorter officer fired at the bundle in Walter's arms, and the child's blood splattered scarlet like paint over an infinitely white and snowy canvas.

"…we are the criminals."

Anguish mowed Walter down, and he was crippled in his loss.  Too agonized to scream, he fell to his knees in silence, burying his head in the tattered blankets and pulling his child's small body to him as tightly as possible.  Tears mixed indiscriminately with his mucus and saliva, sticking shamelessly to the torn rags that covered his daughter.

They used only one bullet to end his suffering and drove away, having nothing at all to say about it.

Dr. Kovane slammed his hand on his desk, knocking down the tape recorder.  The tears that were welling in his eyes escaped down his cheeks as he blinked.  

He picked up the tape recorder and spoke far more softly than before.

"Walter Polk-a colleague and friend of over thirty years-and his daughter were shot yesterday afternoon.  They were two of the last five genetically unaltered people still alive.  Now, there are only three: my wife, my daughter, and myself.

"And with Walter fired and dead, I am-for the first time- truly afraid my family may not have much time left.

"How long will they really let me live?

"How long will I be an asset to this society?

"And when I stop being useful, will they remember that I used to be?  

"Or will I, like Walter, be fired?  Will I and my family, like so many others, be slaughtered for existing?"

He ran his fingers through his hair.  So many questions and absolutely no answers.  He wished so badly he could stop thinking and that he could stop being afraid.

"That's all for tonight," he said, uttering a long sigh.  "End audio log of Dr. Ian Kovane."

He pressed the stop button and got out of his chair.  Wrapping his fingers around the chain, he pulled it to turn off the light.  Lost for words and answers, he sat back down and stared at nothing the darkness.  He tried to let himself decompress, but the nothingness never stopped staring right back at him.  He sighed again, running his palms across his forehead.

The wolves are biting at our heels.  They're hungry; and they will not wait much longer.

After a few moments, he stood and walked out of his den and out into the black hallway.  Tired, he continued along so engrossed in and preoccupied with his thoughts that he almost didn't hear his daughter call out to him.

"Daddy?"

He stopped and looked into her room.

"What is it, sweetie?" he asked, walking in.  He sat by her at the foot of her bed and let her rest her head in his lap.

"A boy at school told me I was different," she said.  "He said you and mommy were different, too."

Running a finger through her hair, he said, "Well, of course.  We're all different."

"Yeah, but he said it was a bad thing.  He said we were… freaks," she said sadly.  "Are we freaks, daddy?"

"Of course not."

"Then why did he say that?"

"He said it, because…"  Ian's words trailed off.  He took a deep breath.  "Do you know what daddy does when he goes to work?"

"You help people.  You make them better."

"That's right," he replied, a smile in his voice.  "Sometimes, people get sick when they're born-sometimes mommies and daddies make their kids sick."

"How?"

"Well, you know how we say you have mommy's eyes, because they're blue like hers?"

His daughter nodded up at him.

"Well, sometimes kids get their parents' sicknesses, just like you got mommy's blue eyes, and it's my job to change the way they're made so they don't have to be sick," he explained.  "But some people."  All people, he kept to himself. "Some people decide they want to make their kids different than they were already.  But you, me and mommy, we're all the same as we always were."

"Why?  Why are we the same?  Why am I the same?"

"Because when you were born," he said, pulling her up into his chest.  "Your mommy and I decided you were too perfect to change," he said, smiling down at her.

She smiled, yawning sleepily, and he hid a tear that slid away from the corner of his eye.  He laid her down, tucked her in, and kissed her forehead.

"You get to sleep, okay?" he said.

She nodded, slowly drifting off toward sleep, and he walked from the room slowly-his mind swimming, drowning in thought.

He made his way back into the hallway and walked slowly toward his room.  His wife lay asleep in their bed; he meekly smiled at her figure as it waxed and waned with each breath she took.

He stepped into the bathroom and flicked on the fluorescent light.  In the mirror, he saw very tired eyes and wrinkled, worn skin; on the mirror, he saw a few scraps, cut from newspaper articles, which had been hanging there for nine years.

"Government Declares All Humans Are Illegal," "New Federal Ordinance Says All Genetically Non-Altered Citizens Are Subject to Termination," "Riots Eminent, Experts Say," "Downtown in Flames," "Five Left," "A Perfect World."

Emotion swallowed him, and Ian crumpled the articles, angrily throwing them to the bathroom floor.  He sank, crouching and crying out all the tears-for Walter and his daughter, for his family, for himself, for the freedom they'd taken for granted.

A perfect world, he thought, scathingly repeating the journalist's cruel arrogant title.  He reached out and picked up one of the crumpled scraps.  He had underlined nearly half of it.  

On the front there were two pictures-the first was of downtown Vadium before the federal ordinance and the second was the city after.  The first was "coated in smog" and "writhed with inefficiency."  And the second, thanks to the "superior genetics of our race" was the "height of perfection."  When held up to the light, a disembodied smile shone through the thin newsprint.

"You smug fucks!" he shouted, punching the tile floor.

Ian began to shake, and the article fell from his limp grip.  He'd wished so badly that this could all be some terrible nightmare-but in thirty-two years long years of tossing and turning, he'd never woken up, and now the alarm screamed out,  It's time to go, Ian.  It's time to let go.

He didn't bother to muffle his sobs or screams as he sank lower to the floor, because he wasn't afraid of waking his family.  It didn't matter anymore.

Fear had set in, and he believed that, soon, the wolves would be upon them.
New edits.

All your comments are helpful and appreciated.

As always, enjoy :D

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:iconmedreaming:
Critique by medreaming Apr 7, 2010, 3:38:43 PM
This is a great beginning to something I'm sure will be a great story. You really draw the reader in with the simultaneous description of the audio log, explaining the important facts without boring the reader with a long, involved explanation that doesn't contain any plot. It feels kind of like an introduction to one of those fast-paced action movies, almost so you can actually see both parts of the story you're telling. It's very well written and easy to read.

The ideas behind this, genetic modification and being the last of a particular kind, aren't that rare in dystopian stories such as this. However, you combine the two in an interesting way—usually it's the ones who have been genetically altered are the outcasts. Also, I like how you bring the family aspect into this. It puts an original, fascinating perspective on the whole concept.

There's just a few things that could be improved here. First of all, in one of the italicized parts, the officer refers to Walter Polk as "Dr. Kovane": “Dr. Kovane? Do you understand me?” Then you reveal that it was Walter Polk who you were talking about.

Also, the transition between log-with-italicized-flashbacks and the main part of the chapter seems a bit rough. One way to change this is to end the chapter after Dr. Kovane finishes the audio log, and chapter 2 is the rest. However, this isn't really necessary if you just change some things so the chapter doesn't seem so broken-up. The italicized parts are dramatic, exciting; the part right after seems a bit incongruous. Perhaps introduce some of the doctor's emotions about the "perfect world" before his daughter comes in, and then return to that again at the end?

Speaking of the end, the way you show his breakdown is quite believable and very realistic. The reader can tell something interesting is going to happen in the next chapter, which is a must for all opening chapters. It's a great way to leave a lasting impression on your audience. Again, brilliant piece, and congratulations on the DLD!
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:iconflickeringxhorizon:
FlickeringXHorizon Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2010
This is wonderful! It gave me goosebumps.
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:iconfreakomaniacadisical:
Freakomaniacadisical Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010
Great Work :D

Here, check:
Estranged [link]
Isolated Emotions [link]
Indeterminate Her [link]
Disremembrance [link]
Draw A Blank World [link]
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2010  Student Writer
Thank you! :D
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:iconaikimoon:
Aikimoon Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010
Yeesh! Bleak stuff. I think the previous comments have said it all. All I would advise is that the main character ideally should show a degree of strength. The reader needs to empathise with him and want him to succeed. As it stands we only sympathise with him rather than feeling like we have engaged with his plight ourselves.
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2010  Student Writer
Thanks for the advice and for taking the time to read!
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:iconaikimoon:
Aikimoon Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2010
Not a problem. Happy to help.
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:iconpaperdart:
PaperDart Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010   Writer
This is powerful. I'd be tempted to separate the italicised section into a prologue of sorts, because currently it raises questions (for me, anyway) about how the speaker knows exactly what happened to Walter. I daresay it wouldn't really make much difference, though.

Having read your prologue, I think the italicised section here would be more effective, and more related. Just my two cents, of course.

One grammatical error: "his wife lied on the bed" - should be "lay on the bed".

Keep up the great writing!
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2010  Student Writer
I'll definitely consider it, but I do like having both streams of prose running at once in the same section. We'll see how it turns out. Thanks for the kind critique! :D
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:iconpaperdart:
PaperDart Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2010   Writer
My pleasure!
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:icondailylitdeviations:
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by DLD (Daily Literature Deviations) and has been selected as our “Pick of the Day”. It is featured in a news article [link] and on our main page.

Keep writing and keep creating.
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010  Student Writer
Wow! I'm so excited to here this! Thank you so much :D
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:iconserafine-enifares:
serafine-enifares Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010  Student General Artist
This is amazing! the way you structured it with the two stories merging into one flows perfectly!

Could you have a look at my opening chapter [link] that I wrote? You seem to know a lot and I haven't had any feedback apart from (biased) family. :XD:
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010  Student Writer
Thank you very much! I'll be happy to take a look! :D
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:iconserafine-enifares:
serafine-enifares Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010  Student General Artist
Thanks! ^_^
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:iconkitri-du-lac:
Kitri-du-Lac Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2010
I really like this story. One little typo I noticed is in the paragraph where the doctor walks towards his bedroom. It should be 'His wife lay in her bed' not 'His wife lied in her bed'. Just a little bit of confusion there.

An interesting piece of post-apocalyptic fiction, this is an original take on ideas of genetic modification. It is also a well constructed opening chapter, creating a world that is coherent and using flash back to hook the readers interest. The selective cyclical use of cliche adds a wonderful morbid tone to the chapter. An intriguing piece of work.

I have decided to suggest this to =DailyLitDeviations. If chosen your piece will feature in one of their daily newsletters. Good luck!

It would be appreciated if you would take the time to send me a link to any prose pieces, by any other deviants, that you feel deserve to be featured. :)
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010  Student Writer
Thank you very much for the recommendation and the kind critique! :D
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:iconkitri-du-lac:
Kitri-du-Lac Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2010
My pleasure :)
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:iconseigner:
Seigner Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Very good story, it has a lot of potential.
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010  Student Writer
Thanks! :D
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:iconseigner:
Seigner Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome
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:icongavynscarborrough:
GavynScarborrough Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2010   Writer
To begin, I want to say that I love your piece and think that your plot line is superb.

Now, for the concrit:

"Moving very slowly, he pulled out and spoke very softly, but gravely, into a tape recorder." - Here, there doesn't seem to be any connection between "he pulled out" and "a tape recorder." With my mind living in the gutter, I thought you meant something completely different. That said, you might want to change it to "Moving very slowly, he pulled out a tape recorder and spoke into it very softly, but gravely," or something along those lines.

The conversation with the girl is very believable, as is the protagonist's emotional breakdown.

I can't wait to see part 2.
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010  Student Writer
Glad for the critique, as I read that again I got a totally different meaning, so I'll definitely modify my sentence structure!

:D
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:iconcharlene-art:
Charlene-Art Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
This is such and intriguing concept and so well-written!
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:iconthe-inkling:
The-Inkling Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2009   Writer
Ah, this is beautiful. Compelling and well written. I almost didn't read it. :noes: But within a couple of lines I was hooked. I shall go off to read the rest of it now. But really...great.
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:iconmreid973:
mreid973 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2009
Since I don't think this has been mentioned yet (and I have been re-reading in order to move on to Chapter 2):

"'I repeat, if you do not answer me, I will be forced to shoot,' the officer continued. 'Dr. Kovane? Do you understand me?'"

I believe (although I could be wrong) that the addressee is Dr. Polk and not Dr. Kovane, as this passage was still italicized and referred to Polk's death. Dr. Kovane had yet to be introduced. If you meant Kovane instead, then perhaps that jump in time is unclear.

Anyway, I like the premise and overall execution of the story so far.
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2009  Student Writer
Thank you much. I completely missed that.

Glad you're enjoying it :D
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:iconxbarelyxbreathingx:
xbarelyxbreathingx Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2009  Hobbyist
I cried when I read this.

You're an amazing author
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2009  Student Writer
I'm so glad that you liked it and even more so that it could move you like that =)
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:iconxbarelyxbreathingx:
xbarelyxbreathingx Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2009  Hobbyist
:D It is soooo good. You should become a real author
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:icondorianharper:
DorianHarper Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Professional Writer
Very interesting idea! I really enjoyed the theme. Your use of conversation is strong and descriptions are very well written, as well. You have a way of writing compelling dialogue which keeps the reader interested. However, one suggestion that I may have for you in this piece is adding some more paragraphs of information. This piece was mainly dialogue-- which to some may seem as an overload.
Don't get my wrong, it was very well written-- but maybe adding some more paragraphs of information and description instead of inserting as much dialogue can help. Try to evenly balance both aspects.
Also, one little thing I noticed that I might want to suggest:

:bulletpink: "“Because when you were born,” he said, pulling her up into his chest. “Your mommy and I decided you were too perfect to change.”"
:pointr: "Because when you were born," he said, pulling her up into his chest, "your mommy and I decided to were too perfect to change."
*You need a comma instead of a period to continue the sentence that you started-- thus starting the next section of dialogue with a lower case letter.

All in all, I think it was very well written, and has a wonderful storyline. However, like I said, consider adding some more paragraphs of detail instead of basically all dialogue. It will help to balance the piece ;)
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Student Writer
I really appreciate your time =) and your advice. I will take it all into consideration as I edit.
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:icondorianharper:
DorianHarper Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Professional Writer
You're very welcome^^
I'd be glad to read some of your upcoming works, as well^^ It's been a pleasure :)
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:icondm7:
DM7 Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Wow very intense and have been conquered up by my vivid imagination! Now that's good! :D I wish you the best in your writing!
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Student Writer
Thanks very much for the kind words =)
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:icondm7:
DM7 Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Anytime!
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:iconstacatto:
Stacatto Featured By Owner May 29, 2009
Great concept man! The execution was equally beautiful. Definitely looking forward to more of these installments.
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Student Writer
Haha, well they'll be coming, I do promise. Glad you enjoyed it :D
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:iconoff-devil:
off-devil Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
He sat at by her at the head of her bed and let her rest her head in his lap.

- the first 'at'

dude, this story is amazing. i can't wait till you upload more. this start is so strong that it could even stand alone as a short story.

the flashback scenes were perfect woven in with the spoken diary.

great imagery. the snow scene and the newspapers stuck in the mirror can be so easily visualized. the newspaper clippings gave such a great apocalyptic feel.

& it feels like this story has a lot of potential for symbollic meanings. the death of the doctor's daughter was like the death of hope for an 'unperfect' future.

the dialogue was very good, too. damn, this whole piece is good. hope part 2 gets up there soon *hinthint* :)
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner May 28, 2009  Student Writer
Cool, I'm really glad you liked it, Stelle. I plan on working on either this or Train Under Water tonight.
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:iconemerald-waters:
Emerald-Waters Featured By Owner May 26, 2009
Also! I like the recurring wolves...
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner May 26, 2009  Student Writer
Haha, it doesn't happen much more throughout the story, though the scene at the end's reference to the wolves is pretty cool, if I do say so me'self.
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:iconemerald-waters:
Emerald-Waters Featured By Owner May 26, 2009
First off, I have to say that I love this story. I love the concept; I love the style. It reminds me of Gattaca (great movie!).

"His child rested, swaddled in tattered, grey blankets, in his arms." This sentence bothers me. If you like the apositive, that's fine, but I believe it could do without. I mean just switch it around. You don't want to get rid of anything...

The image of child's blood and snow makes the whole scene just more criminal. I like it.

"Or will I, like so many others be slaughtered?” Comma after "others?"

"Wrapping his fingers around the chain, he pulled it to turn off the light." I find this sentence awkward...

I like the way Ian explained the situation to his child. It was simple and definitely sounded realistic.

"His wife lied asleep in their bed." Should be "lay."

I love the newspaper article scene. It shows the omniscient government involvement and makes it seem like there is no way out, but I assume there will be a part two? I can't wait for that.

Until then, however, would you mind taking a look at "Pale Girl?" No one has given much feedback, and I am looking to progress it futher. Thank ye kindly, dear.
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:iconzmorgason:
zmorgason Featured By Owner May 26, 2009  Student Writer
Thanks for all the feedback, as it much appreciated. And yes, there be a part two, a part three, etc. It's quite a long story, actually.

And I'd be happy to inspect thy story. :)
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