Friday, July 27, 2007

Entry #21

Taking Stock
by Anthony J. Rapino

“Oh, Jesus, God. Not again.”

Martin Raft sat up and rubbed his eyes, bringing the blurry surroundings to a crisp finish. His girlfriend, Naomi, would have called it a real plasma-quality day.

Plasma-quality, because the forest was clear and bright. Day, because Raft had blacked out through the night again.

The sun, though filtered through most of the trees, fell unaffected on a small clearing ahead. Raft saw something past some fallen branches.

“Don’t do it, Marty,” he mumbled. “You don’t have to look.” But he knew better. He had to take stock. Keep an accurate count, for judgment.

He stood and stepped forward. “Why can’t life go back to the way it used to be?”

He answered himself in place of Naomi. “Because used to be isn’t a place I can visit.”

Naomi of course couldn’t answer, because she was also a used to be. Raft had made sure of that.

He reached into his pocket and retrieved a small notepad. He flipped past pages filled with scribbled notes: Young boy: ~13. Infected, deported. Woman: late 40’s. Infected, deported. Naomi: Infected. Deported.

Infected, because that’s what those sick fuck officials called it. Deported, because Raft needed his own euphemism to counter the government’s.

In the clearing, the sun’s rays dropped over his shoulders like a blanket.

Raft took stock.

Man: late 30’s. Infected. Deported.

Woman: early 20’s. Raft paused. Something moved. He bent, put a shaking hand out, and then withdrew.

“Oh, God.”

He wrote, Pregnant. Infected.

“Not again.”


SzélsőFa said...

It feels like an expert from a dystopian novel to me. The plot feels uncomfortable, I guess this is intentional.

apprentice said...

I think you do get the sense it stems from something bigger.

I like the character's surname in these uncertain times i has a good edgy feel to it. And the voice seems very sure.

Could have done without the underlining though

Anthony Rapino said...

Hey, thanks for the comments.

The underlining is actually supposed to be italics. i sent it in manuscript format, which calls for underlines in place of italics.

Anonymous said...

Manuscript format isn't necessary for these entries.

I've made the formatting change so it is how you intended.

Anonymous said...

Really creepy - it does sound like an excerpt from a novel. Nicely written.

Anthony Rapino said...

Jason, I appreciate it. I apologize again for the trouble.

I have to say, you are all very very good readers.

Here's the scoop. I wrote this based on the plot and characters from the novel I am currently working on. It's totally new, and written only for this contest, but, as you all have noticed, a smaller piece of a bigger picture.

Thanks again for your comments. Looking forward to more.

Jeff said...

Good job of capturing the tension he feels in the narrative flow.

AngelConradie said...

very spooky… i’d love to know more!

Unknown said...

I like it, but at the end I'd rather he act more impassively, or maybe with a tinge of anger...or revulsion.

If his girlfriend is dead, the shock of it all would have to dull what he is seeing, right?

I mean, how can it get worse than seeing your loved one catch this terrible illness and die? Especially if you were the one who had to finish her the text implies.

Lastly, the names are a tad off. We're on first-name terms with his girlfriend, and he even informally addresses himself as "Marty." Given this, why does the narrator choose to call him by his last name? It's like your distancing us from him.

Anyway, these notes should be taken in a vaccuum. For all I know, the groundwork of the novel requires everything to be as is.

Unknown said...

This is jarring and disturbing, just I guess it is supposed to be. There's a thread of terror and chill. The voice is strong. Would very much like to see the rest of where this comes from.

Anthony Rapino said...

Thanks so much for the great comments.

I'm surprised how everyone seems to be picking up on the hidden background to this story.

Heck, if I ever sell it, maybe you can all find out more :-)

Anonymous said...

It's great to read your work Oni - you certainly sell the tension.

Chris Eldin said...

Now that I can take my time with some of these, it's quite nice. Really like this one. Reminds me of Lois Lowry's "The Giver." Do you know that book? And it also felt to me like part of a larger story. Best of luck with it. I'll bet it's pretty good.

Bernita said...

I particularly like the euphmistic use of "deported."
You manage the psychology very well - the attempt to establish and assert a sense and order to the hopelessness.

Anonymous said...

An infiltrator, perhaps? Interesting idea. I could feel the larger story here.