Xaber writes

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Xaber writes

Post by Xaber on Wed May 27, 2015 8:39 am

Really, I started this topic because I've got a 6000-word short story due in the next few months that's going to count for a sizeable chunk of my final school mark ever. I would welcome any feedback on it.

Warnings for profanity, some violence, and sexual references.

Spoiler:

“There is enough food left to support me for three years, five months and three days. There is enough water left to support me for six months and ten days. The house’s structural integrity remains sound. The radio has registered no signal for the three months, two weeks, three days I have used it. From this point onwards, I no longer have the batteries necessary to continue searching for transmissions. If anybody is listening, I will no longer be able to contact you.”
Alice tapped the radio idly.
"I'm not going to die," she said, and turned the transmitter off.


The lone car cut a low spray of dull red dust across the plain. Nothing else moved in the wide emptiness.
“I spy with my little eye, something that starts with… D.”
“Dust.”
“No.”
“Debris.”
“No.”
“Dagger.”
“No. I can’t see your knives right now. Also, the last time I called them daggers, you called me a nerd.”
“Yeah, and you’re still a fucking nerd, so I figured you might still call them daggers.”
“Well, you were wrong.”
“Damn it.” Razor looked out the window. “Uh… dead people.”
“I didn’t think we’d passed any of – those.” Roger gripped the steering wheel.
“We passed a pile of them, like, five minutes ago? And there’ve been a few since then.”
“Right. Okay.”
“You were too busy driving, I guess.”
“I… guess.”
“So, was I right, or was I fucking right?”
“Neither.”
“Fuck.” Razor paused. “Uh… darkness?”
“It’s midday,” Roger said.
“There could have been a shadow somewhere?”
“No.”
“Ugh.” Razor looked out the window. “Dirt.”
“No. You’ve already said dust, and I already said,” Roger stressed, “that I would accept synonyms.”
“Yeah, well it doesn’t fucking matter if you accept them, ‘cause I’m not happy winning with a bullshit synonym.”
“Great.” Roger paused for a moment until Razor started visibly vibrating. “Okay, what’s so bad about synonyms?”
“I’ glad you asked!” Razor raised a finger and grinned. “In this desolate wasteland the world has been reduced to, there are personal standards that we must maintain if we are remain human.
“And…”
“And yes, my personal standard is that I will not fucking accept synonyms. They’re bullshit and I will not let them further corrode the beauty of this glorious language.”
“Sure. Make another guess.”
“Dashboard.”
“No, but close.”
“Driver.”
“No. Just off.”
“Fuck.” Razor huffed a breath and stared at the back of Roger’s seat. “Okay, you win. What is it?”
“Driving.”
“What the fuck? That’s not something you can fucking see!”
“Driving. It’s a gerund.” Roger grinned and flashed a glance back at Razor.
“The fuck’s a gerund?”
“It’s a verbal noun. You use it when you’re talking about the act of doing something. Here, the act of driving.”
“Then it’s the fucking act of driving!”
“No, it’s driving.”
“Driving is not a noun!”
“Ah, but you just used it as a noun.”
“I don’t give a shit! Words work the way I fucking want.”
“That is actually the exact opposite of how words work.”
“Then fuck the words!”
“You first.”
“Was that supposed to be innuendo?”
“Yes.”
“Good, because I will fuck the words as much as I want. Line up the fucking literature and I will give it the best night of its life.”
“Okay?”
“Feel that sweet creamy paper on my bare flesh. The tight grasp of its pages. The gasping, desperate murmur.”
“This is getting weird.”
“The erotic slap of hardcover on paper.”
“Stop it.”
“Oh my god, Roger, you look like a fucking tomato.”
“Just give me something to guess.”
“Fiiiiiiiiine.” Razor glanced out the car’s window. “I spy with my little eye, something that starts with… F.”
Roger gritted his teeth. “There’s no sexual intercourse whatsoever currently occurring in this car.”
“You’re only saying that because you haven’t seen what I’m about to do to Nietzsche’s magnum opus.”
“This is genuinely the worst conversation I’ve ever been involved in. I hope you’re happy. I really hope you’re happy.”
Razor started laughing. After a moment, Roger snorted and raised a hand over his spreading smile.
“Your fucking face!” Razor said. She started laughing again.
“Okay,” Roger said, “calm down. We’re almost there.”
“Shit, really? That went fast.”
“Yeah,” Roger said. “Yeah, it did.” He grinned again.


Alice sat quietly against the couch and watched the light dim.
She raised a hand and dimly inspected the chewed edges of her nails. She couldn’t remember biting them. She laid a hand on her forehead. The ragged edges of her hair were lower than they’d been before.
Alice’s stomach rumbled. The pangs of hunger felt distant, but she obliged them regardless, reaching beside her for the can she’d placed there earlier. She lifted the spoon to her lips and ate a tasteless mouthful.
She had turned off the radio one month two weeks two days previously. Prior to that, she had listened to the radio for two-hour stretches each day for one month one week five days. Prior to that, she had left the radio on continuously for two months no weeks five days. Prior to that, she had left the radio untouched for three weeks six days, until she had accepted that she was most likely alone, and that it would provide her best chance of contact.
Now it was gone, and she sat and waited for something to happen. Her family was gone. She could accept that. Her supplies were running out. She could accept that. The town was empty of supplies and survivors. She could accept that.
Something shone on the road. Alice regarded it curiously, as she would a dying insect. Her thoughts felt slippery.
Something caught, and her eyes widened. She stood slowly, then ran to the window and pressed her face against it.
It was a vehicle of some kind, she was sure. Approaching the house. She didn’t have long. She thought as quickly as she could. There were no weapons in the house. She’d found an old hunting rifle in the town, but there was no ammunition, so she’d left it in the shed. She couldn’t think of anything else.
She thought she could hear it already, a low whine on the edge of her mind, like some kind of insect coming towards her.
Something touched against her foot. She looked down. The can she’d been eating from had spilled onto the floor. A fork sat in the centre of a small puddle of brown liquid. She picked it up and ran her fingers over the tines.
She looked out the window again. The car had come to a stop about twenty metres distant from the house. Alice pressed herself to the wall and gripped the fork in one tightly shaking hand.
“This is the police, motherfuckers! We’re here to fuck your books!” The voice rang loud and true and enveloped Alice. She took a steely breath. She refused to die.


Razor hopped out from the car, brandishing the loudspeaker. She kept shouting into it.
“Guess what, fuckers, you’re all under arrest! You know why? I fucking said so, that’s why!”
“Where did you even get that?”
Razor turned and leveled the loudspeaker at him. “Remember when we–”
Roger flinched. “Turn it off!”
“Oh, sorry!” Razor turned it off. Roger took a breath and rubbed his right ear.
“Remember when we looted that school a few weeks ago?” Razor said. “I found it there.”
“And you didn’t tell me?”
“You would’ve just told me to leave it behind.”
“I wouldn’t have.”
Razor furrowed her brow.
“Okay, maybe I would have,” Roger said.
Razor grinned. “Exactly. And now it was all worth it.” She patted its side.
“How did you even hide that from me?” Roger said.
“Doesn’t matter now.” Razor turned the loudspeaker back on and turned to the house again.
“Come on, you useless pieces of pus-laden shit! Get the fuck out here!”
“Well, if there is anybody in there, they know we’re out here anyway.”
“It’s better this way. We’re terrible at being subtle.”
“So your solution to being bad at avoiding trouble is to be worse at avoiding trouble?”
“Yeah.”
“That’s pretty ridiculous.”
“Fuck yeah. That’s why it’s so great.”
“Whatever. We should go inside.”
“Nah, we should stay out here and argue more.”
“Why?”
“That’s what the viewers want. You want to stay in the business, you need to learn how to make the eyeballs happy, and what makes them happy is us being fucking useless idiots out here.
“Really?
“Take it from me, I’m great at this shit. I’ve been kicked out of like three different school plays.”
“I’m going in.” Roger walked towards the door of the house.
“Damn it, Roger, we need the advertising money if we’re going to survive in this cutthroat media environment!” Razor dropped the loudspeaker and followed, dashing past him to the door. She kicked it open.
“First one to find bodies gets property rights!” she shouted, then dashed inside. Roger stared after her for a moment, before shaking his head and following.


Alice waited, back against the window. The intruders’ car was still abandoned outside. She didn’t think that they’d left anybody in there, but she wasn’t sure.
“Roger! Check this out! This has to be the ugliest fucking painting I’ve seen in any of the houses here!” There was a crash and the sound of shattering glass. Alice juddered once in a sharp motion. She pressed her thumb against the tip of the fork.
“Roger, there’s a fishtank!”
“Don’t break it! Stop breaking everything!”
“Why?”
“I thought we were going to live here!”
“This is scorched earth!”
Alice heard the quick tapping of footsteps coming towards one of the doors. She tensed and waited and touched her fork. The eye would be best, if she could manage it. The throat would work as well. The door swung open with great inevitability. Alice leapt forward, raising her fork.
“What the–”
Alice crashed into the intruder, knocking them to the ground. She stabbed down with her fork. It glanced off the intruder’s forehead, leaving a graze. They grappled for it with their one free hand. Alice shoved it away and raised her fork again.
Something exploded into the side of her head, knocking her to the side. She shook her head dazedly. Something hit her in the stomach. She curled up onto the ground to try to shield herself. Something hit her again in her side, then in her legs, then in her stomach again.
“Daisy! Stop!”
Alice felt a silence appear as chill as an evening storm. She let it envelop the tight ball of pain in her chest, and she waited and listened. There were footsteps. Loud ones that slowly faded.
Alice cracked an eye open. A boy sat on the couch facing her, one hand covering his face. She could see drops of blood between his fingers from the graze on his forehead.


Razor lit a match, waved it slowly through the air, then flicked it off the roof. It glimmered into the darkness. She lit another one and flicked it away in the same way, then spat after it.
“That’s kind of a waste of matches,” said Roger.
“They grow on fucking trees.”
“True.”
Razor lit another match in place of replying.
“You didn’t need to hurt her like that. You could have seriously injured her.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“Well, it is.”
“Why?”
“She’s not a threat.”
“She looked pretty threatening to me, although maybe it was just because you were so goddamn helpless.”
“She had a fork. She wasn’t a threat. You didn’t need to hurt her like that.”
“Nice work justifying that.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“You’re pathetic, Roger. Where’s the pragmatism? You’re soft-hearted as fuck.”
“That’s – what? What is this?”
Razor stood, turned, and swung a hand to point at him. The match fell between them.
“You fucking called me Daisy!”
“Why does that matter?”
“It’s not my fucking name!”
“You could have killed that girl! Your name is not nearly as important as that!”
“Stop ignoring the real issue here, Roger.”
“The real issue? The real issue is that I have no way of knowing that you won’t try to kill her as soon as you go back downstairs!”
“Why does my position on murder matter to you?”
“Because you’re my responsibility!”
Nobody spoke for a moment.
“Fuck you. Fuck you, Roger.” She moved forward. Roger caught her arm.
“Wait. I’m–”
“Fuck you!” Razor wrenched her arm from Roger’s grip and dashed past him. The match burnt out behind her.


Alice sat back against the couch and stared out the window. The boy – Roger – had gone upstairs after spending at least an hour trying to explain why he was there. He kept glancing up at the roof where the other one had gone. Alice had nodded as the words blurred together until he’d left. Now she sat, holding shaking hands together, and waiting for the ringing in her ears to subside.
She heard footsteps and tensed. The boy had taken the fork.
The girl sauntered through the door, tossing a matchbox from hand to hand to hand.
“Hey there,” she said. Alice tried not to look at her. The girl tossed the
matchbox up again, tried to snatch it from the air, and knocked it
halfway across the room. She shook her head and slouched against the window. “What, you’re not going to say anything?”
Alice didn’t say anything.
“Damn. More monologues, huh? Damn, I was hoping I could get my Socrates on.”
“What?”
The girl grinned.
“You ever read Socrates?” she said.
“No?”
“It’s great. He’s such a prick to everybody. It’s amazing.”
“Really?”
“Yeah! He fucks up their ideas of everything so badly that they make him commit suicide. It’s great!”
“What?” Alice stared at the girl uncomprehendingly.
“Hah!” The girl pointed to Alice. “Rule two: don’t ask the same question twice.” She waved a hand and stopped talking to look expectantly at Alice.
Alice thought for a moment. “What’s rule one?” she said. The girl smiled.
“That’s the fucking question, isn’t it?”
Alice wrapped her hands around her arms. The girl glanced past her at the door.
“You look like you’ve got questions,” she said.
Alice breathed slowly, in and out, and in again, then spoke in a rush.
“Why are you here?”
“How many answers do you want?”
“What?”
“We’re here because this is a pretty fucking nice house and I actually have a fucking modicum of goddamn taste, unlike Roger. We’re here because Roger’s an enormous fucking nerd who knows too much about maps. We’re here because Roger’s fucking scared and thinks I’m a liability. We’re here because civilisation’s broken down and we didn’t want to be under it when it finishes falling.” She paused for a moment. “I’m here because Roger’s a fucking loser. Also, you just broke rule two again.”
“What?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Alice stared at her hands. “When are you going to leave?”
“No idea. I’ve got even less idea of what’s going on than usual. Same for Roger, no matter what he says.” She rolled her shoulders. “We’ve got shit to not do.” She stepped forward. Alice moved further back into the couch. “To be honest, I have no fucking idea.”
“Oh.”
“Let’s talk about something else. I’m Razor. You?”
Alice didn’t answer.
“Come on, tell me your name. Something.”
“Alice.”
“Cool. Alice, then.” She sat on the couch beside her. Alice shifted towards the edge. Razor lounged into the space she’d left.
“So,” she said.
Alice waited until it was clear Razor was not going to say anything.
“Are you… is Razor your real name?”
“Yeah,” she said.
“Your parents called you Razor?”
“No. Why does that matter? I don’t give a shit about what they called me. It’s my real name.” She frowned “I don’t know why it’s such a fucking problem for people. The fuck is up with you?”
Razor sat back. Alice waited for her to continue. She didn’t.


Alice woke to find the boy sitting in front of her, eating from a can of beans. It took her a few seconds to stiffen back into the couch.
“Morning,” the boy said. He held out the beans. “Want some?”
She shook her head and looked beside her. Razor was draped across the couch beside her, snoring softly.
“She’ll get some on her own.”
Alice looked at the boy in confusion. He ate another spoonful of beans.
“What’s your name?” he asked through the food in his mouth.
She considered. “Alice.”
“Huh. Cool. I’m Roger. I guess I already told you that, though.” He grinned. Alice nodded slowly, eyes darting across his face.
“How long are you going to stay here?” she asked.
Roger shrugged. “Few months. Depends on how much food and water we can find.”
“I have food. Not much water.”
“There’s probably some in the houses nearby. Haven’t you looked?”
Alice thought for a moment. She’d already salvaged everything she could find from the town.
“No, I haven’t looked,” she said.
“Huh. Anyway, we’re going to stay here for a while, then we’ll probably
go back to the city.”
“Oh.”
“You can come too, you know.” Alice blinked in surprise. The boy nodded. “Yeah, you could come with D – with Razor and me.”
Alice shook her head. “No. I couldn’t.”
“Why not? If you don’t mind me asking?”
“I… I’d just prefer to stay.”
“I can’t say I understand why, but sure.” Roger shrugged, then grinned self-consciously. “Uh… where’s the bathroom?”
“Sorry?”
“You know.” Roger waved a hand. His face coloured slightly. “Where have you been using as a bathroom here? Outside or something?”
Alice stared at him. “Oh. Outside. There’s a pit in the backyard.”
“Thanks.” Roger grinned, nodded to her, and left.



Razor woke slowly. She moved an arm. Alice couldn’t stop herself from squeaking slightly. Razor turned to look at her.
“Oh. Hey.” She smiled, blinking. “Morning.” She glanced out a window. “Ish? I guess?”
“I…”
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. More.” She grinned.
Alice slowly settled from where she had shrunk into the couch, willing her hands to loosen.
“What was your name again?” Razor said.
“Alice.”
“Oh, right. Alice.” Razor pushed herself off the couch and walked off towards one of the doors, then turned back to Alice.
“Where’s the food?”
Alice pointed to the kitchen. Razor nodded and shambled in that direction. Alice waited. A few minutes later, she saw Razor walking from the house towards the car, holding a knife and a can. She sat, opened the can, and started using the knife to pull pieces from within it. She looked like she was saying something. Alice couldn’t see anybody else nearby.
She heard footsteps from a room away, and curled into the couch again, raising her arms to cover her chest. Roger stepped into the room.
“Hey,” he said. “Where is she?”
Alice waved a hand out towards a figure sitting against the car. They both watched as Razor ate a piece of pineapple and continued to talk.
“What’s she doing?” Roger said.
“Eating breakfast,” Alice said. Roger glanced at her, and she looked down immediately.
“Are you all right? She didn’t do anything, did she? Sorry, I should have been around.”
Alice shook her head. “I’m fine.”
“Good.” Roger nodded and sat on the couch beside Alice. She tensed away from him. “I’m sorry about her.”
“It’s – it’s fine.”
“No, it isn’t.” He glanced at Alice, then looked back at Razor, and started talking softly and dreamily.
“I saved her life, you know. A while ago. She would’ve starved if it wasn’t for me.” “She’s a force,” he said. He paused. Alice glanced at him. His gaze drove out the window with a religious force. “She’s so caught up in her power fantasy that it’s not even fantasy any more. She’s barely even human. That’s why I’m here, I guess. Somebody needs to be human for her. Somebody needs to care about the world for her.” He looked back towards her.
“You sound like a poet,” she said. She hadn’t read any poetry for years.
“Heh. Thanks.” He paused. “She just needs a guiding hand, really.”
Alice paused, then probed. “Are you going to talk to her?”
“I don’t know.”
Alice paused. She looked down at her hands, then looked back up to Roger and steeled her tongue.
“Maybe you shouldn’t?” she said.
“What?”
“She sounds a bit like she needs to calm down. She probably doesn’t want to listen to you right now.”
“Maybe. But I don’t know if she’s safe to be around.”
“I can handle her,” Alice said. She looked back outside at the sitting figure. “Besides, you’re here. What can she do?”
Roger nodded. “True.” He smiled. Alice’s mouth slid up slightly.


Alice waited until Roger had left before she let her hands relax. She stared out the window. Razor had set the pineapple aside. She was still talking to herself. Alice looked down and stretched her hands out. Then she stood and walked.
She didn’t stop until she was sitting beside Razor.
“What’s going on?” she said, staring down and running a hand through the dust.
“I told you.” Razor sounded angry.
“Not with me. Between you and Roger.”
Razor stiffened. Alice kept talking as she stirred the dust.
“Last night he called you Daisy when you – last night.” She bit her lip. “Is that why you’re angry with him?”
Razor was still and stiff and taut. Alice waited, breathing slow breaths, hand tracing lines in the dust. When Razor spoke at last, it was with conviction and knowledge.
“I saved his life. Before. When everything was going to shit. He would have died if I hadn’t come for him. And… he looked up to me. We were a team, but he had this idea of me, like he worshiped me. I was the one. I was the leader. And then it just slowly went away. And I did things, I changed my name, I had fun, and meanwhile he just got less fun.” She paused. “You get what I’m saying, right?”
Alice nodded a second too late. Razor didn’t notice. She kept talking.
“I used to be like you, you know. I used to be little Daisy, good girl waiting to do whatever the fuck other people told her to. I watched the world for openings and put myself there.” She paused. “Now I make the openings.” She stopped. Alice glanced at her and went for it.
“My father left about six months ago,” she said. “He said he’d be back in a few weeks. With more water and people to help protect home and the other houses. He told me to hide and that nobody would come.”
“And what, you didn’t go and look for him?”
Alice hadn’t considered that. “He told me to stay here.” She shrugged.
“Where was he going?”
“The closest city. That’s what he said.”
“That’s not far. Probably, what, less than a day’s drive that way?” Razor waved a hand towards the east. Alice looked out. She didn’t think there was a city there.
“I guess so.”
“You know how to drive, right?” Alice nodded. Razor grinned. “Cool. You could just go all the way to the city.” She reached up to tap the car. “There’d be nothing in your way. And once you’re there, sure, it might be hard finding your dad, but he’d be there somewhere. And meanwhile, the city has to be better than this shitty shack, right? More fun, definitely.”
“I suppose so.” Alice paused. “If I didn’t find him, though, what would I do?”
Razor stood with her back to Alice and stretched her arms out as if to encompass the entire world. “Alice, I’m assuming your dad’s a big buff farmer guy with arms like fucking steel. Right?”
“A bit.”
“Right. He could beat up anybody who tried to fuck with him. You’ll probably find him building a farming empire once he’s reestablished civilisation through the entire western hemisphere.”
“If that’s true, where is he?”
“Maybe he just trusts you that much, that he thinks you’ll be fine. Because, face it, you’ve fucking survived the apocalypse this long. He knew you’d be at this shit. And you are.”
Alice shoved a hand through the dust.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“Don’t worry I’m sure of this shit.” Razor turned back to Alice. There was a glint in her eyes and a voracity in her grin.


Roger stood outside with his back to a wall of the house. He cupped one hand over his chin and looked across the dusted hills. In the cool of the house’s shade he watched the road that led to the town. In his left hand, hanging at his side, he held a motionless spoon.
Razor came, eventually, spinning a can between her fingers. She leant her shoulder against the wall to face Roger.
“We’re not staying here,” she said.
“Why not?”
“This place is a shithole. There’s nothing here.”
“There’s life here.” Roger looked over the red hills. “Life for us, at least.”
“Life for you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know.”
“You know that it’s supposed to mean. You wouldn’t have said it otherwise.”
“Yeah, I would. We’ve been together for, like, years now. Don’t you know me yet?”
“Apparently not.”
“What, you’re still hung up about me kicking the shit out of loser-girl over there?”
“Yes, I am!” He turned to her. “What was the point of it? She was on the ground, she was helpless, and you knew exactly what you were doing!”
“I got caught up in the moment. It happens.” Razor shrugged.
“Then what? You enjoyed hurting her too much to stop? I watched you do it. I saw the look on your face.” He paused. “Daisy.”
Razor’s face twisted. “I saved your fucking life!” she snarled.
“She had a fork. There was no threat to my life. Please don’t ignore the issue here.”
“What’s the fucking issue? That I’m not who you thought I was? That you were wrong? Roger, if you want to call this off – sure. Do it. But don’t blame me because you thought I was somebody else! Don’t try to change me so I’m your fucking fantasy! I’m my own fucking person!”
“So am I! I’ve spent the last year making sure you don’t get killed, and this is what I get?” Roger spoke in a slowing rush.
“You get what you fucking pay for, and you’ve given me shit all!”
“So what? You’re going to go off to the city and get yourself killed?”
“Yes, I fucking am!”
“Then go. Leave me here!” Roger had started shouting. “I’ll live all my life here and you’ll go die when you get too cocky!”
“At least I won’t be an actual cock in the process!”
Roger stopped, panting. Razor was tensed, fingers curled into claws.
They faced each other for a moment, then Razor’s eyes lost their glow. She almost crumpled until she was sitting on the ground.
“Why did you even follow me in the first place, Roger?”
“I suppose I thought you were better than this.” He turned and walked away. Razor watched him go for a moment, then shouted.
“Well, fuck you too!”
He didn’t reply.


Alice sat in the attic and looked through the skylight towards the stars.
The intruders weren’t talking. Alice allowed herself a small jolt of triumph at the thought. She didn’t know exactly why, but she’d done her best to continue the process.
This, therefore, was her chance. She hadn’t had a chance to look at the car, but if she could get the key, then she could leave.
She looked to the bag at her left. She had enough food and water for weeks. There would be more in the car. She hoped.
She looked at the stars again, and lay on her back until the darkness brought her sleep.


Somebody prodded her awake.
“Wha – what?” Alice blinked under the beam of a flashlight. The dust of the attic hung between her and bulb.
“Quiet,” Razor said.
“What?” Alice tried to blink the sleep from her eyes.
Razor squatted to sit beside Alice. “Can I trust you?”
“What?”
“I want to leave. I’m fucking sick of Roger. I want to go somewhere else, and I need somebody to drive.”
“Can’t you?”
“Not great. And I don’t want to drive alone.”
“I’m.” Alice couldn’t think properly. She didn’t know what she was supposed to say. “I’m not great at driving.”
“You have to be better than me. I need somebody to be better than me. Okay?”
“Are you sure? You’re not staying with Roger?”
“Fuck him. Fuck him so much. Not sexually, just general dislike.”
“I…” Alice thought furiously.
“What? Come on!”
“I… don’t know if I want to go?” Alice tried to speak as if the words were a revelation to her.
“What?”
“I’m not sure if I want to go.”
“So what, you’ll die from fucking running out of water?”
Alice paused.
“Roger said–”
“Roger’s full of bullshit, trust me. He doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.”
“I don’t–”
Razor huffed. “Look, we don’t have that long. We need to go now. Roger could wake up any moment now, and I already wasted half an hour drawing dicks on his face.”
Alice thought. “Okay,” she said. “I’ll go. I… Let me get my bag.”
“You’ve got a bag?” Razor said incredulously.
“It’s a precaution.” Alice picked it up and opened it forcefully. The zip’s sound echoed. Alice looked inside.
“I have everything,” she said, and fell over. She threw the bag outwards. The radio slammed against the wall. Alice flinched slightly at the sound it made. There was a cry from below.
“What the fuck?” Razor shouted. “Alice, what the fuck are you doing?”
“I’m sorry!” Alice said. She stood and grabbed her bag, stuffing the radio inside.
“He’s going to wake up now!”
“I’m sorry!”
“Fuck! Okay, downstairs now.”
“You first.”
“Sure.” Razor nodded and went to the stairs. She stepped on the first one.
Alice tried to kick her in the face. Razor ducked to the side. Alice’s foot swung past, and Razor shoved upwards, pushing Alice off-balance. She fell to the floor.
“The fuck?” Razor said. She stepped over Alice. “The fuck are you doing, Alice? I trusted you!”
Alice screamed. Roger’s voice shouted from below.
“Fuck!” Razor shoved her foot onto Alice’s neck. She gasped as her breath cut off.
“Alice, what the fuck are you doing? I trusted you! What the fuck are you doing?”
Alice spluttered. Razor frowned.
“Oh, yeah, you probably can’t talk like that.” She raised the foot.
Alice shoved her hands against it. Razor crashed to the ground. Alice turned and leapt through the skylight, bag clutched to her chest. She scrambled towards the lip of the roof.
Razor caught her leg and hauled her backwards. Something cool and edged pressed against her neck.
“This was all you, wasn’t it?” Razor said. “You’re trying to pull something. I don’t know what the fuck you were hoping to do up here, but you’re trying to fucking pull something!”
“I’m not!” Alice protested.
“Then what the fuck is this? Huh? What the fuck is this? I’m so fucking confused, Freud wouldn’t even be able to tell me where the eroticism is in this entire fucking situation!”
“I…”
“You’ve woken him up! Shit, now what am I supposed to do? What happens if he looks in a mirror? He got really mad last time I did shit like that to his face.”
Alice shrunk back and stared at Razor’s eyes. Razor wasn’t smiling.
There was a clatter from the attic.
“Razor!” Roger’s voice called.
Razor shook her head.
“God fucking damn it. Whatever. Whatever! Who fucking cares?” She was shouting. “Who gives a fuck? Who fucking gives a fuck?”
“Razor!” Alice saw Roger step out onto the roof opposite them. He held a pistol in a shaking hand. Razor snarled and pulled Alice to her feet, keeping the knife at her throat and her body between her and the gun.
“Finally learnt my fucking name, huh?”
“Razor, stop this,” Roger said. “Let’s just all of us go back down there.”
“I’m not going down on you, you sick fuck!”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I don’t care what you mean!”
“We don’t have to do this,” Roger said.
“We don’t have to do anything.”
Alice didn’t move. The cool metal at her neck pulled her head upwards.
“Razor, let go of her.”
“She’s trying to fuck us over, Roger.”
“She’s not doing anything wrong.”
“She’s trying to fuck us over! I don’t know how but she’s fucking doing it!”
“She’s a scared kid. Anyway, if she’s trying to do something like that, why is she standing up here with a knife at her neck? There’s no way out from here. This doesn’t make any sense, Razor.”
“I don’t care! She’s trying to fucking fuck us over!”
“Razor, she’s practically a nonentity.”
“No she fucking isn’t! Don’t you trust me?”
“No, I don’t!” Roger was shouting now. “I don’t know that you’re not pulling some awful trick just so you can hurt somebody! Razor, whatever she’s doing here, you’re the one with a knife at her neck!”
“So what, if I do this, will you fucking believe me?” Razor pulled the knife away from Alice’s neck.
Alice jerked her head back. It hit something with a crunch.
“Fuck!” Razor’s grip loosened. Alice shook off her hand, shoved her aside, and turned to leap for the roof.
She hung for a moment among surprised shouts, then fell beyond the humans behind her.


Roger watched Alice drop.
“Fuck! Jesus fucking fuck!” Razor held a hand over her nose. Roger frowned.
“Why?” he said, gesturing with the pistol.
“Why – fuck! – why what?”
“Why any of this? What the hell are you thinking?”
“I’m not. Haven’t you realised yet? You picked me for my looks, not my mind, Roger. That’s what happens when–”
“Shut up! Shut up! Stop talking! Why don’t you ever stop talking?”
“There’s so much empty space here. Something has to fill it.”
“Why did you kill Alice?”
“Me? She’s the one who – Jesus, this fucking hurts! She’s the one who jumped, Roger. For whatever fucking reason.”
“Answer the question.”
“I wanted to get out of here. So I asked her to drive me, and she had to be a little fucker about emotions. Then she woke you up, and it was pretty obvious she was trying to pull something, so I threatened her, and it escalated, and now she’s a red stain down there.” Razor jerked a hand over her shoulder.
“You wanted to leave?”
“I fucking asked to leave yesterday! Did you just ignore that?”
“I thought it was a joke. Everything you say is a joke!”
“No, you’re just caught up in some fucking paternalistic ideal that you don’t listen to me any more because you think you can fucking decide my life!”
“I don’t do that.”
“Roger, you treat me like a child.”
“Because you act like one!”
“Then leave me behind! Why would you stay with me if you’re going to try to fucking look after me?”
“Because we’re friends! We’re – we’re supposed to stay together. That way nobody has to die.”
“Well too fucking bad, because people die! Didn’t you just see that? There’s a bloody mess on the ground now that is proof of that fucking fact!” Razor jabbed a finger over the edge of the roof, keeping her eyes on Roger’s face.
“And that didn’t have to happen! Alice didn’t have to die!”
“She obviously had other plans! Who knows what the fuck was going on in that pretty little head, but she had to die!”
“It didn’t have to happen.
“It did! Everything’s meant to happen! Death is nothing! It means nothing! It’s just another part of all this bullshit!”
“Razor, stop!”
“No! Fuck you, Roger, and your fucking morals, and your bullshit! And your fucking realism! You don’t have a fucking sense of humour, you sick, twisted bastard! Fuck you!”
“Razor! Quiet or I’ll shoot!”
Razor stopped talking. In the sudden silence, they could both hear the sound of a car starting.


Alice’s arm ached from where she’d fallen on it. It took her a good minute to stand. She was dizzy with pain, and almost fell with her first step.
The sound of voices filtered from above. She staggered forward another step and looked up.
The car was close by. The loudspeaker sat next to the closest wheel. She stepped forward with shaky purpose.
Blood dripped from her shattered nose down onto the ground. Alice shook her head, and more drops spattered across the ground. She stepped forward again. The car was only a few steps away. She almost fell to lean against it, and looked up.
The two figures on the roof still faced each other. She could dimly hear shouting.
She turned to the car, pulled open the door, and fell across the passenger’s seat to lie before the wheel.
The key was in the ignition.


Razor looked at the rapidly disappearing car.
“We’re so fucking dumb,” she said. “We got fucking played.”
“Yeah,” Roger said.
Razor raised her arm and hurled the knife away. There was a dull thump as it impacted the ground. Roger frowned, then shrugged and threw the pistol away in the same way.
“This was all an enormous mistake,” he said.
“Yeah.”
Neither spoke for a moment.
“I spy with my little eye, something that’s utterly fucked.”
“It’s us, isn’t it?”
“Fucking first try.”


The car cut a line of dust across the road. Alice stared forward with drying blood across her mouth. She didn’t speak, because that would be a waste.
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Re: Xaber writes

Post by d_what on Wed May 27, 2015 2:41 pm

This is kind of fragmented commentary because I have ideas and then forget about them, so excuse the tiny length. There'll probably be more later.

1) really like the first paragraph, it's got a great rhythm. I would maybe edit the radio line to make it slightly more similar in structure to the previous two, cut the "the" and "have used it" with a simple "for", the repetition and similarity'll make it seem like more of a ritual or repeated task, one which has been done a lot to the point of boredom. It's a really great hook actually, kudos.

2) IMO cut the " lone" from "lone car". It's already one car, and waters down the alliteration. I think the term is alliteration? It's been a while. And too many adverbs (is it adverbs? I forget. Like "lone".) slows down a piece with unnecessary description. Some is needed, definitely! But not every noun has to be described, IMO anyway.

3) close quote after human? And maybe reconsider " damn it" as a profanity for one which doesn't start with D. Slightly distracting for a reader after the eye spy stuff. Maybe it was intentional - all I'll say is, I noticed it. Maybe it shouldn't be something that should be noticed!

But yeah so far these are easily the smallest suggestions I have ever had to make on any creative piece ever, EVER. And I was one of my year's resident art critics/proof readers. Like, holy shit. What are they teaching you guys in Australia, and can I get some of that?? It's really, really good.

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Re: Xaber writes

Post by Xaber on Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:03 am

hey! so this is due on friday. i'm feeling pretty good about most of it but i was just sort of tossing up for a few parts and i wouldn't mind an opinion or two.

first:

“I’m not going to die,” she said, and turned the transmitter off.
OR
“Speech is a waste,” she said, and turned the transmitter off.

this part is from the very beginning: i like the first one, but i feel that it's not really characteristic of Alice to say something like that. the other one feels clumsier, but seems more fitting to her character and it's recalled at the end of the story. there's probably a better way to combine these options but i haven't figured it out yet.

second:

The car cut a line of dust across the road. Alice stared forward. She didn’t speak. That would be a waste.
OR
The car cut a line of dust across the road. Alice considered speaking, but didn’t waste her breath.

basically the first one feels a bit awkward in the sentence structure: the second one is an attempt at fixing this but it doesn't feel that much better. this is also something that probably has an easier solution but i just haven't figured it out yet.

also! this is very late, but thanks for the advice d_what, i made most of the changes you recommended. also, thank you very much for the compliment. (sorry for not replying to this months ago, i just put it off for a bit and then got swamped by real life commitments and forgot)
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Re: Xaber writes

Post by d_what on Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:55 am

Xaber wrote:(sorry for not replying to this months ago, i just put it off for a bit and then got swamped by real life commitments and forgot)
FTFY and it's much shorter now you are welcome Razz

Anyway for the first, I really couldn't tell you, that's your decision to make. The second one is easier, though, because they mean very different things. "Alice stared forward. She didn’t speak. That would be a waste." That's just not speaking. Whereas "Alice considered speaking" isn't just not speaking, it's almost doing it and thinking very hard about doing so. Which is only really useful I think when there are words that should be said in a conversation and they aren't, for whatever reason. But in this case, there's no focus on what it is she's not saying, just that she's thinking about not talking. I dunno about you, but I rarely think about talking and then not doing it, unless I'm trying to break an awkward silence or something. I'd go with the first line, definitely.

Also, damn, how high is the English standard in Australian education?? I doubt any of my classmates gave any of their work even half of the effort you're putting into it. It's freakin' me out brah :O

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Re: Xaber writes

Post by Xaber on Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:08 pm

d_what wrote:
Xaber wrote:(sorry for not replying to this months ago, i just put it off for a bit and then got swamped by real life commitments and forgot)
FTFY and it's much shorter now you are welcome :P
>:(

d_what wrote:I'd go with the first line, definitely.

thanks for the advice! i think i'll go with that.

d_what wrote:Also, damn, how high is the English standard in Australian education?? I doubt any of my classmates gave any of their work even half of the effort you're putting into it. It's freakin' me out brah :O

i don't think it's really that high; this subject is the highest extension of english you can do (so only about 3% of the cohort does it) and i think i've put in more work than most, since i have really enjoyed the process of working on it. thanks so much, though!
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