Critique Group – Future Hope

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Future Hope – by Michael

It was not, Martin Desdieux reflected, the size of the man that bothered him. Slaves were allowed to be any size they so choose. The fact that the man had decided to be over a foot taller than the average height for slaves was worthy of a mild degree of judgement, but it had its uses. Nor was it the fact that he had somehow found time to hone his body into a rippling tide of bulging muscles. A harsher master might have forced the slave to alter his appearance, or the master might have done so himself. But Martin had no qualms against such things. He knew his own power, and he knew the power of all the slaves he created. This man posed no physical threat, and while Martin had not spent much time probing his mind, he had met with next-to no resistance in the few times he checked up on him.

No, the issue Martin had with this slave was his face. It smiled, and did so with a frequency as to become a distraction. Slaves were not supposed to smile. It was true that some masters did not object to the occasional turning upwards of the lips, but this had less to do with approving of the pleasure of the slaves, and more to do with the master desiring affirmation of his cleverness and wit. This man smiled almost unceasingly. Sometimes Martin wondered if the slave did it out of spite, but to truly determine that would require probing the man’s mind past his basic commands, and Martin hated to dirty his mind with the thoughts of those so far beneath him. Besides, everything the slave did was done to perfection. If Martin asked him to clean the fountains, there was never even the smallest of specks of duct remaining upon Martin’s examination. If the forests needed to be cleared out, all instructions were followed to the letter. The man did his job well, and his only fault was that he seemed to enjoy the work.

The reason that Martin was even considering the slave was that he was hosting a meeting of the God council, and this slave could be a problem. The other members of the council were always looking for weaknesses in control, and this man posed a risk. It did not matter if you possessed the power to move matter from one plane of existence to the next, or combine the most basic elements in the multiverse to create weapons capable of destroying galaxies. If you could not control the people you created, you were weak. Indeed, the very fact that members of the council had been able to convince him to host this meeting showed just how weak he had become. Martin acknowledged that it was his own fault. He hadn’t created any real challenges for himself in several centuries. The truth of the matter was that Martin feared to create any threats. The council alone was a constant threat to his existence, just as his existence was a constant threat to the other members of the council. Creating any more threats was necessary excersize, but Martin feared the risk. On more than one occasion, Martin had seized creations from other members of the council when they were busy dealing with threats of their own making. Martin knew the situation was more than capable of being reversed, and he feared such a scenario.

The slave had to go. As much as Martin hated to admit it, the risk of the other members of the council seeing the slave and that always present smile was much too high. And Martin knew he could not simply hide the slave in some cave deep under the earth; the council always vigorously searched the host world for any such weaknesses the host might be trying to hide away. As useful and as rare a resource as this slave may be, Martin knew he had to die.

A mere blink of the eyes, and the slave stood before him, smiling despite the fact that Martin knew he had teleported the man from his work with the cleaning of the storage facilities half a continent away, an occurrence that for an average slave would result in extreme nausea, and at worst would literally take their breath away. But Martin had been careful. The slave had been useful, and the least Martin could do was give him a painless death. The slave stood there, smiling perhaps even a little wider than normal, clearly unaware of the choice Martin had just had.

Martin blinked again, and dove deep inside the man’s mind, past barriers upon barriers, destroying them all effortlessly. Slaves had only the most basic mental capacities, and while they had long ago mastered the art of deceiving each-other with their faces, their minds were an open book to those with the power that Martin possessed. Deeper and deeper he went, searching for the kill switch, the small spot in the consciousness which connected the life to the body. A swift disconnection would result in death, and the lack of a life ensured that Martin could do with the body as he pleased.

The entire process should have taken only the duration of that short blink, but when Martin arrived at the kill switch, he found he could not break through the last barrier. Within the man’s mind, Martin paused for a moment, genuinely confused. A slave should not have a barrier of the sort that this man had. Slaves rarely had much of a will to live, and even the ones that did lacked the powers that Martin possessed. Yet the barrier remained. And suddenly, Martin realized that the slave was aware of his presence. Maybe he had been all along. Martin had no reason to be afraid, and yet suddenly an overwhelming sense of fear consumed him, the likes of which he had not felt for millenniums. An awareness of his own mortality, long ago locked away, burst forth. He attempted to dive out of the slave’s consciousness, only to find that he could not. Using powers he had not accessed in ages, he slammed against the restraints containing him, and burst forth into his own body, only to find that he was now hovering over a bed of spikes carved from the world itself. The slave also hovered above these spikes, hands extended towards Martin. The smile was still present.

The slave jerked his arms downward, and suddenly Martin found himself being hurdled towards the spikes at a speed which gave him only the blink of an eye to react. A single blink.

The slave lay before him, crumpled in a heap upon the floor. Martin had teleported the man from his work with the cleaning of the storage facilities half a continent away, an occurrence that for an average slave would result in extreme nausea, and at worst would literally take their breath away. Martin had been careful to ensure the proper result, and had encouraged the process along by leaving the man’s lungs at the site he had been working. The council would be here soon. There was much that needed to be done.

Somewhere in the world, a baby cried.

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5 replies

  1. Well that is certainly menacing! I like how this protagonist’s thoughts are laid out, and how calm he is, even though the things he’s thinking are very strange and horrifying to most modern readers.
    Overall, this is pretty awesome. But I don’t quite get what happened at the ending. How did the slave die? Was time turned back or something? You might want to make that a tiny bit clearer. Of course, it did add quite a lot of the overall feel of the story, and as there’s likely more to come after this, I also say you should probably leave it exactly as it is.
    This was really cool! I want to read more! Definitely keep writing a lot!

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  2. wow…. I have never read anything like this before. And I spend an inordinate amount of my time browsing the library and bookstores.

    First of, it’s incredibly interesting.The premise and execution are intriguing, and if I picked this book up, I would definitely keep reading. You do I good job of showing how heartless Martin seems to be. You also do a good job revealing details to the reader continuously, without info-dumping too much. It seems you have created a very interesting world about gods and beings of immense power. Although the end was a tad confusing, I think it captures the vibe still. I’m guessing he messed with time? since he can do things in the blink of an eye, literally.

    My critique is mostly a couple spelling errors- you wrote “smallest speck of duct”. I think you meant dust? Also, “excersize” is spelled exercise.

    Other than that, fantastic! I love the style and vibe and everything!

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  3. This is an intriguing story that kept my interest throughout.

    Unfortunately, the ending confused me. I had no idea what was going on, nor could I make any sense of what happened. I couldn’t figure out why the slave could do what he did, what caused the change at the end, why you repeated so much narrative, or what the baby crying meant. I was lost.

    I also had some trouble with the narrative back story, which qualifies as info dumping. In short, you halted the story to explain quite a few details about past events. I assume your short-story format caused you to make these choices, but to me it doesn’t enhance the interest. I was left wondering what was happening with the main story.

    If I were writing it, I would take out a lot of the narrator phrases, but since you used a narrator style that was somewhat omniscient, those phrases aren’t a huge problem.

    You have a keen sense of intrigue and mystery, which will take you far. Just remember that your readers aren’t aware of the meaning of your story twist, so you might have to provide more clues than you original think you need to.

    Keep writing!

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  4. Oh my goodness! I need to read the rest of this story! Michael, the way you just dropped hints about the characters and situation throughout the piece is an expert technique that definitely built the suspense. There are a few grammar errors, especially with spelling, that other people have already caught, so I won’t go into those. What really confused me was the ending. I am a big fan of repetition if the author pulls in one amazing twist at the end to finish it off with the reader having a sort of “Whoa…” moment, but what you did after the repetition acted mostly as a clearly stated half-explanation for what just happened that broke the stream of suspense. It might be better to show rather than tell the part about the slave’s lungs through Martin’s perspective. Also, to keep the suspense going and get to that aforementioned moment for the reader, it would be best to finish off that paragraph with a short statement that continues to intrigue the reader and start a new paragraph for the next information (about the council coming). I don’t know what your plans for Martin are, but I think that would help to develop a methodical, task-driven side to him. I didn’t really understand your last sentence. I can see that you were leading into a new, really cool plot point, but the information doesn’t connect to anything the reader knows so far, so it’s just distracting and confusing. Perhaps add some more to lead into the baby’s cry or use your last sentence to start a new part of the story (a chapter or a section following a pause typically used for a shift in time or character, if you know what I’m talking about). For all the constructive criticism though, as teachers love to say, this piece really blew me away and I would definitely read the whole story.

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  5. I like the story idea. The ending looks like it was messed up a bit and was confusing.
    I suggest that you break up the big paragraphs some, it helps the reader keep up with different ideas.
    Consider the flow of sentences. The first sentence for example would sound better if Martin Desdieux reflected were at the end instead of chopping into the middle.
    Over all I like your tale but it reads more like a detailed report than a story. Try adding more emotion and sensory description, maybe some dialogue too.
    Good stuff.

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