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Sunless (Peer Edit)

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Wolf-Raven
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Sunless (Peer Edit) Apr. 14th, 2010 @ 01:48 PM Reply

[As Gumonshoe as requested stories for a anthology, i'd like to get this peer edited so it is flawless. This was submitted for a CBC writer's contest, but didn't win (i don't know how it did, actually). As of now, it's Canadian spelling, and insofar, has had an editor looked at it, but it can't hurt to have more opinions. Because of the Character limit, it'll be published in two parts.]

I was only five when the sun went out.

They said it was impossible. They said it wasn't supposed to happen for another couple billion years, but it didn't. It went out in five years. I'm forty-seven now, and there is still no sun in the sky. It's just a block of cinder now. The scientists said that was impossible too, that the universe wasn't old enough for those to exist, but they did. My mother always told me that science can't explain everything, and as of now, I do not trust the science. Anything is possible.

The earth is a ball of solid ice. Not long after the sun went out, the oceans had begun to freeze, or so I had been told. Apparently I had been sleeping throughout all this. When I woke up, there was only night. The scientists had seen this coming a few years in advance, I'll give them that. It was long enough to build shelter near the hottest place on earth, and hope to ride out our constant tumbling through space. It was the best we could make of a hopeless situation.

The night sky is so clear now. As all the water in the air froze and fell to the ground, there are now no clouds to block out the night sky, and to see what has become of our solar system. It was a spectacular sight to see the moon crash with Mars, or when Venus began to orbit us, and the scientists say we may some day revolve around Jupiter, our new "sun". But, as I said, the scientists were wrong before, and now we have no sun.
---
My mother and I are very close. Each day, I take my children to see her. She cooks meals for them, food that we are able to grow in the archology, before they go to school. It was by sheer luck that I am here, as my mother worked as assistant for a very important scientist, the one who designed the archology. He was there to take the place of my father, though he was no father to me.

To earn a living in this city of ice, I help look to see if anyone else has survived. I pilot a jet, heated to the point where it would incinerate your finger if you touched it, out into the wastes that are so cold that if you breathed in the air...well, you'd be lucky if you didn't freeze solid before you could even think. I go out into the desert for weeks at a time, and despite how warm you keep the jet, you always have to bundle up.

No survivors yet.
---
A group of workers left today. They're going out into the ocean to help drill through the ice. They got to the bottom and now are building upwards. They say they want to make a rocket-like-gizmo to propel the planet towards the nearest star. I, personally, don't think it will work. But who listens to a pilot? They didn't use planes to leave, anyway. It would be too dangerous, and they took too much equipment. I'm used to not having my skills used for the big things; it's no secret that I despise the scientists.

People call me ungrateful. They ask me what kind of man bites from the hand that feeds him. Without the scientists, they say we wouldn't be alive. The scientists are good, they say. They don't hurt us. There's been no war for forty-two years. But what kind of life is this anyway? But something is keeping me going. Every time I try to put my finger on it, I just end up proving myself wrong again. Why should I keep on going? Why should I even live? Life is nothing but a constant drag and I hate it.

Oh well, I guess I'll think about that another day.
---
I entered into the door of my one room office. It's such a shithole. My desk was a simple steel-and-wood mediocrity that we salvaged from an old grade school building. The wife jokes that I'm a principle rather than a pilot. Pilots or principles don't come with the accessories I do: white brick walls and dull concrete floor, making me feel like I'm in one of the old Saw movies. The fact that a very aged pipe system above me continuously drips water on my desk doesn't exactly do much for my mood. I know the murderer wants me to a complete a task that has some meaning to my life, and god damn, I seriously just wish someone would just wire me to some gizmo that would rip me to shreds.

My job, when I'm not flying, is to process my readings.

Average temperature of earth now-a-days is minus one hundred some degrees Celsius give or take a dozen. The scientists tell me that because of all the moving tectonic plates, the movement of the earth through space, the atmosphere, bullshit etcetera, that we will never reach absolute zero. I really don't care if we do. It's still cold outside.

In about an hour, they said, I was supposed to fly over what used to be the Swiss Alps, hopefully seeing survivors, and if not, maybe just see how much radiation is there. I swear, this job will have me growing a third testicle by the end of this, with all the scientist's warnings. They say that anything the sun protected us from is now just barely being stopped by our ozone, which hasn't had a chance to recuperate from the damage we did...Then again, climate change was all the rage, and the sun going out wasn't. I don't know what I should be angry at.

"Willis..." A voice crawled behind me

"What?" I asked. No man who tries to take the place of my father has a place in my life. Denis has no place in my life.

"How are you?"

"Fine." I said

"Just seeing how you are before you go out." Denis was about to leave, but God doesn't grant me favours easily "Oh, by the way, don't forget to turn on the Geiger counter this time."

I whirled around, annoyed by his obvious doubt in my trade "I turned it on last time."

"Then where are your readings?" He asked

I froze, realizing that I wasn't right this time. I left the room quickly, not wanting another confrontation. You can't be wrong around scientists. They'll hold it against you, knowing they're right in their subtle little ways. Enough of this. I have a plane to fly.

One other thing that I hate about my office: it's cold. Every day, it's always cold.
---
Everything went smoothly as I lifted off. The plane flew down the runway, the doors to the outside world opening just in time. It's relieving to get out into the world, being cooped up in that mind-melting temperature they need to keep my jet at so it doesn't freeze as soon as it gets out into a world that hasn't been touched by the sun in four decades. The bliss only last a few moments as I am thrust into the cold night, so cold that it doesn't even register with me. I turn up the heat, but I'm used to this constant freezing that we're all compelled to survive in. My mother told me that I used to shake like a leaf when I was exposed to anything under minus ten degrees Celsius. Oh, now a days, I would kill to fly in minus ten degrees Celsius. Cockpit temperature usually drifts between twenty and thirty below, and that doesn't count how cold it is outside.

My thermometer says -95 degrees. Warmest day all year.

It's a desert outside. Not a bit of soil shows, as the oceans froze and expanded, covering the world. It all happened in a matter of minutes, I am told. The sun went out; the winds got cold within seconds. The oceans began to freeze, pushing the continents together, or swallowing them entirely. The earth shattered as earthquakes rocked the very foundation of our planet. They told us that many died that day, billions. Those who got into the archology still had to deal with the walls closing in around them, or the threat of the ice breaking through the glass canopy that covered us. People were trapped in the ice, and swallowed. Sometimes out of nowhere the pressure of rock against rock would finally give, and what was once a passage became just a crack.

This was how I lost my father.

The scientists said we would be safe in the Archology.


Political Science: A haughty soap opera. Philosophy: A cold, mind-fucking bitch.
I love them both
"Manuscripts don't burn"- Mikhail Bulgakov

Wolf-Raven
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Response to Sunless (Peer Edit) Apr. 14th, 2010 @ 02:27 PM Reply

Day one drew to a close. Despite its dangers, I do have to land every so often, inspect the aircraft, then catch a wink or two before setting off again. I was able to find a patch of dirt to land. My jet is able to land horizontally, perfect for missions like this. But landing is easy compared to inspecting the ship. I have to put on a suit that is heated, again, to the extreme, so when I step outside into the world, I can work. Thank god the jet doesn't break down often.

After a tasteless meal of meat-porridge, which is exactly as disgusting as it sounds, I slept for a good four hours. It's the best amount of sleep you can get out here. On the fifth hour of my snooze, the alarm sounded, and I had to rush to the controls: the ice was on the move. It threatened to close around me, swallow and crush me. My jet is reliable, though, and I was able to escape back into the star burned night.

Strange. I didn't think I wanted to live that much...
---
Unlike last time, the Geiger counter was on. No real radiation, aside from the occasional leak from old nuclear power plants. The world isn't really worth saving at the moment, so we leave the radiation to seep into the ice and, if it ever thaws, it will be our drinking water. Not that we can do anything about it...

I was very close to the ocean when I saw the first signs of life. There were a group of lights traveling across the glacial wasteland.

"Do we have men out here?" I asked to those back home

"No we don't." came the reply.

And so I landed. As I sat there, stationary, the cold biting around me, I noticed these lights came from what looked like giant robots. They were great, hulking iron giants with large claws protruding from their forearms. Each one had the head shaped like a skull with blue, burning eyes. They looked at me, registering a hunger as powerful as any machines muster. They turned on me, claws ready to snap close. I cheesed it. Being ripped apart by searing cold robots was not my way of leaving this earth.

But they must have been made by something, so I kept on searching. I followed their tracks as much as I could, slowing to the point where I could trace where they had come from. They had walked miles upon miles of ice, never finding a soul as I had, and I was working with a jet.

I felt that I would not be welcomed by a man who used robots to kill survivors rather than save them. So, with that done, I headed home. Maybe I'll check it out on another run. I just hope his robots wouldn't come looking for me...
---
On the way home, I crossed an old ocean. It might have been the Mediterranean, but I can't really be sure. All I really saw was the rocket.

It towered over anything and everything. They had drilled from the surface of the ice to the bottom of what used to be the ocean, and then built back up. It was a gigantic, black edifice resembling a great volcano that would spew forth fire from the earth's core. It was more solid, I found, than the world around it. The ice could try to push it but it still would not break. It was one of the few times I was in awe of the achievement of scientists.

I've probably made clear that I do not trust scientists anymore, but after they built this, a gigantic jet engine to propel us towards the nearest star, maybe they're onto something. They told us, of course, that it may be possible that we would become a moon of Jupiter, which was now the sun of many other gas giants, but that we have to try. I did not like it when they were sincere, that if we did X, Y would happen, no questions asked. But as we do not understand the universe as much as we thought, maybe now there is room for error. But for what little scientists have done for us, if this works...it could mean that men of science have redeemed themselves once and for all.

Or maybe that's just the freezing cold talking.
---
As I flew down, down, down towards the runway, I couldn't help but feel uneasy. Something wasn't right. The door slammed open to let me in, and I was right on track. I was a bit more optimistic on the way home, but now that had all faded.

Faded, I realized with a rush of adrenaline, like my gas had just done.

My engines suddenly gave, and I found myself free-falling to the ground. I slid upon the ice, grinding metal and snow until I finally was able to stop, a mere fifty meters from the entrance of the gate. I could hear the people inside panicking, and I was of course one among them. I knew, however, that I would just have to put on the suit and run into the archology as fast as I could. But as I looked behind me in shock, I found that the suit wasn't there, my bed wasn't there, and the entire behind of the jet was not there...at least, not for another couple hundred meters.

And it was cold.

I don't know why I did it, but I knew that I had to stay warm; otherwise I would freeze instantly as soon as a small gust of wind blew into the cockpit. I was wearing very heavy fur clothing, and I was covered in oil from the repairs and tweaking I had done to my jet while it was still functional. A small wire on my left leg was shooting sparks, and thanks to it, I found inspiration for what I was to do.

In a fit for survival, I set myself on fire, and ran towards the entrance.

I ran, and I ran and I ran. I ran towards the only source of light on this world, aside from myself. If there was pain, I didn't feel it. One thing I do remember not feeling was coldness. There were few times in my life I could be this warm and still be walking, so in retrospect, I should have savoured this moment. Yet, when I heard the door slam shut behind me, I realized in how much danger I had put myself in. There were people ready, though, and fire extinguishers were not in short supply.

Standing over me was Denis. In his hands he was carrying a fire extinguisher. He was looking down at me not with the contempt I usually see him doing (from my standpoint), but in fact, a concerned look in his eyes. I would have thanked him, I guess, but I had already passed out from the smoke inhalation. Or at least, that's what they told me.

Why did I do that? Why in this sunless world did I want to continue living? I would explain, but the proof is all around me. It was in those robots still trudging along on a dark, cold planet. It was in the archology as well. Man will go to whatever means to survive. The only thing that separates us from animals is that they tried, and failed, but we didn't. It is a constant drive to keep on living, and life cannot get so bad that the people willing to live it don't live it.

Yesterday, the sky lit up as they fired up the rocket. We all felt the planet move. Alpha Centauri is four light years away.

If I know people, we'll get there.


Political Science: A haughty soap opera. Philosophy: A cold, mind-fucking bitch.
I love them both
"Manuscripts don't burn"- Mikhail Bulgakov

Koji98
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Response to Sunless (Peer Edit) Apr. 17th, 2010 @ 11:52 PM Reply

"I was only five when the sun went out."
Sun should be capitalized, as it is the name of something. This would make the sentence look like "I was only five when the Sun went out."

First Paragraph:
"They said it was impossible. They said it wasn't supposed to happen for another couple billion years, but it didn't. It went out in five years."
This threw me off when I read that. I read it as the sun didn't go out, but then the next sentence tells me that it did in five years. Maybe change "didn't" to "did" to tell readers that it did go out, or just remove that part and leave "It went out in five years" on its own paragraph for impact.

"My mother always told me that science can't explain everything, and as of now, I do not trust the science. "
That makes me think of George Bush reading that. "The internets." "The Google." You could delete that and leave it as "I do not trust science."

Second Paragraph:
"The earth is a ball of solid ice."
Earth should be capitalized, making the sentence "The Earth is a ball of solid ice."

"The scientists had seen this coming a few years in advance, I'll give them that. It was long enough to build shelter near the hottest place on earth, and hope to ride out our constant tumbling through space."
So the scientists thought the Sun wouldn't go out for billions of years, but for some reason had plenty of time to build a shelter? Why did Gendou happen to leave Antartica the day before Second Impact? There may be more in the story that explains this, but as I'm editing this as I read, it comes off as it either being A: you goofed up or B: the government and scientists knew about it before hand and are assholes, hence the association to Evangelion.

Third paragraph:
". . . and the scientists say we may some day revolve around Jupiter, our new "Sun"."

". . . and now we have no Sun."

Fourth paragraph:
"She cooks meals for them, food that we are able to grow in the archology, before they go to school."
Do you mean arcology? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcology

"It was by sheer luck that I am here, as my mother worked as (an) assistant for a very important scientist, the one who designed the archology."
Added a word and I think you can reword the second part a lot better. Maybe ". . . worked as an assistant for the scientist who designed the archology [sic]".

I think this is a good start to work from. Now, you don't have to take my suggestions that I gave. Do whatever you like more.

ThePortalGuru
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Response to Sunless (Peer Edit) Apr. 18th, 2010 @ 03:04 AM Reply

At 4/17/10 11:52 PM, Koji98 wrote: Stuff about capitalization

Actually, capitalization of things like "Earth", "Moon", and "Sun" are optional. It's only when the names of other planets or celestial bodies appear in the same sentence that you have to capitalize them.

For instance, it would not be incorrect to write, "It's pretty cool living here on earth." It depends on the context of which it is written.

As for the story, I found it truly fantastic. It kept me compelled until the end, and created a wonderful story that gave me both a sense of horrible disaster and bonechilling loneliness. You should definitely submit this to the writing anthology after having it checked one more time.


Thanks aplenty to Phobotech for the great user icon.

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Koji98
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Response to Sunless (Peer Edit) Apr. 18th, 2010 @ 03:58 AM Reply

At 4/18/10 03:04 AM, ThePortalGuru wrote:
At 4/17/10 11:52 PM, Koji98 wrote: Stuff about capitalization
Actually, capitalization of things like "Earth", "Moon", and "Sun" are optional. It's only when the names of other planets or celestial bodies appear in the same sentence that you have to capitalize them.

Well there ya go. It's optional. Always better to have more than one person edit something.

Sawdust
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Response to Sunless (Peer Edit) May. 27th, 2010 @ 03:35 AM Reply

No offense, but that was mediocre.

There are far too many flaws in the story to mention, but I'll name a few such as characterization, the overall style of writing, the premise, etc. This story could've been far better if for example you did more in the way of characterization. If you were more specific, if there were more metaphors and such etc.

Sorry, brah.

Wolf-Raven
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Response to Sunless (Peer Edit) May. 27th, 2010 @ 02:02 PM Reply

Thank you everyone so far for the insight. Especially Koji. I think i'm going to use all your suggestions. I do agree on the capitalization of places like planets. As for the loophole that you pointed out with the time frame of setting up the shelter, i didn't really think much of it, and just assumed the reader would think that they just rushed the job.

At 5/27/10 03:35 AM, Sawdust wrote: No offense, but that was mediocre.

There are far too many flaws in the story to mention, but I'll name a few such as characterization, the overall style of writing, the premise, etc. This story could've been far better if for example you did more in the way of characterization. If you were more specific, if there were more metaphors and such etc.

Sorry, brah.

No problem. If i didn't want to the story to be criticized, i wouldn't have asked. Thank you for the comment, but it would be helpful if you did go into detail.

On a metaphorical level, i don't go out of my way to use them or to make the story into a metaphor itself. As much as i have written allegorical works, what i wish to do, first and foremost, is to simply tell a story. And while writing style, characterization etc. is important, the telling of the story is more important to me.


Political Science: A haughty soap opera. Philosophy: A cold, mind-fucking bitch.
I love them both
"Manuscripts don't burn"- Mikhail Bulgakov