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Death Unknowing

The heat just wouldn't let up. Summer in the desert was always hot, but not like this. Most of the stores in Haven had closed up, the shop owners trying to wait out the heat wave in cooler climates. Haven was a tourist town most of the year. Not a big tourist town. It was the quiet sort of place that people went when they wanted to find themselves. People who watch too much television and think by running away they’ll find whatever is missing in their lives. So they come to Haven to do it. The Indians here take them on guided tours and get them high on peyote so they’ll spend more money. They came all year around, every year, accept this one.

Six months ago people started seeing things in the night. Not exactly uncommon, all things considered. It wasn't long before a couple of young girls went missing, followed by a lawyer trying to find meaning in his life. More and more followed and the word spread. You see ghost towns in the movies and on television, but to see it happen before your eyes is a whole other thing. The animals in the area started disappearing too. I guess we should have noticed, but it started small. Lizards and birds vanished followed by chickens, cats and dogs. By the time the bigger animals, like horses and cows, went missing, those first two girls vanished. We couldn't figure out what happened. There were no signs of them. It was like they literally vanished. That is, until the heat started, and the smell.

I thought I was imagining things when I went for a walk one night. I lived in the town next to Haven. In fact I believe we were right on the border. One night I was chillin with my girlfriend, we had just met so we were still hopelessly in love. I would do anything to be alone with her. I was only sixteen at the time so any time I could get to be alone with a girl could only mean one thing, but sadly enough I was to nice a person to even try anything. Slowly we walked and talked getting to know one another making one another laugh and even telling secrets that we thought we would never tell. I grew very fond of her smile and her laugh. She made my heart beat faster every time she spoke. Some how as if on cue everything went quiet and we realized where we were and as we looked around it seemed all was true. The town had been deserted.

“I think we should go back,” said Tracy in a shaky voice.

“We will be alright,” I stated in a calm voice.

“Steven,” she said my name and it sounded pushy.

I started to move forward again letting her know that there was nothing to fear. I mean all of this was a legend and a myth. Granted there was no one occupying the little town. Of course you know being sixteen I only had one thing in my mind. I looked around as we talked some more taking in the scenery. Her voice began to tremble and wondered why. Tracy grabbed my arm tightly almost like she was giving birth. I looked where she was looking and could see why she was trembling. Next a building the fog or haze seemed to get thicker and a red flashed on and off. Looked like something you would see out of a horror movie. We stopped dead in our tracks. A slight noise seemed to get closer to us. I tried to locate the sound so there were no surprises, but it seemed to be all around us. My heart raced I knew this couldn’t be good. My arm hurt she was squeezing so hard. Now the sound grew closer. It sounded like bodies being dragged through the sand. It was coming from behind us. Oh crap! Slowly I turned to see what it was. Oddly enough there was nothing there. Now the sound continued, but it was behind us again. I admit I was starting to feel a lot like Tracy at this point. Sweat beaded on my forehead and slowly began to roll down the sides of my face. Now I was becoming frightened.

“Can I help you youngsters?” inquired a voice which of course came from behind us. I saw it coming just not this soon.

I turned to look at who was speaking to us. The man in front of us looked like he had put through a war. His clothes we tattered and torn and blood was dried onto his clothing and skin. His hair was missing on spots. This man was just not the most friendly looking man.

“We were just out for a walk sir” informed Tracy as her hands shook violently.

Things couldn’t have gotten weirder at this point. More men appeared and they all looked like the man standing before us. Almost like the walking dead. It was as if they wanted something from us. They weren’t really angry they were reacting as if we had invaded their world. Women and children, even pets began to make an appearance. They all had one thing in common though. They all looked like they were dead. Suddenly all the myths and legends became true. The town of Haven was haunted. All the dead bodies which caused the smell and forced people to leave were all standing right before our very eyes. I closed my eyes and rubbed them, when I reopened them the bodies were still standing before me.

“What happened to all of you?” I inquired feeling real bold at this point.

With a saddened sigh the man before us looked away. It was as if he was afraid to tell the story. I could almost feel what they were feeling. The smell started to become untolerable at this point. I pulled my shirt above my noise so I could only smell myself. Let’s hope my deodorant works because it is real warm out here.

“It tortured us,” mumbled the man in a whisper.

“What did?” I asked curiously.

The man turned to look at Tracy and I before he spoke. He looked us over like he was inspecting our bodies. He was looking for something I know he was. Tracy began to tremble again, but not as violent. I blinked quickly in disbelief. The man started to back away in disbelief of what stood in front of him. My heart was racing at this point. Something was wrong.

“What’s goin’ on?” I asked in a frightened tone.

Slowly I looked beside me and what I saw was unthinkable. Something I never thought would happen. There next to me lay my beautiful Tracy. She had been sliced open with her still beating heart laying next to her. I backed away not knowing how to react. I fell to the ground on my knees, hiding my face in my hands. I felt something wet as I touched my young skin. I pulled them away slowly examining them in the darkness. The blood was fresh and still dripping. My heart pounded angrily knowing how to react. A tear formed in my eye and rolled down my cheek. I looked up and the people or bodies had vanished. Even the fog and red light had left the scene. I was scared now, not only for my life but the people around me. Rising to my feet I walked over to Tracy and looked at her mutilated corpse. Somehow I did this and I wasn’t aware. Again I feel to me knees and wept. I knew crying wouldn’t bring her back, but it had to somehow make me feel better. I reopened my eyes and all the pain came rushing back into my heart. I am a murderer a real murderer and I have no idea how it happened. Slowly I rose to my feet and took a deep breath. I turned to the direction facing home and began to walk forward. I noticed the sign for Haven.

“Now leaving the town of Haven....population zero.....


The following comments are for "Write Off: Death Unknowing"
by justmitina

Something's missing
Hey justmitina ... I think this is a good effort, but something seems to be missing. I'm finding it hard to write a comment that pins it down exactly.

There seems to be a lack of consistency, as if when you started writing, with the words "I thought I was imagining things when I went for a walk one night.", you didn't know what your ending would be. I think someone who had just killed his girl and was then telling the story would use slightly stronger language than this! No problem not knowing your ending when you start ... but you should have gone back and rewritten the beginning to match it.

Also, you made a good effort at building the suspense, but ultimately I don't think you succeeded. It's a very hard thing to do in a short timeframe.

I think this is worth re-writing a couple of times, working hard to get rid of any unnecessary words, and making sure you are always describing the scene, rather than telling the reader what is there. A couple of examples of what I might change if I were you:

1/ "it sounded like bodies being dragged through the sand" - what does that sound like? How is it any different to, say, sacks of coal being dragged through the sand?

2/ "looked like something out of a horror movie" is self-referential. Assume that your reader has never seen a horror movie and rewrite this so that you are not relying on other writers in the genre to convey your image.

Finally - the ghost tells your protagonist that "It tortured us". "what did?" is the reply ... and it is a question that is never answered. Presumably whatever tortured them is also responsible for turning your lead in to a killer. Some background to connect these two ideas might make this work better.

( Posted by: crazylegs [Member] On: July 1, 2003 )

good effort
There were a few typos and grammatical errors, but I won't point them out; there weren't too many.
The story itself... I think you did a good job in the build-up; the first half of the story, but I'm afraid it faded towards the end when it should have been reaching the climax.

Using the phrase "like a horror movie" to describe something implies that you couldn't think of any other way to make it sound scary.

I think you needed to build in more of a tone of inevitability to the sequence of events; the story is written in the past, so hindsight is allowed, and I think it could have done quite a bit to help this story.

Not too bad, though. Overall score 6.

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: July 1, 2003 )

mind of a killer
While the story was sort of the typical slasher/horror story that the starter implies, turning the narrator into a killer was a bit unexpected. My problem however is that you don't describe that process at all. I realize it was fast, but since the story is told from his point of view I feel there should be something. And as Jess pointed out you don't give us reason to care about either character, so what happens to them doesn't really matter to the reader.

Write Offs are never easy, so don't take it personally, just keep writing. Maybe even rewrite this story with some of the comments you get in mind, and the next story you write will benefit from it.

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: July 1, 2003 )

I appreciate all the comments about the story and i know we can all use them to help us along the way. i know i should have gone depth but i guess in my mind i know what happened and i just need to convey it to the audience. The killer was actually just a well i guess i would call it a ghost that would control you. in the moment he blinked it was like hell had broke loose. so it was like there was no killer to be caught and so on and so forth. Maybe next time i will blow some socks off.


( Posted by: justmitina [Member] On: July 1, 2003 )

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