To Shatter The Shell: Chapter 1

To Shatter The Shell: Chapter 1

A Chapter by JPDonelan
"

What was supposed to a relatively simple operation falls apart when an unwelcome and unforeseen agent becomes involved.

"

Atop a worn retaining wall overlooking a rundown hotel sat The Watcher, idly reading a trashy little novel with mild disinterest. The book had turned into an uninteresting let down for him. A slog really. He considered this unfortunate; he had enjoyed the author's previous works.

 

He always got so much reading done on these operations where all he has to do is keep an eye on the perimeters of the locale while the team or teams took care of the grunt work. Tonight looked to be no different, even though he oversaw three teams. Unfortunately, the book provided no distraction or relief from the on-going spat between the two members of Team One, which they broadcast through the earpiece nestled in his ear. They argued about a trivial subject, something related to pasta. The inane back and forth grated his nerves.

 

Their voices quickly proved sufficient in ticking him off. "Would you tittering clowns stow your act. We have a serious task at hand and I do not want to have to come clean the two of you up. Now, is everyone in position? Report."

 

A momentary silence came from the earpiece before a feminine voice spoke up, "Team Three, Bartholomew reporting. Thank you for that, Watcher. The roof is clear and secure."

 

"Good."

 

Another voice chimed in, this one deeper and more stern. "Team Two, Ballast here. East to west hall, second floor. No signs of recent occupation. Will keep all teams posted."

 

"I know I said this earlier, but it truly is good to be working with you again, Ballast. Let us hope this one is cleaner than the last."

 

After a moment of dead air, a clearing cough came over the earpiece. "Ah, Team One here, Simons speaking. We have secured the first floor main hall. Nothing unusual that can be seen or heard. Will begin searching the rooms on your order."

 

"Alright, good. Everyone keep your senses lit." The Watcher licked his lips and turned another page of the novel. "The perimeter is secure. Nothing moving in or out. Teams One and Two, begin sweep. Team Three, keep aware."

 

With those words, the earpiece went silent and stayed silent for twenty minutes. In this interlude, only the sound of turning pages, and the occasional bird, rose to The Watcher's ears. He didn't mind the quiet as much as he did the novel in his hands and the expression on his face reflected this.

 

As the story reached the peak of its fabricated and convoluted dramatics, Team One reported they had finished their sweep and were on route to assist Team Two. Despite their bickering, they at least knew how to follow the established plan.

 

A short time later, Ballast chimed in, announcing Team One's arrival at their location. As the man made his statement, The Watcher saw a figure move past a fourth-floor window.

 

Though The Watcher only caught sight of the entity for a moment and from the corner of his eye, he saw the details he needed. The figure he saw, thin with strong masculine features, was the cause for their deployment. Their target for the evening.

 

With a calmness rooted in experience and trained nerves, The Watcher broke radio silence. "Target has been sighted on the fourth floor, south side. Teams One and Two, you are to approach the floor with caution. No telling if he is aware of us or if he has traps set. No need to feed the spider we hunt."

 

"Understood." The voices of Ballast and Simons sounded in unison, both having turned their lines on from what sounded like a mere foot apart causing an echo that brought a smile to The Watcher's face. A smile that the novel in his hands had failed to provide since its purchase.

 

He sat silent and watched the fourth floor windows, hoping to catch additional movements that would assist in cornering and disposing of the unpleasant b*****d. He saw nothing.

 

As he observed the windows like a vulture watches a sleeping dog, The Watcher recalled the reports, mostly from reliable sources, had noted numerous disappearances in the area over the last three months. This lined up, though not perfectly, with when they lost the target close to five months ago. They came so close to dealing with him, but only found his "leftovers". The police were giddy over that one. How they went on and on about the "ongoing investigation", swearing to bring the monster to justice. He remembered how The Apprentice, still upset after the failure, mocked them during their penultimate press conference on the case.

 

As he thought about the joyful, yet somber words The Apprentice spoke when she told him that they had located the b*****d his earpiece buzzed as someone patched in.

 

"This is Ballast. Teams one and two are at the entrance to the fourth floor from the eastern stairwell. All quiet. Requesting permission to advance?"

 

"Understood, Ballast. Hold for a limited visual sweep," The Watcher replied and redoubled his search efforts for useful signs of occupation through the fourth-floor windows. He saw no traces of the figure and so gave the go ahead.

 

The Watcher, due to the layout of the structure, had no means to observe the approach of the two teams. His vision couldn't pierce the hotel's walls, no matter how sharp and probing his eyes were.

 

With no means to offer direct assistance, The Watcher's eyes returned to his book. That gaudy piece of literature, so unlike the author's prior works that he believed the book to be little more than a cash grab. It disgusted him, yet he continued to read. He could be so detrimentally obstinate sometimes.

 

"Watcher. This is definitely the place. Smells thick of blood. Think our friend has been having a bit of a party," Ballast's voice said.

 

"More than a bit if our information is right. Be careful in there. We want to surprise him, not the other way around."

 

A strained silence came from the earpiece. If Ballast wasn't in there, The Watcher thought, he might have cause to be concerned. Their target was not one to be taken lightly, not with how many he has killed. Not with how many he has eaten.

 

"Team three, report in," The Watcher said both in an attempt to draw his attention away from his thoughts about "leftovers" and because they've been quiet for far longer than he felt comfortable with.

 

"Bartholomew here, Watcher. We're just fine. Not a noise, not a motion. Appreciate the check-in. Almost thought you had forgotten about us up here." Bartholomew's voice came through clearly, with nary a hint to suggest trouble or that she was not herself.

 

"Good. Continue your watch."

 

"Understood. Team Three to silence."

 

His eyes returned to the windows in time to see a door slowly open. At first, he thought he had information to provide the teams, only to be disappointed when the head of Ballast's subordinate, Aiden Carpenter, peeked into the room before the rest of the man entered. Aiden was a sharp lad, picked personally by Ballast for his team. A real stroke of luck to get one of them on this mission; both was a damned miracle.

 

"Team Two, I just saw one of you enter a room on the south side. Fairly certain it was Aiden. Report to confirm and give positions."

 

"This is Aiden. Good catch, sir. Room's empty, though. Only the rancid smell that's taken root on this floor. Grouping on Ballast again," Aiden said in a low voice.

 

"Proceed with care. "

 

A gruff voice broke the momentary peace that followed The Watcher's reply. "This is Boars. Simons and I have found a pile of what appears to be body parts on the west side of the floor, room off the central corridor. Mostly human from the looks of them, some animal, though. Request for group up on us."

 

"Request approved. Team Two, meet up with Team One. I want to report to The Apprentice that we had a successful operation without so much as a scraped knee," The Watcher said before silence settled in again. It lasted no more than three minutes before the earpiece buzzed to life once more.

 

"Watcher, this is Simons. The target is seven feet tall, thin, with chiseled features, blonde hair, and hazel eyes, correct?" Simons' voice sounded far too confident to have run into the figure, but the way he phrased the question concerned and confused The Watcher.

 

"Confirmed. That is the target and I do not like the way you asked. Explain."

 

"Well then, I have found the target and he looks like one of those stuffed deer heads you'd see at a hunting lodge. About as much life in his eyes as one, at that. Whatever did him in did the deed quick; his eyes hadn't hardened and gone sanguine."

 

Simons' description didn't sit well with The Watcher, not in the slightest. Something was off by half a continent and he suspected he didn't have time to determine what.

 

"Teams One and Two, retreat to stairwell. What you're telling me is well off. A Griyrilk does not die without a fuss. Something else is in there. Proceed with the assumption it is deadlier than the original target."

 

This was the first time any of them, save Ballast, heard The Watcher command with a tone of distressed bewilderment.

 

Another bout of silence descended, one thicker and heavier than those prior. A silence of the worst kind; the kind that always crept up when an operation parameters shifted. A silence that monologues for hours in mere minutes. The Watcher hated this type of silence with a passion mirrored only by his love of novels. Between the disappointment of the novel in his hands and the present silence, he was not having a good evening.

 

The Watcher's eyes went back to the windows, half hoping to see something, half hoping to not. Information would be useful, but it could also be dangerous; it could lead to a rushed decision that might prove lethal. He had no intention of having a repeat of the March incident. Ballast didn't need to be the only survivor a second time, let alone so soon.

 

"Ballast, report. What's going on in there?" The Watcher said in as calm a tone as he could muster given the situation.

 

The earpiece remained quiet for over a minute before the buzz of someone turning on their feed sounded and then stopped. It buzzed again and stopped again. After a third buzz, the line stayed active and a voice came through.

 

"Ballast here." His voice sounded strained, accompanied by a heavy breathing that came through the earpiece with dreadful clarity.

 

"It's turned ugly. Simons' half the man he used to be. I don't know what the hell the thing is, but we are not staying around to find out. We are retreating through the stairwell now, headed for rendezvous alpha. Act accordingly." Quiet returned to The Watcher's ear.

 

"Team Three, clear the roof and report to alpha to provide cover. I will meet you there," The Watcher said as he tossed the paperback to the ground. Whatever was inside with them needed to be taught a lesson for making a mess of what looked to be a clean operation.

 

En route to the rendezvous point, The Watcher's head filled with thoughts that darted like panicked rabbits. Why hadn't they fired upon this unknown creature when they saw it? What would've happened if they had? How many of them are going to manage to get out of the building? What in the name of all things happened to their original target? How long had whatever they found been in the hotel? Did the informants know about this? That last thought stuck with him.

 

To put these thoughts to momentary rest, The Watcher decided he would find out what their informants knew about this once the immediate matter was settled. He arrived at rendezvous alpha with a clear head. Team Three, who had beaten him to the point and stood facing the building's entrance, silently greeted him.

 

The Watcher's eyes moved instinctively to assess the condition of the two women. After all, any further problems with personnel would be difficult for him to explain away.

 

His eyes first went to the team captain, Tessa Bartholomew, the short brunette who came on-board a few days after The Apprentice joined at the behest of The Student. A cute woman, or so The Watcher had thought when he first saw her, whose sparkling grey eyes were presently covered by the goggles the teams were given to allow them to actually see their surroundings in the settling darkness.

 

A few feet beside Tessa stood Aster Midfield, a dirty blonde haired woman about half a foot taller than her superior with sharp hazel eyes covered by the same type of goggles.

 

Both of them, as with the remainder of the two teams inside of the building, were dressed in dark clothing aimed at reducing the likelihood of being spotted by outsiders. Civilian or police interest could only turn a bad situation into a veritable bloodbath, which would be a nightmare to cover up. They always were.

 

The two members of Team Three were in pristine condition, not even a scratch or tear in their clothes. This pleased The Watcher, whose gaze had not gone unnoticed.

 

"Is there something wrong, Watcher? Not sure I like those eyes of yours looking so intently at us," Aster said. The Watcher could tell even through the goggles she had sized him up with her eyes.

 

"Apologies Aster, just making certain the two of you are well. Prolonged silence can breed paranoia when things turn sour."

 

"Well, I do hope we meet your standards for 'well', sir."

 

"More than you can possibly imagine, Aster," The Watcher replied, only partially glad to see her usual sharpness to be present.

 

"I hope you're ready out there! Damn thing is following down the stairwell!" Ballast's voice barked through the earpiece.

 

Tessa and Aster, with nary a word, retreated back a distance and took aim at the crumbling hotel's entryway. The Watcher, on the other hand, didn't budge, his gaze locked on the half broken door leading into the hotel's faded and worn lobby. He expected them to emerge through this portal and emerge they did, knocking the flimsy door clean off its heavily rusted hinges and several feet off to the side.

 

At the head of the retreat was Ballast, a bald man with a deep tan, who, as far as The Watcher could immediately tell, looked to have sprouted a second head behind from his back. Right behind this visual oddity were Carlyle Boars, a man who wore a black ski mask for a reason The Watcher couldn't fathom, and Aiden Carpenter, a man with short brown hair and wild eyebrows, racing neck and neck to avoid being the one nearest their pursuer.

 

The Watcher refocused on Ballast, knowing full well the man hadn't sprouted a new head since the operation's start and saw that what the man carried on his back gave the illusion. As he continued to observe, he realized what he saw was less a something and more a someone. A someone who had been cut off at the hip.

 

The Watcher realized this half-person to be what remained of Simons. Half the man he used to be indeed.

 

"Ballast. Never make a literal snide like that again," The Watcher chided in an unserious tone through his microphone. As Ballast retorted with a snort, the creature in pursuit entered the rear of the hotel lobby.

 

The figure, a mere shadow at the rear of the hall, was long, low to the ground and sporadically bulbous. Further details would remain uncertain until the beast drew nearer. The Watcher wasn't prepared to make a hasty call resulting in additional "half-people" piled up around him. He would get scolded by The Apprentice for "wasting our limited manpower" and it has proven remarkably difficult to get much reading done when she starts up. How she would react if he got her friend killed eluded him, though he imagined the response to be terrible. He never enjoyed the politics of these operations.

 

"Team Three, open fire when it emerges. Watch for the sacks on its back and sides. We don't know what we're dealing with yet and breaking them could be dangerous," He said as he continued to look through the doorway, an attempt to analyze the beast's form. All he determined that the creature was far, far longer than he had originally estimated. This detail did not comfort him.

 

Only a few moments passed between when Ballast arrived at the rendezvous point and when the creature emerged from the building, bursting through the doorway. The creature was immense, with chitinous mandibles that could have been mistaken for a feller buncher. Its shell shone in the light of the rising moon with a sickly, yellow-blue hue. On its back, jiggling like scoops of gelatinous fat, were thick sacks filled with an unknown liquid that continuously shifted colors as if a grotesque process occurred within. The Watcher did not wish to see what the result of that process.

 

The beast lurched forward, pushing and pulling itself forward with countless long, spindly arms split in four by what looked to be two elbow joints. Twelve slits occupied the space above the creature's massive jaws. The Watcher assumed these to be how the beast made sense of its surroundings. But, he couldn't determine if the beast detected its settings by sight, smell, movement, or some otherworldly method. Below these slits was the beast's mouth, filled with teeth that hooked inward and gave the impression it favored sinking its teeth into its meals and making off with them. He thought this explained Simons current condition fairly well.

 

"Arms," The Watcher said as he stepped forward to challenge the beast.

 

At this command, Team Three fired upon the approaching creature. The rounds either missed or bounced off after striking the arms, their hard curvature serving to deflect the projectiles. The Watcher hoped someone would cripple a limb and hobble the entity's approach, otherwise he'd have a remarkably unpleasant experience halting the wretch. As this thought left his head, a round found its way to the joint crevice formed by two of the creature's arm segments. Much like some medieval armor, the joint proved a weakness and the hideous thing found itself waving about a stump as if the limb still had use. The beast didn't seem affected all that much by the loss.

 

More rounds flew, few penetrated.

 

Ballast fell back behind Team Three before he dropped Simons torso like a sack of potatoes and opened fire on the beast, severing numerous limbs. The two who followed after him turned and opened fire themselves. The two were relieved for the same reason The Watcher tensed: the creature had made him its target. Of all the things to go well for him this day, it would, of course, be his unspoken challenge.

 

The creature quickly closed the distance, its length revealed more and more. That is until the bug-like creature came to an abrupt halt before its tail could finish emerging from the ruins of the hotel. The thing's long, clawed hands slapped and struck at the earth with a fury that kicked up dirt, rocks, and rubble. The monstrosity was in a state of anger and frustration amidst the echoes of gunfire.

 

The reason for the creature's sudden lack of progress protruded from The Watcher's shoulders. From each shoulder were two thick, pulsating shoots of flesh that wove together like strips of leather twisted into a cord. These cords connected him to the chitinous thing at the base of each mandible. At the ends of these twisted branches of skin, muscle, and sinew were semi-circular buds similar to the leaves of a Venus Flytrap. These fleshy maws were lined with a row of oozing, wobbly cones of flesh. At the tip of these mounds protruded sharp teeth of a pristine, white bone. These teeth struck the creature's shell with enough force and power to dig into the carapace and lock the creature's sharp jaws, which sought to do to The Watcher what they had done to Simons, in place.

 

The beast's body swayed and undulated as it began to thrash about in frustration and panic. The sacks of swirling color shook and quivered as if the beast sought to buck them off. The Watcher kept the insect-like creature's head in place as the others continued to pick off the beast's swinging limbs, but he knew the creature would inevitably use its large body to wrest itself from his grasp. He forced the creature's head lower and looked along the hotel's length like he expected something.

 

It turned out he was.

 

A distance past the hotel stood a figure, one who up close would have been The Watcher's height. For what felt like minutes, The Watcher and the figure locked eyes. The two only broke eye contact when the distant figure lifted his hand toward The Watcher; this elicited a smile. The Watcher lifted his left hand in response, fingers pointed downward as the beast's thrashing intensified.

 

"Hold fire!" Ballast hollered after he caught sight of The Watcher's actions. The others complied despite their confusion.

 

The figure in the distance vanished as suddenly as he had been seen. In the figure's place rose a dark streak roughly five feet in height and two feet in width. The streak appeared to roll over itself as it rapidly approached. The mass moved and churned at such a pace that The Watcher almost couldn't see the countless sharp, jagged teeth that slid and sloshed within. He knew he needed only hold his "friend" in place for just a moment longer and the chitinous problem would be resolved.

 

This assumption turned out to only be half correct.

 

As the darkened cloud of shifting teeth approached, the creature tossed its rear in an attempt to dislodge itself from The Watcher's jawed grasp. This crass, panicked action moved the bulk of the immense, unnatural insect-beast out of the way of the encroaching mass. Unfortunately for the beast, the action failed to dislodge it from The Watcher's hold. The motion instead forced the teeth gripping the creature to dig deeper into its carapace, splitting and cracking the yellow-blue plates.

 

As The Watcher's fleshy maws dug deeper the rolling, viscous cloud of dancing teeth arrived. The mass caused loud scrapping, snapping, and shattering noises as it tore through several of the creature's legs. The carapace fared just as well when the mass came through and smashed a path through a segment of the creature's front. Bits of chitin fell to the ground like rain, accompanied by thick spurts of a grotesque red and grey liquid from the beast's body.

 

The mass vanished when it came into contact with The Watcher, slipping into the man like water down a drain and obscuring his vision in the process. When the cloud vanished, he could see the extent of damage, which proved a colossal disappointment.

 

Due to the creature's thrashing, only a section of its front had been smashed through; the part where The Watcher's appendage gripped mandible had been cut free from the still flopping beast. The Watcher now had only a weak grip on the sizable being and so released it from his toothed grasp; it would not do to have a maw torn from him in the creature's pained spasms.

 

Released from The Watcher's grasp, the creature continued to flop about like a fish in its pained and panicked fight to regain footing. When the beast finally managed back to its feet, the total extent of the damage became revealed. Where there had once been a solid chitinous shell, there was now a hole that revealed soft grey and yellow tissue that pulsated with an odd rhythm. A red and grey ooze crept over the edges of the inner carapace and pooled beneath the beast. The creature had yet to notice as it turned back toward The Watcher.

 

Ballast shouted, "Exposed, fire!"

 

The sound of gunfire rang once again, only to be immediately drowned out by an excruciating howl from the entity as it recoiled onto its back. The creature's mouth, which appeared so small at first, had opened to a disproportionate size, nearly as large as a man. The maw remained open as the creature's howl slowly petered out, collapsing into what appeared a homeless person's shanty that sheltered the sensory slits. The creature twitched, but made no effort to get up.

 

As The Watcher looked toward the pitiable creature, the heavy and hastened footfalls of two people fell upon his ears. He knew they moved to gain vantage on the creature's exposed innards. The Watcher didn't give any orders, he didn't need to, and instead kept his eyes on the creature, certain it had yet to kick the bucket.

 

After a few moments, The Watcher started to turn his head toward those who had passed behind him but stopped when the creature's mouth, distended from the earlier cry, began a sluggish retreat. This did not go unnoticed by anyone. How could they miss it? The batwing-like maw had grown so much that for it to disappear without notice would require either significant luck or egregious human error.

 

Not that The Watcher hadn't seen human error of that caliber before.

 

The beast's limbs had slowly lowered into a relaxed state as the shock of being shot subsided when Ballast and Tessa got to their vantage point. Ballast didn't have to say a word, give an order, or make a request, to communicate what needed to be done. As if linked by the mind, the two lowered to one knee and hoisted rifle to shoulder with a mirrored fluidness one would expect to see of professional performers. They aimed under the assumption that failure to put the creature down here would prove life-threatening. Then they fired.

 

The insect-like creature gave one last quavering cry and then fell silent. The limbs that had begun to relax became rigid again, drawn inwards toward the center of the thing's long body. The limbs twitched for several minutes, scratching ineffectually at the underside of the carapace before finally stopping.

 

The Watcher spent this time carefully examining the creature, particularly its chitinous case. The rounds that brought the beast its demise made no external markings, as he expected. This suggested that the rounds bounced off the internal wall of the exoskeleton and brought damage to a greater portion of the soft tissue. Regardless of what transpired within, he was more than pleased to be done with the creature.

 

The Watcher was equally as pleased to see what had become of the odd sacks that littered the creature's body like fatted ticks on a wild dog. A number of these protuberances remained visible when the beast flopped over, and not a one had so much as sprung a leak. With the monster's demise, the dancing color within these bulbs faded away, as did The Watcher's concern over these growths.

 

"What are your orders, Watcher? Are we to head back inside? Start a new sweep?" Ballast inquired with a stern voice as he approached. Tessa walked alongside him with a look of bewilderment on her face as if she could hardly believe what he just suggested.

 

"Negative, Ballast. I want you to go pick up your flour sack and see that it is laid to a proper rest. The five of you are done here," The Watcher replied, watching the expressions of Tessa's face in muted amusement.

 

"Tessa."

 

"Yes, Watcher?"

 

"On your way out I want you to call for a cleansing. Preferably Galloway's group. I'll be staying put to make certain that no more creatures, if there are any more, attempt to sneak out. One of these getting loose in the city itself would be disastrous. A real nightmare." She nodded to his words and jogged past to inform the others as to The Watcher's orders. Ballast didn't follow.

 

"If I may speak, Watcher. Are you well? Your...whatever you call it was slower than I recall," Ballast said as he established eye contact.

 

"Observant. If I had to answer you, Ballast, I would say I am feeling overdrawn. Rest would do me good, but it can wait. There are things that need doing and I won't be able to rest until they are done and done right. Any other questions I can answer for you?" The Watcher returned a calm, unflinching gaze.

 

"Yes. What is our lengthy friend there? Never seen anything in the books and documents back at The Pillar. Never heard anyone speak of such a thing. Not even a drunken sketch by old Yards, the creepy b*****d."

 

"Wish I could tell you, Ballast. Whatever the beast is has been dancing away from me since it first poked its ugly head out. It seemed so dreadfully familiar and yet so remarkably alien that even now I can't place it. Not even a portion of it," The Watcher responded with a tinge of frustration in his voice and a distant look in his eye.

 

"Very well. Thank you for humoring my inquiries, Watcher. I will go see to our evacuation. May luck be on your side and a dead slumber on anything else in there." With those words, Ballast moved past to assist the others in moving out. He made certain he carried Simons remains.

 

The Watcher observed the five and a half as they departed from the scene. He wanted to make certain that they left and, most importantly, that nothing pursued. The commotion caused by the chitinous monstrosity could've been used by another creature as a chance to slink away. If such had happened and the entity proved hostile, or at least carnivorous, then there was legitimate concern to be had for their continued safety. He never liked being this uncertain, this paranoid, but for now, it was necessary. He hoped The Apprentice wouldn't be too cross with him for being "half a man short".

 

The teams disappeared from sight in short order and with no sign of scurrying shadows about them. The Watcher was now comfortable enough to turn back to the hotel.

 

He stood and watched the windows, the doors, and the walls for close to ten minutes. Nothing moved. He had difficulty deciding if the lack of motion was good or not. So many things like to wait in the stillness, hiding in plain sight even from him. The thought caused a shiver to run down his spine. He decided he would resume his earlier post, read more of that dreadful novel, and wait for the cleansers.




© 2017 JPDonelan



Author's Note

JPDonelan
Any input is welcome input.

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Featured Review

You have a really fun idea here and I finished reading this wanting to know more. That is a big plus.
I think you could use dialogue in lieu of so much wordy description. Dialogue might help bring your characters to life, too. In some cases the dialogue seems a little stiff and formal. With that said, some of your phrasing, word choice, and sentence structure is a real treat to read.
I really struggle with the nonchalant attitude of the Watcher. It makes him unrelatable and even takes away from the tension you built. After 8 years in the Army I never acted so disinterested. Also, it makes the Watcher seem less professional or amateurish when he misses getting a full view of the creature because he is reading a cheap novel, and then right afterwards begins to watch like a 'vulture' once it is too late.
Another struggle I have is with the callous disregard for Simon's death. I can't imagine a circumstance where death would be treated so off-handed and perversely. Especially the death of a teammate. If this has some bearing on the story or the make up of the team or the types of creatures they are, it needs some earlier explanation.
On this same note, the 'half a man' pun felt over used (in my opinion, it should not be used) towards the end.
The innuendo with the two women and The Watcher isn't working. It feels corny and makes the women characters seem less strong and capable.
Who is The Apprentice's friend?
I had to look up 'feller buncher' and although the idea works, it is such an infrequently used word it lacks the impact you are probably looking for.
Team Three fires at the creature with little impact, but when Ballast fires he severs limbs. Does he have a larger caliber weapon?
It seems like The Watcher is holding on to the creature with some sort of extra appendages. How is he holding the creature down? Does The Watcher have larger mass?
I can't give the creature a reconcilable size. It is massive, large as a harvester, smashes a homeless shanty, but fits into a hotel stairwell...
There are a few moments that are confusing, but also intriguing. I get the impression that they are foreshadowing moments and they are definitely working at keeping me interested.
I hope I wasn't too critical, I really did enjoy reading this and will make certain I read the next two chapters also.


Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

JPDonelan

11 Months Ago

Mark, thanks for giving it a read and I am glad you enjoyed it. I don't think you were too critical .. read more
mark.simondi

11 Months Ago

You have all of this under control. I don't feel like any of the confusion I had was due to you not .. read more



Reviews

You have a really fun idea here and I finished reading this wanting to know more. That is a big plus.
I think you could use dialogue in lieu of so much wordy description. Dialogue might help bring your characters to life, too. In some cases the dialogue seems a little stiff and formal. With that said, some of your phrasing, word choice, and sentence structure is a real treat to read.
I really struggle with the nonchalant attitude of the Watcher. It makes him unrelatable and even takes away from the tension you built. After 8 years in the Army I never acted so disinterested. Also, it makes the Watcher seem less professional or amateurish when he misses getting a full view of the creature because he is reading a cheap novel, and then right afterwards begins to watch like a 'vulture' once it is too late.
Another struggle I have is with the callous disregard for Simon's death. I can't imagine a circumstance where death would be treated so off-handed and perversely. Especially the death of a teammate. If this has some bearing on the story or the make up of the team or the types of creatures they are, it needs some earlier explanation.
On this same note, the 'half a man' pun felt over used (in my opinion, it should not be used) towards the end.
The innuendo with the two women and The Watcher isn't working. It feels corny and makes the women characters seem less strong and capable.
Who is The Apprentice's friend?
I had to look up 'feller buncher' and although the idea works, it is such an infrequently used word it lacks the impact you are probably looking for.
Team Three fires at the creature with little impact, but when Ballast fires he severs limbs. Does he have a larger caliber weapon?
It seems like The Watcher is holding on to the creature with some sort of extra appendages. How is he holding the creature down? Does The Watcher have larger mass?
I can't give the creature a reconcilable size. It is massive, large as a harvester, smashes a homeless shanty, but fits into a hotel stairwell...
There are a few moments that are confusing, but also intriguing. I get the impression that they are foreshadowing moments and they are definitely working at keeping me interested.
I hope I wasn't too critical, I really did enjoy reading this and will make certain I read the next two chapters also.


Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

JPDonelan

11 Months Ago

Mark, thanks for giving it a read and I am glad you enjoyed it. I don't think you were too critical .. read more
mark.simondi

11 Months Ago

You have all of this under control. I don't feel like any of the confusion I had was due to you not .. read more
This is genius: "A silence that monologues for hours in mere minutes."

That was a gripping tale. I couldn't stop reading, I had to know what would happen next. You did a very good job of showing us what we needed to see and allowing us to fill in other blanks ourselves. Nothing I hate more than having something shoved down my throat. Thank you for trusting us to figure some things out ourselves.

My only quibble is with the first sentence, which seems a mite long and convoluted.

Otherwise, this is a brilliant story. Really gross, but great.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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2 Reviews
Added on October 6, 2016
Last Updated on January 18, 2017
Tags: Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Low Fantasy


Author

JPDonelan
JPDonelan

TX



About
Currently working on a follow-up to "Tome of Reality." - Update - Project looks to be running long, may end up broken into two. My stories tend to reach toward five thousand words, which can be mad.. more..

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