Adjudicator

Adjudicator

A Story by JPDonelan
"

After an argument with an unnerving visitor, Simon struggles to escape his own home.

"

The deep of night had settled in over the American Northeast, a region made starless by thick overcast. In a remote woodland area, recessed from the street, stood a half-century old two-story stone house. A tall fence of well-worked iron indicated the property line, while an automatic gate shut the driveway off from the world.

 

On this dead night, the only light came from a second story window overlooking the front yard. The light, weak and pale, emanated not from a fixture, but from three monitors. In front of the monitors sat a man in his late-thirties with a receding head of black hair and eyes like a rat. This man, a blogger and news aggregator by the name of Simon Belloi, focused on the middle of the three screens as his fingers hammered the keyboard.

 

With an unconscious nod, he posted his comment; response to a frequent visitor to the blog open on the screen. He had made a post earlier in the day and, as had become custom, the usual group arrived in the evening. For the last two hours, he fielded questions, responded to comments, and engaged this audience. Ever the showman, he spun his words like silk for the eyes of his readers. They appreciated every line.

 

He glanced at the screen to his left to check e-mails and wait for responses. Two new items had arrived since he last checked, both alerts to news postings out of Oregon. The first, another article about the protest in Portland, didn't elicit much of a response from him. The second, however, peaked his interest. The short article told of a gruesome murder in Salem, a homicide similar to two others which have been in the news over the past week.

 

Simon jotted down a quick note to look into the murder come morning and turned his attention back to the center screen. In time to see a new comment pop up.

 

A comment filled with accusation:

 


You engage in acts of a vile, incorrigible nature. Your ruses do little to shield you from knowing eyes. The ignorant and gullible whom you entertain change not the life you have ruined. And those you would ruin, should you not be ceased. For these actions, and your cognitive deceptions, judgment will come. Will your hand perform the task, Simon?


 

At first, the comment didn't bother him and instead elicited a smirk. Another banal remark, he'd gotten plenty over the years. A matter to laugh off. Then he remembered: he never used his first name on this blog.

 

This realization caused his chest to clench. Did this person know he ran this blog? No, a preposterous notion. He took stringent efforts to avoid the use of his real name. And he never once slipped up. This had to be either an accurate mistake or a pejorative.

 

With a chuckle, Simon leaned back into his chair. He had an idea on how to respond to this individual but wanted to be calm. Toward this end, he shut his eyes, clasped his hands over his stomach, and drew ten deep breaths.

 

With the final breath exhaled, he turned his attention to his reply.

 

The response formed amidst a renewed flurry of typing. The tone, dismissive; the original comment's shallow accusations, ignored; the question and name, written off with a humorous jab. Every barbed, sarcastic line brought him joy.

 

Thirty-seven seconds later, the visitor responded:

 


Are you so significant a fool as to think this a joke? A flawed conscience permits you to make light of your cruelties. With luck, one may still recover from three weeks of them. The non-reflective derision, however, shall worsen your sentence.

 

I shall repeat but once more. For what you have done, justice shall be a river after a storm: quick and inevitable. You may struggle and resist, tire yourself and then be pulled under. Or you may yield, and let it be done with you.


 

Simon's chest tightened as he froze, eyes locked on the screen. Another detail and a renewal of anxiety. Who was this person? For a clue, he looked to their handle. A single word greeted his eyes: Adjudicator.

 

Of course, a smartass. Regardless, he needed to dissuade this visitor; convince them they had the wrong person; get them to leave. So he set upon his keyboard like a madman to provide a new response, without even a moment to relax.

 

Thus began the longest fifteen minutes of Simon's life. He would dismiss the statements and follow-up with light-hearted jabs at the vague details. Do all he could to suggest the poster, this Adjudicator, fabricated their nonsense. But, they would always reply with a specific detail no one should know.

 

The situation caused his innards to churn and contract. In his tensed state, with focus locked on the back and forth, he failed to notice the lack of responses from his usual visitors. To him, or this Adjudicator.

 

Finally, the commenter had enough:

 


You have shown your intent to struggle; a buffoon you indeed are. I find sorrowful how justice must come for one with a fool's obstinance. No less, the decree is cast; the sentence decided.


 

Not quite the retraction Simon would've preferred, but still a triumph. However, the back and forth left him agitated. He had more to say, both to save face and preempt inquiry. After a deep breath to focus, he began to compose his final reply.

 

Halfway through his response, the commenter posted again:

 


Cease your thrashing phalanges and gaze beyond your walls.


 

Belloi stared at the screen for a minute, dumbfounded. The message caused a fidgetiness in him, a conflict between unconscious curiosity and conscious will. The words had one meaning, this he knew. But knowing didn't cure his hesitance, his wary need for confirmation. With muscles tensed, he twisted toward the window behind him. A grimace crossed his face as he saw the unmistakable glow of the house's motion-activated floodlights against the pitch blackness of night.

 

In a state of trepidation, Simon pulled himself from the comfort of his chair and approached the window; each rigid step accompanied by a deep breath. Eight breaths later he looked through the glass.

 

What he saw forced his brow to knit and eyes to widen.

 

Amidst the field of light, an odd form dragged itself toward the house. The distance made discerning the specifics of what he saw difficult, but the appearance troubled him no less. While human in general shape, the gangly limbs and peculiar contortions of the body screamed of the figure's inhumanity. As did the hideous, moist sheen that gave the hide a luminescent quality, which made assessment of finer details impossible.

 

Simon followed the approach of this creature, mouth agape. His mind darted as uncertainty and panic took control. And yet, he didn't move from the spot until the entity neared the front door.

 

Back to his senses, he rushed to his desk and retrieved his cell phone. He knew, given the situation, he'd have a use for the device. A quick check revealed the phone to be near fully charged--a minor relief. Slipping the phone into his pocket, he dashed from the room.

 

Just as the front door cracked loud and flung open.

 

Facial muscles tight, he looked over the half wall railing and down into the foyer, in time to watch the monstrosity's unsteady gait bring it inside. The further into the vestibule the invader came, the weaker its phosphorescent glow became. A glow he wished had remained.

 

The diminished shell of light offered sight to the apparition's bark-like flesh--twisted and gnarled. Grooves and uneven notches formed by the knots littered the torso, which grew thicker toward the head. The scalp, as knotted and irregular as the rest of the hide, made Simon's stomach churn. Audibly.

 

Audibly enough to be heard by the intruder, whose head tilted back. As the air left Simon's lungs in a ragged exhalation, he stumbled back. For a split second, he caught sight of what could be described as the demon's "face." A grotesque mass of knotted lumps, save for the "forehead" region where six holes, arranged in the shape of an upside-down U, resided. Unlike the rest of the body, no sign of light existed within these cavities.

 

He hurried to collect himself, convinced the tree-like entity had seen him. Crouched low, he hugged the half wall and started through the landing. With the stairs unavailable, he'd have to try a sneakier option. A riskier option. If done right, he'd have a chance to slip downstairs and flee.

 

If done wrong, however, he didn't want to consider.

 

So along he crept, his destination the open door in the corner: the second-floor bathroom. The eerie silence brought the frantic beat of his heart to his ears and made him tense. The monstrosity should've started toward the second floor by now, why couldn't he hear it? As he listened with greater care, a loud bang and crack sounded from the stairwell, making both him and his heart jump.

 

Uncertain as to what happened, he scurried from the half wall and into the bathroom.

 

Pressed against the wall, out of sight from the landing, Simon pulled the phone out and unlocked it. The light from the screen caused him to jerk, both in surprise and to hide the illumination. After two haggard breaths, he fumbled his way to the dial screen and proceeded to stare. Aware of the noise he'd make with the call, he tilted his head to look from the lavatory.

 

Darkness and the faint illumination of the monitors in his office greeted his eyes, while a faint, wretched odor teased his nose. No dim glow, no indication he recognized; a chance, if he ever saw one. So, he turned back to the phone and dialed 911.

 

The phone rang, and rang, and rang, but never connected.

 

"Come on you damn thing, connect already," Simon murmured in a panic. He didn't know the hideous invader's location but knew it came for him.

 

In frustration, he ended the call and tried again--all while the faint odor, similar to rot covered by an oak-scented air freshener, grew ever more pungent. With an indistinguishable grumble, he turned back to peek around the corner again.

 

This time, a dull gleam came from the landing.

 

He pulled himself flat against the wall and slowed his breathing. To be caught here, in a room with but one exit, would be a death sentence. Renewed concern about the ringing possessed him, and he attempted to quiet the device. In the process, he devised an idea.

 

Peeking around the corner around, he caught sight of the monstrosity's contorted, grooved back. He lucked out, the apparition failed to hear the phone and continued toward the office. Now he had his chance to sneak by. But first, a trick.

 

He turned back to the phone, minimized the call, and opened the clock. With practiced haste, he set an alarm for one minute in the future. With good fortune, the alarm would distract the fiend for a minute. A desired extension he couldn't complain about.

 

Preparations complete, he put the phone next to the sink and then crept to the doorway. The creature, unaware of his location, continued toward the office; a sight which brought him an ounce of comfort. But still, he had to get downstairs, and his uncertainty about the monstrosity's capabilities made him apprehensive. If the demon could move faster than it had demonstrated, he didn't favor his odds. Unnecessary mistakes would have to be avoided.

 

When the entity turned to the doorway of the office, Simon sprang from the bathroom and hid behind the half wall.

 

Without pause, he followed the barrier to the stairs and, after poking his head up to check for the intruder, began a slow descent. He needed to be careful, after all. If he stampeded down, a hastened retreat with no reservation, he'd alert the beast well before he reached the quarter landing.

 

He slunk down the stairs with steady steps, ears sharp. Again no noise came, and he began to wonder why. Speculation halted when he came to the quarter landing and saw a hole in the wall opposite the three steps to the foyer. The rotten smell from before oozed from this opening like the odor from an infected wound. As he stared at the hole, a noise blared from upstairs; his alarm had gone off.

 

On reflex, he turned his head up toward the second floor. Within moments he regretted doing so; his clever trick had failed.

 

Amidst the prevalent darkness, to the chorus produced by the harsh cry of the alarm, loomed the demon's head over the half wall. Luminescence had returned but of a fainter kind. Simon knew the terror could see him. Those holes, their dark emptiness amplified by the light, made him queasy. And the ooze, which dripped in long strings from the thing's face, didn't help his stomach.

 

Once seen, Simon had to act. Hesitation could end in many ways, and none of them good. In a single motion, he turned, rushed away from the broken wall, and leaped over the three steps onto the foyer's tile floor. As he landed, the grooved horror plummeted into the vestibule. Right in front of the broken door.

 

His means of escape cut off, Simon made for the dining room. He needed a new route, a new plan. With the front blocked, how could he get out? An answer jumped to mind as he skirted around the dining table: the backdoor.

 

He struggled with the idea, and for an avoidable reason. The door in question, made of heavy metal, had a temperament and always got stuck. A problem high up on the list of maintenance projects he never got around to and could never rationalize a contractor for. The option would work, but did he have time?

 

No, he did not.

 

As he entered the kitchen, a loud crack sounded behind him. A cold sweat broke as the dining table flipped past him. He didn't expect the monster to move so fast after such a landing. A damnable development that ruined his chances to escape out the back. Another route would be needed, and he had an idea.

 

Simon didn't turn to see how close the gnarled fiend had come as the table collided with the island in front of him, a signal to run. And run he did, through the kitchen, past the small hall leading to the back door, and into the living room. As he ran, he heard renewed clatter from the kitchen. The clatter made him think. And plot.

 

The living room, well furnished, would buy him a minute; the miscreation's idiotic single-mindedness a boon. With renewed confidence, Simon rushed through the room and toward a closed door in the corner. His escape lay beyond this door, but he needed to be careful. If a certain something happened his life would end; even if he escaped. Care would be needed.

 

Another crack sounded and drew his wide-eyed attention, even with his hand on the handle.

 

Behind the couch at the edge of the room, where a console table once stood, now stood the beast, head tilted to the right. With attention trained on Simon, the fiend's left arm rose. The long, twisted limb stopped even with the shoulder as two thick, knotted masses butted against one another. No longer able to lift the arm, the entity's torso twisted and the arm fell, smashing through the couch.

 

Simon didn't wait to see the resumption of the malformation's approach and flung the door open. The door remained open as he descended the stairs on the other side in haste. Every moment mattered. Every second, the difference between life and the couch.

 

At the bottom of the stairs, he flicked a switch, and a distant light turned on; enough to see. He hurried toward the light, confident the creature would be here soon. If he could round the corner by then, he'd have made enough distance to start on the cellar door in safety. His new, and final, plan of escape looked bright. As bright as the bulb ahead of him.

 

Around the room he skittered, a route taken to avoid the furniture arrangement at the center and, more importantly, the door in the other wall. Despite his efforts to ignore the aperture, his eyes couldn't help but linger as he proceeded along the opposite wall. An object seated next to the door, a sledgehammer he had forgotten to put away, reminded him of a disappointment. And a failure.

 

But he hadn't the opportunity to lament--his life was at risk. So he forced his head away and toward his destination. Once he arrived, the cellar door would only take a few moments to get open; he had invested personal time to make certain this vital entrance remained functional.

 

As he prepared to round the corner, a clatter came from the stairs and ended with the shatter of wood. This racket elicited an instinctive spin, a turn to face the noise's source. He managed to catch sight of the tree-skinned apparition, crumpled in a heap, before the light flickered thrice and went out. An unconscious smirk crossed his face; he had an idea.

 

While the demon struggled to rise in the cramped space, Simon moved behind the nearest couch. The plan wouldn't be too difficult; he simply needed to lure the beast toward the furniture. His heart thundered as he crouched, his head visible over the back. The horror needed to have an idea of his location, and he didn't think it saw him.

 

Next came the guesswork. His stomach tightened as he waited and a new question came to mind. Could the creature actually see in the dark? He didn't wait to find out and, with shallow hope, ducked his head.

 

In the stillness of the dark room, he crept away from his cover. A decision justified when the crack of frame and rip of upholstery signified the beast's destruction of another sofa. The financial cost of the damages crossed his mind as the odor from earlier found his nostrils and made him grimace.

 

From his new position, Simon left the arrangement and moved to the door he so desperately sought to avoid. A useful tool lay near, this he knew. However, his attempt to retrieve the sledge met with no quick success. Indeed, he fumbled about in the darkness, groping for either wood or metal. Fingertips grazed the wall's surface countless times before they fell upon the smooth wood of the hammer's grip.

 

A smile crossed his face as he gripped the tool and lifted it from the ground. Nice and heavy, the object would play a simple, yet important role in his plan. He hoped he didn't assume too much.

 

With sledgehammer in hand, he crept toward the stairway; a cautious look tossed over a shoulder every few feet. He couldn't see more than a foot in front of him but kept up the practice for the sake of his nerves.

 

Another burst of noise came from behind, another couch gone. At least he now knew the location of the lumbering cretin; he'd be able to proceed without immediate concern.

 

He knew he had arrived at the stairs by the familiar oaken scent; a precedent set back at the quarter landing. With how the odor lingered, he suspected the bumbling monstrosity had hurt itself. If correct, the plan would be easier to execute than he thought.

 

Without more than a few moments consideration as to the state of the beast, Simon turned and stormed upstairs. A sound he hoped more successful than his earlier ploy.

 

At the top of the stairs, Simon flicked the living room lights on and moved out of sight of the doorway. If his unsubtle ascent failed to lure the invader, this would certainly do the deed.

 

And indeed, the stimuli worked.

 

After two minutes, a faint glow came from the basement and grew brighter as seconds passed. Though he expected, neigh, desired this, Simon found his stomach taut and uneasy. The miscreation's ever silent approach made his heartbeat resound in his ears; anxiety and adrenaline formed an alliance in him.

 

Doubt began to gnaw at him. What if the monster would be unaffected by the weighty, stick-affixed hunk of metal? Would he have the chance to run? Should he run now, forgo his defensive ploy? He wished for answers, or at least for the nagging to cease.

 

Questions from the realm of uncertainty continued to pound at him as he peeked down the stairs and saw the creature four steps away. The chance for answers had departed. Heaving the sledge, he waited for the fiend to take a step. As the hideous thing, whose rotted scent burned at his nose, lifted its leg, he rounded the corner and swung the hammer.

 

The metal head crashed into the thick, grooved mass of the entity's upper torso; there would be no missed target today.

 

To Simon's surprise, the beast careened backward and tumbled into the basement. A loud thud sounded when the monster struck the steps, followed by another crack of the wall. In his surprised, dumbfounded state, it took a moment to register what had happened. But when reality clicked, he charged down the stairs with such haste the momentum almost toppled him.

 

Near the bottom step, he leaped from the stairs and landed beside the downed horror, who struggled to rise. Simon wouldn't allow the resistance and hoisted the sledgehammer high. And then he went to work.

 

The hammer fell, a thud echoed, and then the hammer rose. Simon repeated this over and over; his initial aim, the malformation's limbs. The goal, to hamper the monster, destroy its ability to threaten him.

 

When the arms and legs were reduced to shattered, splintered stumps, the body and head became the next targets. He didn't stop until the unknown intruder lay beaten into a fractured, quivering mass of gnarled flesh.

 

When Simon finished, he had no idea how much time had passed. He only knew his arms were heavy. Heavy enough he could no longer hold the sledgehammer, which slipped from his grasp and fell to the ground with a wet thud. Each breath, drawn with a wheeze, burned his lungs. The horrid odor went unnoticed in his elation. He had survived. He stopped the demon, which had chased him through his own home. Safety had finally arrived.

 

As did exhaustion. The adrenaline that pumped through his body as he fled and fought had died out. His legs felt weak, and his eyelids fought all efforts to keep them open. He didn't have the strength to deal with clean-up now; the mess would have to wait until after he slept.

 

Simon, in a quasi-aware state, climbed the stairs to the main floor. The basement door left open, he made his way through the living room and into the foyer; a route outside he could've used earlier, but overlooked because of the now deceased terror's pursuit. He climbed the steps, determined to examine the front door when he woke up.

 

In his half-conscious state, Simon didn't notice he headed toward his office until he had arrived. He chuckled to himself when he realized and, with a shake of his head, approached the computer to see if he had new responses. After all, a quick glance couldn't hurt. He'd answer later.

 

What he saw, however, startled him awake. Only one new post had been made in all this time. A comment made less than a minute ago. A comment made by the Adjudicator handle. A comment that read:

 


Mr. Belloi, I never ordered you to look away.


 

***

The police arrived at a quarter to seven the morning after the incident after an anonymous call came in. What they found disgusted them. The house had been wrecked, with windows smashed and furniture crushed and scattered. On the second floor landing, past the office, they found the body of Simon Belloi. An initial assessment revealed most of the man's bones had been broken, with the arms and legs folded in toward the chest, like laundry.

 

One of the officers who discovered the body, Anthony Baritello, went to check the deceased's office for evidence, while a comrade went to call in the findings. He found evidence, alright. But not for murder.

 

Drawn to the lit screens of the computer, Baritello saw Simon's posts from the previous night. While the content of the posts made it clear they were responses, the officer couldn't find what prompted them. Indeed, many of Simon's posts came back to back. The posts by Adjudicator, if they ever existed, had vanished. In his search for what led to this string of posts, Anthony found an image and a related blog post.

 

"Keins, can you come here and look at this?" Baritello called to his fellow who had returned and taken to looking through the rest of the second floor for evidence.

 

"You know you can't go poking around like that," Keins said as he entered the office.

 

"Like this when I entered. Seriously, you need to see this."

 

The images depicted a young woman, chained and bound, in what looked like a basement space. The blog post spoke of how "training" had "progressed." The picture put in perspective the earliest discussion Baritello saw. In this context, the comments downplayed how real the blog post and image appeared and suggested them both to be part of an entertainment piece.

 

He didn't know if he believed those claims.

 

"I...need to call this in." Keins backed away from the computer.

 

"You know her?"

 

"Of her. At least I think so. Looks a lot like the girl who went missing a few weeks ago a few states over."

 

"Okay, you go do that. I'm going to take a look around downstairs. Place like this has got to have a basement."

 

With those words, Keins returned downstairs and left the building. Anthony descended after him and entered the living room. He had seen an open door when they looked about earlier, but he never investigated. He now had reason to check.

 

As the officer passed through the living room, he looked over the debris, the aftermath of the previous night. In his head, he wondered what had happened, how the house got so torn up? A thought short-lived as he came to the open door and looked down into the basement. The light from the living room made the hole in the wall at the bottom visible. Baritello kept his eyes on the hole as he descended, curious.

 

At the bottom, the officer turned on the light and looked over the destruction of yet more furniture. The body of the creature, felled by Simon the previous night, had vanished. As had half of the sledgehammer, now reduced to a jagged stump. With a careful eye, Baritello proceeded further into the basement; the hunt for evidence had found another site.

 

A site ignored once the officer's eyes fell upon a nearby door, the same door Simon sought to avoid. A bizarre mark had been scratched into the wooden barricade's surface. A symbol the man had never seen before.

 

The marking consisted of two concentric circles, the largest twice the size of the smallest. Eight equidistant lines intersected at the center point of these circles, while the bisecting line ran a length equal to the large circle's diameter below the ring. At the line's end, a series of four lines formed what looked like a set of squared archways.

 

While Baritello gazed bewildered at the crude design, Keins joined him in the basement. He approached his fellow officer, a curious eye on the image. The attention didn't last as the man's eyebrows furrowed and he moved to the door.

 

"Did you hear that?" Keins asked.

 

"I haven't heard anything?" Baritello followed a foot behind, confused by the question.

 

"I think someone's inside." Keins took hold of the doorknob and looked back to Baritello. Turning his head back, he turned the knob and pushed the wooden obstruction open.

 

A familiar scene lay beyond the doorway, a scene posted on the blog upstairs. The dimly lit room; the used, yet clean queen size bed against the back wall; the chain attached to the left wall; and the young woman kept leashed by the metal links. She sat, huddled next to the bed and wall, eyes off the door. The officers didn't know if she realized they had entered. Or if she played silent audience to what happened last night.

 

Keins rushed in, his attention trained on the seated, dirty form of the young woman. Baritello would've followed him, but the door to his right claimed his focus. If a distant voice didn't call him through the closed passageway.

 

"Mr. Baritello. In here." The voice had a raspy, dream-like quality.

 

"Keins, keep an eye on her. I think I heard a noise." The officer turned and opened the door.

 

The door opened into a room filled with boxes and containers-- an inconspicuous space. And yet, Baritello felt more uneasy than he had before. He felt tense, anxious. Not even the body of Simon Belloi caused him such a stir.

 

Then the voice called again.

 

"Back here." The rasp came from the back corner of the room and brought a chill to the air.

 

Though he didn't like the feel of the room, the officer proceeded inside at the coaxing of a voice he wasn't certain existed. How could it? The volume and clarity hadn't changed from when he stood on the other side of the closed door. Could this be his nerves? Have they been jostled by the sights; or did he need a rest? Either way, he needed to look around.

 

At the rear, where the voice came from, Baritello found more boxes. A sight he felt predictable. After a moment of looking at the boxes, he turned and started to leave, but stopped before he got anywhere. Beneath the boxes, butted against the walls, came a small gleam of light on metal. A curious sight he couldn't ignore, not after what they had found thus far.

 

He moved the boxes to reveal a metal door, over six feet in length with two rings affixed to the surface. An odor, weak and unpleasant, drifted about. The officer grasped the rings and, with a solid tug, pulled the panel up. Along with a torrent of a foul rotting scent.

 

Inside the metallic recess laid a corpse, frail and withered, with few discernable characteristics. Few strands of brown hair remained attached to the head while the attire had been shredded. Baritello could barely tell the body belonged to a female from the structure.

 

Covering his mouth and nose with a cloth, the officer knelt down for a closer look. Though few details availed themselves, the way the body's arms nestled close to the chest caused his heart to ache. A sad, familiar posture.

 

As the man rose, his examination complete, the light of the room glinted off of an object held to the cadaver's chest. Interest peaked, he knelt back down but at a different angle. What he saw confused and frightened him.

 

Grasped in the desiccated form's withered hand, a silver ornament whose visible portion consisted of two concentric circles with eight lines that met at the center.


© 2017 JPDonelan



Author's Note

JPDonelan
Any feedback would be appreciated. Let me know if you see any errant quotation marks; Writerscafe does not seem to be fond of the em-dash.

My Review

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Wow! OK JP, I'm still calming down! You do suspense very well. Your imagination is vivid. I'm not sure I'd like it inside your head, but I admire the ability to add details and new twists. One slight concern is that this is on the verge of becoming a formulaic soap-like saga as perfected by Dan Brown. I think it's short enough to avoid this risk, but to me it was almost borderline. (You can tell I dislike Brown's creation of hooks as each chapter ends - but he sells millions so who am I to judge?)

Well, I was hooked. You clearly decided not to tell the reader what Belloi had been doing to cause the adjudicator to intervene. You allowed it to only reveal much later on. Personally I might have given the reader a tiny bit of an insight early on, but I understand the difficulties that might cause - we're hooked because we don't know what this guy has done.

So I come back to what I said - you do suspense really well. However, I think you need to work more on your descriptions. There were several occasions when I was back in the writing style of the early 1900s and also early horror thrillers with Peter Cushing in B&W movies, because your language conveyed a somewhat old-fashioned ambience. I think this was exacerbated by the difficulty you faced in how many different ways could you describe the creature. My only suggestion would be to try a briefer more cryptic style that makes it evident who's moving where or doing what without spelling it out - make the reader work a bit.

One other aspect that jarred slightly was that Belloi, even from the first time he saw the creature, appeared not to be revolted or shocked in the way any human would be if confronted by a supernatural powerful force. Yes he was scared but he immediately thinks tactically. I'd suggest he should first go through the revulsion, frenzy, panic, etc but then in the nick of time realise he still has a chance if he can just think and act decisively.

Final suggestion. If you had the adjudicator audibly talking a little sooner like it does to the cop, then you wouldn't have to create a smugness on Belloi's part to take another look at the screen. After all he's been through this just looked, to me, unlikely - I'd be outside grabbing some fresh air. But I guess it comes back to me questioning Belloi's psyche - maybe a cold sadistic killer who's not horrified by supernatural creatures would go back to his screen.

There are various small proofing things
- lament - his life was at risk
- moved behind the nearest .... nearest what?
- others I could find if I went through with my red pen, but none of them disrupt the flow of the suspense

So I have questions and suggestions, as you can see. But at its heart you have written a very gripping scary story.

BRs Nigel

Posted 6 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

JPDonelan

6 Months Ago

Hello, Nigel. Thank you for your feedback and kind words about my success with the suspense aspect o.. read more
Nigel Newman

6 Months Ago

You're quite right about killer vs kidnapper/rapist; that was lazy on my part and you actually make .. read more



Reviews

Since this is long, my edits will indicate their place using the following system:
* The first number will be the section, defined as a group of text separated by a paragraph break/gap.
- The one-liner that introduces a comment will be considered the first line, not its own paragraph/section separate from, the first line of the indented comment section that follows it.
* The second number, separated by a period/decimal, will indicate which sentence/s is/are being referenced.

2.2 Edit out the comma in “fixture, but” and the “from” that follows.
3.1 Suggest using “subconscious” instead of “unconscious” - the difference is subtle. One is being totally unaware (the latter) while the other is not really meaning to, but still being aware that it happened (the former).
The comma in that same sentence is also unnecessary where it is and could instead replace the semicolon.
Also, “on the screen” isn’t needed, as it’s conveyed through context.
3.3 The first comma is unneeded.
5.1 Suggest replacing “the murder” with “it”, since what it is doesn’t really need to be repeated and helps with the flow of the sentence.
5.2 Suggest connecting it to the previous sentence by a comma, as it’s not a very solid sentence on its own.
6.2-3 Suggest combining them by a comma for better flow.
8.2 Add a comma before “but”.
8.3 Remove the comma in “end, he”.
10.1 Edit out the commas and replace all semicolons with commas. There’s just a whole mess of unneeded punctuation.
12.3 Add a comma before “and”.
14.2 Change the second semicolon to a comma.
(edited down to 20)

If you appreciate the edits, let me know and I'll continue (don't want to accidentally offend and I have stuff to get done).

What I read so far is very interesting and can't wait to see what happens. It's a good, eerie set up and commenter Adjudicator's over formality adds to it :3
100/100 so far!

Posted 1 Week Ago


JPDonelan

1 Week Ago

I'm glad you're liking it so far Rea D. Lets me sweep aside any doubt and say that I certainly do ap.. read more
I like the way you created sympathy for Simon early on, before revealing that he was actually evil. Was the news about the murder foreshadowing?

Why did quotation marks often appear between two of your words? EX: charged"a

Why did you start with the "deep of night"? I feel it is a bit awkward, but I don't know.
The sentence starting with "In time to see" seems to be a fragment, and does not appear to accomplish any purpose to me.
What does "recessed from the street" mean?
I think I know what you meant by "accurate mistake", but the phrase is a bit awkward.
"sorrowful how" seems a bit awkward, and "that" seems to be used more commonly there. But I don't know.
Why is Simon referred to by his last name in the sentence "Belloi stared at the screen for a minute, dumbfounded," and nowhere else?
Talking about how the gate was smashed or how it was somehow intact might be interesting.
The sentence "Just as the front door cracked loud and flung open," seems a bit awkward. What does "cracked" mean?
Why is the symbol repeated everywhere? Is it meant to be a mystery? Is it Belloi's?
This is a very interesting story.

Posted 5 Months Ago


JPDonelan

5 Months Ago

Thank you for the review, Ovisaries. I am genuinely glad to hear I succeeded on some level with gene.. read more
ovisaries4894

5 Months Ago

flesh"twisted
again"all
JPDonelan

5 Months Ago

Thank you. And it looks like the issue at hand was the use of the em-dash. Looks like writerscafe ha.. read more
Wow! OK JP, I'm still calming down! You do suspense very well. Your imagination is vivid. I'm not sure I'd like it inside your head, but I admire the ability to add details and new twists. One slight concern is that this is on the verge of becoming a formulaic soap-like saga as perfected by Dan Brown. I think it's short enough to avoid this risk, but to me it was almost borderline. (You can tell I dislike Brown's creation of hooks as each chapter ends - but he sells millions so who am I to judge?)

Well, I was hooked. You clearly decided not to tell the reader what Belloi had been doing to cause the adjudicator to intervene. You allowed it to only reveal much later on. Personally I might have given the reader a tiny bit of an insight early on, but I understand the difficulties that might cause - we're hooked because we don't know what this guy has done.

So I come back to what I said - you do suspense really well. However, I think you need to work more on your descriptions. There were several occasions when I was back in the writing style of the early 1900s and also early horror thrillers with Peter Cushing in B&W movies, because your language conveyed a somewhat old-fashioned ambience. I think this was exacerbated by the difficulty you faced in how many different ways could you describe the creature. My only suggestion would be to try a briefer more cryptic style that makes it evident who's moving where or doing what without spelling it out - make the reader work a bit.

One other aspect that jarred slightly was that Belloi, even from the first time he saw the creature, appeared not to be revolted or shocked in the way any human would be if confronted by a supernatural powerful force. Yes he was scared but he immediately thinks tactically. I'd suggest he should first go through the revulsion, frenzy, panic, etc but then in the nick of time realise he still has a chance if he can just think and act decisively.

Final suggestion. If you had the adjudicator audibly talking a little sooner like it does to the cop, then you wouldn't have to create a smugness on Belloi's part to take another look at the screen. After all he's been through this just looked, to me, unlikely - I'd be outside grabbing some fresh air. But I guess it comes back to me questioning Belloi's psyche - maybe a cold sadistic killer who's not horrified by supernatural creatures would go back to his screen.

There are various small proofing things
- lament - his life was at risk
- moved behind the nearest .... nearest what?
- others I could find if I went through with my red pen, but none of them disrupt the flow of the suspense

So I have questions and suggestions, as you can see. But at its heart you have written a very gripping scary story.

BRs Nigel

Posted 6 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

JPDonelan

6 Months Ago

Hello, Nigel. Thank you for your feedback and kind words about my success with the suspense aspect o.. read more
Nigel Newman

6 Months Ago

You're quite right about killer vs kidnapper/rapist; that was lazy on my part and you actually make .. read more

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Added on March 21, 2017
Last Updated on May 1, 2017
Tags: Supernatural, Horror, Paranormal, Fiction

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JPDonelan
JPDonelan

TX



About
Currently working on a follow-up to "Tome of Reality." My stories tend to reach toward five thousand words, which can be made to look longer due to formatting. Feel free to leave a comment, ques.. more..

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