Chapter One-14 Days Ago

Chapter One-14 Days Ago

A Chapter by Vanessa Rico

End of the world, government conspiracy, the flu, and aliens


Chapter One

14 Days Ago: Friday, June 2nd

            “Hey dad, pass the milk!”  I tried to get my father’s attention by throwing a dish cloth at him.  The dish cloth hit him smack dab in the forehead.   “Earth to dad! Milk, please?”

            My father looked down from the flat screen plasma and smiled.  “Sorry, Lexxie, I got absorbed in the news special that they have on.  Do you know they have finally found a cure for the common cold?”

            “Yeah that’s great dad.  I just want the milk.”  Parents can be so mental sometimes.  I have to be in school in 30 minutes and my father wants to have a long and very boring discussion on the advancements in medical technology.  By the way my father drones on and on about modern medicine, you would assume he is a doctor or in the medical field at least, but he is not.  He works for a very prestigious business, Lawson Peace International, as an accountant or financial adviser (something like that anyway, you get the idea though…it is very prestigious, which is my vocabulary word of the day).

            “Hmph!  Kids these days are just interested in hover cars and music and Hollywood,” my father droned on, but he passed me the milk regardless.  As I poured the milk in my cereal, Jared and Caleb herded in a like a pack of dogs and both raced to the refrigerator.  You know boys, especially teenage boys, drown themselves in their father’s cologne making it quite difficult for everyone in the vicinity to maintain the appropriate levels of oxygen that are quite essential for living.  “Boys! Calm down! There is enough food for both of you!”

            “Yeah right!  The way Jared is eating to make the football team in the fall, mom will have to go grocery shopping every day.”  Caleb got smacked upside the head for that snarky little comment, while Jared muttered something about needing to gain muscle and working out and protein shakes.  I stopped listening to the conversation, when he mentioned he needed to gain like ten pounds of muscle.  I rolled my eyes and silently thanked the higher power that I was born a girl.  However, I considered rescinding (that was yesterday’s vocab word) my grateful thanks, when I remembered that pesky monthly visitor.  Girls, you know exactly what I am talking about.  We are always inconvenienced by the visitor, who always seems to show up at the worst possible time, stays longer than it should, and causes us to swell up like puffer fish.  Thanks higher power…and biology.  

            Even though I only took a few bites of cereal, I decided I needed to get out of the kitchen (my oxygen level was depleting rapidly and I did want to you know, live).  “As much fun as watching you two act like baboons has been, I got to jet.”  I swiftly placed a kiss on my father’s forehead (an apology for throwing a dish cloth and just because I loved him) and grabbed an energy bar from the cabinet.

 Once out of the kitchen, I quickly refilled my lungs with the much needed oxygen, then I was off to school in my Mercedes Benz hover car (a gift from my grandparents).  Even though my parents were reasonably well off, they wanted to instill in me a good work ethic, so they refused to buy me a hoverer (short for hover car).  They told me if I wanted a hoverer I had to get a job and pay for it myself.  Therefore, I got a job at the local diner, rather than one of those fancy restaurants, where everyone walks around with their nose in the air (and you know how dangerous that can be).  I love the atmosphere of Bella’s Diner, and I actually love working there after school for a few hours.  When my grandparents heard I was working and in a diner no less, they were furious with my parents.  Overriding my parents’ decision, they went straight to the first luxury hover car dealer and bought me my Mercedes Benz hoverer.  Despite the fact that I have an awesome hoverer, which I am completely enamored with, I kept my diner job, because I found that my parents were right about making money yourself and the feeling of a good job well done.  I will never admit any of this to them of course; by the way, I hate it when they are right.

            Driving into the parking lot of Oliver Ames High School, I parked in my usual spot right next to my best friend’s bright blue mustang hoverer, which had a bright yellow sunflower on the driver’s side door.  Believe me, I rolled my eyes every time I saw that sunflower.  How sacrilegious was it to paint a sunflower on a mustang?!  Heather loved sunflowers though and thus the reason for the sunflower on her door.  Apparently, the sunflower was her trademark, or so she claimed.  For the love of the higher power, why would you do that to a mustang?!  Seriously, one of the most beloved cars in American history and you paint a sunflower on it!  Anyway, I love her, despite her blasphemous tendencies.

            “Finally, you got here!  Did you get my vid-text about the assembly that was mysteriously and hastily scheduled for today?”  With as much energy as Heather has, you might imagine a formidable, imposing figure.  Wrong!  She could barely manage a height of five feet on a good day, but that did not stop her limitless energy.  If I could describe my bestie in one word, it would be the little fairy that was a Disney icon.  The perfect way to describe Heather would be Tinkerbell-like: short stature, blonde hair, beautiful in a mischievous, pixie way, and hazel eyes (yeah I know Tinkerbell had blue eyes, but the comparison still applies for Heather).   Standing next to her, I would feel like an Amazon warrior woman, even though I can scrape by at 5 foot 6 (ok I admit it I am 5 foot 5 ½). 

Not a Medusa by any standard, I know I am pretty, because I get my looks from my mom, who just turned 40 and can still turn heads when she walks into the room.  I have blonde hair, blue eyes, porcelain skin that never tans no matter how hard I try, and unlike my mom I do have an extra 10 pesky pounds that I could stand to lose (my mom says I look good with a little extra meat on my bones, instead of looking like a bulimia-ridden, starved model).  Curvy and good enough to eat were some of the words used by the guys on the football team as I overheard them talking about me.  It was sort of hard not to listen when I was stuck in a stall.  I was horrified that they would find me standing on a toilet hunched over!  Thank the higher power they never did, because I do not think I would have been able to talk myself out of that one.  You must be asking yourself how I ended up in that very awkward and potentially humiliating position, which is an extremely good question.  The details are a little hazy, since I tried to forget that day; but I believe it started as a dare to get a jock strap (rumor had it that it was padded) from quarterback, Josh Moore, and turned into a nightmarish 90 minute bathroom stall detainment.

“No, sorry, I didn’t get the vid-text.  So tell me what this assembly is about, because I know that you know!”  I grabbed my book bag from the back seat and I slung it over my shoulder as I followed Heather into the large, red-bricked building of torture.

“Well…I actually don’t know, which is why it is so mysterious and all.”  Heather said in an eerie hushed voice.  I took the time to look at Heather as she announced that she did not know.  It was unlike her not to know something like that.  I am not saying that she is a gossip or anything like that but she normally knows why assemblies are called.  She is the self-proclaimed ultimate know-it-all and not in a bad way.  Heather looked withdrawn and forlorn, probably because she was not living up to her self-proclaimed title.

I grabbed her arm to turn her to look at me.  “Hey it really is not that big of a deal that you don’t know.  It probably is for something stupid like a fireman demonstration or summer reading.”

“It can’t be either of those things, because those are planned and scheduled, not random and unplanned like this assembly today.”  I watched Heather’s hazel eyes as she made this unexpected declaration and I saw worry in her eyes, which in turn scared me.  Heather is much braver than me for all of her five feet.  If there is a rollercoaster in sight, she is on it; whereas, I am on a bench holding the bags and purses…and looking queasy at those steel death traps.  I mean, seriously, who goes to an amusement park and hop on an upside down rollercoaster; then get off, and say (in superhero style with hands on hips) “I am amused”?  Not me that is who.  I have a different definition of amusement and being an adrenaline junkie is not an example of it.  So when I saw the worry, I knew something else was up.

I dragged Heather by the arm into the girls’ bathroom, which was around the corner from the auditorium.  “Heather, what is wrong?  I know it can’t just be an unscheduled assembly.  You are never scared of anything.  I am always the one that jumps at shadows and bumps in the night.  Tell me what is up with you?”

Heather turned away from me and I saw her shoulders hunch forward.  Immediately, I went to her side and began rubbing her back to comfort her as she cried.  “Heather, whatever is bothering you can’t be as bad as you are making it out to be.  Tell me what is wrong.  We always get through these things together.  I mean it’s not like it’s the end of the world, right?”  When I said this last part, Heather looked up at me pointedly and walked toward one of the sinks.

“You’re wrong, Lexxie.  It is the end of the world,” she proclaimed as she turned on the faucet and watered down a paper towel.  Patting her eyes until they were devoid of tears, my pixie-like friend turned to me.  “I hadn’t wanted to tell you, until it was official, but…”  Her eyes drifted toward the pink painted walls as she tried to regain control of herself.

“But…what?  Heather you are really scaring me now.”

Before I could fully finish my sentence, Heather blurted out, “We are moving at the end of the school year, 16 days from now…”

If you could see my face at the moment, you would immediately see my confusion and incredulity and denial.  “What!?  No, you can’t be moving.  We have been best friends since forever…since we were in diapers!  I don’t understand…”  The pain in my voice was all too evident for Heather and she turned from me once again.  “How long have you known?”  At my question, Heather turned and tried to placate me with a hug, but I pushed her away.  “How long?”

 I could tell she really did not want to answer my question.  Her hands were fiddling with the paper towel and her eyes misted once again.  “April.  My parents told me then, but it was not a sure thing until last night.”

 All I heard was April and it was like a punch to my gut.  Heather and I were best friends since we were like a year old.  We were the dream team.  We were not like other girls, who had friends, and then promptly turned to the next person and trash-talked them.  No, we were not catty or vindictive.  We were like sisters, closer than sisters.  We shared everything with each other: first kiss (well Heather’s first kiss, as I have not experienced that heart-stopping event as of yet…hey I was working on it), the woes of acne (thankfully, we averaged only 2 or 3 minor zits a month and a major one every 6 months), pathetic crushes on teen heartthrobs with yummy big muscles and perfect, dreamy eyes, embarrassing moments like my bathroom stall detainment and her butt glued to the teacher’s desk incident.

The fact that she has been holding this in since April really hurt me; we never kept secrets, especially secrets as big as this from each other.  “I am really sorry, Lex.  I wanted to tell you as soon as I found out, but there never seemed to be a good time.  Then I thought, ‘Hey, it’s not like it is official’ so I decided to wait it out…hoping against hope that it was all a bad dream.  Last night, my dad came home and announced that we were moving.”

My response to this horrible and unwanted development got stuck in my throat.  I felt like my whole world was changing for the worse.  I mean what would I do without Heather?  We were like peanut butter and jelly; neither was great without the other.  I would be lonely goopy jelly, pining for my peanut buttery counterpart.  Who would want just jelly without the other essential ingredient?  I swallowed hoping that I could get that awful lump out of my throat, then I managed a weak, “Where are you moving to?”  I did not think I would be able to stand for much longer so I perched myself on the bathroom counter.  It made me feel like a little girl again, when my dad would let me sit on their bathroom counter, while I watched my mom get ready for some fundraising event.  I was always in awe of her as she transformed herself from my beautiful mom into a gorgeous woman, who I wanted to be, but I barely knew.  Truthfully, that is how I feel about Heather at the moment, like I barely know her.

With a little more effort, Heather managed to hoist herself next to me on the counter.  “We are moving to California,” she took in a breath to steady herself and continued, “My grandparents have not really been feeling well lately, you know.  My dad is worried as they get older that they will not be able to care for themselves.  Their health was the main factor in why we are moving.  They always seem to be getting colds and flu’s; thus, my father thinks they can’t care for themselves.”  Both of us continued to sit there swinging our legs back and forth, neither one of us knew what else to say.  There really was nothing else to say, since Heather’s move was set in stone and I was dead set against it.  If the alarm had not sounded, we would have probably sat there forever lost in our own thoughts.

Shaking myself out of my reverie, I jumped off the counter and said without looking at Heather, “Come on, let’s go find out what this mysterious assembly is about.”


The auditorium was huge as most auditoriums tend to be.  The walls of the auditorium were covered in blue rug-type fabric (I always wondered why people put this type of fabric on walls…is it good for acoustics? This will be something I have to investigate).  There were rows upon rows of my peers sitting in the movie theater style seats.  When everyone was congregated like this in one big mass, I remembered how big this school truly is as it is easy to forget when I do not normally see them all in one place all at once.  The auditorium was created to seat a thousand people, which made me think this place was a fire hazard waiting to happen.  In my minds eye (whatever that is), I could see everyone crushing together in a panic to get to the exits.  I never should have let my thoughts wander in that direction, because I was starting to feel claustrophobic and panicky.  Taking a deep breath, I hoped this assembly would be quick and easy not similar to one of my dad’s hour long lectures of a topic of his choice.  I had thought to pray to the higher power, but reconsidered that immediately taking into account how this day was going so far.  Thanks again higher power.

The curtains, which were blue as well, opened and revealed a podium and several people seated to the side of it.  I recognized my principal, Mr. James Morris (Mr. M is what he preferred to be called in an effort to seem “with it”), though I did not recognize anyone else on the stage.   Mr. M got up and walked to the podium, smiling as he did so.  I am a good judge of people and their emotions; I instantly knew that smile Mr. M wore was forced and strained.  I did a quick survey of my classmates and no one else picked up on it.  I sank into my seat feeling a little foolish for getting so worried over nothing.  My emotions as you can understand are a little all over the place with the revelation of Heather’s move.

“Good morning, students.  I hope you all are doing well on this fine day,” I managed to stifle my snort, from my peripherals I saw Heather glance at me with an anguished look on her Tinkerbell like face.  “I do know that you are all excited about the end of school and the upcoming summer vacation.  As you know, the changes in season often cause colds or even influenzas; you must be vigilant in caring for yourself.  Practice proper hygiene daily and always wash your hands often to keep those wretched germs away.  You can remember from last summer the horrible epidemic that literally plagued several third-world countries.  In order to keep yourselves healthy, the school district has brought in a Center for Disease Control official to explain exactly what a flu virus is and how to protect yourselves in case of a breakout.  Here is CDC official, Kevin Consuelo. Let us give him a warm welcome.”  Mr. M stepped back from the podium and started a round of applause, which triggered a half-hearted response from the audience.

Kevin Consuelo was a rather imposing figure made of hard muscle that could be clearly seen through his awfully tight suit.  His jet black hair was slicked back from copious amounts of hair gel.  I admit I was surprised that globs of the gel did not fall as he walked towards the podium.  He towered over Mr. M, who was not a midget by any stretch of the imagination, a good three or four inches.  At  6 foot 3 (or 4), Kevin Consuelo commandeered everyone’s attention even the jocks, who had been making spit balls, sat straighter and paid notice to this man.  “Good morning students of Oliver Ames High School.  I thank you for the warm welcome that I have been shown.  As your principal, Mr. Morris mentioned I am here to tell you the dangers of an influenza epidemic.  Now, there is no reason to worry, but it is better to be prepared than lacking in the knowledge to protect yourselves.  If this information had been readily available to those third world countries last year, I highly doubt there would have been as many fatal casualties, which is a real shame.  Thankfully, all of you here are privileged to live in such an amazing country, where you can get the information and thus prevent the spread of viruses.”

 I instantly disliked this man, who acted like he was better than those people in other countries. Hundreds of people died last year in a few countries before the outbreak was contained.  I hated the way he made it sound like it was those poor people’s faults that they were malnourished; thus, they were more susceptible to the flu virus.  During his little speech, he grabbed the microphone and walked along the stage like he was one of those fire and brimstone pastors.  “I have a question for you.  Do any of you know what some symptoms of the flu are?  Anyone?”  A few tentative people raised their hands. With a smile, he pointed to a girl in my class, who is known as a brainiac.  “Yes, you there.  Stand up and tell us your name and the answer.”

Jessica Blunt stood up and smiled in her know-it-all way.  “My name is Jessica Blunt and I am a junior.”  She turned to some of her geeky friends, who did a weird cheer for her.  Promptly she continued, “Some of the symptoms of influenza are a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, headache, muscle aches, chills, tiredness, cough and runny nose.”  With a smile, Jessica Blunt sat down.  I swear she must go home and memorize the encyclopedia, because she always fires off facts like it is Jeopardy, which I watch on Game Show Network.  I know it is dorky, but they just got a new host who is ultra yummy!

“Thank you very much, Jessica Blunt.  You are correct!  Great job!”  He flashed a winning smile at the girl, who melted into her seat like a popsicle at a fourth of July barbecue.  “Anyone can get the flu a few ways.  One of those ways is through direct bodily contact such as shaking hands or kissing.”  A few titters rippled through the audience when kissing was mentioned.  I am thoroughly ashamed to call myself a high schooler sometimes, because of the immaturity of my fellow classmates.  A kiss is mentioned and they turn into preschoolers.

“Another way the flu is spread is through respiratory droplets, which are created by an infected person coughing or sneezing.  These droplets are then propelled through the air by the force of the cough or sneeze and can land in your nose, mouth, or eyes; thus, infecting you as well.  A person with the flu virus in their system can infect another person even if they are not exhibiting symptoms.  Before the flu virus manifests itself in its host, a person can infect you a day before they display symptoms and up to a week after getting sick.”  I was surprised that he could say that all on one breathe, but he managed it.  

Kevin Consuelo walked back to the podium and replaced the microphone in its holder.  He grabbed a pamphlet off the podium and held it up for inspection as if we could read the small print ten rows away.  “The CDC has compiled several actions that you can do to protect yourselves.  This pamphlet is aptly titled ‘Take 3’ and then promptly lists the three measures that you can use to prevent the spread of the flu.  The first action that you can take is to get the yearly flu vaccine.  If any of you have not yet received the vaccine, your nurse will be offering the vaccine after this presentation and throughout the day.  Take 2 is to take everyday preventative actions, which are to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; and to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 30 seconds.  It is a good idea and a preventative measure if you each carry an alcohol based hand rub; just in case you cannot wash your hands immediately.  In order to prevent germs from spreading, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.  This is a no-brainer measure: avoid or limit contact with those infected.  If you find that you are infected, please stay home for a whole 24 hours until your fever abates.  Also, avoid contact with others so that you do not infect them as well.  The last action of Take 3 is pretty simple and straightforward.  If your doctor prescribes you medicine, take it!”  With a laugh, Kevin Consuelo flashed another winning smile at the audience, which appeared to be captivated with his charming personality.  I, on the other hand, thought he was slimy and suspicious.  “Everyone thank you for your patience with my long-winded ways and I do hope that you have learned a little today.  Remember ‘Take 3’ this summer, there will be pamphlets on the back table, so feel free to take a few and share them with friends and family.  Have a great day!”  The applause that had been earlier half-hearted was now full-hearted and several of the female teachers stood up with goofy, love struck grins on their faces.

“Wow!  That was really deep.”  I heard Heather’s admiration in her voice and I looked at her with a what-are-you-thinking glare.  “What?”

“I really do not understand the need for this lecture.  All of this information has been on the news for months.  It is a little strange, don’t you think?”  I reminded her as I got up and stretched, raising my arms over my head.

“Strange?  No, they just want us to be safe and have a good summer.”  Heather did not realize the enormity of the impact of her words until she saw my face.  “Lex, I am sorry…”

“I know me too.  Let’s get to class.”  I pushed past her barely containing my hurt and rage.  I know it was irrational to blame Heather for her parent’s decision, but I did not know what else to do.  I was hurting to know that I was going to spend the summer and senior year without my peanut butter.  Like I said what a great day this turned out to be.


I am sorry to interrupt the retelling of my story, but it just occurred to me to explain a little bit more about the flu bug.  As you know, this particular strain of flu virus infects its victims with such speed and lethality that by the time governments started to quarantine people…it was too late.  It passed from person to person and it easily traveled around the world.

While my parents were struggling to live, I watched the news with an ardent fervor to see if anyone had come up with a cure.  They did not figure out a cure, but they realized why the flu was only infecting those over the age of 21.  KL is a gene that controls degenerative processes. To put it simply, the KL gene is the death gene, which causes our bodies to die slowly over a lifetime.  I remember a young news anchor, who could not have been a day over 18, speak via satellite to a CDC expert.  The anchor doggedly demanded answers from the expert about the flu.  The expert explained that this flu named the Klotho Flu attacked a certain enzyme, Klotho, which makes up the KL gene.  He went on giving details saying that after a certain age, we stop growing and we start dying.  The average age that most people stop maturing is around 21 years of age and then the KL gene takes over.  The difference of the amount of the Klotho enzyme between an 18 year old and a 30 year old was astronomical; thus, the young were safe from the effects of the Klotho Flu.  Since the young only have a small amount of the enzyme, the flu does not affect them; the young could be carriers though, which helped in the spread.  The oldest person on record to not be infected was a 25 year old, but most people over the age of 23 were dead.  The CDC expert revealed one tiny fact before he slumped over in a fit of coughs.  This flu was created to leave the world in chaos and wipe out the adults.  He admitted that it had been created before his screen went dark.  The anchor and the news crew were scrambling around to fix the connection only to see that the CDC expert was gone from his desk.


© 2011 Vanessa Rico

Author's Note

Vanessa Rico
Constructive criticism please! Thank you all! <3 This story is in manuscript format. I am trying to polish up the chapter so if you see any mistakes or discrepancies let me know, because I do want to publish the story in the near future! Please and thank you! I updated it a tad and explained more about the flu. Enjoy

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"I ha(d) to be in school in 30 minutes(,) and my father want(ed) to have a long and very boring discussion on the advancements in medical technology." ; "I grabbed her arm to turn(ed) her to look at me." ; "hey I (am) working on it" ; "dreamy eyes, (and) embarrassing moments" ; "With a little more effort, Heather managed to hoist herself next to me (I'm not sure what you mean here... Do you mean that with little effort, or did she have to struggle to push herself up on the counter?) ; "Both of us continued to sit there swinging our legs back and forth(. N)either one of us knew what else to say." ; "I did a quick survey of my classmates and (noticed) no one else picked up on it." ; "who (was) known as a brainiac" ; "'I know(,) me too'"
Wipe out the adults...Oh man. That’s an interesting flu, I have to admit. I do have to comment on one thing; is it possible to have a flu that just wipes out the adult figures?
Anywho, as you see from above, there are only a few grammar mistakes. Not too heavy. This story is exceptionally excellent, and the use of “big words” often is a plus. It’s a very unique plot, and the characters are well developed and thought out. I’m very engrossed in this, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Lex and her brothers, and if Heather does, in the end, end up moving away after all, and what that does to Lex and her best friend. Great job!

Posted 10 Years Ago

3 of 3 people found this review constructive.


I've only read a few paragraphs as I'm late for my job, but great way to pull the audience in! I can't wait to read more.

Posted 7 Years Ago

Awesome chapter. It is a great thing that you went back and made your corrections. It presents the story professionaly and allows me to take the writer seriously. Also it allows the reader to focus on the content of the story. Which by the way this is so far one of the better first person stories I have read in a while. There is enough detail and description for the reader to clearly picture what is going on. The narrator provides necessary information in a way that doesn't bombard or bore the reader. And its interesting to see that this flu only effects adult...though I fear i would be dead if this story was true :( Great chapter

Posted 9 Years Ago

Wow this book is so amazing I hope to see this book in stores one day

Posted 10 Years Ago

Do you know they have finally found a cure for the common cold?” “Yeah that’s great dad. I just want the milk.” I think it might sound better to make the dialogue a little less formalized here. Just have the dad say, "They found a cure for the common cold." You could even have him say something after that in an attempt to get a response from Lexxie, but I just think the way the dialogue goes, that might sound more natural.

I enjoyed the subtlety about "the visitor." Nice. Tasteful. Clever. Fun.

"I quickly refilled my lungs with the much needed oxygen," I think saying "clean oxygen," or something to that effect will highlight the contrast from the cologne/fragrance filled air from earlier.

Mercedes Benz hover car? Interesting. Didn't see this as a story set in a slightly later future actually, but cool. A specific year definitely doesn't have to ever appear in the story, as readers will catch on to the futuristic, but reality based world you're working with.

"Therefore, I got a job at the local diner, rather than one of those fancy restaurants, where everyone walks around with their nose in the air (and you know how dangerous that can be). I love the atmosphere of Bella’s Diner..." This is a bit of a quick transition. One, I would at the least start a new paragraph between the two sentences. Two, I sort of expected a quick summary of Bella's Diner in contrast to fancy places. "So I got a job at Bella's Diner. The crowd is mostly younger kids and students. It's just sandwiches and burgers and fries. Not a high pressure place." Some stuff like that.

"it would be the little fairy that was a Disney icon. The perfect way to describe Heather would be Tinkerbell-like:" In a way, I think these lines are kind of redundant. If you could find a way to combine them into a single sentence, or just say, "...was a Disney icon: Tinkerbell-like."

Totally your call on this one, but for some reason, I feel like "Not a Medusa by any standard," might sound/read better as, "Not a gorgon by any standard." But, I also understand the idea of wanting to get your concept and reference across to readers less familiar with mythology. Maybe the problem lies in Medusa being a single entity. So saying, "Not Medusa" or "Medusa-like by any standard" instead of "a Medusa" would also sound more correct. This is definitely your own choice though as it's not anything that's going to greatly alter the story.

"Thank the higher power," the term "higher power" has been used quite often. My guess is that this is one of those minute future differences to highlight a slightly different world and that would be fine. I just wanted to point it out, that if it's not equivalent to saying something like "thank God" or "thank heavens" then it is maybe being overused a bit too much.

Also, this is up to you whether you deem the story about the stall important enough, but I think it would be a great opportunity to go into a specific and detailed flashback. Not only would we get to know more about Lexxie through this flashback, see how she handles stressful situations, what she thinks about certain guys maybe, just more of her personality, BUT we'd also get to hear what guys thought about Lexxie. And any time you can have characters tell the reader more about the narrator, instead of the narrator telling the reader him or herself, I think it's a big plus. What somebody else says about a character is usually taken more to heart by people than what a character says about themselves. Everybody is always going to have a bit of an exaggerated view about some of their own qualities, so having an objective view, and especially from the opposite sex comment on Lexxie's looks or personality is going the most powerful way to get the reader to think what you want them to think about Lexxie.

"Not me that is who." Add a comma here between me and that.

“Heather, what is wrong? I know it can’t just be an unscheduled assembly. You are never scared of anything. I am always the one that jumps at shadows and bumps in the night. Tell me what is up with you?” This section of dialogue just seems a little too formally spoken. I'd imagine more contractions being spoken. The last sentence being like, "Tell me, what's up" or "What's going on?" Stuff like that.

"I hadn’t wanted to tell you, until it was official, but…” I think hadn't should be didn't. Both are grammatically right, I think, but I hadn't wanted to tell you just sounds a bit awkward to me.

I love what you did with the Heather set up in the bathroom. Obviously after the reading the prologue, the reader knows this is a post-apocalyptic story here, so that Heather says the world is ending, first is a nice clever twist, then having it being revealed that the "apocalypse" she's referring to is her moving away is a really fun misdirection. Well done.

"I mean what would I do without Heather? We were like peanut butter and jelly; neither was great without the other. I would be lonely goopy jelly, pining for my peanut buttery counterpart." I definitely think there's some very intriguing foreshadowing here, or at least the potential for it. I'm not sure what you have planned for Heather throughout the rest of your story, but there's some interesting statements made here that could be worked with later on.

"The auditorium was huge as most auditoriums tend to be." I would either go with a different comparison here or cut out the comparison to something else altogether. Just say The auditorium was huge, or was huge, like the size of a castle courtyard or a football field or something. Just not compared to as "auditoriums tend to be." It's just such a vague/weak sentence. It basically says, "The auditorium was as huge as an auditorium," and that doesn't sound like a good sentence.

"At 6 foot 3 (or 4), Kevin Consuelo commandeered everyone’s attention even the jocks, who had been making spit balls, sat straighter and paid notice to this man." This sentence gets a little clumsy here. I think it needs a period or comma between attention and even.

"I know it is dorky, but they just got a new host who is ultra yummy!" Haha, oh no! Alex Trebek is gone in this speculative future. I think little details like this are always fun.

"I was surprised that he could say that all on one breathe, but he managed it." "...all 'in' one 'breath.'"

"Like I said what a great day this turned out to be." Comma between said and what.

I know I already told you how much I really liked your Klotho reference, but figured I'd point it out again. It's really clever and is a nice little allusion that some readers will pick up on for sure. I would be sure to look over this section though and be extra careful in describing it. It's tricky, complex, and all that to try and get across to a reader. I think it all makes sense the way it is, but anything that can be done in these tricky sections to give even more clarity is always a plus. So if you're ever looking to go back to a section and just try and see if some sentences can be reworked/restructured or some stuff, this section would be a good one.

"He admitted that it had been created before his screen went dark." I think this sentence contains a VERY important fact that might be easy to overlook due to where the sentence is positioned. I'm sure in later chapters the fact that this specific strain of the flu was "created" is touched upon many times, but this seems like something that's going to play a very vital role in the rest of the story. Either in trying to find a way to destroy it or who might know how, or who created this strain and for what purpose. So, I'd try to make sure the concept that this flu bug was created is something really hammered home here.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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Very enjoyable! I felt that the narrator's voice comes through well--she is likable and believable. I thought that you did a good job of portraying her relationship with her family and with Heather.

In this sentence, you might want to replace "herded" with "stampeded": "As I poured the milk in my cereal, Jared and Caleb herded in a like a pack of dogs and both raced to the refrigerator." "Herded" makes it sound as if someone is forcing them into the room.

"Quite" appears twice in this sentence: "You know boys, especially teenage boys, drown themselves in their father’s cologne making it quite difficult for everyone in the vicinity to maintain the appropriate levels of oxygen that are (quite) essential for living." I'd delete the second one.

It does seem a bit awkward to place background info in characters' mouths, like here: "“Yeah right! The way Jared is eating to make the football team in the fall, mom will have to go grocery shopping every day.” Instead, you might just have Caleb skip the part about "to make the football team in the fall," because everyone present would know that already. Then Lexxie could explain to us why Jared is eating so much. It would still give us the background info that we need.

Structurally, I thought that the chapter works well. You do a good job of introducing a number of conflicts, and they all come off successfully, I thought. One thing that you might consider changing is telling us about the flu at the end. That seems like jumping ahead a bit too much. Without that part, we would know that a government official has come to the school, and we are inclined to agree with Lexxie that something smells fishy, but when she tells us about the news report, it gives us a bunch of info at once, and it seems like it would bulild the suspense better if we learned these things gradually as the plot progresses.

Posted 10 Years Ago

This is a good chapter and is well written. I love the character and found it easy to picture them. Keep it up!

Posted 10 Years Ago

I love the relationship with heather and the way you set up the small drama of heather moving berfore you begin to unfold the more ominous disaster.Good keeping current events in a futuristic setting.I will read more.

Posted 10 Years Ago

You are indeed a talent to keep an eye on young lady! You have the gift. There wasn't a thing I'd change. Will read more!

Posted 10 Years Ago

It is so neat! Very nice . I enjoyed the first chapter. You have developed the characters very well.. they are easy to remember.
You have written in it the way a teenage girl would talk and think - and I like that you put in the part of her working tho she didn't really have too and how it felt good to make her own money- a positive aspect.
The flu - and her dad talking of a cure for the common cold .. maybe a connection in the following chapters.. I really enjoyed this Vanessa.
So sorry Heather is moving .


* by so neat- I mean the spacing and typing ect.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Even though I don't like Alexia that much, I do feel bad for her about her friend moving.
I am hooked! You are very talented at bringing a reader into the book.
Great chapter

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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32 Reviews
Shelved in 3 Libraries
Added on April 8, 2011
Last Updated on May 7, 2011
Tags: high school, apocalypse, virus, teenage woes


Vanessa Rico
Vanessa Rico

Walhalla, SC

Hey writerscafe! Its been a very long hiatus since I have been on here and actively writing. I have missed both writing and this community. When I was first on here, I was a mom of 1 but now I have be.. more..

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