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Thread: Dreamer's Addiction: For Never Ever (short story)

  1. #1

    Dreamer's Addiction: For Never Ever (short story)

    EDIT: TO SEE REVISED VERSION CLICK HERE

    Hey all. Sorry this isn't an interactive story thread (though the story concept may be one distant day), but just a short story I'm writing for class. The story concept will likely be familiar to some of you, but nevermind that for now. What I need from you all is to look over this and critique it. You know, what works, what doesn't, suggestion here, question there, etc. I wanted to wait until I wrote an ending to this, but I felt having more time up before the revision is due (Monday Oct. 17, 2005) was the wiser course of action. Hopefully I'll have an ending up soon, but until then, I'll just post some ideas I had in mind.

    Anywhos, here's the short story:

    "Dreamer's Addiction: For Never Ever"

    The raid on Price, Reme City’s South District drug lord, was falling apart. Ray, the mole in the operation, failed to shut down security. When the raiding party arrived at the distribution warehouse, Price and his men made quick work and gunned them down. Only a couple still stood, doing their best to avoid the bullets ripping through the air, taking cover behind green, blue and red metal crates.

    “Chance, we need to pull out!” Drew yelled over the gunfire.

    “No, Drew, we can still take him down,” Chance replied. “Cover me!”

    Diving from his cover, Chance charged towards Price and his men. A bullet in a forehead, a round in another’s chest, a kick that sent yet another bowling into five others – Chance turned into the one-man army. Moments later, Price’s men laid motionless, the hot white streaks of bullets now dead, the red-blue blood leaking onto the floor, and Chance and Price with pistols aimed at each other’s heads. One step forward, and a battle of titans would be triggered.

    Chance heard his cell phone ring.

    Drew watched as Chance stood unmoving, Price waiting for him to make the first move. There was little Drew could do from his position, as he was out of range to fire at Price himself, and more of Price’s men would be arriving at any moment.

    “What are you doing?” Drew said to Chance. “Shoot him!” But Chance did not respond. More of Price’s men swarmed in, overwhelming Drew. After killing Drew, they moved on Chance, shooting at him with little regard for the safety of Price. Chance gave no resistance as he was shot down.

    “Oh great,” Chance said. “Now you’ve made me die.”

    *****

    Chance looked at his computer monitor, half-listening to the person on the other end of his cell phone conversation as his character fell down dead. He had been in the middle of playing “Dreamers’ Addiction,” the latest massive multiplayer online role-playing game based on a best-selling surrealistic series by Will Craft, when Joanna, his girlfriend, called.

    “Well I’m sorry I interrupted your fun,” Joanna said, “but you were supposed to pick me up a half-hour ago.” Chance uh-huh’ed as he danced his fingers across the keyboard. His character resurrected in the downtown hospital, and he had to move to the police station if he wanted to reclaim his personal items that were lost in the raid.

    “Chance?” Joanna said. “Chance!”

    “What?”

    “Get over here already!”

    “Why the angry tone?”

    “We’re suppose to be at play practice!”

    “…oh right. ****.”

    “****’s right!” And Joanna hung up. Chance tossed his cell phone on his bed and pulled his headset back around his ears. “Drew, I have to go,” Chance said into his headset microphone. “Can you get my stuff at the station?” Drew’s voice then answered back “Yeah, whatever. I told you we should have pulled out.” Chance hits the escape key, and the world of Dreamers’ Addiction shuts down.

    Chance Rains, in one word, was lacking. He was a little short, a little overweight, and very detached when not involved in his games. The title of “super-senior” fell on him now in his fifth year of college, though there was certainly nothing super about it – that degree in biology he worked towards didn’t seem any closer, and his dorm room appeared a little too lived in for his liking. That didn’t stop him from being delicate, though, as he snatched his shoulder bag and slammed the door shut. He ignored the comment from a guy he nearly ran into about a “chance of rain” – he heard the joke so many times now that it passed old and went straight to dead. As he stepped outside, he noticed the overcast sky and the light rain drained any color life may have had to offer. Chance got inside what he considered a working car and drove to Joanna’s.

    *****

    Compared to Chance, Joanna was tall and thin, though most people would not consider her tall and thin. They would, however, consider her talented in the performing arts: she was a competent dancer, a decent singer, and a great actor. Joanna acted well now in hiding her anger as she answered her door. Chance stood waiting, a little wet from the rain. At first, they said nothing to each other, but then Joanna started speaking when they approached his car.

    “So when are you going to get a new car? Or at least a car not held together by duct-tape and wishes?”

    “When are you going to transfer to my college so we can walk to each others’ places?”

    “When you graduate from college, that’s when.”

    “Touche.”

    Chance and Joanna jumped into the car, and Chance started driving. Again, there was a moment of silence between them. Chance switched on the radio, but he only made it audible enough to realize it was on. Shortly after, Joanna broke the silence.

    “How did you forget that we had practice today?”

    Not even looking at her, Chance mutters an I-unno.

    “Don’t give me that. You know perfectly well why you forgot.”

    “So why did I forget?”

    “It’s because of that – you’re the one who should be talking about why you forgot!”

    “Yes, Mother.”

    “I’m not your mother! Aren’t you concerned about this?”

    “I guess.”

    Joanna frowned at Chance, then narrowed her eyes, eyeing his head as one would eye a Rubik’s Cube that was scrambled. The rhythmic sound of the windshield wipers kept meter on music that wasn’t there. A talk show of some sort played on the radio.

    “So,” Joanna said, “how’s school.”

    “The usual,” Chance replied. “Yourself?”

    “The same.” There was hesitation before she continued. “You haven’t been missing any more classes, have you?”

    “No,” Chance said. “…not any important ones.”

    “Not any important ones?”

    “Yeah.”

    “And what, should I ask, makes a class important?”

    “Well,” Chance started, “there’s a checklist. First: does attendance count? Second: is anything due that class, or will there be a test of some sort? And third: will I actually be learning anything?”

    “And how do you figure out that last one?”

    “You check the syllabus, you get a feel from the class the first week... that sort of thing.”

    “Didn’t you miss turning in your final paper for one of your classes last semester?”

    “Yeah, well—“

    “And were you using your ‘checklist’ then?”

    “Well technically yes—“

    “Too busy playing video games?”

    “That wasn’t it!” Chance broke out. “I overslept, and the teacher wouldn’t accept it late,” he said in a low voice.

    “Staying up too late playing video games?” Joanna offered. Chance gave no reply, and she continued.

    “It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for that one game of yours… oh what’s it called…”

    “Dreamers’ Addiction?”

    “Yeah, that one. Until you started playing that, I don’t think I ever heard you say ‘just ten more minutes’ when we’re suppose to go out for dinner. You’re like a child with that thing…”

    “You don’t understand,” Chance said. “You haven’t played it.”

    “And what’s that suppose to mean?”

    “It’s not like any other game, Jo. It’s huge. It has a life to it that the books can only show. The places in it are just… well, the colors they use, and… the people who make the game weren’t just making a game. They were bringing to life a vision. Craft touched something different with his stories. I have dreams about Reme City, Jo, except I don’t remember now if I had those dreams before or after reading the stories. And I’m not alone. Other people who play the game, they feel the same way. I feel like I belong there…”

    Silence followed as Chance trailed off. Their exit off the highway was approaching.

    “Chance,” Joanna said, “that isn’t… normal…”

    “Screw normal.”

    “Chance, I think you might be addicted—“

    “I’M NOT ADDICTED!” Chance cried. He was about to continue, but Joanna cut him off.

    “Chance, slow down!”

    It was too late. The car was taking the turn too fast. The friction on the road let loose and smacked the car. Chance struggled with the wheel, trying to focus, but the car was weak. The outside blurred as the car spun around, then thrown off the road and into the ditch on the side. Something of the car crunched, and then it stopped. The windshield wipers continued waving.

    END?

    ******

    Alright, so here's some possibilities I'm working with:

    Ending #1
    Distracted by the emotions, Chance loses control of the car and crashes. As the scene he is in sinks in for him, he looks at Joanna, who looks injured. Chance refuses to believe that his addiction is any real source of problem though, and considers omitting parts of their car conversation as he calls family, the AAA and such.

    Ending #2
    Instead of Chance entirely refusing that he has an addiction after the car crash, he could realize to some degree that his “dreams” are costing too much from his life. However, his future is left uncertain as there are left signs that he will continue to try and keep his addiction as much as he can. He will, however, turn to Joanna as his crutch (which Joanna will initially wish to decline), knowing on a logical level that she is not an obstacle.

    Ending #3
    There is no car crash. Instead, after denying that he has an addiction, Chance will attempt to persuade Joanna to join in the game he plays. Through Chance’s attempt at persuasion, and Joanna’s attempt to show his addiction, the reader finds out more about why Chance is holding on to his addiction, and what allure it has even to those who can see it as such. The story ends with them arriving at play practice, leaving Joanna with doubt about her own position.

    I'm likely to suggest #2 but go with a mix of #1 and #3, more #1 though than #3. As for the theme/story I was trying to tell, I am working with the idea of a college guy dealing with a psychological addiction, one that hints at the human addiction for a better place than their own (heaven, dreamworld, etc.) The story should leave the reader to question if any addiction, no matter what good or truth it might offer, is worth having, and at what price. It would only be a backdrop theme though, since the short story is too short to work with the idea properly. Still, I don't think I carry it well enough. Maybe Joanna should have an addiction of her own, like smoking or something. I'm still trying to work it out.

    Any help you all could give me I'd vastly appreciate.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 10-17-2005 at 09:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Doesn't know that mice use holes.
    Posts
    2,516
    I like the idea of #3, though the story is /really/ short to do a lot of exploration and development. I do really like the "Now you've killed me line" he mutters regarding Joanna when she rings, that reveals a lot I think. Also it is very clear this is something that is an ongoing argument, as it were, a strong point of contention.

    One also wonders how Chance actualy hooked up with Joanna in the first place.

    If you had longer to work with, it could be nifty if Chance actually convinced Jo to start playing, and they wind up becoming doubleplusaddicted both, and start relating to eachother onnly online instead of evcer in person and going on virtuadates and eventually starving to death after an epic three-day level-grind.
    Also, I can kill you with my brain.

  3. #3
    You might consider just leaving it open. Don't bother ending it. The crash is a good ending in itself.
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

    Lassev: I guess there was something captivating in savagery, because I liked it.

  4. #4
    Alright, I revised it and tacked on an ending. I've already turned it in, but any thoughts, criticism, etc. would still be vastly appreciated, as I respect a number of the ISB writers here, if not all

    "Dreamers’ Addiction: For Never Ever"

    The raid on Price, Reme City’s South District drug lord, is falling apart. Ray, the mole in the operation, fails to shut down security. When the raiding party arrives at the distribution warehouse, Price and his men make quick work and guns them down. Only a couple still stand, doing their best to avoid the bullets ripping through the air, taking cover behind green, blue and red metal crates.

    “Chance, we need to pull out!” Drew yells over the gunfire. Chance can just make out the ring of his cell phone. Now was not the time to answer it.

    “No, Drew, we can still take him down,” Chance replies. “Cover me!”

    Chance dives from his cover, charging towards Price and his men. A bullet in a forehead, a round in another’s chest, a kick that sent yet another bowling into five others – Chance turns into a one-man army. Moments later, Price’s men lie motionless, the hot white streaks of bullets now absent from the air, the red-blue blood leaking onto the floor, and Chance and Price with pistols aimed at each other’s heads. One step forward, and a battle of titans will be triggered.

    Chance hears his cell phone ring again.

    Drew watches as Chance stands unmoving, Price waiting for him to make the first move. There is little Drew could do from his position, as he is out of range to fire at Price himself, and more of Price’s men will be arriving at any moment.

    “What are you doing?” Drew says to Chance. “Shoot him!” But Chance does not respond. More of Price’s men swarm in and overwhelm Drew. After killing Drew, they move on Chance, shooting at him with little regard for the safety of Price. Chance gives no resistance as he is shot down.

    “Oh great,” Chance says. “Now you’ve made me die.”

    *****

    Chance looks at his computer monitor, half-listening to the person on the other end of his cell phone conversation as his character falls down dead. He had been in the middle of playing “For Never Ever,” the latest massive multiplayer online role-playing game based on a best-selling surrealistic series by Will Craft, when Joanna, his girlfriend, called.

    “Well I’m sorry I interrupted your fun,” Joanna says, “but you were supposed to pick me up a half-hour ago.” Chance uh-huh’s as he dances his fingers across the keyboard. His character resurrected in the downtown hospital, and he has to move to the police station if he wants to reclaim his personal items that were lost in the raid.

    “Chance?” Joanna says. “Chance!

    “What?”

    “Get over here already!”

    “Can’t wait to see me, eh?”

    “More like ‘can’t wait to get to play practice.’ You know, the play… that we’re rehearsing…”

    “…oh right. ****.”

    “****’s right, smart guy.” Joanna hangs up. Chance tosses his cell phone on his bed and pulls his headset back around his ears.

    “Drew, I have to go,” Chance says into his headset microphone. “Can you get my stuff at the station?” Drew’s voice then answers back “Yeah, whatever. I told you we should have pulled out.” Chance hits the escape key, and the world of For Never Ever shuts down.

    Chance Rains is a little short, a little overweight, and a little lacking in life. The title of “super-senior” falls on him now in his fifth year of college, the degree in biology he works towards didn’t seem any closer than before, and his dorm room appears a little too lived in for his liking. That doesn’t stop him from being rough, though, as he snatches his shoulder bag and slams the door shut. He ignores the comment from a guy he nearly runs into about a “chance of rain” – he has heard the joke so many times now that it passes old and jumps straight to dead. As he steps outside, he notices the overcast sky draining any color life may have to offer. Chance gets inside what he considers a working car and drives away.

    *****

    Compared to Chance, Joanna is tall and thin, though most people would not consider her tall and thin. They would, however, consider her talented in the performing arts: she is a competent dancer, a decent singer, and a great actor. Joanna acts well as she answers her door. Chance stands waiting, a little wet from the rain. At first, they say nothing to each other, but when they approach his car, Joanna starts speaking.

    “So when are you going to get a new car? Or at least a car not held together by duct-tape and wishes?”

    “When are you going to transfer to my college so we can walk to each others’ places?”

    “When you graduate from college, that’s when.”

    “Touché.”

    Chance and Joanna jump into the car, and Chance starts driving. Joanna pushes down the cigarette lighter in the car and tosses her pack of cigarettes in the drink holder. Chance switches on the radio, but he only makes it audible enough to realize it is on. Shortly after, Joanna breaks the silence.

    “How did you forget that we had practice today?”

    Not even looking at her, Chance mutters an I-unno.

    “Don’t give me that. You know perfectly well why you forgot.”

    “So why did I forget?”

    “It’s because of that – you’re the one who should be talking about why you forgot!”

    “Yes, Mother.” Chance sticks his tongue out.

    “I’m not your mother!” Joanna’s face tightens as her lips struggle to smile. Relaxing, she takes a breath. “Aren’t you concerned about this?”

    “Should I be?”

    Joanna frowns at Chance, then narrows her eyes, eyeing his head as one would a scrambled Rubik’s Cube. The rhythmic sound of the windshield wipers keep meter on music that isn’t there. A talk show of some sort plays on the radio. The cigarette lighter pops out, and Joanna lights a cigarette up and breathes it in. She cranks the window down and hangs her cigarette hand out.

    “So,” Joanna says, “how’s school?”

    “The usual,” Chance replies. “Yourself?”

    “The same.” There was hesitation before she continues. “You haven’t been missing any more classes, have you?”

    “No,” Chance says. “…not any important ones.”

    “Not any important ones?”

    “Yeah.”

    “And what, should I ask, makes a class important?”

    “Well,” Chance starts, “there’s a checklist. First: does attendance count? Second: is anything due that class, or will there be a test of some sort? And third: will I actually be learning anything?”

    “And how do you figure out that last one?”

    “You check the syllabus, you get a feel from the class the first week... that sort of thing.”

    “Didn’t you miss turning in your final paper for one of your classes last semester?”

    “Yeah, well—“

    “And were you using your ‘checklist’ then?”

    “Well technically yes—“

    “Too busy playing video games?”

    “That wasn’t it!” Chance breaks out. “I overslept, and the teacher wouldn’t accept it late,” he said in a low voice.

    “Staying up too late playing video games?” Joanna offers. Chance gives no reply, and she continues.

    “It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for that one game of yours… oh what’s it called…”

    “For Never Ever?”

    “Yeah, that one. Until you started playing that, I don’t think I ever heard you say ‘just ten more minutes’ when we’re suppose to go out for dinner. You’re like a child with that thing…”

    “You don’t understand,” Chance says. “You haven’t played it.”

    “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

    “It’s not like any other game, Jo. It’s huge. It has a life to it that the books can only show. The places in it are just… well, the colors they use, and… the people who make the game weren’t just making a game. They were bringing to life a vision. Will Craft touched something different with his stories. It’s not just another fantasy world, Jo. It’s… it’s like finding a new frontier. A new country, a new culture with so much to offer. I’ve had dreams about this place, about Reme City, even before I read any of the books or played this game. And I’m not alone. Other people who play the game, they feel the same way too.”

    Silence follows, and Joanna takes another smoke from her cigarette. A light rain drizzles onto her exposed hand, and she flicks the cigarette out the window, cranking it back up.

    “Chance,” Joanna said, “that isn’t… normal…”

    “Screw normal,” Chance laughs. “You just don’t understand, that’s all. It’s all scary and foreign. You should try it out.”

    “What?”

    “You should try playing ‘For Never Ever.’ It’s not a very complicated game.”

    “Right…”

    “No, really! It’s a very intuitive game – it’s considered the ‘non-gamer’s game’ among the critics. It won the game of the year award last year. You can play as—“

    “I know about the game, Chance. You’ve told me enough about it before.”

    “I’ll pay for your monthly fee.”

    “For the first three months, get this offer now while it lasts?” Joanna says in a mock-commercial voice.

    “Not like that!” Chance replies, but not hurt. “I’ll pay for as long as you’ll play.”

    “Gee, how… romantic? Why do you want me to play?”

    Chance looks through the windshield, but not so much on the road. The exit off the back road they are on approaches. “I want to be able to experience something that good with you, Joanna. I don’t want you to be upset with me when I’m late. I want you to understand where I’m coming from.”

    “Why don’t you just stop playing?” Joanna asked.

    “It’s not that simple…” Chance gropes for words, but fails to say a complete thought. Joanna gives Chance little time to flounder.

    “Chance, I think you might be addicted—“

    “I’M NOT ADDICTED!” Chance cries. “It’s not like you—“

    “Chance, slow down!”

    Too late he reacts. The car takes the turn too fast. Its grip on the wet road slips and the car jerks at random. Chance struggles with the wheel, trying to focus, fighting inertia as he starts to regain control. The grip slips again, and the outside blurs as the car spins around, sliding off the road and into the ditch on the side. Something solid crunches, and then the car stops. The windshield wipers continue waving.

    “Ohgawdamnit, mother-f-in’ son-of-a…” Chance mutters. He looks over to Joanna. “Are you alright?” She groans, then grits her teeth as she tries to move.

    “My right arm feels strained…” she says quietly. “I feel disoriented… I’m sorry Chance.”

    “Sorry about what?”

    Joanna coughs, slowly putting her left hand to her forehead. “I didn’t mean to upset you…”

    “You just stay put, Jo,” Chance says. “Don’t move. I’m going to take a look at the car.”

    “Damn you and your crappy car,” Joanna said with a faint smile. Turning off the car, unbuckling his seat belt and opening his car door with caution, Chance steps out of his car. He walks around to the front of his car, leaning with the slope of the ditch so that he does not fall over.

    If his car looked like a piece of junk before, then his car now looks more like a piece of modern art that would be made at a junkyard. Most of the front bumper and the hood of the car is crumpled on the engine, which doesn’t look quite right. Chance notices that nothing is burning, nor are there any unusual noises or smells from the car, and breaths a sigh of relief. His maroon-grey car is quite dull, Chance notices -- nothing shiny or vibrant about it. The car just sort of blends in with the wet, dark brown-green ground, the trees nearby adding nothing of interest. The sky above has a repetitive quality to it, the texture of the sky being flat and smeared. Only the cold taps of the rain on his head remind him of where he really is.

    Chance pulls out his cell phone, but leaves it unused in his hand. He looks inside the car at Joanna, who is looking back at him. He stands motionless, looking at her. Her eyes are heavy as she tries to speak to him.

    “Maybe we should—“

    “It’s not a problem,” Chance says. He starts calling the towing service.

  5. #5
    Hopefully this link will work for me as an easy click to my class message board so I can read their responses as well as yours:

    http://bb-app6.umbc.edu/bin/common/m...scussion_board

    I've gotten an overwhelming response so far that the revised version still seems unresolved. I feel I've resolved it plenty, so I need help from you all. What makes it unresolved? What would you suggest to make it resolve?

    Thanks for any and all help you all can offer.
    Featured ISB thread: The Never-ending Story Thread^2

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