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#Fridayflash Attempt - Be Merciful

As promised, here is my first attempt at a #flashfriday submission... Wahoo.

(DISCLAIMER!: I had a really hard time with this one simply because I have always had a problem ending stories, and this one was no exception. I think I also chose a topic that wasn't really good for a less-than-1000-words limit, so I pretty much kicked myself in the butt on that front. Either way, please be merciful with your reviews. I am a mere fledgling #flashfriday participant and hope to improve.)

Many years had passed since the bomb had dropped, but the city had not been rebuilt. At the time, there had been no resources to repair the damage, and efforts to restore it were soon forgotten, the surviving inhabitants moving to other nearby establishments. The area was large, spanning nearly 100 miles, and the dismal landscape was dominated by the charred ruins of buildings that seemed to have been thrust violently through the earth's surface in a sudden, catastrophic upheaval.

But there were those that still dared to live in the Barren Zone, scavenging for their lives. They were the Exiled, the Shunned. These people - often referred to as Sub-Humans - were forced into lives of abject poverty after being charged for crimes against humanity that they were accused of committing after the initial explosion.

"It's time," said Joseph, the self-appointed leader of the Sub-Humans.

"But, sir," said Nicholas, his right-hand man, "We're not reaady. We don't have enough supplies."

"We'll never have enough supplies. We have to make do with what we've got."


"Enough," Joseph said, cocking his rifle. "I've made my decision."

Joseph was a strong man, one of the first to be sent by court order to the Barren Zone, but he was rash, too eager to fight. Most of the Sub-Humans trusted him blindly to guide them to freedom and peace, but there were a few who doubted his ability to lead them safely.

As Joseph walked away, Nicholas ran after him.

"What are you going to tell them?" he said.

"The truth," Joseph said without stopping. "We're moving out tonight, and only those interested in leaving this godforsaken place need to come along with us."

"There will be many who will refuse. The people are simply not ready." Nicholas grabbed Joseph's elbow, and Joseph whipped around viciously, grabbing the collar of Nicholas' shirt and lifting him, his feet almost off the ground.

"I'm sorry, Sir," Nicholas said quickly, immediately regretting his action. "I spoke out of turn."

"Learn your place, Nicholas," Joseph hissed. "Tell everyone to meet by the Empire State Building's foundation in one hour."

He placed Nicholas back on the ground and walked away saying, "It's going to be a long night."


Once again, I beg for mercy in your reviews. Of course, any and all critiques are very much appreciated.

Why do I feel nervous???



Dana said…
I liked it! It was a good setup for a longer story.

Welcome to Friday Flash :D
shannon said…
I really enjoyed this. The premise is very good, though, I think you suffer from the same ambitious subject choosing that I do :-) This would make a good start for a longer piece. To give you a small critique-I would maybe start with jumping right into the dialog, then weaving in the other information as the story goes on.
Nice job, though.
Laura Eno said…
Aww...we make you nervous? That was a terrific story and a good setup for a larger one. Welcome to #fridayflash!
Linda said…
This was super. It def has legs for a longer piece, and that's okay.

It's my first fridayflash, too - though I've been following since ff's inception. Peace, Linda
Mark Kerstetter said…
At first I thought you were describing my neighborhood, but we don't have an Empire State building.

I agree with Shannon, that it would feel more alive if you began with some action or with the dialogue.
Chris Chartrand said…
I like the story and the setting. Shannon's critique is a good one. This would be cool as a longer piece.

On another note, if your anything like me you will probably be nervous every time you put a piece out there for #fridayflash. We pour so much into our stories and have them read by writers we hold in high regard. It's a little nerve wracking but so worth it. I'm glad you decided to join us.
Unknown said…
I agree this feels like it belongs as a longer piece. I would also advise losing all the "hads" in the first paragraph. There's a lot of passive voice going on there.

You have the setting down, and you've characterized Joseph and his position very well. I'd love to see what comes next!

Uh, I am SO NERVOUS before I post. Like, pukey nervous. You sure aren't the only one! :)

Welcome to #fridayflash!
Stef Howerton said…
Aww, guys! Thanks so much for your comments! :) You're all so great! I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one with the nervous jitters when I post something like this.

I also agree with starting with action or dialogue. I don't know why I didn't do it for this one, because I usually do. It tends to make things flow a bit more smoothly.

Again, thanks so much for your input. It's so helpful, and so very much appreciated.
trev said…
I think the subject matter is perfect for flash. Not too broad at all. As mentioned above, if you go for the action or tension right out of the gate, and use an active voice, you'll be half way to the finish line before you know it. My two bits: don't shy away from detail, but also don't let it eat up your word count. Looking forward to see what you have next Friday!
Marisa Birns said…
Well you did very well for your first flash! When I read it for the second time, it seemed to me that if you started with the second paragraph--dropping the "But"-- then continued with the first paragraph (adhering to Netta's advice), it would punch it up.

And, just like Netta and you, I get very nervous too. But everyone here is wonderful--and merciful--and we are all here to learn and help!

I think you did a fine job - any advice I'd give has already been noted in previous comments. I look forward happily to reading more of your work, Stef!
Anonymous said…
No need to be nervous. :-) Echoing what everyone else said, I think this is a great start for a longer piece. Very interesting material. Good job!
mazzz_in_Leeds said…
Definitely a contender for a longer piece - I am curious as tot the back story of the Sub Humans. Did they actually commit crimes against humanity...? Were they persecuted unfairly...?
Rosa Say said…
Welcome to #FridayFlash Stef, I think you did very well and didn't need your disclaimer. As others have said, this felt more like a set up than a story to me, but you tickled our imaginations and got us to wonder and want more. I too am learning from these comments: I would not have thought of suggesting Shannon's reconstruction, but she's right; I can see how that would really strengthen this.
Eric J. Krause said…
Good story. As others have said, there's much more going on here than we see in this short piece, which is a good thing!
J. M. Strother said…
Welcome to #fridayflash, Stef. Sorry I'm so late getting around to your story. I let myself get behind early in the week and had a hard time catching up.

I found the idea quite intriguing that those who wrought this great disaster were condemned to live in its aftermath. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like Joseph learned his lesson well, and will be soon be causing more misery.

Good advice from all those who already commented. Nice job.

Oh, and we rarely bite. ;)

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