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. Tik . Tok . – Hour 1

. Tik . Tok . by The A.C.

Hour 1

Am I dead?
No.
Is this a dream?
No again.
I am alive and awake, yet, even though my eyes are unquestionably open, only absolute darkness exist around me.
There seems to be no constraints on me, meaning moving is possible. In this unknown location with zero visibility, though, would it even be safe?
I remain still, sitting in a fetal position, just trying to make sense of the situation.
How did I get here?
What was I doing before?
The answers are not coming; thinking has become impossible.
The overwhelming darkness entices a sense of paranoia.
What could be looming out in the darkness?
Silence answers my thoughts.
Any noise that should exist is swallowed up into this dark abyss.
My voice refuses to utter a sound, and my own breathing does not dare make so much as even a faintest whisper.
What should I do?
What can I do?
I have never felt panicked before, but this kind of situation, which I have never experienced, starts to draw out the feeling of panic.
Try to calm down.
Think.
Stay calm.
It is not working.
Repeat.
This is truly what it means to be on the “brink of insanity.”
How long have I been here?
How long will I have to suffer through this?
Maybe I really am dead, or should be.
All I can do is sit here and accept it.
I cannot breathe. The air refuses to fill my lungs.
Panic wins.
I need air; I need to breathe!
My whole body shakes from the fear of not knowing what is happening.
Gasp!
The air punches my lungs, and, even though it hurts, the relief is bliss.
I can hear my breathing.
The sound of air coming in and out of my lungs calms me.
Finally, I can think!
First, I need focus on keeping my composure and sanity.
Carefully, I unravel myself from a fetal position and gently feel around without moving too much.
There is nothing around me, not even walls, only the hard floor under me.
Tap tap tap.
My knuckles lightly bounce off the floor just to bring some extra noise into the emptiness.
Tap tap tap.
The continuous tapping helps my concentration.
Tap tap tap.
Okay, my nerves are calm and my focus is clearer. Inspecting my surroundings should be next as long as I am careful.
Slowly, I start to rise, but the sound of shuffling freezes me.
Are those sounds coming from me?
Was it a weird delayed echo of my tapping?
The shuffling sounds occur again.
There is definitely something else here.
Is there someone else also trapped in this darkness?
What do I do now?
Tap tap tap.
The shuffling answers.
I try to speak, but the words do not want to be released, yet I keep trying.
“Hello?” This is the first time managing to say anything while being here, so my voice is low and raspy.
There is no response for a minute.
“H-hello?” A soft female voice stammers the reply.
. Tik . Tok .

Discussion (1)

  1. Kyrin Knightsbridge

    Hai, @theacstories, as promised, here are my quick thoughts on this piece of yours;

    You’ve chosen to write a piece that’s quite interesting in its construction, focusing primarily on relating your story almost exclusively through the lens of the protagonist’s thoughts and emotions. I’m a huge fan of this style of storytelling – especially for horror, supernatural or other works with strong emotional undercurrents to them – because when executed properly, it can make for really emotionally poignant stories that resonate deeply with their readers. The intentionally short, snappy and vague descriptions keeps readers on tenterhooks and evokes in them a strong desire to keep reading, right until the very end.

    Owing to the short nature of this piece, there’s not a lot I can critique in terms of syntax and grammar. What I have read does seem to be decently well-written, with logical plot progression throughout. If there is one relatively minor thing that I can find fault with, it’s your word choices. Keeping in mind that this style of storytelling naturally lends itself better to short, one-off pieces, the author needs to select his words with surgical precision so that they have the intended effect on his readers. A single misplaced word can send cracks running through his readers’ immersion, and a badly phrased sentence can shatter a carefully constructed mood to pieces. Reading through your piece again, there are no particularly egregious examples of poor word choice, but I do think there are several places where more suitable words or turns of phrases might have been more effective.

    Case in point; the sentence ‘There seems to be no constraints on me, meaning moving is possible.’ Now, it might just be me and my aesthetic preferences, but, as written, that sentence does not seem to fit well into your piece.
    Speaking from experience, if you’re writing a piece with this specific style, you need to make sure each sentence feeds into the overall mood – there are no exceptions to this rule. In this case, you’d need to see that all your sentences conveyed a primal fear, an impotent urgency, a rising wave of panic that’s threatening to engulf your character, building towards the climax or the end of your story. Here, I think a combination of a few concise sentences, like so –

    ‘I’m shocked to find that my body reacts at my command. But what use is that, when I’m so, so hopelessly lost in this shroud of darkness?’

    – would be a better fit for the overall tone of the story. Similarly, compare the following two sentences –

    ‘This is the first time managing to say anything while being here, so my voice is low and raspy.’

    ‘A hoarse whisper, in a voice I barely recognise as my own, escapes my parched throat.’

    Both sentences convey the same meaning when considered objectively, but the latter is more concise and descriptive, implies to the reader that the character is fearful (hoarse whisper, throat dry from fear) and also meshes well with the overall tone of the story. These are examples of how word choices can help you deliver an emotionally resonant and ultimately more compelling story. Keep in mind, though, that opinions on word choices are usually very, very subjective – I’m merely offering my own take on your word choices, so take my advice with as many grains of salt as you find appropriate, haha~

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