Hi everyone. So some of you may recall that last week I published a story called “Floor 100”. I had a lot of fun writing that story and I put a lot of effort into and I was very pleased with it. So after reviewing some of the comments, they were a mixture of good and bad. So it was kind of heartbreaking to read the bad comments, since I thought it was a very good piece that everyone would enjoy. Then I realized that the only way to improve as a writer is to take in the negative feedback and learn from it and use it to improve and at the same time, be able to distinguish whether there is any truth to it or not. So for this story, I want your honest opinion. Tell me every single thing that you think is wrong with it and I'm not referring to my story plot, but instead the writing in general. Just tell me everything that you think is wrong with this. Is the story appealing? Is my writing style too worded? Do I lack description/dialogue? Etc. Thank you.
I slumped down on the couch and allowed my body to sink into the comfortable, soft cushioning of the chair. I had spent the entire week working excessively, writing dozens of articles and journal entries for my boss, at the newspaper firm that I worked at. Now it was a Friday night and I wasn't scheduled to return to work until Monday, so I intended to make my weekend be as enjoyable as possible.
At twenty-five years old, I lived alone in a small apartment complex along with several other middle-class workers who were privilege enough to know that their pay checks were a few extra dollars above those in the poverty line. I was an independent woman with a decent job and I was determined for things to be better for me. I was still a small time journalist, but I was hoping that after a few more years of working with my firm, I would be assigned to follow the major news issues that happened overseas.
I was convinced that this wouldn't happen for another few years and until then, I was just going to have to endure the excessive work loads that the small journalist were expected to complete. I shook my head, the least bit thrilled that my thoughts were continually drifting back and forth to work.
I grabbed the remote control and began flipping through channels until I found Comedy Central. The channel was rearing an old episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that had aired as new yesterday night. I grinned, overjoyed that one of my favorite shows was on television, which had potential to make this a good night. It was a great show and I truly admire the work Jon Stewart did, since he addressed the issues in politics in a fair way that seemed to speak for a majority of the people.
I watched the first five minutes of the show, laughing continually at Jon Stewart's satirical remarks, but then, without any warning, the program cut away to a breaking news bulletin. I sighed a loud and punched my fist into the cushioning of my couch, annoyed that something had interrupted the show I had been watching.
The screen revealed a male reporter sitting behind a desk, wearing a black shirt and blue tie. I was convinced that this breaking news report would be a message from the president, in regards to some bill that congress had managed to pass. It took me only a few seconds to notice the horrified look on the reporter's face to realize that this was something else, something terrifying or dangerous, that was underway. I sat up on my couch, scooting closer to the edge of the cushion and turned the television up as loud as it could go to be certain that I didn't miss a work.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” said the reporter as he looked sternly into the camera to make it appear as though he were looking directly at the audience he was speaking to. “I'm Dan Porter and we're sorry to interrupt your programming this late at night.”
I glanced over at the digital clock sitting on a nearby table that read: 11:08pm. This was definitely an usual time for the news to interrupt programming, mainly because most people were in bed around this time. Whatever their reason for this message was, it had to be serious to have been unable to be postponed until morning, when they were more likely to have a larger audience.
“We have received an urgent warning from the West Lake Water Company, that advise all residents of the Nagle, LynWall, and Frankton Counties to avoid using their water.” the reporter leaned forward in his chair to depict the importance of his message. “I repeat, all residents of the Nagle, LynWall, and Frankton Counties are told not to use their water. We're still waiting for more details on the reason behind this warning, but until then please avoid all drinking water from all facets, sprinkle's, hoses, and any water in your house. If necessary use water bottles and if possible, please be sure to warn others who live nearby of this warning. This warning is in effect until six o' clock this morning.” the reporter then leaned back in his chair and said in a less stern voice. “We will now resume your regularly scheduled programming.”
In a second, the Breaking News Bulletin disappeared from the screen and The Daily Show was once again playing on the television, however I was the least bit focused on Jon Stewart's words because my thoughts were now thoroughly invested in the news bullet. It didn't make any sense to me and there were hundreds of questions running through my mind.
I was a resident of Frankton County so that meant that the warning applied to me and the many others who lived in the area. Why was it so important that we were to avoid coming in contact with the water? Was there maybe a plumbing issue that was underway that caused the water to become polluted? One of the downfalls of being a reporter were that sometimes you took the skills you used on the job and applied them to your everyday life. I didn't like not being told the entire story, which usually led me to question things thoroughly and investigate them on my own.
I climbed from my seat and made my way through my tiny apartment until I entered the kitchen. I carefully approached the kitchen sink and stared at the facet that hung over the sink. I then carefully hovered my hand over the lever that was designed to turn the water on and off, trying to guess what would happen if I turned the lever. The reporter had advised us not to drink the water....right? Or did he say not to come in contact with it? I couldn't remember and began to question what could happen if I turned it on.
Several possibilities played in my mind: A poisonous toxic would spew from the facet causing me to pass out...a strange brown substance would flow uncontrollably from the facet, making it impossible to turn off until the entire apartment complex was flooded...or maybe it would explode the second I turned the lever. These each sounded unrealistic, but I wasn't foolish enough to deem that it was impossible. There were lots of strange things that happened in the news and to say something was impossible was ignorance.
I sighed and decided that there was only one way to find out. Taking a deep breath, I gently placed my hands on the lever and slowly began to turn the facet until it was on. My heart was still as the water casually fell from the facet into the sink, appearing normal, lacking any traces of abnormality. I couldn't help feel disappointed and was convinced that the issue with the water was probably something minor such as mold or bacteria. I was tempted to run my hand through the water, but decided against it, since whatever the issue with the water was, it couldn't be seen by the naked eye.
Annoyed and quickly losing interest, I turned the water off and made my way to the bathroom, preparing to answer mother nature's calling. I entered my tiny bathroom and made my way over the toilet. I lifted the seat up and noticed some tissue I had flushed earlier hadn't properly been disposed of by the toilet. I sighed for what felt like the twentieth time that night and flushed the toilet, causing the water in the bowl to swivel around in a rapid motion that sent small traces of the water splashing onto my arm.
“Great!!” I said sarcastically. “Now I have toilet water on me.”
My first reaction was to reach for the sink faucet, but I paused mid-way recalling the warning. This was down right frustrating! I used water for everything and now, being told that I couldn't use it was an insult to my survival.
I was quickly ripped from my thoughts at the sound of...growling? I became quiet, allowing my ears to focus on the sound, which then lured my eyes to the toilet bowl that appeared to be growling. I moved slowly to the toilet and began to peer into the still water that appeared to be growling. It was low and resembled the sound a dog makes when a stranger approaches their owner's. The water began to tremble in the toilet bowl, causing ripples in the water as the growling grew louder.
My words were cut off when a strange object shot up out of the toilet bowl. I let out a scream as I quickly studied the strange object, only to realize that it wasn't an object, but instead it appeared to be the arm of a creature. The creature had a long green, scaly arm, the resembled the covering of most reptiles. At the end of the six feet long arm that stretched out of the toilet bowl were claws that looked like hands only in shape and were visibly not human.
I screamed at the sight, but before I had a chance to react, the hand snatched forward wrapping it's cold, wet claws around my throat. Fear and adrenaline set it, causing me to scream as loud as I could and use my feet to kick the monster's arm from the toilet. My voice was muffled and my hands were desperately trying to peel the creature's claws from around my neck as it lifted me several inches off the ground. It was trying to hang me!
My thoughts were becoming cloudy and I was aware that I only had minutes until the scaly, green claw would choke the life out of me. Sending all the available strength I had in me to my legs, I used one powerful kick from my right leg, hitting the lower part of the monster's arm. The creature loosened it's grip due to the shock of my injury, which I then seized as an opportunity to escape. I quickly peeled it's loose grip from around my neck, and I fell a short distance to the floor. I didn't even give it a chance to react, I charge from the bathroom, with my hair and clothing soaking wet.
I was gasping as many breaths of air that I could into my body, overjoyed, realizing that oxygen never felt so delicious before in my life. I didn't look back at the monster as I ran from my apartment, grabbing my cell phone on the way, and I made my way out into the hallway, sauntering several feet from my apartment door as I dialed 9-1-1.
The operator answered immediately. “9-1-1, what's your emergency?”
“There's...there's a...,” I was struggling to breath and talk at the same time. “...there's a monster...there's a monster in my bathroom. This is not a joke...I'm serious...it nearly choked me to death, please help me!”
“Ma'am,” the operator sounded extremely calm and blunt. “Did you drink the water?”
“What?” I asked baffled by her randomness. “What are you talking about? Did you hear me? I was nearly choked to-,”
“The computer that is tracking and monitoring this phone calls indicates that you're calling from the Frankton County, where a warning was issued earlier to avoid all contact with the water. My question to you is: Did you drink the water?”
“What does that that have to do with anything?!” I snapped, offended that the operator wasn't listening to me. I answered her question. “No, I didn't drink it, but that's not important you have to-,”
“Ma'am,” the lady said calmly. “Did the water touch your skin?”
“Your skin...did the water come in contact with it?”
“You're not...,” I paused for a moment, recalling the moment when I flushed the toilet and a few traces splashed onto my skin. “...yes!...I think so,”
“Oh,” said the operation in what sounded like a sadden tone that people exhibit when they're told something tragic is going to happen. “I'm sorry Ma'am, but you're very sick right now. I'll send someone to come and collect you.”
“WHAT!?” I screamed into the phone only to hear a dial tone a second later.
I stared at my phone, trying to understand the conversation that I had just had. What did the operator mean when she said that I was “very sick”? I didn't understand and there were so many answers that I wanted, that I needed at that moment, but I knew that it was going to take some time before I could find them. I wasn't sure what to do or what was suppose to happen right now, but I didn't dare go back into my apartment.
I wandered down the hallway, gently mus aging my throat as I relieved the moment when the strange creature grasped it's claws around my throat. I paused halfway down the hallway when a crackling noise seem to disturb the silent hallway. I scanned the hallway, searching for the crackling noise as the sound appeared to increase. My eyes locked on the hallway floor just a large crack began to grow at the end of it.
The crack slowly began to spread, traveling down the end of the hallway, making the floor vulnerable to collapsing if someone were to step onto it. Confused and horrified, I began to scream, and I took off running in the opposite direction as the crack in the floor began to travel it's way down the hallway. I ran at full speed screaming in the process as I ran for safety.
I turned the corner only to trip on my own two feet. The sound of the cracking was growing and I was unable to stand due to the fear that was paralyzing my entire body. I began to scoot as far as I could down the hallway with my eyes in front of me, waiting for the large crack to follow me around the corner, when my back randomly bumped into someone.
“Melissa, what are you doing?” I heard a familiar voice say.
I turned around to see that I had run into the legs of one of my neighbors named Sean. Sean was close to my age and he was a teacher at a local high school. He had short dark hair with bangs that draped over his forehead, light blue eyes, and an olive complexion. Sean was holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other.
He had once mentioned to me that every Friday night, after work, he went and sat at a local diner and read to himself. He was most likely returning from that trip and had encountered me in the hallway. He stared at me with curiosity. I used his pants legs as a rope to pull myself up onto my feet.
“Sean!” I cried. “Something weird is going on! We have to get out of this hallway, the floor is going to collapse!”
“What are you talking about?” he asked sounding confused.
“Look!” I cried pointing at the large intricate crack that formed around the corner and was working it's way towards us. “Run Sean! Run!!” I screamed while taking several large steps backwards.
“From what Melissa? What's going on?” he asked now appearing more frightened than confused.
Sean stood still as the crack in the center of the floor crawl right under his feet. I was half expecting him to fall as the floor collapsed beneath his feet, but nothing happened. I paused, and stared blankly ahead, uncertain why the floor hadn’t collapsed. Maybe Sean was too thin and the damaged ground could support his weight? This didn't make any sense and I began to wager my own life by standing still allowing the cracking tile to make it's way toward me, but to my surprise it stopped right in front of my feet.
“Don't you see it?” I asked. “The floor...it's cracked.”
Sean ran his eyes along the hallway floor and then he flashed me the kind of expression you give people with you suspect that they're losing their mind.
“Melissa...,” he said slowly. “I...I don't see anything. There's nothing wrong with floor.”
“What...?” I gasped staring at the several cracks in the floor in front of me. “Sean...I...I see them. Why can't you?”
Before Sean could properly answer my question the elevator doors at the end of the hallway broke open and several men dressed like soldiers emerged from the elevator, armed with weapons and gas masks. A small child and perhaps maybe even an unfamiliar adult would have been startled at the sight the men dressed from head to toe in army gear, the only aspect of them that could be clearly defined as human were their arms and legs which were distinct human characteristics.
Sean and I were both startled by their presence, but the group of soldier’s ignored Sean and made their way over towards me, walking in a small group.
“What's going on?!” asked Sean.
“Is she the one?” asked one of the soldiers through his mask, clearly ignoring Sean's remark.
One of the army men approached me, pressing a strange metal device the size of a cell phone to my temple. The device's blue screen flashed several white numbers and the soldier nodded in response to his group.
“It's her.” said the solider.
Using that remark as a signal, four of the ten men grabbed a hold of me and began to drag me by my arms and shoulders down the hallway. I immediately began to scream and kick, using everything inside of me to free myself.
“Let me go! Let me go! Stop!”
“Ma'am calm down,” said one of the soldiers who took off his mask, revealing a blonde haired forty year old. “Everything is under control.”
“What's going on?” I heard Sean ask he trailed behind us. “Where are you taking her?”
“Sir,” I heard another solider mutter. “This is none of your concern.”
“You don't have a warrant to do this.” I heard Sean say.
The soldiers dragged me toward the elevator that was at the end of the hallway, determined to take me away without my consent. I twisted and turned in all directions, screaming as loud as I could hoping that someone from the other apartments on our floor would come to my rescue.
“Listen sir,” I heard the soldier without the mask say to Sean somewhere behind me. “She is sick. Earlier tonight a warning was issued to avoid coming in contact with all water within three nearby counties because it contained an experimental chemical that had accidentally mixed into the water supply. The chemical causes dangerous hallucinations and delusions that can convince the mind that the person is on the verge of dying in a strange situation, causing the person to engage in risky behavior that can get them killed. It's best that we get her back to the base, where we can stabilize her symptoms.”
Half of me understood what the solider was saying, but shortly after his words entered my mind, a second later, my brain translated them into a different language that I seemed to understand.
“We're taking her back to our base so that we can torture her and then murder her.”
I screamed and without thinking, I used excessive force to bang my head backwards into one of the soldiers who had the tightest grip on me, hitting him directly in his eyes. I had hit him with such force that along with his wailing, I could hear a cracking in my brain and nauseousness overcome me. The solider weakened his grip, allowing me to twist free and flee in the opposite direction down the hallway.
“Stop her!” I heard the main solider yell, leaving me uncertain if those were his real words or perhaps the one's my mind had invented.
I moved fast, running to the end of the hallway forcing my eyes to lock on the window that was embedded in the wall. With swift movements, I swung the window open, stepped out onto the ledge, and I looked ten feet down over what appeared to be a swimming pool. I was certain that our building didn't have a pool, but staring straight down in front of me was a swimming pool.
“Melissa!” I heard Sean scream. “Get down from there, you don't know what you're doing!”
I glanced over my shoulder at the several soldiers who were in fast purse. I didn't want to be taken hostage by the soldiers and knew that my best chance of escaping were to dive into the swimming pool. I was certain that I would survive. Taking a deep breath I leaped from the window ledge, hearing several screams and shouting behind me as I soared ten floors downward until I hit hard concrete.
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