Jimmy's Pills


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Post August 12, 2009, 03:53:35 AM

Jimmy's Pills

My prematurely senile memory has forgotten whether our Flash maven has held a contest upon opening lines. He's got a pretty good one for his own little tale.

' Jimmy took a long drink. "Since you insist on askin', I make pills for the dead." '

I have to take a moment to fight down Orson Scott Card associations long enough to keep reading. (Speaker for the Dead, Pills for the Dead, - it's like some ToastMaster's for the Dead hotel suite.)

The story is approximately twice the length of the Flash tales he oversees.

... Oh, you thought I was going to *give away* his story secrets? Never. You'll have to read the story yourself for those!
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Post August 12, 2009, 01:07:23 PM

Jimmy's Pills

Not bad, Nathaniel.

Good pacing and set-up, with both the characterization and plot steadily being fleshed-out (if you'll pardon the pun.)

Still not sure why the bartender made a run at Jimmy when he did. I've read it twice and still nothing.

If you’ve read some of the other horror/sci-fi sites there seem to be a whole lot of these stories being written. I think it's an outgrowth of the Dawn and Shaun movies (trying really hard not to be a spoiler.)

One thing I should mention, even in RC churches that have baptismal vessels, the water in them isn't holy water. The holy water and chrism are brought in separately. The priest just drops three little splashes on the baby’s head. Also, they are always in the front of the church, not under the choir loft.

The thing that was dropped from the choir loft might well have fallen into the holy water font situated at the back of the church. They don't do baptisms at that thing. (Though I admit that many of them are large enough to do so.) Then again, Jimmy was telling the story and by his own admission, he wasn’t one of the best.

Food for thought from an old altar boy.

As I said, there have been a spate of these stories, recently. Yours was the best, so far.

Good job, dude.

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Post August 12, 2009, 02:52:13 PM

A Dead On Story!

Well, now I finally get what showing versus telling means and there is an attractive element to this style of writing. I suppose I should read a lot more fiction, but I read so much non fiction in the course of my job I am burned out on reading in general, however I really liked this story.

I think this is a very original direction on the walking dead story plot! Walter is pumping Jimmy for information ready to take his success and make it his own, while leaving with a zombie like afternoon snack in neck breaking speed!

This story captured my attention in the first 200 words and held it throughout providing an unexpected twist at the end!

Well worth the read and a great example of writing correctly and professionally.

Mark

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Post August 12, 2009, 05:37:14 PM

Show & Tell

I always felt like the outsider in those Tell vs. Show discussions. It might have to do with gaining info vs. having to step back from identifying with a character.

Tell:
"The riverbed is gonna flood tomorrow, and you don't want to be driving there when it does."

Show:
(Enemy shoves your car into Riverbed and flattens the tire. Before AAA arrives the flood happens. You have learned something, but you are vicariously now thoroughly miserable.)
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Post August 16, 2009, 08:29:53 PM

Re: Jimmy's Pills

Bill_Wolfe wrote:Not bad, Nathaniel.

Good pacing and set-up, with both the characterization and plot steadily being fleshed-out (if you'll pardon the pun.)

Still not sure why the bartender made a run at Jimmy when he did. I've read it twice and still nothing.

Thanks, Bill.

It was mostly a device, really. What I was trying for was that the bartender thought Jimmy had some religious power the bartender had to fear. After finding that Jimmy was just an altar boy instead of something bigger in religious hierarchy, I had him go for Jimmy, which gave me a chance to show how the "pills" work.

If you’ve read some of the other horror/sci-fi sites there seem to be a whole lot of these stories being written. I think it's an outgrowth of the Dawn and Shaun movies (trying really hard not to be a spoiler.)

In one of the rejections I got from this, an editor told me that it was a good zombie tale, but it was too traditional to stand out against the huge number of zombie stories out there.

People like zombies, but you have to do something pretty special or unique to get one published at a pro market.

One thing I should mention, even in RC churches that have baptismal vessels, the water in them isn't holy water. The holy water and chrism are brought in separately. The priest just drops three little splashes on the baby’s head. Also, they are always in the front of the church, not under the choir loft.

The thing that was dropped from the choir loft might well have fallen into the holy water font situated at the back of the church. They don't do baptisms at that thing. (Though I admit that many of them are large enough to do so.) Then again, Jimmy was telling the story and by his own admission, he wasn’t one of the best.

Food for thought from an old altar boy.

No, good point. Since priests/ministers look like they're blessing the water before the baptism, I just assumed it was holy water. Just goes to show fact checking is important.

As I said, there have been a spate of these stories, recently. Yours was the best, so far.

Good job, dude.

Bill Wolfe

Thanks again.

I hated to see this one gathering digital dust when I knew it was good enough to see the light of day.

Nate
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Post August 16, 2009, 08:41:01 PM

Re: A Dead On Story!

Mark Edgemon wrote:Well, now I finally get what showing versus telling means and there is an attractive element to this style of writing. I suppose I should read a lot more fiction, but I read so much non fiction in the course of my job I am burned out on reading in general, however I really liked this story.

There's a time to give all the details with all the senses, and times not to. In this kind of story, I absolutely couldn't give away that everyone was dead right away. That is, if that's how you meant "showing".

I think this is a very original direction on the walking dead story plot! Walter is pumping Jimmy for information ready to take his success and make it his own, while leaving with a zombie like afternoon snack in neck breaking speed!

This story captured my attention in the first 200 words and held it throughout providing an unexpected twist at the end!

Well worth the read and a great example of writing correctly and professionally.

Mark

Having given out so many miles of writing advice, I expect to be under the microscope when I put something out. About this one, I wasn't trying to be any kind of example, just to try to write a good zombie tale. That it reached you gives me a satisfied sigh that I remembered to follow all my own darn rules. :)

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Post August 19, 2009, 01:09:17 PM

Jimmy's Pills

Like I said with Zoe's, I love Zombies.
Small correction within the text: "There long silence, marked only by the ..." in paragraph 27 - Should it be, "There was a long silence, marked only by.."?
I very much liked the way the author interjected religion without being brazen. It was a zombie story sprinkled lightly with Catholicism. Where would horror be without the Catholic Church and all its rituals?
I thought the barkeep finally tried to jump Jimmy at the end because he got hungry watching his next meal doing shots.
Constintine (the movie with Reeves) already did the whole holy water thing - and somewhat more dramatically.
Overall, I liked this story very much and read it 3 times.

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Post August 22, 2009, 09:32:43 AM

Hey, Nate, just want to do my usual making of observations and raising of questions in no particular order:

I thought your effort to keep the fact that Walter and the barflies were reanimated was decently handled except for a couple of places:

"Yeah." Jimmy shrugged. "Everybody's got ailments. You got 'em, I got 'em. All the dead got 'em, too."

Use of too had me thinking that Walter was, in fact, not one of the living dead.

And maybe more clearly:

How would you feel if you finger just fell off or if some bunch of worms were nibbling on your insides? That hurts, right?"

Walter nodded, just a little.

"The dead's no different."


Again, Walter is distinguished from the reanimated.

I read your explanation of Joe the Bartender's attack on Jimmy, but that does not come across in the story. Thinking maybe that could use some tinkering. As you say, it's a device, and I felt it was a bit clunky as a means of demonstrating Jimmy's administering of his pills. Further, none of the barflies reacted at all to the bartender's startling and graphic demise.

You refer to ailments that the living dead suffer from, eg, decay and worms, and wish to be treated for, but then near the end Jimmy tells Walter that he suffers from "the ailment," ie, the hunger and it seems like that is the sole problem for which the dead seek Jimmy's help. This is a nit, but shouldn't the hunger be referred to as "an ailment" or one of the ailments?

Is Jimmy paying for his drinks? Do the dead pay for Jimmy's pills? Yes, the bartender, got a freebie, but what about those "rational dead" who seek Jimmy out? I mean, to what extent are the living dead really carrying on with the day-to-day stuff? Has the economy and broader system collapsed? What is the upshot of most/a lot of the world having died and reanimated? I think some reference to that should be made, particularly as so many of the dead seem to have gone about their business even as they rot away (and what about the smell and the biohazards of mass decomposition?).

The cause of the mass death/reanimation was too facile for my taste. As you indicated, it seems that the preponderance of zombie lit out there (and apparently zombies are the new vampires), so it seems likely a more sophisticated "lore" will be required to inform such stories if they are to catch an editor's eye.

Jimmy says it's annoying when the reanimated pop out of the ground looking for pills, suggesting that the already dead were affected by whatever caused the problem, is that true? If so, if those already buried were reanimated, well, that's a lot of excess zombies running around. Further, if the dirt was not insulation enough to keep the already dead dead, then why was Jimmy not affected when he was simply beneath the church?

Who are the "they" that Jimmy refers to when he says they caught up with Bart? The "crazy dead" who have succumbed to the hunger? You seem to be suggesting that Bart was hunted, when I would think the crazies would only have nabbed Bart arbitrarily as they search for food. If there is a segment of the reanimated that want to stop the pill dealers, I think that needs to be addressed, and could be interesting too—clashing segments of the living dead society.

Another nit: So Jimmy's dad taught him right from wrong, who taught him how to make bullets? If society is still running reasonably well couldn't he just purchase the bullets he needs and soak them in holy water?

I would think Jimmy would know of more pill dealers than just Bart, but then that would depend on just how well the social fabric has held together following the mass death/reanimation. Also, I would think those who were interested would've been able to find out about the secret of the pills far more quickly than it seems they did here.

Anyway, Nate, for what it's worth, your recent work here shows a marked improvement overall. I think that's cool.

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Post August 22, 2009, 12:20:45 PM

I finally figured it out when Joe the bartender's LIFELESS eyes sprang open wide.
An easy read with a nice admixture of show and tell, with appropriately spaced beats.

gino
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Post August 23, 2009, 09:03:38 PM

Re: Jimmy's Pills

bottomdweller wrote:Like I said with Zoe's, I love Zombies.
Small correction within the text: "There long silence, marked only by the ..." in paragraph 27 - Should it be, "There was a long silence, marked only by.."?
I very much liked the way the author interjected religion without being brazen. It was a zombie story sprinkled lightly with Catholicism. Where would horror be without the Catholic Church and all its rituals?
I thought the barkeep finally tried to jump Jimmy at the end because he got hungry watching his next meal doing shots.
Constintine (the movie with Reeves) already did the whole holy water thing - and somewhat more dramatically.
Overall, I liked this story very much and read it 3 times.

Thanks for reading it 3 times and thanks for your comments. As to Constantine, I wrote this in 2005, the same year the movie came out, but I didn't see it until last year. So, Constantine may well have done it more dramatically, but I wasn't copying it.
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Post August 23, 2009, 09:33:17 PM

comments

unforgibbon wrote:I thought your effort to keep the fact that Walter and the barflies were reanimated was decently handled except for a couple of places...

You may be right. I think it depends, though, in what mindset the reader is when they read. Regardless, it was my job as author to set things up in such a way there wouldn't be such a lack of clarity.

Is Jimmy paying for his drinks? Do the dead pay for Jimmy's pills? Yes, the bartender, got a freebie, but what about those "rational dead" who seek Jimmy out? I mean, to what extent are the living dead really carrying on with the day-to-day stuff? Has the economy and broader system collapsed? What is the upshot of most/a lot of the world having died and reanimated? I think some reference to that should be made, particularly as so many of the dead seem to have gone about their business even as they rot away (and what about the smell and the biohazards of mass decomposition?).

Good questions. Walter does sort of say that there wasn't any reason for people to try and get ahead in life, because, well, they're all dead. I thought it would be safe to imply that not everything was working probably, even for the "rational" dead, but it may not have come through clearly. Walter said that he would be counting again, implying that there wasn't any cash to be counting as it was.

Would the smell bother the dead? They're not breathing the air in.

The cause of the mass death/reanimation was too facile for my taste. As you indicated, it seems that the preponderance of zombie lit out there (and apparently zombies are the new vampires), so it seems likely a more sophisticated "lore" will be required to inform such stories if they are to catch an editor's eye.

Jimmy says it's annoying when the reanimated pop out of the ground looking for pills, suggesting that the already dead were affected by whatever caused the problem, is that true? If so, if those already buried were reanimated, well, that's a lot of excess zombies running around. Further, if the dirt was not insulation enough to keep the already dead dead, then why was Jimmy not affected when he was simply beneath the church?

You have a good point. I didn't do as you were looking for because Jimmy was down underneath a church when it happened, so he didn't see it, and, as as noted, wasn't the brightest bulb. He shouldn't know exactly what happened, so I didn't think I should reveal it when emulating his POV. Even though Walter should have had a much better chance at knowing what killed him, revealing it from him steals the thunder from the more dramatic moment when Jimmy reveals that Walter is dead, too.

Who are the "they" that Jimmy refers to when he says they caught up with Bart? The "crazy dead" who have succumbed to the hunger? You seem to be suggesting that Bart was hunted, when I would think the crazies would only have nabbed Bart arbitrarily as they search for food. If there is a segment of the reanimated that want to stop the pill dealers, I think that needs to be addressed, and could be interesting too—clashing segments of the living dead society.

All I was going for was "the dead"="they". All the dead hunted the living, because as zombies, they all needed to consume the flesh.

Another nit: So Jimmy's dad taught him right from wrong, who taught him how to make bullets? If society is still running reasonably well couldn't he just purchase the bullets he needs and soak them in holy water?
In my mind, his father taught him to make bullets. Some people do pack their own, his father had access to handguns, and Jimmy obviously became good with a pistol somewhere.

I would think Jimmy would know of more pill dealers than just Bart, but then that would depend on just how well the social fabric has held together following the mass death/reanimation. Also, I would think those who were interested would've been able to find out about the secret of the pills far more quickly than it seems they did here.

True enough. Then again, maybe Bart was the last other normal human left after the populace was snacked on for a few years.

Anyway, Nate, for what it's worth, your recent work here shows a marked improvement overall. I think that's cool.

Thanks. Anything I've done really recently is either in the Flash Fiction Index or will be soon in the Billl Warren series pages.

Nate
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Post August 23, 2009, 09:34:23 PM

thanks

gino_ss wrote:I finally figured it out when Joe the bartender's LIFELESS eyes sprang open wide.
An easy read with a nice admixture of show and tell, with appropriately spaced beats.

gino

Thanks, Gino.
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Post August 24, 2009, 10:23:38 AM

Re: comments

kailhofer wrote:Would the smell bother the dead? They're not breathing the air in.


Yeah, but Jimmy is, right?

I don't know if you've read it, but I'd like to recommend John Joseph Adams's The Living Dead anthology. Zombie/living dead stories from the last forty years. I enjoyed it a great deal.

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