Chris was tall, but not too tall, slender with dark hair, and sharp features. He was a millionaire. Though not like the kind you see on T.V., he was unknown. He had never worked a day in his life, instead inherited everything. Maybe that's why he turned out sick.
Not his body, no. He was in seemingly perfect health. It was his mind. The twisted, demented fellow had everything and yet nothing.
Maybe it was because he was alone, utterly and truly alone. He had no family, and no friends. Only his pets... if you could call them pets.
Chris never left his house. His massive mansion. White marble pillars stretching as if for miles, supporting the high ceilings. Carvings and engravings, a robust show of modern architecture, and yet no one in the outside world could attest to its existence. With almost 100 rooms in the mock palace, he goes in only two. One of which, a messy, dusty office.
The office is large, yet furnished only with a desk, bookshelf, and a window. That’s if you exclude the thousands of pages, maps, and mad theories scribbled on every spare page strewn across the room.
A simple window is beside his desk. The only thing he ever does is stare outside. That and feed his pets. He watches the silent workings of nature, the minuscule dewdrops on blades of grass, slipping down, wetting the Earth. He watches love birds tweeting and singing for each other in harmony, with passion. He watches when the sun hits its highest peak, and the rays provide food for all the beautiful flowers grounded in soil. He watches big bears fight for their territory, ripping into each other's flesh to stake their claim, brown fur matted with blood. Maybe he saw himself in a bear, proud, large, easily overpowering all others. Maybe that's where he was inspired. Maybe that's why he went crazy.
Two days earlier, he noticed the office was colder than normal, and came to the conclusion that the window seal had worn away. He called an unemployed repairman, knowing only someone desperate for a paycheck would go so out of his way to travel somewhere far and unknown. He was supposed to arrive today, sometime between 11 and 3.
Chris sits at his desk, staring through the clear, cool glass of the gold framed window until noon. He has to rise from his seat. It’s time to feed his pets. He lets them stew, hungry, for the first few hours of the day before he graces them with nourishment. It’s one of the games he plays.
He walks out of his office and makes his way to the grand, open rise staircase, letting his feet fall down the holes before dragging them up, taking great care to make sure they hit the step below on their way out. He knows he needs to be punished for refusing to release his pets, but he can't bring himself to do it. He can’t risk it.
He travels down 4 flights of stairs before he reaches the dungeon door, the second of the two rooms he inhabits. He feels the rust of the metal, flaking over his fingers, knuckles turning white with pressure, as he opens the door.
The dungeon is poorly lit, damp, and cold. There are 40 cages in total, standing in two rows. Beside the staircase, a luxurious oak table and a high backed, black leather throne. There’s a single edition of Vogue magazine, splayed open to a random article, lying on the table. It’s the only hint of another world, the only thing tethering this medieval room to the present.
Let us out,
they seemed to say. They couldn’t actually speak, Chris made sure to remove their tongues, thereby ruining any chance they had of escape.
“I know you’re out to get me. I know you’re spies, all of you. Tell me who you’re working for, and I’ll let you go.”
Chris pauses a moment,
“You won’t succeed. You can’t take it, it’s mine.”
He’s forgotten they can’t speak.
“Ok, fine, I guess you’ll remain here. Locked up.”
His eyes are bloodshot, filled with insanity.
His pets gurgle, as they try to communicate. Chris has long since lost his empathy, so he has no idea what they’re trying to say. If only he knew, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten carried away, maybe he wouldn’t be senseless.
“Come on, tell me, I won’t get mad.” He screeches as he walks by each cell, rattling on the doors with his outstretched talons.
Suddenly a loud DING DONG reverberates throughout the home. The pets eyes go wide with sorrow, for they know the events about to unfold.
Chris had told them of their visitor earlier.
“Well, well, it seems as if we have a guest. We’ll all be good hosts, now won’t we? Don’t worry, I won’t keep him long. You’ll soon have another friend.”
Chris takes the gleaming, razor-sharp knife on the table beside him and hides it in his back pocket. His face contorts into a hideous smile as he skips up the steps.
The pets try to let the visitor know his fate, communicating through thoughts, wishing for a miracle, knowing it was in vain.
Turn back now.
Leave and never return!
The unsuspecting repairman shakes Chris’ hand and foolishly, and lets Chris lead him in.
“What a nice home you have.”
Chris simply nods, however inside he’s angered.
How dare this man pretend he’s here to help? He thinks.
Chris shows him to the office and watches him work.
“I’m sure you’re a busy man, you can attend to something else and I’ll call you when I’m done,”
To this, Chris lets out a maniacal laugh,
“You think I’ll leave you alone with everything.”
“What do you mean?”
Chris spits at the repairman’s shoes,
“Hey, watch it! -"
the repairman backs up, hands raised in defence
"-I’m not a thief. What would I even steal anyways, your sheets of paper?”
“Sheets of paper. These are sheets of truth, of fact. These ‘sheets of paper’ provide me with your true intentions. Dear boy, you are not fooling anyone. I know you’re here to steal everything.”
“Everything? What’s everything”
“Everything, my house, my money, my fortune. This is mine, all mine.”
The repairman backs away, stumbling over his feet, stomach filling with dread, feeling events about to escalate,
“Woah, woah. I’m no thief. I can leave if you’re not comfortable with me here.”
“Oh no, you think I’m going to let you leave. You’ve seen it, you’ve seen my house. You know where everything is”
“Wha, what do you mean?” The repairman trembles, knees shaking.
“I’m afraid, you’ll just have to stay here.”
The repairman’s eyes widen in horror as Chris uncovers his knife,
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Wow, Janey! This story is as awesome as the first one! You really know how to keep up the suspense. I was hooked until the end, and didn’t want to stop reading, even when the story ended. :) One critique: I often have trouble with this in my writing too; I would say it is a common problem that many writers have: telling and not showing. It’s kind of hard to explain. For example, if you had two characters, Bob and Joe, who were siblings, you could write, “Bob and Joe are brothers who are very close to each other.” That would be an example of...
Wow thanks so much Katie! I'm really glad to hear that! Also yes, that has definitely helped! I 100% understand what you mean and I'll try to incorporate that into my next story! I swear, this Reedsy community is so nice and has helped me improve so much, so fast! Thanks again and I will definitely keep you posted! :)
Ok Janey...first thoughts. When I read it the first time, through a friend lens not a critique lens...I absolutely loved it! Chris’s insanity was beautifully...er captured :) and you did a fantastic job with the descriptions. Now from a critique lens...I think you should work on spreading out the dramatic in the story a little more. For example, follow each dramatic sentence with reactions or emotions. It takes practice, and even I’m not good at it, but you are progressing from your first story splendidly, and I think you’re slowly getting ...
Awww, thank you!! Also, I love how you wrote 'beautifully...er captured' XD And oooh, thank you so much!! I will definitely try to incorporate that more in my next stories!
Yeah! Absolutely no problem :D ahah, I tend to write how I think XD have fun with it!!!
You did a great job introducing the characters and capturing the degree of Chris's insanity. The comparison between Chris and the bears is intriguing as well. I don't really have any advice for you, because the people before me already covered everything! I think you're doing amazing, keep up the good work!
Thanks sooo much!! I'm really glad you liked the comparison with the bears, it just came to me, and was so much fun to write! (:
I really love your main character. It's awesome that you leave it to the readers' imagination what the "pets" actually are. Question: Does Chris have talons? (If so, why does he need the knife?) OR Was that just a creative way to reference his hands? [ Referencing: "rattling on the doors with his outstretched talons." ] You do a good job of describing the setting of each scene. I can easily picture the rooms in my head, especially the dungeon. A very solid horror story all around.
Thank you so much! :) It means a lot! And haha, that was just a way of referencing his hands. I was also trying to add to the whole 'crazy' atmosphere by implying that he doesn't cut his nails! :)
Awesome story! This was amazing! I really liked how it was in the present tense: something I really have trouble writing with, lol. If you wanna read some super awesome stories, much better than mine, you should check out Ella S. Her stories are amazing and far more enthralling than mine! Just Fine, The Hand Cream Demise, and I believe it's called Death on New Years are the best. Thank you!! Keep writing! :)
Thanks so much! And haha I know!! Present tense is hard! When I first wrote it all, I kept switching between past and present tense so when I gave it a quick look over before posting, I had to switch all my past tense words to present tense! Your stories are amazing! But I'll definitely check hers out as well! :)
Hi Janey. I can see you're integrating more variety in your sentence structure. This is one is really good: He feels the rust of the metal, flaking over his fingers, knuckles turning white with pressure, as he opens the door. And this has great rhythm and imagery: He watches the silent workings of nature, the minuscule dewdrops on blades of grass, slipping down, wetting the Earth. He watches lovebirds tweeting and singing for each other in harmony, with passion. He watches when the sun hits its highest peak, and the rays provide food for ...
Thanks so much!! I’ll definitely take another look at that paragraph. Yours sounds so much better! And actually, your comment reminded me, I’d already taken out the ‘Well’ at the beginning of the sentence but I only made the change in the doc. 😅 And yes, I’m so grateful for everyone helping me improve, I appreciate every single word of it!! :)
Janey, this is so creepy and I love it!! I'm a sucker for a scary story. You're already improving a lot when it comes to how you structured the story. This one is engaging from start to finish and you maintain the tone really well! I love the imagery of the bears fighting and the way you describe the mansion and the dungeon. The premise is very creepy and you execute a dark topic really well! Here are some of my edits for you, mostly small tweaks to help with flow and grammar. Don't feel like you have to take them all, make sure you stay t...
Hey! Thanks so much!! I used most of your feedback (all except the earlier changed to ago, idk, I just feel like 'earlier' is creepier!) You always help so much! Thanks for always giving a really thorough read! And thanks for the website, I've always been really confused on how to grammatically write dialogue! :) I just checked out your last story as well!
Absolutely, I’m always glad to be helpful and I enjoy editing almost as much as writing lol! Thank you, I’m heading over now to read your feedback :)
The story is full of suspense. From the moment you said he went mad the reader is wondering in what way. Only when he opens the dungeon door are you able to grasp the extent of his violence and madness. Scarey
Thanks! I'm really glad you liked the "He went mad" part as that was exactly the reason I put it in, but no-one else had seemed to really pick up on it! And ya, I really loved the opening dungeon door part as well! Thanks for the feedback! : )
Ooh wow! This story was amazing! It was so beautiful and wonderfully worded. I do agree with Nanika about expressing more emotions, but this story worked well nonetheless. It was very suspenseful :P Looking forward to reading more of your stories, they're always amazing. (By the way, this is Amber Evans. My real name is Karina...)
Aww, thanks so much! And definitely, I've been trying to add more emotion in my next few stories. And thank you! And ooooh, I love the name Karina, it's so pretty! Haha, Janey's not my real name either, I just like using a pen name cause it makes me feel very professional and Elizabethan (I don't know why lol) :)
haha yes!! Janey is a great name!! thanks!
Fine but not enough descriptive (Just saying what I felt, don't be hurt). You have to be a little more descriptive. Well everything isn't black, the idea was awesome, honestly.
Thanks for the feedback. This was only my second story ever and the first one ever in this genre and perspective so there's definitely lots to work on. Plus the word limit is very well, limiting. I've improved a lot in my later stories if you want to check them out though!
Were you hurt? lolz! I didn't mean you hurt you. I know critiques can sadden one.
Oh no worries at all! I’m sorry it came off that way, I was pretty exhausted from school!! And yes, I agree, they can hurt at times, however the whole reason I’m on reedsy is to improve! I started less than a month ago! And I’ve come so far already, only because of everyone giving me constructive criticism! Feel free to give more and don’t worry at all!!! :)
Yeah I think the same. People must learn from their mistakes instead of considering it an affliction.
Hi Janey! I loved this story! It kept me reading till the very last line, and I think you portrayed Chris, his thoughts, and insanity really well! The characterization was, in other words, amazing! I don't have any critique because almost everything has been covered already, but I look forward to reading your next stories! Great work! Keep writing! :D
Thanks so much! :)
My pleasure! :)
Ooh, scary! I liked the short fragments at the beginning, effective description. I'm not sure why Chris would collect pets, but I guess some characters are just evil?
Thanks!! :) I'm really glad you liked the beginning, it was fun to write! Haha yeah! To be honest, I had a specific 'thing' in mind for what the pets were, but it seems that I haven't given enough clues for anybody reading to figure out! If you know what the pets are, then Chris isn't truly 'evil', he's just lost his mind! Definitely, some writers write characters as 'just evil', but I don't think any character truly is because no person truly is. There's always something that's made them the way they are, whether that be an illness or trauma.
I guess that's why I was curious as to what trauma was in Chris' life. There wasn't a reason given for his maiming people, so I wondered. But it was well done in any case
Thanks! And haha, I tried to allude to that with all the "Maybe that's why he went crazy" and the "I know you guys are spies" and the fact that he's all alone. I guess it could definitely be more developed in a novel though!