Contest #60 shortlist ⭐️

Fall From Grace

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic story triggered by climate change.... view prompt

180 comments

Science Fiction Thriller Drama

As Rishi plummeted to her death, a wordless shriek filled her mind. A tiny rational voice pushed the panic to the side a little, and whispered that perhaps she should have double checked her equipment. 


The soot covered walls of the high rise blurred to grey streaks while the speed of her descent stole the scream from her throat. Fingers, once nimble and quick, splayed in rigid claws as they tried to snatch at handholds that couldn’t save her. 


Her safety rope, which she would have considered ironic had she any space for any such thoughts, unravelled alongside her. The end she had relied on to prevent such an event whipped around her head, frayed. 


In the seconds before she hit the ground, she had no space in her panicked brain for any coherent thoughts. Instead, there was a static image of her daughter, laughing into a mug of ale. Rishi had no capacity for reflection, but, if she could’ve, she would’ve been glad that Kayla’s smile was the last thing she would ever see. 


***


Ready to begin initialisation of Subject 47. Rebuild is complete. Protocols 23a and 28d completed. Ready to commence Subject Restoration. 


Rishi’s awareness built in waves. A calm, undulating sensation where her consciousness was a piece of flotsam floating closer and closer to the shore. 


When she was delivered onto the golden sands of self-hood, the first thing she understood was that her heart was beating. The heavy thuds beat a staccato rhythm on her rib cage, and she marvelled for a moment at the simple act of a muscle convulsing. The second thing she understood was a sense of enclosure. Her limbs didn’t respond to the cues she was sending, and there was a general feel of enforced stillness. 


Adrenaline levels spiking. Subject is awake. 


Rishi opened her eyes. The sky was blue and free from clouds. Rishi frowned and felt her heart rate pick up. She had, of course, heard about blue skies. They were in all of her childhood stories: tales of groups of children exploring pirate coves and fairy forests under the watchful eye of the benevolent sun, which was hanging in the endless blue sky. Rishi’s skies had been grey as far back as she could remember. The most she could hope for was a change in the shade. 


She tried to turn her head. That wasn't responding to commands either. It seemed she was in control of her eyes alone. 


A figure moved into view; Rishi narrowed her eyes at the familiar face. Everyone in District 3 knew him: Dr. Joshua Malone. The government’s number one scientist and all round hero-in-the-making. He was in charge of the division for Climate Change Reversal and, according to all the people in charge, doing a great job and making amazing technological advances. 


Rishi had died on the way back from breaking into his lab. 


“Welcome back, Ms. Shain.” His perfectly white teeth gleamed in the light, and Rishi wished that her mouth was working so she could spit on him. 


“It’s been quite an eventful time for you,” he continued, the smile edging into a grimace of disdain. At least she knew the dislike was mutual. “There is a lot to catch you up on.”


He moved out of sight and left Rishi to stare at the too-blue sky for a minute or two. Given time to examine it, she could make out brush strokes and uneven coatings of paint. A blue ceiling then, rather than the sky. She felt a little more comfortable knowing that she hadn’t been asleep long enough for them to fix the layer of smog blanketing the globe. 


“Ms. Shain.” Dr. Joshua moved back into sight and reached over to tap the side of her chin, neck and top of forehead clinically. Rishi felt his touch, but it felt wrong. Slightly more distant than a fingertip on her face would usually feel. “I will be blunt, because I feel we know each other well enough for me to be so.” Rishi assumed that he was putting more meaning into the screamed abuse she had flung at him during the protests outside parliament. Perhaps he felt they’d developed a bond in the seconds that he’d happened upon her stealing files from his computer and she’d knocked him out. She noticed, with no small amount of satisfaction, that he still bore the scar on his temple. 


“You have been dead for three weeks and two days,” he said, a slight smile twitching at the corner of his mouth when her eyes widened in alarm. The memory of her final descent - and the millisecond flash of pain she’d felt before there was nothing - consumed her. The same image of Kayla. A spike of panic. Where was Kayla? Was she safe? 


“Ms. Shain.” The voice brought her back to the present and released the terror a little. Kayla. He didn’t sound particularly friendly or comforting. In fact, if she had to guess, she would say he was enjoying her fear. Perhaps the head injury was not forgiven. “The sedatives we have given you are wearing off. In a few minutes, you will start to regain control of the rest of your . . . body.”


Another rush of panic. What did that pause mean? 


A pause and a calculated look in his eyes. “I’m sure you must be wondering why we have gone to so much effort and expense,” he said and Rishi blinked. She’d been so caught up that the thought genuinely hadn’t occurred to her. 


It was a good question though. She knew her name was on a watchlist, and her final few hours before the fall would have cemented her as one of the top names on it. Environmental terrorist, she thought - the first fully coherent thought she’d had. As if we were the ones terrorising it. 


“Only a few people are considered fit for rebuild,” Dr. Joshua continued. “Top level government operatives, valued family members of high-ranking officials and,” he looked vaguely disgusted, “you.” He leaned in slightly and Rishi felt a muscle in her cheek twitch. She experimented with the new sensation and found that she was now able to move her facial muscles enough to change expression. She focused as hard as she could and rearranged her face so that she looked as derisive as possible. Not an inch of gratitude for you, she thought fiercely. 


“Trust me,” he said, noticing the change. “You wouldn’t have been my first choice either. This order came from the top. They seem to think you would be a valuable asset and so I have done my utmost to make you so.” He smiled cruelly and reached behind him. “Perhaps now is a good time to show you my handiwork.” 


He raised a small hand mirror and directed it so she could see herself. 


Subject 47 in distress. Heart rate and adrenal function increased to dangerous levels. Subject 47 in distress. Requires assistance. Subject —


Dr. Joshua hit a button behind him and the automated voice cut off abruptly. He smiled, shark-like, at her but she barely noticed. 


Before, she had had auburn hair streaked with grey that curled around her ears. Hazel eyes surrounded by lines which spoke of a difficult life. Underneath the near permanent layer of soot that plagued the Lower Levellers, she’d had pale skin that, had she ever been given access to sunlight, would have been smattered with freckles. Before, she’d been passably attractive in a weathered kind of way. 


Now. Now her auburn hair was dark, replaced with a neatly styled bobbed wig. Her skin was clean enough for her to see the faded scar on her eyebrow from a collision with her brother as a toddler but parts of her face were a polished white. The bioskin usually found solely on the droids used as personal assistants to the rich and influential blended seamlessly with the skin that she’d lived in all her life. The doctor moved the mirror back so she could see her neck and shoulders, too, and the patchwork of bioskin and organic continued as far as she could see. The only things which appeared untouched were her eyes. 


“Not my neatest work,” Dr. Joshua allowed, “but my motivation wasn’t great, if I’m being perfectly honest with you.” He touched the scar at his temple. “I can only offer you my sincerest apologies.” The sarcasm barely registered. 


Rishi felt tears spilling from the corners of her eyes. She was just somebody's creation: a modern-day Frankenstein's monster. 


Why? She felt her mouth moving to frame the word, though her voice box still wasn’t working properly. 


“An excellent question that can be easily answered with another question.” Dr. Joshua put down the mirror and looked directly at her. “Where is the hard drive?” 


Rishi closed her eyes and concentrated on clearing her expression. Of course. No wonder he was being so abrasive. The data on that hard drive would destroy his life as a best case scenario. All of the atrocities on it had his name front and centre.


She opened her eyes but kept her face carefully blank.


“Oh good,” his voice clearly transmitted his delight. “I was hoping you would be difficult about it.”


It must be hard for him, she thought, to balance his need for speedy results with his need for vengeance. She had little sympathy for his plight.


“It gives me the opportunity to explain your situation in a little more depth.” He pressed something at the side of her bed, and she felt the surface tilting, lifting her into a more vertical position. There was a large window directly in front of her, and she stared into the reflection, hungry to see the changes in herself. Some of her was obscured by wide straps that kept her in place and hid her modesty. Not that it makes much difference, she thought. She’d never felt so exposed or violated. From what she could see, parts of her were entirely organic: left shoulder, left arm, stomach. Much of her right side had been rebuilt. Must’ve landed on that side. 


Movement beyond the glass startled her and she focused on what was behind instead of her reflection. There was a viewing room, filled with plush seating and expensive artwork. Seven or eight people milled around, most looking at her with interest and all being waited on by droids. She recognised some of the human faces - the Prime Minister was there, hands on the burgundy arms of the throne-like chair he occupied. The Deputy Prime Minister stood at his shoulder and the Minister for the Environment sat nearby. 


Lying murderers, she thought angrily. Complicit in the climate conspiracy. She thought of the data, sitting behind a brick on the roof of the Grace. Hiding in plain sight until one of the other cell members could retrieve it safely - there had been too high a risk she would’ve been caught on the escape. They had plans to collect two months after Rishi’s break in, knowing that security would’ve been heightened following it. 


She’d found a treasure trove, too. Thousands of pages proving their guilt. Proving that the smog covering the world was an agreed measure by the leaders of the free world. A way to control the populace. A way to bring in ‘protection’ laws that were anything but. Just another way for the powerful to consolidate power. A suffocating boot on the necks of the poor. Unavoidable climate disaster, my ass. 


“These fine gentlemen have come to view my work in practice,” he said. “They have been most anxious for you to finally be able to tell them where you hid the data you stole from us before doing a swan dive from the Grace. A clever way to protect the others in your little terrorist cell, by the way. Although the whole ‘dead don’t talk’ cliche is rather redundant with our current technology.” 


Rishi kept her face still, despite the surprise coursing through her. He thought she’d fallen on purpose. If we’d had half the resources and cunning you thought we did, maybe we would’ve been able to source better quality ropes. The descent from the Grace - originally called the Royal London Hospital until the nickname stuck - was intended to be a smooth abseil, not a freefall plummet. I wonder if we’re there now. It would make sense - Dr. Joshua had commandeered the top two floors for his ‘research station’. 


“They assured me your gratitude for the return to life would be enough to secure the knowledge,” he continued. He pulled a keyboard forward and tapped away for a second. 


Rishi’s mouth opened without her permission. “I will not tell you a thing,” she said, the words stilted and forced. Dr. Joshua’s eyes sparkled, though he adopted a stern expression. 


“Ms. Shain,” he admonished, “be reasonable. We have given you a gift. It is traditional for you to give one in return.” He returned to the keyboard. 


Once more, Rishi’s mouth opened and formed words that she had not given it. She listened in horror to her voice. “Death to the government. Death to the pollutors.” 


A frisson of horror made Rishi shudder. If he could control her with such fine precision, what else could he make her do? Images of her protecting those she’d sworn to dethrone; being used to subdue riots sparked by the government’s incompetence and discrimination and, worst of all, forced assassinations of those she respected or loved. These all flitted through her mind in the space of a breath. I won’t do it. The defiant thought bolstered her even as the inevitability of it all sank into her bones.


Behind the glass, the politicians stirred: a beehive jostled with a stick. 


Dr. Joshua continued, a sadistic gleam in his eye. “You will, of course, be interested to know that your miraculous return to life and even your exact location was broadcast this morning. We are currently using an array of methods to intercept anyone attempting to rescue you.” He smiled as Rishi’s heart sank. “We have managed to capture no less than five members of your team so far and are anticipating more as time goes on. Alas, I have been instructed to offer you a trade. The data in exchange for the release of your friends and a week’s grace period before we resume hunting them.”


Rishi was silent. There’s no way I can believe him. But what if he has Kayla? Her beautiful, militant daughter was so new to the cell, and she had already proven herself to have the recklessness of youth. Kayla been gifted with a knack for demolitions and had used it already to disobey two direct orders in her quest for justice. I should never have told her about any of this. 


This time she was in control of her own words. “The people are going to tear you limb from limb when they find out what you’ve done. Our lives in exchange for the truth is a bargain we’ve already struck.” 


Dr. Joshua tutted loudly and opened his mouth to reply. It snapped shut at a shout from the room beyond. The cry was followed by what sounded like yelps of pain and Rishi craned her head to see what was causing the commotion.


“AI: put Subject 47 under, continuous sedation until further notice,” he barked, moving away out of her eyeline. There was a beeping next to her and she felt the cold seeping through her veins as the screaming started. 


The world began to fade. In the seconds before her world went dark, Rishi could’ve sworn she heard an explosion. 


***


Kayla playing in a garden. Wooden toys, made from actual trees. Blue sky. Grey clouds rolling in. “Come inside, honey!” Rishi’s voice ringing clearly through the air. A pout. A long, drawn out, “But mu-u-u-um.” A faux stern expression and the answering exasperation. The scent of a tropical fruit as long hair flows past. Catching Kayla’s arm. Gathering her in. Holding on tight. Stiff shoulders melting into the embrace. Kayla pulling back. Looking into Rishi’s eyes seriously. “Wake up.” Confusion. Kayla’s face flitting from child to adult and back again. Repetition. “Wake up.” Fear. Her face, 21 years old, leaning in. “Mum. Wake up.” 


***


The route to consciousness was harder than before. It was less like the gentle lap of waves and more like a bloodied drag up a cliff face. Snippets of noise filtered through the murk but she couldn’t make sense of any of it. 


eds wearing off an


enough tranqs to kill an eleph


ok? Is she g


Then there was the voice from her dreams that kept her hauling her way up the rocks. 


Mum. Wake up. 


This time, when she opened her eyes, the sky was grey. She hesitated before moving, half-convinced that she would still be paralysed but her neck moved smoothly.


She was in a concrete room, one she’d been in a thousand times before. Four people sat around a rickety table, drinking from battered metal mugs. They were bloodied and covered in dirt but the relief and triumph poured off of them in waves. They hadn’t noticed her waking and so she was able to watch quietly as they joked together. Each one was familiar to her and the sight of each face was a comfort, one most of all. They'd come for her. She'd come for her.


As she focused on her daughter, laughing into a mug of ale, Rishi felt hope for the first time since her death. 

September 20, 2020 13:29

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180 comments

Thom Brodkin
19:43 Sep 20, 2020

That last line is pure genius. I hate this weeks prompts. It’s just not my style. I’m an old fashioned story teller but you show how all stories are essentially timeless. There was an instance early on where you used too instead of two unless I reading wrong but overall fantastic job. I loved the read. 😀

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Elle Clark
21:25 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you, Thom! I think you should do a story of a normal person living a normal life while the world goes to hell in a hand basket behind them. Just do a Thom Special with extra apocalypse for flavour! Also, I cannot see the too/two and it is driving me mad. Would you mind pointing it out to me? I’ve looked at this story so many times it’s like I can’t see the wood for the trees.

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Elle Clark
21:27 Sep 20, 2020

FOUND IT

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Thom Brodkin
21:40 Sep 20, 2020

A ha!! 😀😀😀

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Pragya Rathore
10:14 Sep 21, 2020

I started laughing at the end of the first paragraph, which I'm sure was not what you had in mind. I have no idea what made me think that this would be a funny story! But after the line about her daughter Kayla, I sobered up. :) The last line was both saddening and exquisite, which speaks volumes about your tone. I really enjoyed the lovely descriptions in between. Well written! A toast to Rishi 🍷 (I spent two minutes searching for that emoji)

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Elle Clark
10:22 Sep 21, 2020

Haha - well, I wrote the first two paragraphs for another prompt a few weeks ago and abandoned it so I'm not surprised that it's different in tone from the rest. Glad I got to use the idea in this prompt though. Thank you for your comment and special thanks for the hard-won emoji!

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Thom Brodkin
21:19 Oct 09, 2020

Ok you still have no story for me to read. I keep looking. I just posted one. I don’t want to taint you so I’ll wait until you read it before I say anything.

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Elle Clark
06:22 Oct 10, 2020

Oh Thom! Can you let me know when it’s been approved by the judges? If I click on it now, it’ll be assigned to me and I’ll have to judge it. I try really hard to avoid judging my friends stuff because of how heavily biased I am towards you guys! But if you let me know as soon as it gets approved, I’ll head over and read x

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Thom Brodkin
11:01 Oct 10, 2020

Perfect. Thanks.

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Thom Brodkin
21:09 Oct 12, 2020

It's been approved. :-)

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Deidra Lovegren
15:18 Oct 07, 2020

So maybe tell your FRIENDS when you shortlist??

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Elle Clark
15:23 Oct 07, 2020

I tried to write on your wall but it was just too cringey to write it! I assumed you’d find out! 😂

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Deidra Lovegren
15:31 Oct 07, 2020

I think you undervalue the friendship of an INTJ. We hate people. When we actually "make" a friend, we are all "ride or die" -- I'm fully on-board-with-Laura-Clark, Laura Clark. So cheesecakes all around! Release the hounds! Doves! J. Blaauws into the wild!

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Elle Clark
15:44 Oct 07, 2020

Well, I’ve always wanted ride-or-die friends (I’m sure my IRL friends are but I’ve never actually asked) so yay! Also, I haven’t actually had my celebratory cheesecake. I will buy some tonight specially!

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:00 Oct 06, 2020

I'm here to lay a complaint. This story was shortlisted and you. Didn't. Tell. Me!!!?! We've been speaking about rugby and Come Dine with Me and Hitler and the IRA and point laundering and gardening and a whole lot of other delightful nonsense and you didn't even mention it! Not a peep!! Not. One!! If I hadn't come here hoping for a new story I'd've never know!! My goodness... What I'm trying to say is - well done!! 😃😃☃️😃 And also, next time, please tell me. Okay?

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Elle Clark
16:12 Oct 06, 2020

Haha! Well thank you but I just assumed you’d find out eventually. It felt a bit braggy. Also - next time! Ha! We’ll see!

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:25 Oct 06, 2020

It wouldn't have been braggy at all. I feel like I was slightly involved in the post-production analysis and so I've got a vested interest. I also feel like it allows me to say - told you so!! Because I did say it was good, even when you were worrying it wasn't. So, your victory is mine as well, in a way. And you're right, you won't have to tell me next time you get shortlisted because I'll know when they announce you as the winner ⭐⭐⭐

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Elle Clark
17:27 Oct 06, 2020

Good point actually - I should tell Deidra for the same reason. To be honest, she probably gets at least 40% of the credit. Also, n’aw! ☺️

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Deidra Lovegren
15:24 Oct 07, 2020

I'll settle for 25%. But that is my final offer. S T I L L H U R T Really, at this point, only some gratuitously flirting by Thom will help.

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Elle Clark
19:44 Oct 06, 2020

I tried to write a comment on Deidra’s story about the shortlist but I just couldn’t. She’ll find out eventually.

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Jonathan Blaauw
14:57 Oct 07, 2020

Oh, don’t worry, something tells me she’s going to find out when she next comes onto Reedsy. A few others, too. A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved, a joy shared is a joy multiplied. Someone’s gotta multiply the joy 😀

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Elle Clark
15:26 Oct 07, 2020

Oh god, the cringe happened anyway. Thank you for championing me! (But also CRINGE)

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Deidra Lovegren
15:23 Oct 07, 2020

Have we met? I'm American. Americans invented braggy. Ugh. H U R T

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Elle Clark
15:25 Oct 07, 2020

Haha! I’m British - the land of the understatement. It’s so new money to actually tell people you did a good thing. I literally wrote half a post on your story though Deidra and deleted it because the cringe nearly turned me inside out.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:36 Oct 07, 2020

Chaucer would have finished that post. Milton would have bored us to death with 1000 different obscure allusions, but he would have finished that post. Shakespeare would have worked in a willy reference and a salient point on the human condition WHILE finishing that post. Lord Byron would have fornicated with a half dozen inanimate objects -- BUT WOULD HAVE FINISHED THAT POST. Ask yourself, what would Winston Churchill say and how racist would it sound 100 years later? Let's all sing together, now: When Britain first, at Heaven's comm...

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Elle Clark
15:42 Oct 07, 2020

My defence here is that they were men. Also: Britons never will be slaves. Great writing that. Nothing problematic there at all. Also also: I read it to the tune of Rule Britannia. So there you go. When you want to know how British I am, it’s British enough that I can’t read the lyrics without the tune but not British enough to agree with them. Good god, Heaven commanded the Isles to rise from the depths? You can see where we get our superiority from.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:26 Oct 07, 2020

"Lay" a complaint. *snicker*

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:40 Oct 07, 2020

You guys are too much!! I can't tell you the amount of joy these hilarious comments bring to me 😃

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Deidra Lovegren
15:43 Oct 07, 2020

It's either make comments to people I like, or pretend to grade these 11th grades essays on feminist criticism in political cartoons which are about as shallow as Trump's understanding of transmissible diseases. Yep. Everyone gets an 85% today.

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Deidra Lovegren
22:52 Oct 10, 2020

You are missing the fun. Zilla Laura and Thom and I are on google docs. We need you to join up so we can collaborate on some monstrosity of a short story. We've made reedsy.firstname.lastname@gmail.com accounts to avoid the massive spam from our ardent followers. Let me know when you are set up and I'll add you to the joint document. YAY

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Thom Brodkin
14:16 Oct 02, 2020

FANTASTIC!!!!! So deserved. I’m so happy for you.

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Elle Clark
14:22 Oct 02, 2020

Thank you! It’s pretty cool!

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Thom Brodkin
15:08 Oct 01, 2020

In my defense, I came to your page here expecting to read your new story, and once again there is no new story to read. So, with a promise to read yours when you submit it can you give me a look at mine. I think it may be too long in the beginning and to short at the end. I saw this story in my head as soon as I read the prompt, I'm just not sure it went from idea to execution without losing something in the translation. :-)

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:54 Sep 20, 2020

Now I get the title. Nice 😉 Wordplay appreciation aside, this was awesome! What a creepy and emotionally devastating interrogation scene. Couldn’t help being reminded of Robocop. And the whole government-induced climate change thing is a super fun spin on the prompt. The world you’ve woven in such few words is amazing, I would so buy this if it was a dystopian novel. I really don’t know what critique to give. Maybe the opening line? It’s a little long, perhaps split it into two sentences. But like, that’s all I can think of. I’m glad t...

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Elle Clark
18:57 Sep 20, 2020

Aw, thank you! I’ve taken your advice and split the first sentence. Actually, I’ve done quite a lot of reworking. The first sentence tip was really useful though. It made me think about sentence length generally and I noticed that I do tend to include long rambly sentences! Thank you for a lovely comment!

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Rayhan Hidayat
07:37 Sep 21, 2020

Always a pleasure! I gave it a skim and there were definitely some eye-catching new sentences in there.

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R. K.
14:02 Oct 02, 2020

LAURA, I knew it! So to all those out there, let me just say I called it. Congrats on the shortlist! Totally deserved.

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Elle Clark
14:05 Oct 02, 2020

Haha! Thank you! I’m pretty chuffed to be in the top four, I gotta say. Worth all the rewrites, apparently.

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R. K.
21:08 Sep 20, 2020

vwtvhop^çè;l — sorry, those are just my numb fingers trying to type words after reading this. Wow, Laura, just wow. Let me say, sci-fi and apocalypse thrillers have never really been my genre — they often make my head hurt. To be completely honest, I was a bit skeptical when starting this. But you executed it fashionably and though you mentioned the 3k restriction, I think the thoughts flowed utterly coherently. The world-building was masterful, constructed in a short chunk of text but each sentence spoke volumes. Another good one — great job!

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Elle Clark
21:23 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you so much! I’ve been overthinking this one all day and I’m likely to tinker with it for a while yet but I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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Jonathan Blaauw
14:35 Sep 20, 2020

This is such a relief. Not just a story, at last, but an excellent story! Your previous one I wanted to go on just a bit longer. Like this one. Using more of the word count has allowed you to give a depth to your characters, especially Rishi, and explore more of the background. And that is something you’ve done brilliantly here. You start with the fall, the main action scene, and then fill the reader in piece by piece as the story goes on. At no point do you overexplain, nor do you leave the reader feeling like they’ve missed important in...

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Elle Clark
19:04 Sep 20, 2020

You continue to be an awesome human, thank you! I’m really glad you liked it. Normally I knock stories out in a few hours and then tweak them gradually over the next few days but this one just wouldn’t fit within the confines of 3k words. I cut out a tonne of stuff about the resistance and how Dr. Joshua controlled her in an effort to get the info out of her... it just was a story that would’ve fit better into 5 or 7k. So having to chop and rework did a number on my brain. I’m glad it came out coherent at the end. I’ve taken your suggest...

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Elle Clark
09:56 Sep 21, 2020

Also, why the sad face profile picture?

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:38 Sep 21, 2020

Hi. This is my first Reedsy visit for the day. I've seen your comments but I'm just going to reply all here, if that's fine? I will definitely reread your story (was going to do it anyway) and I'll let you know my thoughts. But it really is better than you give it credit for, I think. I should not have asked what you were baking because now I want it. All. You sound like Ainsley Harriet. My sister used to watch him on cooking Channel and, if I remember right, he's a good baker. I have always been told I need to smile more. I ju...

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Elle Clark
17:29 Sep 21, 2020

No it’s not fine. Go back and reply individually. Oh... too late, I guess. Well fine then. Ha, thanks. I now have to sit on my doorstep and wait for neighbours to go by. I don’t actually want to eat that much cake - I just wanted to practice the decoration. It’s a nice photo - just you look sad. But it is a nice photo. Yeaaah England isn’t doing well. They’ve stopped reporting on any other countries though so I can only assume everywhere else is doing better than us. Schools sent back three weeks ago but nobody can work out why a...

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Jonathan Blaauw
17:43 Sep 21, 2020

You can bake your cake to the water, but you can't make it eat🐴 I watch you guys cause you're the canary in the mine for us. Europe seems to be getting bad again. It's so weird - my mom went to teach in Taiwan at the beginning of the year. It seemed like a poor move then, but they're one of the few countries in the world that have had no school closures. I only smile on special occasions - like when I read your stories 😃 I remembered what I forgot to remember earlier. Live sport. But I know you were joking about that - no sane person ...

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Elle Clark
17:48 Sep 21, 2020

Well at least it’s not just us? I guess? Though, honestly, I’d rather it wasn’t anyone. You’re right, I was engrossed in the footie on Sunday. Or ... rugby? Maybe it was ice skating. I watched so much that it blurs. What does your mom teach? I think a lot of the Eastern countries are doing pretty well, in part because they already have a culture where the needs of the many outweigh the wants of the few. In England, we have people refusing to wear masks because it infringes on their right to cough on people (I wish I was joking) and i...

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Zilla Babbitt
00:16 Oct 28, 2020

I "liked" this when you posted it, or a little later, but never read it fully beyond the first line. "As Rishi plummeted to her death, a wordless scream filled her mind." This line is literally iconic. I like to think I'm good at first lines, but I'm terrible at connecting them to the rest of the story, and it ends up sounding heartless. You have a great first line, and then connect it perfectly. Details I liked: The descriptions of her terror when Joshua manipulates her voice are tangible and scary. "A beehive jostled with a stick" is hi...

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Elle Clark
05:26 Oct 28, 2020

Oh wow, thank you, Zilla! This is such a lovely review! I was quite pleased with this - I rewrote and edited for way longer than I usually do and really got caught up in the world. A lot of love went into it so I am thrilled that you enjoyed it so much. I think the winner that week was a good winner and I definitely don’t feel cheated. It would’ve been lovely to have won but I think they chose the right one at the end of the day. Thanks again for such an amazing review!

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Zilla Babbitt
21:46 Oct 28, 2020

The hard work certainly paid off. I did love the winning one, I thought it was incredible the way the world was unfolded with almost zero exposition. And of course!

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Julie Ward
14:29 Oct 17, 2020

So many great lines in this story - you really know how to turn a phrase, Laura! I loved this story. A very well deserved shortlist. I hated Dr. Joshua. I was rooting for Rishi and her scrappy ale-sipping band of eco warriors the whole way through.

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Elle Clark
20:15 Oct 29, 2020

Thank you so much!

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11:08 Oct 09, 2020

How did I miss this story was shortlisted. Congratulations! This story was pure brilliance I knew you’d win

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Elle Clark
19:06 Oct 09, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Raquel Rodriguez
12:11 Oct 06, 2020

Oh my gosh, congrats! You were shortlisted, but you could've won! You totally deserved it! :)

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Elle Clark
14:26 Oct 06, 2020

Aw thanks! The winner was a deserving one though so I don’t feel too bad!

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. .
09:33 Oct 05, 2020

The title is so creative! The storyline was engaging at every sentence and the characters were likable (Kayla was my favourite because it was so heartfelt). Congrats on the shortlist it definitely deserved it!

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Elle Clark
11:44 Oct 05, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:49 Oct 02, 2020

Aw hey congrats! 🥳 At the rate you’re getting shortlisted you’re gonna win in no time!

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Elle Clark
15:50 Oct 02, 2020

Ha, thanks! Though ‘at the rate’ - the last time I got shortlisted was July! 😂

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:52 Oct 02, 2020

Ok that’s fair... though 4 stories out of 17 is a very good ratio I have to say

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Elle Clark
16:00 Oct 02, 2020

I’m not going to complain about it, that’s for sure!

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Elle Clark
16:00 Oct 02, 2020

I very much wanted yours to win though.

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Rayhan Hidayat
16:07 Oct 02, 2020

Oh you’re too kind ☺️ I’d rather see that trophy icon next to your name of course. It’s nicer when someone from the Reedsy family wins, instead of someone who submits one story, wins, and never comes back. Not that I’m complaining, it was a great story, but still.

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Elle Clark
17:41 Oct 02, 2020

I think this week’s story was a well deserved win and I’m not surprised it beat mine but I get what you mean. It’s always a little more exciting if you know the person. I was beside myself when Deidra won.

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Scout Tahoe
14:10 Oct 02, 2020

Congrats on the shortlist! I see this wasn’t your first, though ;)

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Elle Clark
14:15 Oct 02, 2020

Thanks! It’s been a while since the last one though so it feels like the first time! It’s also the first time since the shortlist was made public so this is my first experience of people congratulating me.

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Scout Tahoe
14:21 Oct 02, 2020

Okay. Well you should feel really happy because yours was picked out oh like 900 submissions! Congrats again. :)

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Elle Clark
14:22 Oct 02, 2020

Haha, thank you!

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Bob Ivey
13:52 Oct 02, 2020

Thanks for liking my story "The Cabin."

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Elle Clark
21:58 Oct 02, 2020

You’re welcome :)

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Jessie Nice
09:05 Sep 30, 2020

This story has an incredible rhythm, and really puts you in the character's mind for a few minutes - the continuous blurring of scenes and life-and-death moments, and the emotions you elicited from the reader through the horrific interrogation of this awful scientist, just fab. You are very talented. Loved this.

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Elle Clark
22:02 Sep 30, 2020

Thank you so much for a lovely comment!

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