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Nine Minutes
morrigan
incommune
RIGHT UNDER THE GUN. Challenge for Brigit's Flame. Spec fic. 733 words. This is a concept for the end of a longer story. It's loose, but I couldn't get it to gel in complete form before the deadline and I'd rather write something than nothing so here goes, and let's hope I have more of it in the next week, eh?


Naome took a last, mindful breath of the thin, slightly electric-tasting air. It made the inside of her lungs prickle the way her legs used to after a marathon storytelling session with her grandfather. She closed her eyes and depressed the toggle on the detonator cartridge.


With hands shaking as the frantic adrenaline of the descent off the giant Triministry monolith swamped into exhaustion, she reached into her shirt and drew out the old pocket watch.

The old man's name was inscribed on the domed inside of the door. 'Wilson Curtis Dawes'. It was a gift from his father on the completion of his doctorate in temporal physics and engineering. Around that, a ring of numbers hugged the rim. Pa Wilson had never told Naome what anyone else thought the numbers were, only the truth of them. The frequencies that would destabilize the temporal field that kept the city of Wetherwen frozen against the entropic effect of time's movement.

She didn't need the watch in order to program the subsonic vibrations into the Triministry sensors. She'd known the sequence by heart for millions of years. Having brought it along on her endeavor was like having Pa Wilson with her at every step; he had taught her everything and when the Ministry officiators finally caught up with his dissension of the cause, they killed him, but never suspected his little girl.

Naome didn't remember her life before she was brought into the city. The Wetherwen program had perfected that, working with foster and adoption agencies Outside to bring undesirable children Inside where they could have a new start, and some family in the city could have a child. A child, forever.

She caught sight of her wavy reflection in a fountain that draped a fine sheet of water over the smooth edge of a lifted bowl. Flawless, prepubescent skin, a diminutive stature that lent some ease to the daring climb up to the top of each Triministry monument where she could access the sensors.

The metal taste on the air started to change, the tingle climbing her throat into her tongue. Naome's hands wouldn't stop shaking. With some difficulty, she wound the watch. The hands didn't flinch, its white face captured in snowy stillness.

Her tongue throbbed, as well as the tissue of her eyes. Citizens of Wetherwen began to crowd out of doorways with curious expressions bending their untouched faces. Some she recognized. Many. Living a thousand years in a place will make too much of it familiar, even with the artificial orchestrations of a watched society.

The light began to change. All the faces looked upward to the silver sky. Naome looked at them, saw the blue begin to be reflected in their irises. A whole nation, condensed into one city under the banner of their fear of death.

The watch started to tick in Naome's hand. It trembled for a moment, its inner mechanics kicking against itself, nine minutes to the twelfth hour. She pressed it against her cheek and listened. Even so tender a sound as the gears gently meeting within the metal case half drowned the sound of screaming that filled the air around her.

A man fell at her feet, his flesh dissolving like damp ash, his bones whitening. Naome stepped back from another pair of clawing hands before they rotted away. The light became infinitely brighter, the first rays of sun to shine into Wetherwen for nine hundred thousand years. Another minute ticked by on Pa Wilson's watch. Every inch of her skin burned; she felt like the light was tearing her asunder.

Another minute. Each tick of the watch was slightly closer than the last. Above her, behind her, she heard the great moan of the Triministry behemoth starting to decay. Against the shattering horizon, Triministry Three began to sink into itself under its own weight. Another minute. And another.

And then, Naome couldn't count the seconds anymore. She sank to her knees, exerting the last of her motor control to hold onto the watch, to keep it pressed against her cheek.

“Grandfather,” she worked the word out on her heavy tongue. “Grandfather, I did what you instructed me to do.”

The eternal city collapsed. The last thing she saw was something she felt as though she remembered from a dream that fled her on waking, a blue sky opening above where she lay.

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This was really well-written. I enjoyed this story.

The imagery here was well done. I could imagine some of the changes that were happening at the end.

This was a very interesting piece. I would love to see the longer story.

Hi, I'm Ashleigh and I'll be one of your editors. c:

This story was rather genius. I just want to drool a bit over your imagery, because it's fantastic. You have a really great way of describing things, as well -- this scene was very clear in my head. There are several sentences -- the last one especially -- that are very profound. I loved the way that you incorporated the week's theme; it was very creative. I really liked Naome's character and her history; the only thing that bothered me about her is that I wanted to know more!

"It made the inside of her lungs prickle the way her legs used to after a marathon storytelling session with her grandfather."

I had to reread this sentence a few times because the mention of her legs prickling paired with the word "marathon" made me think of her running a marathon rather than listening to -- or perhaps telling -- a lot of stories. It isn't a big deal, really, but it may save your readers a bit of confusion if you reworded it a bit. c:

"With hands shaking as the frantic adrenaline of the descent off the giant Triministry monolith swamped into exhaustion, she reached into her shirt and drew out the old pocket watch. "

I noticed in a few places that your story became a bit wordy. This can easily be fixed by simply rereading your story -- it helps me to do it backwards sentence-by-sentence. This particular sentence is an example.

Other than that, there were a few minor things that confused me. Naome has known the sequence of numbers inside of her grandfather's watch for millions of years, but it seems that she was brought into the city as a child and she doesn't remember any of her life before that. Later in the story, you write that she's only been there for a thousand years. How would she have remembered the sequence if she didn't remember anything from before she moved to Wetherwen? Also, you mention adoption agencies -- I'm assuming she didn't get taken to Wetherwen after her grandfather was killed, because she wouldn't remember him at all, so was she with him when she moved there, and then adopted by a family after he was killed?

Overall, this story was truly epic. I would love to read more about Naome and the world that you have created. Keep up the good work! c:

Hey, thanks! I'm glad at least the imagery came through clearly, because really, I was just throwing as much of the concept into this as I could get down because I had the half-formed story in mah brain but wanted to enter it anyway. It's really a much longer thing, wherein I hope a lot of that will be explained (the biggest example - which I didn't even realize I hadn't mentioned here - was that her 'grandfather' is part of her adoptive family IN Wetherwen >.<). It's good to hear the major things that were confusing about this slap-dash end-scene, because that will help me focus and remember what I need to keep as clear points throughout the thing when I open it up and flesh it out. I get so lost sometimes XD.

Thanks again, glad you enjoyed it!

Hello, I’m your second week three editor!
The previous editor made a lot of good points that I agree with, and I tried not to repeat them with my suggestions.



“With hands shaking as the frantic adrenaline of the descent off the giant Triministry monolith swamped into exhaustion”
-I read this sentence several times and I still don’t feel like a understand it; could it be simplified or rephrased?

“Pa Wilson had never told Naome what anyone else thought the numbers were, only the truth of them.”
-This sentence too I think could be rephrased and made more clear. Maybe you could say something like “Many people thought they knew what the numbers meant, but Naome only knew the truth Pa Wilson had told her.”

“Having brought it along on her endeavor was like having Pa Wilson with her at every step; he had taught her everything and when the Ministry officiators finally caught up with his dissension of the cause, they killed him, but never suspected his little girl.”
-I suggest breaking this up into sentences to make the reveal more powerful: “Having brought it along on her endeavor was like having Pa Wilson with her at every step. He had taught her everything. When the Ministry officiators finally caught up with his dissension of the cause, they killed him, but never suspected his little girl.”

“Even so tender a sound as the gears gently meeting within the metal case half drowned the sound of screaming that filled the air around her.”
-Since “sound” is repeated here, I think you could safely take it out and just have “...half drowned out the screaming that filled the air around her.”

“A man fell at her feet, his flesh dissolving like damp ash, his bones whitening.”
-This is a vivid, poetic image you’ve created.



And that’s all I have! I thought this was a dark but beautiful piece and it was a pleasure to read. Hope the edit was helpful! Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it.

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