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ISOLATION (a horror novel, chapter 1)

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Rough draft of prologue and first chapter of book. I absolutely welcome criticism on this, especially nitpick like, so long as it doesn't attack me personally.




He received. He pondered. He knew. He left. He walked. He opened. He drove. He stopped. He ran. He found. He questioned. He realized. He cried. He ate. He drank. He slept. He recovered. He tested




I. Incubation


It all begins with a sound. Oh, not a sharp, succinct sound, but one that drools on with the benevolence of a soft degree, loud enough to barely be heard. Did I say it’s benevolent? Well now it’s not. The frequency goes high enough for me to say goodbye to the happy reveries I was basking in just moments before, gone for good. Just like my freedom and my respect. That much is made clear based upon where I’ve woken up in…or what I’ve woken up in.

The sheer darkness sends me into a panic already. The one source of light makes its presence as focus fills my sleep-driven eyes. It is an amber light bulb hanging from a noose-tight cord in the ceiling. I can only see that four walls enclose my space, nothing more. Or is it five? Three? I lose my focus. Suddenly the inside of my head is pounded with pain, hard enough for me to lose my train of thought, and then I scream. And it appears that the walls are closing in. I can hear them closing in. I scream again. And the sound gets louder. And then suddenly silence. It scares me too. I regain focus again, and from what I can tell, the walls are back to their normal positions, though I can’t entirely be sure. The bulb suddenly fritzes brightly for a second and then explodes. Blackness again for a second. And then the brighter lights come on. From the top of the ceiling, neon lights illuminate the room and portray my hell in which I have been brought in to. I can’t think straight. I can see that at least I’m still wearing the pajamas I had from…when? Last thing I can remember is falling asleep next to Eliza after we had said our peace about the divorce papers.

Oh good lord, I hope she’s ok.

The walls are filled with green wallpaper, a puke green. There’s a red door in front of me, and a window to my right. A red brick wall covers up the outside of the window completely. There are markings on the wall. As I read them, the words, in white graffiti paint, my heart skips a beat: “WELCOME THOMAS” my name clear as crystal. The thought that this might be just a horrible nightmare I’m part of becomes endangered, then extinct. Someone wants me here tonight. Or is it morning? Caring about it fails me, so I decide there’s nothing better for me to do than go through the door. I run for it by instinctual reaction.

I can’t go through the door. It’s locked.

I curse under my breath. Whoever did this wouldn’t make it easy for me, that much was certainly a fraction of reality. Whatever reality I can grasp at this point. So I begin to look around the room. Except for the smashed light bulb, I can’t seem to find anything of use to open the door. One of the bricks in the window suddenly pushes itself out from the wall and falls down to the floor, breaking the silence immediately with violent passion. This is where I can grasp 2 more fractions of reality: it’s still dark out, and it appears to be raining profusely. And there’s a piece of parchment paper inside the brick. I care not to look through the hole it made, for fear of someone watching me. But that fear is easily confirmed when I hear a beeping noise from above. I look up and realize that a small camera hangs on the wall opposite the one with the window, staring right in my direction. I stare back at it, and I hope it has audio recording. It would be a shame for the words to go to waste as I spew everything I can at them. After giving the camera a one-finger salute, I pick up the paper and read it. It says: You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or 2. And then I check my pockets. I see that in my left is a brass key which by logic should fit the door up ahead, and then in my right, a switchblade knife. I check the door, the key fits. I open the door, the knife at my side, and then I prepare myself for whatever lies ahead. And I swear on every living breath that I have that if whoever is behind this has done anything to harm Eliza or little Kathy, I will make sure that they lose everything and everyone dear to them. Then I’ll make them suffer until they’re hanging on the last threads of life, and then they’ll beg for me to kill them. I hope that’s not what’s happening to me right now…

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Very good. Despite a few run on sentences and minor grammar issues that you could easily see if you read this out loud a few times. Other then that pretty solid, and I find myself wanting more.


Also, the mentioning of the wife/daughter is a bit forced. It seems like you want to establish that but I feel it should be done more smoothly, it felt like this information wasn't really nessecary even though it may be a large plot point later on.


Another thing is that I personally don't want to read "blah blah blah, Or was it?" specifically the "or was it" type of phrase more then once a book. To me it seems very amateur and your story doesn't fit with amateur, so I would leave that out. SImply stating that your character doesn't know whether its dark or light out is fine, we already can assume that it could be the other when one is mentioned.


Showing us and not telling us is what makes a good story, and your story does a good job expect for a few spots.


Overall, look forward to more!

Man knows little.

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I'd say that you really need to rearrange your paragraphs. Merge some, add some. The general rule for well-structured academic writing (which I've been doing for a few years now) is that the first sentence of a paragraph introduces a new idea and then the rest of the paragraph explains this idea. I always felt that this is a very agreeable rule for fiction, too. Although, of course, in writing fiction you maybe should rather see it as a guideline than a set rule.

Next, I'm a fan of brevity. This, for example, should be one single sentence, if you ask me.

I can’t go through the door. It’s locked.

These two sentences seem rather redundant to me. But of course, with this being a first-person narrator, you can always say "That's just the way Thomas talks." Blame it on the integrity of the character, so to speak.

“WELCOME THOMAS” my name clear as crystal.

This. I would say that the message is completely sufficient, the "my name clear as crystal." is nothing but verbal dead mass.

Besides brevity I also promote directness. Don't say "one-finger salute." That's just an unnecessary euphemism.

All in all I got the feeling that the last paragraph was somehow not as refined as the first part. I don't know if it's just me, or if you wrote this one some time after the rest, or if you revised it (I assume you did that) at a different time, but the language there seems rougher (lacking a better word).


So much for my stilistic advice. Contentwise: seems like a quite familiar setting to me, "a guy wakes up in a strange room, leaves it and searches for answers." Though I have to say, I don't think you should change something about that. It is totally acceptable to do something old in a new, interesting way - and as far as I can see, you are on your way to do that. Novelty really isn't critical. So, keep up the interesting work and please do post some more of your work.


Wow, people studying literature always think they know what makes a good story...I'm sorry if all this came out a bit smart-assed.




I've never once regretted being a nasty, greedy, cold-hearted, avaricious money-grubber... conservative.

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Thanks for all the critique so far. I will take what you all said, and work with it. And no Simon, it doesn't sound smart-assed. I know people who are, and you aren't one of them. Oh, and the run-on sentences are part of the style. If you absolutely think I should change that, let me know.

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I liked the story and I'd like to know what happened next? a tough fight? A maze of corridors? More nightmare?? Mutants? :D


Especially that you have much more descriptions but they're not boring for me (so far :P )I never have patience for long descriptions, especially the static ones...... :roll:

Ross's girlfriend (IRL) Twitter: @AmazingMagda follow me! ^^to somewhere! ^^

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