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Madison [PG]


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You can still taste the pepper spray in the air.

It's a few hours after midnight, the day before Halloween. Two, three o' clock in the morning, but you'd never guess it. The street is lit up bright as day from the giant ballpark lights they brought in for the weekend. Policemen dressed in full riot gear march up and down the street in formation. No one speaks, and you can hear the rhythmic stomping of the police, the hum of the giant lights far above the street.

You stare at the marching police force. Inhuman faces look straight ahead, features hidden and distorted by gas masks. One turns to look at you, and you catch your breath, only relaxing when he passes by, uninterested.

"Like Stormtroopers," your friend whispers. He's drunk, but he's right. [i]Pack it up, Luke, the Empire won. [/i]

The street is eerily empty. Eerily quiet. Just goddamned [i]eerie[/i]. Fuck.

Two hours ago, you wouldn't have recognised the place. State Street. Fucking [i]State Street[/i] on Halloween night. You'd never seen so many people in your life. Every mother's son in costume and hittin' it hard. The colors, the costumes, the sounds--you spent two hours being stepped on, pushed against, yelled at, and groped by hundreds of happy drunk people dressed in costumes to make Lon Chaney weep. Out-of-towners, out-of-staters, come to riot for Halloween.

And riot they did.

It isn't that no one tried to stop them... and things did go smoothly for a while. All the precautions seemed to have worked. No glass bottles allowed. No open alcohol. Mounted police officers, enough to storm San Juan Hill. And a pedestrian police presence that put all others to shame. Officers standing around, working the corners, standing in clusters watching the drunken parade. Dressed in black, industrial-size pepper spray at their sides, each equipped with a dozen plastic hand restraints and sporting a blue-and-red blinking badge.

That was how you could tell the real police officers from the revelers. The costumed wannabe police didn't have light-up toy badges.

...Admit it. The night was surreal from the start.

Arrests began early in the night. You watched crying 90-pound girls, hands locked behind them being escorted off the street by police officers--six riot-ready bouncers to every bent-winged, glitter-smeared fairy or angel.

Belligerent drunken frat boys got arrested, too, of course. But those didn't catch your attention like the stumbling anorexic girls with the tear-streaked make-up and glitter. You wonder, briefly, what they did wrong... but your mind doesn't stay on it for long. Like everyone else, you're here for a good time. Seeing, and being seen.

The stadium lights flood the street with light, effectively blinding everyone who's unfortunate enough to have forgotten their sunglasses. The ones wearing sunglasses can't see the horse shit in the middle of the road and walk through it, spreading it through the street. Why did they decide to have mounted police officers in a crowded street?

The world reeks of alcohol and horseshit.


Not exactly finished... I'm really tired, so I stopped writing. Might finish it later. Kinda started out as something with an ending, but I don't think my original ending would fit, since this kinda went in a different direction than I thought.

Madison's a fun place to be on Halloween.

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It does feel different from beginning to end. In the opening paragraphs, it seems like your focus is on the occupation quality of the entire scenario; for example, the Stormtroopers, marching, riot gear, gas masks (I love the feel of that, incidentally. Half-Life 2 has a similar vibe. Very effective.), etc.

And I think "The street is eerily empty. Eerily quiet. Just goddamned [i]eerie[/i]. Fuck" is where that occupation tone changes.

After "Two hours ago, you wouldn't have recognised the place", it's no longer about some militaristic, alienated, quasi-governmental soldier occupation anymore. It's now about the chaos of a riot, with the police making arrests and such.

When that focus changes, we lose the occupation dynamic, I think, because the way I see it (and I take it you kind of see it the same way), an occupation is only an occupation when the streets are deserted, and if your ending is presumably based on the idea of an occupation (which would make sense, given the narration in the beginning), then once the tone changes...that ending won't make sense.

At times, it almost seems like there are two stories going on here. The first is the alien-esque occupation. The second is the chaotic riots.

But I think those two elements can still work together very well. There are some fantastic visuals (especially the glitter and make-up tears, the bent wings, etc), that really need to be utilized. To ignore them would be a crime, methinks, because those 90-pound girls are a major focal point to the entire event.

In many ways, they're what makes the juxtaposition work so well. It's Riot officers vs 9th-grade girls, essentially. I'd like to see what you could do with that angle, because what better wake-up call to those obnoxious little girls than getting handcuffed?

I get the feeling that the story is reversed. The focus isn't the occupation, necessarily. The focus is the dichotomy of the wannabe and the police. The occupation works as an opener, but the horseshit distracts from what really grabs the reader: Tweeny girls getting arrested, handcuffed, with tears smearing their glittery make-up.

It's a slap in the face to children who try to grow up too fast.

And what is Luke, by the way? For all intents and purposes, he was a child who had to grow up real fast. There's a parallel to those 90-pound fairies, isn't there?

Take that theme and run with it. See where it goes. I think that's your story right there: kids growing up too fast.
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Thanks for your input, Alex. I agree that direction you're talking about would be the best to keep going along (which is kind of frustrating, because it's not what I expected to happen, heh). And rereading it, it all seems kind of disjointed to me. I did write it right before I fell asleep, though, so I didn't bother going through and polishing at all. Maybe I should have.

But maybe not. I kind of like the raw feeling it has to it.

Anyway, originally I was going to cut back to the empty street scene again, this time, focusing first on the more human remnants of the chaos--pieces of costume on the street, jewely, more glitter, litter and trash--and then go briefly back to the "occupation" theme (really just touching on it) before closing it off with some brief interaction between the narrator and maybe a fairy/angel girl who's also watching the military parade.

I don't know if I'm going to come back to this at all. I think I mostly just wanted to get it out--I did go to Madison last weekend, and it was quite an experience, one I really wanted to write something about. I've been trying, and I really can't get back into the mindset I want to write this.

When and if I do, though, I'll definitely keep your suggestions in mind.
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