Jump to content

Writing The Panopticon


Recommended Posts

[FONT="Arial"]A man walked in empty space.

That was all that could be said about his surroundings, really. There was a definite floor that he walked upon, judging from the slight shadow under his pacing feet, but whether there were walls or a ceiling it was difficult to say for certain. Even the source of the light that caused him to cast a shadow was uncertain; that it came from above him was obvious, but the where and what and how high were unknown.

The man didn?t seem to mind very much, or else he simply hadn?t noticed. Either way, he kept walking.

Where he was headed was yet another mystery. There were no landmarks to be seen in any direction around the man, nor were there any seams in the floor. This, coupled with the monochrome white of the landscape, served to render the concept of distance nearly obsolete. The space might have been infinite; or it might have extended for several miles outward, or several dozen yards, or twenty feet; or it might have only encompassed the area around the man. There was no way of knowing for certain.

The man seemed to know, however ? or else he had a specific direction in mind. Either way, he kept walking.

There wasn?t much to be gleaned from studying his appearance, either. His dress was as monochrome as the space in which he walked: a white tuxedo jacket with tails, like a concertmaster?s suit; white tuxedo pants; a white, five-button vest over a white dress shirt, both with white buttons; and glossy white shoes. His hands, thrust cuff-deep into his pants pockets, wore white gloves, though naturally one couldn?t tell. He wore no tie, and on his head sat a plain white fedora, without band or feather.

From the angle of his hat he seemed to be walking blind, as if his destination was coming to him, and not the other way around. His calm smile seemed to support the notion; his hat obscured his features from the bridge of his nose upwards, leaving any observers only the smile to guess his thoughts from. What could be seen of his hair was blond and neatly trimmed. Given this, and that his skin was a light shade of cream, it could be deduced that his eyes were most likely blue ? but, in concordance with his surroundings, there was simply no way of knowing for certain.

He passed a body. It was a young girl in appearance, with long pink hair, dressed in a peculiar, sleeveless black dress with a large bow between the shoulders, a pair of elbow-length kid gloves, and rounded heels laced halfway up her calves. The entire ensemble seemed more appropriate as Halloween-wear than as everyday attire, but the man in white wasn?t here to judge her on that.

The girl lay prostrate, her head tilted to one side, her face contorted in disgust and horror. The crusted blood in her hair around the base of her skull suggested a stab wound, and her vacant, milky eyes confirmed that she was dead. The man?s head shifted to his right as he passed her by; unconcerned, he kept walking.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Lillathica.[/FONT]

Another body lay to his left. This one was a boy ? also in black, though probably for different reasons. His hair was black as well, though the dye and hair gel were painfully obvious. Judging from the body?s ruined appearance, he, too, was dead, most likely from the multiple high-velocity impacts that had crushed most of his bones: blunt force trauma. If nothing else, this corpse was much more disturbing than the previous one.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Julian.[/FONT]

A field of bodies lay before him, and his pace slowed as he began to navigate carefully through them. Some were intact, such as the little Penelope Archess and the dark-humored Meredith Taylor. Some were mostly intact, such as the decapitated Claire Montoya. Some, such as the silent Angela Godspeed and the frantic Desmond Sykes, were mere skeletons, and others, like Oromis Tu?Wail and Etamet, were shown as they were before they died, since nothing had been left afterwards ? the second time, that is.

The man recognized all thirty-three bodies, and remembered how each had lived and died in the bloodbath ? literally, at one point ? that had been the Panopticon. His objective was not among the dead, though, and so he ignored them all, concerning himself only with moving around and through their uncannily preserved carcasses.

His objective was the only living thing currently in sight, and who happened to be resting on one knee by the partially dismembered corpse of Lucia Travera. The figure was that of a tall young boy of about twenty, dressed in a pair of loose-fitting blue jeans, black Wolverines, and a dark burgundy T-shirt. The shirt sported a very odd design: on the front was a less-than-typical Jolly Roger, whose skull wore a ridiculously tall mohawk and sat over a pair of crossed [I]trom[/I]bones; on the back was a large square outline that contained various names and nicknames, surrounded on the sides by the text ?THS BONELINE?, the years 2004-05 underneath, and on top, the bearer?s own moniker, ?Falcon?, chosen for no particular reason. (When pressed about it, he generally pointed to the third name on the list: ???.UH??.) He wore a thin black leather belt about his waist, with a simple silver clasp pulled through the last notch.

After reaching the boy, the man in white stood for a few seconds, examining his charge. Both of the boy?s arms lay on his raised left knee, and he appeared to be lost in thought as he studied Lucia?s body. He was a long person, and very slender, though his shirt and jeans served to mask the thinness of his build. His eyes were a light shade of bluish grey, and his dark brown hair was parted on the right and combed left, causing his bangs to swoop over his forehead. Currently, they swooped down about halfway, and he was most likely due for a haircut sometime soon.

The man spoke.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]You called?[/FONT]

The boy stirred at the sound. ?Yeah,? he answered, sighing. ?Just give me a minute.?

The man seemed amused.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Ever the empath, eh?[/FONT]

?Oh, come off it. I was just thinking, is all.?

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Of course.[/FONT]

The boy knelt for another moment, then rose to his feet. He stood slightly taller than the man in white, but neither seemed to feel oddly about the situation, since they apparently already knew each other. They surveyed the morgue around them.

?Kind of depressing, isn?t it?? the boy asked.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]You could say that.[/FONT]

?And so I did,? he retorted good-humoredly. ?But, I mean, look at this.? He gestured towards the remains of Delilah Rousseau: a charred cadaver, burned almost completely beyond recognition. ?That was just unnecessary. Of course, so were the seraphim, but still?.?

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]I know.[/FONT]

??yeah. You get my point. What a waste.?

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Ours is not to reason why?.[/FONT]

?Oh, don?t go quoting Tennyson to me.?

The man in white seemed pleased. The boy clasped his hands behind his back, and the two began walking through the field of bodies, the boy making comments about this person here or that one there, and the man listening, occasionally chipping in a thought or two, his gaze cast ever downward.

They stopped by a corpse near the edge of the collection. It was a cat, a small, pretty calico, whose head had been badly crushed. Her eyes hung disgustingly from their sockets, and her blood had pooled around her gaping mouth. The boy?s nose and brow wrinkled in disgust.

?Oh, for the love of Mike,? he said, sounding exasperated. ?[I]Do[/I] something about that, would you??

The man in white withdrew a gloved hand from his pocket and reached down. He stopped the movement just past the cat?s head and grasped something in the air, then jerked back sharply. There was a sound like a sheet of paper tearing, and just like that the calico was back to normal. Her side began to rise and fall, and her paws twitched, as if she were dreaming.

The boy knelt down next to her and stroked her head. Her eyes blinked open in response, and she pulled herself to her feet, stretching leisurely and yawning to chase away the sleep.

?Hey there, pretty girl,? the boy said quietly, running his hand gently down her back. ?Hey. How are ya? Feelin? better?? He scratched underneath her ears; she started purring loudly and began to circle him, rubbing against him as she came back by. She balked a little as his fingers reached for her nose, but after the first instant of contact, she arched her head into the caress. ?Oh, so you like that one, do ya?? He smiled. ?Yeah. I thought you might.? The boy continued to talk nonsense to her as he stroked her, while his companion watched silently.

?You know what else I think you?d like?? he asked suddenly as he scratched her between her shoulder blades. ?I think you?d like to be human again.?

The cat froze. She stopped purring, and her head turned to meet his gaze. It, like his voice, was quiet, but there was an intensity hidden in it that held her eyes there.

?You remember, don?t you?? It was a statement, not a question; the smile had faded from his face. ?I know you do. It?s like what happened to the Onlooker: you spend enough time as one thing, you start to forget what you were before. Like what happens when you grow up. I don?t remember ever being shorter than this, but I was at one time. Once, I couldn?t see over a shopping cart. Now I can see people?s bald spots at fifteen yards. The memory is there, isn?t it? It?s just a little fuzzy.?

The calico eyed him suspiciously.

?I had the Onlooker?s memories returned because I needed her to have them,? continued the boy. ?That?s how the trap worked: I played on causality to get her to overthink herself.?

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]The Oedipus problem.[/FONT]

?Exactly. Would they have broken their vase if the oracle hadn?t said anything?? Another statement.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]That was The Matrix.[/FONT]

The boy glanced at his comrade. ?Same scenario,? he explained. ?Prophecy, passing conversation; what is effect without the proper cause??

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Ah.[/FONT]

?I?m blithering.? The boy returned his attention to the feline. ?I want to do a little something different with you. See, the Onlooker?s problem was that she cross-classed, and I had to undo it.?

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Dungeons and Dragons?[/FONT]

?Kind of. But if I do with you what I had done with her,? he continued to the cat, ?you?ll lose the possible experience you?ll have if I leave you as you are. That, and you were mine first.?

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Uh-huh.[/FONT]

?Be quiet, you. No more comments from the Peanut Gallery. Anyway,? he went on, ?I?d like to do some things for you, but first I need to ask you again. I think I know what you?ll answer, but I?d rather ask anyway. Free will and what, ya know?

?The point is, would you like to be human again?[I]Brittany[/I]??

The calico studied him a moment longer, then opened her mouth. A tentative miaow came out.

The boy folded his arms on his knee, like his earlier position. ?Translation?? he requested.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]I?d say that was a yes.[/FONT]

?Excellent. I [I]had[/I] hoped, you know.? He closed his eyes. ?Do it like the others.?

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]You mean?[/FONT]


[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]As you wish.[/FONT]

The man in white snapped his fingers.

[CENTER]* * * * *[/CENTER]

For Brittany, it was an incredible sensation. One second, she was barely a foot off the ground on all fours, the next she was standing straight up, as if nothing had happened. She?d expected some sort of light, or for the man in white to make some elaborate motions or something, but instead she was just herself again.

?Is that it?? she asked incredulously, studying her hands. ?I?m just ? me again??

?Well, not really.?

Brittany looked up. The boy keeling in front of her was looking at her rather oddly, as if he was sizing up a job well done; it gave her the creeps.

?What do you mean, ?not really???

?Well,? the boy started, ?I didn?t really reverse the card?s effect. I just manipulated it to fit in with my own mythos. You?re not a cat anymore. But then, you?re not really [I]human[/I], either.?

Brittany sighed. ?Great. So I?m a catgirl now, right??

?Oh, come now,? the boy answered, grinning. ?Give me a little more credit than that. If you were a catgirl, you?d have that ridiculous feline speech impediment, nyah??


[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]He has a good point.[/FONT]

The boy?s grin turned devilish. ?Say it,? he urged. The man didn?t move. ?Saaaaaaaay iiiiit.?

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]?nyah.[/FONT]

Brittany giggled in spite of herself. The man in white seemed annoyed, but in a good-humored way.

?Da guy ain?t got no sensa yuma,? the boy said conspiratorially, in passable Cajun.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Ian Fleming, [U]Live and Let Die[/U].[/FONT]

??of course, that?d probably be my fault.? He coughed. ?Anyway, you?re now neither human nor animal, nor are you both. You?re a blend of the two. My own personal recipe,? he added with another grin, this time silly-looking.

Brittany wasn?t sure she understood. ?I don?t [I]feel[/I] different,? she said.

?Well, technically,? offered the boy, ?you don?t really remember what you used to feel like, so I?m not surprised. I mean, how often do you sit down and ask yourself what being human feels like?

?It?s kind of like being in the same room with a particular odor for a long time,? he explained. ?After so long, your mind gets used to the scent?s presence and you stop smelling it as strongly, or even at all. It?s the same with ?feeling human?. When you?ve been alive for twenty-odd years, or however long, you?re probably so used to being you that you don?t realize you?re you anymore. You take it for granted, to put it callously; you just don?t think about it.

He grinned again. ?You [I]are[/I] different, though. Outwardly you?re almost the same.? He stood casually, raising his right arm, and twirled his hanging fingers lazily through the air. A full-length mirror with a carved oaken frame spun into view beside him. ?Take a look.?

Brittany obeyed ? she couldn?t help it, really, since it had already drawn her attention with its sudden appearance.

She gasped at her first glance and took an involuntary step backwards, reaching a hand up to tentatively touch her hair; it was no longer flaming red, but orange, with a few odd-looking white patches here and there. Instead of hanging to her shoulders like it had before, it was now cut short, slightly closer on the sides than the top, with an edgy look to it.

Her mouth opened, but no sound emerged, and she stood rooted there, unable to tear her eyes away from her reflection.

?What?? asked the boy, now leaning on the mirror, his arm draped over its top. ?It?s just your fur. Besides, I think your eyes are cooler.?

She hadn?t even thought to look. But, indeed, her eyes were different as well: gold instead of green, slitted instead of circular.

Finally she found her voice.

?What am I??

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]V?nothrian.[/FONT]


?You?re V?nothrian,? the boy repeated. ?Or, as they?re known in common speech, and later in history after they?ve been pretty much forgotten, allamorphs. It?s Greek,? he informed her. ? ?Allasso?, for ?form? or ?shape?, and ?morfi? for ?to alter?, merged and appropriately modernized. It?s kind of like lycanthropy mixed with anthropomorphism.

?Bleah,? he added to himself. ?Say [I]that[/I] five times fast.?

Brittany almost spoke, but the man in white beat her to it.

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Yes. That means ?werewolf? and ?cat-person? in layspeak.[/FONT]

The boy sighed. ?Thank you. I was getting to that.?

?How does he do that??

The boy was visibly taken aback. ?I beg your pardon?? he returned, giving Brittany a blank look.

Brittany was looking at the man in white very strangely. ?How does your friend speak without moving his mouth?? she asked again.

?Hunh? Oh. That.? The boy?s brow furrowed. ?To be honest, I?m not entirely sure. I?ve never really thought about it.? He turned to the man beside him. ?Why is that, anyway??

[FONT=Freefrm721 Blk BT]Don?t ask me. [U]You?re[/U] the author.[/FONT]

?Right.? The boy looked unconvinced, and he raised his eyebrows tiredly. ?At any rate, we?re going speedily down a rabbit trail.

?That?s all that?s visibly different about you,? he said to Brittany, changing the subject very abruptly. ?Just your hair and eyes. You retain senses and traits proportional to your animal form, and you?ll end up developing some personality quirks relevant to your specific animal, but other than that, you?re a normal human.

He raised his hand before she could interrupt. ?You can also switch back to a feline with basically a thought. As a cat, you?ll only retain your human intellect and soul, and you?ll be a little larger than a normal domestic. In every other aspect you?ll be a regular cat.

?The shift itself will be instantaneous,? continued the boy. He grinned. ?None of that Animorph crap, with bones reshaping and fur growing and what. You?ll just be a cat, or a human. No inbetween.

?There?s also the matter of the half-shift, of course, which I have yet to fix an appropriate moniker to?,? he began, trailing off in thought. He shook himself. ?But you?ll no doubt find out about that on your own. You shouldn?t need [I]my[/I] help.

?That?s about it, really,? he finished, smiling abruptly. ?Sound good??

Brittany had tried her best to follow, but the boy had simply dumped too much information on her to adequately process, and so she voiced the only sentiment she could put words to.

?Why did you do this??

The question, oddly, failed to ruffle the boy?s composure.

?I was in a good mood,? he answered. ?Also, you were mine first, as I said earlier ? and I was given a convenient excuse. But really, I think I might be able to use you somewhere.?

He smiled again. ?But I?m kind of tired of making you so bloody nervous,? he said, spinning the mirror back into nothing. He started towards the bewildered college girl; he moved languidly, but quickly crossed the distance between them. ?I?m also tired of being here ? wherever here is.? He laughed: a short puff of air expelled from his nose. ?There?s no color. It?s boring.?

He placed an arm around her shoulder; she didn?t resist his touch, though she wasn?t sure why.

?Come on,? he said, starting to lead her off. ?I want to show you what I?ve got in mind. I think you?ll like it. We?ll get you back to campus first.?

The thought of other people startled her. ?But how am I going to fit in with other people like this,? she asked, indicating her hair and eyes.

?Oh, I think you?ll manage. Besides, you?ve always got sunglasses and contacts?.?

[CENTER]* * * * *[/CENTER]

The man in white watched them leave. His quiet smile hadn?t left his face since he?d arrived here, and it didn?t seem likely to vanish anytime in the near future. Thrusting his hand back into his pocket, he turned in the opposite direction that his charge had taken and began to walk away.

He didn?t think twice about the boy?s motives. He never did. His job was to be a conduit, a catalyst of sorts, or some rubbish like that that the boy had probably cooked up to sound deep and introspective.

The man walked in empty space. The boy would find him again; it was only a matter of time.


Right. This is what I saw almost immediately after reading [COLOR=DarkRed]SunfallE[/COLOR]'s Beast Card post; albeit, not exactly with a dead cat at that point. I hope you guys find this interesting.

Oh, and a note to [COLOR=DarkRed]BKstyles[/COLOR], and whomever else it may concern: Aleister Faust was modeled after the Man in White, in case the parallel strikes you. I found their appearances and most of their personalities to be similar, so altering to one to fit the other was a rather quick process. The history was a bit more fun, though. :animesmil

And, as always, criticism is much appreciated. (I [I]think[/I] I got all of the formatting right....)[/FONT]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
[SIZE="1"]Well I can't give much criticism seeing if that had any meaning behind it at all, I didn't know it. In terms of grammar etc., I'm not too hot at that myself either. But that was a refreshing change from what I've been stuck reading for the summer.

I liked it more as I went along but it felt like you went from no dialogue or monologue at all to nothing but. Not complaining because it fit fine. I got more into it because of that. :][/SIZE]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first line was intriguing, but the next sentence ruined it for me. I didn't read on. But I did gather, as I scanned through, that you use colloquialisms. Now, that [i]can[/i] be fine, but too many really aren't very interesting after a while. Actually, I'll read a bit and find you some examples. I've put the colloquialisms in bold.

"[b]If nothing else[/b], this corpse was much more disturbing than the previous one."

"That was [b]all that could be said[/b] about his surroundings, [b]really[/b]"

That one annoyed me the most. You [i]say[/i] nothing can be said about his surroundings, then go on to describe them in great detail.

"[b]Either way[/b], he kept walking."

"There wasn’t much to be gleaned from studying his appearance, [b]either[/b]."

You're making your own story sound boring with sentences like the one above. But, yet again, you go on to describe his appearce in detail.

"[b]literally, at one point[/b]"

With these colloquialisms, you are telling the reader too much. Can the reader not connote his or her own meanings from the word "bloodbath", especially given the tone of the story at this point?

"...he was [b]most likely[/b] due for a haircut [b]sometime[/b] soon."

Those really aren't needed. They distract away from what is being said, well, for me at least. In fact, forget the whole of that sentence. Perhaps have him say "I need a haircut" or even something simple in the description, "his hair was getting too long." Your decision.

"...nothing had been left afterwards – the second time, [b]that is[/b]."

You can get rid of the dash, and "that is" to change it into: "...nothing had been left after the second time." Perhaps you could tweak it a little because even that doesn't sound right. But you get what I mean? Add more intrigue by getting rid of superfluous clauses.

"The boy folded his arms on his knee, [b]like his earlier position[/b]."

Surely we'd understand that he'd done it before? Just get rid of the comma and say "again".

"Brittany almost spoke, but the man in white [b]beat her to it[/b]."

I don't care if Brittany [i]almost[/i] spoke. I do care that the man in white [i]interrupted[/i] her. Try that.

Those are all I will tell you about. I'm sure you get the jist of it by now. The opening of a story is crucial, and you caught my attention, then cast it aside again. Try to get rid of the obvious remarks - it will be a much more readable story. What confused me the most is that you mix all of the above with much better descriptions like

"The girl lay prostrate, her head tilted to one side, her face contorted in disgust and horror."

Your knack for visual description is good, but t's a bit too much of the same for me - you could extend the first paragraph; how does he [i]feel[/i] about his surroundings? What colour, if any, is this "empty space"? Does he feel anything, smell anything, hear anything? I think perhaps you need to pay more attention to the other four senses - you seem to have sight pretty sussed. [i]Can[/i] he feel anything?

I've just seen something else:

"For Brittany, it was an incredible sensation."

Wouldn't it be an "incredible sensation" for [i]anyone[/i] if that happened? This is more a grammar gripe. The "For Brittany" makes me assume, wrongly, that it would only feel incredible for her. Perhaps make it something like "An incredible sensation pulsed/shot/drove/ran/exploded through Brittany"? It would sound a lot better.

Other than all that, it is fine. It's an interesting story. A little far-fetched in places (I am a terrible realist when it comes to writing, I'm sorry!), but definitely good. I get what Sloth Girl means about the no dialogue to basically all dialogue. Perhaps you could change that. Also, I'm not sure if I like the man in white speaking without speechmarks. But then it is your story, and these kinds of things are out of reach of critique. Perhaps all of it is. Oh well - good effort, anyway!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[COLOR="Indigo"]I've been meaning to get around to this as well, and putting aside what the others said the first thought that came to mind for me was [U]Brittany is dead[/U]. :p That and though I lack the skills to explain why... I find it boring to read. Perhaps it has to do with what Break just explained. As well as wondering just who Aleister Faust was since you claim he's modeled after the Man in White. And I don't even know what you mean by Man in White either. Whatever that's referring to eludes me.

I get the feeling that what you like about this footnote to the Panopticon is something that only you really understand. So perhaps you could explain a little more about this Aleister Faust and Man in White reference? Since right now it looks like nothing more than a way to revive your character that died. *poke* Though at the time of her death she did technically belong to Darren. lol[/COLOR]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well to be honest, you'd be better at catching any grammar issues or inconsistencies than I would. :p I do have one thing to say though, considering what you wrote for the Panopticon, this is very, very dry. It lacks the pop that your other posts did. So though it was interesting, it was not gripping.

Sorry if I can't really put that properly into words. It just wasn't fun to read like say the battle you did where Cameron died or when you nailed Eliana with the puzzle trap. It was still a little interesting though. However I get the impression that the Man In White is a mystery, even to you.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...