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You stand in the loading dock of the local Mega Mart, where you work, before the great, white cargo door of the recently arrived transport vehicle.  The loading dock is lined a large, empty room, lined with shelves of neatly-placed, white boxes, each ready to be taken to another, more appropriate part of the stockroom.  The shelves tower over you and the other two people in the room.  One of them, your friend, bears a blue shirt with the name "Rhys" printed upon it.  The other person is a man in a white cap and jumpsuit that bears the name, "Bil", the transport driver.

Turning away from them, you stare at the cargo door in front of you.  The cargo transport at the loading dock held the store's daily shipment of computer supplies.  Optical keyboards, poly-film screens, micro 3D interfaces, all the things that the store ran out of in its day-to-day operation.  The transport was small, but essential to the computer supply and repair division of the local Mega Mart.  The name on your blue shirt reads, "Cym".

"Hey, Rhys!" you say.  "Give a hand with this lock, you're stronger than me."  Trying the door one last time, you strain against the lever lock that doesn't hint at moving.  The great, white cargo door stands strong, laughing at you with its persistence.

"Hey Rhys!" you say again and turn to find Rhys standing behind you, a lopsided grin on his face.  "You're right there."

"I was signing the driver in," Rhys says.  The voice he spoke with is soft, a vocal whisper.

Looking past Rhys, you see Bil, the driver, sliding the film that had taken Rhys' signature into its tube on his wrist.  His cap casts a heavy shadow over his face as he turns to watch the two of you.  "New driver?" you say, without taking your eyes off the man.

"Yeah," Rhys says in that quiet voice, "he doesn't like me."

Shifting your gaze back to Rhys you say, "He's just a driver."

The skin on Rhys' face is the pale white, the usual color, that always appeared different from your or anyone else's rosy cheeks.  His eyes, a lackluster blue paled when compared to your vibrant blues.  The brown hair on his head never seemed to grow, cut short and neat.  Your hair had always been difficult to manage, growing blond or brown in shaggy chunks before you realized it.  Rhys' lips were bone white.  They always had been.  Rhys never seemed to change.

Rhys takes in a long breath and holds it for a moment.  "I know," he says.  "It doesn't matter what he thinks."  You shudder as Rhys places a lithe hand upon yours, pushing away your meatier grasp.  His touch is cold.  Marveling at the slender arm, you watch as Rhys shows only a bit of effort in throwing the lever.  A dull thunk sounds through the loading dock as the lock releases.

"They haven't fixed it yet?" you say.

Rhys looks at his hands before replying. "They consider it cosmetic."

"Cosmetic?" you say.  "But why?"

Rhys crumples his hand into a fist, then stretches it out again.  "It doesn't hurt me any," he says.

You place a hand upon Rhys' shoulder.  His skin, where you touch, feels like cold, soft sheets of metal.  "But you can't function socially like that," you say.

"I can wear gloves," he says.

"Can you get it fixed?" you say as your eyebrows rise and your eyes narrow to search his pale, blue eyes.

Rhys turns to look at you squarely.  "It does hurt the cash card," he says while cracking a grin.  "Let's open this transport up and get it unloaded."  With a pull, Rhys opens the door.  The transport hold is an unlit box devoid of the white cargo boxes.  Empty.

"Hey, what gives," you say loud enough for the driver to hear.

You fall.  You can't feel your legs and your vision blurs before you can get a good look around.  As you fade into darkness, you hear a heavy thud.  It's the last thing you can remember.



You stood at the plate glass window, looking in at a steel, grey table.  Rhys laid upon it, his eyes open, but he didn't move.  Not even a breath.  The room behind the glass had only the table and a boxy machine.  A bright light shone from high above, casting the corners of the room into stark shadows.

An electric hum ran through the plain building.  You looked up at your father, standing beside you.  With his eyebrows pushed together and his chin jutting out, his face looked dark.  You were twelve.

After a while, you looked back into the room.  Men in white suits had gathered around Rhys, whose shirt had been stripped away, revealing his young, alabaster chest.  One of the men in white suits pressed a hand into your friend's chest and cut away the skin with a bright red beam.

Turning away, you looked up at your father with eyes that begged.  "What are they doing to him, dad?"

Your father looked down at you and moved his hand to the back of your head.  "That is why you two are different," he said, and turned your head back to look into the room.

"They're hurting him," you said, as one of the white men reached inside Rhys' chest and pulled out a long tube filled with a milky fluid.  Part of the tube was placed in the machine next to the table.  The milky blood was drained away.

"No," your father said.  "He's too old for his body.  He needs a new one to grow up a little."  He paused a moment.  "This is why you shouldn't be friends."

You pressed your face to the window, tears streaming down and leaving salty streaks upon the plate glass.  That had been twelve years ago.



"Cym?" a voice calls from very far away.  It is quiet and soft.  "Cym?  Can you hear me?  Wake up."  An engine whirs between the words.  The cold, hard floor quivers with movement.  Your eyes slide open, first one, then the other.  A dull light floats down but illuminates very little.  You are in a box that gets more clearly defined as you wake.  Your knees hurt and your jaw aches.  From the fall, you realize, and you remember.

"Rhys," you say.  Your voice is dry and dusty.

"Cym, you're awake," Rhys says from somewhere to your right.  "Can you move?"

Pain swells in your head as you struggle, turning first on your side, then up on your knees.  "Yeah," you say.  "It hurts."

"My legs aren't working," Rhys says.  "Do you know what happened?"

You finish sitting up, and drag yourself back against the wall of the transport..  Rhys' legs twist like a kinked chain.  The look on his face is squeezed.  His eyes dart back and forth as his breath flits in and out between his trembling lips.  Your head feels tilted, and the world seems slanted.

"The driver," you say.  "I think he hit us with something.  It was fast."

Rhys turned his head and locked his eyes on yours.  They looked grey in the dim light.  "He shocked us," he said.  "It hurt ."

"I didn't feel anything," you say.  "It must be the metal."

"Can you stand?" Rhys says.

"I'd like to wait a moment," you say.  "My head's still clearing."

"Hold my hand.  I'm scared," he says.  "I felt safe when my mom held my hand."

Taking the frigid hand in yours, you say, "I had a dream.  About when we were twelve."

"Yeah?" Rhys says.  "What about?"

You take a deep breath and say, "I saw it, when they opened you up."

"You never told me," Rhys says.  The whir of the engines builds in the silence after he speaks.

"Dad made me go," you say.  "It was supposed to be a lesson of some kind."  You turn to face your friend.  "He wanted to teach me that we were different.  He didn't want us to be friends."

There is a squeeze on your hand.  "I'm glad you ignored him."

"I was there all the other times too," you say.  "They wouldn't let me come in and see you.  I didn't think it was important to tell you until now."

"Why now?"

"I'm scared too."

"We'll get out of here," Rhys says with another squeeze.  "You'll see.  We have to."

"We don't even know where we are," you say.

"We have to do something," he says.  "Help me sit up.  I can't roll."

Taking a deep breath, you stand and grab onto Rhys' shoulder.  With a grunt and a swell of pain from your head, you roll him over to his side and onto his back.  "I forgot how heavy you are," you say.

"Maybe I should lay off the sugar cakes," Rhys says with a grin.  Then with his small, powerful arms, he lifts himself up into a sitting position.  Looking down at himself, his face darkens.  "My legs!  He beat them!" he says, then falls to his usual whisper.  "He bent and twisted them."

"What is it?" you say.

"Maybe he only wants me," Rhys sys.

You look about the truck and notice, now that your vision is clear, that the walls are streaked with long dried crimson and milky white.  You sit down.  Your mouth hangs open as if to speak, but only your breath comes out.

"What?" Rhys says.

You point to the walls.  "Blood.  Both kinds."

"How many times," Rhys says, trailing out.

"Rhys," you say and huddle closer to him.

"Cym, I want to tell you something."  He presses a cold cheek to the top of your hair.  You wait, not saying anything.  "I-" he says.

"Tell me," you whisper.

"I love you, you know," Rhys says.

"What are you talking about?" you say.  "Of course you love me.  I'm your best friend.  I love you too."

Rhys drew in a deep, sharp breath.  "No," he says, "I mean I love you."
"Oh," you say, letting the whir of the transport's engine fill in the space for a while.  "I didn't know you could."

"I'm human too," he says, "somewhere.  I still feel the same things you do."

Pulling away from him, you look into his shining face.  His eyes plead but his face is the same.  His mouth is a smile, the kind you give when you stub your toe.  "Yeah, I know," you say.  "But I didn't think you could.  You can't even, you know."

"No, I can't," Rhys says.  "But you can't either."

"It doesn't work for me.  I've tried it with guys and girls both," you say and then look down into your lap.  "They wanted to do things, but I just couldn't," you say.  "I couldn't.  I think there's something wrong with me."

"You're like me, in a way.  You can't," he says.  "I haven't got a choice because of the way I'm built.  You're the same way; we're just built differently."

"I suppose," you say.  "But that's how it works."

"Not for me.  Not for you.  Do you even want sex?"

"No," you say and lift your head to look at Rhys, "but everyone else does."

"I don't."  Rhys says and places a cold hand upon your shoulder.  "Cym, love isn't about that."

"We've known each other for eighteen years," you say.  "You're my best friend.  I've never felt the same way about anyone else in my life."

"You love me."

"I do," you say.  "I do love you.  I thought it was just because we were so close."  You take a deep breath in and look away from Rhys.  "I guess that's what love is."

The cold hand on your shoulder squeezes lightly and Rhys says, "It's what makes you happy."

The two of you sit in silence for a minute.  "I love you too, Rhys," you say.  "You've always made me happy."

"We've stopped," Rhys says.  The motor had been turned off for a few moments now.

"The door," you say.  "Can you open it?"

"I need leverage," he says.  "It depends on what the lock's made out of."

"It's an older transport," you say.  "Maybe it's steel."  You stand and move over to the blood-streaked door.  "Here, I'll help you."

With much more ease than you expect, Rhys moves his small frame over to the door.  You take a deep breath and then grab Rhys under the arms and pull with everything you have left.  The going is slow, but you manage to get him up to near the middle of the door.  A dull thunk is heard from the other side.

"Go," you whisper and Rhys pushes against the door.  You can feel his strength bearing down upon you as he pushes.

The door squeals open violently and resonates a clang as it strikes something.  You fall backwards and Rhys falls on top of you, a softened thud followed by a louder, dull one outside.  The driver, laying with blood pouring from his head, is still.  You push the heavy body off of you and wince at a pain in your ribs.  "Good?" you say.

"Go find help, Cym.  I'll be ok."
This is a story I've written for my disappointing Creative Writing class. Feel free to rip it to shreds. I'd like you to pay careful attention to characterization if you do decide to critique this piece. This is not likely to be the final copy.

-EDIT-
Many lines of this text have drastically changed as I move much closer to a final draft. this is still pending revision, but I am now much happier with the story. Again, feel free to destroy it with comments.
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:iconmidnyte-grimm:
Midnyte-Grimm Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2007
As I say every time I read you work, I think it's wonderful. I have only one thing to critique, When they have thier confession, it seems a bit jerky and abrubt. Maybe read it over and smooth it out a bit. But other than that, I really do love it.
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:icontygerwulf:
tygerwulf Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2007
Jerky as in how it transitions from the other parts or jerky as in the language they use during? I have been trying to work on clipped dialogue in this piece. Mostly because people, when they talk, use as few words as possible to say something. The word "yeah" can mean many different things, after all. I didn't do this, but in a book I just recently read, Creating Dialogue, the author told a student to limit what people say to five words or less. I liked where the dialogue went when this was applied. It seemed more realistic. If it's just the transitions, I can work on that. It's easy to work in a bit of transition here or there.
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:iconmidnyte-grimm:
Midnyte-Grimm Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2007
Jerky as in, it seems a little out of place with the rest of the story and it seems a little... I'm not sure how to phrase it... rehearsed in a way. Not as if someone was talking naturally. Bah, I'm bad at explaining things!
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:icontygerwulf:
tygerwulf Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2007
the word you're looking for is forced. I agree. And it's a little trite in a way. I was reading through the poor thing and mocking my own dialogue as I read it. I'm not sure if I'm going to change it much, though. I've tried to make it as realistic as possible while still giving some information to the reader. Some people would say I'm making my dialogue do too much, which I am, really.
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:iconmidnyte-grimm:
Midnyte-Grimm Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2007
Okay.
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:iconblobbikins:
blobbikins Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
Sorry, this isn't much of a critique, but I was just thinking about the second-person telling of the story. It's creative, all right, but I nearly didn't read it because of that. Or was it one of the criteria for this piece of writing? Just a suggestion - of course you can keep it in second person if you really like it that way, but I think it would do better in third. I hope you get some other opinions =P
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:icontygerwulf:
tygerwulf Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2007
Actually, all my writing is in second person at the moment. The reason for this is because I think that it is an underdeveloped writing style that I think needs to be used. One of the best examples of second person writing is the short story "Until Gwen" by David Lehane (In the June 2004 issue of Atlantic Monthly). It was the story to really get me interested in the second person form. I'm a beginner, and I will agree that it doesn't fit the style very well (the main character, Cym, isn't well fleshed out. This was done to protect gender identities which was essential to this project). Thank you for reading it, though. I will always encourage people to look past how something is written to experience it.
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