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You're All Alone · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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It's Not Lupus
Another rainy, boring morning.

A clock chimes. The sky is covered in a ceiling of murky grey that is blocking out most of the sunlight. The trees around the place are barren of leaves, as organic balls of life and death poise overhead to clonk people out. The constant wind is the only real sound because there are no birds or crickets outside. The roads are wet from last night's rain and you can see no traffic.

You are house sitting in an old, lonely two story Victorian home. There is supposed to be a cat and a dog to take care of. These lovable nitwits are supposed to be stalking and hounding you, but they are not around anymore. You woke up to find them gone. Doors and windows? They're shut and locked. No signs or clues to where they have gone to.

Your sleek cell phone is off and will not turn on. The faded house phone has no dial tone. Turning on the smart TV just gets a no service message on the screen. The modem and router don't seem connected to the service provider. Nothing you try gets any of these devices to work.

Mystery and boredom.

There are old clocks in every room. These devices are all set to different times. Heat and lights still work, along with running water. Plenty of food and drinks on hand. Downstairs has a working radio. These stations come in alright and with a variety of sounds to listen to. There are two shelves of old books in an upstairs room. The book's titles range from cheap romance to pulp science fiction.

It's noon, you think. Still no sounds outside other than the wind. The stove works and you have made a meal out of the contents from a can. Listening to the radio you notice none of the stations have advertisements or announcers. No talk radio either. Many of these songs are strange to you. These musical distractions start off fine, but the lyrics are weird. Hard to explain but its harmony doesn't seem to be there.

The books bother you more so and it is not because the genres themselves don't interest you. It's because the stories start out normal, but the words on the pages start making less sense. Also the letters themselves further into the pages become harder to make out. They are either blurry, smudged or missing out right. The end of the books just have blank pages. When you come back to a book that you've put down, the cover title and picture has changed slightly.

You're out.

All the wall clocks have stopped now. You are not getting paid enough to watch an empty weird house in the middle of nowhere. In fact, you can't recall who is paying you. The sky is partly cloudy as the sun is sinking into the horizon. You leave the house and get into your vehicle. Expecting it not to start up, but it does. You pull out of the driveway as the trees drop little presents on top of your roof. The wind picks up even more as you watch the house in your rear view mirror. It fades into the distance. Ahead is harvested fields of corn, but you don't see any other houses.

For long minutes you drive in silence. The radio doesn't pick anything up. Not even static. The clouds cover the sky as night is here. There are no road signs nor other roads to take. Minutes turn into an hour before you see something other than the outlines of the fields. There is a light in the distance. You don't think it's too far away as you get closer to it.

Rain starts to fall heavily but you are almost there. It seems to be a two story house. By the style it looks Victorian with trees surrounding it. You pull into the driveway as walnuts drop onto your vehicle's roof. Getting out of your car, you hurry to the house's door. Knocking on it proves no answer in return. Tired and sleepy, you open the door. Greeting you is a clumsy dog and skittish cat. A clock chimes inside.
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#1 · 1
Yep, saw the ending coming as soon as he left the house.

A few editing things, but nothing major. I do think if you're going to do something nonstandard with a story, like the second-person narration, it's best to establish that in the first paragraph, if not the first sentence. As it is, there's a bit of a jolt when I've read through a couple of paragraphs of what seems to be third- (or possibly first-) person narration before I hit the first "you." Present tense is a bit nonstandard too, but you do establish that up front, as an example. Though that'd be a much harder thing to mask, if you were doing it intentionally.

Anyway, there's not really a plot here, as it's all about establishing an atmosphere, and it does that pretty well. It was definitely unsettling, and in that kind of story, escalation is important. You do that well, too, with things only slightly wrong at first, leading to more and more outlandish things going wrong. I would encourage you to go for all the senses, as that provides a more complete experience for horror or weird fiction. You're mostly focused on how things don't look right, and a little on sound, which are the two major ones that stories in general tackle, but add in how things don't quite smell, taste, or feel right, either. It can dramatically ramp up the atmosphere, and you were perfectly set up to do some of that with him eating dinner, but you let that opportunity slip by without making anything of it.

Very minor thing, but it had me wondering how many times he's been through this loop, since nothing's said about the car being low on gas, but a smart way to get around it would have it be an electric car that he plugs in upon arriving at the house each time.

And one last thing: what convinced him he was house-sitting? Maybe he actually was and the person who hired him has drawn him into a trap, intentionally or not. But something gave him that impression, so it would make sense to renew it at the end, where the pets greet him, and have him recall some vague memory of arriving there for that purpose.
#2 · 2
· · >>Pascoite
This is a fun story. There has already been a round which invited the contestants to write this sort of circular stories. I remember it clearly, because it was the round I wrote The Postman, which was my first Writeoff medal :) [and even Cassius loved that story.]

That being said, the setup is nice, and you do a good job of breathing in an eerie atmosphere, though we never know really why the decor seem to be slightly shifting, or why everything steadily moves out of place. Neither do we really know why the ‘you’ decides to stop at the first house it finds on their way, rather than pushing on further. But those are details.

The second person narrative threw me a bit off, because I can’t really identify with the narrator. Contrarily to Pasco, I have no qualms about the use of the present tense, which I think gives your story more presence. On the other hand the lonely line ‘Mystery and boredom’ sounded, well, out of place. I'd sooner you didn't put it there.

Barring that, quite enjoyable!
#3 · 1
· · >>Monokeras
I didn't have an issue with the present tense. i was just saying that if you're going to do something nonstandard like second-person, then make it immediately clear that's what it is. And as present tense is somewhat nonstandard, then also make it clear up front that's what the story is using, but that one takes care of itself, since... well, try not to make it clear up front that it's in present tense. You'd have to write fragments that don't contain verbs. It'd have to be done very deliberately. It might even be an interesting exercise to write a present-tense story that masks as long as possible that it is present tense.
#4 · 1
Indeed. That’s something I shall remember and try to implement in a future round!
And I apologise if I slightly distorted your comment.
#5 · 2
I had fun reading this. Claustrophobic application of the second person. I had to re-read once before catching that the passage of time is the chief mechanic. I think the title refers to a meme, but I’m not familiar with it, so it detracts from a story which otherwise has nothing extraneous to it.