Cyberspace Open: Immortal Flesh

Time’s up, pencils down! The writing part of round one is over; now the waiting part begins. As I did last time, I have posted my entry below. As with last time, there are a couple of lines I’d like back. One of them I tweaked about a hundred times, read out loud in Igon’s voice, fiddled, twisted, and never got right. In the harsh light of morning I realize that when that happens it’s not usually the words causing trouble, but the idea they are trying to represent. Igon’s just not saying the right thing just then.

There are a couple of places where I flirt with As-You-Know-Bobs — things people say to each other that they both already know as an artificial way to inform the audience. They wouldn’t be necessary if this scene had the context of the larger story around it, but I think here they work to provide needed information about the core ideas in the story.

For your remindification, here’s the prompt that all challengers were to write to:

Your protagonist is crushed. His or her plans have been dashed; his objective now appears impossible. And yet if he throws in the towel, bad things will happen. Write a scene in which a mentor, friend, love interest or enemy rallies or provokes your protagonist in an unexpected way. Be sure to give us your best dialogue here as your protagonist comes around and rises – or falls — to the occasion.

And here’s what I did with it. Enjoy! (Warning: there’s a bit of foul language ahead.)

DEEK (26, slender, scruffy) slumps on his barstool, toying idly with an empty longneck. The bar is dim, neon lights splash reds and blues about. There is no one else sitting at the bar.
Deek catches the bartender’s eye and raises a finger. The bartender shakes his head.
I think you’ve had enough.
I’m not even buzzed.
The bartender glances at Deek’s tab.
Dude, you’ve had ten beers.
Then you better bring me something stronger.
Tough day, huh?
Deek is starting to lose it, holding back tears, clinging white-knuckled to his empty. The bartender nods.
OK, gimme your keys and I’ll let you have another.
Deek snorts and reaches into the back pocket of his jeans. He pulls out a card and slaps it on the bartop with a bang.
What’s this?
It’s my fuckin’ bus pass. I’m a fuckin’ superhero and I don’t even have a fuckin’ car.
The bartender steps back; the camaraderie he was trying to foster is broken.
What’ll it be?
You got any rat poison?
The bartender laughs nervously and wipes down a section of bartop.
Probably wouldn’t kill me anyway. Just gimme another beer.
The bartender pops a longneck and sets it in front of Deek.
And for you, sir?
Deek wheels and discovers a man sitting next to him. A vampire. Igon is withered but healthy, impeccably dressed. Deek leaps off his stool, landing gracefully while the stool clatters to the floor.
That’s it, buddy, you’re done.
Deek is trying to control his breathing, never taking his eyes off the vampire. Igon touches the bartender’s arm. He looks directly into the bartender’s eyes.
It’s all right. I’ll have whatever passes for Scotch in this place. One for my friend as well.
(to Deek)
I’m just here to talk.
I think I should be going.
Don’t be foolish. If you leave, you force me into actions we would both rather avoid.
Igon takes the two highballs and heads to a table in the corner. Hesitantly Deek picks up his stool and retrieves his beer. He follows to where Igon is seated. He hesitates.
If I wanted you dead, you would be dead already.
Deek nods and slides into the chair opposite Igon. He accepts his drink, sets his beer next to it. They sit in silence for a moment.
So, talk.
Igon smiles apologetically. His tone is grandfatherly.
Forgive me; it is easy to forget how you mortals hear the ticking of a clock in every heartbeat.
He sips from his glass, finds the Scotch adequate.
I have two problems, Mr. Kramer. You are one of them.
You have my sympathy.
You are also a potential solution to my other problem.
Is your other problem a vampire?
Igon smiles. Deek has seen right to the heart of the matter.
Yes. A very old, very powerful vampire. My only true rival. I would like him dead.
Why don’t you do it yourself?
We each have an aura, Mr. Kramer. A vibration. A smell. When you absorb the power of another vampire you inherit traces of that aura as well. I can hardly appear in council reeking of a vampire who has gone missing. I can already smell that French bastard Henri on you, and you still have a lot of him left to consume.
Igon leans in, a dangerous fire in his eye.
Vampires believe they are immortal, Mr. Kramer, but you and I know the secret. We have taken the power of others and made it our own.
Deek’s eyes widen as he realizes that Igon has eaten the flesh of other vampires.
Don’t look so shocked, boy. This is about power.
If I kill this guy, what’s in it for me?
I will allow you to live.
Deek stares down at his hands on the table.
You’ll have to do better than that.
Well, then, let us haggle. What would you like? Wealth? Power?
Igon grins and lowers his voice conspiratorially.
Fernando has an impressive harem. Very talented. You could choose one for yourself, with my compliments. Your very own vampire concubine.
I want Jody back.
The girl you killed?
It was an accident!
It was careless.
Igon narrows his eyes, measuring Deek.
How would you feel if your girlfriend were a vampire?
You can –
Igon raises his hand, forestalling Deek’s question.
I don’t know. It has never been done before. But I am a man of science. The idea intrigues me.
Igon thinks through the intricacies of the operation.
It would probably kill the vampire who attempted the conversion.
Deek’s new hope is crushed. Igon smiles and pats his arm.
No cause for worry, my boy. I always keep an extra vampire or two around for just such contingencies.
You would still have one problem.
A cogent observation. Luckily for you, I have many enemies. As long as I can trust you to kill only the vampires I specify, I can make sure you have plenty to eat.
And Jody? You’ll help her?
What if I did? If your friend were hungry, would you help her hunt? Would you murder a human to help a vampire?
Deek swallows but finds the answer.
Igon leans back and smiles warmly. He raises his glass.
To a long and productive partnership.
Deek picks up his own glass, gestures, and drains it.

5 thoughts on “Cyberspace Open: Immortal Flesh

  1. Conspiratorially — love the idea, dislike the word, can’t think of a better one. It’s a big and clunky word that my eye doesn’t parse well. It breaks reading momentum and probably does more harm than good in most cases. Yet… that’s what I want to say.

    We need a new word that means this, but itself evokes whispers in dark corners.

  2. I stopped by here last year, Jerry, and I’m glad to see you took on the Cyberspace Open again this year.

    I really enjoyed the scene, which is a compliment considering I’ve tired so much of the vampire genre. But you certainly have brought a fresh take to it. I don’t know why, but I pictured Deek as the actor who plays Sawyer from LOST.

    I do see what you mean about the as-you-know-Bobs, but I didn’t find them to distracting. When you’ve only got one scene to establish the characters, you’re bound to work some of that in.

    The only real nitpick (and it is a nitpick) I have with this scene is that you didn’t name the bartender. I know he’s a minor character, but I think naming him would have helped to personify him a bit more. Also — and this is something I struggle with — you described Igon right off the bat as a vampire. Of course, a viewer of the film wouldn’t instantly ascertain this, but you do a good job of giving Igon that aristocratic, sophisticated vampire feel at any rate.

    Good job, and best of luck advancing to the next round!

    • Hi Daniel, thanks for dropping by again, and especially thanks for the feedback. I was hard-up against the five-page limit and I cut out a bit where Igon flashes his teeth for Deek’s benefit. In the actual story it would not have been necessary (Deek has some sensitivity to the vampires’ auras), but in this scene you are right, that instant identification is out of the blue.

      A nice short name for the bartender might have saved me a line, as well as help solidify the ghost behind the bar.

      Not sure if you’re participating this time, but if so, good luck! Drop by again and let us know how you did.

  3. Much better than the one I threw together. My mind kept getting stuck with sports cliche moments as my scene and I had a difficult time getting it out of my head.

    Was this the line you had trouble with? “Don’t be foolish. If you leave, you force me into actions we would both rather avoid.”
    It stands out to me as being not quite right. Maybe a “it might be the last thing you ever do” line or something a little more subtle?

    I got lost with the “I can already smell that French bastard Henri on you, and you still have a lot of him left to consume.” Was there another line or group that was cut and I’m missing something or is your writing just flying over my head?

    I don’t see you getting under a high 90s score and breezing into the next round. Nice work with something different from the vampire topic. Had me picturing a True Blood type of thing but less soapy and more futuristic, Blade Runner esque. Good Luck

    • Thanks! Igon’s speech is a pretty long thing with lots of information in it. I had “eat” instead of “consume” and while that communicated to the audience better, it just didn’t feel Igon-like. I probably should have just left off the last phrase. “I can already smell Henri on you” does the job.


      Given a little more space I could have done something like:

      Igon: I can already smell Henri on you. Have you even eaten his spleen yet? Or his heart?
      Deek: No.
      Igon (smiling wickedly): I expect you’re saving his testicles for last, aren’t you?

      That would have had some pretty good impact, don’t you think? Plus it allows Deek to break up the big speech. Probably would have been worth removing something else to fit that in. Which just goes to show there’s always room for improvement.

      Thanks for your vote of confidence! It would be awesome to move to the next round.

      (Note: I deleted a duplicate of Yukfoo’s comment. I think the thing I have that updates Facebook when there’s a comment here has a bug.)

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