Story #4: Ben Knapp

The Visitor

 

 

“Ready weapons.'

 

“Approaching drop site.'

 

“Sir, is this your stop?'

 

Leonard woke up with a start. He reached for his laser, and then stopped. Of course, he didn’t carry a laser anymore. He was on the grav-train, heading home. When the light on his chair had turned green, he stood up and headed towards the exit. His prosthetic hand fumbled with the handle of the door. His doctor had told him that the hand had twice the strength of a normal human hand, and yet he somehow couldn’t make it open a simple latch. Someone behind him cleared his throat loudly, and Leonard quickly opened the door with his other hand.

 

After leaving the baggage claim, Leonard checked his watch. It was getting a bit late, and he wanted to arrive before dark. He placed his left hand against the scanner plate, and waited for his suitcase to come out of the slot in the wall. To his surprise, the slot slid open almost immediately, allowing him to pull his case out and continue on his way. Obviously, the station had made some improvements since he was gone.

 

After leaving the station, Leonard walked briskly over to the screen by the sidewalk, trying to relax. He was done with his military service, and he was going to enjoy his civilian life as best he could. Once he had reached the screen, he scrolled through the various options, and selected the taxi icon, fumbling a little, as he was still using his left hand.   He then placed his suitcase on the ground beside him, and let his mind wander.

 

He was sitting in the HTV with his squad.  Each man and woman had an almost identical grim expression on their faces.   The captain’s voice came over the radio. “Approaching drop site.' He felt the floor dip as the vehicle reached approach altitude. He nodded, and the soldiers around him prepared their weapons.

 

“Incoming, we have incoming!'

 

Leonard suddenly came aware that someone was honking a car horn at him. Looking up, he saw a familiar face behind the wheel. “Oscar! Is that you?'

 

“The one and only! How ya been? Need a lift?'

 

“It’s good to see you Oscar.' Leonard sighed, climbing aboard.

 

“Where to?'

 

“You know where I live.'

 

Oscar paused, “Uhh, about that, we need to talk.'

 

Five minutes later, the pair of them were sitting in The Black Dog, the local bar. “So, she re-married?'

 

“She thought you were dead! We all did. I guess she decided that it was time for her to move on in her life. When we found out… I mean.'

 

“I understand.' Leonard sighed. “And the house?'

 

“Sold. Torn down. I think it’s a mall now.'

 

“Great. Just wonderful.'

 

“Listen, you can stay at my place tonight if…'

 

“No, no it’s fine. Just take me to a hotel.'

 

“Listen, I hate to ask, but is it true….?'

 

“No. It was terrorists. You can’t believe everything you read.'

 

“Uhh… right. The hotel hasn’t moved, it’s still in the same spot. Do you want me to drive you or…'

 

“No. It’s fine. I can walk. Neither of us should be driving.'

 

On his way over to the hotel, several people pointed and stared. One little boy tugged on his mother’s sleeve while insisting, “Look mommy! It’s him! The man who fought the aliens!'

 

“Now honey,' his mother replied, “That’s not true.  There’s no such thing as aliens. This man is a hero for fighting terrorists. You can’t believe everything people tell you.'

 

“But mommy!'

 

Inwardly, Leonard sighed. They couldn’t hide the truth for the public much longer. Even so , he wasn’t about to betray the oath of silence he had taken. When the time was right, they would know. Until then, he would do his best to uphold the story the government had spread about a massive terrorist attack. In a way, he supposed it was partly true. His thoughts were interrupted when he realized that he had arrived at the hotel.

 

The clerk at the desk refused to let him pay. “No charge for a hero!'

 

Leonard didn’t really care. Money wasn’t really going to be a problem for him, so it didn’t matter either way. He thanked the clerk and made his way to his room. Once he had settled into his bed, he sank into an uneasy sleep.

 

He was lying a few yards away from the burning wreckage of his vehicle.  Somehow, he had been flung free, but the rest of his squad was still inside. He swore loudly as he tried to stand up and felt a sharp pain from his ankle. Propping himself up on his rifle, he began to hobble over to the HTV.

 

Suddenly, his ears were pierced by a deafening explosion. He was thrown back from the vehicle by the force of the blast. He tumbled under a ruined car, and lay still. He knew whatever had caused the explosions was still out there, and if he left his cover without locating it first was as good as a death sentence.

 

He shifted his body under to get a better view, and felt a sudden stab of pain in his right hand. He shuddered involuntarily as he realized that a piece of shrapnel was embedded in his right hand. He resisted the urge to pull out the shrapnel, and crawled forward using his elbow, keeping his hand in the air. He froze. There was something moving outside. Suddenly, a foot stepped directly in front of his face. It was a clawed foot, with three toes, and covered in some kind of segmented metal armor.

 

“Wake up call!'

 

Leonard blinked at the light flooding the room.

 

“You may enjoy a complimentary meal with your stay!' said a disembodied voice somewhere in the room.

 

Leonard sat up in his bed. One thing you never lose from service in the military was the ability to wake up in the morning. He located the source of the voice, a small touchscreen on the wall, and muted it. After getting dressed, he went downstairs and checked out of the hotel. No sooner had he walked out the door than he realized that he had absolutely no idea what to do with himself. He thought about trying to find Oscar, but he was probably at work by now.

 

Without anything better to do, Leonard began to walk aimlessly along the sidewalk. He hadn’t made it very far before he realized that he was being followed. A sleek black car was slowly coasting along behind him, making no effort to conceal its intentions. Leonard didn’t even break a sweat. If the people in the car wanted something from him, they were going to have to come out and confront him. Otherwise, he was just going to continue on his path as if nothing was out of the ordinary.   As Leonard continued to walk, he began to notice that he was heading into an increasingly less populated area of the town.

 

After what seemed like ages, the car pulled over next to Leonard. He realized that the streets around them were clear; it was a completely unpopulated area. The window on the car rolled down. “Unit 5567?' Came a voice from inside the shadowy interior of the car.

 

“Yes?'

 

Something from inside the car flashed. Leonard collapsed. When he awoke he was sitting in a chair, in a dark room,   with a bright light pointed at him. “What is this?' Leonard snarled as he discovered that his hands were restrained to his chair.

 

“I’ll be asking the questions' said a voice from the shadows, the same voice from the car. “On the fifth of March last year, you were deployed in the city of..'

 

“Hang on now! Who are you!? I don’t have to answer these questions!'

 

“Code Delta Seven.'

 

Leonard froze. “Of course… but, why all this? Why not just ask me to come with you?“

 

“We are dealing with technology hitherto unknown to mankind. We have no idea what kind of effect it could have on the human mind. These are safety precautions, nothing more. Now, back to the debriefing. On the fifth of March, you were deployed to fight an unknown threat. We had no idea what we were dealing with, so we went to you. You survived numerous battles in World War III. You became one of the most decorated men in history. You, along with a team of other famous American heroes, were the obvious choice for us when dealing with the unknown threat that emerged in the city of Cincinnati. We lost contact with your squad when your vehicle was destroyed. Now, we have read your account of what happened next. However, we would prefer a more… detailed recount. Would you agree to submit to a mind scan, to allow us to see what happened firsthand? It is within your rights to refuse, of course. “

 

“I-I’ll go through with the process.'

 

“Excellent.'

 

Leonard realized that two men in black suits had brought in a table with a sinister metal box centered upon it. The men began attaching electrodes to Leonard’s head, and one of them released whatever was binding his hands. The other man handed him a small controller with a button positioned by his thumb.

 

“Now, if you wish to end the procedure at any point, just hit this button, “came the voice from out of the darkness again. “Begin procedure.'

 

Leonard stared at the strange foot that had come to a rest inches from his head. He dared not move or even breathe. Suddenly, the foot tensed. Then, in a flash, it was gone. Something landed with a distant thump. Leonard reached into his pack and pulled out an old pair of binoculars. Almost nobody used them now that the newest scanners had come out, but Leonard knew there was value to going dark. After all, that HTV was one of their newest stealth vehicles, and it had been easily shot down. As for his life signs, whatever was out there had already passed him by. Maybe the engine had shielded him, or some other thing in the car. It didn’t matter.

 

He raised his binoculars to get a better look at his assailant. What greeted him was a creature so otherworldly; the only thing that kept him from crying out was his intense military training. Its shape was vaguely humanoid, but twisted in a way that no human could ever be. It’s back hunched at a crooked angle. Its legs bent in two places, like a dogs. It was entirely covered in some kind of segmented metal armor, with a black screen in place of its face and a strange weapon in its hand, like a rifle but made out of constantly shifting metal plates. The creature was slowly moving its head side to side, making it obvious that it was scanning.

 

Leonard reached down and slowly pulled out his revolver. Another “outdated' item that he still chose to bring along, but still would prove useful. The heat emissions from a laser would be a dead giveaway. However, unlike a laser, a pistol would only produce heat after it was fired. He brought the pistol up and aimed it directly at the creatures head. Then, he pulled the trigger. The creature seemed spasm sideways as the bullet struck the side of its head. Leonard raised his binoculars for a better view.

 

The creature had somehow managed to keep its footing, despite the impact of the bullet, skittering sideways to avoid falling. The segments of armor on its head seemed to be rearranging themselves to repair whatever damage the bullet might have done. The creature paused for a moment, and then turned to face directly at Leonard. It raised its weapon, which had shifted into a longer shape, and aimed it towards the underneath of the car.

 

Leonard rolled out of the way as the creature fired. There was a flash of blinding yellow light which forced Leonard to cover his eyes. When he looked up again, there was a hole melted directly through the car and the pavement underneath. He quickly looked back at the creature, and was shocked to see that it had disappeared. He did not have time to wonder where it had gone, as it slammed into the pavement directly in front of him. Leonard was about to raise his gun for another shot, when he noticed that the creature didn’t seem to be looking at him. It completely ignored Leonard and walked carefully over to the car he had been hiding under. One of the lights was still miraculously on, and that seemed to be what was attracting the creatures attention.

 

“It doesn’t notice organic creatures!' Leonard realized. “It’s only interested in machines!'

 

Leonard began to slowly get up, when his shirt snagged on something. Leonard fell to the ground with an audible crash. The creature still didn’t notice him. It seemed to have no sense of hearing. Leonard quickly looked around at his surroundings, and then began to formulate a plan. Seeing that the creature was losing interest in the car, he quickly reached into his bag and pulled out his portable scanner. He hesitated for a moment, and then switched it on. The creatures head immediately snapped towards him, its weapon once again changing in its hand. Leonard threw the scanner as hard as he could towards a nearby tank trailer. The creature immediately leaped after it.

 

“Please be a gas truck, please be a gas truck,' Leonard muttered to himself as he aimed his pistol. He fired a shot into the side of the tank. Nothing happened. “Damn!' Leonard yelled, before he could stop himself.

 

The creature paid no notice to the gunshot or Leonard, but looked up a couple seconds after both went silent. A thin trickle of grey liquid was leaking out of the side of the tank and onto the creature. The trickle grew into a stream, and then into a jet that forced the creature back. The creature fell on its back as the force of the jet grew. Then, the flow of liquid began to slow, but the creature still didn’t get up. Cautiously, Leonard limped over to see what had happened. He laughed as he realized what he had done. The creature was gone, covered completely by a thick coat of quick-dry concrete.

 

Leonard suddenly jerked awake. He realized he was back in the dark room with the Delta Seven Agents. “Why did you stop?' Leonard asked.

 

“We know what happens next. You were trapped in the warzone for months before looking for more of the aliens. When you eventually realized that there was only one, you returned to society. “

 

“So now what?' Leonard asked.

 

“Let us worry about that.' Something flashed in front of Leonard, and he lost consciousness.

 

“Wake up call!'

 

Leonard blinked at the light flooding the room. “You may enjoy a complimentary meal with your stay!' said a disembodied voice somewhere in the room. Leonard sat up in his bed. One thing you never lose from service in the military was the ability to wake up in the morning. After months of fighting terrorists, he was glad to return to a normal life.

 

When he went downstairs to enjoy his complimentary meal, he passed a screen playing the morning news. “…and the government still denies rumors that an alien invasion took place…' Leonard shut off the screen.

 

“Alien invasion?' He laughed to himself. “What will they think of next?'

14 thoughts on “Story #4: Ben Knapp

  1. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    Ben,

    I really enjoyed your story. I liked the main character a lot and the way he reacted to different situations. I also liked that the world you wrote about was in the future. Hearing about WWIII in your story definitely caught my attention and gave me the knowledge that this story took place way into the future. Not just a couple of years. I enjoyed reading the personal struggles Leonard was facing. For example, the PTSD of war and his new hand. The flashbacks he was experiencing helped me understand just what this man had gone through.

    There were only a few things here and there that either confused me or need a little of work, but nothing too major. The first thing that I was constantly wondering about was the technology advanced during this time. You talk about his hand briefly and the computer screen to call a taxi but there must be more? I kind of felt like I was left in the dark about those features. Also when he was walking out of the hotel what was he thinking? Things must have changed from when he left. His mind must have been going a million miles per hour, especially at the fact that his wife remarried. I would definitely like to hear more on that matter, but I do understand that this is supposed to be a short story.

    There were a few places in your writing where I was confused because all of the sudden scene changes and there was no warning. During the part where he begins the procedure, I felt like it was quite sudden. Does he knock out and dream this because of the procedures technology? Is it a hologram to make him feel like he is back at the attack? I know he woke up because at the end of his visions he was woken up, but I felt like the reader was thrown into that scene and it could definitely use more structure and description. I would just be careful because there were other parts like that but they were quite little, this was the only one I actually had to reread because I was confused.

    Another thing I think you should add is more of a serious problem. I see that the world was not being told the truth about the attack, but I felt like something more was gonna happen but nothing really did. I really like the plot and the issue but you could expand on it to make it more of a thriller if you wanted. Other than these things I really did enjoy the story. I love new technology, war/battles, and alien stories. It just needs work here and there and that’s okay, that’s how all great stories are created. And I definitely see this being turned into a novel with more action and suspense. Good job writing this!

    Reply
  2. Andrew Lange

    Ben,

    First of all, I enjoyed the futuristic appeal of your story. Someone else mentioned the presence of “futuristic” technology, i.e a touchscreen interface to summon or call a taxi from what I presume is a subway/lightrail/train station. It’s obvious this is in the future but I like how it is still written in the past tense.

    One thing I was particularly curious about in your story was the conflict your main character is returning from; there isn’t much information about that. Maybe it’s just the kind of person I am, but I like to hear more of the background that led up to the current moment of the beginning of a story, some reference as to what year it is (past or future), etc.

    I did however get a kick out of how your character is received upon his homecoming, i.e the hotel clerk refusing payment, giving him a room for the night for free.

    I found the situation with the character’s wife particularly relatable though. The main character, Leonard, has been off at war for x amount of time (It would be nice if readers were aware of how long that was, I didn’t see anything) and life has gone on without him back home. The “We all thought you were dead!” line is a classic in such a situation, but it fits well; the wife has moved on and remarried without him. The passage of time is quite evident in your story given the main character’s house has apparently even been bulldozed to make way for a shopping mall; I’m presuming it has been a number of years since he was last stateside.

    I also found the character’s repeated flashbacks quite relatable. Some of them appear to be idle daydreaming or drifting thoughts, as when he is waiting for a taxi, but others are definitely nightmares, i.e dreams he wakes up from, terrified. Like any veteran, it’s obvious that he is going to have a difficult time adjusting to the civilian lifestyle now that he is back stateside for good, but despite his tired and exasperated persona it sounds like he is going to make it.

    Reply
  3. Aundrea Pierce

    Ben,

    I enjoyed this realistic story with its twist! I’m curious about conspiracy theories and what the government hides from us, so I was really interested in the theme. The story really picks up and engages my interest when the action takes place such as with the explosion and shrapnel. Resisting the urge to pull it out was a nice detail to include because I would have probably freaked out and pulled it out like a dummy. I love dialogue, so I was happy you used a lot. Do you have experience with the military? You seem to write in a way that tells me you do, with the descriptions and terms you use. There were many what I call “checkpoints” throughout your story. What I mean by that is many paragraphs would peak my interest with something new, which helped to keep the ball rolling so to speak. For instance, in the beginning, I was intrigued by the hand and wanted to know more, then the explosion with the creepy foot, then the flash from the guy in the sleek black car, and then the whole process of the mind scan. It was all filled with this mysterious, futuristic, sci-fi feel. I love sci-fi!

    “Leonard suddenly came aware that someone was honking a car horn at him.” Maybe it’s just me but I got a little confused with this paragraph and the image in my head. I gathered that this was a transition from his mind wandering back to reality. I would try and reword it so that it’s clearer to the reader he’s back to reality now. For example, you could write, “Leonard was shaken from his recollection by a car horn beeping in front him.” Or something similar, just so the reader doesn’t keep thinking we’re still in the daydream.

    “Inwardly, Leonard sighed. They couldn’t hide the truth for the public much longer. Even so , he wasn’t about to betray the oath of silence he had taken. When the time was right, they would know. Until then, he would do his best to uphold the story the government had spread about a massive terrorist attack. In a way, he supposed it was partly true. His thoughts were interrupted when he realized that he had arrived at the hotel.”
    I enjoyed this internal glimpse at Leonard. It helped to clarify more about what exactly is going on with the main character and what is his internal struggle, aside from his external struggle like his prosthetic hand. The ending left me with a bit of thinking about what just happened, but I was able to gather the conclusion.

    Overall, I enjoyed this thrilling piece. I would just be careful with the transitions going into and away from reality. Below is a good clear example you wrote:
    “Leonard suddenly jerked awake. He realized he was back in the dark room with the Delta Seven Agents. “Why did you stop?” Leonard asked.”

    Reply
    1. Aundrea Pierce

      Just to clarify, what I mean by “realistic story” is the whole going to war and the government covering things up.

      Reply
  4. Michelle Cordova

    Ben,

    I think this is one of my favorite short stories I have read thus far. I like how you incorporated different characters into the story, but kept most of the focus on Leonard. This helped the story flow well, even when you changed back and forth between the past and present. It wasn’t overly complicated to understand, but had depth.

    I typically find that stories involving aliens don’t capture my attention, but you managed to keep me entertained the whole way through. I especially liked that you described the aliens as well, not leaving it up to the reader to picture a little green guy with big eyes and a weird shaped head.

    My one suggestion would be to maybe add a little more background information on the main character, or even his wife/marriage. I felt that this was one area that you didn’t really touch on, but I wanted to know more. Did he simply just move on that easily from his marriage without a care or was he hurt/angry that she sold their house and remarried? I think that would have helped give Leonard a little more personality.

    I do like how you added in the government cover-up of the alien invasion- it definitely gives a realistic touch to the story! My husband was in the military for 10 years, so there are parts in this story that I can personally connect with- him jolting from sleep due to realistic dreams of his deployments and free meals (no free hotel stays though!).

    Honestly, I really enjoyed your story. You took a common theme that easily captures an audience’s attention and added a twist, making it fun and exciting. Great job!

    Reply
  5. Monica Gallagher

    The Visitor

    I really enjoyed reading your story. You did a really great job of incorporating flashbacks. The theme of terrorism and aliens is very significant. It was a really good choice of topic, very realistic and present to today’s time or possibly in the near future. The dialogue was very believable and seamless. The flow of the story was really good, there were no hiccups or catches to the writing. I really liked the ending. It was probably the best way you could have possibly ended it. There was a slight foreshadowing of that happening in the first part and middle of the story, but I had forgotten about it by the time I got to the end. When you used the two men in black suits, it sort of reminded me of “Men in Black” and then I did think about the mind eraser pen that they had used to erase the memories of the aliens. Even though I had this reference in my mind as I was reading it, it never felt like a “Men in Black” duplicate. It still had its own genuine story, especially when you consider the soldier’s perspective and the cover up of terrorism.

    I thought you did a really good job of describing the alien. There was quite a bit of build up with the alien itself. If it actually existed, what it looked like, if there was just one; so there was almost a bit of a climax up to the event of the alien being described, which was a good use of momentum. The depiction of the time in using the robotic voice in the hotel room was informative and efficient. Whenever the main character got captured for questioning, I was always wondering who that was, and I don’t think the story ever fully said. It definitely adds to the mystery of the storyline, but I felt like that in itself could have been a climactic event just as the description of the alien was. There is some mystery in not divulging all the information, but that may have been helpful to know at some point in the story.

    The description of the weaponry was good. The detail of the senses of the alien and what it was attracted to was a nice touch. The concrete thing, was a little off to me. I was thinking that the liquid was going to be this special chemical reaction type of thing and so in my mind I was trying to figure out what it could be, then it was just concrete. It was a slight let down just because it didn’t quite fit into the sci-fi feel and theme that the story had been riding on up until that point. The dialogue at the very end was short but efficient, you could tell right away that the soldier had no recollection of the events that had ensued. It was very effective and simple. A very nice close to the story.

    Really good work!

    Reply
  6. Corbin Knapp

    I thought that your short story was very entertaining, and I liked how you immediately started out with some action. It really helped me engage with your story, and it made me want to only focus on your writing instead of daydreaming about something else. I was impressed by how throughout the whole story you had a lot of dialogue, but I would have liked to have seen more descriptions of Leonard’s surrounding and the people he interacts with throughout the story.

    Leonard is a very relatable character, and immediately the reader is given an insight into his life when you start with his dream. I thought that this was a great opening couple of sentences, because it pulls people into you story with some intense dialogue than change the course of the beginning by interrupting the action with a sentence that is very relatable to most people. The reader can almost immediately hazard a guess that your story takes place in the future because Leonard wakes up and realizes he is on the grav-train.

    The next few paragraphs helped move the story along, while still providing some details into Leonard’s life now that he has returned from combat. I liked how throughout your description of Leonard’s progress through the city, you keep including flashbacks of his service. I think this adds to the flavor or the story and it kept me curious as to why Leonard was having these flashbacks and what he might have experienced.

    One thing that I think you might want to add to make your story even better is to explain why he lost his house, and why his wife thought he was dead. If you ever wanted to expand this piece, you might want to go into how he got back to society and maybe include his wife’s thoughts when he was away. I also was confused at how long he had been away. Oscar tells him that his house had been demolished, but how long would he have to be away before they would destroy his house? An interesting thing that you added to the plot, is how Leonard can’t tell anyone that he fought aliens, but everyone seems to know (or guess) that he has. The alien was also very interesting, and I think you did a great job in describing it, but why did it have a screen for a face? Is it a robot, or an alien probe sent to test Earth’s defenses?

    The involvement of the top secret agency was very intriguing, and I thought that it added an excellent twist to the story. After kidnapping Leonard, you reveal that he used to work for them and they want him to have a mind scan so they can review what he remembers of his service and the alien. I really enjoyed your ending! How Leonard asks what’s next and then they just erase his memory and bring him back to the hotel. I thought is was a cool idea to have him relive one of the moments you wrote about earlier, but having him have no recollection of his service, or that he fought aliens, or that he had been kidnapped made for a chilling ending. I really enjoyed your piece, and I think you should continue to write, thanks for the great story!

    Reply
  7. Caitlyn Williams

    Ben,

    Your story was a great read, I liked the suspense leading to the kidnapping of Leonard.The way you incorporated Leonard’s military past really makes the story more realistic. I liked the way you made these flashbacks, because they’re real, and PTSD is a real issue. I found myself itching for more of a backstory, and more detail on the setting. Where was his house? And what is a HTV? This then makes sense as his memory gets zapped by the government.

    I liked the mystery in your short story, the two men in black following him. What had happened before Leonard was on the grav-train? Were the men following him for longer than he had realized? Either way, I like the casualness of your opening. It goes to show that anything can happen, and your story took an interesting turn.

    One thing that seemed to be missing was transitional phrases. I found it hard to know when he had a flashback, to when he’s in a chair getting questioned. Your rising action and suspense were good in your story. It kept me on edge, wondering what was going to happen to him with the men in black.

    I really liked how Leonard kept his chill while finding out that his wife left him, and his house got sold. I also wanted to know a bit more about Oscar, and his backstory. It was interesting the way The way Leonard took his challenges in stride shows how good of a soldier he was when he was enlisted.

    I loved the way you merged your story, from him knowing, to him waking up from his invasion by the men in black, “One thing you never lose from service in the military was the ability to wake up in the morning.”

    I really enjoyed your read, the rising action, the peak, and the falling action were great in your short story! The way that the government zapped his memory of defeating an alien creature really intrigued me. The theme was great, and overall I would definitely read it again!

    Reply
  8. Cassidy Kramer

    Ben,
    I am not normally drawn to stories that talk about robots, or aliens, or the government, just because I am not interested in those things, but your story really had me intrigued. You did a very good job at showing detail throughout the story, and the detail and imagery you used kept me interested in the story.
    One of the things I like about your story was that you did a good job at transitioning in and out of flashbacks without needing to say something like, “then Leonard had a flashback”. The story did not confuse me like some do when they do jump around from memory to reality, so I thought that was very nice. You also organized your story well.
    At first, I was bummed to hear that Leonard’s wife remarried, and I was astonished about how he subtly reacted, but when I thought about it more it made sense. It made sense that Leonard was not too surprised by his wife leaving him, because later in the story you make it clear that he was thought to be dead while he waited for more aliens to show up. Also, I am sure a lot of people after going through traumatizing situations would not think a lot of someone leaving them just because of what they are dealing with like PTSD.
    I thought it was nice how you simply explained the whole parts of the black car following him and the government, because it is not fun sometimes when you need to read a bunch of bland details that do not do much for the story.
    While reading your story, I did not get bored because you did not stay on a subject for too long. You also did not stay on a subject for too short of a time, and you fully explained everything in the simplest way possible.
    I also really liked what you did at the end of the story. You repeated the parts when he is waking up, but you bring him downstairs to eat while he watches the news and makes a remark on the silly idea of an alien attack. I thought that what you did there was very clever. I also like knowing that Leonard does not have to live with the PTSD of fighting aliens, and is able to go on with his life.
    Overall, I really liked your story. You did a great job with detail, wording, organization, and making sure the reader can read it clearly. Good job!

    Reply
  9. Katherine Whelchel

    Ben,
    Your piece had a good plot and a wonderful ending! I was not sure where you were going to bring your story, but your unique storyline was intriguing! I appreciated some of the details, like his prosthetic hand. These added to building a connection with your main character.

    Like I said before, I really liked your ending! I was not expecting it, and it left me with an excited feeling! I think it would have been even better though if a bit more attention was given to the other areas of the story. It kind of felt like you have a great story built from a surprising plotline, but the rest of the details were just rushed through. There was a very staccato pace, almost a bit choppy flowing throughout your piece. I really liked the substance, I just feel that more detail, description, and attention given to your story would really connect it all together.

    Overall, you did a great job! You obviously have a gift for telling stories, especially sci-fi ones! Good job.

    -Kassie

    Reply
  10. Aubri Stogsdill

    Ben,

    Generally, I hate alien stories… They tend to be generic… and violent for no reason, but your story was so different! I loved the way that you made the whole alien invasion and encounters this undercover operation! I felt connected to your main character and concerned for the PTSD that he was suffering from.
    I liked that you went from memories to present day. That helped me to understand the history so much better than if he had simply been telling someone about what had happened. I do think it might have been better if there were some transitions between present day and past. While I’m honestly not exactly sure HOW to do that, it does seem to me that adding that could help your story to flow better.

    Overall, I really enjoyed reading your story! Great job! (:

    Reply
  11. Jessica Honebein

    Ben! Your short story was very interesting and I found myself wanting to read more to find out what happened. I like that you included this fantasy with realistic ideals. I think that people that suffer from PTSD do have these flashback and detailed daydreams as they are battling what they went through. I like that you added the conspiracy theory of aliens and made your own twist of how the government would deal with something like that if it were to happen. Your story caught my attention in the beginning and held it all the way through with the detail that you gave. I think that it was easy to read but there were a couple confusing parts that detail would straighten out.

    I think that the strongest aspect of your writing is the central character Leonard. I think that the events that happen throughout the story are easy to imagine and Leonard has a good personality to play out those events. I think that I am walking away from the story knowing a lot more about Leonard and what he has/ will go through. I like how the story was solely based upon his experiences and I feel like that helped to develop a strong story.

    I really liked how you added the honesty of PTSD in the story and how sleep and even daily activities can be hard to go through. I think that you portrayed the heartache and stress that it can put on a person. I also like how you included the government and a little bit of humour into the scene with the alien invasion. I think that the town talking about an alien invasion and how Leonard was a hero was interesting and helped connect everything in the story. I think that all of the aspects/ events that happened are very true. Except you added the twist of alien invasion to help add spunk into the writing.

    I like the main character and how the story was centered around him. However, I feel that the story could benefit from knowing more about him as a character. I liked the simple details, like his wife leaving him, because that added a better understanding of the main character. But I feel like if more detail was given the reader could establish a more intimate relationship with the character and the story itself. I think that Leonard being the only character really did help the story because it was not to much that it took away from the story, but rather added to it.

    Overall your short story was easy to follow and had me wanting to read more. I think that it was fun to read because it was realistic with a fiction twist! I like how you had one central main character and that the story stemmed from his experiences. I think that with a little more background on him it could potentially make the story even stronger! Other than that I would not suggest any more changes, good job!

    Reply
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