Wrote A Short Story - Martian Manna

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Drkinferno72

kiwifarms.net
Joined
Aug 1, 2021
A while back I decided to wrote a short story. Shooting for HP Lovecraft as inspiration. So basically the story is called "Martian Mana" Abandoned by his fellows, the lone Astronaut on Mars slowly descends into madness. Beset by all sorts of problems such as hunger, asphixiation and lonliness. But the Old Gods of Mars, always provide for their faithful. Trying to get better as a writer and since this is the site’s literature department, decided to post here. Enjoy

Martian Mana​



Long since I have abandoned here, on this dead desolate rock known as Mars A crew of six: four males, including myself, and two females. First of the Homo sapiens species to set foot on another world. Collect samples of Martian dirt and rock. Set up a base of operations and explore. Oh sure, we planted the United Nations flag. Oh yes, a symbol of the unity between men. That we have evolved past our bestial nature. And yet I was left behind. I, the best and brightest of the bunch, was left behind. A storm had destroyed much of our camp as we attempted lift off, ripping apart the few buildings…save for one where we attempted growing plants. My so called colleagues saw it fit to leave me behind. To starve to death? Die of asphyxiation? I don't know.

I was always the most intelligent of my class. Oh yes! Leagues ahead of both my peers and those meddlesome teachers. Always needing to be corrected. I accepted a scholarship to one of the most prestigious of universities back on Earth. I hoped to become a great astronaut. An explorer, helping mankind reach the next stage of evolution. And what did it get me? Eternal exile on this god forsaken rock.

I returned to what was left of our dilapidated camp, the tiny hut. I've long since lost track of the days and weeks since I've been here. I miss greenery and the songs of birds. I've decided to keep a log of my existence as the first Martian (ha!) for all others to see of my plight.

I have been here for over a week now. Surely, someone must be looking for me by now. I pray that they find me.

Sure, I've got plenty to eat. The little plots of cabbage and potatoes have been growing well. And from what little filtration equipment that survived the storm, I was able to procure just enough water. But meat! Oh, how miss the delicious scent of meat. I remember oh so many years back as a boy. How my father would take me hunting for deer. Stalking the wild steed, rifle in hand. Oh yes, I remember that. The excitement of the blast, bringing the animal down, and collecting its meat. But there's none of that here. No deer, no cows, no birds. No anything.

An unusually eventful day today. Perhaps Mars wasn't so dead at one point in its history. In On one of my dozen or so walks on the planet, I seem to have come across a small carving of some sort. It was a strange looking, greenish creature. Yet, vaguely reminiscent of an Egyptian pharaoh, a sort of cruelness and yet a magnificent little thing. I picked up the statue and carried it with me and continued my trek. You can just only imagine my surprise that further in, I came across a temple. Oh yes! A temple. A curious find, one that certainly had me curious. Intrigued.

Upon further investigation of the structure, I'm sure certain it must have been be millions of years old. Mars must have had a sentient race of beings older than man. I was forced to put off my investigation until tomorrow, as the distinctive sound of another storm could be heard on the horizon. But I must admit. I feel something drawing me back to the house. Possibly a sense of scientific curiosity, or perhaps there's something else drawing me back. Beckoning my return.

I couldn't put off an investigation any longer. I decided that I would do my best to retrace my steps through the barren wasteland to find that very temple that has been occupying my mind as of late. Strangely, it didn't take as long to find it again, as it was like I was being guided to exact spot as the previous day.

Collecting my courage, I approached the old temple. Admittedly, I was surprised at the ease of which I approached. Using my flashlight, I was shocked and amazed to see various furnishings. Of statues of odd creatures, pots, and carvings, all of priceless value. The placed was filled with offerings. I decided to further explore, but not disturb any of the contents within. Though my fear, I note much later from the safety of this hut, still has yet to subside.
My curiosity took me through the atrium of the temple, a shrine of some sorts, before a noise like a crash or a broken glass could be heard further beyond The noise startled me such that I fled out of the temple and back to my dwelling. I must be an idiot. I must've knocked something over.

Oh God (and I've never been much of a religious man). I woke up from a most frightening nightmare. Of screams and.. and... the temple was there too.

I braced myself as best as I could, and ventured out again to explore the temple. I repeatedly searched the temple for anything else that could catch my eye. Once again, as I passed the entrance of the temple, I thought I could hear loud thumping. But.. that shouldn't be possible, right? In my limited time that I had, I didn't uncover anything more of note.

I now sit here in my hut with what little battery life I have on my flashlight. I am terrified to an inch of my life. I do not have the strength or means to escape this planet.

As I have done for the past week, I returned to that cursed place, intending on discovering anything more to solve the mystery of its missing inhabitants. I failed to uncover anything that could help the cause, but what I did find seems far more precious and disturbing than I could have ever hoped for. As I was scouring the place one last time, I finally noticed along the north wall paintings and markings. I was certainly put off as to how I missed it in during my searches of the temple during these past couple of days.

Placing my right index finger along the wall, I felt a surge of empowerment rush through me. The distant sound of wind began to sound like whispers, and the room in which I was standing seemed to darken. I wondered what the inhabitants had passed down the ages for me.

Curiously, I followed the markings from along the wall. Much of what was written, in what appeared to be a red ink of some sort, much of its contents what was written make any sense was undecipherable as the majority of it is written in a language that is foreign to me. But strangely there were murals as well. Of strange beasts and lush green fields, as far as the eye could see. The majority of what I could understand seemed strange and odd. Disappointed, I headed back to my dwelling. But things from this point on became rather blurred, and frightening.

Late last night as I lay in my cot, the wind outside stopped pounding against the hut, and my flashlight had winked out of existence, leaving me in the pitch black. I listened closely, and all I could hear over my heartbeat and heavy breathing were was the whispering that I previously shrugged off before. It was coming came from every sort of directions, and yet no direction at all

The whispering slowly got louder until it sounded like screams. Voices of many crying out. They screamed my name. Others shouted obscenities. There were so many of them. So many voices. Oh god, the voices.

It was as though multiple hands pinned me down to the cot, but every time I flailed my body, my arms connected with nothing but air. The harder I fought against the force, the harder pressed I was to the cot. I… I couldn't breathe. I had blacked out. The last thing that I remember were my nightmares from the night before. The temple.

I came to about an hour ago. Pressed to the cot. It is now long after dark, and I dare not brave the sub-zero temperatures of this planet. Sometimes I think that I can still hear whispering, or are they proof of my brush with madness? The deterioration of my mind? I pray that I survive the night.

Plagued by nightmares, I woke up screaming. It appears that since being left utterly exhausted, that I had slept through the daylight hours. But it didn't matter to me. I was scared to move from this spot. They started whispering to me again. I want to leave, but I can't. They won't let me. They just laugh and utter insults back at me. What have I done to deserve this?

The old gods of Mars spoke to me today. It is they who appear along the murals in the temple. With every word they whisper to me, I tremble as if my soul has been shaken to its core.

I no longer fear death. I actually pray that it comes for me. They still torment me. Keeping me here. Keeping me alive. I can't even write about it.

I feel my sanity has left me. I hallucinate so vividly. I can't tell what's real and what's not anymore. The Old Gods shows me images of their former glory. Of a Mars once lush with greenery, great cities. I don't understand why they want me. Why do they need me?

I do not know what to say. I am actually quite surprised. They tell me that they seek not to harm me. They only seek my assistance. To bring Mars back to its former glory. To be crowned Emperor and rule in their name. But why do I continue to resist them? What they tell me makes more sense than anything I have ever known. But I'm still terrified of them. And what if I should refuse? What they will do? But thinking about it, I can't think of a single reason why I should refuse their offer.

Is acceptance all that I have ever wanted? But the greater good here is far more complicated -so much easier to obtain. The old gods smile upon me now. I like it. I find myself basking in the warmth of their chilling promises.

I am content now. Under their tutelage, I am learning about the true nature of this world and what lies beyond it. I don't know why I continue writing this log. Perhaps it could be the last semblance of humanity that I have within me. It's ridiculous. I am becoming more than human with every moment that I spend under their instruction. I have been tempted to destroy these pages on many occasions. Reading over its pages only reminds me of how weak I used to be.

I've long since lost track of the days, but I am sure that I have been here for well over a half a year. It has been a long time since I have entered anything in this journal. The Old Gods tell me I can rejoice at last. In reward for my show of strong faith, I will finally be rewarded. In a week's time they tell me, they will provide food from the sky. Tasty morsels to provide me with sustenance. Just a week away no more, no less, I am told. No more pittances of potatoes and cabbages.

My day has finally arrived. The Old Gods shall make the world remember what it once was. And I will be final piece in reinstating what will be. I can see them now, just as I was promised. Three males and two females. Now all I can do is wait. Wait for my time. Become their hand. Immortality. Power. I can taste them now. The time has come! I rush to meet them with a make shift spear of pipe and jagged metal.

With triumph, I proclaimed "Manna from Heaven! I have Meat!"

The End
 

NigKid

Married to stupid frog
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Jul 1, 2021
I havent written jack shit so my opinion is probably fucking worthless but the sentence structure reads "amateurish" or maybe overembellished. It takes a lot of the horror away from the mind of the reader, theres more horror in the imagination of the reader then the paper in front of him.
 

Drkinferno72

kiwifarms.net
Joined
Aug 1, 2021
I havent written jack shit so my opinion is probably fucking worthless but the sentence structure reads "amateurish" or maybe overembellished. It takes a lot of the horror away from the mind of the reader, theres more horror in the imagination of the reader then the paper in front of him.
Thought so, I’m a welder first and write on the side tbh

should’ve expanded a bit more, guy was an egotistical bastard, the radio was busted, oh well takes time
 

Jewthulhu

A rare deepwater Jew
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Overall, the general concept of your story is interesting. However, in my opinion, you fallen into one of the easiest traps I've seen in modern horror; abusing the first person narrative structure. One of the most often ignored aspects of writing is the exact framing of the narration. While you have a little more leeway in this when writing in third person, in first person, you really need to frame why this was written and write your story accordingly.

You have the pretense of a narrative frame; it's the stranded astronaut's personal journal. However, it's the actual execution of that framing where you seem to fall short. The story really needs to FEEL like it was an entry in a private journal, with all the quirks and limitations therein. And that's more than just adding dates and opening every entry with "dear diary" (don't do that last bit). First is language. Ask yourself as you're writing: "Does this seem like something this person under these circumstances would write down in their journal?" Would a modern man, even a scientist, stranded on a desolate planet and slowly losing his mind write this in his journal:
Long since I have abandoned here, on this dead desolate rock known as Mars A crew of six: four males, including myself, and two females. First of the Homo sapiens species to set foot on another world. Collect samples of Martian dirt and rock. Set up a base of operations and explore. Oh sure, we planted the United Nations flag. Oh yes, a symbol of the unity between men. That we have evolved past our bestial nature..

Next is tense. Remember that when you're framing your story in as a journal, you're limited in your selection of narrative tense. In short, journal entries can ONLY either be "written" in anticipation of an event, or detailing and reflecting on an event in the past. The ending in particular not only blurs that line but practically strays into first-person present narration, which is a big no-no.

Meta-commentary can also be interesting, but you definitely don't want to use it to poke holes in your own story. Even if there's something you can't really explain away, it's best not to draw attention towards it. Asking questions of your own story (IMO) should mainly be used as either foreshadowing or when you're trying to explore something with no real answer to it (for example, asking why "I would keep doing x" could be useful in a story exploring the concept of free will). Basically, avoid shit like this:
I don't know why I continue writing this log.

I'd also like to touch on frame of reference, one of the biggest advantages for writing in first person, especially in the horror genre. While you didn't really make any big mistakes in this regard (the narrator doesn't magically understand shit he has no business knowing), I do think you could have used the concept of the "unreliable narrator" to a greater effect in this. Having there be a greater element of vagueness on whether he's really talking to "the old gods" or is just fucking nuts might have been interesting.

There's a few other critiques I could make, but narrative structure is definitely the biggest one. I'm also not a professional writer and didn't study English in school, so take my critiques as you will.
 

ShinyStar

Your worst nightmare, child
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Apr 22, 2019
You had a really solid plot, and your protagonist made a very well-fitting character for the story you wanted to tell. I think there's a lot of potential here in this story, and I really enjoyed reading it.

I did a line-edit of your story for you. There is a room for improvement. I think you've got a lot of promise as an author, and would love to see a revised version of this story.

I'm assuming that because you're here, posting this on the Farms, you have the emotional fortitude to take criticism, so...

Martian Mana​



Long since I have abandoned here, on this dead desolate rock known as Mars A a crew of six: four males, including myself, and two females. [This sentence is a grammatical abomination. The narrator says he has abandoned a crew of six - that means he left them behind. That's the opposite of what your story says happened. The crew abandoned him. I can't even fix the sentence because I'm not sure what you're trying to convey.] First of the Homo sapiens species to set foot on another world. Collect samples of Martian dirt and rock. Set up a base of operations and explore. [Omitting the subject of the sentence is an artistic choice, so that's fine, but you're structuring these sentences as a list. They need to have the same structure in each. The first sentence happens in the past with an infinitive (to set foot) and then you jump to an on-going present tense (collect samples; set up a base). If you're going to have this structure in your paragraph, you should keep those sentences in the same format (to collect samples; to set up a base)] Oh sure, we planted the United Nations flag. Oh yes, a symbol of the unity between men. That we have evolved past our bestial nature. [Good foreshadowing] And yet I was left behind. I, the best and brightest of the bunch, was left behind. A storm had destroyed much of our camp as we attempted lift off, ripping apart the few buildings…save for one where we attempted growing plants. My so called colleagues saw it fit to leave me behind. [The phrasing here is confusing. 'We attempted to lift off' puts him as part of the attempt to lift off - which would mean that he was in the ship with the others, unless there's some part of the lift off process that necessitates a person being outside the ship? Also, it's not an attempt to lift off if it's successful. They did lift off. The action there needs more detail. Why wasn't he with the others? What was the process by which all the others managed to make it to the ship without him being aware enough (or capable enough) to make it there with them?] To starve to death? Die of asphyxiation? I don't know. [Why doesn't he know? He's a scientist. He ought to be able to rationally deduce what is likely to happen in this situation. It seems like the unspoken option that would cause him doubt is that they might come back to rescue him, but without including what makes him uncertain, including his uncertainty makes him look a touch simple-minded]

I was always the most intelligent of my class. Oh yes! Leagues ahead of both my peers and those meddlesome teachers. Always meddlesome teachers, always needing to be corrected. [If you use another period to make the 'always needing' sentence part of a sequence, then the unspoken subject of that sentence would be the same as the subject of the previous sentences - your genius scientist. Unless you're saying that he remembers that he always needed to be corrected, as opposed to the meddlesome teachers needing to be corrected, you need to change the formatting.] I accepted a scholarship to one of the most prestigious of universities back on Earth. I hoped to become a great astronaut. An explorer, helping mankind reach the next stage of evolution. And what did it get me? Eternal exile on this god forsaken rock.

I returned to what was left of our dilapidated camp, the tiny hut. I've long since lost track of the days and weeks since I've been here. I miss greenery and the songs of birds. I've decided to keep a log of my existence as the first Martian (ha!) for all others to see of my plight.

I have been here for over a week now. [Previous paragraph, he'd been here so long he lost track of the days and weeks, now he's been here just over a week. Fix your chronology. Also, if he's a stick-up-his-ass, self-centered scientist, is he going to be the kind to lose track of the time, or to meticulously detail exactly how long it's been since he was cruelly abandoned - so he can treasure up exactly how wronged he was, and how much humanity owes him for failing to immediately come to his rescue.} Surely, someone must be looking for me by now. I pray that they find me. [They know where the camp was. Is the problem really that they don't know where to find him, or is the real problem that they might not bother trying/be able to get funding for the attempt?]

Sure, I've got plenty to eat. The little plots of cabbage and potatoes have been growing well. And from what little filtration equipment that survived the storm, I was able to procure just enough water. But meat! Oh, how I miss the delicious scent of meat. I remember oh so many years back as a boy. How my father would take me hunting for deer. Stalking the wild steed, rifle in hand. Oh yes, I remember that. The excitement of the blast, bringing the animal down, and collecting its meat. But there's none of that here. No deer, no cows, no birds. No anything.[It was surprising getting a vignette of him being a hunter and enjoying it. He's been presented as an uptight academic, autistically focused on his career goals up to this point. The idea of him having a primitive side is crucial to the story, so perhaps earlier introduce some element of him that enjoys that sort of thing. How does the joy of being the apex predator play out in the scholastic/scientific setting? It certainly can - being obsessed with out-competing rivals, getting the highest scores, tearing down a long accepted theory with something better. It'd be great if that was part of what got him stranded; his desire to out-compete his fellow astronauts led him to do some self-absorbed stunt to show how much stronger/smarter/fitter he was than all of the others]

An unusually eventful day today. Perhaps Mars wasn't so dead at one point in its history. In On one of my dozen or so walks on the planet, I seem to have come came ['seem to have' is a phrase that indicates there's some amount of doubt as to what happened. If he did come across the statue, and he knows that he came across the statue, then there's no doubt there. If the doubt is about whether it's a statue, then limit the doubt to that part of the sentence: 'I came across what seems to be a small carving.'] across a small carving of some sort. It was a strange looking, greenish creature. Yet, ; vaguely reminiscent of an Egyptian pharaoh, a sort of cruelness and yet a magnificent little thing. I picked up the statue and carried it with me and continued my trek. You can just only imagine my surprise that further in, I came across a temple. Oh yes! A temple. A curious find, one that certainly had me curious. Intrigued. [He's a scientist, and the world-building for this story seems to be that humanity at the beginning of this story has the same view of Mars that we do; that it's a dead, uninhabited rock that has probably never hosted a sentient species. If he's finding evidence of extra-terrestrial life, then some amount of doubt, awe, and surprise would be in order. He's reacting to finding a world-shattering item the same way I'd react to finding a discarded toy at a campsite. A little surprising, makes me wonder about how it got there, but no biggie. He's also very accepting of the idea of having just found a Martial temple as well. This would be a good place to have us go through the process of discovering the building and coming to the conclusion that it was a temple with him. We should start with the assumption that he's going to find rock and more rock, just like the rest of what he's experienced on the planet. Then his first sighting of the temple; is it worn and dirtied in such a way that it blends with the surroundings and it takes some closer observation to realize that it isn't a natural formation, with his disbelief slowly changing to amazed wonder, or does he walk around a corner an see what is clearly a temple just standing there, and have the shock of that discovery come over him all at once? What would he be thinking about the ramifications of that discovery? Would his dire straits lead him to wondering if maybe this building has something that can help him get home? If it was an advanced civilization, maybe there's something in there he can use! Maybe there might still be creatures around, in some subterranean lair. Maybe he takes a bitter moment to agonize over the fact that he - the most brilliantest and deservingest person in history ever - has made the biggest discovery of all of history, and no one is around to give him the recognition he deserves for this. If he dies here, alone on this planet, then whomever comes next and is the second person to find this place will get the credit that is rightfully his. THE INJUSTICE!]

Upon further investigation of the structure, I'm sure certain it must have been be millions of years old. Mars must have had a sentient race of beings older than man. [It would be more interesting to see the evidence that leads him to these conclusions than it is to hear him state them.. It's fine if he simply uses logic to think that Mars hasn't been suitable for life for thousands of years because of its climate, etc, and deduces that, but if his conclusions come from something specific to the structure, then show us. This is your chance to show the reader something really interesting.] I was forced to put off my investigation until tomorrow, as the distinctive sound of another storm could be heard on the horizon. But I must admit. I feel something drawing me back to the house. Possibly a sense of scientific curiosity, or perhaps there's something else drawing me back. Beckoning my return.

I couldn't put off an investigation any longer. I decided that I would do my best to retrace my steps through the barren wasteland to find that very temple that has been occupying my mind as of late. [It's been less than a day. 'as of late' makes it sound like it's been going on for an indeterminate length of time. 'Since the night before' or 'to the point I could hardly sleep' fit better chronologically] Strangely, it didn't take as long to find it again, as it was like I was being guided to exact spot as the previous day.

Collecting my courage, I approached the old temple. Admittedly, I was surprised at the ease of which I approached. Using my flashlight, I was shocked and amazed to see various furnishings. Of statues of odd creatures, pots, and carvings, all of priceless value. [Why didn't he see those things yesterday? He investigated the structure long enough to deduce it must be millions of years old. Did he do all that without going inside? I'm deducing that on the previous day, he must have walked around the outside perimeter of the building to verify what it was, and then some doors kept him from seeing what was inside, but that should be made explicit in the text.] The placed was filled with offerings. I decided to further explore, but not disturb any of the contents within. Though my fear, I note much later from the safety of this hut, still has yet to subside. [You aren't showing the reader anything to justify his fear. You're giving us a dispassionate and spartan overview of what he's seen, without any of the flavoring that could make it creepy. Is there a pile of debris that looks like an angry face whose mouth is gaping open in an unending scream? Does his breath inside his helmet sound loud and echoing, almost as if he's hearing the breathing of some other, much larger creature? Do the shadows cast in the glare of his flashlight give the sense of something moving always at the corner of his vision, hopping in and out of sight, of existence, as he turns to try and find what it is always just a step behind him?]
My curiosity took me through the atrium of the temple, a shrine of some sorts, before a noise like a crash or a broken glass could be heard further beyond The noise startled me such that I fled out of the temple and back to my dwelling. I must be an idiot. I must've knocked something over.

Oh God (and I've never been much of a religious man). I woke up from a most frightening nightmare. Of screams and.. and... the temple was there too.

I braced myself as best as I could, and ventured out again to explore the temple. I repeatedly searched the temple for anything else that could catch my eye. Once again, as I passed the entrance of the temple, I thought I could hear loud thumping. But.. that shouldn't be possible, right? In my limited time that I had, I didn't uncover anything more of note.

I now sit here in my hut with what little battery life I have on my flashlight. I am terrified to an inch of my life. I do not have the strength or means to escape this planet. [This would mean more if we'd been led to this conclusion along with him. If he's believed that all along, then it's no big deal to repeat it here. We haven't seen any activity that shows him trying to get off the planet. If his searching the temple involved the purpose of finding something to help him leave, then we'd feel the growing sense of despair along with him as his last hope proves fruitless. Or is his awareness of the fact that he's trapped being brought to the front of his conscious mind because he feels threatened by the temple? If it's the latter, then it might help to specify about that. Maybe he would like to get further away from the temple, but if he did, then he would have to leave behind his only source of food and water - and he has a sense of looming dread that there is nowhere on this planet far enough from the temple to keep him safe.]

As I have done for the past week, I returned to that cursed place, intending on discovering anything more to solve the mystery of its missing inhabitants. [Why is he concerned about the missing inhabitants? This is the first time they're being mentioned. It seems like the fate of people who have been dead for millions of years would hardly rate on his list of concerns. What is he really concerned about here?] I failed to uncover anything that could help the cause, but what I did find seems far more precious and disturbing than I could have ever hoped for. As I was scouring the place one last time, I finally noticed along the north wall paintings and markings. I was certainly put off as to how I missed it in during my searches of the temple during these past couple of days. [Having him upset about not noticing something obvious makes the readers also wonder why he missed something obvious. Don't make your genius character look like a buffoon who doesn't notice things right in front of his face. Give us a reason why he didn't notice them, or maybe he might have seen them before, but considered them not worth his attention until he finally grew desperate enough to look at them in detail?]

Placing my right index finger along the wall, [I realized at this point that there's been no mention of a spacesuit. Are you picturing the protagonist in his space gear as you write this? Given the setting, it might be grounding for the reader to get his experiences filtered in through his suit.] I felt a surge of empowerment rush through me. The distant sound of wind began to sound like whispers, and the room in which I was standing seemed to darken. I wondered what the inhabitants had passed down the ages for me.

Curiously, I followed the markings from along the wall. Much of what was written, in what appeared to be a red ink of some sort, much of its contents what was written make any sense was undecipherable as the majority of it is written in a language that is foreign to me. But strangely there were murals as well. Of strange beasts and lush green fields, [You just said it was written in red ink, but now we're getting the imagery of lush green fields. How is the 'green' being communicated here?] as far as the eye could see. The majority of what I could understand seemed strange and odd. [The only thing the reader is shown that the protagonist can understand is beasts and green fields, which aren't particularly strange or odd. What would his reaction to seeing unknown animals in fields really be? Or is there something else that is causing him to feel that there's a strange/odd aspect to things? What is it? Show us.] Disappointed, I headed back to my dwelling. [In order to be disappointed, he has to have been expecting or hoping for something. How were his expectations subverted? What did he want that he didn't get? Be explicit.] But things from this point on became rather blurred, and frightening.

Late last night as I lay in my cot, the wind outside stopped pounding against the hut, and my flashlight had winked out of existence, [If he's laying in his cot at night, why is his flashlight on? He knows the power's getting low. This could be a good point to show-not-tell his fear. He knew that his battery was low, but he couldn't bring himself to shut off the flashlight. He kept thinking about the shadows in the temple, the movement at the corner of his eyes now populated by the strange beasts in the murals - maybe at some point you should bring back in the idea of the statue he found. There could have been pictures in the temple that looked like that strange, egyptian being. Maybe those were what left him feeling strange and odd earlier. Maybe the shadows seem to have that shape and if he turns off the flashlight, then the shadows will reach him, and the things inside the shadows will have nothing blocking their advance. He lays there in bed, the cold, sterile light reflecting off the smooth, plastic walls, so different than the rough, red stone of the temple, trying to trust in the science that has been his foundation all his life; the science that overcame the brutality of primitive man, but worried that the sheer power of that temple that he can feel even in the sanctity of his room, dwarfs the poor, pretentious trappings of science. The red on the flashlight's battery indicator has been staring at him for some time, like the sullen eyes of that awful statue, and then it flickers, the shadows dancing around him in elation, and then the light is gone. The flashlight is dead.] leaving me in the pitch black. I listened closely, and all I could hear over my heartbeat and heavy breathing were was the whispering that I previously shrugged off before. It was coming came from every sort of directions, and yet no direction at all

The whispering slowly got louder until it sounded like screams. Voices of many crying out. They screamed my name. Others shouted obscenities. There were so many of them. So many voices. Oh god, the voices.

It was as though ['was as though' is an ongoing form of the verb, but we never had a start to when he began to be pinned. This makes the reader feel that they've missed something along the way. Did the sensation come on the narrator all that once? Did he gradually realize that the weight of dread that had been growing on him in the awful darkness had a physical presence to it? What did he actually experience?] multiple hands pinned me down to the cot, but every time I flailed my body, my arms, they connected with nothing but air. The harder I fought against the force, the harder pressed I was to the cot. I… I couldn't breathe. I had blacked out. The last thing that I remember [The tense in your sentences here is all over the map. We have doubtful ongoing verbs in the first sentence, then past perfect (flailed, connected, etc), then he 'had blacked out,' and now he's talking present tense in 'the last thing I remember.' Chose a time frame and stick with it. If all the being pinned to the bed happened in the past, and now the narrator is talking about remembering to us here in the present, we need to transition from the past to the present. Did the remembering of the nightmares occur before he blacked out, or when he woke up? If the narrator is talking to us right now in our present, and the last thing he remembers were his nightmares, then nothing between blacking out and talking to us happened. When is the narrator remembering? It has to have been before the rest of the events in the story. If that's supposed to be his last thought upon making this entry in his journal, then you need to go back and format the story with discrete journal entries. Sometimes it feels like we're getting this kind of stream of conscious, as if the reader and the narrator were sitting down and he was relating the whole story all in one go, and sometimes it feels like there's a break where the narrator is telling us real-time what went down, and that makes it feel disjointed.] were my nightmares from the night before. The temple.

I came to about an hour ago. [Okay, really, when did this happen? It feels like we had a scene break before this paragraph. The guy finished his previous journal entry about the nightmares, and now is starting a new journal entry. But the previous journal entry ended with him having blacked out - he couldn't have written that entry real time. If he woke up and wrote the previous entry, and then spent an hour doing things, then he wouldn't be telling us now about having woken up. Waking up would have happened before the previous entry was written, and would have been relevant in the previous entry, not now.] Pressed to the cot. It is now long after dark, and I dare not brave the sub-zero temperatures of this planet. [This is another moment where I wonder about whether you're viewing him in a spacesuit. Isn't it always below zero on Mars? Doesn't the suit enable him to be outside despite the temperature? What makes the suit ineffective against the temperature at night when it works during the day? Why would he want to brave the sub-zero temperatures? Does he want to escape and run away from teh evil? Does he want to go to the temple and try to challenge teh evil or find some sort of solution?] Sometimes I think that I can still hear whispering, or are they proof of my brush with madness? The deterioration of my mind? I pray that I survive the night.

Plagued by nightmares, I woke up screaming. It appears that since being left utterly exhausted, that I had slept through the daylight hours. But it didn't matter to me. I was scared to move from this spot. They started whispering to me again. I want to leave, but I can't. They won't let me. [Before, it was the temperature that wouldn't let him leave. Is that irrelevant now? Why? I like the idea that teh evil has some power that is keeping him from leaving, but we need some insight into what that experience is. Does he just know that if he tried to leave, he couldn't actually escape them? They're everywhere, so leaving is pointless? Are they paralyzing him through fear? If so, what does being paralyzed with fear look like - give us the experience with the guy. Are they using their Mage Hand powers to physically restrain him? If all they're doing is laughing and uttering insults, that's not a very good restraint system.] They just laugh and utter insults back at me. What have I done to deserve this?

The old gods of Mars spoke to me today. It is they who appear along the murals in the temple. With every word they whisper to me, I tremble as if my soul has been shaken to its core. [Are the old gods the same as the shadows? The fact that you're writing that 'they spoke to me today' suggests that this is the first time they've spoken to him. So who was speaking to him before? Was it the old gods and he's just now realizing their identity? Or does he personally view the voices of the old gods as different from the previous voices? If we're having a new character being introduced, then what is the old god's relationship to the previous voices? Are they on the same team? Do they vanquish the old voices, replacing them with something better/worse? How does the narrator incorporate these two separate forces into his world view? Does he feel hopelessly outnumbered now that there's two of them? Does he wonder if one can be used against the other? What's up here?]

I no longer fear death. I actually pray that it comes for me. They still torment me. Keeping me here. Keeping me alive. I can't even write about it. [But he is writing. If he's not writing about 'it,' then what is it he's not writing about? Imagine yourself sitting down, trying to write something but being unable to. What is it that you write to try and communicate what you really want to share with people but can't? You can show some desperation in his attempts to some at the issue sideways and find some piece of information he can share, or show us his frustration as his attempts go awry.]

I feel my sanity has left me. I hallucinate so vividly. I can't tell what's real and what's not anymore. The Old Gods shows me images of their former glory. Of a Mars once lush with greenery, great cities. I don't understand why they want me. Why do they need me? [I feel at this point, the specific personality of the character has been lost in favor of the grand, overarching idea of the narrative. How, exactly, does a scientist experience hallucinations? If anything, it seems like this would be the point of the story where we get the longest entries from the guy, as he tries to sort through what he's really experiencing and what the hallucinations are. It seems like there's such a huge distinction between what he's really experiencing (being stuck in one little room) and what he's hallucinating (the height of martial civilization) that he wouldn't have much doubt as to which is which. What is his real question here? You write that they're 'showing him imagines,' which is a third party way of getting information, but it seems like the impact you want the reader to have from these experiences is much more immersive (I am standing in a field of grass, I am walking through a marketplace, I smell the food cooking over the fire, etc). Also, what makes him think they want him? What gives him the impression that they aren't doing this for fun? Or for malice? Or just as an accidental side-effect of being near him? 'they want me' is a very concrete conclusion. Where'd it come from? Bring us there with the protagonist.]

I do not know what to say. I am actually quite surprised. They tell me that they seek not to harm me. They only seek my assistance. To bring Mars back to its former glory. To be crowned Emperor and rule in their name. But why do I continue to resist them? What they tell me makes more sense than anything I have ever known. But I'm still terrified of them. And what if I should refuse? What they will do? But thinking about it, I can't think of a single reason why I should refuse their offer. [It is a very big inflection point to go from being tortured to being allies, but we aren't given an event that shows us this change. Abrupt and jarring.]

Is acceptance all that I have ever wanted? [Acceptance hasn't been a theme anywhere in this story up to this point. There's no payoff to introducing it now. If this is his core struggle in life, then we need to have hints of it earlier in the story. Otherwise, look at the hints about his character that you've already provided and build off of those.] But the greater good here is far more complicated -so much easier to obtain. The old gods smile upon me now. I like it. I find myself basking in the warmth of their chilling promises.

I am content now. Under their tutelage, I am learning about the true nature of this world and what lies beyond it. I don't know why I continue writing this log. Perhaps it could be the last semblance of humanity that I have within me. It's ridiculous. I am becoming more than human with every moment that I spend under their instruction. I have been tempted to destroy these pages on many occasions. Reading over its pages only reminds me of how weak I used to be. [He's viewing himself as having been weak, but we don't know what about himself he previously considered weak. The story is effective because we can be in the guy's mind, taking the journey into madness with him, but this paragraph kicks us out of his head completely. We don't know why he's thinking any of the things he's thinking.]

I've long since lost track of the days, [This is a good way to show us that he's become a separate person from the scientist who was concretely connected to the world and no longer follows the routines that would help him keep track of the days - but it's seriously weakened by the fact that you had him lose track of time back in paragraph three when he hadn't even been stranded for a week yet. I like him losing track of time here, but it would be more effective if it were in contrast to his previous state of meticulous time-keeping rather than a continuation of where he's been from the beginning] but I am sure that I have been here for well over a half a year [don't be specific. There's no benefit to pinning it down. If you really want to show the progress of time, give us an image of something that's changed. Are the cabbages taking over the greenhouse? Has his room in the hut become cluttered and chaotic, covered everywhere with a thick film of martian dust that makes him more a part of the planet? Has he worn a clear path between his hut and the temple? Has he grown a beard and is his hair long and shaggy and hard to get into his helmet? Has his transition from earth man to martian become so complete that he now walks around without his spacesuit and feels the martian wind on his face, enjoying the cold, the way the ice-crystals gleam on his skin as if he is the same sort of creature as one of those crystal figures back in the temple?] . It has been a long time since I have entered anything in this journal. [What prompts him to write in this journal now, other than the fact that you need a way to tell us how the story ends? Has he been living in the temple, away from the journal, and now that the Old Gods have told him that it's time to come back here, he notices this relic from the past? His approach to the journal could be a good way to illustrate the change we're about to see in relation to his old life. He's coming back to something that used to be important to him, but from a totally different perspective.] The Old Gods tell me I can rejoice at last. In reward for my show of strong faith, I will finally be rewarded. In a week's time they tell me, they will provide food from the sky. Tasty morsels to provide me with sustenance. Just a week away no more, no less, I am told. No more pittances of potatoes and cabbages.

My day has finally arrived. The Old Gods shall make the world remember what it once was. And I will be final piece in reinstating what will be. I can see them now, just as I was promised. Three males and two females. Now all I can do is wait. Wait for my time. Become their hand. Immortality. Power. I can taste them now. The time has come! I rush to meet them [You're writing this present tense. That doesn't work with the journal format. Either he's writing about something he's anticipating (I will rush out to meet them), or he's writing about something that's already happened (I rushed out to meet them), or he is in the act of simultaneously rushing toward the people with his spear in hand while actively writing about it in his journal. I have this picture in my head of the guy awkwardly holding the spear and the book together in one hand and the pen in the other, trying to run toward his prey while struggling to control his writing enough that the pen isn't just jumping up and down over the page. It's a totally autistic image. Don't do this. Figure out how the narrator is sharing the information with the audience, and write something that makes sense in that context) with a make shift spear of pipe and jagged metal. [And I'm again thinking that you've forgotten that he's in a spacesuit. Being in a spacesuit is going to change the experience of running toward people with a spear, and it's going to change the image of the guy hat the readers are going to have in their heads. It was this line more than anything else that made me question what you as an author are seeing in your head. I think the image of him as a wildman, shirtless, charging barefoot across the red martian soil with his spear that is made of parts that what used to be the pinnacle of human technology and have now been degraded into the most primitive of human tools (which is a great visualization you've given us there with the spear, btw, a great metaphor for what has happened to the narrator), is a really awesome image - but you as the author need to actively decide what image we've got there. That's where my earlier comments about him having transitioned into a creature that can survive on Mars without the human technology came from. I think it makes a great story to have him make that transition, but that's for you to decide.]

With triumph, I proclaimed "Manna from Heaven! I have Meat!" [This is the payoff for the title and the little vignette about hunting earlier. It's a great payoff. It's also a great payoff to the going mad process.]

The End
 

Drkinferno72

kiwifarms.net
Joined
Aug 1, 2021
You had a really solid plot, and your protagonist made a very well-fitting character for the story you wanted to tell. I think there's a lot of potential here in this story, and I really enjoyed reading it.

I did a line-edit of your story for you. There is a room for improvement. I think you've got a lot of promise as an author, and would love to see a revised version of this story.

I'm assuming that because you're here, posting this on the Farms, you have the emotional fortitude to take criticism, so...

Martian Mana​



Long since I have abandoned here, on this dead desolate rock known as Mars A a crew of six: four males, including myself, and two females. [This sentence is a grammatical abomination. The narrator says he has abandoned a crew of six - that means he left them behind. That's the opposite of what your story says happened. The crew abandoned him. I can't even fix the sentence because I'm not sure what you're trying to convey.] First of the Homo sapiens species to set foot on another world. Collect samples of Martian dirt and rock. Set up a base of operations and explore. [Omitting the subject of the sentence is an artistic choice, so that's fine, but you're structuring these sentences as a list. They need to have the same structure in each. The first sentence happens in the past with an infinitive (to set foot) and then you jump to an on-going present tense (collect samples; set up a base). If you're going to have this structure in your paragraph, you should keep those sentences in the same format (to collect samples; to set up a base)] Oh sure, we planted the United Nations flag. Oh yes, a symbol of the unity between men. That we have evolved past our bestial nature. [Good foreshadowing] And yet I was left behind. I, the best and brightest of the bunch, was left behind. A storm had destroyed much of our camp as we attempted lift off, ripping apart the few buildings…save for one where we attempted growing plants. My so called colleagues saw it fit to leave me behind. [The phrasing here is confusing. 'We attempted to lift off' puts him as part of the attempt to lift off - which would mean that he was in the ship with the others, unless there's some part of the lift off process that necessitates a person being outside the ship? Also, it's not an attempt to lift off if it's successful. They did lift off. The action there needs more detail. Why wasn't he with the others? What was the process by which all the others managed to make it to the ship without him being aware enough (or capable enough) to make it there with them?] To starve to death? Die of asphyxiation? I don't know. [Why doesn't he know? He's a scientist. He ought to be able to rationally deduce what is likely to happen in this situation. It seems like the unspoken option that would cause him doubt is that they might come back to rescue him, but without including what makes him uncertain, including his uncertainty makes him look a touch simple-minded]

I was always the most intelligent of my class. Oh yes! Leagues ahead of both my peers and those meddlesome teachers. Always meddlesome teachers, always needing to be corrected. [If you use another period to make the 'always needing' sentence part of a sequence, then the unspoken subject of that sentence would be the same as the subject of the previous sentences - your genius scientist. Unless you're saying that he remembers that he always needed to be corrected, as opposed to the meddlesome teachers needing to be corrected, you need to change the formatting.] I accepted a scholarship to one of the most prestigious of universities back on Earth. I hoped to become a great astronaut. An explorer, helping mankind reach the next stage of evolution. And what did it get me? Eternal exile on this god forsaken rock.

I returned to what was left of our dilapidated camp, the tiny hut. I've long since lost track of the days and weeks since I've been here. I miss greenery and the songs of birds. I've decided to keep a log of my existence as the first Martian (ha!) for all others to see of my plight.

I have been here for over a week now. [Previous paragraph, he'd been here so long he lost track of the days and weeks, now he's been here just over a week. Fix your chronology. Also, if he's a stick-up-his-ass, self-centered scientist, is he going to be the kind to lose track of the time, or to meticulously detail exactly how long it's been since he was cruelly abandoned - so he can treasure up exactly how wronged he was, and how much humanity owes him for failing to immediately come to his rescue.} Surely, someone must be looking for me by now. I pray that they find me. [They know where the camp was. Is the problem really that they don't know where to find him, or is the real problem that they might not bother trying/be able to get funding for the attempt?]

Sure, I've got plenty to eat. The little plots of cabbage and potatoes have been growing well. And from what little filtration equipment that survived the storm, I was able to procure just enough water. But meat! Oh, how I miss the delicious scent of meat. I remember oh so many years back as a boy. How my father would take me hunting for deer. Stalking the wild steed, rifle in hand. Oh yes, I remember that. The excitement of the blast, bringing the animal down, and collecting its meat. But there's none of that here. No deer, no cows, no birds. No anything.[It was surprising getting a vignette of him being a hunter and enjoying it. He's been presented as an uptight academic, autistically focused on his career goals up to this point. The idea of him having a primitive side is crucial to the story, so perhaps earlier introduce some element of him that enjoys that sort of thing. How does the joy of being the apex predator play out in the scholastic/scientific setting? It certainly can - being obsessed with out-competing rivals, getting the highest scores, tearing down a long accepted theory with something better. It'd be great if that was part of what got him stranded; his desire to out-compete his fellow astronauts led him to do some self-absorbed stunt to show how much stronger/smarter/fitter he was than all of the others]

An unusually eventful day today. Perhaps Mars wasn't so dead at one point in its history. In On one of my dozen or so walks on the planet, I seem to have come came ['seem to have' is a phrase that indicates there's some amount of doubt as to what happened. If he did come across the statue, and he knows that he came across the statue, then there's no doubt there. If the doubt is about whether it's a statue, then limit the doubt to that part of the sentence: 'I came across what seems to be a small carving.'] across a small carving of some sort. It was a strange looking, greenish creature. Yet, ; vaguely reminiscent of an Egyptian pharaoh, a sort of cruelness and yet a magnificent little thing. I picked up the statue and carried it with me and continued my trek. You can just only imagine my surprise that further in, I came across a temple. Oh yes! A temple. A curious find, one that certainly had me curious. Intrigued. [He's a scientist, and the world-building for this story seems to be that humanity at the beginning of this story has the same view of Mars that we do; that it's a dead, uninhabited rock that has probably never hosted a sentient species. If he's finding evidence of extra-terrestrial life, then some amount of doubt, awe, and surprise would be in order. He's reacting to finding a world-shattering item the same way I'd react to finding a discarded toy at a campsite. A little surprising, makes me wonder about how it got there, but no biggie. He's also very accepting of the idea of having just found a Martial temple as well. This would be a good place to have us go through the process of discovering the building and coming to the conclusion that it was a temple with him. We should start with the assumption that he's going to find rock and more rock, just like the rest of what he's experienced on the planet. Then his first sighting of the temple; is it worn and dirtied in such a way that it blends with the surroundings and it takes some closer observation to realize that it isn't a natural formation, with his disbelief slowly changing to amazed wonder, or does he walk around a corner an see what is clearly a temple just standing there, and have the shock of that discovery come over him all at once? What would he be thinking about the ramifications of that discovery? Would his dire straits lead him to wondering if maybe this building has something that can help him get home? If it was an advanced civilization, maybe there's something in there he can use! Maybe there might still be creatures around, in some subterranean lair. Maybe he takes a bitter moment to agonize over the fact that he - the most brilliantest and deservingest person in history ever - has made the biggest discovery of all of history, and no one is around to give him the recognition he deserves for this. If he dies here, alone on this planet, then whomever comes next and is the second person to find this place will get the credit that is rightfully his. THE INJUSTICE!]

Upon further investigation of the structure, I'm sure certain it must have been be millions of years old. Mars must have had a sentient race of beings older than man. [It would be more interesting to see the evidence that leads him to these conclusions than it is to hear him state them.. It's fine if he simply uses logic to think that Mars hasn't been suitable for life for thousands of years because of its climate, etc, and deduces that, but if his conclusions come from something specific to the structure, then show us. This is your chance to show the reader something really interesting.] I was forced to put off my investigation until tomorrow, as the distinctive sound of another storm could be heard on the horizon. But I must admit. I feel something drawing me back to the house. Possibly a sense of scientific curiosity, or perhaps there's something else drawing me back. Beckoning my return.

I couldn't put off an investigation any longer. I decided that I would do my best to retrace my steps through the barren wasteland to find that very temple that has been occupying my mind as of late. [It's been less than a day. 'as of late' makes it sound like it's been going on for an indeterminate length of time. 'Since the night before' or 'to the point I could hardly sleep' fit better chronologically] Strangely, it didn't take as long to find it again, as it was like I was being guided to exact spot as the previous day.

Collecting my courage, I approached the old temple. Admittedly, I was surprised at the ease of which I approached. Using my flashlight, I was shocked and amazed to see various furnishings. Of statues of odd creatures, pots, and carvings, all of priceless value. [Why didn't he see those things yesterday? He investigated the structure long enough to deduce it must be millions of years old. Did he do all that without going inside? I'm deducing that on the previous day, he must have walked around the outside perimeter of the building to verify what it was, and then some doors kept him from seeing what was inside, but that should be made explicit in the text.] The placed was filled with offerings. I decided to further explore, but not disturb any of the contents within. Though my fear, I note much later from the safety of this hut, still has yet to subside. [You aren't showing the reader anything to justify his fear. You're giving us a dispassionate and spartan overview of what he's seen, without any of the flavoring that could make it creepy. Is there a pile of debris that looks like an angry face whose mouth is gaping open in an unending scream? Does his breath inside his helmet sound loud and echoing, almost as if he's hearing the breathing of some other, much larger creature? Do the shadows cast in the glare of his flashlight give the sense of something moving always at the corner of his vision, hopping in and out of sight, of existence, as he turns to try and find what it is always just a step behind him?]
My curiosity took me through the atrium of the temple, a shrine of some sorts, before a noise like a crash or a broken glass could be heard further beyond The noise startled me such that I fled out of the temple and back to my dwelling. I must be an idiot. I must've knocked something over.

Oh God (and I've never been much of a religious man). I woke up from a most frightening nightmare. Of screams and.. and... the temple was there too.

I braced myself as best as I could, and ventured out again to explore the temple. I repeatedly searched the temple for anything else that could catch my eye. Once again, as I passed the entrance of the temple, I thought I could hear loud thumping. But.. that shouldn't be possible, right? In my limited time that I had, I didn't uncover anything more of note.

I now sit here in my hut with what little battery life I have on my flashlight. I am terrified to an inch of my life. I do not have the strength or means to escape this planet. [This would mean more if we'd been led to this conclusion along with him. If he's believed that all along, then it's no big deal to repeat it here. We haven't seen any activity that shows him trying to get off the planet. If his searching the temple involved the purpose of finding something to help him leave, then we'd feel the growing sense of despair along with him as his last hope proves fruitless. Or is his awareness of the fact that he's trapped being brought to the front of his conscious mind because he feels threatened by the temple? If it's the latter, then it might help to specify about that. Maybe he would like to get further away from the temple, but if he did, then he would have to leave behind his only source of food and water - and he has a sense of looming dread that there is nowhere on this planet far enough from the temple to keep him safe.]

As I have done for the past week, I returned to that cursed place, intending on discovering anything more to solve the mystery of its missing inhabitants. [Why is he concerned about the missing inhabitants? This is the first time they're being mentioned. It seems like the fate of people who have been dead for millions of years would hardly rate on his list of concerns. What is he really concerned about here?] I failed to uncover anything that could help the cause, but what I did find seems far more precious and disturbing than I could have ever hoped for. As I was scouring the place one last time, I finally noticed along the north wall paintings and markings. I was certainly put off as to how I missed it in during my searches of the temple during these past couple of days. [Having him upset about not noticing something obvious makes the readers also wonder why he missed something obvious. Don't make your genius character look like a buffoon who doesn't notice things right in front of his face. Give us a reason why he didn't notice them, or maybe he might have seen them before, but considered them not worth his attention until he finally grew desperate enough to look at them in detail?]

Placing my right index finger along the wall, [I realized at this point that there's been no mention of a spacesuit. Are you picturing the protagonist in his space gear as you write this? Given the setting, it might be grounding for the reader to get his experiences filtered in through his suit.] I felt a surge of empowerment rush through me. The distant sound of wind began to sound like whispers, and the room in which I was standing seemed to darken. I wondered what the inhabitants had passed down the ages for me.

Curiously, I followed the markings from along the wall. Much of what was written, in what appeared to be a red ink of some sort, much of its contents what was written make any sense was undecipherable as the majority of it is written in a language that is foreign to me. But strangely there were murals as well. Of strange beasts and lush green fields, [You just said it was written in red ink, but now we're getting the imagery of lush green fields. How is the 'green' being communicated here?] as far as the eye could see. The majority of what I could understand seemed strange and odd. [The only thing the reader is shown that the protagonist can understand is beasts and green fields, which aren't particularly strange or odd. What would his reaction to seeing unknown animals in fields really be? Or is there something else that is causing him to feel that there's a strange/odd aspect to things? What is it? Show us.] Disappointed, I headed back to my dwelling. [In order to be disappointed, he has to have been expecting or hoping for something. How were his expectations subverted? What did he want that he didn't get? Be explicit.] But things from this point on became rather blurred, and frightening.

Late last night as I lay in my cot, the wind outside stopped pounding against the hut, and my flashlight had winked out of existence, [If he's laying in his cot at night, why is his flashlight on? He knows the power's getting low. This could be a good point to show-not-tell his fear. He knew that his battery was low, but he couldn't bring himself to shut off the flashlight. He kept thinking about the shadows in the temple, the movement at the corner of his eyes now populated by the strange beasts in the murals - maybe at some point you should bring back in the idea of the statue he found. There could have been pictures in the temple that looked like that strange, egyptian being. Maybe those were what left him feeling strange and odd earlier. Maybe the shadows seem to have that shape and if he turns off the flashlight, then the shadows will reach him, and the things inside the shadows will have nothing blocking their advance. He lays there in bed, the cold, sterile light reflecting off the smooth, plastic walls, so different than the rough, red stone of the temple, trying to trust in the science that has been his foundation all his life; the science that overcame the brutality of primitive man, but worried that the sheer power of that temple that he can feel even in the sanctity of his room, dwarfs the poor, pretentious trappings of science. The red on the flashlight's battery indicator has been staring at him for some time, like the sullen eyes of that awful statue, and then it flickers, the shadows dancing around him in elation, and then the light is gone. The flashlight is dead.] leaving me in the pitch black. I listened closely, and all I could hear over my heartbeat and heavy breathing were was the whispering that I previously shrugged off before. It was coming came from every sort of directions, and yet no direction at all

The whispering slowly got louder until it sounded like screams. Voices of many crying out. They screamed my name. Others shouted obscenities. There were so many of them. So many voices. Oh god, the voices.

It was as though ['was as though' is an ongoing form of the verb, but we never had a start to when he began to be pinned. This makes the reader feel that they've missed something along the way. Did the sensation come on the narrator all that once? Did he gradually realize that the weight of dread that had been growing on him in the awful darkness had a physical presence to it? What did he actually experience?] multiple hands pinned me down to the cot, but every time I flailed my body, my arms, they connected with nothing but air. The harder I fought against the force, the harder pressed I was to the cot. I… I couldn't breathe. I had blacked out. The last thing that I remember [The tense in your sentences here is all over the map. We have doubtful ongoing verbs in the first sentence, then past perfect (flailed, connected, etc), then he 'had blacked out,' and now he's talking present tense in 'the last thing I remember.' Chose a time frame and stick with it. If all the being pinned to the bed happened in the past, and now the narrator is talking about remembering to us here in the present, we need to transition from the past to the present. Did the remembering of the nightmares occur before he blacked out, or when he woke up? If the narrator is talking to us right now in our present, and the last thing he remembers were his nightmares, then nothing between blacking out and talking to us happened. When is the narrator remembering? It has to have been before the rest of the events in the story. If that's supposed to be his last thought upon making this entry in his journal, then you need to go back and format the story with discrete journal entries. Sometimes it feels like we're getting this kind of stream of conscious, as if the reader and the narrator were sitting down and he was relating the whole story all in one go, and sometimes it feels like there's a break where the narrator is telling us real-time what went down, and that makes it feel disjointed.] were my nightmares from the night before. The temple.

I came to about an hour ago. [Okay, really, when did this happen? It feels like we had a scene break before this paragraph. The guy finished his previous journal entry about the nightmares, and now is starting a new journal entry. But the previous journal entry ended with him having blacked out - he couldn't have written that entry real time. If he woke up and wrote the previous entry, and then spent an hour doing things, then he wouldn't be telling us now about having woken up. Waking up would have happened before the previous entry was written, and would have been relevant in the previous entry, not now.] Pressed to the cot. It is now long after dark, and I dare not brave the sub-zero temperatures of this planet. [This is another moment where I wonder about whether you're viewing him in a spacesuit. Isn't it always below zero on Mars? Doesn't the suit enable him to be outside despite the temperature? What makes the suit ineffective against the temperature at night when it works during the day? Why would he want to brave the sub-zero temperatures? Does he want to escape and run away from teh evil? Does he want to go to the temple and try to challenge teh evil or find some sort of solution?] Sometimes I think that I can still hear whispering, or are they proof of my brush with madness? The deterioration of my mind? I pray that I survive the night.

Plagued by nightmares, I woke up screaming. It appears that since being left utterly exhausted, that I had slept through the daylight hours. But it didn't matter to me. I was scared to move from this spot. They started whispering to me again. I want to leave, but I can't. They won't let me. [Before, it was the temperature that wouldn't let him leave. Is that irrelevant now? Why? I like the idea that teh evil has some power that is keeping him from leaving, but we need some insight into what that experience is. Does he just know that if he tried to leave, he couldn't actually escape them? They're everywhere, so leaving is pointless? Are they paralyzing him through fear? If so, what does being paralyzed with fear look like - give us the experience with the guy. Are they using their Mage Hand powers to physically restrain him? If all they're doing is laughing and uttering insults, that's not a very good restraint system.] They just laugh and utter insults back at me. What have I done to deserve this?

The old gods of Mars spoke to me today. It is they who appear along the murals in the temple. With every word they whisper to me, I tremble as if my soul has been shaken to its core. [Are the old gods the same as the shadows? The fact that you're writing that 'they spoke to me today' suggests that this is the first time they've spoken to him. So who was speaking to him before? Was it the old gods and he's just now realizing their identity? Or does he personally view the voices of the old gods as different from the previous voices? If we're having a new character being introduced, then what is the old god's relationship to the previous voices? Are they on the same team? Do they vanquish the old voices, replacing them with something better/worse? How does the narrator incorporate these two separate forces into his world view? Does he feel hopelessly outnumbered now that there's two of them? Does he wonder if one can be used against the other? What's up here?]

I no longer fear death. I actually pray that it comes for me. They still torment me. Keeping me here. Keeping me alive. I can't even write about it. [But he is writing. If he's not writing about 'it,' then what is it he's not writing about? Imagine yourself sitting down, trying to write something but being unable to. What is it that you write to try and communicate what you really want to share with people but can't? You can show some desperation in his attempts to some at the issue sideways and find some piece of information he can share, or show us his frustration as his attempts go awry.]

I feel my sanity has left me. I hallucinate so vividly. I can't tell what's real and what's not anymore. The Old Gods shows me images of their former glory. Of a Mars once lush with greenery, great cities. I don't understand why they want me. Why do they need me? [I feel at this point, the specific personality of the character has been lost in favor of the grand, overarching idea of the narrative. How, exactly, does a scientist experience hallucinations? If anything, it seems like this would be the point of the story where we get the longest entries from the guy, as he tries to sort through what he's really experiencing and what the hallucinations are. It seems like there's such a huge distinction between what he's really experiencing (being stuck in one little room) and what he's hallucinating (the height of martial civilization) that he wouldn't have much doubt as to which is which. What is his real question here? You write that they're 'showing him imagines,' which is a third party way of getting information, but it seems like the impact you want the reader to have from these experiences is much more immersive (I am standing in a field of grass, I am walking through a marketplace, I smell the food cooking over the fire, etc). Also, what makes him think they want him? What gives him the impression that they aren't doing this for fun? Or for malice? Or just as an accidental side-effect of being near him? 'they want me' is a very concrete conclusion. Where'd it come from? Bring us there with the protagonist.]

I do not know what to say. I am actually quite surprised. They tell me that they seek not to harm me. They only seek my assistance. To bring Mars back to its former glory. To be crowned Emperor and rule in their name. But why do I continue to resist them? What they tell me makes more sense than anything I have ever known. But I'm still terrified of them. And what if I should refuse? What they will do? But thinking about it, I can't think of a single reason why I should refuse their offer. [It is a very big inflection point to go from being tortured to being allies, but we aren't given an event that shows us this change. Abrupt and jarring.]

Is acceptance all that I have ever wanted? [Acceptance hasn't been a theme anywhere in this story up to this point. There's no payoff to introducing it now. If this is his core struggle in life, then we need to have hints of it earlier in the story. Otherwise, look at the hints about his character that you've already provided and build off of those.] But the greater good here is far more complicated -so much easier to obtain. The old gods smile upon me now. I like it. I find myself basking in the warmth of their chilling promises.

I am content now. Under their tutelage, I am learning about the true nature of this world and what lies beyond it. I don't know why I continue writing this log. Perhaps it could be the last semblance of humanity that I have within me. It's ridiculous. I am becoming more than human with every moment that I spend under their instruction. I have been tempted to destroy these pages on many occasions. Reading over its pages only reminds me of how weak I used to be. [He's viewing himself as having been weak, but we don't know what about himself he previously considered weak. The story is effective because we can be in the guy's mind, taking the journey into madness with him, but this paragraph kicks us out of his head completely. We don't know why he's thinking any of the things he's thinking.]

I've long since lost track of the days, [This is a good way to show us that he's become a separate person from the scientist who was concretely connected to the world and no longer follows the routines that would help him keep track of the days - but it's seriously weakened by the fact that you had him lose track of time back in paragraph three when he hadn't even been stranded for a week yet. I like him losing track of time here, but it would be more effective if it were in contrast to his previous state of meticulous time-keeping rather than a continuation of where he's been from the beginning] but I am sure that I have been here for well over a half a year [don't be specific. There's no benefit to pinning it down. If you really want to show the progress of time, give us an image of something that's changed. Are the cabbages taking over the greenhouse? Has his room in the hut become cluttered and chaotic, covered everywhere with a thick film of martian dust that makes him more a part of the planet? Has he worn a clear path between his hut and the temple? Has he grown a beard and is his hair long and shaggy and hard to get into his helmet? Has his transition from earth man to martian become so complete that he now walks around without his spacesuit and feels the martian wind on his face, enjoying the cold, the way the ice-crystals gleam on his skin as if he is the same sort of creature as one of those crystal figures back in the temple?] . It has been a long time since I have entered anything in this journal. [What prompts him to write in this journal now, other than the fact that you need a way to tell us how the story ends? Has he been living in the temple, away from the journal, and now that the Old Gods have told him that it's time to come back here, he notices this relic from the past? His approach to the journal could be a good way to illustrate the change we're about to see in relation to his old life. He's coming back to something that used to be important to him, but from a totally different perspective.] The Old Gods tell me I can rejoice at last. In reward for my show of strong faith, I will finally be rewarded. In a week's time they tell me, they will provide food from the sky. Tasty morsels to provide me with sustenance. Just a week away no more, no less, I am told. No more pittances of potatoes and cabbages.

My day has finally arrived. The Old Gods shall make the world remember what it once was. And I will be final piece in reinstating what will be. I can see them now, just as I was promised. Three males and two females. Now all I can do is wait. Wait for my time. Become their hand. Immortality. Power. I can taste them now. The time has come! I rush to meet them [You're writing this present tense. That doesn't work with the journal format. Either he's writing about something he's anticipating (I will rush out to meet them), or he's writing about something that's already happened (I rushed out to meet them), or he is in the act of simultaneously rushing toward the people with his spear in hand while actively writing about it in his journal. I have this picture in my head of the guy awkwardly holding the spear and the book together in one hand and the pen in the other, trying to run toward his prey while struggling to control his writing enough that the pen isn't just jumping up and down over the page. It's a totally autistic image. Don't do this. Figure out how the narrator is sharing the information with the audience, and write something that makes sense in that context) with a make shift spear of pipe and jagged metal. [And I'm again thinking that you've forgotten that he's in a spacesuit. Being in a spacesuit is going to change the experience of running toward people with a spear, and it's going to change the image of the guy hat the readers are going to have in their heads. It was this line more than anything else that made me question what you as an author are seeing in your head. I think the image of him as a wildman, shirtless, charging barefoot across the red martian soil with his spear that is made of parts that what used to be the pinnacle of human technology and have now been degraded into the most primitive of human tools (which is a great visualization you've given us there with the spear, btw, a great metaphor for what has happened to the narrator), is a really awesome image - but you as the author need to actively decide what image we've got there. That's where my earlier comments about him having transitioned into a creature that can survive on Mars without the human technology came from. I think it makes a great story to have him make that transition, but that's for you to decide.]

With triumph, I proclaimed "Manna from Heaven! I have Meat!" [This is the payoff for the title and the little vignette about hunting earlier. It's a great payoff. It's also a great payoff to the going mad process.]

The End
Well at least someone took the time to actually critique it :)

Yeah I was shooting for an egotistical cunt that wasn't as sophisticated as he thinks he is. I know where I should've elaborated (and added that the radio was smashed in the storm)
 

Goon

Extraordinaire
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Jun 3, 2020
Thought so, I’m a welder first and write on the side tbh

should’ve expanded a bit more, guy was an egotistical bastard, the radio was busted, oh well takes time
Keep writing and also read. Read in a wide range. These two things will sharpen your skill. Look into creative writing courses. They are worth it. You do have a talent for writing. It's there and like anything else, it just needs honing.

*Edit I am a writer. If you need any tips or bounce some ideas around, message me anytime. Don't worry about editing cause everything is a rough draft until you plan to do something with it. Seriously, bro. Keep at it. You got the talent.
 
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Drkinferno72

kiwifarms.net
Joined
Aug 1, 2021
Keep writing and also read. Read in a wide range. These two things will sharpen your skill. Look into creative writing courses. They are worth it. You do have a talent for writing. It's there and like anything else, it just needs honing.

*Edit I am a writer. If you need any tips or bounce some ideas around, message me anytime. Don't worry about editing cause everything is a rough draft until you plan to do something with it. Seriously, bro. Keep at it. You got the talent.
Not a whole lot of time these days to sit down and really write.