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Traditional Ghost Riders in the Sky (WIP Novel, Looking for Opinions)

Error 420

One Thousand Club
(This is a novella I'm writing, and I decided to write it on here so people can read it as it advances.)

"How are we doing out there?" an old man speaks, his silhouette lightly illuminated by a red blinking.

"Not good, captain." This is the voice of a young man, crackled by the static of an old radio. "Looks like the whole system is screwed." A pause in speech, as if a specter has taken over the airwaves, leaving nothing but prolonged, static emptiness. A sigh. "How are we going to tell them?"

The scene is silent. The flashing of the red light persists, revealing in the shadows a bearded figure. The figure speaks again. "I... I don't know."

Act 1
Scene 1
The crew bay of the Ancient Mariner lights up slowly, one light at a time until the room is lit with an unnatural white haze. Shelves of stasis pods that run along the sides of the room open, revealing their passengers. Nine pods in all. Their occupants stay upright, suspended, gently swaying, asleep. Eventually, most of them fall forward onto their hands and knees, gasping for breath. One, a young black man, begins vomiting. The woman next to him starts rubbing his back, laughing between forced gasps. "That's what happens when you eat before going into stasis, sweetie, just like I told you." She sinks to kneeling, running her fingers through her curly red hair.

"That Tim?" A man on the opposite side of the room part asks, part states, with a thick Martian accent, similar to a character in an old Clint Eastwood movie.

"Shut up, Rich!" replies Tim, with a tinge of a breathy laugh. He attempts to smile but winds up vomiting again.

"Did you hear that? For a moment your barfing sounded just like your poetry. Well, that would be a disservice to vomiting." Rich laughs, heartily, having finally caught his breath, standing up and stabilizing. He's quite tall, and quite large, with bulging stomach hanging over his waist, and broad, muscled arms hanging about his sides. He's black-haired and has a sort of old-fashioned charm. He offers a hand to the woman next to him. She swats it away, standing up. The nametag on her jumpsuit reads Mabel.

Mabel brushes herself off, clearing her throat. She speaks harshly, rough, like a bulldog, yet high-pitched, with a facsimile of femininity. Her blond hair is long and straight, lying in bundles on her shoulders. "We're supposed to be waking up next month. What's happening?"

The rest of the passengers, five in total, stand up. Tim begins talking again, faking nervousness. "Oh no, that means there's an alien on board! They're gonna get me, the black guy always dies first!" He begins laughing, wiping away saliva and vomit from his lips, removing his undershirt to use as a towel to attempt to clean himself up. "Calm down, May. We're probably fine." He's lanky and tall.

"What do you have to say about the situation, Danny?" Rich said, lighting a cigar and indicating towards a large Hispanic man in the corner of the room. Danny did not say anything in response and rolled his eyes.
"Oh stop it, you." The red-haired woman speaks. "You know he doesn't talk. You're so rude, Rich."

Danny rolls his eyes again. The red-haired adjusts her nametag before going to catch a dizzied Tim. It reads Lyla, in a playful purple font. There's an uncomfortable silence in the room for a moment, only the hum of the ship is heard. This extends for far beyond what is okay to hear. It's disheartening, and the joviality of the room is cut.

An old man with a messy grey beard and small sunken eyes broaches the silence by creaking open the door to the cabin. His sad features sink into his greying face, his wilting eyes staring vacantly. However, his posture commands authority of the room. Although he is the shortest person in the room, he seems to take up a large amount of the cabin. "Greetings, crew, Hola, Daniel, I'm sure you found your slumber relaxing, and I see Timothy is earning his wings." Half a smile tries to take control of his face, but it's quickly taken back by his solemnity. The room is still silent. Various members of the crew squirm with discomfort at the silence. Each one had a look of "we know something's wrong".

The old man speaks again. "As you might have noticed, you were awoken very early. Nothing to fear, though. Everything is going as planned. Just a minor hiccup." The old man walks out of the room again. Everyone is still staring at the spot where the man just was. Tim, finally getting his bearings, looks around at all of the faces around him.

"Well, what is it? Why are you all so..." He waves a hand in front of Lyla's face. She doesn't react. "Vacant?"
Lyla, jumping back, suddenly removed from her trance, takes Tim's hand. "Nothing's wrong, sweetie, you heard what the Captain said." Silence again. Rich taps his cigar on his wrist twice, dumping the ashes on the floor.

Mabel takes the center of the room, facing the door. She turns to all of her crewmates. Everyone is staring at her, except Rich, who's staring off into the corner of the room. Her harsh voice has been softened. "Something's wrong. The stasis pods aren't supposed to be opened, you know, unless..."

Tim interjects, without the gloominess of the room around him. "No, I don't know. What is it?"

Everyone hesitates, except for Rich, who's staring off into nothingness. "It means we're going to die."

Scene 2
"Well, what are we going to do?" Tim asks. Nobody answers.

Mabel speaks to Tim, never making eye contact with him. "The mop's in that closet over there. Clean up your sick." She, as well as everyone else in the room, is currently removing her jumpsuit and reaching into lockers by each of their pods.

"What are we going to do?" Tim asks again. Nobody responds. "What are we going to-"

"Nothing." Rich interrupts.

Lyla hesitates, holding a blue naval uniform in her arms. She almost laughs about her current situation. Here she is, standing in her underwear, about to put on a uniform that she'll die in. She's only got days, maybe seconds left to live, but she's putting on this stupid outfit anyways. The others put their outfits on, silently.

"Wait a minute, this is a prank, isn't it? All a prank to pick on the newbie. I get it." He goes to the aforementioned closet and retrieves a mop and bucket. Tears streak Danny's face. He begins to chant in his language, praying quietly. The unnatural green of the light flashes off of Lyla's pale skin. The smoke of Rich's cigar fills the air. The whir of the ship is joined only by Danny's prayer.

Tim hesitatingly starts mopping. He doesn't accept the truth, that he, as well as everyone else on board, will have a gruesome death. "There's gotta be something we can do." Further silence.

"There is." Rich assumes an animalistic glare, emanating anger. He storms ahead, aiming his body towards the door the Captain had left the room through. Everyone watches in terrified anticipation. Mabel and Lyla instinctively move forward to restrain him but stop short. He rams through the door, it slamming behind him.

Behind the door, the crew hears enraged muffled screaming. Something clangs against the door. Mabel and Danny each rush through the door and pull out Rich, who is kicking and yelling obscenities. "YOU SON OF A BITCH! WHAT DID YOU DO? WHAT DID YOU DO?"

Bart, a young man, walks into the room as Rich calms down. He's short, with red hair, and pale skin. "Listen, it's just as the captain said. Everything is fine."

"Stop feeding us this bullshit, Bart! The only reason those stasis pods open is if we're gonna die!" The room is staring daggers at Bart.

"The ship... it's stopped moving. Engines are shot. We're stuck at this speed. Forever."

Scene 3
"We're going towards the planet, though, right? Won't we wind up there and they can rescue us?" Tim has taken the room again. The room responds with a sigh of disappointment.

Lyla grabs his hand. "No, hon, we'd still need to maneuver to even get close to the planet."

Bart speaks, feeling the weight of Rich's stare on him. "We're going at .9 c, and the planet is about a quarter of a light year away. Now we can't be sure that anybody on the planet will hear our transmission clearly unless we're within a trillion miles. Now, if we boost power to the distress beacon-"

"Shut up. Just shut up already." Mabel leaves the room. Bart clears his throat.

"As I was saying, if we boost power to the distress beacon a freighter may be able to intercept us a week or two after we get within range."

Rich interrupts. "If they hear us, right? Which they probably won't? What the hell is wrong with the engine, anyways? What the hell did you do to it?"

"There is a possibility that our signal may not be picked up. If you'd just calm down and stop throwing a tantrum, I'll-"

"A tantrum? Is this what this is? Well I'm sorry for being afraid for my fucking life! I've got kids! You wanna explain to them why the ship won't work? Why they're never gonna see their dad again? Fuck you, Bart." Rich leaves the room as well. This appears to have gotten to Bart, who is standing there, silent.

"The, uh, connection to the engine cluster is... Mono thrusters are online, but they're for stability."

Tim, still reaching out with childlike hope, interjects. "Well can't we fix the engines? It's the twenty-second century. There's gotta be something we can do."

"Uh, no. We could reroute the power through other systems, but that'd get rid of life support. So there are your options. We wait to get in range or we all die."

"I don't know about you three, but I like that first choice better." Tim smiles. Lyla pats him on the back, smiling with an "oh you." Bart fakes a chuckle. The ship whirs.

"Este mayate es tan estúpido," Danny mutters. He looks around the crew bay, eyeing the room in which his life will end. The lines of pods and lockers. The mementos of a crew that might as well be dead already. The stench of body odor that usually filled vessels like this, tinged with the bite of vomit. Danny considered if he was already going insane. His mind went in cycles: I'm going to die. This will be the last thing I see. This will be the last thing I hear. What was the point in trying to survive? How strong was that rope in the cargo hold? How sharp was the edge of that knife in his locker?

Bart attempts to take command of the room. "Comms, I need you to reroute the entire array towards the distress beacon. Danny, run some service checks on life support. And Tim... Uh... Just do monitoring I guess."

“I’m gonna go take a shower real quick,” Lyla says.

“Mind if I join you?” Tim cackles. Lyla throws her naval cap at his face and smirks.

Bart, Lyla, and Danny all leave the Crew Bay. Tim meanders over to his locker. He opens it up and sees the blue naval uniform inside. He holds the rough fabric in his hands, fingers its thread. He sighs, puts it back in the locker, and shuts the door. He leaves the room. The white haze of the crew bay fades slowly into blackness.

End of Act 1
Last edited:

Hall Kervean

Two Thousand Club
Np. It just seems like you're recounting a story if it's told in the past tense, as opposed to attempting to describe current events. In a third-person story, past tense is usually best.


Np. It just seems like you're recounting a story if it's told in the past tense, as opposed to attempting to describe current events. In a third-person story, past tense is usually best.
Basically this. ^^

I feel the introduction of the characters is too fast for my taste, but it's good in general.

Hall Kervean

Two Thousand Club
Still, introducing them in twos is usually a pretty good way to introduce a lot of characters.
"A and B are at point 1. They realize event1 is going on and, after meeting up with C and D, run to point 2 While running, they run into E and F, who are also running to point 2. Upon reaching point 2, they find that G, H, and I are already there. After introductions are made, J runs in after them followed by unnecessary character A and B."

Error 420

One Thousand Club
Act 2

Scene 1

The lights turn on in the Security Room as Tim walks in through a small door. The room is squat, and Tim can only fit by staying low. He sits down at a desk, flipping a switch and turning on a monitor. “Wow. The Monitor turned on the monitor in order to monitor the Mariner.” Tim was not overly enthused by his new job. He pulls out a small notebook from a drawer in the desk and opens it to the first page. A blinking chevron appears onscreen as Tim pulls a keyboard from the desk and places it on top. “Start.” Tim says, hitting the enter key. The screen goes black. When it lights up again, it shows a view of the crew bay, the stasis pods and lockers ajar. Tim hits a key on the keyboard. The screen flickers, and we see a small room, with walls covered in screens and dials, with chairs and control panels.

The cockpit of the Ancient Mariner is droll, and dark, lit by a slowly flashing red light. Three figures are standing in a triangle in the center of the room.

“Oh, come on! We know you didn’t just wake us up to tell us everything’s all right!” It’s Rich.

The small, serious, cold voice of the captain responds. “It’s protocol. Naval Regulations 20, article-”

“Forty years and you’re giving me this bullshit? When have you cited regulations before? I think you’re just full of shit! I think you’re a sadistic fuck who-”

“Shut up already.” The harsh tone of Mabel speaks, as one of the three figures flicks its hair back. “Where’s that fucking light?” she mutters.

Tim clicks the button on the keyboard again. The screen flickers again, revealing a white room with showers along the walls. Lyla is showering in one of the corner showers. Tim smirks. “I didn’t know about that birthmark.” He zooms in the camera on Lyla, until she’s filling the screen. Tim pans the camera upwards, until the camera is on the back of her head. She’s cradling her face in her hands, her shoulders bobbing up and down. Tim turns up the volume, hearing the sounds of the shower, and whimpering from Lyla. Tim stops smirking. He grabs a small black box out of his pocket, and hits a button on it. Ringing comes from the speakers of the monitor room. Lyla walks out of frame, wiping away her tears. Tim speaks.

“Hey, Lyla, how are you doing?”

The black box responds in a half-heartedly cheery tone. “Oh Tim, you’re such a sweetheart. I’m fine, just in the shower. Talk to you later!” As Lyla walks back into the shower, Tim sighs, and clicks the button on the keyboard again.

This time, the view is of a room full of large machinery, wires, and other objects one would expect to find in the main engine room. Inside was Danny, sitting in the middle of the room.

Completely silent.

He’s motionless. This greatly discomforts Tim, who squirms in his seat. Danny doesn’t even appear to breathe, until he opens his mouth and speaks.

“I want to die now.” Tim shuts down the monitor. He leans back in his seat, and starts breathing heavily.

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