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rusticclimber

My character's backstory. Any advice?

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His short, blonde hair naturally fell backwards, giving him a formal appearance. His eyes, blue and intent, were fixed on the computer screen before him. An email notification, followed by a sharp tinny sound, had jolted him into awareness. The computer screen’s bright light contrasted bitterly with the poorly lit room. His fingers, thin like the rest of his body, shook violently over the keyboard. He moved his cursor to open the email. It read:

 

- “Communist activity has died down considerably; we are now free to operate. You were right, the country is in distress and a revolution is imminent. Now it’s just a matter of when and who revolts. “-

 

“This is it.” He thought to himself. “The time has finally come.” He looked up, resting his vision on a portrait of Niccolo Machiavelli. It hung loosely on a dilapidated wall behind the computer. Their eyes locked, Machiavelli’s as intelligent as his. “Fortune is the arbiter of one half of our actions, but she still leaves us to direct the other half” He said with a smirk “or perhaps a little less.” Another email quickly followed the last. The tinny sound felt more vivid this time, as if with a purpose of its own. It read:

 

- “Are you coming?” -

 

He stood up violently, and in an ecstatic vault leapt from his desk to a bookcase on the other side of the room. Despite his gaunt aspect he had an athletic build. He had read all the greats. Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hobbs, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Dante, Locke. He scanned the shelves and whence he had found it, rested his index finger on a small journal. “I’m taking all of you with me!” He exclaimed, shoving the journal into a small duffel bag.  This time his voice filled the room. A loud banging sound echoed from the floor below.

“Keep it down Andrew I’m tryin’ to sleep!”

The landlord’s voice was an all too familiar one in that building. Often Andrew would awaken to his screams, sometimes directed at the other residents, most times at Andrew himself.

He went through all his drawers, all the while throwing clothes into the bag. He didn’t pack much, only two sets of clothes and an obsessive amount of underwear. He didn’t care much for his appearance; he did however care for his hygiene. He grabbed his Khaki jacket, and flung it over his shoulders. He turned to the computer screen one last time, and with his fingers shaking even more excitedly than before, replied to the email.

 

- “Yes. I’ll be there tomorrow. Pick me up at the airport.” -

 

Twelve hours later Andrew Ryan sat inside the cockpit of a small Cessna, ten thousand feet above the ground. The mountainous terrain below, covered in pine trees and dense forest vegetation, resembled a peaceful green ocean more than it did a troubled nation. He had struggled to enter the country, and was lucky his old friend, Raskolnikov, still chartered across the Russia Chernarus border.

“Call me when you need that ride back.” Raskolnikov said in a friendly tone as the plane’s wheels screeched to a stop on the runway. He had a strong Russian accent. “Things are getting tense here in Chernarus, you probably won’t find a flight out of here for a while.” Having said his goodbyes, Andrew stepped out of the plane and walked steadily towards the arrivals area. The borders were officially closed a week later.

Andrew spent the next two weeks in Polana, living in a small house with his roommate Stephan. Author of the emails that brought Ryan to Chernarus, Stephan was also a vivid political activist. They were members of the Objectivist party, a small group advocating for individualism and libertarian economic principles. The party had seen the sudden outbursts of crime and poverty in Chernarus as an opportunity to spread their ideology. Operations were going well, and Andrew, being the writer of the group, had already produced two manuscripts to be printed out and distributed. They were small manifestos, with the purpose of popularizing the ideas. Using the small journal, he had packed the small texts full of quotes and historical references. Stephan’s job was to translate them to Russian.

But the group’s momentum was interrupted by unforeseen activity in the bigger cities. Polana’s electricity was intermittent at best, and only mixed reports arrived to the small town. It was not until the third week of the infection that Andrew realized its existence. As he perfected his third manuscript for publication a loud knock interrupted his train of thought. “It must be Stephan with the food.” Ryan thought. He glanced at his watch. “He left two hours ago, what in the world took him so long?” Again the door was knocked, this time louder than before. “All right, all right I’m coming, why are you so damn impatient?” he yelled, pushing the chair behind him and walking quickly towards the door. He opened it, and was surprised to see a small child standing at the threshold.

“Sir let me in! They’re coming!” The small boy shouted, throwing himself into the house, practically stepping over Andrew. The boy quickly shut the door behind him.

“What? Who’s coming?” Ryan said confused.

The boy anxiously looked around, paying no attention to him and bolting towards the nearest window.

“Quick sir, close the windows, they’re coming!”

“What are you talking about young man?” Andrew had a smile on his face “This must be a joke.” He thought.

“The sick people sir, the sick people! They ate my Papa now they’re coming to eat me too”

Andrew’s smile began to fade as he noticed the boys pronounced thinness, and genuine tone.

“Quick sir, please, put something in front of the door!”

“Okay...?” Ryan, still unsure of what was happening, began to push the large living room couch toward the door.

“Yes sir! Thank yo---“

A breaking window and a horrendous growling sound interrupted the boy midsentence. A man had flung himself into the room. He looked like a farmer, his overalls were covered in blood, and he shook convulsively on the cabin floor.

“Papa?” the boy exclaimed in a questioning tone.

Andrew Ryan stood nervously by the couch, more perplexed than before.

“I thought you said your dad was –“

The man’s convulsions halted, he sat up and looked at the child with violent bloodshot eyes. Foam covered his mouth and, as he picked himself up, gore and saliva began coating the wooden tiles. The man stood between the boy and the door. He began shaking once more, this time as if in an extreme fit of anger.

“He’s sick!” The boy screamed, attempting to escape via the shattered window.

The man chased. The man caught. The man won. He wrestled the boy to the ground, biting his neck and delivering brutal blows to the child’s body. Ryan rushed to help. He pulled the man by his shoulders and threw him to the side. But the man was strong, and a second later pounced on Andrew, gnawing whilst attempting to overpower him. The boy watched them wrestle, as life left him through the gushing wound. Andrew fell on the couch, but managed to produce a kick that grounded the man once more. Ryan’s eyes darted around the room, looking for anything he could use to fight the crazed farmer. But he failed to find anything of too much use, and when he was rushed a second time barely accomplished to shove a pillow between the man’s mouth and his own face. They remained locked in that position for some ten seconds, when, to Ryan’s surprise, the front door opened and Stephan ran inside.

“Help me!” Ryan grunted.

Stephan reacted instantly. He tackled the man, sending him stumbling across the room.

“Come on let’s get out of here!”

They both looked at the child, a pool of blood had enveloped his body. It was too late.

“He’s dead, let’s go!”

The farmer’s grunting resumed, he readied himself for a third attack. They slammed the door behind them and ran out into the streets, then into the tree line, then into the mountains. They left Polana behind; the screams dissipated the further they went. Stephan led the way; he hiked those mountains on a regular basis, and knew the terrain well. They went hungry that night, but luckily not cold, Stephan was an avid smoker and as night settled they managed to start a small fire with his lighter.

“What the Hell was that?” Stephan asked quietly, as if afraid someone could listen.

They hadn’t spoken much until then, and were both still rattled by the incident.

“You’re asking me? I have no fucking idea. That guy lost it; he murdered his own son. The boy kept saying that the sick people ate his dad, then his dad eats him right there in front of me.” Andrew focused his eyes on the moving flame.  He continued nervously. “Let me, let me bum a cigarette will ya?”

Stephan reached inside his pocket, and pulled out a pack of Marlboro reds. He propped the first into his own mouth, then gave another to Ryan.

“I thought you didn’t smoke.”

“I don’t.”

They both smiled

“We should head south tomorrow.” Stephan suggested, “There’s a town not far from here, about a kilometer away. Maybe we can figure out what’s going on.”

They took to his advice, and at noon of the following day arrived at the small town of Orlovets. They stood on a hillside overlooking the village; it looked empty.

“Alright lets check it out.” Andrew said taking his first step down the mountain.

They had barely descended the crest when a feint engine sound reached their ears. They both stopped.

“You hear that?” Stephan asked

“There! Leaving town, look!” Andrew exclaimed.

He pointed at a small blue car; it was speeding out of the village. Behind it a trail of people followed, running at a terrifying pace. The driver seemed to have lost control and veered off into the countryside, the car’s wheels suffering a terrible fate. The automobile quickly lost momentum. The human figures closed in. They frantically surrounded the windows.

“Its here too…” Stephan uttered in a tone of disbelief. “No wonder we haven’t gotten much power in town, if the small one are in this condition, imagine the cities. This is bad Andrew.”

For a minute they remained quiet, and Ryan’s blank gaze seemed to agree with Stephan. But suddenly, as if enlightened, his eyes turned clever, and he looked at Stephan with half a smirk on his face.

“Maybe, maybe its not so bad.”

“What? What are you talking about? People are dying.”

“I know, I know people are dying. But think about it Steph, this is what you’ve always wanted.”

“Me? What? How have I alw—“

“Not people to die, obviously, but you’ve always wanted this, a fresh start. Think about it, our movement is slow, meaningful, yes, but slow. It’s hard to convince people when there are already all these other ideas in place. Governments are hard to change. But individuals alone are malleable, and if this is really as widespread as we think it is… Well then, we might really have a shot of making the revolution happen. Except it won’t even be a revolution, it’ll just be, well it’ll just be a brave new world.”

“Ryan, you’re insane.” Stephan dismissed him and once again turned to the blue car. The figures were now walking around it, their motions looked odd, as if they were limping, or drunk.

“Maybe, I am crazy, but just think what we can do with this. People will be dependent; they’ll look for someone they can trust. They’ll look for a place to settle and start again. There is none easier a time for revolution than a time of uneasiness, and what is more uneasy a time than this?”

“Who said that?” Stephan inquired.

“huh?”

“Who said that, that last thing you said.”

“Oh, Nobody, I mean, well, I did.”

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Reads less like a backstory and more like an excerpt. I had to read through twice before I understood what's going on.

The primary characters don't seem to react particularly strongly to humans going (seemingly) berserk and eating people. Might the infection be something they saw before? Or maybe they've seen so much bad shit during their lives to that point that they're hard to phase?

The ending is.... well, there doesn't seem to be one. The conversation just breaks off. Did they split up? Which one is your character (I'm assuming Andrew) and how did he get separated from Stephan? Was Stephan murdered? Eaten?

Like I said, this reads like an excerpt from a much longer story, one that personally I'd love to read in its entirety. Your writing style is pretty good, I enjoyed reading this.

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Reads less like a backstory and more like an excerpt. I had to read through twice before I understood what's going on.

The primary characters don't seem to react particularly strongly to humans going (seemingly) berserk and eating people. Might the infection be something they saw before? Or maybe they've seen so much bad shit during their lives to that point that they're hard to phase?

The ending is.... well, there doesn't seem to be one. The conversation just breaks off. Did they split up? Which one is your character (I'm assuming Andrew) and how did he get separated from Stephan? Was Stephan murdered? Eaten?

Like I said, this reads like an excerpt from a much longer story, one that personally I'd love to read in its entirety. Your writing style is pretty good, I enjoyed reading this.

Hmm yeah you're right, I just wanted to make it a bit more original than the common backstories I've read so far. Thanks for your input! and I'm happy you at least like my style haha :P.

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