“I need to speak to the council.” He was looking up at a woman standing behind a towering reception area.
“You think you can just come in here off the streets and talk to the council? Like that?” She snapped her fingers.
“Look. My name is Gunther McWilliams. I’ll make an appointment. I just need to speak to them. Something strange is going on.”
She examined the screen in front of her then shook her head with a tsk, “I’m sorry, you are not Gunther McWilliams.”
“I am I assure you I am.”
“No sir, you cannot be.”
“Are you telling me that on that little screen of records you cannot find a Gunther McWilliams?”
“No sir that is not what I am saying. There is one Gunther McWilliams, only one, but he is two years old.”
Gunther’s knees weakened. “That’s impossible,” he said, “I thought the city council declared that each person has his or her own name, each person has their own unique identity, there are no others with your name. How can there be a mix up, how can that child have my name?”
“Because, it is not yours.”
“Yes. I assure you it is, it has been mine for 32 years.”
“According to our records, sir, Gunther McWilliams is two and you do not look two to me. Therefore you are not Gunther McWilliams.”
I pretty much agreed and took seriously what both CP and the judges said about my short story and I made the changes I think will help to make the world of the story more believable, so it caused me to change a few things in the beginning again:
Gunther McWilliams woke with a dreadful headache. Last night was his 32nd birthday, and he and the guys from work had quite a row. He was surprised to see a few members of the council at the party. He felt he was a solid employee but never considered himself city council worthy. His boss had said, when his birthday came he hoped the council would show up to his 32nd party. Everyone one kept teasing him about being the old guy at the office.
Gunther stood up and felt a throbbing in his head. God, he was old. You play you pay. It was time to pay the piper, and Gunther had to struggle through yet another dull workday worsened by a nauseating hangover.
He stumbled into the kitchen to pull out a bag of cat food then poured it into a ceramic bowl on the floor.
“Rodney,” He called out. He waited for a few seconds then called out again. “Damn cat,” he mumbled as he walked to the bathroom, stripped off his clothes, and stepped into the shower. His mind wandered to Linda Silverston the new receptionist at the office, a real hottie too, big blonde hair, big brown eyes and big boobs. She seemed to have taken a liking to him; she had come to his birthday bash and had had a couple of drinks. He knew he was a nice guy, not the most handsome but not ugly, and he only had a small paunch. He patted his belly fat. He decided he was going to ask her out. He was 32 years old he shouldn’t be afraid to ask a woman out. He would do it today, right after work. He smiled at this. Gunther didn’t take a lot of chances, but he was resolved to start taking some right now.
As he stood in the doorway with his briefcase he glanced around his apartment one last time. He hadn’t noticed it earlier but something felt a little off. He looked at his coat tree it seemed as if it had been moved slightly. He shrugged the feeling off. He had probably just bumped into the tree when he came home drunk. All part of getting older, you forget things.
Part of the problem was that I hadn’t established or hinted to the fact that there is a city council that dictates peoples lives, in fact the council provides all the names for each newborn. I didn’t want to reveal the name information too soon, but the judges and CP were right, I needed to mention something, and that is why I addded the line about council members being at the party. I didn’t want too much attention on them just enough so that the reader could think back, and think to themselves, “oh right the council was at the party and Gunther was surprised.”
one judge said this:
One complaint in the logic department – the missing cat was meant as foreshadowing, but it is specifically stated that the humans are treated at birth to forget others when they turn 32. The cat should not have been affected.
This was me ineffectively conveying that the cat was taken away. Animals are unaffected but they can be physically taken away. That was why I added the new part of Gunther noticing that his coat rack looked as if it had been moved. His thought is that he must have bumped into it drunk and I hope that this being his first thought also shows that there is no crime and that is why Gunther would never suspect that someone would break into his house and certainly no one would sneak in and take his cat.
When you stated this important fact yourself, you misphrased it so that it reads as if humans forget all OTHERS when they, themselves, turn 32: “…is the message to forget people at the age of 32.”………….
This comment i had to give up on because I wasn’t sure what the judge was talking about, I re-read the scene but I still have not been able to figure out how I miss-phrased the sentence. I could be wrong but I don’t think this particular comment is very clear as to what the judge wants to see changed. So I dropped it.
Lastly, I changed up some of the ending and I filled it out a little then I also stated rather bluntly what does happen to Gunther. I like it but some my think its a cliche. If you watch sci-fi films it is not an unusual story, I can name at least three movies that I think of when i read this. Not that I had decided, I was going to write like those movies, I just noticed the similarities after I re-read it, this is a normal thing in writing after all much has been written before me it would be near impossible for me to be 100% original, but still there is a uniqueness in how I tell the story.