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"They're wicked," whispers Deputy Mack, when he thinks we aren't listening. "Beautiful, but wicked."

It makes Noah smirk from the front desk, where Clara Wynn, the dispatcher, is sneaking him sips from her hip flask while she profiles him. DePrince, she writes, Noah Thomas. Age: 12. Hair: Black. She puzzles over the color of his eyes before penning gray on the line, a rarity that gives us an edge, which we use like a scalpel. Noah flickers eyes like new nickels whenever we want something. Today is the Friday after the funeral and we are sick for answers, so we ask Clara if she will take our mug shots.

"I'll find some film," she says, disappearing into the back room. The door taps shut behind her. Deputy Mack and Sheriff Spellis are still arguing about us in the office, their voices a low rumble of contention, so we slip off our chairs and spread out through the station.

"Obituaries, photos, police reports," says Noah, fanning a stack of files across the desk. "Hurry. Anything you can find."

A boy in Pocket went missing two days ago. No one'll talk to us about it, but the Pocket deputies have been in and out of Comfort ever since, taking notes over diner breakfasts of coffee and cherry pie. They are young men, the deputies. Twins, Mullen and Mullen. They smile slow identical smiles when Noah and Sam DePrince introduce themselves, and remind them, in the same breath, to watch over each other. "I try," says Noah, at the same time Sam says, "I do."

Sam sits on the floor with Kelan now, thumbing through folders. He has longer hair than Noah, a wider face, dark sturdy eyes that see right through you. Kelan watches him, and we watch Kelan watch him, knowing why. Noah shines brighter but falser, like a manmade landmark. Sam's something soft in the sky. Sam doesn't know he shines at all.

Roger raps the desk twice to get our attention. Underneath our profiles—Name: Keeper, Bennett; Height: Room to grow—he has found a newspaper clipping from the Pocket Pioneer.

The missing boy's name is Maxwell Munn. He is a luminous blond, like Kelan and our dead one, has grinning eyes, a gap between his front teeth. Pocket-charming, we decide. A certain crude charisma about him, small-town but substantiating, the type you could trust to be successful if he ever escaped. If he lived in Comfort, he would be our friend. He favors the same august angles that we do. We know our peers when we see them.

"The fuck's killing blonds, then," says Noah.

Kelan's pale bangs quiver in his eyes as he laughs. "You're such a simpleton, Noah. That's not all it's about."

"Since you know everything," Noah snaps.

"I don't know everything. I just know you're no safer than I am."

"At least I'm not next."

Roger sees shadows under the door and flicks two fingers outward on each hand: hurry. We rush the folders back into stacks. Noah folds the article three times fast, slips it up one sleeve. We're in our seats again by the time Mack and Spellis open the door.

"Sorry 'bout that, boys," says the sheriff. "We're ready for you."

Clara backs out of the supply room, opening a box of film. "Wait," she says: "I need to do this," she says.

So she photographs us one at a time with the station's black-and-white instant camera. There's an accidental brilliance in her lighting, the shakiness of her inebriate's grip: we are overexposed, residue of ourselves. We flicker on the brink of flight. Clara pins the Polaroids to the town map and we laugh at the geography, bettered. Take a left at Sam's eyelashes, then straight on until you reach the end of Ben's smile. We are your landmarks now. We are how you get home.

*

But:

On our way back, Roger sits down on the sidewalk and begins to sob. He fights for Robin's name in his rare voice, which has dropped two octaves since the last time we heard it. We don't know the words he signs. He does this on purpose, his fingers a foreign flurry, shutting us out of his world, which is even smaller and more silent than ours.

*
Novel excerpt. Someone is killing the boys of Comfort County. The gimmick is first-person plural with a process-of-elimination protagonist, and I suspect I know who will survive. Thanks for sticking around.

Edit 5/29/13: ^Beccalicious, thank you so much for the Daily Deviation. This is a flawed piece, and the exposure is helping me work out so many of the project's issues. I can't express my gratitude. Thank you, everyone, for your kindness and support.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-05-29
Anything you can find: by *freudenschade packed with intrigue, this excerpt leaves you wanting more! ( Featured by BeccaJS )
:iconchihuahua4446:
chihuahua4446 Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2014
This piece makes me sad after reading Leitmotif! I only recently discovered your account and writings, but I am so blown away by them already. The way you write, it makes the stories and characters just dance off the page, almost poetically but not in a shove-it-in-your-face sort of way. The characters, after reading only two short stories about them, make me feel for them. The words flow so that reading them gathers and keeps my attention, and the story is just mysterious enough to make me crave more.

The point of view is so very creative, never seen it done before, let alone pulled off so remarkably. It makes me feel like I, as a reader, am part of the narration. If this was to be made into a book, I would certainly be looking to buy myself a copy.
Amazing work. A DD well earned. :)
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:iconevilbunniesbadapple:
EvilBunniesBadApple Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013
I love this do you have a WATTPAD?
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:iconalkraas:
Alkraas Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on the Daily Deviation :)
Very well deserved! :happybounce:
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
First-person plural? I haven't seen that before...it's interesting.

Since you say out and out this is an excerpt I don't feel as obligated to point out the issues. The big thing is that it teeters between tantalizing the reader with almost-enough information and being too vague to really make people commit to the story. I'd have to see more of it to really pass judgment, but at this point the first-person plural would, I think, only work in places where the group is acting as one. Even within this I'd like to get a better sense of the personality narrating.
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:iconbatmanwithbunnyears:
BatmanWithBunnyEars Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   General Artist
I liked the description of the photographs in the second to last paragraph, and their interpretation of their faces on the map. But I can't help but get the nagging feeling that there are things in this story I just don't understand. I get that there are kids at the police station going through missing kid files when they're not supposed to, and I get the illustration of small town life, but that's about it. I don't see how the last paragraph ties things together at all. Any explanation you want to offer would be welcome. :iconconfusedplz:
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:iconpoptartlolol:
Poptartlolol Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, what novel is this? Where can I find it and buy it!!!

This isn't something you read for free online. I can tell already that I would NEED the physical book to fawn over forever. You do such a great job with the visualization and the emotion!! A true talent, you are. Keep up the fantastic work~
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:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
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:iconpucca2000:
Pucca2000 Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Cool!! :D Great job on your DD.
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:iconryanisnasty:
ryanisnasty Featured By Owner May 29, 2013
Congratulations on the well deserved DD!
I hope you have a great day :huggle:
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:iconthe-inkling:
The-Inkling Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
"Sam's something soft in the sky. Sam doesn't know he shines at all." Is one of the things that really won me over. It's a lovely description, simple and evocative both visually and as an insight into the character (as all the best descriptions are). Something you seem to have a knack for.

I agree with the others in that the identifiers make it somewhat convoluted and opaque, the 'we' flickering in and out of the natural descriptions of the individuals actions. Not sure what could be done to smooth that out as the stylistic choice is jarring by its very nature. Still, it made me pay more attention, and it certainly makes it different. Overal interesting though. I stumbled across your work once before. It's nice to rediscover your stories.

Also, congrats on the DD. :D
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:iconginnyw3:
GinnyW3 Featured By Owner May 29, 2013
As an experienced reader (yes, that exists XD) I can say that this is lovely. It's complex and obscure, and even in this little excerpt you have to read carefully to pick out details. <3 Lovely!
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:iconfreudenschade:
freudenschade Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
Thank you so much for the kind words! Especially coming from such a diligent reader, your feedback means a lot to me. I could afford to read more. Sometimes I think that weakness shows in my writing. Hope you have a great day!
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:iconarada11:
arada11 Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist
I know you probably don't want my opinion or anything, but i found it confusing. I read it three times and i can only just tell what's going on. It might be because it's only a fragment of a whole book/novel thats begging to be written. But I can tell what the main story is and i'm intrigued with it.
And Congrats on your DD. Sorry if i'm being rude.
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:iconfreudenschade:
freudenschade Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
You are not being rude at all! Thank you for your valuable feedback and kind words! I wish I could say it is confusing only because it is an excerpt, but honestly, the whole project is similarly cryptic. You've inspired me to remedy that. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave me such an honest, helpful comment.
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:iconaustheke:
austheke Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
I agree--I think it's intriguing, but also baffling, in a way that is obscure rather than inviting. I think it's something to do with the style, which is lovely, but has its disadvantages.

Congratulations on the DD all the same!
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:iconfreudenschade:
freudenschade Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
Thank you very much for sharing your insights! I am reworking this project, and I can already tell that your feedback is going to make an extremely constructive impact on the revisions. Thanks for leaving me such a beneficial response!
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:iconaustheke:
austheke Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013   Writer
I didn't expect you to read this, much less take it so well! I really respect that--it's always wonderful to see an artist willing and able to absorb criticism. I wish you the best of luck on your revisions!
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:iconarada11:
arada11 Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist
yeah, i;m sorry if it was a bit insulting, i know some people don't really like constructive criticism, but i'm glad that your taking my comment to heart. I don't give out constructive criticism often, on the thught that they would take it as an insult to their work. So thanks!
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:iconlintu47:
lintu47 Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    Congrats on the DD! :dalove:
    Have a nice day! :heart:
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:iconfreudenschade:
freudenschade Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
Thank you so much! I hope you have a wonderful day as well.
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:iconlintu47:
lintu47 Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    My pleasure, thank you :happybounce:
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
Well, I'd certainly like to read more. Congrats on the DD.
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:iconfreudenschade:
freudenschade Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
Thank you very much!
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
You're very welcome!
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:iconvanmall:
vanmall Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congrats on the Daily Deviation! :happybounce:
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:iconfreudenschade:
freudenschade Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
Thank you so much!
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:iconvanmall:
vanmall Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome. :aww:
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:iconwintersread:
WintersRead Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Student Photographer
Very nice writing! And congratulations on getting a DD!
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:iconfreudenschade:
freudenschade Featured By Owner May 29, 2013   Writer
Thank you very much for the kind words!
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:iconglossolalias:
glossolalias Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2013
very interesting. it has me hooked.
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:icondesuneko:
DesuNeko Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2013  Student General Artist
O.o I'm in love with your writing, this was intruging, will there be more!!!
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:iconleyghan:
leyghan Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Oh this is so interesting. I feel like I've stumbled into a place where everything seems nice and normal on the surface and then you notice that everything is a little off-kilter and it makes you afraid yet strangely excited at the same time. I want to know more about these characters mystery or no and I love how you described Sam.

Couple things that are unclear to me. Whether Roger is one of the deputies or one of the we. You mention a Ben at the end who I assume is also one of the we as his picture is included among the Polaroids?

Do you have more pieces about Comfort County that you can link me to?
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