Title: Springteufel Genre: Fiction Trigger Warnings: None Word Count: 200
Chipped paint, faded colors and dented rust spots.
It was the sorriest excuse for a jack-in-the-box Rosie had ever seen and how did it end up on her doorstep instead of meeting its demise at the bottom of a dumpster?
"For You" stated the label dangling from the handle, together with the instruction: "Crank Me." Sounded vaguely obscene when said out loud.
It would probably play "Pop Goes The Weasel." Jacks-in-the-box (jacks-in-the-boxes?) usually did. Always startled Rosie the Child when the clown (or whatever) bobbed out of the box. Memory alone brought on a case of the jitters.
"CRANK ME" it demanded. Italicized and bolded. Rosie hadn't noticed that before. Seemed the letters were larger now too. The command refused to be ignored.
She knelt and, with a trembling hand, obeyed.
Released from bondage, the jester, three-cornered cap minus two jingle bells, bounced erratically on his jiggly spring. Around his neck, a ribbon with an attached note.
The mechanism played continuously. Monotonous and mesmerizing.
Jack the Jester resisted Rosie's efforts to stuff him back into his box. Little tin fingers needle-pinched her flesh. With blood metallic on her tongue, Rosie watched the persistent message flutter on its frayed ribbon.
Post by DreamingoftheMist on Jun 19, 2023 1:16:07 GMT -6
I'm not sure what to make of this. The main character has an odd, dramatic approach and refers to herself in a way suggesting psychological problems. I wonder if her interaction with the Jack-in-the-Box is how she sees herself. Trapped, only allowed out when someone else pushes her buttons and for reasons she considers obscene.
Holy yikes. The genre category ought to be horror, for sure. This is a nightmare! Freaky and surreal and absolutely creepy as hell. I love the use of the jack-in-the-box as the box in the prompt. And what more disturbing box has ever been invented than a jack-in-the-box??? What were toymakers thinking? And stupid parents for buying the things?
The two little things that tripped me up were: 1. “Rosie the Child” which sounded like a strange title rather than “Rosie as a child.” 2. “The mechanism played continuously.” Even though she’s not cranking it anymore? Which, honestly, increases the creep factor. Once word count is no longer a restriction, maybe clarify that bit? I think I’m detecting a few places where content was cut to make the word count at the cost of flow, but that’s minor and easily addressed afterward.
Other than that, ew, my skin is so crawling. Run, Rosie, run.
The images were vivid and clearly etched in my memory as I read it. At first, I thought this antique toy would be worth a fortune. I could relate to the opening statement this is an good use of hook ‘em technique.
For me, the statement … “Sounded vaguely obscene when said out loud” … was distracting from the mood being developed
An ominous hook ‘em technique of “mood” was created when Rosie noticed the label contents changed and the font automatically changed. The hook ‘em technique of confusion and terror seeps in as Rosie’s trembling hand shows she knows there is some bad juju is going on here.
When the last message appeared, I was screaming “Run Rosie. Run Rosie. Get out of there fast.” Obviously, I would have to read that next page. This entry is a great example of a master level of hook ‘em techniques. Job well done.
Post by OnBardicWings on Jun 28, 2023 15:21:05 GMT -6
That has to be the most insistent children's toy I've heard of in a while. The "It" comparisons are not hard to make, but I can definitely feel a distinct energy in the main character, who seems to go into things already a bit addled. Has this jack-in-the-box been pursuing her for some time, or is this truly her first discovery of it?
I will admit I do kind of wish we had some indication of what the note might have said.
Post by ScintillaMyntan on Jun 28, 2023 19:57:04 GMT -6
The playful, casual voice works nicely with the horror scenario. Sounded vaguely obscene when said out loud. Jacks-in-the-box (jacks-in-the-boxes?) brought on a case of the jitters. As much as an ominous voice or tone can add atmosphere, the out-of-place tone is fun to read and ironic juxtaposed with the horror. I guess it makes the dark turn feel more unexpected. I wonder whether the tone would continue this way if the story goes on or not.
I can tell which member you probably are, too, in a good way! Your stories have a certain personality.
Rosie the Child At first I thought this was part of the witty narration style, but then we also get "Jack the Jester" at the end. Are the two supposed to parallel each other? Like the whole story is about the archetypal clown and his relationship to the archetypal child? Is the story some sort of allegory?
A creepy yet playful story. It's an interesting premise, though hook-wise, I feel like I want a little more of what to expect from the rest of the story, like a hint of the character arc to come, or what the jack-in-the-box is threatening to do to her.
Grammar Just a couple things maybe?
and how did it end up on her doorstep Could use a comma before this
"CRANK ME" it demanded Should still have the comma after "me," as weird as it is for a character to speak through text on a ribbon.
I loved the mix of the playful writing style and the creepiness of the jack-in-the-box. There's a mystery introduced right away and one that seems really intriguing. I'd read more just to see where it ends up. You hooked me. The economy of words used to create visual images that were super concrete was amazingly well done. You didn't have to tell us she put her finger in her mouth to stem the flow of blood from the cut. You just told us she there was a metallic taste from blood in her mouth. I really love when authors don't spoon feed their readers and it's something I personally struggle with. I really enjoyed this and want to know more.
The mere mention of a clown will shatter my nerves. Can't trust 'em, that's for sure. The music playing independently is something of a nerve-shatterer too. The note seems to be insistent that it be read. I'd love to know what it says and so, in that sense, I'm hooked. Good descriptive passages. Loved that the jester's hat was missing bells. Makes him more sinister somehow, although I can't pinpoint how.
Last Edit: Jun 29, 2023 12:38:56 GMT -6 by FoxxGlove
Clowns are always a good choice for a horror theme! Especially when it's a jack-in-the-box, and this is an especially unsettling one at that, what with the missing bells and chipped paint/rust spots. The story has a good creepy factor all-around and I thought Rosie's reactions to it were believable.
A few things:
Rosie the Child. I thought this was an odd choice and I'd recommend rewording ("Rosie, as a child"?).
It was the sorriest excuse for a jack-in-the-box Rosie had ever seen and how did it end up on her doorstep instead of meeting its demise at the bottom of a dumpster? I thought this was a long sentence that hindered the flow a bit. Recommend breaking it up into two sentences, maybe starting a new one at: "How did it end up on her doorstep..."
As a hook and introduction to something longer, this feels almost like it could be a complete story and I think I might have liked just a couple more hints regarding what's to come, though I could be wrong given the short 200 words.
Post by Sundrinker on Jun 30, 2023 18:45:22 GMT -6
Ok, so I had to look up what the title meant. So apparently "springteufel" if German "devil on a spring". That describes more accurately the jack-in-the-box. Nice.
As for the story itself, I feel there's a nice contrast going on between the playful nature of the child's toy and the horror of its demonic reality. That was handled very well.
Unlike what some of the others pointed out, I don't really have much of a problem with "Rosie the Child". It kind of reads like what you'd find in a children's story. (Probably of the gruesome German kind like that one where the boy gets his thumbs cut off for sucking on them too much.)
So what about the "hook" part of all this? Would I read on? Probably. I'd probably know after knowing what the note on the ribbon does say. The mystery here leaves me ambivalent.
Last Edit: Jun 30, 2023 18:47:31 GMT -6 by Sundrinker
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