The First Cut Isn’t Deep Enough


In honor of the return of The Walking Dead this coming Sunday, I sought out some TWD fanfiction to review. The Streamhttps://www.fanfiction.net/u/4333441/The-Stream writes a fanfiction called, strangely enough, The Walking Dead.https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8817948/1/The-Walking-Dead

For those of you that only watch the show, Jeff is a character only mentioned once in the comic books. Though he technically exists, so far, his participation in the story has been practically non-existent. The author, however, is sure that TWD’s author, Robert Kirkman, has grand plans for this character, according to his author’s note. I have a feeling The Stream’s hopes on this point will be for naught.

Is the first cut deep?

Jeff walked up to the second floor of his house. He heard his daughter calling for him. “Daddy! Daddy I’m hurt!” She had called, and Jeff who was on the phone with his boss in his law firm had too finish the call. Jeff could feel how angry his boss became when Jeff told him that his boss had to call back later.

I don’t like to start a review off this way, but that is just a terrible paragraph. The sentences feel like a mixed up puzzle that’s supposed to make a picture of a lion but have been crammed together to look like an old man’s droopy ass with a gorgeous mane. The content is fine; everything you would need is there — it’s just out of order.

There isn’t any flow to it, no seamless transition from one thought to the next. It’s like they’re divided by speed bumps, big motherfuckers that aren’t satisfied with giving you whiplash, but also take a piece of your fender and shavings from your undercarriage.

Jeff’s boss: Ronald B. Taker, had been Jeff’s boss for over seven years, and Ronald had never been disappointed at Jeff as a lawyer, actually he was one of the top lawyers in Boston.

I’m really glad there are only proper nouns; I get so charmingly befuddled when I stumble across a pronoun.

Also, “Jeff’s boss: (…) had been Jeff’s boss for (…).” How does a sentence like this get through editing? Presuming this mess was edited at all in the first place. My issues with pronouns aside, this is a perfectly acceptable sentence so long as “Jeff’s boss:” is removed. It’s as though the author thinks the reader is too stupid to decipher who “he” might refer to, so we need every character in the scene to be named, lest our puny little brains miss any crucial details.

Jeff found his 8 year old daughter Lisa in the bathroom on the second floor, she had cut her finger pretty bad, and Jeff was afraid that they maybe had too drive her to a hospital.

The hospital for a cut finger? What was she playing with? A bayonet?

Lisa just sat there on here knees on the cold bathroom floor and looked at her dad with her finger raised towards him. “It hurts daddy,” she said.

In my experience, injured children tend to cry rather than sit calmly.

Jeff felt bad for her, he really did, but he never knew what he would do when this problem came up.

It’s not her period. It’s a cut finger! No awkward conversation necessary. Stop the bleeding, clean it, dress it, send her back to the Sharp Deadly Objects Museum, collect settlement check.

His brother Rick always knew though, he always knew what to do.

Good for him. I suppose he’d been through a basic first aid course. Knowing how to properly apply a bandage will come in handy when the zombie apocalypse hits.

His relationship with his brother was a tough one, they always fight each other, and always competed over stuff.

This is by far the most unique relationship I’ve ever heard of between brothers. I, for one, always wanted brothers so we could start a penis-strumming band. I’d play “upright” bass, and the youngest would play the ukulele.

Sometimes Jeff won sometimes it was just Rick who won.

What do the words “just Rick won” imply? That even when Jeff wins, Rick still kind of wins?

Image

But Rick took home the whole competition when he made Lori his girlfriend. That was the final straw, for their relationship.

Seriously? Are we supposed to like this character because his brother got the girl he wanted, so he decided that he no longer wanted to have a relationship with him? Jeff seems like an ass, and I’ll bet he drinks Perrier.

Jeff carried Lisa downstairs, and put her on a black sofa in the living room.

Good choice. The blood stains won’t show on the black furniture.

Then Jeff looked around the house for some kind of band aid, he couldn’t let Lisa get hurt by a cut.

Too late. She’s already hurt, and I quote, “Daddy! Daddy, I’m hurt!” This is not exactly an ambiguous sentence.

Her mother, Jeff’s Ex-wife Amy would be mad as hell at him.

Again, too late. Mess with ex-bitches and end up with stitches.

In the end he couldn’t find any type of band aids, and had too call someone for help, but he just didn’t want to call the hospital, they would think he is a bad parent and probably take her away from him, and that would not happen, not while Jeff was drawing breath.

Whoa, slow down there, cowboy. You don’t have a bandage, adhesive or otherwise, so you have to call for help? Wrap it in a towel, tear up a t-shirt, superglue it shut (it should be obvious, but allow me to cover my ass: do not superglue your cuts, people!) There are literally dozens of things around your home to use as a makeshift bandage. You don’t need to run down the street wailing like a banshee because your medicine cabinet is empty.

On top of that, why would the hospital take her away because she cut her finger? That seems excessive. Although maybe I’m missing some content; perhaps he had his 8 year-old playing with his new indoor wood chipper. Actually, that would answer a lot of questions, like why the cut is so bad, and how one of the best lawyers in Boston could think his child cutting her finger would result in the state taking her away.

In the bathroom he found a rag and some disinfection to help him clean up the cut.

So he does know what to do after all. We could have done without all the melodrama just to find out there was no reason for it.

I’m curious about one thing: what’s a “disinfection?” I hope he’s not cleaning that cut with Lysol.

Then he went back to the living room, and sat down on the sofa next to Lisa. “So, so, daddy’s here,” Jeff said as he held her finger and started to clean the wound.

Wait, why didn’t he take her to the bathroom with him? And what happened to calling for help? I’m at least entertained that nearly every line so far has been a contradiction to a previous one.

Also, is that “So, so,” a stutter or a pet name for his daughter? If it’s the former, how is “So, Daddy’s here,” a valid verbal response to the situation? If the latter, how the hell do you get “So, so,” out of Lisa?

 ”So… Hold the rag on top of your wound for a while, and we will see if it stops.”

Oh, it’ll stop. One way or another, the bleeding always ceases.

“And if it doesn’t stop? What then?” Lisa asked her dad with sad eyes, her brown hair going down too her shoulders, and her deep blue eyes looked straight into Jeff’s.

We just went over this, sweetie. It stops when it stops, or when you die. And please stop phrasing your sentences like an adult. It’s creepy. Children that talk like this usually end up chasing people with an axe and a maniacal glint in their eyes.

Jeff gave her a smile. “Of course it will stop honey, the cut doesn’t really look that deep, you will be okay, trust me, OK?” Lisa looked at him and nodded her head.

Son of a bitch! Then why all the talk of going to the hospital? If the cut wasn’t very bad, why did he freak the fuck out in the first place? All this up and down, overly-dramatic bullshit for a stupid little cut that, in the end, is not deep or serious. All this exposition has accomplished was showing us that the “best lawyer” in Boston is, in fact, a blubbering idiot. This cut had better be the start of the epidemic or some shit, or I’m going to be pissed!

“Alright, daddy, I will.” Lisa said as she held the rag against the cut, he and probably Lisa hoped that the cut wasn’t all that bad.

“Probably Lisa?” The girl might not hope her own cut isn’t very bad? Is this father sitting here and taking the extreme agnostic position that he can’t know for sure that his daughter isn’t a masochist, so he doesn’t want to assume that she doesn’t want the cut to be serious?

After that Jeff walked into the kitchen too look for something for Lisa to eat.

All right, I’ve let it go so far, but for fuck’s sake, I don’t think the word “too” has been necessary at all throughout this entire story so far. The word you’re looking for is “to.”

“Lisa, would you like me too order you some pizza?” Jeff called out over his left shoulder. Lisa took up her little teddy bear named snuggle with her right hand, and went into the kitchen, and she also looked inside. There was nothing really inside the fridge, that Lisa would like so she just looked up to her father and shook her head as in denial.

I chose to leave this paragraph together to illustrate a point. This author obviously has a very detailed image in his mind of what’s happening in the story, and that’s great. But we don’t need every detail; it’s monotonous and boring to read. It seems logical that the more you put on the page, the better image the reader will get, and that might be true, but the reader doesn’t need to have the exact same mental image you do. The idea is to paint enough of a picture that they can fill in the gaps with their imagination. Part of the magic of reading over watching is that you get to be a part of the world building, and being too detailed takes that away.

Now, if the author had spiced this up with lightsaber limbo, we’d have an exciting paragraph. Nothing adds tension to a story like imminent danger of chopping off your nipples during a thrilling round of limbo.

“No thanks dad,” she said and went back to the sofa, Jeff looked at her as she sat on the sofa, she looked as, but yet calm and happy at the same time.

I have no idea what this sentence is supposed to say, but I don’t care because I have a feeling it isn’t important.

The divorce of her parents must have been hard on her, he couldn’t even imagine, she was just a child. She’s never even been living in a home with two parents.

Then why would it bother her? Nothing has changed; it’s always been this way—it’s all she’s ever known. Maybe her friends’ parents are together, or she’s teased about it, which seems unlikely, but in the end, she’s never lived with both of them at the same time, so how can she miss it?

Though I kind of see her point. I’ve never had a team of naughty nurses giving me blow jobs on the hour every hour, but I sure as hell miss it.

Jeff went to his office/study on the first floor and sat in front of the desk.

Is it an office or a study? Is it both? I’m confused. This is probably a bait and switch: he calls it office/study, but it really is a psycho shrine to his sister-in-law where he jacks off and cries as he stares at pictures of her.

There were some paperwork on the table, and Jeff tried too look through them and maybe get some work done. But he couldn’t, he was just thinking about Lisa. Was it hard for Lisa to be with her dad? Or did she have problems at home (her moms house then) he didn’t knew, and even if he did want to find out what would he say?

The fucked verb tenses and utter senselessness of this paragraph have me almost convinced it’s part of an elaborate conspiracy to defund Obamacare and place Rush Limbaugh as the supreme ruler of the universe, but then again, I’m not a crazy person, so that scenario seems mildly farfetched.

On the table there was a picture of Jeff and Lisa when they both went to the big carnival that sometimes past through the city.

A traveling carnival passing through Boston? I’ve never been much of a city dweller — isolation is more my thing — but where would a carnival set up in a place like Boston? Where would they find the room? Now, in a suburb I’d believe it in a second, but in the middle of a major city, I remain skeptical.

Besides, isn’t a big city already enough of a carnival? This sounds redundant to me.

Jeff could remember how glad Lisa was when she found out that she was going to the carnival. That big smile on her face, warmed Jeff’s heart, and he would never forget it. But as the years passed by Lisa probably found out in school that her parents were actually divorced going back 7 years.

What? How would she have learned that in school? Did the teacher put a word problem on a math test that read, “Lisa’s parents have been divorced as long as she can remember. Lisa’s parents got divorced when she was 1, and she is now 8. How long have Lisa’s parents been divorced, and how ashamed of this fact should she be?”

Jeff couldn’t look at the picture anymore, it just gave bad memories from the past, so he opened a drawer in his desk and put the picture in there. “Daddy, what are you doing?”

Contemplating deep time and the idea that the stars I see in the sky at night may have already been dead for millions of years. What does it look like, child? I’m looking at a picture of us together and cramming it into a drawer because it gives me bad memories.

The only way that this scene could have possibly been more cliché would be if Jeff “released the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding” as he shoved the picture in the drawer.

Said Lisa’s voice coming from the door into the study.

Her voice made it from the couch, but her body stayed behind? This is a curious take on astral projection.

“Nothing, nothing at all honey. What’s wrong?” He looked at Lisa who was standing by the door frame looking at Jeff.

Who else would she be looking at? The life-sized cardboard cutout of her aunt Lori with giant boobs drawn on it with a sharpie?

“Nothing, I just wanted to know what you were doing in your office, because you have told me that nobody can enter, right?” Jeff looked at his daughter. How could I say that to my own daughter?Jeff was thinking on the mistakes he did as a father, and there were many or even a lots of mistakes.

Lisa was wondering what her father was doing in his office because he said no one can enter it. Did she think this included himself?

So much of this story just feels contrived. Each incident is quickly brought up, pondered, and forgotten. I’m finding it hard to sympathize with this character because his problems, which could be used to create a very deep and intriguing character, are actually making him seem even more shallow because of how easily his issues are solved.

This guy is like Taylor Swift: everything that happens is a huge deal that needs to be written about and examined ad nauseam, and in the end, it’s all crap that never mattered in the first place and no one wants to hear about.

By the way, Taylor, you are the problem, not the army of men that have dumped your crazy, clingy ass.

“You can come in sweetheart, it’s just that nobody can enter when I’m working, I can’t get disturbed when I’m in here with something important from the job, but you could come in now if you want,” Jeff said as he rose up from the chair and bent on one knee in front of his daughter. “Are you alright Lisa, how’s school and everything else?”

“Working” is, of course, code for “humping Lori’s cardboard cutout and angry masturbating.”

It looked like Lisa didn’t what to talk about school and stuff like that, she just shook her head. “It is nothing really, I’m going downstairs to watch TV.” Lisa said as she walked out from the study, (…)

Good, she’s gone. Back to “business.”

(…) Jeff just looked at her going out. He didn’t know what to say, so it was just best to keep quiet.

Maybe if he’d figured that out seven years ago, he’d still be married.

Then his cellphone started to ring inside his blue jeans pocket, he took it up and looked at the display… It was Lori who was calling. That surprised Jeff to no end, he hadn’t talked to Lori or Rick in a couple of months. “Lori hey, how are you doing? I haven’t heard from you guys in a while.”

You can almost smell the awkwardness Jeff is feeling for talking on the phone to his sister-in-law with his dick in his hand.

“I’m fine Jeff, but that’s not why I am calling you…” Lori’s voice sounded scared for some reason, and Jeff was getting worried.

“What? What is going on, is Carl all right?” Jeff asked.

Shut up and let her speak!

“Yeah, yeah, he is fine, it’s just that something has happened too Rick.”

Yeah, yeah, my son is fine, but something happened to my husband? Terrified people don’t talk that way. They usually have trouble talking at all.

“A g-g-g-g-g-g-g-ghost!” — Scooby-doo.

“What?”

Rick was shoot…”

Sweet Jesus…I’m not a praying man, but please save me from this sentence.

Two weeks later

Two weeks have passed? Was there nothing worth mentioning in two weeks since his brother was shot, or was this an overly long and dramatic stunned silence?

A lot of stuff had changed in those two weeks, the dead were up and walking around eating people, well, you all know the story…

We had 20 paragraphs about a fucking cut finger, but the author actually chooses to skip telling the story of how the goddamned dead are now up and walking?!?!?! Is this shit serious?!

And no, actually I don’t know the damn story because you haven’t told it! I don’t feel it’s asking too much to have the storyteller tell me the story (crazy concept, I know), but if I am, please continue and forgive my presumptuousness.

Jeff and his daughter had fled Boston, and started to travel, and escaping the huge horde in the city. He didn’t know why he thought that it would be safer on the countryside, but it just seemed like the right choice at the time, and so did everyone else in the city.

What horde? There’s nothing in the story about a horde (which I only know about because I read the books and watch the show.) I’m saying it again, people: a work of fanfiction should always stand on its own. Relying on readers having perused the original material is lazy and, overall, just plain stupid. It’s like writing a historical fiction and expecting the reader to know everything about that period in time. If a piece of fanfiction demands me to do research, I toss it like a used condom out of a car going 80mph down the highway with a police officer in pursuit and his naked wife in the seat next to me.

It was tough to flee the city, leaving everything behind. The job, the life everything, you even lost your family if you had such bad luck.

Seeing as everyone’s lives were changed by zombies walking around and munching on the living, I doubt there was a job to walk away from in the first place. In effect, you wouldn’t be leaving shit behind because it’s all gone anyway. This attempt at single-tear-lip-quivering-woe-is-me ploy fell flatter than Helen of Troy’s tits before the boob job that launched a thousand ships.

About eight hours after the outbreak started everyone living in the city noticed that the national guard and the police didn’t have any kind of control left, so they all started too panic, the streets were filled with people, trying to escape the horde of walkers that controlled the city by then, trying to survive.

It took everyone EIGHT HOURS to freak out about a horde of zombies prancing down Newbury Street? These aren’t New Yorkers! They see the weirdest shit on a daily basis, so they obviously wouldn’t bat an eye over an army of the undead tearing people apart as they cross the street. Either these people are their own brand of slow, or they put a mix of Xanax and beta-blockers in the water supply there. Nothing else would account for this ridiculously delayed reaction.

Jeff stayed in his house with his daughter for a couple of days until everything was calm outside, then Jeff and his daughter could look for a safe place to stay.

Until everything was calm? Are you implying that a zombie horde in a city with more than 600 thousand people (in the city of Boston itself; I’m not counting the surrounding areas, so the actual number is much higher) calmed down after a few days? Let’s just say that I was “intimately” involved with the 1776 fire that burned a large portion of New York City, and I can guarantee that this type of commotion doesn’t just settle down after a few days.

Jeff had started to run out on food,

Why is he running away from food? That’s just stupid. It’s the zombie apocalypse; he shouldn’t be running out on food! Unless the author meant run out of food, in which case, since it’s the zombie apocalypse, Jeff is the food.

so he had to find something too eat for Lisa and himself, or they would starve to death, and Jeff couldn’t let that happen, he had too protect his daughter no matter what happened. Jeff knew that it would be hard to find food anywhere just because everyone else had surely taken it already, and Jeff didn’t really live close to a shopping district or a mall.

Hadn’t they fled the city? Why does it matter that Jeff doesn’t live near a mall? Besides, there’s no point going to the mall. Hot Topic was the first place to be looted. All that’s left is probably camping gear and various supplies that any intelligent person would go for first.

Since the people of Boston have severely delayed mental processes in this story, I doubt any of them thought to go for anything that might aid their survival. But at least, they’ll be the trendiest zombie on the block. Zombie hispters… Sound kind of redundant. If you’re a hipster, you’re already pretty much a zombie. Nevertheless, that’s a horde I’d love to see mowed down!

Jeff had looked out on the street in front of his house from one of the windows on the first floor, it was empty of humans, but a couple of walkers were roaming around.

DID HE OR DID HE NOT FLEE THE GODDAMN CITY?! WHAT IS HE DOING BACK IN HIS HOUSE?? Author: 1. Consistency: 0.

 Damn! Jeff thought to himself. It was going to be hard avoiding all of the walkers outside, without taking some down, but that was too risky, what if other walkers heard? No, he had too come up with something, some kind of plan, it wasn’t safe anymore in Jeff’s house they had too find food, and fast.

You may have to sacrifice cardboard Lori to get out of this mess.

Lisa who was sitting by the kitchen table had a sad look on her face and looked at Jeff. “Dad, where is mommy?” She asked him. Jeff didn’t know what he would say, he hadn’t any contact with his ex-wife since the outbreak started, and Jeff feared the worst for her.

Why? He should be hoping the bitch got eaten. No more alimony!

“I don’t know sweet pea, but she is probably at her house, and she can’t come here for some reason, but don’t worry I’m sure she’s fine.” Jeff had lied about the last part, he had heard on the radio that things were really bad in downtown Boston, some said that it was even worse there then outside the city. But Lisa didn’t know that, she jsut nodded her head and became a little bit calmer.

Hadn’t everyone in the city fled, even though Jeff magically teleported back? I find it highly unlikely that in the middle of this chaos there’d be a dude sitting at the radio station broadcasting the news instead of getting his ass out of town.

A few days later Jeff had decided that he and Lisa would take his car that stood in the garage and was still in good function and take it too drive out from the city. Lisa became sad and angry that they didn’t look for her mother in the city, but Jeff had lied too her again and told her that they had to find a safe place first then they could look for her in the city.

The car stood in the garage? A tall-legged car would probably be useful here, especially one that’s “still in good function” after two weeks. Cars do tend to break down if not driven every four hours, as any leggy-car aficionado will tell you.

But Jeff knew that if his wife still hadn’t come and look for her family, she was most likely dead, or worse: one of the walkers…

Did they get remarried when I wasn’t looking? I thought it was his ex-wife. That logic is also pretty faulty. He didn’t go looking for his “wife,” so does that automatically mean he’s dead? And does it make me a bad person if I hope he is?

As a whole I found this chapter to be rather boring. Not a lot happened, and what did happen wasn’t very compelling. The author does admit in an author’s note that he’s aware some people may not have liked this chapter much because it was backstory and exposition, but to be honest I see that as a bit of a copout, and also the confirmation to one of the biggest no-no’s in fiction writing: don’t open with a fuckload of exposition. It’s a no-no for a reason; it’s so fucking boring.

My complaints about the various contrivances aside, I do appreciate that a complex and flawed character was actually attempted here. So much of the fanfiction that I read contains nothing but absolutely perfect characters whose absolute perfection is challenged by the jealous and one-dimensional people they surround themselves with, and it’s refreshing to see someone at least try to give a character depth, regardless of whether or not they failed.

I suspect this is written by someone who speaks English as a second language, which would explain a lot of the issues with it. But all in all, I’d say he’s got an eye for detail, which I can’t say for most of the authors I read. If I were to make a suggestion, it would probably be to work on his pacing and learn to prioritize certain plot areas a little better. Glazing over the outbreak, the most important event in the opening chapter, was a huge mistake. There’s only so much that can be said about a damn cut finger, and this author exhausted that topic, that’s for damn sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s nothing new to say about non-serious finger injuries for decades to come.

Thanks for reading, and please rate this entry, follow the blog, drop by and read on in the author’s story, say hello to me on Facebook or Twitter, get your pets spayed and neutered, and most importantly send me a check for a thousand dollars.

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