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Anything following "DOS" is taken directly from A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice. No part of the prologue has been omitted from this text.

This review and use of the original text are protected under the "fair use" act as a parody.

A Density of Sou!s - MST Review

Stephanie and The Brat Queen

February 2001

All Rights Reserved

DOS: A Density of Souls is the story of four young friends in New Orleans whose lives are pulled in drastically different directions when they enter high school. Meredith, Brandon, Stephen and Greg, once inseparable, are torn apart by envy, secret passion and rage. They quickly discover the fragile boundaries between friendship and betrayal as they form new allegiances. Brandon and Greg gain popularity as football jocks. Meredith joins th e bulimic in-crowd, while fragile Stephen is treated as an outcast and is the target of homophobia in a school that viciously mocks him. Their struggles are fueled by generations of feuds and secrets hoarded within their opulent Garden District homes, and soon two violent deaths disrupt the core of what they once shared.

STEPH: A Density of Souls, a book of old cliches and Stephen King character rejects packed so tightly together, no glimmer of light can escape this blackhole of a book!

TBQ: Hence the title "Density".

STEPH: Hey, if you took a cubic inch of the soul matter in this book and dropped it on the Earth, what do you think would happen? We've resurrected the spirit of Carl Sagan to tell us the answer. . .

TBQ: Soul matter... is this like that angels on the head of a pin question?

STEPH: I think it's more like the "if no one has read a book and it hits a ceiling fan, does anybody care?" question.

TBQ: I'm going to place my bet right now that the phrase "And after that day, nothing was the same again" appears somewhere in this novel. Or given the fact that this is written by a member of the Rice family, it could be dressed up as "And after that day, her soul could never feel the same way again."

TBQ: I'd like to ask too, just what is the "bulimic in-crowd"? Does every school have one? And, if so, how can you tell them from a distance? Do they all carry little bottles of ipacac syrup in their bags?

STEPH: Bulimia is so '87.

TBQ: Ok, so we've established that this book is a typical coming-of-age piece which rips off, amongst other things, both Stephen King's Stand By Me as well as pretty much everything Chris's own mother ever wrote.

STEPH: Well, to give him credit, at least he didn't write about a bi-sexual vampire trying to make its way into the "bulimic in-crowd"

TBQ: While trying to get onto the fragile football team and deal with homophobia.

STEPH: Any bets on what Anne's next book might be about?

TBQ: There you go. Care to start on the meat of the story now?

STEPH: Yes, please, lets move on.

DOS: 1992. Beneath a sky thickening with summer thunderheads, they rode their bikes to Lafayette Cemetery, where the dead are buried above ground.

TBQ: If you had to diagram that sentence, where would you start?

STEPH: It must be one of those experimental novels. You know, like the type William Faulkner and James Joyce wrote. . .

TBQ: But you can feel that sexual tension already - those thickening thunderheads. I don't know about you but I'm all hot and bothered.

STEPH: Well I'm definitely bothered.

TBQ: By the way, I'd like to point out for the record that at this moment our POV is third-person omniscient narrator. That will be important as you read on.

DOS: The four of them flew down Chestnut Street, their wheels bouncing over flagstones wrenched by the gnarled roots of oak trees They passed high wrought-iron fences beyond which Doric and Ionic columns held up the facades of Greek Revival mansions, their screened porches shrouded in tangles of vines.

TBQ: I don't know about you but when I was thirteen I was definitely all about noticing Doric and Ionic columns. But not Corinthian because, you know, fuck them.

STEPH: I wish this book came with pictures and architectural diagrams of the Garden District to really make it all come alive for me. Or at least to provide a distraction from the writing.

DOS: The canopy of oak branches began at Jackson Avenue, by the bell tower of Bishop Polk Cathedral, which rose thirty feet into the air, its ceramic tiled portico crowned by a blinding gold-plated crucifix.

TBQ: Because as we all know if it had been real gold someone in New Orleans would have stolen it by now.

STEPH: I can appreciate the need to add a little local color to a story, but what else does this passage try to establish except the desperate attempt to make us believe Chris did a little research. Something of which he painfully neglects when it actually counts. We'll see this a little later.

DOS: The neighborhood, with its sprawl of raised Creole cottages and classical mansions, stretched for blocks

TBQ: As opposed to other neighborhoods which stretch on for inches.

STEPH: Oh good. A story of a bunch of angst-ridden upper-class white kids. I just can't get enough of those.

TBQ: Which explains how they were able to kick in for that ritzy cross on top of the Cathedral there.

DOS: Their ride to the cemetery on Washington Avenue took them through sunlight dappled across the uneven asphalt of the floral-rimmed streets of the Garden District.

TBQ: "You want to get to the cemetery? Sure kid, just get yerself down past the dappled sunlight and hang a left at the floral-rimmed streets. Can't miss it."

STEPH: You think Chris is trying to establish the innocence of these kids? Over the river and through the woods and all that. . . ? Boy, we're gonna be in for a real treat when he finally rips that rug from under us.

DOS: The greatest fear of their thirteenth summer was the appearance of cars.

TBQ: Because they were all innocent and youthful and stuff. Since, as you know, ALL thirteen year old American kids in 1992 were completely unaware of things like child abuse, hunger, AIDS or strangers kidnapping them off the streets. So yes, let us stop for a moment and admire how Chris manages to set up a sense of foreshadowing by the use of this completely non-cliched line about rich white kids peddling their ten speeds through the Gar den District with no sense of fear for anything except the cars. Ah youth! Especially the youth of the Garden District who, living only blocks from the Irish Channel and the St. Thomas Housing Project, would have no reason to fear anything but automobiles. Tra la!

STEPH: Ah, sweet innocence.... Heh, heh, brings me back a few years. I remember my first fear was of nuclear war.

TBQ: You know, if it was me I'd have been afraid of being hit by cars. Just the appearance of cars isn't that bad, unless maybe the owner colored it fuschia or something. Which, considering Chris's mother, i s actually a legitimate worry.

STEPH: Well, we've already established the Stephen King connection, perhaps Chris was looking for a "Christine" angle to round out the prologue.

DOS: Meredith would never be able to forget the day the gate was locked and the rain fell.

TBQ: The Brat Queen would never be able to forget the moment the narrative stopped and changed POV for no apparent reason. For the record, this is POV change number 2.

DOS: During their ritual afternoon games of hide-and-seek, the century-old tomb of the fireman of the Chalmette Station was always "base" and Greg was always It.

TBQ: Did 13 year olds in 1992 still play hide-and-seek? I mean wouldn't these kids have moved on to Nintendo or watching Thundercats by now?

STEPH: I'd venture to say that thirteen year old has been It since 1955, but you know how these Rice's are so very in touch with the world.

STEPH: Okay, in defense of these kids, and lets face it they're not going to get equal time anywhere else from us, thirteen year olds may sometimes play a version of "hide and seek". However, this usually involves something a little more complex than the five year old version we're getting here. They'd developed something in terms of what we call "strategy." They'd be playing capture the flag, laser tag or paint ball - or, heh, spin the b ottle if Meredith weren't around - but I think they'd have both eyes gouged out and let their grandparents dress them before admitting to play "hide and seek.".

TBQ: And how exactly do you have a "ritual" game of hide and seek? Are they wearing robes and chanting in Latin?

STEPH: Well according to Anne in her acclaimed book, Servant of the Bones, the Babylonians first invented the game of "hide and seek" as an alternative means to war when the Moors attacked them during the reign of the Ming Dynasty.

TBQ: I'd also like someone with better editing skills than I to explain why the word "base" is in quotes but the word "it" is capitalized.

STEPH: Perhaps he's using It as a proper name? *long pause* Why are we reading this?

DOS: The four would deposit their bikes in the center of the cemetery where the three main thoroughfares converged.

TBQ: So we've got churches that are exactly 30 feet tall, express directions of how to get to the cemetery from Jackson, sun dappled streets, Ionic columns and yet even still Chris "Crackerjack Reporter" Rice gets the number of main paths in Lafayette Cemetery wrong. For those of you who haven't been, the cemetery has two paths. The paths intersect to form a crossroad so, if you wanted to be technical, it kind of looks like four. So Chris had two chances to get it right and managed to miss his guess in both directions. He lives in the Garden District. The numbers involved here require the use of merely one hand and he doesn't even ha ve to employ his thumb and he still got it wrong. Do I really need to say more?

STEPH: And not that four bikes thrown in the center to the cemetery isn't going to inconvenience those wandering through or paying respects. . . "And over to your left we have the monument erected to the innocent thirtee n year olds, killed by the grounds keepers for pretending to be It on public property."

DOS: Greg would lean against the peristyled tomb, his hands covering his eyes and protecting his face from the hard marble.

TBQ: See, again, if you're going to try to toss around lines like "peristyled tomb" I really need to be able to trust that you understand the crucial difference between 2 and 3.

STEPH: Don't you just love the thesaurus built into those wacky word processors?

TBQ: If he's like his mom he's still using WordStar, which makes a lot of sense all things considered.

DOS: Each summer, Greg's voice had deepened, and the echo of his counting off grew more ominous to his three friends, who scrambled through alleys of tombs in search of the best hiding places.

TBQ: Greg's a real slow developer, isn't he? Don't most boys finish their voice change in, oh, less than two summers?

STEPH: Most normal kids, but Greg's had to perfect that "ominous" tone. That takes a little longer.

DOS: Brandon would always run the fastest and the furthest. Meredith would search for a spot somewhere near base; close enough to hear Greg's voice, which grew louder with each one- Mississippi.

TBQ: There's that counting problem again. If you spare just a moment to think about it you'll realize there's only one "one-Mississippi" in a count like this. After that you move on to two, three, four, etc.

STEPH: It's obvious now that Meredith didn't think she had much to worry about with such a brain as Greg playing the esteemed role of It. Oh man, another Stephen King connection!

DOS: Stephen would usually abandon the game altogether and seek out the Conlin Mausoleum, where his own father's oven-slot tomb was announced in a clean square of white marble amid the weathered gray.

TBQ: Why do they keep bringing Stephen to these "ritual" games of hide and seek if he makes a habit of never playing?

STEPH: Maybe the only people Greg can catch are the non-participants. Yep, those grieving widows have to get up pretty early to fool our man Greg!

DOS: One of the last men to be buried in Lafayette Cemetery, Jeremy Conlin, "Beloved Husband, Beloved Father,"

TBQ: Boy his parents sure planned ahead when they named him.

STEPH: No pressure.

DOS: resided in a five-foot-high mausoleum with a Gothic arched door frame, blocked immediately by the marble slab engraved with the names of other Conlins who had died of diseases for which cures had been found by the time Jeremy brought a gun to his own head.

TBQ: Because Jeremy could no longer take the pressure of his son's intense games of hide-and-seek.

STEPH: So what Chris is saying here, is that even with the advancement of medical science, people still don't give a damn.

TBQ: I'd also like to add that Lafayette is an active cemetery, so Jeremy was not the last guy to be buried in there. Unless Chris is trying to say "the last guy to be recently buried in there" but that's painfull y unclear from this narrative which, again, includes a sentence that even Degas couldn't diagram.

STEPH: Hell, I bet Derrida couldn't even deconstruct it.

DOS: When the rain began, Meredith burrowed between the back walls of two mausoleums.

STEPH: "And was crushed when they collapsed in a mudslide upon her. . ."

DOS: Stone angels kept their back to her as she crouched, her sneakers wedged on the platforms of the opposite tombs, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of Stephen's slender back and shock of blond hair as he stared down at his father's name.

TBQ: The angels begin a long line of people who snub Meredith, thus causing her eating disorder.

DOS: A sheet of raindrops hit the roofs of the tombs, and a thick mist gradually filled the alley.

STEPH: A sheet of raindrops?

DOS: When the first roll of thunder crackled, Meredith saw Stephen suddenly lift his head. His blue eyes widened and he screamed.

TBQ: Because, living in New Orleans, he'd never heard the sound of thunder before.

STEPH: Being innocent and only thirteen.

TBQ: Also having never looked Meredith full in the face before - she not being what you might call the most attractive member of the group.

DOS: He was lost to Meredith with a quick pump of his skinny, pale legs.

TBQ: Just the one pump, because Stephen had the ability to leap fifteen feet into the air with a single step.

STEPH: Stephen, skinny geek that he was, followed only the physics of Anime.

DOS: Greg barreled through the mud in pursuit. Meredith pressed herself against one of the walls as she heard Stephen let out a defeated wail. Thunder and rain muffled the sound of what had to be two bodies slamming into the mud.

TBQ: For even though it was muffled, Meredith was fully able to hear and discern what was going on.

DOS: Meredith listened, then moved down the alleyway, stepping only on the raised platforms, careful not to let her rain-soaked sneakers mire her in the mud. She came to the edge of the final tomb and braced herself against it with one hand.

TBQ: You know, I've been in Lafayette about a thousand times and I'm just not getting these visuals. First she's behind tombs, then she's stepping on platforms, now she's on the "final tomb" in the cemetery - what is she? Spiderman?

DOS: Fear had brought a sheen of sweat to her skin.

TBQ: Because when Greg played hide-and-seek, he used a gun.

STEPH: I suppose the intense heat and humidity of a summer's day in New Orleans right before a rain storm has nothing to do with Meredith sweating.

DOS: For a panicked moment, she thought the others might have disappeared.

TBQ: Had she taken a second moment, she would have remembered that with hide-and-seek, that was the point.

STEPH: Even if they did leave, what the hell did she have to be afraid of? Did they blindfold her when they brought her here? Did she forget to leave a trail of bread crumbs?

DOS: She peered around the edge of the tomb.

TBQ: Waiting for a pie to hit her in the face.

DOS: Stephen's bare leg jutted from beneath Greg's waist.

TBQ: Narrowly missing Greg's spleen.

DOS: Mud plastered the hem of his khaki shorts to his pale thighs. Greg looked as if he had been struck in the back, his body collapsed onto Stephen's.

TBQ: Meredith regretted not being able to do it first.

DOS: His soaked hair draped the right half of Stephen's face.

TBQ: Because, as you know, all thirteen year old boys back in 1992 had hair that long.

DOS: At first, it made no sense. Only when Greg lifted his head could Meredith detect that Greg was rocking slowly back and forth on top of Stephen.

TBQ: And then Meredith realized that they had invented the Macarena.

STEPH: To the victor goes the spoils, heh, heh, heh. . .

DOS: The panic she had felt only seconds earlier turned from an icy knot inside her chest to a hot rush like the onset of nausea. Her first thought was that one of them had been hurt. But some instinct wouldn't allow her to believe this,

TBQ: Specifically the kinky one.


DOS: so she remained unable to call out to them. She watched Greg lower his face over Stephen and watched Stephen's blue eyes widen as the tip of Greg's nose grazed his.

TBQ: Because all 13 year old boys like to cuddle.

STEPH: They're in a public cemetery during a rain storm playing a game that by it's very name entails that people are going to be seeking them out - and they're having sex. I can appreciate the spontaneity of your average teenage hormone, but this is a little much.

DOS: Greg and Stephen locked eyes with an intensity that told Meredith they were part of a world she had been denied access to. It had to be a world known only to boys.

TBQ: In as much as dicks were involved. Ok, can I officially say for the record WE GET IT? Homosexual, underage sex! Yes, this is Anne Rice's son! They are just such rebels in the Rice family that they would dare to write about these things! God knows there aren't THOUSANDS of people out there who are and have been writing chanslash for years and who, if I may add, tend to do it better. No, we need the Rice family to bring this risque subject out into the forefront because God knows the people who brought us gold lame bedroom sheets will be able to handle this subject with the respect and decorum it deserves.

STEPH: You know, this reminds me of the scene in Eyes Wide Shut where they inserted digital objects to obscure what was to be too shocking for the general audience. Chris uses the tombs in the cemetery to obscure M eredith's vision and draw our interest into the "secret world of 'boy love'" via Meredith's adolescent fears and angst. While in many instances the use-your-imagination technique is effective (re: The Blair Witch Proje ct), we the viewers need a little incentive to want to employ it. Like in Eyes Wide Shut, this fails because the author fails to understand that his intended audience isn't all that shocked. At least not with t he sex per se. The shocking part is that these kids are too stupid to live, yet they've figured out how to have sex. I'm still placing bets that they're all heterosexuals who just don't know sex is possible with the oppos ite gender. Darwin wins again!

DOS: Then a guttural war cry startled her and sent her backward against the mausoleum wall. It forced Greg and Stephen apart as if a shotgun had been slid between their waists.

TBQ: And we all know how painful that is, right kids?

DOS: Brandon had made it to home base.

STEPH: Brandon liked to tango alone, if you know what I mean. . .

TBQ: This is the most melodramatic game of hide-and-seek I have ever seen in my life.

STEPH: Should Peter Graves or Leonard Nimoy be doing the voice overs here?

DOS: The first bolt of lightning struck several blocks away from the cemetery. It sounded like the snap of a giant guitar string

TBQ: Chris's failed music career comes to his aid at last!

STEPH: When has thunder ever sounded like a snap of a guitar string? That's more of a "boing" sound effect you expect to hear in a high camp movie - which come to think of it, makes more sense here.

DOS: and bathed the padlocked cast-iron gate in a brief flash of white light. Meredith screamed,

TBQ: These are some seriously high-strung kids. It's 1992, can't they try some Prozac for children?

DOS: one hand flying to her mouth. She backed into Stephen and then stepped away from him. They all stared at the gate.

TBQ: Because being innocent and 13 meant they had never seen one before.

DOS: "We can jump it!" Brandon barked. "Not with our bikes. How would we get them over?" Greg asked.

TBQ: You would lift them, with your hands. Ok - for those of you playing at home. Lafayette cemetery does have iron gates, and when the cemetery is closed the gates are padlocked. All this is true. However, Chris is negl ecting to mention 1. That when the caretakers close up for the day they drive their truck through one of the main roads (over the kids' bikes, presumably) and honk the horn as somebody on foot ushers people out. So for t he kids to have missed that means they were seriously not paying attention. 2. While most of the gates are tall there are also smaller gates just to the side of the main ones. I mean literally right next to them. As in attached. As in if you are standing in front of these gates and look to your right or left you will notice these much smaller gates that only come up to your waist. So unless these kids are like 3 feet tall there is no way they couldn't climb their way out of this cemetery and haul their bikes over as well. This is a famous cemetery that is just blocks from Chris's house. He could get these details right. It's not that hard.

STEPH: He probably could have done it by looking out the window of the Commander's Palace while having brunch with mom.

DOS: "And what about the last person? If we stood on each other's--"

TBQ: "- dicks. Especially yours Greg - "

STPEH: Ha! Yes, go ahead and form a human chain to get over the little gate. Amuse me.

DOS: Thunder ripped across the charcoal sky in deafening crackles. "--then the last person wouldn't have anyone to stand on!" Stephen was speaking through the thunder, his voice high-pitched with reasonableness.

TBQ: Because if there's one thing a squeaky voice indicates, it's the voice of reason.

STEPH: I like the use of the word "reasonableness" here. Chris needs to include his thesaurus on the dedication page.

DOS: Meredith pivoted away from the arguing boys. She looked up at the bifurcated

TBQ: Again, he can use bifurcated in a sentence and still can't count to two. Draw your own conclusions.

DOS: edges of the clouds as they passed over the skyline of stone Virgin Marys and angels. Were the clouds really as close to the earth as they seemed? Stephen heard her first sob.

TBQ: Because clouds frightened Meredith and depressed her.

STEPH: The clouds, in large angry letters, spelled out the word REDRUM.

DOS: Furious, Brandon hurled his bike into a nearby mausoleum.

TBQ: Unable to believe the utter cretins he had for friends.

STEPH: He could throw his bike into a Mausoleum, but not over the gate?

DOS: He sank to his knees next to it and then glared at the other three as if to challenge them to contradict his anger. But Stephen had already slid one arm around Meredith's shoulder. She went rigid beneath it, ashamed. "Omigod, Mer!" Brandon sneered.

TBQ: I'd give Brandon props for mocking her if it wasn't for the fact that "Omigod" was seriously out of fashion even by 1992.

STEPH: I keep hoping that this is just the back drop and Marty McFly is going to be walking through any minute looking for Doc Brown.

DOS: Lightning struck again, this time, closer.

TBQ: Because even God was tired of them by now.

DOS: "Get away from the gate. It's metal!" Greg barked.

STEPH: Unlike like your bikes. Good thing they're good and wet too. . .

TBQ: So close to having intelligence and yet so far.

DOS: "Fuck!" Brandon yelled before rising to his feet and charging the padlocked fence. He landed against it with both hands, grabbing the tines and shaking them.

STEPH: And the winner of the Holden Caulfield "Fuck on My Grave" award goes to Christopher Rice!

TBQ: Ok, I am now officially going to guess that these kids are stoned and we just haven't been told yet. Otherwise there is no way they would be overreacting like this to a thunderstorm while being in the middle of what is essentially a park and standing next to a gate even a dwarf could hop over.

DOS: "Come on." Stephen's voice was low with authority.

TBQ: For those of you playing at home that's "high-pitched" for reason and "low" for authority. Stephen's just a Man of All Voices isn't he? Next he'll do Jack Nicolson.

DOS: Meredith raised her head. It took her a moment to realize he was walking her back into the cemetery

TBQ: Into the cemetery that they are freaking out about because they can't leave. So they are going back into the thing they're still inside of.

STEPH: Well that's crafty of them. . .

DOS: to where the dripping branches of the oak tree over the firemen's tomb

TBQ: Because if there's any safe place to be during a lightening storm, it's under a big, tall tree. And the trees in Lafayette are Magnolias, by the way, not oaks. The cemetery is famous for it.

DOS: were rocking in the wind, driven by torrents of rain whipping through the alleyways. "Where are you going?" Greg yelled.

TBQ: Because even he couldn't stand to read through the narrative to find out.

DOS: "Come on..." Stephen called back over his shoulder. Stephen propped Meredith against the oak's trunk. Greg approached them tentatively, shooting glances over his shoulder at Brandon, who lagged further behind, his f ists shoved into his pockets. The rain had soaked through Brandon's T-shirt, revealing hints of muscles developing across his shoulders. Meredith saw how Greg's arms looked broader beneath the soaked sleeves of his polo shirt.

TBQ: Scorecards! Get yer scorecards! Can't keep track of POV without your scorecards! Ok, ready? From Meredith's point of view we're watching Greg, but then we switch to Greg's point of view because he's the only one here paying attention to Brandon's muscles. It is then back to Meredith's POV as she, in turn, is apparently inspired by psychic ability to do something similar and notice Greg's body herself. One paragraph, three switches. I guess Anne's not the only one in the Rice family who doesn't need an editor, huh?

STEPH: *pulls out Crime and Punishment and begins reading*

DOS: When Meredith looked at Stephen, she realized how pale his skin was, how delicately his limbs connected to his frame.

TBQ: Oh God, Meredith's one of those teens who writes really soppy and angstful poetry about how the stars are God's daisy chain, isn't she? No 13 year old girl would think about "delicate limbs" otherwise. Not unless sh e'd OD'ed on Poppy Z. Brite, although I suppose that's forbidden in a Rice family novel.

DOS: "My Dad taught me this thing . . ." Stephen trailed off.

TBQ: Was this before or after he touched you in your swimsuit area Stephen?

DOS: Brandon stopped.

TBQ: In the name of love.

DOS: Meredith, Greg and Brandon had pieced together the story of Stephen's father from snippets of overheard conversation and cryptic remarks from their own parents.

TBQ: You know this would build up a sense of mystery if it wasn't for the fact that I'm reasonably certain that the operation of a doorknob is cryptic to these kids.

DOS: The three of them sometimes talked about it when Stephen was out of earshot,

TBQ: Being the back-stabbing, gossip-mongers that they were.

DOS: but whenever he mentioned Jeremy Conlin they all fell into an awkward, frightened silence.

TBQ: Being sheltered, innocent children that were terrified of conversation.

STEPH: I'll make a bet with you that all their rooms are painted a calm pink color.

DOS: "It's a poem. Well, he called it a poem, but my Mom says it's more of a rhyme," Stephen said, staring down at the mud.

STEPH: Oh, that's harsh! His own wife slammed his work. No wonder he killed himself.

TBQ: The role of Jeremy Conlin is being played by Stan Rice, apparently.

DOS: "Rhymes suck," Brandon muttered.

TBQ: Ah, obviously a fan of Stan's then.

DOS: Greg glanced nervously at him. "It's about being afraid," Stephen went on, his voice rising now

STEPH: "When you walk through a storm / keep your head held high / and don't be afraid of the dark..." Sing along, everyone!

TBQ: Is it just me or has Stephen's voice seen more action in this story than any of the kids so far?

DOS: over the cacophony of rain. Meredith thought Jeremy Conlin must have known a lot about not being afraid. It took a lot of guts to shoot yourself.

TBQ: Because Meredith was all about angst and suicide and cool gothic stuff like that.

STEPH: A real man would have used a katana!

DOS: Stephen clasped Meredith's hand in his own thin fingers. Brandon and Greg were both studying Stephen. Brandon eyes had turned to slits, full of suspicious fascination. Greg cocked his head to one side, waiting for Stephen and afraid of what he might say.

TBQ: The Brat Queen cocked her head to one side, waiting for someone to prove to her that that last sentence wasn't yet another POV change.

DOS: Meredith felt a tightening in her chest.

TBQ: Because Meredith had long since sublimated her emotions into a powerful ulcer.

DOS: Her hand suddenly returned Stephen's grip.

TBQ: Because it had more of a personality than she did.

DOS: She tried not to think of the tangle of limbs that had been Greg and Stephen, refusing to rise from the mud as their hips slid together.

TBQ: Again - I dare you to diagram that sentence. I know I've made this comment before but damn if it doesn't bear repeating. I fully expect to say it again.

STEPH: Well, I got as far as "She tried" and then it gets real messy. Though I think it also bears mentioning that the second half of this sentence is completely unnecessary. Not that the first half is, but if we go that far we have to take it back to the existence of the book in the first place, and that's just pissing me off.

DOS: She shut her eyes. When she opened them again, Greg was standing closer to Stephen.

TBQ: Because Chris just couldn't bear to write "Greg walked over to Stephen". Wasn't dramatic enough.

STEPH: I think they teleport whenever Mer closes her eyes. They don't want her in on their boy-fun.

DOS: Brandon held his ground several yards away, his back turned to them.

TBQ: Brandon felt that every situation should be all about him.

DOS: "Brandon!" Meredith was surprised to hear her own voice.

TBQ: Having never heard it before in all her 13 years.

STEPH: She never expected she'd one day have a friend to call.

DOS: He turned, giving them one last stomp of his foot in disgust

TBQ: - and tossing his mane -

STEPH: I'm sorry, I forgot. . . why the hell is Brandon so angry with them again?

DOS: before moving to fill the space between Greg and Meredith.

TBQ: Because nature abhors a vaccum and God knows that's what Meredith is.

DOS: Meredith saw Stephen smile, a little triumphantly, before he shut his eyes.

STEPH: TBQ saw Stephanie walk away, a little disgustedly, at Chris' complete ignorance of grammar rules. It's called an editor, Chris. Check into getting one.

TBQ: Ok, in all honesty, can someone give these kids a few near-death experiences to smack their priorities in line? I'm terrified to find out how they react to the local grocery store being out of their favorite soda.

DOS: "Fear cannot touch me . . ."

TBQ: How about disgust? And may I just say right now that this whole "rhyme" reads almost exactly like the quote about fear that Paul Atredies had to memorize in Dune? Not that I'd dare suggest that any member of the Ric e family has a thought that's less than 100% original, of course.

STEPH: Perhaps they should have recited the poem before trekking out of the house today. Anyway, I think we can rule out that Chris actually read Dune and chalk this up to a few rewinds of Kyle MacLaughlin's stirring rend ition of it.

DOS: Before she closed her eyes, Meredith saw Greg look nervously from Stephen to Brandon. "It can only taunt me, it cannot take me, just tell me where to go . . ."

STEPH: Must be one of those blank verse rhymes.

DOS: She opened her eyes slightly. Greg had taken Brandon's hand. She shut her eyes by the time Brandon gripped hers.

TBQ: Ok, so she closes her eyes, then opens them, then closes them again. All because Chris doesn't fully understand the concept of blocking. Good thing he tried out that film career.

STEPH: They're just teleporting again. They switch places and then laugh behind Meredith's back.

DOS: "I can either follow, or stay in my bed . . ." Meredith knew the circle was complete. While she didn't quite know what it meant

STEPH: Not even Meredith understood the dramtics needed to employ a phrase like "the circle was complete." I mean for these kids: "To arrive were we started and know the place for the first time" would merely mean they go t lost and were too stupid to know they were standing in their own back yard.

DOS: for them to hold hands like this, she knew that Stephen's voice seemed louder than the growls of the angry storm overhead. "I can hold on to the things that I know . . ."

TBQ: I'm also going to point out that just by including the words "go" and "know" in this passage does not a "rhyme" make. So our conclusion is that either Stephen's mother is stupid or Anne's son is.

STEPH: Apparently Chris never learned that rhymes are mnemonics and have a little thing called "meter" in the word scheme.

DOS: Another roll of thunder passed. Meredith felt it in her chest.

TBQ: This girl would be completely unable to relate to the world if not for her torso.

DOS: Stephen paused to let it fade before he continued. "The dead stay dead, they cannot walk.

TBQ: There's Sister Helen Prejean's career totally down the toilet.

DOS: The shadows are darkness. And darkness can't talk." No one spoke.

TBQ: There were no words for them to express just how stupid that rhyme was, save perhaps to offer it as the explanation for why Stephen's father had killed himself.

STEPH: So here we have the "rhyme":

    Fear cannot touch me . . .
    It can only taunt me, it cannot take me,
    just tell me where to go . . .
    I can either follow, or stay in my bed . . .
    I can hold on to the things that I know . . .
    The dead stay dead, they cannot walk.
    The shadows are darkness. And darkness can't talk.

STEPH: Now rhymes, being the more simple member of the poetry clan, rarely follow the rhyming scheme of aabcbdd. What you normally will find is aabba, or ababa, maybe the occassional c rhyme introduced with the ababcbc. I t's true that I may not have broken the rhyme scheme up right (I did it based on how Stephen broke it up), so here is the other possible pattern:(based on the commas) aaabcdbdfgf. I'll rant about the meter in just a sec.

DOS: For a long moment, it seemed to the other three that the sounds of the storm had been drained of their anger, made impotent by Stephen's soft incantatory voice.

TBQ: So Meredith has her chest, Stephen has his voice.. I'm guessing Greg relates to the world through his arms and Brandon makes use of a trick knee.

DOS: The rhythm of Jeremy Conlin's rhyme

TBQ: WHAT rhythm? I defy anyone to show me how that thing scans in any kind of manner.

STEPH: This brings us to meter. Not quite iambic pentameter, is it? There is no meter, don't bother looking for it. The meter is what gives the rhyme the singsong pattern that makes it easier to memorize. That's the point of the rhyme, it's a mnemonic. The only thing this rhyme has going for it is that the meaning behind it, like many Mother Goose nursery rhymes, is pretty pointless. So to recap: it sucks as both a poem and a rhyme, Chris.

DOS: blotted out the thunder, the lightning and rain. Meredith would always remember how rain sounded without the accompaniment of human voices. She would think of a circle whose completeness she could sense without opening her eyes.

TBQ: She would remember that the sound of Stephen talking actually negated the concept of "without human voices"

DOS: "It's not that hard," Stephen finally said.

TBQ: I bet Greg hears that phrase a lot.

STEPH: But it is pointless, which is also something I bet Greg hears a lot.

DOS: "Say it with me this time."

TBQ: God grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change...

STEPH: That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger. . .

DOS: Their voices followed Stephen's--Meredith's and then Greg's and finally Brandon's, mumbling lower than the rest of them.

TBQ: Because he was trying to do an impression of Stephen.

DOS: By the time they had finished the rain had ebbed. A female voice was calling to them from the cemetery gate. When Meredith opened her eyes, she saw Greg's mother arguing with the cemetery caretaker. Slowly, she let go of Stephen's hand. Breaking the circle.

TBQ: Bitch.

STEPH: "Listen lady, if your kids are too chickenshit to jump a little three foot gate, I say leave 'em with the dead . . ."

DOS: She walked toward the cast iron gate. The caretaker opened the gate on its hinges

TBQ: As opposed to what, exactly?

STEPH: Those new velcro gates.

DOS: with a metallic whine, stirring the three boys from beneath the still-dripping oak. She felt foolish for having been afraid of the rain in the first place. But she could not decide whether she should say goodbye to her friends.

TBQ: Or just snub them, thus increasing the amount of drama in her life.

STEPH: At least she had the decency to feel foolish.

DOS: She knew that Stephen would pay for his whispers, his ability to draw from the sacred strength of his dead father's poetry.

TBQ: She knew that adding that into the narrative would make it sound like something important had actually happened that afternoon.

STEPH: I thought it was a rhyme, now it's an incantation taken from the Necronomicon.

DOS: The rain had stopped altogether by the time the four of them left the cemetery.

TBQ: As well as a few paragraphs ago, had anyone been paying attention.

STEPH: Not even the rain could make it to the end.

The End (thank God!)

We have chapter 1 in the works, God help us all. . .

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