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Entry #10

Discussion in 'Q3 Flash Competition' started by Xiph0, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

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    Twisted

    Harry is ten years old when Vernon breaks his nose.

    One second he’s bringing the gin over for Vernon to refill his glass and the next he’s on the floor, scuttling backwards with blood spurting out his nose.

    Harry breathes through his mouth and tries not to cry; his nose crackles when he touches it. Aunt Petunia glares at him as she picks up the bottle.

    “Look what you’ve done, gone and spilled have of it, haven’t you?” She refills Vernon’s glass. “Just one more tonight, love.”

    Vernon laughs. He doesn’t glance at Harry, doesn’t seem to know he’s there.

    Petunia pulls Harry up by his collar and drags him into the loo. He keeps his hands over his nose and focuses on not bumping into the walls. She forces him onto the toilet and snatches his hand away, kneeling in front of him.

    “Barely bruised,” she says, sneering. “Lucky I don’t make you clean the mess you made. Blood all over my kitchen tile.” Then she grabs his nose and jerks.

    Harry screams.

    “It’s set.” Petunia stands and tosses him a washrag. “Clean yourself up and get to bed.”

    Harry darts to the door to listen. Once she’s back in the kitchen he slips some paracetamol out of the cabinet. He downs two with a cup of water, though it’s hard to swallow with his nose broken, and pockets four for later.

    He leans over the washbasin and blows his nose, biting back the scream that wants to claw out of his throat. He rests his head against the mirror for a few minutes, pinching his nose, but the bleeding doesn’t stop.

    “Bollocks.” At this rate he’ll get blood on the carpet too, so he packs his nose with tissue, cleans up the loo, and sneaks out the back for some air.

    There’s a man standing in the back garden, lurking amongst the potted plants.

    Harry freezes, nose forgotten, as adrenaline floods his system. Then what he’s seeing finally catches up to him and he’s frozen for an entirely different reason.

    Dark, messy hair. Glasses. The shape of the nose and the cut of the jaw.

    “Dad?” Harry whispers.

    The man’s green eyes snap to his own. “Er, no, sorry.” He scratches the side of his head with a stick. “I’m you, actually. Call me Potter.”

    So he’s crazy, Harry reasons to himself. But that’s okay. That’s why he hasn’t come to get him before. It makes so much sense he can’t help but grin.

    Potter smiles back and gestures at Harry’s nose. “Vernon do that?”

    Harry’s grin fades.

    Then Potter waves his stick and a lot of things happen at once.

    The packing flies out of Harry’s nose, which shifts inside his head. His eyes go wide and he prods his nose, taking a deep breath. There’s no pain. “What?”

    “Magic,” Potter says. “We haven’t got much time, let me explain?”

    Harry clenches his hands and nods.

    “Magic is real. A wizard named Voldemort killed our parents. We survived with this scar.” Potter lifts up his fringe to show a matching scar to Harry’s own. “I killed him, but he did something that twists timelines trying to bring himself back to life. Turns out most of us, most Harry Potters, died as infants. Lots of the survivors weren’t skilled at magic.”

    “And I am?” Harry cuts in. “Wait, mum and dad were murdered?”

    “Let me guess, you appeared on a roof once with no idea how?”

    Harry’s eyes widen.

    “Yeah, thought so. So did I. But Vernon never broke my nose. Travel is possible at major divergences only, so I guess that counts. What’s the date?”

    “July twenty-ninth,” Harry says. “Mum and dad?”

    Potter nods. “Yeah, I don’t see how, but you turn eleven in two days, so sure.”

    “Nevermind that, what about--”

    “They died saving us,” Potter says. “Saving you. Loved you more than anything.”

    Harry doesn’t know what to say to that, but this man looks like his older twin and he believes him. Something inside him breaks and hardens simultaneously. Faint lights from the telly flicker through the windows as they stand motionless in the garden.

    It’s the most surreal thing Harry has ever experienced.

    Potter throws a bit of wood at Harry and his hand snaps up to catch it. It’s a hexagon with intricate carvings.

    “Magic Medium,” Potter says. “Wands have become, er, difficult in our realm since the Twist, but we can get you one eventually if you join up. You’ll have to make do with that for now, just affix it to your weapon of choice. Good luck and don’t die.”

    “What?” Harry asks, and he feels he’s been asking that constantly, but Potter is gone and the flowers are glowing.

    The world twists and flickers around him. The lights from inside snap off, then on, then fill his vision with distorted light.

    A howl echoes from nowhere and an electric pink claw erupts from the potted plant at Harry’s feet. He leaps away, his back hitting the door, as dozens of violently bright animals appear from outside reality.

    As one they turn to face him and scream, every mouth as wide as his head and full of needle-like teeth.

    He yanks the door open and flees, only to fall with a sharp pain in his right calf. He twists and throws a punch at the thing latched onto him. It’s got ears like a cat and paws like a bear and it’s teeth snap off like porcupine quills in his leg.

    Harry likes animals, never thought he’d want to hurt one, but he kicks the shit out of this thing and stumbles further into the house. The hallway lengthens as he runs down it and the house itself rattles with every step.

    Affix to your weapon of choice, Potter had said.

    Vernon keeps a hunting rifle in his closet, but Harry dismisses that idea. He doesn’t know how to use it.

    A blue squirrel creature with hot pink markings leaps out of the telly and lands on his shoulder. Harry screams and gets an arm between it and his neck, throwing it into the wall where it bounces.

    Harry falls again in the kitchen, right where he’d broken his nose earlier, and jumps over an alligator-weasel floating up through the tile. Fresh panic surges through him and he’s out the front door.

    Vernon keeps a crowbar in the boot of his car. He tells people it’s for opening boxes at work, so he can segue into how hard-working and smart he is, but he tells Dudley it’s for protection from all the poors and weirdos. He always looks at Harry as he says this.

    Harry pulls the lever to open the boot as something lands on his back. He jumps backward and falls onto his back, crushing it, and loses a nail trying to get off the asphalt.

    Dozens of glowing beasts circle the car, closing in.

    Harry grips the crowbar and presses the Magic Medium to it, adrenaline fueling the desire for it to just work please just work what is going on.

    The crowbar glows with a faint light, outlined with the symbols that were on the bit of wood, and the colors match those of the things he’s fighting. Harry finds he’s quite capable of killing freaky animals after all.

    Minutes later he stands, panting and covered in blood, as the world returns to normal. The dozens of mangled bodies, which now look like pets, surround him. He wants to cry, seeing the bodies, but he’s too hyped up and tired and pissed to bother.

    Potter appears out of nowhere and ruffles Harry’s hair, eliciting a swing of the crowbar. “Not bad,” he says. “Most don’t manage.”

    Harry can’t think straight but he still responds. “Thought you said I had a choice.” He’s trying to stem the blood from his ankle.

    “You have a choice to join, not to take the test.”

    “Fuck you,” Harry says, and it unnerves him because he’s never said ‘fuck’ out loud before.

    Potter chuckles and gestures at the crowbar Harry’s holding.

    It’s glowing with runes and Harry can feel the power in it. The magic.

    “You can come with me to the Twist and deal with the fuck who killed our parents. Or you can stay. You’ll get a letter in a few days, inviting you to magic school. You’ll love it there.”

    Harry rallies himself because this is important. Potter mentioned friends, but… “If I go with you, could I see my parents?” He pauses. “Not my actual ones, but James and Lily even so? Because of the different timelines?”

    “Yes,” Potter says.

    “Alright.”

    Potter waves his stick and the dead animals turn into motes of light and form a portal through the hydrangea bushes.

    Harry glances back at number four Privet Drive before resting his crowbar – his magic crowbar – over his shoulder and striding forward.
     
  2. haphnepls

    haphnepls Seventh Year

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    There's some weird wording that made me pause, and it happened at least twice. Something with consistency is off too. Harry spotting the runes even though he just learned of magic. He doesn't jump on opportunities to learn about his parents even though Dursleys are worse than in canon. Mostly though, and I'm saying this having no idea what you were going for, I am amused. Like you butchered the seriousness of what's going on just a little bit and tweaked it towards ridiculous.

    The strange little piece that I won't ever read again. Yet I'm glad I've read it.
     
  3. Atri

    Atri Groundskeeper

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    This is a strange one. The technical writing is fine. It starts weak, mostly because of the cliché Dursleys-abuse-Harry trope. They are a bit too stereotypical. That said, from the moment that Potter appears, the premise carries the story. There are hints of an interesting story here and after reading this bit, I'm honestly curious about what Voldemort did, what the Twist is, how the Potters want to deal with Voldemort and why wands don't work. I would read that story. So...I guess a 4/5.
     
  4. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

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    I started reading this and raised an eyebrow at the rather cliché beginning.

    When "Potter" appeared, though, I was hooked. The Twist, whatever it is, sounds like it is some trippy shit, and I'm here for it. In a way you've reinvented the ancient formula of AK visiting Harries Potter from nonjon's Dimension Hopping for Beginners. It's been years since I've thought about that thing, so some intense nostalgia from that alone.

    That said, I think the action scene could have used some work. I had no clue what the fuck was happening except creatures jumped out at Harry and he beat them with his crowbar. I think the dialogue could have been better also. Harry knowing what runes and paracetamol are at age twelve was also a bit odd, I thought.

    3.5, with the extra .5 for the strength of the premise.
     
  5. Microwave

    Microwave Professor

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    This is weird, but written well enough. It’s like Borat but an action movie, and I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be good. It also feels a bit incomplete, like many of the other stories in this competition, but I guess I can sort of draw some sort of engagement from it.

    2.5/5
     
  6. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    1488 words
     
  7. Erotic Adventures of S

    Erotic Adventures of S Denarii Host

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    The technical writing got better as the story progressed. The first 1/3 of the story felt very... clunky? Like you were rushing through the set up to get to the bit you wanted to write, and the quality of writing shows between the sections.

    The general idea and set up is interesting, although I wasn't a fan of the fight sequence, it didn't feel believable (In the context of the HP universe). Like visualizing that fight I can't see Harry going from Porch, to Kitchen, to car to fighting.

    2.8/5
     
  8. Garden

    Garden Supreme Mugwump

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    Creative use of worn-out tropes with decent writing by the end, but the fight scene was a bit hard to visualize. 3/5
     
  9. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Competition Winner CHAMPION ⭐⭐

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    Timetravel/dimension hopping is a good premise and the bare bones you have for that works well for a one-shot like this. I like that he gets an adventure and a happy ending.

    Other than that, it's a difficult one for me to judge as I am 100% not your target audience. I'm the type (or maybe it's an age/generational thing) of person who finds the beginning you have here more silly than anything. I can't really judge if it's a well-written beginning within it's trope bcause I've never read one like this, just seen them referenced on r/hpff.

    Anyway, I think Vernon is very ooc, Petunia less so. Vernon is always comically bad when he tries to be violent in canon, Petunia is quite similar to what you've written. Harry seems completely off here, where is any of his personality? I suppose he gains something after he leaves the Dursleys, but it doesn't really appeal to me. This also doesn't feel like HP magic to me, more like it's been borrowed from some sci-fi series.
     
  10. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Fun times in a trippy way. I'm a fan of a young protagonist who is in over his head with adult issues, and this seems to fit the bill so I'm engaged.

    I think my favorite part here is the abrupt shift from cliche-HP-fic to 'interesting' - and that happens in the instant that Harry notices a man "lurking in the garden." It's a very sudden shift from Dursley abuse to AU-time-travel-older-Harry, and I love how unexpected and sudden it was.

    After that though I feel the story suffered a bit, since the fight-sequence was not only too bare but too weird to really follow.

    The ending and premise are okay, even if both show a lack of context / description / dialogue.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2021
  11. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    At the start, I was preparing myself to roll my eyes and hate it, so the fact that by the end I was pretty on board with it all is a big positive. Nicely done. The writing is solid, the action was fun, and I like the adventurous tone of it all. I wouldn't mind seeing this one explored further.
     
  12. Zel

    Zel High Inquisitor

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    Heh, author nearly lost me with that beginning, but the story recovered nicely. I'm a fan of the concept of a dimension-hopping protagonist teaching his younger counterpart the ropes. Unfortunately, the story doesn't work well as a one-shot, being more of a set-up for a wider universe. One I'd like to see explored, because the writing is competent and the hints are intriguing, but overall, it's a 3/5.
     
  13. soczab

    soczab Professor

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    Weirdly i find myself the opposite of some of the reviewers here where I thought the first half stronger. Yeah it is a bit cliche, but i thought it well written and enjoyable. It wasn't breaking new ground, but I was enjoying it and the characterization. The second half was ALSO cliche in its way imo, but it seemed to. I dont know, i found myself rolling my eyes a couple of times?

    Its probably a taste thing more then anything. Im not hugely into the mind-twister lsdy 'everything is crazy' type stories. It reminded me a bit of that guy.. carnivourous muffin? That writer. Whose work i never liked but who is hugely popular!

    You are definitely a talented writer though
     
  14. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Seventh Year DLP Supporter ⭐⭐⭐

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    I can't decide if this story doesn't quite work, or if it's just that it doesn't quite work for me.

    The elements of a good story are all there. You wrote characters that I'm invested in. You have a turning point early on, and a call to action. You have (fuzzy pink and blue) problems, and you give your protagonist an interesting tool to solve it. The stakes are high, and the protagonist ultimately makes a choice in the end that makes perfect sense to the reader, based on who the protagonist is.

    So why does it feel so weird?

    These obstacles that Harry has to face (the creatures) quite literally come out of nowhere. They're creative, and the situation is even fun in a terrifying way, but I'm just kind of left thinking, "This is very strange." I kind of wish you'd brought Aunt Marge over, and the test would be to fight off her bulldogs that Potter had magically enhanced. The reader would still be disoriented, but in a good way — not in a completely baffled way. It doesn't have to be something from canon, but it does have to be something that you'd already introduced at the beginning of your story.

    I'm not crazy about the fact that you made a 10-year-old have to violently kill a bunch of animals, even if they're not real. However, I recognize that you're going for an entirely different tone than JKR went for, and you executed it well, so I'm on board.

    Ultimately, this was a strong story, and the author is a strong writer. I'd be interested to see more of this author's stuff, because he or she is clearly creative and great at crafting adventure and characters.
     
  15. Dubious Destiny

    Dubious Destiny Seventh Year

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    The fic has a good plot. I did like the backstory and all associated world building. Given that it's AU, the character changes are believable.

    I dislike the tone of this story. Some sentences illustrating my point:

    Why paracetamol? There's no need to be specific here. Medicine should be fine.

    Adrenaline flooding systems just doesn't sound magical or normal here. This reads more like Dresden files.

    Harry physically beating up a bunch of magical animals didn't feel magical at all. It does make sense with the weapon he's chosen, so I can suspend my belief here.

    I'll give this a 3.5/5
     
  16. Niez

    Niez Seventh Year ⭐⭐

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    If you ain't Joe, you're surely doing a good impression of him, by which I mean fantastic creativity, excellent turning point, good humour throughout, the action was a touch too long (personal preference perhaps) and the whole concept was a bit bonkers. And yet, at the end of it....

    ....4.5/5 wouldn't read again (because a big part of the fun is experiencing it for the first time). Seriously though, if you are who I think you are, then there's not much constructive anything I could give you. And if you're not, you should feel proud for writing like a pro.

    These two things did have me raising a little eyebrow somewhat tho, but they're hardly defining of your story.

    Your opening two lines end with 'his nose' chief. I realised, and its not good that I did, if ya catch my drift. Pry open that thesaurus and give it a whirl ol boy. Ol chum. Ol smokey.

    How on earth does Petunia, house-wife extraordinaire, know how to set a broken nose?
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2021
  17. Majube

    Majube Order Member DLP Supporter

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    I liked this story, I like the twist from bland abusive Dursley’s (that sounds bad haha) to time traveling Harry kicking ass taking names and technically being abusive in another way to the mini-Harry who’s been turned off the Hogwarts and instead is going to become a dangerous sidekick to his older self.

    I’ll talk mostly about the idea instead of the semantics of the writing because it seems fine to me. Sure, it’s too light on the details of what monsters exactly Harry was brutally smashing up. So, this is a pretty short one shot because of the comp limits and if you continue it elsewhere in terms of some of the better parts of story there needs to be more detail and description on the monsters and probably the convo with older!Harry and etc. But I do have to praise it for getting past the Dursley part quick enough to not lose interest for most people. Some would just skim and skip it though as abusive Dursley's are like a red flag for shit fics.

    I'd give it a 4/5 if I were recc'ing it though.
     
  18. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    This was my story!
    I wasn't trying to do a Joe impression, @Niez, but I'll take it as a positive review!

    I enjoy writing Flash but I wasn't sure what to do with this one at first, since for flash pieces I'd tend to gravitate towards showing someone who isn't Harry. Someone we don't have so much insight into from both canon and our own fanfiction preferences. So early on I settled on 'something weird with action.'

    The goal eventually was to start with 'boring cliche' then switch to 'weird crazy action' with a 'fight or flight adrenaline rush' in the middle.

    That middle part, the turning point, is my favorite part of this. Where you're following kid!Harry as he deals with casual domestic abuse only to have your heart rate jump up as he walks out into the garden to find a grown man creeping in the plantlife. I love that part of this and I can't quite pinpoint why, but it became the focal point of the story for me.

    Anyway. The boring cliche start certainly worked as intended, perhaps too well for some of you. And the weird action was certainly weird, but seems to have also fallen flat (some of which I chalk up to my own mediocre efforts at writing action and some of it simply because it's very weird).

    The story started out closer to 2500 words and I might edit it back up to that length and repost it. I had to cut some things that might have helped with the flow / explanation, etc.

    Thanks for all the reviews - really a pleasure reading them all, and got some great insights / feedback.


    ========
    Question - did everyone pick up on how... When Potter says that he is Harry, kid!Harry doesn't believe him at first and instead assumes that it's actually James but he's mentally insane. Harry gloms onto this explanation as a reason James never showed up before. It's a bit later that Harry starts to believe Potter is his older self, etc.

    Did that come thru or was it lost?
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
  19. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Just rewrote this as an original story and put it in a small anthology with friends, for what that's worth. Came out at around 3500 instead of 1500. Might end up removing this one if I don't want them to be connected or editing it further to post as fanfic, not sure. Had to add some world building for the original version that HP didn't need.

    Thanks for all the good feedback yet again. Wouldn't / couldn't have done it without ya.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2022
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