A quick apology, as I'm well aware that "Rollith" isn't an actual word, but I liked the way it sounded, and how it makes the whole 'stepping in shit' analogy sound almost Biblical. So I kept it, though there was an argument over how one spells "rollith". 'D
Another action packed chapter, with some surprises. Despite a few more deaths, it's not as violent as chapter 20, though it continues to show the steady slide downhill. However, the end of the chapter is the real surprise, pointing out where the final chapters are heading.
Next week is the final posting, as I'll post the rest of the story in one shot. Given how depressing this chapter ends, I didn't want you, the readers, to have to dread each of the remaining chapters. I figured it would be easier to read them in one shot, with this chapter serving as a warning of what's to come.
Just so you know, the story finishes up in chapter 24, although chapter 25, the epilogue, is essential, as it wraps everything up and changes the tenor of the story, though I won't say anymore to prevent spoiling it. As I said, the end of this chapter let's you know what to expect.
Spoiler Warning Below if you haven't already read the past chapters!
Got an interesting question about everyone's lack of an emotional response, particularly Alice's to the death of her mother and her friends. My response to that follows:
I was trying to convey that Alice was David's daughter, and thus took much of her emotional response from him. What's more, since everyone was following David's lead in everything else, they chose to imitate his emotional response, even though Ellen fought with him over it on occasion. I'd hoped I'd expressed David's conflict over not being more emotional when I described how he was afraid he'd lose it if he ever stopped to seriously consider what was occurring. I hadn't wanted to show them to be emotionless, merely that shutting down their emotional responses was a defensive action when faced with multiple deaths. After a bit, you're forced to take a step back and distance yourself. (You'll see a prime example of that in chapter 23 when Alice responds to another death in rather unforgiving terms).
What I have done, though, by concentrating so much on David, is to show his conflicts. Clearly Ellen wants everyone to be more emotional, arguing with David over his responses to things, but she's also a bit emotionally distant as well, treating it more as a mental exercise than anything (i.e. 'you need to be more emotional for your own mental health').
Now that you mention it, there were several places I could have included a much more emotional response, even if only with more tears. But Alice's emotionless response was furthered by the death of her mother, when David insisted she stay away and neither touch or get too near Linda. That was kind of the death knell for Alice's emotional responses to people, as she learned then that emotional responses got people killed, and that they represented a very real risk of exposure as well.
Still, it's a fascinating idea and now I'm wishing I'd played up the idea more, rather than simply using the concepts to guide the story rather than exploring it more explicitly.