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This is the continuation of a story I mentioned in a previous story.

I would like to know if the reader would feel intrigued by the dialogue and situation (a girl who seems to be a stripper is lying alone in the stage of a strip club). It used to be intriguing for me, but after editing it like 9 times I became used to it.

Also, I would like to know how to improve the flow of the dialogue (if required).

After staring at it for a while, he realized that there was someone lying on it. He crushed his cigarette in an ashtray, and slowly made his way to the stage. Once he reached a reasonable distance, he narrowed his eyes and he examined the person. It was a girl. She was lying there still, with her back to the absent audience. She was wearing a black bikini, and the upper part of her body was being covered by a black jacket.

"Hello?" Julian called out to make sure that she was conscious.

A silence passed. The only thing that he could hear was the sound of his own breathing. He never imagined that a drinking spot could be that silent.

"Sorry, there are no more shows," the girl said, without moving from her current position. Her voice was weak and low, as if she had no more strength in her body. But it seemed to Julian that she was lying there by her own will.

He stared at her for a couple of seconds. "I don't mind. I—I just want to have a drink. Do you know where is the bartender?"

"He's not here," she replied. "Go to the back bar and get yourself anything you want. No one will mind."

Julian stared vacantly for a while. Then, with a bit of hesitation, headed towards the back bar. After reaching there, he started going through the variety of drinks. They were dusty, like they hadn't been touched for a while. He picked up a Jack Daniel's, searched for some ice cubes, and put them in a plastic container. After that, he walked to a seat near the stage to sit in, poured some of whiskey in a glass he had found in the table, added some ice cubes to it, and sat there staring at her. She had barely moved from her spot.

"Are you OK?" Julian suddenly asked her.

She remained silent. The roof started making a loud continuous noise. It had began to rain outside.

"I guess so," she replied, a bit unsure, moving her feet slightly.

Julian took a gulp of his drink, feeling warm sensation as the alcohol moved down his throat.

"Were you looking for something tonight?" the girl asked.

He gave a thought to the question. "I didn't have anything particular in my mind."

"Is that right?" she asked with a neutral voice. "But, isn't everyone coming here looking for something?"

"Something like what?"

She kept silent for a few seconds. "I don't know. Something like a fantasy perhaps. Something they can see but can't touch."

They didn't say anything for a moment. The rain became slightly stronger.

"But you know," she said. "Fantasies are more fragile than we imagine. They are as fragile as bare skin, and can turn into ashes any moment".

"As fragile as bare skin," Julian muttered to himself. The words had shaken something inside his mind.

She let out a little laugh. "Isn't our existence sad and pathetic? We spend most of our lives feeding our desires with perfect images of someone's body. Building ecstatic thoughts around a collection of bones and skin, only held together by delicate stitches."

He stared at his glass, thinking about the significance of her statement. "Do you talk about this to every customer who comes?"

"Not really," she replied. "I just talk about it with myself, since no one is coming any longer."

"No one is coming any longer?"

"The place is no longer what it used to be," she said, moving her head a little. "Not after that incident."

Julian narrowed his eyes. "That incident?"

The neon sign near the stage started to flicker, making the place dark from time to time.

"May I have a drink too?" she suddenly asked.

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You have the guy walk into what appears to be a deserted bar on a deserted street in a deserted city. Then he realizes there's a live woman lying on the stage, not sleeping but lying there sprawled and possibly injured, and she starts talking to him.

And all he does is "stare vacantly for a while," walk "hesitantly" to the back of the bar, and pour himself a drink?!

What's going through my head is:

  • What happened to all the other people?
  • Who is this woman?
  • why is she lying on the stage of this deserted club? Is she real? a robot? a hallucination? attached to the stage?
  • How can they be having this conversation comfortably if her back is to him?
  • Why isn't HE worried about her sprawled there? What is wrong with him?
  • Is his bizarre detachment part of what made everyone else leave? That they were so bored they all just eventually died in place? Then where are the bodies?

So part of your problem is that you've set up this situation where there is clearly Something Wrong, but your characters behave as though Nothing Is Wrong.

Now, that can in fact be a plot point, but you have to give the reader a clue about that. The reader has to realize that they are not behaving "normally" for us but are behaving "normally" for them. I can't advise you on how to do that until you say whether you're doing this on purpose.

If you're not, then your character needs to act like a human being and rush over to the possibly injured woman and find why she's lying half-naked on the stage in an empty room.

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Ha I'm confused. So do you feel intrigued? Should I post the rest of the story? Well, I'm not sure if I did that on purpose. Their behavior doesn't seem that weird to me. –  Alexandro Chen May 26 '12 at 13:17
    
Some of your questions are answered later in the story, others aren't. –  Alexandro Chen May 26 '12 at 13:27
    
I'm not intrigued; I'm irritated. If you're doing it on purpose, that's actually fine, but you need to let the reader know that the characters are in some way damaged. And I have to say: if you see a woman dressed only in a bikini lying sprawled on the ground (which is not a beach), you wouldn't check on her to make sure she's not injured or dead? That is aberrant behavior which needs to be explained. People have empathy for the potentially injured. –  Lauren Ipsum May 26 '12 at 17:08
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Again, if this is part of a plot point -- she's an alien shapeshifter pitcher plant who's waiting for him to come over so she can bite him -- I am totally fine with that. But then give the reader a clue: "He watched her for a while before going over, to see if he could spot the telltale trigger hairs on her arms." Or "He inhaled deeply. [Aliens] always smelled sickly-sweet, like too many calla lilies." You don't have to give the end away, but something to alert the reader that this not what it seems. –  Lauren Ipsum May 26 '12 at 17:12
    
Damn, I just realized that I didn't include some parts of the dialogue. I edited the question (and added some extra stuff). Are their behavior's still too strange? –  Alexandro Chen May 27 '12 at 5:08
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This is really amazing and eerie start for a story!! I was very intrigued throughout. I like the dialogue for the most part, but to make the woman appear even more mysterious, I would recommend she not seem so eager to share these thoughts with Julian, and make him inquire a bit more. One other thing which tripped me up was when you said that she was wearing a black bikini with a jacket covering her top half, because if the jacket was covering her the man would not be able to see her bikini. Perhaps it would be best to say something like, "Her legs were bare and she was wearing what looked like black bikini bottoms. Her top half was covered by a dark jacket." Anyways once again, I personally love the mystery at the start of the story, and that is what gets readers hooked. I was curious to find out why she was lying there and I never doubted that this would be answered later into the story!

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