It's Just a Job

Rated 3.80/5 based on 5 reviews
A specialist in photographing places that are not supposed to exist, from a safe distance, is enticed by an obscene amount of money into infiltrating an abandoned Research Facility. There he will discover that it is never a good idea to deviate from standard operating procedure. It’s just a job, but sometimes it’s not what the job pays, but what it extracts.
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About Walter Lazo

“Our free short stories are intended as a doorway to our more mature premium works. Their purpose is to showcase the author’s writing style and use of evocative imagery. Although these are his earlier works—he has gotten much better since—they serve as a nice introduction to his thematic concerns as well as to his belief that a story has to be believed in to be effective. Therefore, what he presents in these stories are situations and the reactions of characters within those situations.”

Walter Lazo was born in Cambridge, MA, and now lives in North Carolina. As a child he discovered his love of Weird Fiction and large, epic, heroic stories, as well as German and Greek mythology, devouring the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King, the Grimm brothers, Bram Stoker, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Walter grew up reading the short stories of Richard Matheson, and later discovered the works of the great science fiction writers of the 20th century; namely, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

He enjoys writing horror and science fiction stories with an occasional martial arts story thrown in for good measure. He is currently obsessed with the short story form and hopes that it will make a comeback in popularity. As an adult he has tried to create his own mythos, writing about the Demon World and other creatures that torment men’s dreams.

He is a longtime fan of Stephen King and of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

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Reviews

Review by: Michael Carter on April 28, 2013 :
This well-written story is essentially a secret-laboratory-experiment-gone-wrong type of tale, but written from a fresh and interesting angle. It's certainly worth a read and it kept me interested when I was reading it late at night [no mean feat, 'cos I'm normally nodding off after a page or two]. The present-tense style of the story, which I don't generally like much, was actually alright and I thought it gave the writing a burst of urgency.

I enjoyed reading this story, which is why I was a little disappointed with its resolution; I wanted more, I was interested in the questions that the narrator had asked. A sequel story, or extension could easily be appended to the conclusion. Perhaps now the photographer has been in to document the situation, the investigators could go and take a look.

Endings are difficult; readers complain if you leave them too open and if you tie everything up nicely they say you leave nothing to the imagination. But the good thing with this story, Walter, is that I wanted more of it, and not less.

Thanks, by the way, for all your kind reviews of my own work. They are much appreciated, and I'm glad you liked them.
(review of free book)

Review by: Chris The Story Reading Ape on March 06, 2013 :
Like most of his stories, Walter has set the scene for a full blown book.

A good and gripping story along the Research Facility goes suddenly quiet, what has happened there, let's send specialists in to check it out, theme, but starring a lone photographer!
(review of free book)

Review by: Selena Faith on Oct. 27, 2012 :
Strange but I loved it!
(review of free book)

Review by: David Blake on Oct. 16, 2012 :
I would tend to echo the comments of the previous reviewer: the premise of this story has potential, but everything falls flat in the execution. I'm not sure that a first person/present tense narration was the best choice for this story, but even so, there are other inherent faults.
The narration is too matter-of-fact: lots of details about equipment, the layout of the camp, and how he's found yet another body, but shallow in terms of character and emotion (considering the scenario). He keeps banging on about doing enough to earn his paycheck but I was left with the feeling he could just duck out at any time (Would I care if he didn't get paid? Not really) and so the suspense was limited. He could have been a man who really didn't want to be there but for some reason had to be, or was trapped there, or perhaps he's searching for his wife who was working at the centre, or perhaps he could have been some greedy mercenary intent on money (maybe even robbing from the dead) whom the reader would like to see get his come-uppance. He just falls limply in-between, and it was then a complete let-down to have him just walk away without anything actually happening. How much more effective if he was aware something was stalking him almost from the moment he entered the place? Or have a team of 3 or 4 go into the camp and have them picked off one by one.
Lots of little details didn't add up, either. I wasn't convinced about the reasons he was picked for the job or sent in alone, nor was I convinced about none of the original staff being able to raise the alarm before they were all killed.
In some ways the very title of this story sums up what's wrong with it - it's supposed to be something dark and suspenseful, but the main character is shrugging off that whole idea and saying "It's Just A Job."
(review of free book)

Review by: Francis W. Porretto on June 30, 2012 :
Hm. Where to begin, where to begin...Ah, I have it: at the beginning!

This story begins well. The idea of a mercenary who specializes in investigating "places that aren’t supposed to exist" is a good one; it might have been used before, but not to the point of exhaustion. So you lit off in an interesting direction.

BUT...that idea, in isolation, isn't strong enough to sustain a story this short. What else do we get?
-- Corpses, including those of some ominous-looking, plainly nonhuman creatures;
-- The lab's human occupants were apparently killed by the ominous-looking creatures;
-- The creatures were apparently the products of that very lab;
-- ...and that's it.

Why did you stop there? As it stands, it has virtually no plot. The horrific elements are useful as motifs, but they're not enough to make for a satisfying story. Worse, the central character is only half-realized. He tells himself that he's done his job on the strength of a conjecture that's supported by what he's observed. Though we follow him in "real time," in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, he never seems to change -- and change is the essence of story.

I can't rate this too low; it has potential, and you write pretty well: a clinker here and there, but nothing fatal. But you must finish it. To do that, you must think about how to introduce a change into your protagonist's convictions or emotions. As the story stands, he starts out with the it's-just-a-job attitude, and ends up with it as well. That's where the insufficiency lies: he undergoes no change in motivation, convictions, moral precepts, or anything else.

Change, of course, is the result of a causal process: an event in a particular context triggers a plausible response. Your protagonist is a mercenary "going in" and "coming out." Think about how his mental and emotional gestalt might change in response to what he sees in the desolated lab, and how he would display that change in the concluding paragraphs of the story. Alternately, you could make him more a man of conviction at the outset, less motivated by money and more by some abstraction such as duty or manhood, and turn him into a mercenary in response to the discovery of his inadequate courage. Either way, you'll have a winner.
(review of free book)

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