Gestation 1.1

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Brief note from the author:  This story isn’t intended for young or sensitive readers.  Readers who are on the lookout for trigger warnings are advised to give Worm a pass.

Class ended in five minutes and all I could think was, an hour is too long for lunch.

Since the start of the semester, I had been looking forward to the part of Mr. Gladly’s World Issues class where we’d start discussing capes.  Now that it had finally arrived, I couldn’t focus.  I fidgeted, my pen moving from hand to hand, tapping, or absently drawing some figure in the corner of the page to join the other doodles.  My eyes were restless too, darting from the clock above the door to Mr. Gladly and back to the clock.  I wasn’t picking up enough of his lesson to follow along.  Twenty minutes to twelve; five minutes left before class ended.

He was animated, clearly excited about what he was talking about, and for once, the class was listening.  He was the sort of teacher who tried to be friends with his students, the sort who went by “Mr. G” instead of Mr. Gladly.  He liked to end class a little earlier than usual and chat with the popular kids, gave lots of group work so others could hang out with their friends in class, and had ‘fun’ assignments like mock trials.

He struck me as one of the ‘popular’ kids who had become a teacher.  He probably thought he was everyone’s favorite.  I wondered how he’d react if he heard my opinion on the subject.  Would it shatter his self image or would he shrug it off as an anomaly from the gloomy girl that never spoke up in class?

I glanced over my shoulder.  Madison Clements sat two rows to my left and two seats back.  She saw me looking and smirked, her eyes narrowing, and I lowered my eyes to my notebook.  I tried to ignore the ugly, sour feeling that stewed in my stomach.  I glanced up at the clock.  Eleven-forty-three.

“Let me wrap up here,” Mr. Gladly said, “Sorry, guys, but there is homework for the weekend.  Think about capes and how they’ve impacted the world around you.  Make a list if you want, but it’s not mandatory.  On Monday we’ll break up into groups of four and see what group has the best list.  I’ll buy the winning group treats from the vending machine.”

There were a series of cheers, followed by the classroom devolving into noisy chaos.  The room was filled with sounds of binders snapping shut, textbooks and notebooks being slammed closed, chairs screeching on cheap tile and the dull roar of emerging conversation.  A bunch of the more social members of the class gathered around Mr. Gladly to chat.

Me?  I just put my books away and kept quiet.  I’d written down almost nothing in the way of notes; there were collections of doodles spreading across the page and numbers in the margins where I’d counted down the minutes to lunch as if I was keeping track of the timer on a bomb.

Madison was talking with her friends.  She was popular, but not gorgeous in the way the stereotypical popular girls on TV were.  She was ‘adorable’, instead.  Petite.  She played up the image with sky blue pins in her shoulder length brown hair and a cutesy attitude. Madison wore a strapless top and denim skirt, which seemed absolutely moronic to me given the fact that it was still early enough in the spring that we could see our breath in the mornings.

I wasn’t exactly in a position to criticize her.  Boys liked her and she had friends, while the same was hardly true for me.  The only feminine feature I had going for me was my dark curly hair, which I’d grown long.  The clothes I wore didn’t show skin, and I didn’t deck myself out in bright colors like a bird showing off its plumage.

Guys liked her, I think, because she was appealing without being intimidating.

If they only knew.

The bell rang with a lilting ding-dong, and I was the first one out the door.  I didn’t run, but I moved at a decent clip as I headed up the stairwell to the third floor and made my way to the girl’s washroom.

There were a half dozen girls there already, which meant I had to wait for a stall to open up.  I nervously watched the door of the bathroom, feeling my heart drop every time someone entered the room.

As soon as there was a free stall, I let myself in and locked the door.   I leaned against the wall and exhaled slowly.  It wasn’t quite a sigh of relief.  Relief implied you felt better.  I wouldn’t feel better until I got home.  No, I just felt less uneasy.

It took maybe five minutes before the noise of others in the washroom stopped.  A peek below the partitions showed that there was nobody else in the other stalls.  I sat on the lid of the toilet and got my brown bag lunch to begin eating.

Lunch on the toilet was routine now.  Every school day, I would finish off my brown bag lunch, then I’d do homework or read a book until lunch hour was over.  The only book in my bag that I hadn’t already read was called ‘Triumvirate’, a biography of the leading three members of the Protectorate.  I was thinking I would spend as long as I could on Mr. Gladly’s assignment before reading, because I wasn’t enjoying the book.  Biographies weren’t my thing, and they were especially not my thing when I was suspicious it was all made up.

Whatever my plan, I didn’t even have a chance to finish my pita wrap.  The door of the bathroom banged open.  I froze.  I didn’t want to rustle the bag and clue anyone into what I was doing, so I kept still and listened.

I couldn’t make out the voices.  The noise of the conversation was obscured by giggling and the sound of water from the sinks.  There was a knock on the door, making me jump.  I ignored it, but the person on the other side just repeated the knock.

“Occupied,” I called out, hesitantly.

“Oh my god, it’s Taylor!” one of the girls on the outside exclaimed with glee, then in response to something another girl whispered, I barely heard her add, “Yeah, do it!”

I stood up abruptly, letting the brown bag with the last mouthful of my lunch fall to the tiled floor.  Rushing for the door, I popped the lock open and pushed.  The door didn’t budge.

There were noises from the stalls on either side of me, then a sound above me.  I looked up to see what it was, only to get splashed in the face.  My eyes started burning, and I was momentarily blinded by the stinging fluid in my eyes and my blurring of my glasses.  I could taste it as it ran down to my nose and mouth.  Cranberry juice.

They didn’t stop there.  I managed to pull my glasses off just in time to see Madison and Sophia leaning over the top of the stall, each of them with plastic bottles at the ready.  I bent over with my hands shielding my head just before they emptied the contents over me.

It ran down the back of my neck, soaked my clothes, fizzed as it ran through my hair.  I pushed against the door again, but the girl on the other side was braced against it with her body.

If the girls pouring juice and soda on me were Madison and Sophia, that meant the girl on the other side of the door was Emma, leader of the trio.  Feeling a flare of anger at the realization, I shoved on the door, the full weight of my body slamming against it.  I didn’t accomplish anything, and my shoes lost traction on the juice-slick floor.  I fell to my knees in the puddling juice.

Empty plastic bottles with labels for grape and cranberry juice fell to the ground around me.  A bottle of orange soda bounced off my shoulder to splash into the puddle before rolling under the partition and into the next stall.  The smell of the fruity drinks and sodas was sickly sweet.

The door swung open, and I glared up at the three girls.  Madison, Sophia and Emma.  Where Madison was cute, a late bloomer, Sophia and Emma were the types of girls that fit the ‘prom queen’ image.  Sophia was dark skinned, with a slender, athletic build she’d developed as a runner on the school track team.  Red-headed Emma, by contrast, had all the curves the guys wanted.  She was good looking enough to get occasional jobs as a amateur model for the catalogs that the local department stores and malls put out.  The three of them were laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world, but the sounds of their amusement barely registered with me.  My attention was on the faint roar of blood pumping in my ears and an urgent, ominous crackling ‘sound’ that wouldn’t get any quieter or less persistent if I covered my ears with my hands.  I could feel dribbles running down my arms and back, still chilled from the refrigerated vending machines.

I didn’t trust myself to say something that wouldn’t give them fodder to taunt me with, so I kept silent.

Carefully, I climbed to my feet and turned my back on them to get my backpack off the top of the toilet.  Seeing it gave me pause.  It had been a khaki green, before, but now dark purple blotches covered it, most of the contents of a bottle of grape juice.  Pulling the straps around my shoulders, I turned around.  The girls weren’t there.  I heard the bathroom door bang shut, cutting off the sounds of their glee, leaving me alone in the bathroom, drenched.

I approached the sink and stared at myself in the scratched, stained mirror that was bolted above it.  I had inherited a thin lipped, wide, expressive mouth from my mother, but my large eyes and my gawky figure made me look a lot more like my dad.  My dark hair was soaked enough that it clung to my scalp, neck and shoulders.  I was wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt over a green t-shirt, but colored blotches of purple, red and orange streaked both.  My glasses were beaded with the multicolored droplets of juice and soda.  A drip ran down my nose and fell from the tip to land in the sink.

Using a paper towel from the dispenser, I wiped my glasses off and put them on again.  The residual streaks made it just as hard to see, if not worse than it had been.

Deep breaths, Taylor, I told myself.

I pulled the glasses off to clean them again with a wet towel, and found the streaks were still there.

An inarticulate scream of fury and frustration escaped my lips, and I kicked the plastic bucket that sat just beneath the sink, sending it and the toilet brush inside flying into the wall.  When that wasn’t enough, I pulled off my backpack and used a two-handed grip to hurl it.  I wasn’t using my locker anymore: certain individuals had vandalized or broken into it on four different occasions.  My bag was heavy, loaded down with everything I’d anticipated needing for the day’s classes.  It crunched audibly on impact with the wall.

“What the fuck!?” I screamed to nobody in particular, my voice echoing in the bathroom.  There were tears in the corners of my eyes.

“The hell am I supposed to do!?”  I wanted to hit something, break something.  To retaliate against the unfairness of the world.  I almost struck the mirror, but I held back.  It was such a small thing that it felt like it would make me feel more insignificant instead of venting my frustration.

I’d been enduring this from the very first day of high school, a year and a half ago.  The bathroom had been the closest thing I could find to refuge.  It had been lonely and undignified, but it had been a place I could retreat to, a place where I was off their radar.  Now I didn’t even have that.

I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do for my afternoon classes.  Our midterm project for art was due, and I couldn’t go to class like this.  Sophia would be there, and I could just imagine her smug smile of satisfaction as I showed up looking like I’d botched an attempt to tie-dye everything I owned.

Besides, I’d just thrown my bag against the wall and I doubted my project was still in one piece.

The buzzing at the edge of my consciousness was getting worse.  My hands shook as I bent over and gripped the edge of the sink, let out a long, slow breath, and let my defenses drop.  For three months, I’d held back.  Right now?  I didn’t care anymore.

I shut my eyes and felt the buzzing crystallize into concrete information.  As numerous as stars in the night sky, tiny knots of intricate data filled the area around me.  I could focus on each one in turn, pick out details.  The clusters of data had been reflexively drifting towards me since I was first splashed in the face.  They responded to my subconscious thoughts and emotions, as much of a reflection of my frustration, my anger, my hatred for those three girls as my pounding heart and trembling hands were.  I could make them stop or direct them to move almost without thinking about it, the same way I could raise an arm or twitch a finger.

I opened my eyes.  I could feel adrenaline thrumming through my body, blood coursing in my veins.  I shivered in response to the chilled soft drinks and juices the trio had poured over me, with anticipation and with just a little fear.  On every surface of the bathroom were bugs; Flies, ants, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, earwigs, beetles, wasps and bees.  With every passing second, more streamed in through the open window and the various openings in the bathroom, moving with surprising speed.  Some crawled in through a gap where the sink drain entered the wall while others emerged from the triangular hole in the ceiling where a section of foam tile had broken off, or from the opened window with peeling paint and cigarette butts squished out in the recesses.  They gathered around me and spread out over every available surface; primitive bundles of signals and responses, waiting for further instruction.

My practice sessions, conducted away from prying eyes, told me I could direct a single insect to move an antennae, or command the gathered horde to move in formation.  With one thought, I could single out a particular group, maturity or species from this jumble and direct them as I wished.  An army of soldiers under my complete control.

It would be so easy, so easy to just go Carrie on the school.  To give the trio their just desserts and make them regret what they had put me through: the vicious e-mails, the trash they’d upended over my desk, the flute –my mother’s flute– they’d stolen from my locker.  It wasn’t just them either.  Other girls and a small handful of boys had joined in, ‘accidentally’ skipping over me when passing out assignment handouts, adding their own voices to the taunts and the flood of nasty emails, to get the favor and attention of three of the prettier and more popular girls in our grade.

I was all too aware that I’d get caught and arrested if I attacked my fellow students.  There were three teams of superheroes and any number of solo heroes in the city.  I didn’t really care.  The thought of my father seeing the aftermath on the news, his disappointment in me, his shame?  That was more daunting, but it still didn’t outweigh the anger and frustration.

Except I was better than that.

With a sigh, I sent an instruction to the gathered swarm.   Disperse.  The word wasn’t as important  as the idea behind it.  They began to exit the room, disappearing into the cracks in the tile and through the open window.  I walked over to the door and stood with my back to it so nobody could stumble onto the scene before the bugs were all gone.

However much I wanted to, I couldn’t really follow through.  Even as I trembled with humiliation, I managed to convince myself to pick up my backpack and head down the hall.  I made my way out of the school, ignoring the stares and giggles from everyone I walked past, and caught the first bus that headed in the general direction of home.  The chill of early spring compounded the discomfort of my soaked hair and clothes, making me shiver.

I was going to be a superhero.  That was the goal I used to calm myself down at moments like these.  It was what I used to make myself get out of bed on a school day.  It was a crazy dream that made things tolerable.  It was something to look forward to, something to work towards.  It made it possible to keep from dwelling on the fact that Emma Barnes, leader of the trio, had once been my best friend.

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128 thoughts on “Gestation 1.1

  1. I just read the entire thing in a day. Wow.
    If you’re a reader, keep reading.
    If you’re the author, great work.

  2. Enjoying it so far, are you planning to take your writing to a professional level, or is it just a hobby to you? I’ve worked with quite a few published and soon-to-be published authors and this seems to be at about the right level for finding an agent and getting a publishing deal.

    Thanks for your help on the Webfiction guide forum btw.

    • If my dreams came true, I’d become a career author. More realistically, I’d like to make some money doing this while working another job full/part time to actually have enough money to buy food. I plan to sell Worm as a series of ebooks somewhere down the line, after I’ve finished.

      • Realistically? If you don’t think you have what it takes to write professionally, I can’t even see the POINT of professional writing. I’D like to be a writer! If YOU don’t think you could after completing a project like MOTHER FUCKING WORM, what possible hope can the rest of us have? What hope is there for me?

      • Just so it’s clear, although you’ve probably been told this many times before, and I’m not sure whether you still read older comments on the story, Worm is the best book I have ever read. Better than Dresden Files, Harry Potter, Gentlemen Bastards, Chronicles of Narnia, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Dune, Ender’s Game, literally the best book. You win all of my approval and compliments, ever, and for the rest of time. Despite its length, I expect I’ll reread it every summer for the rest of my life. My first read, I skipped the comments sections. This time, I’ll enjoy every aspect of the story to the fullest.

        The only reason you shouldn’t become a professional author is that doing promotional tours might take time away from your writing. Other than that, there is literally no reason you shouldn’t be rolling in giant piles of money, laughing maniacally. I don’t know why you haven’t been contracted yet. But rest assured, the quality of your writing is not what holds you back. And the pace of your writing is also incredible.

        The only way I could squee any harder at you would be if your next book after Pact centered on time travel, exploited to the fullest by both the protagonists and antagonists. If I ever become fabulously wealthy, rest assured that I’ll be buying you lots of nice and shiny things.

        Worm wasn’t just entertaining. It also made me a better person. I have ADHD, Asperger’s and Depression. But, for whatever reason, reading Worm has helped me enormously in dealing with these issues. So, all faux-exaggeration aside, thank you very much, with all my sincerity. Worm makes me hopeful for my abilities and my future. More than that, it makes me hopeful for the rest of the world as well. Stories like yours are rare, I that hope you’re as proud of your amazing accomplishments as I am in awe of them.

  3. Well it certainly gives more information, the expanded chapter is an improvement in that sense. And I guess there were issues with the original but, well parts of this feel kind of sterile, not the right word. The orginal really captured the feeling of being in Taylor’s head, whereas this feels more removed. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, just that it’s noticable for me at least. Probably nothing.

    Though I was surprised that the flood of colours remained in the bathroom scene. I’m still not sure why we need to know the paper towels are brown.

    • It’s funny that you say that (The above comment is in reference to edits made, for any new readers) – I added more on Taylor’s thought processes, but you feel that this is more removed.

      I also removed several references to the colors of the juice, but you still feel there’s too much reference to color?

      • Oddly it feels almost too grammar focused now. If the previous felt like a direct feed to her brain this is more like a diary entry. Again it’s not so much a bad thing as it is a difference.

        Yeah, it’s probably just me, but the mention of the paper towels being brown strikes me as cumbersome still. The other colours (clothes, juice etc) all feel necessary, they help build a picture of what’s going on. The towel colour feels like it pushes that a bit. It’s not so much the number of references, just that adding in an unnecessary one makes it seem odd.

        • I agree that the writing seemed less emotional and direct after the editing to me.
          The colors thing didn’t bother me in the first place; in fact, it felt very much like the sort of thing someone in the process of being traumatized would focus upon.

          • Hmm. I tend to get comments along these lines after I focus on editing something. I may just have to rewrite from scratch, keeping the high points of the previous draft in mind.

            Just odd that I tried to inject more emotion into it, offering more details on what she was thinking, and achieved the opposite. The only colors I removed were a repetition of ‘purple orange and red’ that appeared twice in one paragraph.

            Any areas in particular where you feel it was emotionally flat or stiff?

            • I REALLY enjoyed this (although I’m a bit squeamish with insects), but I did get the impression of Taylor having an aloof, almost apathetic, “loner” personality. That seemed fine to me (I haven’t read any more yet, but it seems like a superhero or what ever she is here termed would be more caring about others, but obviously she hasn’t had the best experiences with her peers), but I did notice it.

          • Well, I don’t think it is flat or stiff, or definitely a bad thing- I tend to like Taylor’s obsessive in-combat woolgathering later in the story, too. It’s just a slightly different tone.

            Been long enough since my last reading that pointing to specific spots is hard.

    • Late to the party but…. I like the colors, flashy and chick for the “happy as a chappy can be” popular girls, brown and almost degrading for the girl who got trashed. Also, brown is a color more in focus with depression, the soil and shit, and bugs! very appropriate. So…. I like the contrast, and I don’t see it as unnecessary. Also, notice how they describe the colors as orange/red/purple even if they hit the green bag and they would be more brownish than orange/red/purple…. coincidence????

  4. ###GESTATION 1-1

    >“Let me wrap up here,” Mr. Gladly said, “Sorry

    said. Now I didn’t even have that.
    >I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do for my afternoon classes.

    I didn’t know what <– Remove 'even' in second sentence due to repetition of 'I didn’t even' in adjacent sentences.
    about my afternoon classes bathroom were bugs; Flies, ants, spiders

    flies vicious e-mails,
    >nasty emails

    e-mails vs. emails <– You can spell it either way, but be consistent.

  5. Hmm.

    Wish I could re-read the original version you had up.

    Some thoughts – with the caveat that it’s probably just fine as it is, so take all of this with a grain of salt:

    >>Class ended in five minutes and all I could think was, an hour is too long for lunch.

    Good, but it didn’t flow naturally for me. I heard a pause after ‘minutes’, for one. Perhaps something like, “Class ended in five minutes. And yet all I could think was an hour is too long for lunch.

    For me at least that emphasizes the dichotomy a bit more, while still sounding like something Taylor would think (I went through a couple versions that just didn’t sound like her.)

    >>Since the start of the semester, I had been looking forward to the part of Mr. Gladly’s World Issues class where we’d start discussing capes.

    …Seems labored. And it buries the lead a bit. “Since the start of the semester, I’d looked forward to discussing capes in Mr. Gladly’s World Issues class. Now that he finally was, I couldn’t focus.”

    Then, a few descriptors are unnecessary, under the show-don’t-tell rule (and there are a few minor verb tense disagreements.) – “I fidgeted, my pen moving from hand to hand, tapping, or absently drawing some figure in the corner of the page to join the other doodles. My eyes were restless too, darting from the clock above the door to Mr. Gladly and back to the clock. I wasn’t picking up enough of his lesson to follow along. Twenty minutes to twelve; five minutes left before class ended.”


    “My pen moved from hand to hand, tapping, or absently drawing some figure in the corner of the page to join the other doodles. My eyes were restless too, darting from the clock above the door to Mr. Gladly and back to the clock. I didn’t pick up enough of his lesson to follow along. Twenty minutes to twelve; five minutes left until class ended.”

    Perhaps even separate that last line, to bookend the passage and emphasize that all these thoughts occur but it’s still five minutes. Together:

    Class ended in five minutes. And yet all I could think was an hour is too long for lunch.

    Since the start of the semester, I’d looked forward to discussing capes in Mr. Gladly’s World Issues class. Now that he finally was, I couldn’t focus. My pen moved from hand to hand, tapping, or absently drawing some figure in the corner of the page to join the other doodles. My eyes were restless too, darting from the clock above the door to Mr. Gladly and back to the clock. I didn’t pick up enough of his lesson to follow along.

    Twenty minutes to twelve; five minutes left until class ended.

    • Minor edit to above – “Now that he finally was, I couldn’t focus” to “Now that we finally were, I couldn’t focus.”

      • “I was momentarily blinded by the stinging fluid in my eyes and my blurring of my glasses”
        should be the blurring of my glasses

    • Sooo…I finished the series yesterday, and since I’ve nothing to do now, I’m starting a re-read, with comments! (All of the necro-posts).

      I actually think the tense shifts reinforce the idea that this is stream of consciousness from inside Taylor’s head. It gives the reader the impression that this is in-the-moment, rather than written out from a single future perspective. Plus with /so many characters/, it helps to give some of them a varied narrative/speaking style.

  6. “She was good looking enough to get occasional jobs as a amateur model for the catalogs that the local department stores and malls put out.”

    Just thought I should make a quick comment about this, I think it should be “an amateur model” instead of “a amateur model”

    I really am enjoying the story thus far (at the time of this comment i have just finished Arc 1) and I must say, this is something I look forward to reading more.

  7. A fairly recent comment from Wildbow about clues that hadn’t been noticed (or at least mentioned) by any readers thus far has tickled my obsessive fancies. I’m beginning a close and critical reread of Worm, to see what there is to see. This may take me a while, since I’m planning to at least skim through comments on the way through as well.

    • err wrong chapter I went to the top of the table of contents assuming it would be the most recent chapeter

  8. I know much has likely changed for you, since the initial posting of this first chapter. I do not know much about you or your work, I actually stumbled onto this from a friend who found “Worm” through a simple Reddit post you left… So I guess this is more directed at the person who wrote this first chapter, however long ago that was. Here are just some initial thoughts:

    I’ve had meaningful experience studying literary criticism, and I know that feedback can be incredibly helpful, rewarding, and important for a writer. Yet, some brilliant members of our field have argued that art is art, and the artist’s work should not be judged or tampered with, but respected in a way that reflects the ideal that a work is intentional and is created for appreciating – not manipulating.

    This position suggests that every choice the artist makes, was made for a reason – their reason – (as it is their art), and as the ‘audience’ of that art, (i.e. the reader), it is not our place to pass judgment on what is “correct” as well as we would like to see the writer do, or change, or fix, but instead appreciate what the artist has done and consider what each choice has done for the overall piece.

    I see the logic in this concept, and it is fun to practice appreciating art in this way, but then again, even Dickens had to learn to write, and even at the end, he could have been better. We can always improve – every one of us – and I anticipate after reading this wonderful beginning that “Worm” will continue to impress, as more and more writing and feedback help you learn how to make this an even better story.

    Hemingway eloquently stated “The first draft of everything is sh!#.” I don’t quite think that is true, but I know that it can only improve from that first go. Rewriting and rethinking your work is so important, and it is nice to see you do that. But remember — one comment made earlier was very wise: “Take all of this with a grain of salt…”

    No one has the answers, this is art after all! 🙂

    There is no right or wrong, only the best you can offer, which so far seems Fantastic. Keep with it! And don’t let anyone make you think you are anything but brilliant.

    It has been a pleasure to read your work, thank you for sharing it.

  9. Oh GOD. Worm, exhaustion, crack theories and formatting problems really DO NOT MIX. Take the comment in the spirit it was given..?

  10. Last chapter was posted tonight, and for some reason felt compelled to come back and read this one. It is truly amazing to look back on what Taylor was like at the beginning here, what her life was like, knowing what is in store for her.

    To anyone just starting this story for the first time: get ready, you’re in for one HELL of a ride!

        • I feel emotionally dead inside. Probably due to the lack of sleep. Just finished (up to the first epilogue) and that was a crazy, crazy ride. Man. For anyone reading the comments who just started – you already know this, but keep going. I would rave about Worm, but I’m just too tired because I’ve been reading for the past several hours and it’s just. That. Good.

  11. Minor nitpick: the correct spelling is “just deserts”, even though it sounds like something you would find in a menu.

    The reason is etymology: the “deserts” in “just deserts” comes from “deserve”.

    • You are correct, Nhaehnle, but that is an archaic usage.

      “just desserts” as in, such a dessert (pejorative) is justice

      “just deserts” as in you get what you deserve and that is justice

      Both are used, acceptable and correct, but desserts (from the menu) is current and common.

  12. Sorry to be pedantic xxxx again, but if you ever do get to publish (though what is this but published anyhow, I wonder?) you could save your proofreader 5 seconds’ work by changing ‘an antennae’ to the correct singular form: ‘an antenna’.
    P.S. this is my very first day with Worm, having followed the recommendation of Eliezer what’s’isface of HPMOR fame. Thus far, no reason not to continue.

    As I believe from my previous comment that you moderate all these comments, please let me know if you would prefer me to make any future proof-reading type of comments via an alternative channel, or not at all. And feel free not to post this on the open forum. In fact, I think on balance that I’d prefer that you didn’t!

  13. Came here via HPMOR, too. I binge read the story, skipping lots of chapters. I plan to do a thorough read through now (maybe by sticking to the schedule the story was originally wrote by). It has already been very rewarding, because with the knowledge gained from later chapters, the mobbing is even more sad/annoying/emotionally resonating than on my first read through.

  14. I stumbled upon Worm on a bus back home from New York City. I was annoyed that the lights were not working, and I could not read my book. I pulled out my phone and checked Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality to see if there were any new chapters. There were not, but there was a recommendation for this work… Little did I know what the next month would have in store. I started reading 11/19/13, and finished on my 36th birthday, 12/29/13. I am a voracious reader. I have read widely and deeply, usually at least a few books a week. I am not exaggerating at all when I see that Worm is one of the best stories I have ever read. Avoiding spoilers, I will only say that Taylor’s story and character arc hits the perfect balance between epic scope, and intensely personal. I will eagerly read, and pay for, anything that this author publishes. Wildbow is up there with CJ Cherryh, George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and Robert Jordan for me. Thank you for the gift of your talent.

  15. This is the first time i comment on “Worm” and i will just start by saying that i am in love with the story. I would marry the crap out of the story if it was possible. The second, is to you new readers who might see this comment. Do not get discouraged by the length of the stories or the story in general. You will find that it is all worth it when you are done, however confusing it might be.

    Thank you Wildbow, for an unforgettable and emotional story.

    • Oh. And to anyone who’s reading this. I have found “The Miracle of Sound” to deliver music that fits perfectly to many of the things that happens in the story. Great music to Great stories

  16. It’s kind of haunting to read the first few chapters after finishing Worm. To see what Taylor thought about in those early days, compared to the things she’ll experience in the future is both terrifying and awe-inspiring. Figured I’d just throw this out there.

  17. I don’t read web novels. In fact this is the first I’ve ever read. But I’m glad that my journey from literary purist to cool modern reader begins here. As an aspiring writer myself, I cannot stress the burning jealousy I feel. A million and three-quarter word? A MILLION AND SVENTY FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND?! In little over two years! This is staggering. I just started this story so I can’t say anything, but I have never, NEVER, seen anyone write woth such speed and obvious vigor. Maybe other authors do, but I don’t know. You’ve gven me a new stratospheric target for writing-speed. I am amazed, and passionately envious.

    • I like the way Eliezer Yudkowsky put it, if I may toot my own horn. “There are stories which are better than Worm, and stories which were written faster than Worm, but I don’t know of any epic which was ever written faster and better than Worm.”

      It’s not perfect. I was a novice when I started and I had a few points where life intruded (about 2/3rds of the way through the story, there’s one arc I’m planning on scrapping & rewriting in edits). But I’m really happy with what I wound up with.

      Thanks for reading, S&A.

      • Thank you, with the force of a million suns, Shocked-and-awed. I have, since halfways through Worm, been looking for the word Web Novel. I couldn’t for the love of Scion remember what it was called.

        And to you Wildbow, while what Eliezer Yudkowsky said might be true for you, i don’t feel the same way. I think most stories lack the length to properly build up the characters and enviroment that you have made. I can think of few which got close, but not many that did. Eliezer’s “HPMOR” was one of the few that i found as good as this one, but that’s because it’s full of clever things and stuff that i wished the original books fixed. Your story is simply perfect in every aspect. It made me laugh, get angry, sweat manly through my eyes. Perfect. And for this, i also thank you.

      • Out of curiosity, which stories do you think are better than Worm? I would love to read them. All of them. 🙂

  18. So, having read through Worm in its entirety (and absolutely loving it!), I felt a desire to contribute, in my own way. As such, I’m re-reading through it, offering up my own personal thoughts and critique (if you care to see them), and collecting all grammar and spelling mistakes others have noted that have not been addressed yet as of this reading (as well as any others I see). I should note that I’m only referring to mistakes that are clearly wrong and not just something someone here thinks could be done differently or better (since that’s subjective).

    Hopefully, when you create the e-Book version, you can use this as a catch-all for editing so you don’t have to re-read through every comment and double-check them to see if you’ve already made the mentioned edits.

    Anyway! Onward!


    It begins! However, given the superheroic antics of the story as a whole, it begins in a somewhat slow and misleading fashion. Personally, I love the stuff about bullying, which I see as the heart of the story (and what speaks to me personally), but I know some of your readership view it as filler and want to move ahead to the cape antics.

    If I were to make a suggestion, perhaps, since Taylor is already doodling in a notebook, things could start off with a daydream about a heroic girl taking down criminals and saving the day, showering in the praise and admiration of the loving public. It would be a peek into Taylor’s mind, would act as a stark contrast for what’s actually to come, would serve as a nice tease for the more actiony parts of the story, and would also start the story off on an action note before scaling it back to the personal stuff that Taylor is being subjected to.

    On another level, daydreaming is fitting for a victim of bullying, and given how (MINOR SPOILER) Taylor later describes her cape antics as an escape from her everyday life, this sort of thing would foreshadow that reality.

    Of course, it’s your story, but I figured I’d suggest it, since it struck me as something that might work well for you.

    As for notes on specific lines:

    > an hour is too long for lunch

    I always wondered about this line, because even in context, it’s sort of confusing. Given how (MINOR SPOILER) Taylor has noted later on that she is harassed in class as well as during lunches and walks through the hallway, it would seem that there isn’t much difference. Some might even think of lunch as an opportunity to get away from the bullies, if she can find a good hiding spot (which it sounds like, previous to this, the bathroom was one). It might seem like a minor quibble, but given that this is the first line of a rather long story, starting out on an unclear note is… well, unfortunate.

    In retrospect, I suppose you were probably trying to convey Taylor’s excitement and enthusiasm regarding capes, but not long after, given how serious her problem with bullies is, this becomes somewhat less certain. In addition to this, it doesn’t seem like Taylor holds Mr. Gladly in very high esteem, so it seems doubtful she expects to learn much from his class. At the same time, if she’s as much of an introvert and a social pariah as she’s later made out to be, she’d probably be more likely to want to shrink away from any show of her knowledge at this point, as it would only highlight her presence and draw her bullies to push her down even harder.

    This is a former victim of bullying saying this. Were I in Taylor’s place, my interest in the topic matter would be highly subdued by my lack of enthusiasm for school in general.

    > Biographies weren’t my thing, and they were especially not my thing when I was suspicious it was all made up.

    You never really touch on this again, why Taylor would think that the biography of the Triumvirate would be made up. Obviously, later in the story it becomes apparent that (SPOILER) there are a lot of lies and misconceptions surrounding the Triumvirate, but that’s not anything Taylor would know at the moment.


    As yakkt says, you’re inconsistent in your use of “e-mail” versus “email”. Choose one and stick with it.

    As olivebirdy notes, “I was momentarily blinded by the stinging fluid in my eyes and my blurring of my glasses” should be “[…] THE blurring of my glasses” or “[…] A blurring of my glasses”

    As UnluckyStar notes, “She was good looking enough to get occasional jobs as a amateur model for the catalogs” should be “[…] AN amateur model”

    As Andrew Lister points out, “I could direct a single insect to move an antennae” should be corrected to “[…] move an antenna”, as antennae is plural and antenna is singular.

    I have no spelling/grammar corrections to add to those stated by others. I certainly will have some for later chapters.

  19. We all need to believe we’re the heroes in our own life stories.Of course,logic dictates this cant always be the case.Some of us must be the comic relief,some wise mentors,or dutiful sidekicks.Others damsels in distress.And some of us are Villains.

  20. Long-time superhero fan, decided too finally start. You’re no Scott Lynch, where each sentence is poetic and has 3 meanings. No GRRM where you wouldve described every single one of Emma’s freckles.. But holy shit, your writing style is so smooth. It reads almost as easy as watching TV, and with a strong depression and lots of mental problems, unable to focus on A Dance with Dragons or even fucking Blood of Olympus, this is a gift from the heavens and if the story is half as good as everyone has said it is, I already know that this will swiftly become one of the top 3 in my favourite stories ever.

    I have read your samples and Face just grabbed me. Any plans for the future of that?

  21. I just want to hug her. Emma, I mean. In front of the class. With my clothes soaked in her cranberry juice. And explain loudly, when she asks, that I’m not allowed to say what is wrong with me, and she should know that.

  22. Small edit: “I was momentarily blinded by the stinging fluid in my eyes and my blurring of my glasses”–that bit is a little awkward, and “my blurring of my” should maybe be changed to “the blurring of my” 🙂

    Also: “On every surface of the bathroom were bugs; Flies, ants, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, earwigs, beetles, wasps and bees.” I don’t think the capitalization of the “f” in “flies” is necessary, but it would be more accurate if you change the semicolon to a colon “:” — not sure I’ve ever seen a semicolon followed by a word with the first letter capitalized.

    And I’m wondering if punctuation is supposed to be outside of quotes or inside (when a word is in quotes next to an end mark–well, actually, either a comma or a period). Not really sure on this one though I usually see the quotes outside like “I understand his comment about ‘grass,’ but I don’t agree with it.” Anyway.

    I am really enjoying this so far, and I’ll probably leave a more in-depth, less nit-picky comment later on once I am further along.

  23. Dang. That is perfectly amazing. I swear, nothing ever gets me as good as some %@#$ getting their just deserts, and I’m starting to feel like this story is one of the best, like, EVER.
    I trust when Emma gets hers, she’ll be more than just bugged about it.

  24. I’m re-reading this epic story in 2016. Anyone know is Wildbow has published an ebook for this? I’d love to buy it. This is an amazing girl story that clings to one’side thoughts even years later, I can’t forget Skitter as being my alk time favorite hero and villain!

    • No ebook put yet. But you should check out the parahumans subreddit on reddit, where fans gather to discuss theories and wildbow’s latest stories. If an ebook release date is announced, youll news of it there.

  25. This seems as good a place as any to put this–I’m starting a new serial as of last Friday and I never would have been writing in this genre if it wasn’t for you. Thanks for everything you’ve done.

    • I am just starting to read this for the first time ever and have already gotten a decent amount of the way in. I started three to four hours ago and have already gotten to Agitation 3.4. Time to binge read more before university in six hours…

    • Hey, I just started reading it and after a few chapters I realized that I rushed it and now I am planning on doing it again more slowly.
      It would be nice to have someone that I can talk to and discuss stuff.

    • I just started to read Worm for the first time and if you are still on reading slowly: It would be nice to talk and discuss a chapter at a time with someone. (I don’t really like beeing rushed through stories, what happens a lot in nowadays binge watch/read culture)

  26. And i thought I had it bad in school lol.
    At least she has super powers.
    This looks really good and I’ve been told it is by many people so thought it’s about time I read it.

  27. So I’ve just started my first re-read of Worm. I remember reading it just as the rains started last year, and when I heard the scattered showers outside last night I thought I’d read it again. One thing I’d learnt after doing a bunch of information scavenging on the internet and eventually going through the Word of God repository linked to on the parahumans subreddit is that there’s a lot of really good discussion in the comments section. Considering that I’m still allowed to comment on this, how are there no spoilers in the comments? Is the fandom just that nice? Do you, Wildbow, occasionally trawl through the comments and delete every spoiler you see?

    • Oh okay so it looks like comments have to approved by you before they appear. That makes a lot of sense, but isn’t that quite a lot of effort considering how vast all your web serials are? Have you hired a moderator?

  28. I have somewhere that I need to go, but before I leave. I wanted to drop a comment. I’m half way done reading this first part and it felt painful to stop reading. i wanted to really finish it before I leave. However, if I stayed any longer. I’d be late for my appointment. In the meantime, lovely narration and I’m hoping to read more later. Thank you!

  29. Hi, I am struggling to find the link to download the unabridged audio version of the book. I have been recommended this book by my highly intelligent little brother as the best book he has ever read and myself struggle with reading any lengthy material. If anyone can help me with a download link that would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards,

  30. Even having heard things about WORM, I expected her to “go Carrie”. I’m excited to see how she’ll use her powers instead!

  31. This is very, VERY late but I just wanted to give my take on why some fans are reacting to this chapter’s rewrite the way they are. From your comments I see that you genuinely appreciate feedback from your readers and take it to heart, and though several readers mentioned feeling this way I didn’t see many comments giving possible solutions.

    DISCLAIMER: I’m a new reader, so I never had the pleasure of seeing your initial version. You’re welcome to take my opinion with a grain of salt since I never saw it, and nothing I say is meant to belittle your (obvious) talents as a writer.

    From the first sentence I could tell that this chapter has been highly edited. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. All novels benefit from the tight, fluid use of language as a tool, and it is through editing that we make our intentions with that language more clear. Whether we choose to use grammar correctly or incorrectly depends on what our novel needs.

    I think the issue lies more in how you approach description. Right now, your polished style has a bad habit of stating the barest actions and observations in each scene. Writers create drama and personalities through the words they choose, especially verbs. Compelling characters don’t CLOSE a door, they SLAM it. They don’t WALK down a hall, they STRUT. I’m by no means saying Taylor is bland, but I think you should consider focusing on the strength of her voice through more dramatic sentence structuring, because right now it feels passive.

    Similar principles apply for description. This is something I think you also may be playing a little bit safe. Good description is like good animation; it stretches the visuals in order to capture the audience and make a scene come to life. Jackets LAYING on the floor is standard, jackets PUDDLING on the floor is exciting.

    Narrative description also conveys a story in miniature. Half the battle is pacing, which you understand perfectly, but aside from some quips about the teacher your descriptions are either standard or focused on neutral, emotionless details, like color. Color is a fast way to establish visuals but doesn’t really tell anything about Taylor herself.

    Take the mirror scene, for instance. When we learn the color of Taylor’s hoodie we can picture it in our heads, but we don’t have an emotional reaction. There’s no story within that set of information. However, if we learn that Taylor’s hoodie is lumpy and stained, that her pants are threadbare and her shoes are ragged, a story is implied: for some reason or another, Taylor does not have the funds to replace her clothes. Thus the reader learns important information about her, and it makes her more sympathetic.

    None of this is meant to be mean-spirited! I’m impressed by the way you respond to people’s suggestions and genuinely want to get better, so I thought I’d throw in my own take. You have a wonderful eye for plot structure, and I can’t wait to read more!

  32. It says later that there is this superhero who has EVERY power. It also says that a certain ‘Professor Haywire’ created a portal to an Earth in another universe. If he has every power, he should be able to summon one punch man through a portal because he can kill any supervillain or Endbringer with one punch!!!

  33. I’m already in love with Taylor’s character. Her frustrations and the reason she doesn’t give in to them are relatable to me, though I can at least say my experiences were never that extreme. I wish her well, and that’s a very good thing for this story’s character building since this is the first I’ve read of it.

  34. Well, shit.
    That hit WAAAAAYYYYY to close to home for me, I know far to well what hiding in the toilet and having soda dumped on you for years is like. Along with a … distressing amount of the other stuff. And then being the bigger person through it all. That hurt to read.
    Well, the character development is definitely flawless, I’m immediately attached. Good work.

  35. Wildbow, your work is OP, I’m starting again from the beginning. Yours is my all time favorite scifi/fantasy series, head and shoulders above the rest.

  36. Hi, I’m just wondering but if there a way that I can download your story as I plan to travel through Asia very soon to help some family in Thailand/Laos and I’d like to be able to have your story as a PDF or something so I can read it via my phone, tablet or eReader as I won’t have internet connection for a while! Thanks a lot! I am so looking forward to being able to start reading this as I’ve just been recommended it by someone on Quora! ^_^

  37. Some criticism that’s probably irrelevant to writing a story, and is only possible because of the format: she should have gone to the school nurse or something, gotten some new clothes from there (that’s possible, right? maybe a gym uniform?), and of course said what happened and who was responsible.

  38. The story seems great, but your page is having an adware problem, at least on mobile. Hard to avoid getting kicked out by Chrome’s security.

  39. I’m a teen girl and relate to Taylor a lot (though, thankfully not on the part where she has no friends lol). She’s a great, mature person. If I was her the girls would have left school by now. I’d do little thinks that would make their lives hell, without getting detected by the police. Great book, looking forward to reading it all! 🙂

  40. Well I’m finally reading this after two years of procrastination, and I have to say this is a very strong start. If it continues like this it’s easy to see why it’s become so popular.

  41. I read this serial a few years ago and never got the chance to finish it. It left a powerful impression on me, and I’m so excited to read it again.

  42. My school, like most public spaces here in Sweden, had bathrooms in closed rooms, like you’d find at home. None of the assault from above. In sixth grade I once spent twenty minutes holding the lock at the door of the bathroom I’d locked myself in, while the boys tried to open it with a knife. A simple table knife. It broke, close to the end of the break, and they gave up. Then when class started and I got out they could not stop asking why I had locked myself in the bathroom for the whole break. They even tried to tell me they tried to force the lock because they thought it was jammed and I was stuck.

    It’s I think the fourth time I’m coming back to reread this story, and I thought I’d try to comment on every chapter this time. Spoilers may be what you’d expect if you’re reading the comments on a ten years old web serial. (Protip: Don’t read the comments the first time you’re reading this.)

    The beginning, I think, resonates with every one of us weird kids. Everyone who ever thought being bullied was the assumption, the norm, the way things were. I used to imagine – I have a very vivid imagination – shooting death rays out of my eyes and exploding everyone I could see. I read Stephen King’s seminal school shooting novel “Rage” when I was about 15 and I’m 95% sure it stopped me from doing something terrible. I actually wrote a short story recently where my stand-in gains magical power and murders most of her school. (See link.)

    All of which is to say, Taylor’s restraint in these early pages is almost too good to be true. I think her outstanding moral fibre is more of a wish fulfillment fantasy than her magic powers really. (Who wants absolute awareness of all icky invertebrates in the neighborhood? Probably I’ll get back to that later.) Not a bad thing.

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