I’m afraid I wasn’t a fan of this one. I have to agree with Nathan’s comment after the story that he felt frustrated by the ending, because neither his questions nor Cat’s were answered. I’ll admit that the premise for this story didn’t particularly intrigue me, but as the tale proceeded, I found myself becoming… “conditionally invested” might be the best way to put it. I thought to myself, “Okay, it’s slow, the introspection gets a bit blunt and repetitive, and he’s doing that thing I hate where the protagonist just knows certain things for no apparent reason, but there are some intriguing elements to this setting, and I’m curious about where this is all going. This could work, depending on how the author answers our questions. This could get interesting.” Sadly, though, that didn’t happen.
The author attempted to pull off two difficult tricks in this story, and unfortunately I don’t think he succeeded at either. First, the twist ending. These are tough to write because they require the author to craft a story that makes sense from two different perspectives, instead of just one. If the revelation at the end renders the preceding story moot, or causes parts of it to not make sense anymore, the twist doesn’t work. It leaves the reader blindsided and confused, or frustrated and annoyed. Or to put it another way, is it worth going back to read a second time now that you know the twist? If the story only works on the first pass (The Sixth Sense, anyone?), that’s not good. In this story, finding out what’s really going on requires us to assume that all of Cat’s internal monologue was being delivered via large blocks of written text or long solo voiceovers, which actually lends more support to the antagonist’s position. These things make sense in a book, but are poor uses of the medium that is actually in play. (I’m trying to avoid completely spoiling the ending for those who still want to hear it.) The same goes for Cat’s lack of agency. That’s plenty of reason for the antagonist to make the decision he does.
Second, the moral. Putting a message of “people need to recognize and appreciate good art” in your story is a very, very tricky thing. Because the writer is himself a creator of art, art which the reader may or may not appreciate, this moral can very easily come off as whiney and self-indulgent. In fact, I would recommend that a novice author not take this moral on- it has bloodied the knuckles of lots of otherwise great writers and left them looking foolish. It makes your readers feel defensive and throws out a nice juicy piece of bait for your critics.
But then, that’s all just my opinion. Others may disagree.