Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I need your help, people. Stat!

So here's the deal. I'm submitting an entry to a short story contest. A couple of weeks ago a website I read listed these really bizzare writing prompts, as a joke. Stuff like, "There is a breed of wasp that lays its eggs in spiders, and the larvae eat the spider alive from the inside out. Isn't that fucked up? Write a story about how fucked up that is." And so on. Well, people started submitting actual stories based on these prompts, so the site decided to turn it into an actual contest. I don't really expect to win; the readers of this site enjoy more highbrow fair than I enjoy writing. But I'm doing it for the fun and practice of it. This is the first short story I've started and actually completed. I feel pretty good about it, but I'm having a little trouble deciding on an ending (I have four in mind). So, without further ado, I present my story, "Click". At then end, I will lay out each the four endings, and if you take the time to read the story, please take the time to vote on what you think is the best ending. Thanks kids.

Prompt: "Write a short scene in which one character reduces another to uncontrollable sobs without touching him or speaking."

WARNING: This story is very, very dark. Just so you're aware.

*************************************************************************************

Darkness.

A rough cloth bag over my head, making it hard to breath, filling my nose with the smell of mildew. A similar piece of cloth acts as a gag. I’m not sure where I am or how I got here. I’m sitting in what feels like a hard metal folding chair, hands and feet bound. I realize in a detached sort of way that I’m not scared, yet, but I can feel the fear picking at the edges of my mind. Stay calm, I think to myself, try to figure out where you are and how you got here.

I think back to before I awoke here. The last thing I remember is getting into bed, sad and a little lonely. I live a pretty solitary life. I have few friends, my family lives on the other side of the country (though we’re still relatively close), and I work from home, so no coworkers. Days pass without me speaking to anyone short of the voices I deal with over the phone. It’s not a great life, but it’s what I have to work with. I remember closing my eyes, thinking some action was needed to break this rut I’d worked myself into. Feeling my body grow heavy as sleep overtook me.

Then, darkness.

And now this place, this chair, this gag, this hood. Still no solid answers, just more questions. So I settle in to wait. Wait for rescue, wait for some hint as to why I’m here. Just wait.

After what feels to me like several hours (but is probably only a few minutes), I hear the light “tock tock” of hard-soled shoes on a cement floor, coming close to where I now sit. I neither heard a door open, nor detected any change in the quality of light to suggest someone’s entry into my “cell”, and yet here he comes. The steps come closer and closer, until they stop right behind me. I feel a hand on my head, and then the bag is lifted away. I blink rapidly, expecting the pain of bright light to sear my eyes, but there is no light to blind me. I strain my neck to see my tormentor, but he is beyond my range of vision.

I sit for a moment, wondering what the next move is. I decide to try to engage my captor. I try to say “Hello?” or “Where am I?”, but the gag turns the questions into meaningless mumbles. I realize suddenly how thirsty I am, so I try “water” next. It comes out “ahter”, but it apparently does the trick. A soft light clicks on behind me, and a hand and arm, clad in a red leather glove and black featureless sleeve, enters my vision on the right. It’s holding a water bottle with no label and a straw sticking out of the neck. The straw stops right in front of my mouth, and I do my best to wrap my lips around it despite the gag. It’s not perfect, but a cool stream of water marred by the taste of the cloth, dirty and old, slides down my throat.

Just as I’m about to try to force out a few more questions, I’m stopped by the sound of a small motor fan, and a white square of light appears on the wall directly in front of me. A slide projector. The first slide appears. It’s a white title card, with five simple words in a bold typewritten font.

Your life is a dream.

I’m confused by this statement, but have very little time to process it, as the projector behind me clicks and a new slide flashes on the wall.

*CLICK*

All dreams must end.

*CLICK*

Before a dream can end, its connections to the waking world must be removed.

*CLICK*

My two best friends, faces beaten almost unrecognizable, lying on morgue gurneys.

*CLICK*

My brother on the floor of his bedroom, a gunshot wound to his forehead, a pool of deep red blood surrounding his head like a halo.

*CLICK*

Now inside my parents’ room. It’s mostly dark, except for the glow of the small nightlight my parents keep for early morning trips to the bathroom. It’s just enough for me to see my parent’s faces, deeply asleep. I can feel my pulse racing, my breathe forcing itself raggedly in and out of my body, tears on my cheeks. My chest is hitching as I try to fight the dread and the pain and I’m beginning to sob.

*CLICK*

My parents’ bathroom, the door open, the cool tile an abattoir. Blood staining everything, even reaching the ceiling. I hear a high pitched noise and realize it’s coming from me; I’m sobbing and keening.

*CLICK*

Close up on the shower’s sliding doors. The glass is translucent, but I can see the tub filled with dark red and unnamable shapes. A hunk of my mother’s platinum blonde hair, encircled by my father’s wedding band and stained red, sits on the tub’s edge.

*CLICK*

Ending A

The shower doors, open now. Two faces stare out at me. I’m screaming, sobbing, mumbling pleas for surcease.

*CLICK*

The blank white light comes back. My head is swimming, I’m still sobbing even as I’m losing consciousness and the white light is swallowing the world.

*CLICK*

I come to in my parent’s bathroom. For a moment I’m disoriented, and then it all comes rushing back. Finding Pete and Ally at home and putting the bat to work; my brother’s wide eyes and the silenced gunshot that closed them; purchasing the cheap saw and blades; the struggle, the fear, the violence, and finally the peace that settled over this room. And my pictures. My beautiful photographs to remind me that my dream has finally ended, and that I’m awake. I brush a tear from my cheek with one red leather-clad finger, lift the camera to my eye once more, and depress the button.

*CLICK*

Ending B

The shower doors, open now. Two faces stare out at me. Four blind eyes, unblinking. I’m screaming, sobbing, mumbling pleas for surcease.

*CLICK*

And now, you are awake.

*CLICK*

The blank white light comes back. My head is swimming, I’m still sobbing even as I’m losing consciousness and the white light is swallowing the world.

*CLICK*

I come to seconds later. The projector has been turned off, and the room is once again dark except for the light behind me. I mumble, asking why, expecting no answer but asking all the same. The footsteps approach my seat. For a moment I expect, welcome, death. A blade’s whisper, and I can sleep forever. Then the bag once again slides over my head, blocking out what little light remains. As I sob in the darkness, the end of all I’ve ever known like a wound in my mind, the footsteps recede, turning off the small lamp on the way.

*CLICK*

Ending C

The shower doors, open now. Two faces stare out at me. Four blind eyes, unblinking. I’m screaming, sobbing, mumbling pleas for surcease.

*CLICK*

And now, you are awake.

*CLICK*

The blank white light comes back. My head is swimming, I’m still sobbing even as I’m losing consciousness and the white light is swallowing the world.

*CLICK*

Ending D

The shower doors, open now. Two faces stare out at me. Four blind eyes, unblinking. I’m screaming, sobbing, mumbling pleas for surcease.

*CLICK*

And now, you are awake.

*CLICK*

*************************************************************************************

So there it is. I know it's a bit long, but hopefully some of you made it all the way through. Voting is now open!

8 Comments:

Blogger hello jamie: said...

first one.

1:42 AM  
Anonymous Vic said...

That was really good. I liked ending B the best.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Keymaster said...

I like the last!

9:59 PM  
Anonymous abby said...

i like the second one. good story.

5:43 PM  
Blogger J.T. said...

First one.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

First one.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Babs said...

second one... LOVE IT!

8:50 AM  
Anonymous YayCoffee said...

I've tried to leave a comment, like, four times. Blogger and I had a litttle argument about it, in fact, this morning. I'm hoping that a little time, a little space, has made Blogger see the error of his ways, and will now let me tell you how awesome you are.

And that the first ending is my pick.

And, you're AWESOME.

And, your story is AWESOME.

That's all.

12:59 AM  

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