Yes, I know I said I was on a semi-blogging vacation this week, but sometimes I find something I just have to share. Below is the story my writer's group (the Northumberland Scribes) has been working on, and I got their permission last night to share it with the world at large. This means you. :-)
This is what we call a progressive story. There were fourteen of us who participated and each of us wrote a 150 word segment (it's pretty obvious that a couple of you cheated and went over the word count). Each person received a number and the idea was that we'd write these segments in sequence with each person not knowing how the story was progressing until their number came up and they were sent the story thus far from the number before them.
This is the completed story, as it was written by the Northumberland Scribes. I'd just like to say I did not edit this, it's exactly as written. Well, okay, I did fix a few spelling and punctuation mistakes in the final segment, but that's it. Now, on to the story:
Progressive Story, Part One
The woman stood looking at the two doors. One to her left, one to her right. She was trying to decide which direction to take, but was finding it very difficult. Both doors looked the same, but she knew that they led to very different outcomes. She supposed that it was a metaphor for any major life decision. Any choice you make, no matter what it is about, actually.
Live in that town, accept that job. Marry that man. But how do you ever know if it is truly the right decision? How do you know that sometime in the future, be it years later, or months, or even weeks, you won't regret your choice? She thought about that, standing in front of those two doors, and she supposed, you really didn't. You just do the best you can, and hope for the best. With that in mind, she stepped forward.
Hesitating for only a second, she tapped the door timidly.
"Come!" a foreign voice bellowed.
She took a deep breath, turned the handle and entered the strangest office she had yet seen in this hospital. She gave it a quick once over as the figure behind the desk silently pointed to one of the two seats in the room. She was in a dark, cold, grey room, completely devoid of any colour. No pictures, no proudly hung diplomas, just bare walls, not even a window for goodness sake. A desk with absolutely nothing on it and behind it this bearded figure clad completely in black.
She looked at him, as her stomach started to turn. Who was he? Suddenly she wanted to giggle. Dr Strangelove? Dr Death? The Devil himself?
Suddenly, he slowly pulled himself to his feet, raised one arm toward her, pointed and whispered, menacingly, "Sit!"
She sat. She had made her decision. She could renege, she supposed, but she needed the money. Why did this feel so clandestine, though? What she was doing was not illegal. She had something rare to sell and someone else wanted to buy it. She was uneasy. Perhaps it was this room. Perhaps it was this doctor. Her mind raced to make sense of it all while she appeared outwardly calm. She stilled her hands in her lap, relaxed her shoulders, and stifled her nervous giggle that lurked behind each breath. She was inscrutable.
She knew that he was sizing her up. He peered at her intently. "We will be joined in a moment by Mr. Smith. I will conduct the conversation. It is important that we make this transaction as painless as possible for everyone. You do understand, don't you, Miss Jones?" he said quietly with no trace of an accent at all.
She stood, her hand flying convulsively to her throat. "Miss Jones?" she cried. "I am not Miss Jones!" She stepped backwards towards the door.
He was by her side in an instant, his hand under her elbow, steering her back to the chair, His demeanor suddenly obsequious. "Forgive me, Miss, er - forgive me." His smile did not reach his eyes.
She sat, warily. He did not return to his place behind the desk, perching instead on its edge, his black robes brushing against her knees as he studied her face, his own unreadable in the gloom.
"An administrative error," he said soothingly, glancing quickly at his watch. "Quickly rectified. Mr. Smith will have the file. And the we can begin."
Again, that smile.
Locked in his Svengali stare, she could but wait. Footsteps sound in the hall. With a small cry, she stood, whirling to face the door.
"Sit!" said the voice behind her.
"I'm not sure I want to do this anymore," she said, her knees giving out as she fell back in the chair. Mr Smith was a formidable presence; towering over her, his face devoid of any expression, his eyes lifeless.
"You entered into this agreement willingly, did you not?" he asked.
"Yes, yes, I did," she stammered, afraid now that this deal was going to cost her much more than money.
"Well then, Miss Jones," he began, and when she stood to protest the mistake in name he silenced her with a quick motion of his hand.
"I don't care what your name is," he told her. "I only care about our transaction."
He moved close, forcing her back down in the chair. "Smith, Jones," he said, "It doesn't matter what ridiculous names we give ourselves to protect our anonymity. Be very careful, my dear, or the last name given to you will be Jane Doe."
As I sit, trembling, but what was the emotion? Searching inside for answers produced a jumble of thoughts. I am afraid and yet excited at the same time. This conflict has always existed and what I yearn for most times.
The transaction seemed like a simple thing at first. The offer of obedience for money, how hard could that be?
"Your name for this transaction is Jane and you will only speak when you are given permission, do you understand?" remarked Mr. Smith rather unsympathetically. I nodded understanding, hoping that this was the "right" response.
My pulse raced, my face reddened and all my nerve endings seemed to be on fire. The Doctor arose, opened the cabinet beside him and began to take out some paraphernalia that looked medieval.
"No we begin," stated the Doctor.
I wished I was at home channel surfing or some other mindless activity. Hell, I would rather be cleaning the oven than avoiding looking at the instruments of my upcoming torture and the men who would wield them.
What had I been thinking when I had agreed to this? I hadn't been. Thinking, that is. With my habitual impulsiveness I had jumped into this situation for a thrill.
Mr. Smith was between me and the door and the doctor was coming towards me with a harness with buckles dangling from it.
"We are going to restrain you, Jane. Though you said you have agreed to remain still, we need to be absolutely certain," the doctor said. Mr. Smith pressed down on my shoulders from behind.
Responding to a perceived threat, my self-defense lessons kicked in. Pushing with my arms and thrusting my legs up, I did a back flip over the chair.
Unfortunately, I forgot about my trick knee which folded as I hit the floor, sending my feet sliding out from under me. My back hit the floor hard enough to send the breath whooshing out of me. I lay there, stunned, for just a moment, but it was enough time to allow the Doctor and Mr. Smith to close in on me.
Mr. Smith hauled me to my feet and shoved me back into the chair as the Doctor readjusted his hold on the harness. Smith's hands were like lead weights on my shoulders as he held me in place. Their faces were expressionless, and somehow that was even more frightening than if they'd shown anger.
"Please," I whispered, "I've changed my mind. I don't want to go through with this after all."
"We have your signed release form. There's no going back for you now."
For part two, go HERE