Fiction Friday #157 – Quiet Warning

As they say, better late than never. I’m kind of anal when it comes to post times. I like to have these scheduled to go live at midnight, but that was not an option today. I’ve been dragging me feet on this Fiction Friday prompt from Write Anything. For one reason or another, it just didn’t give me that warm fuzzy feeling when I sat down to write. I wound up jotting down some things then getting up to find something better to do. I managed to maintain this routine all week.

When the time came to just get it done, I was engrossed in a project for Stogie Review. Before I knew it, I was out of time. I managed to flush something out this morning, but just like the prompt, It doesn’t excite me. I also took a little liberty with the prompt “A writer’s computer begins to flash messages on its screen, as if trying to communicate” and omitted the writer part. With it I felt too restricted and imagined all the Fiction Friday pieces having too much in common. I suppose I find the prompts which are more vague more intriguing because of all the possibilities. In any case, I hope you enjoy reading this weeks piece.


Fiction Friday #157 – Quiet Warning

“A writer’s computer begins to flash messages on its screen, as if trying to communicate.”

The buzz of office chatter filled the air as David glared at the clock. With each movement of the second hand, the imagined mechanical clicking reverberated through his mind. When the second hand returned home, a mighty gong sounded in his mind as he leaped to his feet and joined the rush of workers going home for the evening. As he neared the elevator, a familiar voice stopped him in his tracks.

“Hey Davey, I’m going to need you to stay late tonight and finish up those LW7 forms. Thanks a million.” Before David could react, Larry Quartz turned on his heel and joined the crowd of people boarding the elevator.

“But Mr. Quartz, I was hoping to surprise Melissa tonight. Can’t those forms wait until tomorrow?”

“No can do Davey. I need those papers first thing in the morning.” There was a smug smile across his lips as he disappeared behind closing doors.

“It’s either Dave or David, asshole.” Larry would never hear him utter those words but just saying them aloud was a comfort. After a long audible sigh and a bit of self pity, David made his way back to his cubicle and plopped down into the chair. The humming of the florescent lights and the occasional clunking of the air conditioner were his only companions in the empty office.

Before engrossing himself in work, David reached into his backpack and removed his iPod. Company policy didn’t permit employees to wear headphones in the office but he always indulged in a bit of music when left to himself. As of late, there has been a lot of working alone after hours. Supervisor Quartz seemed to have it out for him but he didn’t understand why the man pushed him around.

Venting his frustrations, David popped in his ear buds, cranked up the music, and began pounding away at the keys. One after another, forms were completed to the rhythm of the music. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead and stung his eye. With his concentration broken, he glanced at the clock. Nearly seven with only a few more forms to complete. Humming along to the music, he leaned forward to begin typing again. The screen flashed then went black. Leaning back in his chair, he shook his head in frustration.

“Thats just great.” He was deaf to his own words as the music roared in his ears.

In the upper left corner of the screen, the cursor mocked him with its repetitive flashing. Letters begin to appear as if he were typing

“RUN”

“Run what, Windows?” He mumbled the words aloud but they were drowned out by the roar of the music.

With confused eyes fixed on the screen, a new word formed on the line below.

“DANGER”

Adrenaline began to pump as a trickle of fear ran down his spine. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. David reached up and tugged at the cord for his ear buds. With a thunk, they popped free of his ears. As the music abruptly halted, the dull sound of an outdated fire alarm filled his mind with panic. He leaped from his chair and hurried to the stairwell.

As the door was thrown open, a wave of heat slammed into his body causing him to stumble backward. The old-time construction of the building made for a perfect oven. Brick walls insulated the stairwell while iron stairs absorbed heat. The fire was above him on the forth floor.

David took a deep breath, covered his face with the sleeve of his shirt, then dashed into the stairwell. The heat was astonishing, he gasped for air. Hot air and smoke filled his lungs. With eyes watering and his body trying to purge the smokey air, he reached for the railing to steady himself. Upon contact, he almost tumbled to the floor. The bubbling paint slid under his palm while the hot iron branded his flesh.

With one hand covering his face, one hand clutched to his chest, eyes watering, and lungs heaving, David stumbled down the steps and further away from the fire. The ground floor was eerie with its roaring fire four floors up. The smoke was accumulating high above and slowly began its descent to the ground floor.

Bursting through the emergency exit was like entering another world. The sun was beginning to set, casting a red hue on everything around him. The air was warm and humid. In the distance there was the wail of an approaching fire truck. Just to be sure that help was on its way, he jammed his unburnt hand into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. Flipping it open to make the call sent a chill down his spine. There was another message waiting for him.

“IT HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN”

Please visit the comment section, located at the head of this post, and leave me some feedback. I would greatly appreciate it!

12 comments On Fiction Friday #157 – Quiet Warning

  • I think the story starts back at his desk; from that point, you’ve packed it wall-to-wall with curiousity-evoking moments, built to suspense and action. Excellent job making us wonder; the electronics connection is super.

  • I know that feeling Walt, when no matter what you think of, it just doesn’t seem to work. That being said, you have developed an intriguing narrative here, one that could form a larger piece, like a crime/political thriller. The pacing is good and the action rolls along merrily.

    • Adam,
      While I’m really glad it worked out in the end, writing it was no easy task. I kept second-guessing things and wasn’t sure if they fit well enough. Then when I was settled on the components fitting into the story, I began to worry about them having the impact I needed to drive the piece home.

      I was most worried about the end. By closing it out in such a way it kind of felt like I was taking the easy way out rather than showing the reader what happened.

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment

  • I loved your description of his hand on the metal rail. I was actually able to envision it as I read it. You left me wondering what in the world happens next. Good job.

    http://johnpender.net/2010/05/fiction-friday-157/

    • John,
      The paint on the railing was something I used to wonder about years ago in school. The fire escape of the old building was entirely brick with metal stairs and rails. That stairwell was what I envision when I wrote that scene.

      Thanks for commenting

  • great story and intro into a new series. Having fooled the readers into thinking this was going to be a run of the mill story, your pacing and injection of both humour and suspense had me wanting to continue reading.

    for those playing along – my entry this week can be found at http://annieevett.blogspot.com/2010/04/cipher-of-heart.html

    • Annie,
      This was one of those pieces where I just went through the motions and crossed my fingers, hoping that it would turn out well. I’m very happy that everyone seems to have enjoyed it, but this was one story that didn’t excite me as I went along.

      Thanks for the comment

  • I enjoyed the pacing and the attention to detail. The description of the stairwell and Dave’s experience of rushing out of the burning building were great. I’d love to read more.

  • Great job building the suspense. The detail to description was great too. It stirred the imagination leaving me wondering who and how the messages were sent. Nice job.

  • This story gave me chills, Walt, especially with its creepy last line. You grabbed me from the first paragraph and didn’t shake me loose until the ending. This was a fast-paced short story with vivid sensory descriptions and I enjoyed reading it. Great job.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.