Have you ever started writing with a plan in place, then had your story begin telling itself, getting farther and farther from your plan? In this weeks Fiction Friday prompt from Write Anything, I had just that. My plan was to have a much shorter piece that was more to the point. As I placed words on the screen, the story took on a life of its own. The cap for a Flash Fiction piece is generally in the 1,000 word range but this one quickly climbed to 1,400.
I read over it twice and see some areas where I’m not happy with the progression of the story. Fiction Friday rules state ‘no editing’ so I left it as-is. I was thinking about editing in the future and potentially turning it into a serial.
Like last week, I have also included this into the #FridayFlash Twitter Group. For more info on that group, and to view a collective of stories, check out JM Strother’s Mad Utopia.
Fiction Friday #159 – The First of Many
Include this in your story: “I wish he’d knock on my door instead……..”
Everything is filled with blackness. It is strange to be partially coherent and trapped within your own mind. Darkness and muffled sounds are the only things to keep you company. Nothing makes much sense when the body is in this state. I suppose that is why your heart rate begins to climb and adrenaline flows freely. As the brain alerts the body of its panic, light begins to show at the edges of the blackened vision. The bright white light slowly chases away the darkness and your brain becomes fully awake in a flash.
“I see you are finally awake. My apologies, I did not intend to strike you so hard. No need to worry, there was no blood.” My words were well rehearsed. I’d known exactly how hard I struck her but I wanted to keep her calm with my cool demeanor. I had a job to do, I was a professional.
“What is going on? Are you going to hurt me?” As the last wisps of fogginess left her mind, terror crept into her chest. Her questions came out in a deep croak. Much too deep a voice than one would expect from such a petite woman.
I wanted her calm but I refused to lie. “What is going on is that you and I am going to play a game. Am I going to hurt you, well that I do not know at this time. You see, that all depends on the outcome of the game.”
“What do you mean we are playing a game? Please let me go!
“Jillian, my dear Jillian, I can not do that. As I said, we have a game to play. Would you like me to tell you about this game?” Standing behind her prevented me from seeing her eyes. I watched the back of her head as it darted about. The adrenaline was coursing through her veins, making even the littlest movement a spasm.
“Please, just please let me go. I don’t have much money but you can have it all. There is jewelry and a laptop in the bedroom. Take them both, just please let me go.”
So sad, she had resorted to begging when all she had to do was embrace the game. The sooner the game was concluded the sooner I would be gone from her life. “As I said, we have a game to play. The sooner that game gets started the sooner I will be gone from your life. Your money and possessions mean nothing to me so please take comfort in knowing that they will remain when I depart.”
“Fine, what is this game of yours!”
Terror is such a fascinating thing. It causes the average person to go from a state of cowering in fear to bold outrage in the blink of an eye. This woman was proving to be very average in deed. “Well, to speak plainly, you have been unfaithful.”
“I have not, this is all a mistake!”
“Jillian, please do not interrupt, and you have indeed been unfaithful. Lying to me will not hasten the game, it will only delay its completion. Now, as I was saying, you have been unfaithful and one of the parties involved is far more than they seem. You have become lax in hiding your affair and it is very close to becoming a major embarrassment for my employer. The outcome of the game is simple, we stop this little affair.”
“I’m sorry, I’ll stop seeing her. I promise”
Fear, rage, now pleading. None of it mattered, I would drag her through this game kicking and screaming if need be. “You have proven yourself untrustworthy. I apologize but your promise means nothing to me.”
“What are you going to do to me?”
Frustration was building in me and my temper was becoming difficult to control. “Jillian, please refrain from interrupting. Now, as I was saying. We need to put an end to this affair of yours and my employer has devised a game for us to play. I have contacted four people on your behalf. Using your cell phone, I sent a message to your mistress, your best friend Kate, and a random person asking that they please come to your apartment at their earliest convenience. In the event that your mistress arrives for an afternoon romp around the bedroom, I kill her, ending your affair. If Kate arrives, I kill her and perhaps her living vicariously through you will bring your affair to an abrupt halt. The stranger is my wild card. I got their number from a flier on a telephone pole. If he arrives, I kill you, thus ending your affair. Lastly, if your husband arrives home from work and our other guests have not visited then I will kill him. The first one to your door determines your fate, then I leave and you never see me again. Do you understand?”
I watched her carefully. She was silent for a time as my words soaked into her brain. Just as expected, her shoulders lifted as she filled her lungs with air. In a flash there was a thud as my blackjack met her skull, killing her scream in her chest. This course of action would be acceptable, the remainder of the game required her to be gagged. A warning scream following a knock at the door would most certainly spoil the game.
“Kevin Baxter come on down!” Her unconsciousness was lifting to the sound of Drew Carey and The Price is Right. Atop her television sat a small monitor so that we could both get a nice view of the hall outside her door. As if Drew were calling the events in Jillian’s stuffy little apartment, a man carrying a guitar case came strutting down the hall.
“Perfect timing Jillian, looks like our random stranger has arrived. Although from the looks of him he may be a little too out of it to know which door to knock on.”
It unfolded like some sort of television comedy. Our man strutted down the hall with a bit of a sway in his step. His long dirty hair hung past his shoulders and his clothes were loose and baggy. He stopped abruptly, took a deep breath, then turned and knocked on the door. After a few moments he knocked again, this time louder as he called out “Guitar teacher”. Someone opened the door and the mans skin went visibly pale even on the black and white monitor. In a flash he tore off down the hallway. Whatever frightened him stayed within the confines of their apartment and slowly closed the door as he ran off.
I couldn’t contain my laughter and the sound of it shook my captive. “I’m sorry to frighten you. if you were in my situation, with only The Price is Right to keep you company, you would have laughed at that man as well. Anyway, it appears as though your life is safe now. You were probably thinking ‘I wish he’d knock on my door instead’ but deep down in the depths of your soul you are glad you are safe and it is another that will die.
Drew was telling us to make sure our animals were spayed or neutered when a woman appeared on the monitor. Her purposeful stride led her closer and closer to the door. Jillian was visibly shaken, she recognized Kate immediately. Of all the potential victims, Jillian was mostly likely glad that it was Kate that came calling. She would be permitted to choose which love remained in her life but she dare not continue the affair. Either break off the marriage and run into the arms of the woman or break off the affair and embrace the husband. Either action was fine by me. I didn’t ponder the logic of the games rules, I just followed them as per my employers instruction.
“I’m sorry you have to see this Jillian, but it is time.” I stuffed earplugs in my ears and picked up my rifle. I wanted to use a pistol but the fire rated door presented a challenge that I was not willing to take a gamble on. I set the gun to my shoulder, took aim and waited. When the muffled knock reached my ears I squeezed the trigger and let loose a round. I followed it up with two more when a glance at the monitor showed a confused woman staring at her chest.
I watched for a moment as Jillian trembled at the site of the lifeless body on the monitor. The sound of gunfire, even with a suppressor, was bound to draw attention. I quickly stuffed my weapon in my duffel bag and climbed through the window. Before long I was down the fire escape and just another face on the crowded city street. I felt exhilarated by what I had done. It was the first of many jobs to come from my new employer.
Please visit the comment section, located at the head of this post, and leave me some feedback. I would greatly appreciate it!
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20 thoughts on “Fiction Friday #159 – The First of Many”
Walt that was awesome. I was totally sucked in from the beginning, it was a brilliant start. I’d like to know who the murder’s employer is, and why her affair was affecting him. You should definitely turn it into a series – I’d like to see what he gets up to next.
I’m glad you liked the start to the story. I was struggling for an intro until I typed the first sentence. I like where it was going so I just ran with it.
When I finished typing up the story I started getting ideas for what the next hit could be like. I think I am going to extend this and write them much like I did this one, from the perspective of the killer.
Thanks for the comment
What a predicament to be in!
A scary read, I was very drawn into it, especially up to where he started explaining the game
You didn’t think that explanation of the game was too boiled down? When I played that scene out in my mind there were alot of interruptions from the victim. Screaming, pleading, the general ‘please don’t” kind of things. I was afraid that the way I left it lacked realism.
Thanks for the comment
My first time here. Figuring out the Comments section was a little weird. You might put the Comments tab at the bottom of posts as well as the top, since the bottom is where WordPress, Blogspot and so many other templates have made people accustomed to finding it.
From your intro it sounds like you’re a reflective writer, which I respect the heck out of. Your first two readers were much more drawn into the opening than I was, so obviously balance whatever I have to say against them. But you asked for feedback, so here I go:
I have never been to Fiction Friday, so I don’t know about their rules, but “no editing” is a silly one for writers. Edit the heck out of this until you’re happy with it. At 1400 words, it could easily be sliced into a two-parter, or expanded further into a long serial if you like it. It could also be slashed if you focused on essential dialogue and what descriptive sentences were most interesting to you.
You can jump into the premise faster. It’s dark, there’s the lady, you stayed cool – strip it down to just what will express intent. Don’t say you might panic; show her panic. She can display it by checking herself for blood, which cuts the need for him to say there isn’t any. There’s a great deal of plot in the dialogue, not unfolding in an exchange but in raw exposition (especially in the “Frustration was building in me” paragraph). If you can streamline it down to a few shorter exchanges the premise will click quicker and you could tighten it into a 1000-word flash.
Much smaller, but the 4th paragraph doesn’t have end quotations.
I hope that’s helpful, especially if you revise this like you’re thinking. There’s enough meat here for a serial if you pursue it.
This is a WordPress blog (self-hosted). While the comments may not be in the same place as many other blogs, it is a feature that I am fond of. In the long run it probably costs me comments, but I feel it keeps the page neater by separating the comments from the article. My apologies for the confusion.
It is my understanding that Fiction Fridays no editing policy is to encourage writing rather than getting hung up on the finished product. I know it seems a bit strange but I find there to be less pressure with this approach. It also generates some feedback on the piece for when I do decided to go back and edit.
I appreciate the feedback, your comments on the piece has my mind working out some alterations. Do you think that paring away too much to confusion? I felt like I had to keep adding because of the perspective I was writing from. I wanted it to work out as if the killer were writing his memoirs, revisiting past jobs, that sort of thing.
When you suggest splitting it into two pieces, I was thinking that very same thing, but I was thinking about switching to the perspective of the woman. The reason I didn’t do it was because I was afraid it would grow even longer. I also needed to sneak the prompt in there and it was already very late in the story.
Again, I appreciate the feedback. Thanks!
I found myself quite intrigued by the cold-blooded calmness of the assassin. The story kept me hooked, and leaves room for a part two. Soon?
I wasn’t sure when I wanted to write a follow-up piece to this story but felt inspired over the weekend and typed up a first draft. You can expect that sometime this week, perhaps Wednesday.
Thanks for the comment
Hey there Walt,
the first paragraph certainly began the tension and the rest played out well. As much as the “no editing” policy, I do subscribe to the intent that it is about getting you writing; the clean up can come later. Of the weeks that I’ve posted, there are certainly stories that could do with a clean up and some that I would like to go back to.
However, there have been some dark stories that I read this week from the prompt and from other sources. Kind of makes me shiver when I consider the depths of people’s thinking and the ideas that they come up with. Kind of in awe of how other people think and create from the prompt.
In your story, there is certainly a dark element that keeps it rolling along, and as you commented, sections that needed the pacing to be tightened. But, the core concept is well executed. Pardon the pun 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it. This weeks prompt brought forth some very interesting stuff. Much different than what I expected when I read the prompt for the first time.
Thanks for the comment
Great opening – intriguing piece.
Good work as always, Walt. I liked the whole game aspect, reminded me of SAW.
SAW didn’t even cross my mind. I did see a connection to the movie Phone Booth and tried to steer away from it as best I could.
I’m glad you enjoyed it
Thanks for the comment
An interesting take. Terrifying!
An interesting take. Terrifying!
The game aspect of this hit was most intriguing. Nice story.
I was hooked from the beginning. When you said that it was around 1400 word, I thought “do I have time for this right now?” But I loved it and was disappointed that it ended. This could be the start of a great novel. I love the whole game idea. Great story!
I know the feeling. Last week I was very busy and wound up scrolling through entries and ordering them from shortest to longest, then read them in that order as I found time.
The “Game” concept seems to have gone over well. My only concern now is will I over-use the concept if I continue on with it (it was the focus of the story that follows this one).
I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Thanks for the comment.
The second part of this story is available at the link below.
As you may have noticed, I changed the comment section to see if it increased my comment count.
to echo what has already been said – yes – the no editing ‘rule’ / guideline is there just so folk don’t too precious about getting it perfect.. its about getting the blood on the page – the words out…. and in an attempt for everyone to see raw material and to learn from it.
re story – creepy creepy creepy. just backs up what I think about reality TV.
visitors can see my piece at http://annieevett.blogspot.com/2010/06/leather-tack-and-tears.html
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