Here's a block from my latest complete SS. The whole thing is 80 pages, I'm posting ten of them here. If anyone thinks it has merit, I can post the whole thing, just let me know.
Of course, comments are welcome. Precise, pointed, detailed comments appreciated.
And oh... WARNING!!! WARNING!!! SOME BAD WORDS!!! VIOLENCE.... yada yada yada.
(Seriously, if you weren't raised by Mary Poppins, nothing too bad here. If you were, just take your sugar and move along)
He looked down at the paper and pencil, then over to the window and door. He contemplated going outside again, then paused. Smith picked-up the pencil, and spun it between his fingers.
"Writing helps me think. I need to size-up my situation." Smith drug the chair
over, and sat.
Outside, a flash of lightning briefly illuminated the window. The tip of the pencil hovered over the paper:
June 6 or 7, 1905
Where should I begin…
Smith started chuckling, then began laughing loudly. He glanced out the nearby window, then focused on the paper again.
Usually, when I have difficulty writing, I go for a walk. I used to walk along
Sundridge, enjoying the flora and fauna. After I came back from the fighting, they turned it into a bloody golf course. I loathe golf.
Here is my current predicament: I have no idea where I am. There appears to be no way for me to leave. I can make no contact with anyone whatsoever, including my captors. I am left to my own wits. Lord help me.
This place is odd, to say the least. Everything is made out of some unknown
material that is lighter than wood, but stronger than steel. The floors, walls, even this desk are smooth like ceramic, without a flaw. Nothing is breakable, not even the window.
I was given, by my captors, a suit of clothes that was extremely thin but warm and strong. It feels like cotton, and has mysterious fasteners that consist of two pieces of rough material. The basin and water closet operate without manual controls. The only normal thing here (besides me) is this notepad and paper. Oh, and my pocketwatch,which for no apparent reason will not work now.
The room seems sealed from the outside, yet air somehow circulates. Light glows from panels overhead. Those panels are neither gas lamps nor incandescent. There is no visible source of heat. It’s a tad cold, but bearable.
Smith looked over his shoulder, "Might I get a pipe? I enjoy a smoke when I
If I only had a match, I might be able to determine where the air is coming from.
I have not seen a soul, but there must be someone nearby. I have been provided hot porridge on two occasions, and things have been moved and such.
I can foray outside, but there is nothing to see. Literally. This is the greatest
riddle yet: How does a man drinking in a pub in Bromley, Kent wind up here? It is the most barren, forsaken place you’re likely to ever see. There is a persistent fog, like London on a bad day, and the ground seems volcanic in nature. There are places on Earth like this, I suppose, but not within a day’s travel.
If someone slipped me a Mickey Finn, I would have to have been out for days. As elaborate as this whole charade is, I suppose that is a possibility…
Smith set the pencil down, and rose. He paced for a few minutes, then sat once more.
I must have been drugged. It’s the only thing that makes sense. I’ve been seeing things. The pains I’ve been suffering, those could be side effects. They, whoever ‘they’ are, probably put the drug in my porridge as well. Tricky. Very tricky indeed.
After taking a deep breath, he felt his wrist, then his neck.
I don’t feel the effects at the moment, but I’m not a pharmacist, and I don’t know how these things work.
Oh, and speaking of work, I hope that when this ordeal is over, I still have a job. Mr. Jamison can be an arse, but one would hope that he wouldn’t fire a man who missed work because he was the victim of a crime. One never knows.
Of my other commitment, if Mary loses heart and finds another love in my
absence, it would probably be good for her. She’s marrying down, and she knows it. Lord knows, her father knows it. Quite honestly, it would probably be best for all of us to call this wedding off. So many things about her annoy me. Especially her voice. Strange thing, that is. She’s a naive, but nice girl. If she knew about me, what I’ve done, she’d never marry me. I am not good.
Smith looked at those last words for quite a while. Images from years ago began to sift back into his current thoughts. He shook his head, hoping that they would sink into the dark, deep crevasses from which they rose. When they did not relent, Smith walked over to the basin and washed off his face and hands. He shuffled over to the window, and stared at his refection.
A fingertip traced a faint scar along his temple, right behind his fresh scrapes. His hand rubbed an eye, crinkling the wrinkles next to it. Mary would sometimes petulantly inquire why a man so young would have such ‘worry lines’.
His future looked bright. There was no reason not to be optimistic, and upbeat. Still, too often, Smith would find himself at the local pub. He didn’t prudently stop atjust a couple of pints. Often, the night ended after numerous jiggers of scotch as well. Sometimes, the images would go away.
Other times, a sound would remind him of that place. He could smell the gunpowder, dirt, sweat. And fear. The names were Ladysmith and Elandslaagte, and their sounds echoed in his mind. There were booms, cracks…and there were screams.
He wasn’t sure when his hands had started shaking again. He thrust them deep into his coat pockets, and looked around the room nervously. He suddenly wished he had a drink.
The flash outside the window was close this time, and the corresponding thunder nudged Smith back. He stumbled back to the desk, and fell into his chair.
There are, of course, other possible explanations of where I am, and why I’m here. I may sound mad, but I must flesh this out.
I am not an avid reader, but I've always found myself drawn to the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Where I am now does not fit in with what I'm used to, or where I am used to. Perhaps I am ‘somewhere else’? Outside, the ground looks much like The Moon. Only, there are clouds here, and none have been seen on the moon. Since we cannot see the dark side of the moon, perhaps I am there? Ludicrous thought, for sure. How did I get here? It could be some of Well’s Martians have transported me here? Or was I whisked away in Wells’ Time Machine, to a desolate future?
I am beginning to be made to feel like some kind of lab rat. I remember reading the work of that Russian named Pavlov. I may be being conditioned for something. My surroundings are barren and void of any stimulus, save this pencil and paper. The room itself here is so foreign, I don’t think Verne himself could have thought of a glowing ceilings. Even the fasteners on the clothing are odd, and futuristic.
As far as I can tell, it is very hot outside. Would a Verne-esque answer be that I am actually underground? Perhaps I am in a giant cave? I can see no sky, and the center of the Earth is hot with magma…
Smith stared at the last sentence. He did not write what he was thinking. He
knew that there was an unseen place rumored to be hot. Very hot.
I am being made to feel like a prisoner. But, to what ends? My captors have
made no demands. I am isolated here, left alone with my thoughts. Am I being punished? I have done no wrong…
He paused his writing again, re-reading the last few sentences.
A click from behind him made Smith jump in his chair, banging his knees on theunderside of the desk. He immediately recognized the sound. It was not the click of the food service panel. It was the door latch.
He convulsed uncontrollably in the chair. The yellow pencil rolled away from
Smith’s quivering hand, as his head pivoted ever so slightly. His left eye rotated in it’s socket, casting a furtive glance at the reflection in the window.
A flash of lightning briefly obscured the reflection. As the distant rumble subsided, he could just make out a shape in the glass. He saw a blurry image, stationary behind him. Smith caught his breath, then noted that the shape was curved, and pink.
Smith shuffled in the chair, turning slowly. His body had almost completely
turned around, followed reluctantly by his head, and finally his eyes. He lifted his head, and faced the door.
There stood a woman. She was motionless, and as naked as the day she was born.
Smith leapt to his feet, knocking the chair backwards. His eyes worked up and down her form, for a brief moment, before they fixed on her bare feet. His mouth opened numerous times, and stammered incoherent syllables mainly consisting of "I’m…" and "Ummmmm…"
Unable to speak, he reached past her and jerked a sheet off the bed. Eyes still onthe floor, he leaned forward and draped the sheet over the woman’s shoulders. When she made no effort to gasp the sheet, he stammered some more. Smith looked up and tried to position it so it stayed put and covered most of her. As he worked around her, the woman did not move, even as his hands and arms brushed by her bare skin.
Finally, the sheet stayed put. Smith took a step back, and sighed heavily.
"Hello," he eventually articulated.
The woman made no effort to move or speak. Her shoulder length straw colored hair framed a cream white, emotionless face. Two unblinking pale blue eyes stared at the wall beyond Smith.
"Are… are you all right?"
He hurriedly reached over to the clean, neatly folded towel on the counter. After moistening the towel, Smith gently wiped her face.
He tried not to stare, but there was something familiar about her appearance. Her round, expressionless face did not move as Smith patted her brow gently.
"Are you injured?" He set the towel down. A dark possibility occurred to Smith, "Were you violated?"
Smith stepped to the middle of the room, and bellowed at the ceiling, "YOU
ANIMALS! You will pay for this!"
He pulled the chair over to the woman, and gently coaxed her to sit. Her body
stiffly conformed to the chair, as the sheet slipped from her shoulders. When the woman made no effort to cover herself, Smith averted his eyes and again lifted the sheet.
As Smith began pacing the small room, he tried to avoid looking at the woman. She was beautiful, distractingly so. He knew he had to think, and mumbled as he walked.
"We’ll get out of here, do not concern yourself. They probably drugged you, like they drugged me. We’ll be just fine. I’ll go for help again. Someone will be missing us… they’ll be looking… We’ll get you back to your family… And I’ll get back to…"
Smith stopped pacing. In his minds’ eye, he saw his flat in Bromley. It was about fifteen feet square, with a water closet, desk, basin, coat hooks. He glanced at the woman in the chair, who was sitting upright staring at the wall. Smith thought about his fiancée, Mary. She had picked them out a nice estate, near Dartford. For some reason, in Smith’s mind, this place, his flat and the estate all began to blend together. When he thought of each, it provoked the same feeling within him. He suddenly felt like running.
Lost in thought, Smith barley noticed the woman standing up and turning to him. Startled, he instinctively reached for the sheet again as it fell to the floor. As he bent down, Smith felt her hand gently brush his shoulder, then cup the back of his neck. He hesitated, only slightly, as he stood erect and faced her. Her hand guided his face to hers.
Smith closed his eyes as their lips met. A fleeting moment of guilt swept over him as he raised his hands to her shoulders. He felt his muscles tense as he prepared to push her back. He did not.
Her lips parted slightly, giving just the scarcest hint of her warm, soft mouth. His breath mingled with hers, as soon as he remembered to breath again. He sensed the faintest floral scent.
The scent took Smith back to that place a couple of years ago. He remembered picking the flower; it was called a King Protea. A girl in Elandslaagte had caught his eye, and he hers. They could not be together. He gave it to a girl, secretly. They kissed.And then, then…
It took a moment or two for Smith to realize that the woman with straw hair andpale blue eyes was no longer kissing him. As he opened his eyes, Smith saw that the naked woman was not in front of him, but had silently moved to the large white door.
Flustered and embarrassed, Smith stammered, "I’m, I’m sorry. That was
inappropriate." He averted his gaze, and reached for the sheet on the floor. Facing the floor, an out of place sound echoed in the room.
Smith stood, unable to move. He dropped the sheet, and watched as the woman opened the door and stepped through. As the door swung shut, he finally lunged toward it.
"Wait! You can’t…"
He pulled on the door handle ferociously, grunting, until the flashing red light
above him brought Smith to his senses. He flew to the wall to pull down the jumpsuit, when he was stopped short after hearing a muffled ‘click’ from the exterior door. Still clutching the jumpsuit, Smith edged away from the door, and looked out the window.
The woman’s naked form was beautiful, and breathtaking as her bare feet stepped onto the grey pumice gravel. Transfixed, Smith watched as her pink skin slowly darkened. As she walked, her rounded, symmetrical body became irregular as blisters formed. Her smooth gait became wobbly. It wasn’t until her straw colored hair caught fire that Smith dropped the jumpsuit, and pounded on the window.
"Noooooooooo! No, no, no!"
The wind mercifully blew up a plume of dust, obscuring her disintegrating
silhouette. She somehow kept walking, even after half of her body had burned away. Smith screamed, oscillating between high-pitched wails and low moans. In-between, he muttered in a semi-incoherent slur.
"I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry…"
In the distance, what was left of the woman’s grey flesh blended-in with the greydust and grey rocks as she took her last visible steps. Smith slouched to the floor, tucked his knees to his chest and began rocking back and forth. His eyes wide open, Smith stared at the white wall below the window. Yet, all he saw was ash grey.
The scent of the King Protea flower lingered in the otherwise stale, sterile air.
One hand cupped the other, as Smith tried to steady his violently shaking hands.He was somewhat aware of the incessant twitch on the side of his face, but was intently focused on controlling the yellow pencil.
He breathed rapid, shallow breaths as he stared at the lined paper. Images flashed in his mind as he focused on the pad. Smith shook his head, blinking then rubbing hiseyes. With all the effort he could muster, the pencil lead eventually made contact with the paper…
I don’t know where I am. I don’t know the date, nor the time. I am only vaguely aware of who I am. Even this, I am beginning to doubt.
I do not know whether I am dreaming or awake. Nonsensical puzzles with unfamiliar pieces battle for my attention with nightmarish images. I struggle to grasp for any sense of order or reason for my current situation.
Things that I have left in the past, where they belong, are intruding on the present. Or, what I perceive to be the present. I left South Africa over three years ago. Images,still frames of what I saw then are forcing themselves to my consciousness. During my last nightmare / daymare / hallucination, I smelled a rather unique flower. Now, as I write, the pungent odor of gunpowder hangs in this room, like it did in the hills and fields years ago. There was no breeze to blow away that smell. Nor the smell of other things. The aroma of cooked horse flesh was sickly pungent, yet satisfying. The smell of half-buried, rotting corpses wasn’t so satisfying. During mid-day, when there was no fighting, the sun would bake the flesh for the flies. There were millions of flies. They buzzed, andbuzzed and buzzed.
Smith noted that his writing was becoming smoother. He relaxed his grip on the pencil, and took a full, deep breath.
The war with The Boers was supposed to be a quick, tidy affair. I volunteered to go fight for The Crown, with the best, most professional army on Earth. Our opponents were a bunch of semi-literate farmers occupying the crack of Africa’s arse. Of course,that ‘arse crack’ contained millions of Pounds of diamonds and gold. And there’s the rub.
We talked a lot on the way down there. There’s plenty of time on a packed
steamer full of ambitious, hearty young men. We spoke of how we would trounce those Dutch. They had no idea who they were trifling with! In retrospect, I suppose they had a better idea of what they were doing than we gave them credit.
Two years later, on the way back, the ship was half as full. We had beaten the Boers. We "won". There wasn’t nearly an amount of talking then. No one spoke hardly a word. I spoke to no one. Back home, there were the celebratory toasts and slaps on the back. A cart load of "Huzzahs!". Afterward, there was silence. Deafening, cold silence...