Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Beginning 690

Put that down. It won’t help you here.

You all come clutching useless things: coins, talismans, weapons. Before the armed ones finish the crossing they’re usually scared enough to attack someone, and there’s no one here to harm except themselves. The rest of you clench your treasures in your hands and stare at them as if they could save you. Forget that. You’d best keep your hands and eyes wide open.

Yes, you heard me right. No one to hurt except yourself. I’m only a voice. You’ll be rid of me soon enough.

Dreaming? You could call it that. Yes, you’ll wake up in time. But what you’ll wake to.... that depends on what you do now.

Hush now. There were plenty of people to hear you before, and most of what you said to them wasn’t worth saying. There’s no one but me to hear you now. Stop talking. Look ahead.

Yes, it’s a narrow edge, but you can walk it. Go on. Staring longer at the drop on either side won’t make it easier to start.

Steady now. Watch your step. I see the lights over there as well as you do.

Stay between the marked lines at all times. Don't try to reach over them.

In the unlikely event of an emergency, follow the glowing arrows. I'll keep you safe.

Remember, you must be at least as tall as the line on the wall to ride this attraction.

Your adventure is about to begin. Don't forget to stop by the gift shop when you exit.

Opening: Joanna.....Continuation: Steve Wright


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

He who would cross the Bridge of Dithering must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.

Okay, I know I said before to hush, but you should still answer my questions. Three. How you answer them will determine whether you cross in peace or cross in some other way that's not peaceful.

Yes, we shall begin. Tell me... about your mother. Was she pretty? Or did she smell of Sucrets and steal your neighbor's newspaper?

No, no I don't want your life story.

Don't argue with me.

Okay, fine. If you could sum up your mother in one word, what would that word be? "Mauve"? What the hell kind of answer is that? Not an auspicious way to start. Did you not hear me vaguely threaten you before?

Second question. Who was the winner of the first season of "Project Runway"? "Kara Saun"? Ha! No way, loser. It was Jay.

You are treading awfully close to a non-peaceful crossing, Guy Who is Clutching a Teddy Bear.

Third question. Am I wearing boxers of briefs?

--Lucy Woodhull

Your treasure is a what? What in--I've heard of roller skates, but getting to Heaven on a Harley? Forget it, buster. Yeah, I said forget it, you can't take that stuff across.

Hey, stop right there! Stop... idiot bikers, who let them in here anyway.



Heaven? No, not quite. Try Class 2 stadium lights. A ton of them. All configured to maximize retinal damage.

Yes, it does sound painful, but not as painful as the 60 kGy bursts of gamma radiation. Keep walking.

Oh, I’m dead serious. Ha. Get it? Dead serious? Well… blubbering won’t change anything.

Hmm? Yes, I can actually. I can make it all go away. Just sign this pre-completed ballot, and you’re free to go home to your—

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That’s the way you think it’s going to go, don’t you? All very orderly. No pushing. No shoving. No screaming. No dramatics. Even the armed ones losing all their spunk by the time they walk into the light out of the failing night.

That’s what you tell yourself every year when you awaken at 3:30 a.m. , pull on your oversize jeans, woolen hat and scrape the ice from the windshield. You’re still telling yourself that when you begin your drive, but somewhere along the way reality creeps in and smothers your delusions. So by the time you pull into that parking lot, shut off your lights and line up outside the glass doors awaiting 5:00 a.m. you are no longer dreaming or even pretending to dream.

The madness creeps in and Black Friday begins with opening of the mall's door and its nothing like your dream.

--Vivian Whetham

Breathe deeply, breathe deeply. Have to concentrate, have to say it right, don't let them sense the fear...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have been cleared for landing; please ensure your seats are in their upright position and..."


Mame said...

I had to read it twice; there were two separate issues of clarity for me in paragraphs two and five.

"the armed ones" sounded like a force, rather than the travelers themselves.

"most of what you said to them wasn't worth saying" read a little rough and I didn't make the connect on why that would be.

Other than that, I really like it.

Evil Editor said...

Good tone.

"Yes, it’s a narrow edge" is a bit vague. Narrow path, ledge, whatever it is would give a clear picture.

And "I see the lights over there as well as you do." doesn't strike me as something the voice would say. The voice has already made it clear that it knows what's happening. Up to then it's been giving instructions and reassuring the listener. Thus something like "Walk toward the lights over there and you'll be safe." seems more consistent than declaring that it can see the lights. In this situation I would be too wrapped up in my surroundings to be wondering whether the voice is aware of the lights.

_*rachel*_ said...

Ditto on the narrow edge.

I really like this. Short story or novel?

Adam Heine said...

A lot of good advice here already.

I also like this, though I'm not sure how long I could handle this tense/POV. Flash fiction? Definitely. Short story? Depends on what comes next. Novel? Probably not.

And the continuation was perfect.

Matt said...

There weren't any clarity issues for me. Good job.

Dave Fragments said...

This is a nice opening. I don't have anything to add to what's been said.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I tripped over the 'you' 'them' 'you' transition in the 2nd paragraph.

Before you armed ones finish this crossing you'll be scared enough to attack someone, and there’s no one here to harm except yourselves.

I'd read on. Cool voice and set up.

vkw said...

I liked this opening and have no other comment at all.

I would read on, if for no other reason but to find out what is going on.

Steve Wright said...

I think I'm with vkw on this - I have no idea what's going on, but I'm intrigued enough to want to find out ...

Joanna said...

Hurray! And thank you! And those were great continuations.

Aimee and Sarah--yes, I see the problem with 'armed ones' and with you/them/you, and will find a fix, or maybe just steal Sarah's. Aimee, can you tell me what confused you about 'most of what you said wasn't worth saying"?

EE--'edge' is now 'bridge'.

Adam--this is a very short story (920 words.) I couldn't stand writing in second person present tense much longer. The first part of this popped into my head before I knew what it was about. I think I know now.

I'm surprised and delighted by how well this went over; I was expecting to be told to google 'white room syndrome'.

Kathleen said...

I like it! very evocative.

Xiexie said...

I like. :-)

Mame said...

~Aimee, can you tell me what confused you about "most of what you said wasn't worth saying"?

I just think it strays. You could write "Hush now. There’s no one but me to hear you. Stop talking. Look ahead" and I think it would have a greater impact. The extra sentence pulled me out of focus.

Just personal taste...