Wednesday January 19th, 2011

The exercise:

Let us write about: the secret passageway.

Because Kat and I are convinced that's how all the spiders are getting into the house. And now the wasps have discovered it as well! This just will not do.


We creep down the dark alley, the smell of week-old garbage making my nostrils burn and my stomach roil. Will is leading the way, as usual, and Bruce is bringing up the rear, as usual. That leaves me in the middle with no chance to stop or turn back. It's like they plan it that way every time.

"You're sure this is the right way?" I whisper, hardly daring to open my mouth wide enough to allow the words through.

"Not a doubt in my mind," Will replies, not even bothering to look back.

I'm about to voice my doubts - this time more clearly and perhaps a little louder - when Will makes a sharp right turn and disappears. I skid to a halt, almost slipping on a particularly pungent pile of trash. Staring at where I last saw him, I can just make out a doorway.

"Come on, keep moving!" Bruce gives me a shove for further encouragement.

I do as I'm told, as always, but can't stop myself from thinking that I'd rather have been late for school than take this secret shortcut.


Greg said...

I'm sure the spiders are friendly and just looking to spend a little quality time with you :) You might want to ask them if they wouldn't mind catching and eating the wasps for you!
I like your characterisations; even though there's only a few paragraphs I've got a good feel for the kinds of people all three characters are. There's definitely a skill to doing that.
And I am most intrigued to know what's beyond the door. You haven't done a continuation prompt of any kind in a while....

The secret passageway
Cassandra is wailing from the ramparts.
No-one will listen,
Her heart will break and her voice will give out
And still the Gods won't repent.
Cassandra, though you don't see me,
Though you won't know me,
Know that I do this for you.
Letting the enemy armies in,
Through a secret passageway,
That the King hopes to escape through
When things, inevitably, go wrong.
You've foretold that we'll be defeated,
And your prophecies always come true.
So I'm opening the secret passageway,
I'm doing all this for you.

Lynn said...

@Marc - I like your response. Sounds like these three have gotten into trouble before - "It's like they plan it that way every time."

About your insect problem, you might try looking at your electrical outlets. I've had ants get in on the wiring before. Also, the wasps like to come in under the eaves. They might have built a nest under your roof.

@Greg - I like your piece. Makes me wonder, does the prophecy plant the seed for the action, or does the prophet know the action is inevitable?

Here's Mine:

The prison cell is dark and dank with dirt floor and a slit in the wall up by the ceiling that provides minimal ventilation, but is way too small to provide a way of escape.

They feed us once a day. Sometimes they forget to do that. So now, after months in this place, we have all grown to be shadows of our former selves, our cheeks sunken, our fingers boney, our ribs visible.

There has always been a small crack in the wall in the corner of the room. We have chipped away at it throughout our stay and attempted to make an escape route, but the lack of food makes my compatriots weak and listless.

I have finally pushed out a brick in the corner which allows me to squeeze through the slit in the wall. It takes a true lack of physical being to get through, but I finally push my way through into the cold dark night air. I breath deeply of the forest's scents; the aroma of the pine trees and the crisp cold air fill my lungs. I sit outside my prison wondering at the starry sky. Asking myself what direction I would go? Where would I find help in this lost place?

Then with determination I push my body back through the slit and into the prison room once again, knowing that when they discover I am gone, my fellow prisoners will all be put to death. I wonder for a brief moment if that wouldn't be preferable in the long run.

Anonymous said...

@Marc - agreed that says so much about the characters. What kid doesnt want to take the scenic route to school? The ones who want to mine the deep dark crevices - I think I was your narrator as a kid.

@Greg - loved it. Made me think of Kurosawa's "Ran" - a solid take on King Lear.

@Lynn - now that's a good prison tale - brings up a good moral question, "is your narrator acting immorally by not a saving himself? Especially, if the others are truly doomed."

Here's my take:

I creep under the floorboards. Dust covered hands pulling me forward. I hold a small flashlight between my teeth, illuminating six inches forward. The backpack, filled with the bounty, scrapes against the top of the passage.

The floorboards creak. Slam. Ouch. I must remember there is little clearance above my head. Footsteps approach. I freeze. The sentry moves past. I continue.

I force myself through this dark space twice a year. Four years ago, paralyzed by claustrophobic fear, it took three hours to complete the task. Three years ago, a spider danced on my finger tips for fifteen minutes before deciding I was not worth a bite. This year, I meticulously planned, but now find myself improvising. I had planned the trip for a time when all of the guards should have retired for the evening, but that is not the case, at least one prowls above.

I reach the little door. I reach back to the pack, searching for the key. Footsteps again.

“Go to sleep,” I grumble softly.

The footsteps stop right above my head. I begin to breathe quickly. There is no way I can be found. I silently repeat the mantra imploring the guard to return to bed. I drop the flashlight.

“Damn it,” I curse a little too loudly.

“John?” a woman’s voice asks from above.

I refuse to blow my cover. I move my hands to find the flashlight, return it to my mouth. I quickly turn the key and open the door. I hear a muffled voice above. What is she doing? I slide the backpack off. Open it and remove the packages, sliding them behind the secret door.

I slither back, attempting to make my escape. Sirens in the distance, coming closer.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I lament.

I reach the entrance to the passage. I bound up, futilely attempt to wipe the dust off of my face and clothes. I find the main door, the return to the real world. I open it.

“Hands up!”

“What’s the matter officer?” I ask.

“Hand me the backpack,” he replies.

I hand him the empty pack, only to find it is not empty. To my horror I see the policeman pull out the one package that I failed to hide. The one wrapped in red reindeer paper. The policeman looks at my wife.

“Merry almost Christmas sweetie,” I offer.

I hope she likes it.

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, I keep thinking of doing continuations but then end up doing something else. I'll have to plan one.

Beautiful poem. Loved it from start to finish.

Lynn - ah, good point. We left the outlet behind the fridge uncovered because we ran out of covers and you can't see it. I think we'll fix that and see what happens to the spider population.

Wonderfully complex piece. Quite like the ending to it and all the thoughts and questions it provokes. Very nicely done :)

Dumbricht - haha, oh the extremes we go to in order to surprise our loved ones. And oh, how things can go terribly wrong :)

Zhongming said...

The secret passageway (Continuation from the snowy woods)

Memo of day thirteenth, 10.08pm Monday, 2nd Feb 2000.

The day started out positively as I strengthen my resolve to find the “pearl of amulet”. I looked back and start to think about those words that have been written by Ronnie and something strange came into my mind.

What if Ronnie is the bad guy? And what if he is the man who tries to lure people like me into his nest? Could it be that he purposely left the letter there, knowing that someone would eventually pick it up?

At this point in time, I had full of doubts floating in my mind. It is really hard for me to comprehend what’s going to happen once I’ve gotten the key and the map to find Ronnie but my instinct is telling me that Ronnie is the good guy and I should go ahead and save him!

At around 2pm I started trekking up the mountain since I discovered some footprints on the snowy path. It’s like someone is here before, not long ago as the footprints looks fresh. I began to follow the prints and trek my way up. The prints begin to disappear as I make my way up. It reaches a point where the prints were totally gone. I thought that’s it! So I looked back and a brim of strongly reflected lights just glared at me which I was blinded for a couple of minutes before I started to regain my sight. I looked downwards and saw a round crystal so I squat down and take a closer look. It’s so beautiful and I wanted to keep it as a savoir for Winnie. Then I stretch my arms, place my hand on it and tried to pick it up but it can’t be removed. I feel there’s something more than that. I attempt to remove all the snow that surrounds it.

It has a sign that says: Press the button to enter - “Entrance of Skull Head”.

I was damn excited when I see the sign! I hit the button and the stairs transformed into a river current which I was eventually being drawn into it. I had no control over what’s happening and I’m in the secret passageway of “Skull Head” by the time I was awakened.

Marc said...

Zhongming - loving all the twists and turns you're throwing into the story :)