Monday January 30th, 2012

The exercise:

Your writing challenge for the day: questions and answers.

Mine is based on a dream I had Sunday morning, just before I woke up. There was actually a lot more to it, so I might pull the 'full' version together and post it as an opening chapter on Protag for others to play with.


We walk out the front gates of the prison, the warden giving me the evil eye. The bastard hadn't even said goodbye, just See ya later.

Quentin points me toward a black sedan - must be new, I don't recognize the model - and we walk toward it in silence. I look around, uncomfortable with such distant horizons, but rejoicing in it at the same time.

"So what's the good word, Questions?" I ask once we're protected by his ride's leather interior. I hate that I'm more relaxed in here.

"They don't call me that no more," Quentin says, starting up the engine. I raise an eyebrow and wait as we pull out of the parking lot. "I'm The Solution now."

"Sounds like you've done well for yourself these last twelve years." I didn't mean for that to sound bitter. But I don't care enough to clarify.

"Yeah, thanks to you," he says, keeping us under the speed limit. "Mostly."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Those names you been feedin' me have all been solid - except one."

"Who?" I ask, but I'm pretty sure I already know.

"Duncan Matthews."

"I told you I wasn't sure about him!" Yelling is probably not a good idea, but it feels good. "I told you to make sure!"

"Relax, Jailbird. It was one little mistake, it ain't nothin' to worry about."

"Mistake? An innocent man is dead!"

"Ain't nobody innocent in this big bad world of ours. Besides," Quentin leans over and pops open the glove box to reveal two handguns, "Mister Hunter has given us the opportunity to set things right."

"Us?" My voice is weak and thick with fear.

"Welcome back to the real world, Jailbird."


Greg said...

I think it would be cooler if it were based on a dream you'd had after you'd woken up! That said, this is fun, and definitely protag worthy.
I particularly like the little details of the distant horizons(!) and feeling more secure in the car. And I definitely liked Questions becoming the Solution :)

Questions and Answers
It's called a catechism, a series of questions and answers to lead the faithful into a deeper understanding of their faith. You can learn the answers by rote, at least to the initial questions, but there comes a point when you have to start thinking for yourself if you want to be taken seriously. And everyone took Father Thalassophile seriously.
The culprit, the suspect, the victim, the perp – call him what you will – was sat bolt upright. He looked uncomfortable on the orange plastic chair that bowed a bit too much in the middle, and by the way his feet were pressing into the floor, I think he thought it might collapse under him. Father Thalassophile hadn't sat down, he was just stood there, in full Greek Orthodox garb, asking his questions, putting out the catechism.
Fear. There comes a point when you can smell it on people. I'm not making any comparisons with dogs, our detractors will do that for me. But I could smell fear on the guy in the chair, and all the good Father was doing was droning on, a litany of easy questions with obvious answers. It was like hypnotism.
"And who killed the child?" asked Father Thalassophile, his voice not changing, the question simply replacing one he'd asked six times already.
"Jason Roebuck," said the guy in the chair. When he realised what he'd just said he started to shake like we'd hooked it up to the mains.

Cathryn Leigh said...

Decided that I'd stop by here first thing in the morning and start the day with a little writing. Very interesting entry from both of you Marc and Greg. For me the topic immediately brought to mind Sarah & Jason and the scene in which she plays twenty questions. However, that scene is going away. Wholawski got a lot nastier and it's going to show a lot earlier. So a scene along these lines is going to be added.

Questions and Answers

"We can't leave her here," Mike stated the obvious as they stood at the edge of the blackened village.
Sarah wanted to wretch the stench of burnt flesh was so bad.

"Well we can't exactly keep her with us," Mathew grumbled.

"You know I'm right here and can hear you, right?" Sarah had had just about enough of their attitude towards her. They looked to her. She rolled her eyes. “Seriously, I can keep up with you.”

Jason turned from the smoldering wreckage to face her. “Sarah, this world stands upon the brink of war. When we fight we must fight to kill.”

Mathew groaned. “Don’t tell me she can use a sword too.”

Jason looked to Sarah. “Have you kept in practice?”

“No,” Sarah shook her head. “My brothers always preferred their guns to swords.

“What’s a gun?” Kevin spoke up.

“Later,” Jason responded. “Now we move to the nearest command center and await orders.”

writebite said...

every question has an answer
sometimes it's hard to locate it
maybe you need to refine the parameters of your question
or accept more than one possible answer in the infinite sea
if you don't like the answer, don't ask the question

Iron Bess said...


“If you knew that you were going to have to spend a year isolated in the bush somewhere, and you were only allowed to take one book, which one would it be?”

“My Kindle.”

“It’s a really isolated place, no reception, no 3G, no power, so would you still take your Kindle?”

“Hmmm, in that case I’d take Lord of the Rings.”

“Which one?”

“All three.”

“No you can’t do that, I said only one book, so which one would it be?”

“Tolkien wrote it as one book, the publisher was the one who split it up, so I would take Lord of the Rings, all three parts.”

“Don’t you think that’s cheating?”


“Okay…so you are going into the bush for a year but you have to take a celebrity with you, who would you take?”

“Why would I have to take a celebrity?”

“Because that’s the rules.”

“Who’s making up these rules?”

“I am, it’s my game.”

“But why would I take a celebrity?”


“Oh good answer, are you my mother now?”

“Listen do you want to play or not?”
“Yes I want to play.”

“So who are you going to pick?”

“Dave Barry.”

“Who the heck is Dave Barry?”

“He’s an author.”

“Okay, so why are you picking Dave Barry?”

“Because he’s funny and I think if I were stuck somewhere for a year with no power I’d want someone to make me laugh.”

“Why don’t you pick a comedian then?”

“Dave Barry is an author too, and if I can only bring one book I’d want someone who could write me another one while I was there.”

“Don’t you think you are still trying to cheat?”

“Who would you bring?”

“I’m not going.”

“Oh, it’s okay to send me out to the backend of nowhere, but you aren’t going, why not?”

“Dude, no power, you can’t expect me to go a year without my hairdryer, I’m not all woodsy like you are.”

“Are we done now?”

“Yes, let’s go get a cappuccino.”

morganna said...

You've Got Questions, We've Got Answers

The sign was propped in the otherwise empty storefront window. Odd, this space had been for rent yesterday. There didn't seem to be anything inside besides the sign, either. As I peered inside, though, I could make out a beat-up old wooden desk at the back of the room, and a man sitting at it. He beckoned me inside.

I hesitated, then pushed open the old door. It creaked. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.

I turned away and walked back to the sidewalk. I didn't look back as I hurried down the street to my next appointment. But even as I pretended not to care, I knew I would be going back to that strange store. After all, they had answers. And I had questions.

Таня Билаш said...

nice! cool!

Grondzilla said...

He swiped a card on the gun metal grey frame of the door and I could hear the sonorous rumblings of some lock mechanism that implied it was shifting bolts the size of small sequoias. We waited until the deep clinkings and clankings and rumblings came to a halt. The door 'ka-chunked' and cracked open followed by the eerie hiss of a pressurization change.

He gave it a shove and it pivoted back slowly eventually allowing us a narrow passage through which we could enter.

To call the room cavernous was the kind of thing you had to fall back on when you came to the conclusion that you simply haven't got the vocabulary to do it justice. As far as I could tell the room went up and back so far I was actually having trouble coming to terms with where 'up' and 'back' ended.

Then there were the contents. The sheer quantity of stuff was astonishing enough but this was made mind boggling by the fact that they appeared to be strewn about as if a child had simply discarded them in an idle gesture. That is assuming you could casually set down an ocean liner that looked suspiciously like the Titanic and Concorde passenger jet, sections of the great wall of China, a colossal bronze statue holding a torch while straddling two enormous piers and a veritable sea of objects of receding size, down to the bizarre artisan made flying machine in front of us that I could have sworn I'd seen in Gates' collection of Leonardo drawings.

My eyes swept across the flotsam of several thousand years and I only managed to arch an eyebrow as I caught the distant rounded sweep of the circumference of a very large saucer-shaped craft.

He smiled at me when I brought my gaze back to him.

“So...any questions?”

I took in the vast space with another quick glance.


Krystin Scott said...

Just a a bit of dialog today.

Q & A

“Hey kids, whatcha doing?” Katherine said as she put the peach buckets on the counter.

Heidi rolled the dice. “Six.” She said aloud to no one in particular. Then began moving her token and replied “We’re playing Trivia Pursuit Junior and I just got Purple! Whoohoo! I’m gonna win.”

“ Heidi! Stop gloating. Have you and your brother finished your homework already?”

Jack groaned.

“I take it that means you haven’t even started. One more question then get to the table.”

“Okay mom.” Jack said with a huge sigh.

Marc came in from the garden through the utility room door, removed his rubber boots and began washing his hands in the slop sink.

Jack read the question aloud “Which company coined the following slogan; you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers?”

Marc yelled over the rushing faucet “Radio Shack.”

“Dad!” The kids screamed in unison.

Marc said...

Greg - thanks! I'll be sure to share a link here whenever I get around to it.

Loved your descriptions in that piece. And a clever twist at the end to top it all off!

Elor - the blackened village mentioned at the beginning intrigues me. A well crafted scene.

Writebite - I think your last line sums things up quite nicely :)

Iron Bess - haha, great back and forth. I quite like the attitude of the character insisting on bending the rules :)

Morganna - great scene! Definitely have my curiosity piqued.

GZ - your narrator may not have any questions, but I sure do! Haha, excellent descriptions in there.

Krystin - ah, Trivial Pursuit, game of my childhood. Fun little scene :)