Thursday January 19th, 2012

The exercise:

I think it's been long enough since the last time I busted this out, so I declare it's time to do some: continuations.

For those that haven't experienced one of my favorite prompts before, the basic idea is to carry on the story from where the last person left it. Try not to carry on for too long, and do your best to stop at a place that presents some interesting possibilities for the next writer. 

If you'd care to see examples of previous efforts, feel free to click on the label at the bottom of the post.

Weather update: still cold. Lots of snow. Fireplace good.

Mine:

As dawn arrived the city woke as it usually did. With blaring and beeping alarms. With muttered, mumbled, miscellaneous curses. With hot showers, cold showers, no showers. With cereal, with toast, with eggs and bacon. With coffee, with tea, with juice.

Conversations were photocopies of the ones that had gone on the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. Silences were no less tense, no more comfortable than usual.

The kids got along as they always had, or had not. Their parents parted ways with no change in affection, no subtle differences in meaning.

All was as it usually was.

But as each citizen of the city emerged from their homes, apartments, lofts, they quickly realized that this was no usual day.

9 Comments:

Greg said...

Yeah, it has been a while since we had a continuation prompt. And you've given us an interesting start; I have no idea where you're hoping this one might go!

Continued...
Miss Jones, Miss Smith, Miss Alessi, all young women sassily dressed; make-up freshly applied; eyes bright, sparkling, mischievous, left their respective apartment blocks at the same time, give or take a footstep, each walked about five steps, heading for a bus stop, and each stopped, one slender, toned, bestockinged leg held just off the ground. All around them visual echoes hung in the air, shimmering and only slowly fading away.
"Oh...," they said, looking around them more carefully. Birds flew through air that seemed as thick as molasses, seemingly caught in slow motion as a trail of slowly-fading birds hung motionless behind them; cats leaped up from the ground, their afterimages showing how they bunched their muscles and then stretched lithely out, and leaves fluttered in wonderful helices forming transient, colourful curtains.
"Oh," said Miss Alessi, alone this time. "They've solved Xeno's Paradox."

writebite said...

d'oh, now you're both testing us...

continued...
Miss Alessi, having resolved her plurality, felt very “together”, as it were. The sessions with her therapist, Dr Wiki, were paying off. It was as though the plurality of her multiple personalities within had finally integrated into one, balanced whole. This empowered her with an energy she’d never before possessed, like the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.
She decided it was time to enrol in the NY marathon. 
She knew she was tempting fate by doing so, testing whether Zeno’s Paradox was really solved or whether it was yet one more illusion. But that’s whatvevery scientist worth their salt would do...Repeat the experiment.
She took her place at the starting line. The tortoise, the hare and several Greek philospher-celebrities were noticeable amongst the crowd. 
After the gun sounded, they began their race.
Progress was tedious. Every step forward was almost followed by two back, so it appeared. In incremental amounts, they moved forward with maddeningly smaller steps each time. When it looked like the hare would gain, the tortoise moved forward. This paradox test looked like it was failing.
’This Universe is frustrating’, thought Miss Alessi. 
But by the power of her thought something changed, almost imperceptibly.

David said...

What is imperceptible at first, becomes obvious in hindsight. And the flash of light that, well, flashed, was blinding.

“The Universe is not frustrating.”

Ms. Alessi looked around.

“Who said that? And why would you say that?”

A man in flowing robes, a beard, and a halo appeared before her. She knew him, as any human would.

“Deus Ex Machina, is that you?”

“But of course, my lamb. I am here to free you from your philosophical gymnastics. To set you right. To burn this bitch down.”

And with a flourish and a magic word, all seemed right to her. For a moment. Then everything felt off again, too easy. Because it was.

Deus Ex Machina, Dee to his friends, sensed her worry.

“Alright kid, I sense your worry, so I’ll give you a chance. Ask me one question, the one you feel is central to life, that you NEED to be answered. But first before that, can we order a pizza?”

Cathryn Leigh said...

"Pizza?" she asked, now utterly perplexed.

"I hope that's not your one question, he answered as he directed them downthe street to your Average Joe's Pizza parlor.

The neon lights proclaimed it as such. Still in shock Alessi sat down while Dee ordered a Everything Special. Once the Pizza had arrive and Dee had eaten a slice, he looked to her.

"Have you thought of your question?"

Alessi shook her head. "No, I'm still..."

"Have a piece of pizza," Dee handed one to her, it'sll help you think.

Sister Christian said...

While the pizza may indeed have helped her think, the wine that Alessi drank did little to support her cognitive function. At what would normally have been considered an early hour for her, she found herself staggering out of Average Joe's Pizza with her new bestest friend ever, that she really really loved and- then she tripped on a cobblestone, snapping the heel from her Jimmy Choo shoe. Her favourite Jimmy Choo shoooe in the whole wide world everrr and now it was broken and she was wailing like a baby.

Dee, being a civilised sort, did everything possible to keep Alessi upright. More or less. And steered her in the direction of home.

As they neared her apartment block, Alessi looked around. Funny old deja vu feeling. She suddenly noticed her reflection in a shop window, and there she saw herself standing with her broken Jimmy Choo heel in her hand, clinging to Dee. Only, except - and it must be the drink, she thought - she and Dee looked a lot like Miss Jones and Miss Smith, both of whom she'd met at a book signing for that fabulous Dr Marc bestseller "Continuations". She hadn't paid them much attention at the time, but she would recognise them anywhere. And now, here they were.

"What the?!"

Dee put out a hand to steady Alessi. "Is that your one central-to-life question?"

Iron Bess said...

Miss Alessi shook Dee's supporting hand off her arm and straightened her shoulders. As a life time reflex kicked in she pulled a lipstick from her purse and applied it carefully using the window as a mirror. "Don't touch me. Don't ever touch me without my permission," she said.

The Deus Ex Machina looked startled then began to chuckle. "I'll say one thing for this century, it kicks the Greeks ass all over the place. No woman would have dared speak to me like you just did. I find it somewhat refreshing." He flicked a speck off his robe which immediately turned into a bird and flew off.

Having finished applying her lipstick, Toledo Rose Red, Miss Alessi tilted her head and observed them standing there side by side. "You know your just a figment of my imagination," she said.

Dee laughed again, he raised his arms high over his head and sent bolts of lightning shooting into the air. "I know," he said.

Krystin Scott said...

I'll be honest. I had no idea what to do with this story so I waited to be the very last person. It's 1:39 am. Marc should be posting in about an hour so i'm gonna wrap it up. The door opened, then closed, and it wasn’t long before Don appeared in the living room.

“Your late, everything okay?” I said.

He smiled apologetically, “Yeah, everything’s fine, it was just a rough day at work. The doors were put in upside-down and the material to finish the upstairs never arrived.”

I shook my head and sighed “Well grab your dinner out of the microwave and come sit down.”

He walked to the kitchen, then returned only a minute or two later. “What are you watching?” he asked as he shoveled a spoonful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.

“A SyFY on Zeno’s Paradox. It’s really strange one. Zeno is this Greek philosopher who believed that motion is nothing but an illusion and the whole movie is based on his theories. So in the beginning there are these three ladies, they starting their normal day when all of a sudden animals start moving in slow motion leaving visible trails, like some kind of acid trip. This makes the one girl Miss Alessi thinks the problem of the paradox has been solved and she decides to test it by running the NY marathon. But her test fails and then a god-like man with robes and a halo shows up but he’s not god and he does magic. Miss Alessi knows him by name; she calls him Deus Ex Machina.”

Don interrupts, “Well that’s a pretty good name for him, given what it means and all.”

“I know, right?” I say and then go on to explain further. “So the magic guy, Dee, he’s gonna let Miss Alessi ask him any question she wants and he promises to answer it but before he’ll do that she has to bring him to get pizza!”

“Pizza?” he says perplexed.

“Yeah pizza, can you believe it?” I ask. “Then Miss Alessi drinks too much wine and gets totally wasted and Dee has to help her to get home from the pizza joint. While their walking they pass by a window and it shows their reflection, but it’s not their reflection at all. It’s Miss Jones and Miss Smith, the two chicks from the beginning of the movie. And as if that’s not weird enough right after Dee turns dust into a bird, Miss Alessi tells him that he’s just a figment of her imagination. Then he goes and shoots lightening from his hands up into the air.”

Amused Don asked “Why did he do that?”

“I don’t know” I replied. “I was talking to you and I didn’t get to see the end of the show. “

Grondzilla said...

Krystin, you'll have to forgive me but it turns out there was more! ;)

Miss Alessi stared at the big screen TV in the next window over and gaped at the image as the sound played over the crummy speakers outside the shop. On the screen a couple sat on the couch in front of their television, in standard sitcom fourth wall layout, and chatted, apparently about her.

“I don’t know” the woman replied to a question the man had asked. “I was talking to you and I didn’t get to see the end of the show.”

Alessi let out a small yelp when the program suddenly broke to commercial. She turned, remembering her companion.

“Hey Mac, did y--?” She stared at the empty street and after gawping for a moment or two just sighed and rubbed at her temples.

“OK,” she thought, “that has got to be the wine talking. But then again, didn't I have the wine after I met Mac?”

She turned back toward the pawn shop television and almost tumbled to the ground as she stepped down on her heelless shoe. The TV was now playing an infommercial . With a snarl she kicked off both shoes, grabbed them by the straps and started walking gingerly toward home, her brain spinning.

As she fumbled with her keys in the lock a small tortoise sped past behind her on the street, trailing a series of kinescopic afterimages. She bumped the door closed with her tush and dropped the keys on the entry table.

Outside, an astonishingly athletic man came to a halt in the street, gasping for breath. He looked up the street to where the trail of tortoise images faded into the distance, drew a ragged breath and pushed on.

Marc said...

Greg - that is an absolute bastard of a continuation. I can't believe you left it there :P

On the other hand, thanks for making us all Google Zeno's Paradox!

Writebite - you did very well with that. I honestly wouldn't have had a clue if I'd had to go after Greg.

David - 'Dee to his friends'... for some reason, that just totally cracks me up.

Elor - hah, I love that 'Pizza?' had the potential, ever so briefly, of being the question :D

Sister Christian - "Her favourite Jimmy Choo shoooe..." this also cracked me up :D

Dr Marc, hey? I could make that work...

Iron Bess - the speck into bird and and the bolts of lightning were great touches :)

Krystin - I don't blame you in the least :P

Brilliantly done, by the way. A perfectly sane summation of perfectly insane events.

GZ - glad you were able to come back for another go!

Wonderful ending images. Felt like I could see the credits rolling as the man ran on :)

@ all - great work, that was not an easy one! Way to rise to the challenge :)