Wednesday December 10th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the message in a bottle.

Feels weird writing about something other than secret agent shenanigans. I suppose leaving mine open to possible continuations means that I don't necessarily have to leave my character behind. We'll see if or when he returns.

There is a Christmas tree up at Kat's parents place but it hasn't been put up yet. I'm pretty sure Max is going to lose his mind once it's put in place.

And then lose it all over again when it's time to decorate it.


Kelsey was a lonely child.

Her parents both toiled at jobs that occupied more of their time than she considered to be reasonable. A lawyer for a mother, a surgeon for a father. It left few opportunities for family bonding.

Their work did at least pay for a very beautiful house, on a very large property. Her friends would have loved exploring all the hallways and rooms and fancy staircases. In the summer they would have played endlessly on the rolling green lawn, picked flowers from the gardens.

If she'd had any friends, that is.

There was a small pond at the rear of the estate that Kelsey liked to visit almost every day. At first she just sat in the grass and read her books. Later, she practiced singing songs she heard on the radio. She had a lovely voice, and no one to tell her so.

One day, for no reason she could explain, she brought an empty bottle to the pond's edge. She placed a folded piece of paper inside, with only the words Is anyone out there? written on it, and tossed it into the water. She stood there watching it bob up and down for almost an hour, then returned to the house.

The next day she fished the bottle out of the pond using the pool cleaner's net. She checked inside, found her letter and her words, put it back in the bottle, and lobbed it back in again. She repeated this process every day for nearly a year.

Then came a rainy, misty morning in November. Kelsey made her way to the water's edge once more, her rubber boots making squelching sounds as each step escaped the mud. She retrieved the bottle, checked the note as usual. Same words as every time before. Except the handwriting was not hers.

Kelsey was a frightened child.


Greg said...

A christmas tree, and an afternoon of tree decorating? Max is definitely going to be a happy child way before Christmas! The only thing he'll be missing is a neatly-wrapped present beneath the tree that has airholes and barks occasionally!
I feel a little sorry for Kelsey actually, she's clearly an intelligent, thoughtful child who's about to get herself into a world of trouble because there's no-one to warn her what the outside world is like. Which is definitely the right way to start an epic, six-volume novel :) I really like the lead up to the launching of the bottle and her steady persistence, until things start going slightly wrong.

Message in a bottle
The sun shone relentlessly down on golden sand, and a young, unshaven man in ragged cut-off shorts sat hunched up in the shade of a coconut palm. His skin was a dark brown, far darker than his blonde hair would have suggested was possible and he wore palm leaves tied around his feet to protect them from the blisteringly hot sand. The beach petered out into scruffy jungle about eighteen feet away, and a small trail of broken branches and torn leaves suggested that the young man might have come from that direction. There was a snuffling noise as well, as of a wild-boar, but that was gradually fading.
The young man, Charles, was grateful that it had stopped raining and that the wind had fallen; the palm trees were poor shelter in high winds, when falling and flying coconuts were a real and lethal danger. The rain was invariably a small waterfall of a downpour and it was actually hard to breathe if you were caught in it, and the beach drained so badly that the sand became quicksand for nearly a day.
He squinted; bobbing in the water at the edge of the beach was a bottle. Finding a message in a bottle when stranded on a desert island was a cliche, but perhaps the bottle was litter from a passing cruise-liner. He stood up, ran to the water's edge, and splashed around in the shallows until he retrieved it. Slightly to his surprise there was a message in it.
He unscrewed the top (the bottle had, according to the label, once held an inferior Chablis) and shook the message out. His hands were trembling as he unrolled the message.
"Dear Charles Fortnoy," it began, and he experienced a moment of shock as he realised it was addressed to him. "We have your mother and your sister and are holding them hostage until such time as you pay a ransom of £850,000 or we run out of Earl Grey tea. If the latter happens first then we will send your mother and sister to you in as many of these bottles as it takes."

David said...

Kelsey stood on the beach looking at the water. Low tide. The waves weakly hitting the sand. He wished there was a tsunami somewhere in the distance. Something. Anything. That would push a twenty foot wave towards him. He wanted to be crushed. Obliterated from all existence. But he did not have the guts to do it himself, he needed someone to do it for him. To push him. All the way.
He held the bottle in his hand. Green glass, because that’s how these things need to be. The paper laying in its belly. The words would cause indigestion if the bottle could read. But they were the words he needed to tell her. Sweet Marie.
That stupid bitch.

Marc said...

Greg - the tree, believe it or not, isn't up yet. We're putting it up tomorrow though (it's at least a three person job and there haven't been three of us all available at once recently) and I expect Max will still lose his mind.

Six volumes? Good lord...

Oh dear, that is not the sort of message you want to find floating in the water when you're already in a sufficiently difficult position!

David - great stuff here. Man, I really love that indigestion line, that's really inspired :)