Wednesday February 17th, 2016

The exercise:

Far, far too much time has passed. Let us have another go at telling A Tale In Three Parts.

Click the link for a full refresher, but the basic idea is we get today, tomorrow, and Friday to tell our stories, all emanating from the same prompt. And what prompt might that be, you ask?

Past Present Future.

Today we begin in the past. Tomorrow we bring our tales to the present. Friday's finale will send our tales into the future.

The amount of time separating each installment is entirely up to you. Just go with whatever makes sense for the story you're telling. I had a lot of fun last time we tried this, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys can do this time around.

So let us begin with: Past.


Howard was not having the best start to his day. It had been a late one with the boys the previous night and there had not been nearly enough time to sleep it off before his alarm had gone off that morning. He needed to be in class, ready to take his mid-term exam, and focused on his academic career in less than twenty minutes.

He also desperately needed a good cup of coffee. Whatever was sloshing around in the mug clutched in his hands was anything but that. Howard closed his eyes and tried to picture himself at a cafe in Paris, rather than in the campus cafeteria which actually surrounded him.

"You look like you've seen some things you'd like to forget," a woman said as she took the seat across the table from him. Howard looked up to tell her off but no words escaped his mouth. "Don't worry, I won't ask if you don't want to tell."

"Thanks?" Howard took a sip to buy himself time to gather his thoughts and immediately regretted it. What utter, liquefied horse manure. "You, on the other hand, look like you just left a modelling session."

That was not something he'd normally say, so he decided to blame it on the hangover. It was true though. Perfectly styled short blonde hair, just the right amount of makeup, a flattering top from the hippest store in town. She was out of his league but appeared not to realize it.

She had, after all, chosen to sit at his table and start talking to him.

"Thanks," she said with a smile that caused his heart to skip three or four beats. "No question mark."

"I'm Howard."


"Nice to meet you."

"Likewise." Grace tilted her head to the side as she seemed to consider an idea that had just occurred to her. "You need a proper cup of coffee. I know a place just around the corner. Makes the best brew in the city. You interested?"

He most certainly was.


Greg said...

I get the feeling that you've planned your story out in advance this time; certainly this has the feel of one of those pieces where you've had time to write it and not just try and get something out before you fall asleep on the couch. Howard is nicely described and is coming to life nicely, and Grace, while still a little peripheral, feels like she had importance waiting to be revealed. Good writing!

Mademoiselle Sosotris smoothed her hands down her dress, relishing the feel of the silk. The war was over at last, and rationing ended, but even so silk was hard to come by and she was very proud of this dress. It creased slightly under the pressure of her hands, and she drew back again to rub it out. The cream colour suited her skin which had a slightly pinker tone and was emphasized by it, and the crease disappeared rapidly under her fluttering hands.
A cough behind her made her stiffen, straightening her spine and clenching her buttocks instinctively. She kept her gaze level, looking out across the harbour where the sailboats sat at anchor and the seabirds bobbed on the water, moving up and down with the gentle waves. Then she reached out with her other senses, her mind probing around her for the disturbance of another mind, the jagged patches of darkness and light that betrayed someone else's thinking. Instead she found a glowing sphere of light, something with an intensity that suggested it was deliberately contained.
There was a second cough behind her, impatient and peremptory, not apologetic. She turned.
A short man in an expensive suit, clearly Italian, leaned on a walnut walking stick. His hands were gnarled and hairy, but his face was youthful. His lips, full and red, were twisted into an ugly pout, and she knew immediately that what she faced was not just a human being.
"You're a long way from home," she said, concentrating on keeping the panic from her voice, from her face.
"Not as far as you might think." His voice cracked and broke and in the harbour the seagulls rose from the waves in a white cloud, fluttering enough to generate a breeze.
"I don't know what you'd want with me."
"Not what I want." He frowned and for a moment and she realised that his anger, red and roiling below the surface, wasn't directed as her. It was directed at whatever was using him as a messenger boy. "The Unreal City wants you back."

Marc said...

Greg - I had an idea of the time separating each scene, and knew I wanted coffee to tie them together somehow, but that was about it. Thank you for the kind words on it!

I'm pleased you chose to go with Sosotris for your tale, as it's a nice opportunity to get to know her a little better. This is an intriguing start and I can't wait to see what comes next!