I think primarily I tend to stick with what I know in terms of writing. I have quite a number of half-finished fantasy, romance and even sci-fi novels, short stories and poetry. What I don’t have is mystery or thriller stories.
I’m a regular on www.GoodReads.com I have a number of pieces in various stages of completion on my profile too, but I kind of shocked my socks off, when one of my groups (The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword) had a competition and my result came out like it did.
The prompt was:
You can write a story or a poem or something in between for this contest but it must relate to the prompt which is….
AN OLD FAMILY PHOTO OF A STRANGE MAN IN A TRENCH COAT
Now, you can describe it, or write of the person in their time or of you finding it, or whatever, have fun with it!
I decided before sitting down to write that I wanted a visual prompt for this story. I did some googling (don’t we all when we need a little inspiration) and I located this picture.
Borrowed from: http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/jeanlucgodard/Interesting (Some of those photos are AWESOME!)
I think I spent about 2-3hrs of writing and quick editing on this. It’s by no means my best work and I know that I may not have quite got the suspense/thriller aspect right. Anyway, it’s all about pushing your limits and growing as an author. Try something new, complete it, and send it out into the world. Without further ado, here it is.
Tonight is the night…
I pushed a post-it note into my shirt pocket as I hurriedly packed up my books.
I placed my glasses on top of my head and wiped my eyes before placing the pieces of glass and metal back on my nose. I started shoving the books into my satchel and threw it onto my shoulder as I whipped around the side of the desk in the library.
“Please Sir, you must hurry up. The library should have been closed ten minutes ago,” the old, wrinkly librarian practically screamed at me from behind the front desk. Her lavender and light grey shirt washing out the colour of her droopy skin, yet strangely matching the colour of her hair.
Smirking to myself as I ducked out the door, I avoided making eye contact with her.
“What an old witch,” I forced out under my breath along with a heavy sigh as I walked towards the empty bus stop. I kicked a small stone on the ground before me; the onyx lump ricocheted off the metal seat inside the small bus shelter. Making myself jump at the loud clang, I slowly shook my head in disbelief.
I looked around quickly.
“What the fuck?” I quipped quietly as I searched the immediate area for the person who’d yelled at me.
“I said quiet!”
“Fuck you!” I yelled into the quickly darkening sky. “I don’t have to be quiet!” I kicked another stone at the bus shelter reveling in the loud clang. “I’ll be as loud as I want!” I kicked another stone, this one missing the bus stop, I continued to search for the owner of the voice, but seeing nothing, not even a stray cat, I shrugged and went to sit on the cold metal seat.
An incessant buzzing in my pants pocket brought me back to the present. Fishing my phone out of my pocket I read the text on the screen.
“Oh great! Alone for dinner again,” I sighed and plopped down heavily on the seat. “I have such a crap life, my own mother can’t catch up for dinner,” I sighed again and slumped over my legs, supporting my head with my hand. “Why the hell am I talking to myself? Anyone would think I’m insane,” this elicited a snort of mirth from me.
I would have to be the furthest thing from insane. I majored in mathematics and psychology at school and was currently working on my thesis on the human brain and dreaming. It covered some pretty psychedelic stuff, but not for someone who could potentially be insane. Though one could argue that if I were insane I could come up with some of the best dreams for my thesis and then break them down. I’d have to ponder that thought some more later. I filed it away in my mental thought bank, yes, I said mental thought bank. That’s how I am, highly organized and methodical. I have a photographic memory, and utilise that frequently to assist my analytical thought processes. People call me a nerd. I call myself organised and efficient. I intimidate people; they don’t understand me. That was through no fault of my own. I am highly articulate too, probably too much so for some of the slobs and brain-dead dropouts that attended my school.
Shoving my phone back into my pocket I saw the bus come around the bend down the road. I stood up and waited as it drew closer to me.
I swirled around quickly; my heart beat racing a little. No one there.
“Psst… in here!” whispered into my ear. I continued to whirl around in a circle trying to find the person who was now whispering to me.
“Where are you?” I asked defiantly. I had to at least pretend I wasn’t about to piss my pants. A loud roaring engine and the hiss of air brakes shocked me. The bus pulled to a stop behind me.
“You gettin’ on here Mate?” The dimwitted bus driver asked me. I turned around to face the bus and nodded, not trusting myself not to sound as freaked out as I felt. I could see the hostility and distrust emanating from him as he watched me take a seat at the back of the bus. I shrunk down into the seat to try to get away from his continued stare.
“Why don’t you just drive the bloody bus instead of checkin’ me out back here?” I yelled up at him, feeling aggressive.
Aggression wasn’t an emotion I was familiar with, being an academic I was more used to sitting quietly in the library or study hall. What was going on with me?
The bus driver slammed his breaks on and stopped the bus. I was pitched forward in the seat, hitting my right shoulder on the seat in front of me.
“That’s it! I won’t take any more! Get your freaky ass off my bus!” He screamed at me, spittle flying from his mouth as his bloodshot eyes bulged out. I looked at him with what must have come across as incredulity.
“You’ve got to be kidding me?” I squeaked out. “What the hell did I do?”
The bus driver stepped menacingly towards me. He came up the aisle to where I was sitting and stared down at me. I could see the beads of sweat forming on his greasy brow. I had only a few seconds to think how gross that sight was before his bear-like hands grasped the front of my shirt and jacket and picked me up. He continued to manhandle me down the aisle and pushed me unceremoniously down the steps from the bus and onto my ass on the curb outside.
The bus doors shut quickly and the hulking metal beast left me in a mess on the side of the road. Brushing myself off, I slowly rose to my feet and picked up my satchel. As I swung it over my head to place it on my shoulder I noticed a dim red light pierce the darkness around me. Where’d that come from I wondered.
I checked the phone in my pocket. Nothing. Looked around for tail lights of a car. None.
I twirled around like a prima ballerina looking around again. What the hell was going on with me? Did that bus driver make me hit my head when he shoved me off the bus? No, I was hearing things before I got on the bus…
That thought dispersed as I lifted my left hand up to unconsciously scratch my ear. The red light appeared again. This time I managed to catch where it came from.
More accurately, the inside of my jacket. I glanced down at the inside left breast pocket, feeling a little apprehensive about what I might find. I slid my hand into the pocket and my fingers brushed against the cool, shiny surface of a photograph. I remember putting it in there a few months ago at my Grandfather’s funeral. My strange distant cousin had been passing out photos that had been found with the rest of my grandfather’s belongings. I had glanced at it and shoved it into my pocket that day. I didn’t know many of my extended family, but I’d been there to support my mother. She’d had a falling out with her Dad years before I’d been born and I’d never really spent any time with the rest of the family. It was just Mum and me at home, but granddad’s funeral was tough on her. It didn’t mean much to me.
Taking the photo out of my pocket, I flipped it over and saw glowing red eyes looking out from under the brim of a low-slung hat. My mind reeled. I didn’t remember the photo glowing when I was given it. I probably would have paid more attention to it if it had.
“You’re going to die,” caressed my ear.
A shiver sped up and then down my spine and I dropped the photo.
“Who said that?” I jumped and searched the area I was standing in. The neighbourhood was deserted. None of the houses had lights on inside, no cars drove by, no one was out walking their dog. I was alone.
Suddenly feeling chilled to the bone; I picked up the photo. The red eyes glowed brighter and a sinister smile graced the man’s face.
Was that there before? Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Am I going crazy?
I continued to ask myself these questions as I quickly walked down the street, hugging my right arm around my stomach, my left hand holding the photo.
“Psst…” tickled my earlobe.
The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. I could feel eyes on me, I felt watched. I hunched my shoulders and rushed quickly down the empty street. My eyes were darting from left to right trying to find anyone, someone who could help me, someone who could be making these noises. Someone. Anyone.
“I’m going to kill you…” hissed into my ear.
“Stop! Stop it! Please…” I begged as I rushed faster still down the street. Whipping my head to look over my shoulder, trying to catch a glimpse of someone in the shadows. I strained my ears to hear another set of footsteps racing down the street after me. Nothing.
I passed under the archway into a small grassy park, ploughing straight into it, too afraid to stop or to walk around.
“I’m coming to get you. I’m going to enjoy stripping your bones…” echoed all around me as I stumbled up a small grass knoll.
Making it to the top of the hill, I had a 360 view all around me. My eyes darted about focusing on everything, yet nothing at the same time. There was no one. Not a whisper of wind, no movement. None.
“You’ll never find me, but I’m going to find you!” Threatened the disembodied voice again. I shuddered and swallowed the scream that was welling in my throat.
“I’m coming, can you hear me? I’m going to kill you, can you feel my eyes watching you?”
I whimpered and whirled around again trying in vain to find this evil that was terrorising me. I twirled again, tripping myself on my own foot and fell heavily onto the damp grass. The photo lay on the grass in front of me. One of my eyes was closed and squashed into the grass, but the other was open and focused on the evil red glow that came out of the photo.
A pair of evil red eyes bore into my single green one. The sadistic smile grew larger before my eyes. I watched in horror as the photograph started to come to life. The man in the dark trench coat in the photo lit a cigarette and took a drag, blowing a lung full of smoke out. The smoke swirled around his head in the photo, then left the photo and escaped hurriedly into the dark sky above me.
A strangled noise that was a mix of a scream and a howl of laughter escaped my throat. My heart beat so fast I was sure it would escape my chest. I could feel beads of sweat trail cold rivers down my back as I watched the man take a step towards me. I closed my eye, afraid to watch more.
“Look at me! You little piece of shit.” Flowed almost musically from the photo.
My body appeared to be frozen in place, but my eye opened again and stared straight into the murderous red ones of the man in the photo.
I think I pissed my pants as his first hand punched through the shiny skin of the photo. His evil, twisted laugh erupted in my ears and I heard him take a deep breath through his nose.
“You are pathetic!”
I shivered, my wet pants sticking to my legs and my face still partially pressed into the grass where I’d fallen. His second hand escaped the photo, closely followed by his hat and those evil, glowing eyes of red.