Author's Notes: This is the first draft of Story# 3 for my Creative Writing Class. You can read Story 1 and Story 2 here. This one is inspired by George Orwell's 1984, and I have to specifically use techniques that make it weird, neo-post-modern and somehow breaks most of my own personal writing conventions. Since I typically write third person genre fiction (fantasy/sci-fi) and tend to be on the lighter side of things: this breaks those pretty thoroughly. Total word count: 941 (+266 for notes), total: 1,207 words!
Here are my story notes:
My default settings:
- 3rd person perspective
- Urban fantasy/supernatural/dark fantasy
- Prefer long-form fiction
1st or 2nd perspective?
Go extreme with specifics
No humorous. Not my usual genre: let's try Dystopian.
Female perspective (because I don't have to break every convention, and the main character in Orwell's story is a male).
Ballot Initiative #1984 (to honor the source material)
Ends with: the man's character's final act of defiance as they chew through the cable to their Suggest-a-Tron. Electrocuted and killed.
6:02pm the door bell rings because he's late turning on his Suggest-a-Tron.
Trucks arrive for citizens to turn in their sharp objects.
Hitler's antenna: the first radio waves to leave our solar system.
Neutral Good: Main character
Lawful Neutral: Suggest-a-Tron
Lawful Loyal - Secret Police
Non-white neighbors being taken away to build The Wall.
[Scripture about obedience] used as propaganda / crowd control at night
Crowd control through complacency
Sunrise and sunset
"A Day in the Life of _____"
A closet where the cable is exposed
Just out of the line of sight of the Suggest-a-Tron. She has roughly 30 seconds a day to leave her daily routine long enough to chew at the cable.
Suggest-o-Tron gets its own chapter! Yay!
Military time / every hour for
6:03pm would be
18:00 is 6:00pm
Criminal disconnect, authorities notified
3 minutes - the beat the shit out of here. Make her neighbor do it.
It is his civic duty--however, his household would receive double votes for the next voting period.
First line of attack is her perspective. The rest is the Suggest-a-Tron.
/DNA testing confirms
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.506 online
/accessing household, please wait...
/camera 1 ready
/camera 2 ready
/camera 3 offline
/camera 1 zoom
/Suggest-a-Tron ver 2.506 offline
[ research network dialogue to make this more compelling and creepy. Get scary with the specifics.]
0:00 03 25 2035
1:00 subject in sleep mode
2:00 subject in sleep mode
3:00 subject in sleep mode
4:00 subject in sleep mode
5:00 subject in sleep mode
6:00 first alarm sounds
6:04 subject awakens
“My name is Edith.” I spoke to the mirror in my bathroom. It was a reminder for myself and whoever was listening. They insisted there were no recording devices--visual or audio--in the bathroom, but skepticism has kept me alive this long. Why relax now? I set the timer on the bathroom wall for 10 minutes, took a shower, brushed my teeth and combed my wet hair in another 10. By 6:30am I was downstairs in my kitchen pouring a bowl of cereal. My cereal was stale. I hadn’t left the house to grocery shop for three weeks.
She waited, watching the slow moving hands of the clock on the wall. Ten seconds. Five seconds. Her hand tightened around the door knob. Two seconds. Her eyes darted back to the red glare of the Suggest-a-Tron. Had the light just blinked? Was it awake early before the morning Mandatory Vote, somehow able to move forward the two inches it would need to get a clear line of sight to the closet door? The same line of sight that Edith had eluded for so many years? Had the Suggest-a-Tron turned on early, finally aware of her intentions? Her heart began to race.
No. The clock slammed to mark 07:29 hours.
She breathed and turned the knob. She rolled around the door and fell into the closet with a soft thud. It was empty of clothing. No spare jackets. No umbrella. Just darkness. The Suggest-a-Tron could not see her. It wasn’t scheduled to turn on until exactly 7:30. Five seconds. She pulled the door behind her and closed her eyes against the dark. She faced the closet door, counting each second in her head, and slid down the wall. Ten seconds.
She felt with her right hand: just where she’d left it, a stray coaxial cable that fed from the Suggest-a-Tron into the closet. Fifteen seconds. She very carefully pulled the slack through her fingers until she felt the familiar indents in the rubber casing. Teeth marks. Twenty seconds. She pulled the cable to her mouth and began to chew. Dried blood and saliva met her tongue from where the cabling had cut her gums before. Thirty seconds. She dropped the cable, pushed herself up the wall and opened the closet door. Forty-five seconds. She had made good progress today. It wouldn’t be much longer now.
She opened the closet door and stepped back into the line of sight of the Suggest-a-Tron. 07:30 and the red light flickered on. A message began scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Edith rushed in place herself directly in front of the screen.
The red light flickered again and tiny clicks and buzzes sounded from within the Suggest-a-Tron. Edith picked up the remote control and tried to steady her hands. She typed a reply on the compact keyboard as she sat down on her couch.
/Good Morning. ~E
/enter verification code
Her cell phone buzzed in her pocket. She checked the screen. Your confirmation code is:
# Hitler’s Antenna
# Trucks arrive for citizens to turn in their sharp objects
18:00 03 25 2035
/the door bell rings
/camera 1 pans to doorstep
/identification module: [one of the secret police/officer’s we’ve seen before, official title
/disengage security lock on door 1
/begin audio recording
“Miss [last name]? Our system shows your Suggest-a-Tron is offline. Are you having
A knock sounds at the door. In the background--the Suggest-a-Tron is full of static. The
white noise is interrupted only by the spark of an electrical shock. The cable running
from the closet to the Suggest-a-Tron is severed, whipping around wildly with electrical currents. [name] lays lifeless on the floor, a shocked and pained smile forever plastered to her stiff dead features.
[name] was finally free of the Suggest-o-Tron.
[Hand-written in class as part of an exercise in Flash Fiction: to attempt to re-write this story in 500 words. I only made it to 200ish in the time given.]
Edith woke at exactly 6:04 am. She showered in 10 minutes, checking for recording devices first. Downstairs with a bowl of breakfast by 6:30 am. She sits in front of her large screen Suggest-o-Tron and waits for the morning vote.
Ballot Initiative 1984. Address selected: 16 Canterbury Street. Today's vote. The address belonged to her dark-skinned neighbor. Edit knew why. Last week someone had reported him with a red envelope. Yesterday the secret police found a pair of dull scissors in his kitchen.
Edit voted no for Ballot Initiative 1984. She moved to her front window and lit a candle in a blue vase. Her neighbor, at least, would know her vote. It was up to the Suggest-a-Tron now.
7:29 am. Edit leaned against the closet door in the hallway, deliberately out of line-of-sight for the Suggest-a-Tron. She closed herself in the darkness. She counted. 10 seconds. She slid down the wall. Fifteen seconds. Her groping fingers found the reinforced coaxial cable that was exposed from the wall. Thirty seconds. She leaned down in the darkness and began to chew. Forty-five seconds. She stopped when the cable cut her gums. She made good progress.
7:30 am she was back in the line-of-sight of the Suggest-a-Tron. One minute a day, every day, for the past ten years. Her gums were scarred from the memories.