Saturday, February 11, 2012

Timed Writing: 2/5/2012

This time I have something a little different. Today, I took a writing workshop from two-time Philip K. Dick Award recipient Richard Paul Russo. He gave us several free-writing prompts throughout the day. My responses are presented here.

Exercise 1: Member of a party searching for someone dangerous who's been hiding in what had appeared to be a derelict spaceship.

Each fall of my metalled boots on the causeway echos back to me from the darkness above, below, and beside. Vela's helmet lamp reveals only the hundred meters before her and she is leading me in the pursuit. My lamp illuminates only the sagging pack tied to the back of Vela's suit. We entered this space from a series of cargo bays and the deep haze swallowed us whole. If the fugitive is as poorly equipped as us, then he should be near death by now -- or this atmosphere is breathable.

A wall, dripping with fragments of hoses and cables, looms ahead now and Vela slows. There is no encouragement for us from the dull, dead control panel beside a heavy steel portcullis. But the causeway leaves no options, so we approach. Vela's gloved fingers touch the panel. The cracked surface flickers briefly, but no meaning is displayed.

When we arrived here, at this massive, spinning cylinder, it was simple. We would narrow our search to pressurized chambers and then just home in on his heat signature. The welcome gift that he left us in the docking bay had robbed us not only of our means of departure, but also of our detection kit. The search would be old-fashioned, and the wait for rescue would be long.

Exercise 2: Group of people on a quest -- write about the things that they remove or leave behind along the way

Expensive as they had been, the SCUBA tanks were an obvious choice. Zeb had protested this decision, when the trio took to land. Zeb had purchased the dive gear in the first place and was loathe to relinquish it. Karl and Oliver lined their bottles up neatly next to Zeb's rucksack and didn't argue the point. Without the tanks, the BCs were of little use, so they were left as well. 

Zeb convinced his companions to take the masks, fins and snorkels along, in case they encountered another body of water. Two days later, after these implements had swung from straps, beating the walkers' legs and buttocks, they too were left behind, hung from the lower bows of a mango tree, to be retrieved later, should the group return. 

On the morning of the third day, six floppy tubes of twill fabric, hemmed at one end and and cut ragged at the other, were left at a campsite. The men were far more comfortable after that, under the glare of the tropical sun. Empty food containers, toothpaste tubes, deodorant sticks and sunscreen bottles marked their trail for a time, but were soon eclipsed by the return of bent shrubs and leaves to their neutral positions. 

One day, Karl, upon discovering that his few remaining items could be either worn or strung on a single loop of rope, left his rucksack behind. He regretted it later, when they found another mango tree and his companions were able to carry extra fruit along, but they shared and he took turns carrying their packs.

Exercise 3: A character has a blindfold removed in complete darkness and has suffered loss of hearing -- no visual or auditory clues at all

The gunshot, when it comes, is close. It deafens me completely. I am still alive after, and I feel no sudden addition to my pain, so it is not me that they have shot. 

I'm shoved forward several steps. The temperature changes. It is cooler here. A different room? Now my mouth is burning. What is that in the air? I cough and the secretions fill my mouth, nearly drowning me as I gasp for breath. The taste is chemical, unknown but almost familiar. Sweet and biting but without any of the comforting foodiness of pepper spice. It's a slicing, cutting, mutilating flavor that leaves my gums raw. The hood is wrenched from my head and my eyes start burning. I don't know whether they're open or closed. Is it dark or am I blind? Tears are pouring down my face and the tears sear my skin. There's a stinging in my nose that marches past the nostrils, attacking my sinuses. Like the fire of horseradish, but I've no water for gulping, no bread to quench the heat. There's a chemical syrupy feel to it and it reminds me of something from a hair salon. But this, this is so much stronger. 

My bonds are cut and I'm shoved forward. I fall to a cold, smooth floor, catching myself with my still numb hands.

(about my timed writing exercises)

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