Time flies

Goodness me, doesn’t time fly. I thought it had been  about a week since I last posted yet when I logged in, I see it is actually closer to a month! In my defence it is November which, for mad writers like myself that only means one thing – National Novel Writing Month or Nanowrimo. It is the time of year when the more astute observers among you will notice collections of the unwashed huddled over a long dead coffee and a laptop in various cafes, libraries and generally anywhere else we can get free wifi, muttering unintelligable words and acting out invisible scenes as we furiously try and write 50,000 words in 30 days with ever more desperation as December approaches.

Anyway, enough with excuses, you haven’t come here for that, I know, so today I thought I would share with you a piece I wrote in response to a prompt we were given during the writing group I attend. The prompt was easy enough, it was ‘write in present tense, first person’. Simples. Except when faced with the blank page we all froze. Below is what I eventually came up with, out of desperation, however, I think, eventually, it actually works – in fact it made everyone giggle when I read it out so I hope it does the same for you.

A Lack of Imagination

I am sitting here staring at the blank page on my screen, watching the taunting, teasing cursor winking in his knowing, sly little way.
“You can’t do this,” he is saying, “not in a million years.”
I look around the room at the assembled bent heads, all busily scratching meaning onto paper or tapping life into their laptops. Has the day finally arrived, I wonder, is it today? I move my fingers meaningfully across the keys, after all I am the only one who can see I am typing gibberish, perhaps I can put off my discovery for a few more minutes.
How come it comes so easy to them, I wonder, it really doesn’t seem fair. I am the one who started the group, so how come I’m the only one who doesn’t seem to possess an imagination. My eyes wander away from my screen again and I catch Robert staring at me from across the room, with a look I can’t quite fathom. Does he know?
Feeling like a naughty school girl I press the delete button and watch the cursor devour my lie. My hands hover hopelessly over the keyboard whilst my little black judge just stands to attention and laughs. I clasp my hands together, as if I can wring the words out of them then find myself thinking of all the shopping I have to do, the presents I still have to wrap and the cards that I’ll probably never get round to writing.
My heart sinks as I realise my imagination doesn’t even stretch to a humorous Christmas greeting, what was I thinking? I am filled with despair as I realise just how foolish I’ve been. I can’t write a novel, not now, not ever – for goodness sake, I can’t even think of a simple story about a helicopter, a spider and snow, and I could do that when I was nine. I am close to tears now, wouldn’t that complete my humiliation.
Karen, the woman who set the task, coughs a teacher’s cough and says kindly, “Five minutes.”
There are furtive glances around the table, secret smiles of contentment as well as gasps of shock, they are all anticipating reading their stories out. Some worried they won’t finish in time, some glad for the five minutes to check what they’ve done. For me five minutes feels like a count-down to embarrassment. I want to run, I can’t let them know my mind is empty, don’t want them to realise, I’m not one of them, not a wordsmith, a writer, not smart and not capable.
“Okay, finish your sentence,” Karen smiles.
And suddenly a flash of inspiration hits. As Robert begins to read his hilarious composition, I realise I have a way out. I wait patiently until he finishes, barely hearing his words, before I say, with a little giggle, “I just can’t wait anymore, sorry. Where did you say the loo was, Anita.”
They all laugh with me as Anita reminds me it is just down the corridor and round the corner, I laughingly apologise for disturbing them as push myself away from the table and head gratefully out of the door, congratulating myself on my ability to hide my secret for one more week.


The Key to the End of the World

This silly little story was written at my writers’ group where we had a 20 minute time limit and a prompt of ‘The Key’. It isn’t my best work but it is quite fun. Hope it brings a smile to your face, even just a little one.

Tom was worried, and with good reason. The call had come from Australia, a very large asteroid had suddenly appeared from what appeared to be a right angle to the plane of the solar system. Scientists all over the world were meeting over the internet, trying to decide where the asteroid could have come from. There wasn’t supposed to be anything out there, apart from the Ort cloud and that only gave birth to large, easy to spot for months ahead, comets. This was a very large, very dark mass that they’d only found 12 hours ago and that they couldn’t be sure wouldn’t hit the Earth.
Tom’s job was to align the telescope to take over the tracking of the object when the Australians could no longer hold it. That was why he was so worried. Here he was, in sole charge of the most sophisticated multi-imaging telescope in the northern hemisphere, the entire scientific community, in fact the whole global community, counting on him to feed them up to date information and he couldn’t find the keys to the control room.
He glanced at the clock. 10 minutes! He had 10 minutes to find the keys, program the controls and realign the telescope. Where could they be?!
He fought to swallow his rising panic – that wouldn’t help at all. They couldn’t have gone that far. He’d had them last night when he locked up and that was only four hours ago. He’d already retraced his steps to the dorm, the tiny room provided for on duty astronomers, so he was pretty sure he hadn’t dropped them. He’d emptied his pockets in both his trousers and his coat, he’d delved into the bin and tipped out the contents of his lap top bag. He’d even been out to his car, though he’d known they weren’t there. He simply didn’t know where else to look. He looked back at the clock. Nine minutes! He ran to the control room, grabbing a fire extinguisher as he went. Only one thing for it, he’d have to break the door down. He arrived at the control room a breathless three minutes later, raised the extinguisher high above and turned his face away from the carnage he was about to cause.
Glass cascaded from the broken door glass, covering his trousers but, mercifully, mostly falling inside the door. He wrapped his hand carefully in his jumper sleeve and reached through to turn the lock, barely waiting for the door to open before he rushed through. The jerk that stopped him surprised him more than the pain in his leg and tore his attention to his leg, more in annoyance at the delay than anything else. His trousers were caught on the door. He reached out to free himself and discovered the thing that had stopped him were his keys, blithely sticking out from the lock where he’d left them the night before.


Hellen Riebold’s Author Page


The Drums

I hope you enjoyed the longer story, John Who?, thanks to the wonderful feedback I received I am now planning to use it as the starting point to a novel, which I will work on over Nanowrimo, called Ryz. Will keep you informed of my progress. In the meantime, I thought I’d go back to sharing some of my shorter stories with you. The following tale came from a prompt during one of the writing groups I go to, the prompt was to write a story on the personification of hope vibrates. I’m not sure the work meets the criteria but I’d like to share it nevertheless.

Louise could feel the blackness coming to claim her. Only days ago the world had seemed shiny, crisp, bright and blue. Then the fog had started and she watched as the world began to hide behind a mist which dulled the edges and washed out some of the colours.
She fooled herself, that first day, as she always did, that she was tired. She’d tried to fit too much in, that all she needed was a good night’s sleep. But, of course, her demon kept the sleep at bay, waking her, screaming death threats and hate. She snatched a few fitful hours, glad to see the pale light breaking through the bars of the bed. Grateful to get up, hopeful she could drown out the demon with noise of the day, but her cloudy head kept looking his way as the colour ran out of the sky and the joy became a distant word.
A cold! That’s it, she told herself, it’s just a cold, a virus invading her body and bringing her low. She put on the armour of Lemsip but the arrows of despair slipped easily through.
Another battle-strewn night saw the day break in grayscale. Lifeless and distant, and Louise saw the black edging touch the whole world as the demon prepared his chains and danced round her, ridiculing the light she’d seen a few short days ago.
A mirage, he yelled. He held the truth. The world was black.
She sighed as a feeble, disbelieving “no” slipped from her lips and she struggled forlornly to give lie to his words then sank inevitably into his truth.
The world was black; children died; bombs exploded; the world burned. Even the clowns drowned in despair. The colours were gone and she was lost.
She moved, mechanically, from one place to another, seeing nothing; feeling little. Her barriers raised. A safe black bubble hope couldn’t hurt.
Then the drums started.
A wild, free dance of rhythm.
A joining of souls in a celebration of sound.
Strangers making music, beating back the darkness under starry skies as the fire dance before them.
The demon screamed as she sat down and laid her hands on the cool skin of the drum, the vibrations of the circle rumbling through her soul, catching her heart and blocking her ears to his lies. Her lungs soaked in the freedom of the tempo and its pulse broke the chains of her prison.
Louise closed her eyes as her hands joined the dance and the colours exploded into her mind.

F: Hellen Riebold’s Author Page