Today’s entry is somewhat unconventional, but I sometimes come up with this plan in my classroom to engage the students. I will do this after we read short stories, a novel, or a play. I call it a string story. We may add an extension to the story through the characters, or change a scene, etc. I begin the session by typing up the first line, then each student has an opportunity to add a sentence or (no more than) two, then onto the next student and so far.
In this string story, I asked fellow scribes from the Book Blogs site: http://bookblogs.ning.com/ to help me with a string story, and what follows is the result. These can go from short strings to a full blown story if the writer so cares. I hope you like what is written, and as always, we welcome comments.
"Listen, don't turn around, but I think we are being followed."
"Followed?" Solomon asked as he started to turn his head to look behind him.
Angry, nervous, and most annoyed but staring straight ahead, Bill hissed between clenched teeth, tight jaws, "I think I just told you not to turn around!"
“Would you relax, it's three in the morning... You watch too much TV. Besides, who would want to follow us?”
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
“Is that why you dragged me all the way down here? Seriously Bill, couldn’t this have been done at the bar or at the apartment?”
“No, I needed to bring you here because…"
Out of nowhere there came a low groaning sound and suddenly, whomp! It looked like a black cloak that swallowed Bill whole. Solomon wasn't sure of what it was and decided not to stick around to see either, so he took off running, feet pounding the pavement like a rampage of gazelle on the loose.
Ignoring his own advice, Solomon panicked, glancing over his shoulder to try and ascertain the distance of his pursuer. This turned out to be a terrible mistake. Whatever it was, was coming for him... with Bill's legs and a foot minus a shoe, swinging wildly from its mouth. The sight of Bill's limp body horrified Solomon. His mind went blank, and his legs refused to move. Solomon's mind was racing...he knew he wasn't fast enough to outrun it. Then, he spotted it, a manhole access to the sewer. As luck would have it, the manhole cover was off, laying beside the hole. It was his only hope. As he scurried down the ladder to the world below, he took a fleeting last look at what remained of his best friend, Bill.
Frightened and trudging along in the dark, a rank near suffocating bog of raw sewage clawed through the blackness and took hold of Solomon's sense. He reached for his collar to break the swelling stench when a gush of air rushed against his forward movement. His eyes were slowly beginning to adjust to the darkness and shadows could now be imagined or real, he wasn’t sure. As he took a few more steps he heard a muffled thud before him as a small blanket of water waved upon his legs soaking his bare legs. Startled, Solomon stumbled back, staring in the direction of the sound. A few meters beyond the sound there was a faint light shining from above. Solomon had difficulty discerning the source of the light, then realized another manhole had been accessed from the street above. As he lowered his eyes, there was the ghastly sight of his good friend's torso which lay at the bottom of the sewer well...half of his torso, anyway. Above him, from the open manhole, came the sickening, crunching sound of demonic teeth, chewing bone and sinew and muscle. Solomon shuddered in horror.
With his back pressed against the wall, edging his way into the darkness, away from the bone crunching and slurping pulling on his guts, he began a silent chant. More like a prayer..."Whatever you are, please don't follow me down here. Whatever you are, please don't follow me down here." As he sank further into the protective shadows of the sewer, an eerie silence fell upon the air. Solomon gently traipsed along the slimy, sewer when a voice boomed.
"My good friend," echoed a voice from beyond the eerie dank silence. "So you call yourself a friend and yet you dare not turn back to face me," the voice, quaking around him continued. Is that Bill in my head, or...Did I get a hold of some bad food at Taco Bell ? I feel like I'm going to vomit any moment......He tried to remember where he had put his pack of Rolaids..."No, wait!" said Solomon shaking his head. His whispering echoed through the tunneled sewer. "I must be delusional! I haven't eaten in hours! The darkness, the stench, and the fear are getting to me. My best friend was just killed by some fiend from hell." He literally shook himself, straightened his spine, and pushed on toward the next ladder that led to the surface.
The slime had turned to sticky sludge as he hoofed onward. The sludge was so thick it nearly removed his right sneaker. He maneuvered along the edge, his breathing still heavy, his head still spinning from all that happened so far. Solomon's only comfort was the thought that whatever it was that had eaten his friend apparently could not make its way into the city's vast sewer system. It was then that he noticed his footsteps were being mirrored...wet, shuffling footfalls were clearly discernible, coming from behind him. His friend's voice came to him again, ringing with a metallic echo down the length of the subterranean channel...
“I need you to come somewhere with me.” The words rang through his head. Bill had tried to warn me…but warn me of what... of what....what had he seen? Why did I follow him? Why?
But Solomon, this time, resigned to heed his own advice and not turn around. Quivering he recited, fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice, shame on me! And CRA...CRA...CA-Boom! The entire foundation shook, springing Solomon out of bed drenched in sweat, shaking like a leaf.
He wondered, “Was I dreaming?” And then remembered what his psychology professor had said..."Strange as it may be sometimes our physical and mental worlds are hard to distinguish"..AHA .. he thought and just as he sighed a relief, he looked down at his feet only to see the mud and slime on the rug.....
Hey there fellow Bill and Solomon scribes, I changed a few things around for flow and needed to change some lines between the two in order to maintain dialog and scene integrity.
Well, there you have it, a little string story. I thought we put together a pretty good little slice of an idea, don’t you? Thank you for participating; maybe sometime in the near future we can do it again.