July Writing Challenge Day 11: Backwards Story, Forward Horror

Hello everyone. Welcome back. I had a lot of fun doing today’s writing challenge. So much fun that I spent more than an hour on it. So let’s jump right in, shall we?

I found a cool new list of writing exercises today (which you can find HERE). After scrolling through them I found one that really got the juices flowing. Well, after I got done cleaning my chair, I sat down a wrote a nifty little bit of Lovecraftian Flash Fiction. If you don’t know, I do like me some eldritch horror. Some of my best (or at least favorite) stories have been Lovecraftian in nature.

But I bet you’re wondering what the exercise I chose entailed. Well, the title to the post kind of gives it away, but let me explain. Basically, it’s like the movie Memento. You start at the end and work your way back to the beginning. Not the hardest thing in the world if you just follow the description to the letter and leave it at that. The challenge comes in when you make the backwards structure important to the way the plot develops. You don’t just tell it backwards for the sake of doing it, you make it so that backwards is the only way you could tell it. Or, failing that, at least make it enjoyable, interesting, and believable. For example, the movie Memento is about a guy with a very, very short span of time in which he can remember things, and you spend your time going back through his various “chunks” of memory. You know what happens at the end, but not the beginning, but, then again, neither does the main character, so it makes sense.

And, you know what? I think I actually succeeded. I mean, it may not be the best example ever, but I legitimately think I did exactly what I set out to do. It starts at the end, works to the beginning, and when you get to the beginning, you find out that maybe that was the important part all along, at least in terms of what happens after the end of the story (which is at the beginning).

I won’t say any more, because I would like some feedback and I don’t want to spoil anything, but after the story scroll down a bit and keep reading, I’ll have a question down there that I really would like to have some feedback on.

And, as always, criticisms and comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if you think I succeeded or failed at the exercise, if it style (kind of new for me) worked as a piece of fiction, and anything else you think I could do better. This is a first draft, so if you have any ideas for help on making a second, I’d love it. Thanks for reading, and enjoy.

By E W Morrow
Word Count: 888

Case File #1137-B: Sighting and Human Interaction with Class-C item, Earthly Artifact Bearing the Likeness of [REDACTED]
Subject: Robert Gillman
Transcription of Video Recording of Interrogation
Dec. 21st, 20–
Interrogator: Agent [REDACTED]

—Start of Video—

<In frame is a table with two chairs on opposite sides. A young male, brunette, occupies the chair nearest the top of the frame. A few seconds pass and a second man, Agent [REDACTED] enters and sits in the empty chair. He places a plain manila folder containing several pages on the table, and beside it a pad of paper and a pen. As the interrogation progresses, Agent [REDACTED] takes notes>
Agent: Mr. Gillman, I would like to ask you a few questions about what happened between you and a one Joseph Whitmore last night at around 9:30 pm.

Robert: Look, I already went through this with the other officers. Yes, I confess: I shot Joey Whitmore. I took a .38 and shot him in the back of the head.

Agent: Why did you shoot him?

Robert: Why? <subject slams hands on table> Because I wasn’t sure if poison would do the trick, that’s why!

Agent: Perhaps I should rephrase. Why did you kill Mr. Whitmore?

Robert: Fuck man, really? You gotta ask me that? Jesus, you saw the body. Hell, I bet you even did an autopsy, so you guys should know better than me. He wasn’t human anymore. His skin was getting all scaly in places. And where it wasn’t he was covered in these little…<subject appears to wretch but controls himself>. Fuck man, I mean, I’ve heard of money changing people, but this…

Agent: And by “this”, you’re referring to…

Robert: Yeah, the coin. <Agent [REDACTED] opens his mouth to speak but is interrupted> And before you ask, no, I don’t have it anymore. I buried it. I used the thickest pair of gloves I could find, I carried it out into the woods, and I buried it. And I’m not telling you or anyone else where.

Agent: Why?

Robert: Why? Because the thing was evil, man. I mean, even before the physical changes, it really messed Joey up. You should have heard him near the end. He was crazy. He kept going on about how I was going to steal his girl or some shit like that. And the thing is, Joey didn’t have a girl.

Agent: No?

Robert: Nah, man. But he wouldn’t let it go. He kept saying crazy things like “Stay away from her,” and “She chose me”. Called her “my beautiful one, my ancient princess”. Said ,“She will bless me soon, and I will be the seed for her rebirth. Crazy shit like that.

Agent: And you have no idea who or what he was talking about?

Robert: No. I mean, I assume it was whoever was on the coin. I hardly ever got a good look at the thing, and it was pretty faded, but I guess it could have had the head of a woman on it, sure. She’d have been a pretty ugly broad though, even without the aging. Thing barely looked human.

Agent: Why didn’t you seek help? Why take matters into your own hands?

Robert: Well in the end, it all happened so fast. I just—it just seemed like something I had to do. But, I don’t know, it happened pretty slow at first. It took weeks. He got a little jumpy, maybe you’d call it paranoid. He might have complained about a little uneasiness, some feeling he couldn’t shake, but it wasn’t bad enough to really worry about. I guess in hindsight I should’ve seen it coming, but I didn’t. Does that make me a bad friend?

Agent: Mr. Gillman, one more time, for the record, you first started noticing these changes when your friend came into possession of the coin, is that correct? None of his episodes predate it’s discovery?

Robert: No—er, I mean, yes. No, wait—I mean, that’s correct. It all started when we found the coin.

Agent: Thank you for your time. <Agent [REDACTED] stands and begins to leave, then stops and sits down again> Excuse me, did you say we?
Robert: Huh?

Agent: Just now, you said that this all started when we, that is, you and Mr. Whitmore, found the coin.

Robert: Oh, yeah. We were walking through an old drainage ditch behind his house one day, headed to the gas station to pick up some smokes, and I saw it floating at the bottom of a little puddle, down where the concrete was uneven. I thought it looked interesting, so I picked it up and showed Joey.

Agent: You came into contact with the coin?

Robert: Well, yeah, but just for a second thank god. You know, it’s funny. Joey said we should flip for it. I was kinda pissed when I lost. But, I guess it was really Joey who lost, right? <Agent [REDACTED] gathers his papers and leaves the room hurriedly. As he leaves the frame he is pulling a cellphone from his pocket> Right? Hey! <Subject rises and moves to the edge of the frame> Hey! What am I supp—HEY! Open the damn door! You son of a bitch, open the god damned door! <Subject continues to yell obscenities and repeatedly strikes the locked door with his hands and feet. The door remains closed>

—-End of Video—

And that’s the story. So, here’s the question.

I had written a little “addendum” for the end of the piece, a little note that might have been left on a document, left by the Agent. In it the agent recommended taking Robert and containing him indefinitely in a secure and [REDACTED] location, possibly torturing him until he gave up the location of the coin, or until he turned into something inhuman like his friend Joey, whichever happened first. I took it out because I thought that just ending it uncertainly, just after this shadowy “Agent” took a sudden interest Robert’s brief contact with the coin, would be a bit more unsettling. Is it? Is him being locked in the room a good bit of foreshadowing to his eventual fate? If not, how could I maybe enhance it without the addendum, or should I just add the addendum?

Just some thoughts. Thanks for reading, and for going past and reading some more.


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