Panic in the Classroom

“You have attended Creative Writing 101 for a few months now.” Professor DiMarco paced in front of the whiteboard. “Today, I want you to give me three things in this room, that no one else would have noticed. You have five minutes.” She turned the egg-timer to five minutes and sat down behind her desk.

Walter sat at the front of the class everyday. It wasn’t because he wanted any particular attention from the instructor. His vision had never been all that great, even as a child. Now, a non-traditional student, past the age of forty, early onset of presbyopia complicates his already extreme myopic vision. In so many words, he rarely saw anything clear in the room. His classmates will, no doubt, point out many things he hasn’t seen in the room beyond the short path from the door to his desk.

Walter eagerly thought of each detail that he could bring to light. Nothing he thought of seemed to him to fall into the category of a detail no-one-else-would-have-noticed. His mind soon wandered. He started thinking of his classmates. Ella generally sat near the front as well. She would often talk with Walter after class. She always wore the same perfume, Estée Lauder, Beautiful. It took Walter some time to find the perfume at the department store. He sniffed each bottle, one at a time, until he found the ‘Ella-smell.’

Michael interrupted his thoughts when he started tapping his pencil against the desk. This was something Michael did anytime the room became even remotely quite. Walter imagined that Michael might even have some clinical avoidance of silence. Tapping his pencil, bouncing his leg against the edge of the desk, or masticating with glee. It seemed to Walter that Michael never quieted.

The floor made the soft premonitory vibration just before the AC started blowing into the room. Walter slipped his jacket on from where he had hung it on the back of his desk-chair. He always brought it to class. The room, or the entire school, seemed to be hinged on freezing the knowledge into their students.

The instructor walked up to the whiteboard, eraser in one hand and a capped, black, dry-erase marker in the other. She turned to the class, mistaking Walter’s hand raised in the air while putting on his jacket and called upon him, “What do you have for us, Walter?”

Panic rippled through his entire body. Beads of sweat, despite the cold air blowing into the room, perched on his upper lip and brow. “Uh,” he started. The room shrank. The path to the door seemed to ring out to him. He let out the breath he held. “The tile on the floor is white?”

Two Boxes

“Good. It’s all here.” Thick fingered hands closed the lid to the cardboard banker’s box. “We don’t want any of those feds get’n at our crosswords.” A black walrus mustache bobbed up and down with his attempt at a grin.

“You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?” Donnie sat with his face buried in his hands.

“What are you talking about Donnie?” He turned around with the box in his thick fingers and stacked it on top of two identical boxes.

Donnie looked up from his trembling hands. “When I came in, I noticed four cars in the parking lot.” He looked through the window of the office. “Mine, yours, and I would only assume the owners of those two boxes.” Donnie slowly sat upright in the chair.

“Oh, Donnie. I always had you pegged as one of the smart ones.” The butt of his gun jutted from his jacket. “We all die at some time, Donnie.” He took a step towards Donnie. “It could be anything that gets ya.” His arm raised and a finger pointed at the door to an interior room of the office. “Go ahead and get in there with the rest of them in the conference room.” He waggled his finger towards the door.

With a pause Donnie rose unsteadily from the chair. He took four childlike steps towards the door.

“Go on. They’re wait’n.”

Donnie looked back at the walrus mustache. Then he turned and opened the door. He was dead before the popping sound of the gun could startle him. He fell face first on top of two bodies just like his.

The walrus mustache kicked Donnie’s feet out of the path of the door and closed it.

Serena

Back to the writing prompts from Ann. This one entitled Norelco. But, I liked the name Serena. Hence the title of this post. I also couldn’t remember there ever being a Norelco fridge. So, I looked about the world-wide web that we co-inhabit and found nothing. Anyway on with the story as it might go…

Here is something a bit different. I think that this might be a little too ‘Twilight Zone‘ for a few of you. But, I did it any way. Oh, and grab a tissue. You might need it.

Writing Prompt

Serena put her feet up on the dark green leather sofa and leafed through her new science magazine. As she reached an article about quantum computing, a cardboard ad fell out into her lap. She figured it was an ad to renew her subscription until she picked it up. “You’re on the road to nowhere” it read in fairly large Courier New print. She turned the card over. A photograph of an old Norelco refrigerator decorated the back. She’d owned one just like that back in the day.

Response

Reading science magazines was a nightly ritual for Serena. She started reading them after her husband of 50 years had passed on into the night. She didn’t completely understand many of the terms the articles brought up, nor did she care. The words reminded her of her late husband’s nightly discussions with her. This always helped salve the wound of her loss.

The memory of that old refrigerator flashed into her mental view scape. They had only been married for a couple of years. This was their first home. Their first kitchen table. Their first refrigerator. She remembered it fondly. But it wasn’t a Norelco brand. It was a Frigidaire. “Somebody messed that one up,” she mumbled. With a snick, the radio turned on beside her. She jumped with the sudden, albeit soft, tones from the radio.

I’m feeling okay this morning
And you know,
We’re on the road to paradise

The song continued. Serena did not recognize the song. She dropped the magazine to the table. Still holding the advertisement, she reached to snick the radio off.

Maybe you wonder where you are
I don’t care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there…take you there

We’re on a road to nowhere

Serena froze with the volume dial between her fingertips. The words galloped around her. She shivered. A damp sweat started to bead on her forehead. She lowered her hand from the dial and looked at the ad in her hand. She blinked. With swollen breath she said, “They changed.”

The words on the face of the cardstock now read, “NOWHERE.” Her heart thumped double time to the galloping beat of the music. The lyrics jumped out to ears. The magazine now lay on the floor. The room glowed with the memory of her days with her beloved. They danced the first night naked in the light of the fireplace. Their children played at their daddy’s feet while he read the paper on Sunday. Memories blurred in their velocity as she recalled them.

And it’s very far away
But it’s growing day by day
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

Her breath came in short gasps. She felt as if she were teetering on the edge of some endless faced cliff. Memories continued to spin in her mind’s eye. Their firsts and lasts.

We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere

The radio snicked off. Silence filled the room. The cardstock picture flittered to the floor. The words “Now Here” lay face up. Serena sat with a smile on her face, her dead eyes staring into the nothing that lay before her.

————

Talking Heads

Road To Nowhere lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Dannie and the Monolith

As I have written earlier, I read and post comments to Ann Linquist’s blog. Below is a writing prompt that she recently posted. I thought I should post my comment to her request here as well. I think it is a nifty one. I renamed the post from her blog post of The Cherry Trees are in Bloom! The new name of Dannie and the Monolith seems more appropriate now with my addition.

Writing Prompt:

The cherry orchard was in full bloom. Rows and rows of white-flowered cherry trees lined up very agreeably, both in straight and diagonal lines. Dannie rested her back against a tree, closed her eyes, and let a grin expand wide enough to end in a chuckle. Live was good. She didn’t have to work today, she had a good book, and the sun was just warm enough. She opened her eyes and her book, but before she bent her head to start reading, she spotted something high in a cherry tree peeking out at her a couple rows over. It was black and about the size of a box of Cheerios.

My Response:

Dannie loved to read her books when the orchard was in full bloom. The bloom only lasted about a week. Soon the petals of the cherry blossoms will fall. But now she could relax with her book. Her only distraction was the buzzing of the bees and chattering of birds.

Today was unusual. The miniature monolith drew her attention. She no longer heard the buzzing bees or the bird chatter. Thumping with increasing speed, her own heartbeat was all that she could hear. Otherwise, her complete attention was on the blackness. The emptiness of the void where the monolith perched.

Only seconds later she found herself standing about five feet from the monolith. She no longer had her book in her hands. Her head was tilted up at the black mystery. Rapid breaths were pulled in and out of her slightly opened mouth. Her hands hung limply beside her body with no use any longer. A thrumming vibration, so low that it wasn’t a sound, but a feeling, was matching her heartbeat.

The light of the sun no longer burned in the sky. The white blossoms of the cherry were all gone. Dannie and the monolith where all that existed. Though she had no light to see by, the emptiness of the monolith was bleak against the black nothing that surrounded her. Its shape still calling to her in that hum and thump that matched her own heartbeat. She wasn’t frightened. The only thing that existed was the monolith. She had to be with it. Near it. In it. Her longing wasn’t love or lust. But an ethereal oneness that exceed love.

A rumble shook the darkness around her. Dannie was now surrounded by the stars. The monolith still only five feet from her. She tore her eyes from the emptiness of the monolith. Below her feet was the blue planet shrinking from her. The grayness of the moon flew past her right side. The rusted orb of Mars was now just to her left. The stars were turning into white lines as her speed increased. The monolith thrummed.

The white lines bent around her. Left. Then right. Her gaze moved back to the monolith. Thump. Thump. Thump. The sun broke free from the black. The bees were buzzing. Birds chirped and chattered. Dannie blinked. Looking around she found that she was still sitting by the tree. Her book was opened in her hand. There was no longer a monolith perched in the tree. The wind sung softly through the branches.

She looked up to the tree where the mystery was perched before. A short pang of loss hit her. A fading memory of the void and passing through the galaxy with such speed was tugging at her. She wanted to remember. As the seconds rolled on, she lost those memories. She wrestled in her mind to understand the meaning. Only to be left with a desire. An overwhelming desire to explore and seek the understanding of the mystery of the void.