Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Day at the Office

The ninth response in the One Lovely Blog Award Series is to a short chat I had with P. Chand, regarding dialogue and P. Chand responded: "Writing zombie dialogue sounds like the best day ever. :O". It got me thinking about my coworkers.

Jenkin's fingers flashed across the keyboard as the scene spilled its guts. The breeze, cooling off, rattled his blinds and brought with it Sarah's laugh. No, concentrate. He needed to finish the scene.


Thad walked into the greenhouse, looking down the narrow rows of tables with planters on them, roses and junipers towering with their dense interleaved branches to block his view. Something was wrong, this was out of character. He would not go in the greenhouse. The Rock had set him up, The Boss would not risk himself in this place. What was the author doing, this was wrong. Listen to your characters, don't do this.

No words came out, instead Thad found himself walking down one of the aisles of planters, a hiss of a self-watering system spraying water. Thad struggled, at the least the author needed to let him climb one of the tables to scan the territory. His neck itched and he wanted to look around, but he couldn't, he stepped forward, his footsteps echoing on the concrete one after the other, loud noises, that would give anyone waiting for him more than enough preparation. _Author! I don't take unnecessary chances, why are you doing this?_


A little rough, thought Jenkins, but it was just a first draft. He'd smooth it out during the revisions, make sure all the motivations were solid. He'd plant a need to force Thad into the greenhouse. Jenkin's stomach rumbled. Shadows cast by the light in Sarah's room crossed his desk, a crisscross pattern over a plate of spaghetti left for him. When had that arrived? He twirled a fork of spaghetti as his wife read a story to Sarah and he clacked one-handed at the keyboard. Almost there.


An incandescent bulb hung from the greenhouse's ceiling, swinging through the air. This was wrong, Thad would not do this. He drew his gun from its shoulder holster, crouching a little as he neared the Bougainvillea, preparing to roll if he saw anyone.

A big man in black sweats stood at the end of the aisle, Thad rolled when he saw him a gunshot popped behind and a moment later glass tinkled falling to the cement floor. He squeezed his own shot as he heard footsteps down the aisle, two more men approaching. He rolled desperately trying to get out of the field of fire, his foot catching on the corner of the table. Gunfire caught his leg, a painful fire, and it wouldn't move so he reached down and pulled his leg out of the aisle as another shot ricocheted off the cement, scattering white dust.

Lightheaded, Thad pushed himself onto the table, knocking over some pots with broad tropical leaves, a plant on the far side tipped over and soil poured onto the ground. He crouched, making his way towards the central aisle, the leaves rustling as he passed. He got another one of the thugs, but another bullet -- he didn't see where -- caught him in the shoulder knocking him off the table. His gun flying through the air. He looked off at yet another man in black sweats.

"Don't shoot." Thad braced his leg against one of the tables, preparing to kick it over. "Why are you doing this?"

"Your arc is over," said a voice behind him.

Thad kicked the table over, the falling planters distracting the man in front of him. He rolled, his hands slipping on blood -- his blood -- pooling on the concrete. He twisted away, too slow. The last bullet entered near the spine to arc upwards and shatter his skull. _Why, what have I done?_ His body dropped limp to the floor.


Not bad for a day's work, thought Jenkins. It was a good day when you could kill off a character, especially a troublemaker like Thad who always complicated the plots. The phone rang.

"I've got it, honey," yelled Jenkins. His stomach cramped, a piercing ache perhaps like a gunshot, maybe he could use that in the revision. Gritting his teeth, he picked up the receiver on his desk.


The tinge of huskiness oddly familiar, but Jenkins swore he'd never heard that voice before. He had a good memory for voices. "Yes, who is this?"

"You've forgotten me already?"

"I don't know you." Jenkins started to put the phone back in its cradle.

"You mugged me on the streets of New York." Her voice harsh as Jenkins paused before severing the connection.

"Your dead --"

"You tried to kill me, like you did to Thad. I don't die easily."

"Belinda? You're a character, a figment of my imagination." Jenkin's stomach heaved. His hand shook as he felt a chill, compressing, tightening its grip on him.

"That's what you thought. How was the arsenic-laced spaghetti?"

Jenkins pitched forward, his throat swelling up as he heaved.


I push the papers away, another flash finished. A noise comes from the kitchen. I'm supposed to be alone...