Monday, 20 January 2014

The Life of Hilary Blackman

The Life of Hilary Blackman
            I am sitting in a small, dark room. A bare light-bulb is hanging over head and on a chair next to me is the bomb. The clock on the front tells me that I have less than an hour to go, which means that I have been here for almost an entire day and that my life will soon be over. I have been kidnapped by a lunatic who is forcing me to write him a story. I assume he has some way of monitoring what I type on this laptop. Hope you’re enjoying this, arsehole. If I haven’t written the story by the time the countdown gets to zero, the bomb will explode and I will die.
            This is not how I normally work.
            I sat here stubbornly for the first few hours, refusing to write a single word, hoping that the psycho who brought me here would realise the futility of trying to force the creative process. I regret that now. I probably could have knocked off some silly five-hundred word fairy tale and be sitting in a police station right now, trying to help them find this mad man, but no, my pride got the better of me.
            Eventually he came in, still wearing that stupid ski mask. He hasn’t spoken to me at all. That gave me hope that he might set me free, a hope that slips away with every passing second. He gave me some food and some instructions, written on a page torn from a cheap notebook.

You aren’t writing. Maybe you don’t have any good ideas left. I will help you. Now your story must contain the following elements:        
Title: The Life of Hilary Blackman
Character: Fargax the Eater of Souls
Theme: Jealousy
Dialogue: “You’re a damned fool! You’ll never get away with it!”

Fail to include any of these elements and you will die as surely as if you write nothing.
I know you can do this.
I know you want to live.

I stared at the note in despair. I write dystopian fiction that tackles the burning issues of today by setting them in a broken future. He must know that. I have never written a piece with a character called anything like Fargax, the Eater of Souls!
Maybe he does just want me dead after all.
And what about that theme? Jealousy? Is that why I’m here? He must have seen my work and thought it was too good to let me live. Maybe he’s a writer? For a moment I feel almost flattered. Then I look at the bomb next to me. If he was jealous, maybe he should have kidnapped China Mieville instead.

I ate the food he left and decided that I really ought to write something. Maybe he won’t actually let me go, but at least it’s something to do to pass the time rather than just waiting for that bomb to explode. The trouble was I couldn’t think of anything to write, and as the hours passed I could find myself becoming more frustrated and scared, and feeling less and less creative.
About five hours ago, inspiration struck and I wrote this paragraph;

Fargax the Eater of Souls sat in the shed at the end of the garden attempting to digest the final morsels of Hilary Blackman. He didn’t normally hang around after an attack, but he wasn’t feeling all that well. He hadn’t even been able to become invisible, so had squeezed his giant, squishy purple frame into the small wooden structure

I had the glimmer of an idea, something about Fargax needing to eat people to stay alive. Hilary Blackman would be his final victim because, unbeknownst to him, she was actually some kind of weapon. Maybe there was something in her past that would destroy The Eater of Souls. Maybe just seeing her living her life like a normal human being would make Fargax feel jealous and he would just die… for some reason.
            This was where I got stuck. Surely a creature that eats souls wouldn’t care about the normal life of an Earthling. What could she possibly do that would destroy him, other than not really be human, but that would be too easy and I can’t make my villain look like such an idiot that he can’t tell a human soul from a robot!
            I started again with another paragraph.

Hilary Blackman stood at the queue in Morrison’s feeling certain that there must be more to life than this. She was in a dead-end job with no idea how to get out of it, or what to do next. In her childhood she had dreamed of being a movie star or of a life on the stage. Now she prayed constantly for some kind of adventure to come into her life, for someone to sweep her off her feet, for something, anything, to actually happen.

My thinking was that if I focussed on Hilary I could make her some kind of “every-woman” that the reader could identify with, who would be transformed into a heroine when she defeated the evil Fargax. Unfortunately, at this point I remembered that “the reader” in this case was a deranged kidnapper threatening to blow me to smithereens and that made me lose the plot, rather literally.
            I even had an attempt at being funny. I returned to my original paragraph, hoping to rework it. I thought of the absurdity of making Fargax my main character, having him feeling tired of eating souls, or not really fitting in with the other soul eaters. Maybe all he wants to do is settle down and lead a normal life with Hilary, and he’s jealous of the other men who show an interest in her. Then I realised I’d slipped from Comic Fiction to Dark Romance and simply had to stop.

            So now I’ve just been sitting here, watching the seconds tick by out of the corner of my eye, unable to think of anything that could contain all the elements he wants me to put in. I’m sure I could put together something rubbish, but somehow I can’t bring myself to do that. If this is to be the last thing I write, I’d like to go out with some dignity.
            I actually fell asleep at one point. I awoke to find him standing over me, with a cup of tea and another note.

Time is running out.

No shit.
I drank my tea, and then just started typing, just writing what you are reading here. There isn’t even enough time now to write a story, but hopefully someone might find my remains, and enough of the laptop will survive that they will be able to read what I have written and find this maniac before he strikes again. They do things like that all the time on CSI. Hold on…

I just took a deep breath and shouted, “You’re a damn fool! You’ll never get away with it!” As last words go, I think they’re fairly good, and I hope that this monster’s words will come back to haunt him. Now all I can do is sit and watch the time run down,


Document found with partial remains of IC1 female at sight of explosion in abandoned warehouse. Entered into Police Evidence on 21/6/2013. Investigation on-going.

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