Here’s a short game writing exercise I recently whipped up for a mobile client. I thought it might be interesting to share not only the original text — which, thankfully, ain’t under NDA — but also to record it as a bonus ep for the podcast series (embedded above)
The instructions were pretty straightforward:
- Female protagonist.
- Pick a genre from Urban Fantasy, Romance, Horror, Comedy, or Suspense
- Write three sections of 2nd Person prose narrative. 200 words or less per section.
- Separate these with two TEXT MESSAGE sequences with an antagonist. 8 lines or less per section.
A game writing exercise in brevity. I saw this as a worthy challenge, considering my narrative preferences when left to my own devices.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below — if a story like this was playing out on your mobile, would you keep reading? Or ‘swipe left’..?
Sun streams through the bay windows, falling on an impressive breakfast spread. Eggs and bacon. Sausage and biscuits. Pancakes and real maple syrup. Fresh fruit, and even fresher OJ. All his favourites.
YOU check the clock again. Each tick seems to echo now, like little peals of thunder rolling through the empty flat. But that sound, that emptiness, was going to change soon enough…
You begin humming to yourself, in rhythm with the clock, as you adjust plates and cutlery. You almost smile as you reach the chorus, his favourite part, and remember that night together some six months ago — the old magic that danced silently between your words, and eyes, and skin.
You sigh and reach for the white-gold band upon your finger, twisting gently. You can’t help but wonder if, right now, he’s doing the same.
Your phone skitters an inch across smooth granite with the vibration, then stops. You were excited for a second, for a call. Because you know him. Because he wasn’t the kind of man to text.
Not unless it was bad news…
Go to your front door. There is a message waiting for you.
BRI IS THAT U? UR LATE! Cut the romance novel shit and get your ass in here!!!
‘BRIAN’ cannot talk right now. Or type. Go to door. You will understand.
WTF?! Stop joking babe ur scaring me
You should not keep us waiting…Babushka.
WHO IS THIS
You know. Open door. Then package. You have 1 minute.
You clutch at the phone as you step across the tiles, and it nearly slips through your sweat-soaked fingers. You freeze, flinching at the clicks of your high heels on marble, and carefully remove them. His favourites.
You swallow hard as you reach the narrow foyer, the coats and shoes all perfectly arranged. Just like he left them. With another step, you lean forward and press your eye against peephole, holding your breath. The walkway looks clear. You reach to twist the deadbolt, and squeeze down on the brass handle. Like a trigger.
You squint as you scan the steps and the street. Nobody. No joggers or dog-walkers or Jehovah’s Witnesses asking to save your soul. Just empty cars parked in the lane…
And a small red box on your welcome mat.
You crouch down, knees tense and popping. Your fingers flutter over the box’s surface before reaching for the latch. A gust of cool air kisses your hand as you lift the lid…
Your thumb twitches, brushing against your ring. But then the world falls away, and the awful truth blinds you with glints of gold…
Do you understand?
WHERE (all caps)
Waterfront. The cannery. 3AM.
We are not animals, Babushka. He lives. But the time for patience is done.
I’LL BE THERE
It will be so good to see you again. Six months for him. Much longer…for us.
You turn off the phone, pick up the box, and move inside.
Stray droplets hit the floor with every other step. You reach the kitchen sink and pour the box into it. A splash of crimson water strikes your blouse.
Old blood. You can tell from the colour. From the level of decomposition. It’s too late to reattach now. The ice was just for show. And maybe to keep the smell down.
You wretch in your hands, but only a little. You give yourself that much, a moment of weakness, before slowly unbuttoning your shirt and letting it fall to the floor.
You then pry the white-gold band, a perfect twin to yours, from the bloody stump in the box. From the charred and misshapen thing that used to be your husband’s finger.
You hold up the ring in a beam of sunlight to read the inscription: Until the End, Babushka.
You want to smile. And to weep. But your face hardens. Your blood grows cold. And your thoughts turn to knives, and guns, and all the beautiful suffering you will share with some very old friends…
(GAME WRITING EXERCISE — BB — 2018)