So with Astral Tides behind me, for the time being, and a new project looming closer, I figured a good way to get back into the habit of writing every day, and in a tone and style that I haven't attempted on over a year, would be to do some simple writing exercises. Start with a symbol, set a timer for 15 minutes, and just write until I hear the buzzer go off.
And then I figure, hey, why not post those exercises on my blog for you all to see? Experience my prep work along with me. So I will post one exercise a day for you to read, if you like. Note that these exercises are literally just me typing as fast as I can along one train of thought for 15 minutes, without any editing, critiquing, or revising. With that said, I hope you enjoy my second delve into suspense and horror!
The symbols for this story were an eye and a candle.
She wasn’t sure what was more terrifying; the fact that there had been one man following her for the last two weeks, that everything she originally passed off as a paranoid delusion or her mind making things out of harmless shadows were actually true, or that this man was now seated directly across from her, in the cold, nearly empty room. He had gone from hiding, following, slinking through the darkness of her neighborhood, her work, and even her home, to sitting across a flat, metal table in a simple folding chair, a single light illuminating them entirely, casting their shadows out behind them and ending the speculation, the uncertainty, and the paranoia all at once. Those feelings were true, and now she was forced to face their source.
He was a simple-looking man, nothing remarkable or noteworthy about his appearance. He was dressed in sort of a business-casual manner, with a dark jacket over a gray shirt, and she remembered seeing his pants as dark jeans and his shoes as thick-soled boots. A pair of thnly-rimmed spectacles rested on his angled nose, his calm and placid face and beady eyes reminding her of those nights when she swore she had seen him across the parking lot, across the street at night, outside her window, or in her mirror.
He sat there, staring at her, and now that her initial panic had subsided she was able to see that he wasn’t staring the way she had expected him - or any stalker - to stare. He wasn’t possessed of lust, the desire for physical contact and intimacy, even to the point of forcing it. His eyes didn’t say much in their almost vacant stare, but they certainly didn’t seem to be covetous. She knew that look, recognized it, even took pride when she caught them staring. It was easy to get offended, as many do, but she saw it almost as a power, a natural gift she had that other women didn’t. She knew she was beautiful, and she enjoyed the occasional, appropriate flaunting of physical fitness.
But that couldn’t have been further from her mind at this moment. And, apparently, from his. He seemed less prepared to leap across the table and overpower her and more prepared to just sit there and stare at her, nothing but the beating of her heart and the soft puffs of his breath to remind her she wasn’t deaf.
The fear that had gripped her once before started to subside, and she looked away from him to study the room around her. She found it was empty, save for the table and chairs in which they sat. The light in the ceiling shown down on them brightly, and made everything else in the room as dark as the night sky itself. She thought she could tell where the door was, a vague, rectangular frame looking a shade darker than the shadows around it. Honestly she had very little idea how large this room actually was. The blackness was so complete that she had little to no judge of distance on the other three walls, and couldn’t even be sure that she was seeing the outline of a door at all, and it wasn’t just her eyes tricking her again.
She looked to the man once more, and was surprised to see him now leaning forward on the table, hands folded in front of him, eyes now boring into her with intensity that they once lacked. She felt her heart beat faster and faster, and her breaths came light and ragged. Somehow this new focus he was showing was worse than how he was just moments before. She could almost ignore him when he was just sitting there, but now she couldn’t take her eyes away.
And it was then that she realized that, behind those thin glasses, the light reflecting off their surface like two tiny suns, that his eyes were two different colors. The left one looked at her with a gray-blue tone, while the other was incredibly dark brown, almost black. As she looked, his mouth opened a hair, and a pink tongue ran across them briefly before disappearing back between those thing lips.
“What do you want from me?” She asked him, her voice firm, but beginning to waver.
“From you?” He asked, his tones low, slow, and light, almost meandering across the table like trickling water. “Nothing.”
“Then why am I here?”
“Because,” he said, leaning back in his chair again. His tongue reappeared, licking his lips once more, and then he adjusted his glasses a bit to rest more comfortably on that angled nose. “I want your father.”
She furrowed her brow in confusion, and had to hold back her gasp when a match was struck in the darkness behind the him, the sudden flare of orange light revealing five others, standing shoulder to shoulder in the darkness, observing her in utter silence. The flash of light dimmed to the flickering glow of a match, which was raised to a cigarette before being waved out and dropped to the floor.
The sudden shock turned to a slow, creeping dread as she realized that the men standing in the darkness looked just like the one seated before her.