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Literary Short Story Exercise #1

  • retrowire (489 posts)
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    Literary Short Story Exercise #1

    Hello!

    We’re going to start having weekly/semi-weekly writing exercises like this one because I think it’s a good way to get that creative blood pumping!

    Here’s how it works, I’ll post a hook, a first line to a story, and you take it from there, in whichever direction you’d like!

    As an example, I’d post “The door was opening slowly. I had no choice but to wait and hide.”

    And you could continue with whatever you want, like, “The little furball peered through the crack in the door, his giant eyes full of excitement. I love playing with this kitten. But what to name him?” But, go further than this. Create a short story from just one sentence.

    Alright, ready?

    —-Heres the hook—-

    “Driving on the highway in the middle of the night is a terrible time for the car to break down, and yet… Here I am.”

    Enthusiast, dlegendary1, djean111 like this
    I fix technological thingamadoodads. Also, Bernie is my spirit animal.

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  • Whisp (2047 posts)
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    1. The hissing and sputtering engine reminded me I missed dinner.

    “Non-conformity is the only real passion worth being ruled by.” ― Julian Assange
  • dlegendary1 (893 posts)
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    2. Alright Retro. I'll bite.

    Driving on the highway in the middle of the night is a terrible time for the car to break down, and yet… Here I am. The perfect place to have the radiator crack and send my temperature gauge skyward. All that’s here is a five mile stretch of forest and a full moon to light the way towards the 24 hour gas station two miles down. I turned off my 95 Nissan Altima but I could still hear the radiator whistling in the darkness, though at a much lower pitch than before. I should have known better than to buy this car from my brother, but hey it was $200 and in good condition…except for that one part it seems. I tried calling Norm from my cell phone but I have no signal here. All I can get is the crickets, the rustling trees, and the far off sounds of animals doing whatever animals do in the dark. Well…time to go and get my Beretta from the trunk.  Never know what’s out here or who might be strolling for trouble at this time of night. At least I managed to break down on the return trip so everything’s not lost. Just gotta get to the station and call the wrecker to take me and my shitty ride home.

    Its been forty five minutes since I left the car though I don’t feel sweaty at all. Despite it being summer the night is unusually cool. I should have taken the sweater I had in the back seat but I’d look like a fool sporting a white and blue winter wonderland  pullover during this time. Matter of fact I’ve never felt it this cold ever! Not in this season! I try not to loose perspective on my surroundings since bears, wolves, and bob cats have been spotted on this road. I have enough battery life to use the flashlight feature should I hear something that I shouldn’t. I’m no mountaineer but I’ve seen enough survivor guy episodes to help me distinguish between a rodent and a large animal.

    Rustle…Rustle…Rustle…

    What’s that sound? I pull my piece from my back holster with my right hand and tried to grab my phone with the left. Damn this password crap! I’m gonna be eaten before I have a chance to see what’s coming.

    Rustle…Rustle…Rustle…

    Its getting closer! I gotta get this thing unlocked now! I input the code with my heightened sense of alertness and activate the flashlight. I point it at the side of the road to see what’s causing that rustling, while pointing my gun in that direction. I see a little girl in pajamas, but I could not get a good look at her face. As soon as I shown the light on her she began running deeper towards the woods.

    “Hey wait”, I yelled out. But then I thought about it and figured that the little girl was not going to stop and talk to a strange man on the side of the road. Her parents must have taught her good.

    Wait…If she’s in pajamas then that must mean that there must be home near by. Let me follow her in the direction she went. Maybe I can ask her parents if they have a phone to call the wrecker. Yeah! That’s what I’ll do!

    I went over the edge of the road and towards the darkness of the forest. I shined the light towards a direction she may have gotten to. At this point I put the gun away so that I don’t scare her or her parents. My foot steps are causing all sorts of noises with the sticks and dead leaves that they’re crunching. The air here is much colder than what was on the road. Its hard to imagine a little girl coming out here with only a pair of pajamas. The side is steep, but the footing is manageable. Finally after what seemed to be an eternity going through this forest I finally reach some flat land. I stop for a moment to see if I can hear her stomping on the forest floor. I stop breathing, ignoring the sounds of the night in order to focus on a sound that may or may not be there.

    Crunch….Crunch….

    Though slightly remote I believe the steps are coming from this direction over here…further away from the road. The more I move away from it the colder it becomes…but I see something…like lights from the distance. I’ve made it this far. Let’s keep going. There might be a cabin up ahead. And on I went towards the shining lights and the distinct steps of something that should lead me back towards civilization. At this point my cell phone flash light turns off and I stopped to see what happened.

    The battery died! But how? I had enough juice to last me two hours! Well…now I have to stop and let my eyes adjust to the darkness of the forest. It shouldn’t take me that long and it didn’t. I focus my eyesight on the direction I was going and saw the lights get bigger, but not brighter. What could that be? Its flickering as if it were a flame. I moved closer towards it, picking up my feet instead of dragging them on the ground and making those awful noises. The closer I got the bigger the flames. It was not long until I got close enough to see that the dancing blazes sat on top of a shaft…a torch is what its known as. It was connected to a large gate with see through bars. I can hear birds at a distance cawing and cackling on the other side. I could not see through the other side because of the bright embers so I took one down and tried to shine the light past my face. At this point it was so cold that I could see my breath every time I exhaled. I was shivering a little bit not because I was scared, but because I was cold. I put my free hand near the torch so I could get warm, but at that instant the gate opened backwards, almost as if it was inviting me in. Now without the gate in the way the light from the fire can light the background that I could not see.

    MY GOD! THIS..THIS IS A GRAVEYARD!

    • retrowire (489 posts)
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      4. You have an excellent method of creating a scene

      I could see and feel most of what you wrote. It was very good!

      I fix technological thingamadoodads. Also, Bernie is my spirit animal.
      • dlegendary1 (893 posts)
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        6. I'm still a bit rusty

        So I have to get back into writing mode. This exercise helped a lot. Thanks a bunch Retro! Keep’em coming! I’ll partake in these exercises to get the engine oiled up again.

        • retrowire (489 posts)
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          7. so happy you enjoyed it!

          I’m thinking up a fun one for next week. :)

          I fix technological thingamadoodads. Also, Bernie is my spirit animal.
          • dlegendary1 (893 posts)
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            9. You make it and I'll write it!

            Its fun to let the imagination run wild here and there. It might get me to finish my book since life hit hard a while back.

            • retrowire (489 posts)
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              10. indeed

              This is actually getting my engine going to continue my own book as well.

              I’m sorry life was hard on you and I wish you well. Perhaps our literary group will break a few chains!

              I fix technological thingamadoodads. Also, Bernie is my spirit animal.
  • oldandhappy (3148 posts)
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    3. a new challenge

    HELP

    “Driving on the highway in the middle of the night is a terrible time for the car to break down, and yet… Here I am.” The pavement is wet with the recent rain. I am grateful to have been able to edge over to the shoulder, yet not so excited about the mud I’ve encountered. If we are stuck here for a long time I will have to get the dog out for a walk.

    Rummaging in my bag, I find the cell phone and wonder who to call or even if I will have any reception here. Before I can hit any buttons I hear another car pull up behind me. Swallowing nervously I try to see who is there. With relief I notice the tell-tale outline of the beret which is worn by the highway angels. Help. I lower the window two inches as the figure approaches my car. He wants to help. I need help.

    And I have a language challenge. He speaks to me in Spanish. I realize my shaky language skills are frozen. After ‘Hola’ I am silent but my hands fly as I try to gesture about my predicament. Smelling my anxiety, my good-hearted dog utters a low growl. The highway angel only smiles and waits as I try to pacify Scooter and get my brain switched over to Spanish. Hilariously I blurt out a sentence in French. Not exactly helpful to either of us.

    Another car pulls up behind the car behind me. Both the highway angel and I look back to see who has joined us. More help. Two long-legged young men get out of the third car and walk slowly toward us. One of them calls out a friendly greeting in Spanish followed by the same greeting in English. They stop a respectful distance from my car. It seems everyone is waiting for me to speak.

    I start to laugh. With the three men staring at me I manage to say in English that the car has broken down and I need help. I can’t stop laughing and it is so inappropriate! Finally in Spanish I apologize and say again that the car has broken down and I need help. Help.  I need help but I have no idea what I need.

    The two young men move to the front of my car and gesture for me to release the hood. I do. Their arms move quickly and then they confer with the highway angel. Several rags and a rusty tool box magically appear. More rapid arm movements and then the hood is lowered and snapped firmly into place. All three men gesture for me to start the car. It does.

    I feel so humble. It was something simple. I do not understand. I don’t know if I should offer to pay. Thank you seems so little and yet it seems to be all they want. Thank you. Thank you for the help and the new sense of safety.

    Gracias. Gracias. Scooter wags her tail. The men wave me off. The highway angel follows me for a few miles and then flashes his lights and turns around to return to his patrol.

    I take note of the mile markers along the road and think about making a donation to highway angels and wonder if it would be too out of bounds to bring flowers the next time I pass the spot where I was helped. I began to tell you about help but I have ended telling you of angels.

    • retrowire (489 posts)
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      5. oh i love it!

      I love the way you portrayed nervous happiness throughout this. That’s a complex emotion to convey. I also love the direction you took this hook. Great writing.

      I fix technological thingamadoodads. Also, Bernie is my spirit animal.
      • oldandhappy (3148 posts)
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        11. Thank you. It was fun.

    • dlegendary1 (893 posts)
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      8. Damn good writing

      Thanks for adding to this exercise. I’m gonna have to start using words like “fidgety” now.

      • oldandhappy (3148 posts)
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        12. Thank you!