Provocations of Light
Light pierces through the dense environs, revealing a blurry entity, writhing, entrapped. Like a certain babe in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, the conscious thing lies on the ground, motionless, seemingly considering options. Arms unseen, the outline hints at the form of a human being, and yet the overly large cranium appears otherworldly.
The outpost door flaps open and shut with great force. A gloomy figure of droopy head, in camouflage fatigues, emerges. One hand on hip, she wipes the sweat off her brow. The back of her hand glides smoothly across the barren surface, with not a single hair to impede the action. A sudden flash of light. The smooth, silkiness of a bald head is briefly detected. The immediate reaction to approach the visual distraction is metered by a sudden breeze, causing her to jump and inhale quickly and sharply. She braces her arms against her chest, stomach clenched, very still and stiff. In the hush she channels her attention toward her ears. The background is zoomed out. Everything becomes silent. Her feline ears literally move, motioning detection. The room within is the focus of attention.
A yawn is emitted. Restrained, short, sharp breaths, indicate the panic of an internal battle for survival. The breathless sound echoes a fight for life. Inhaling life. It is inhaling life. Slowly, the muffled breathing becomes less desperate. Then a waddle and a movement signifying a stretch, tests the confines of the trap. The layered strips of fine linen, dusty and torn, confirm the creature remains hidden in its cocoon.
Her body heat quickly escaping, she approaches the room, tentatively. One step. Two. She creeps cat-like, hands shaped like claws, lips pulled up, teeth glistening in the bare moonlight. Hiss! spills forth. A sound of anticipation, a sound of fear. The arch in her back makes her appear larger now, ready to ward off any threat.
The activity within becomes more rigorous now, more forceful. The waddling, at first erratic, shows rhythm and pace. There is method in the mad oscillation. Back and forth. Back and forth. The intention is clear: whatever is inside wants to get out. Bandaged skin rubs frenziedly against the ground. The beast previously concealed is soon to be exposed.
There is a constant noise now, slowly embodying distinct features. A whooshing sound reverberates in her delicate ears. A movement. Something is stirring inside. One finger, then two, then three, she places her thick fingers on the round door handle. Heavy of hand, it creaks. The clatter stops.
And just as quickly it starts again. Boom. Boom. Boom. Her heartbeat is deafening. Gripping herself tightly, she manages to control her breathing and clear her thoughts: it is trying to escape. They told her that it was impossible to break those binds. That it was impossible to flee. And yet…a violent, thunderous light bursts out of the room, exploding the door handle, flinging open the door. And then she sees it! Shock and pain combine, rooting her to the spot. A dragging sound: it approaches! All her anger, all her fear, merges into this timeless moment. This is it. Nervous and shaking, she draws herself up ready to face her fear. Ready to face the living thing beyond the door.
The Method behind The Short Story
When writing a story I want to write something “real”, that is to say, based on something that really happened to me. I feel that this makes the story more ‘true’, and perhaps, easier for the reader to relate to. That said, as I lay in bed, in the darkness, pondering what I was going to write about for my second short story, I began to think about the dark itself. It was pitch black and this was being created by a heavy curtain. But sometimes, when I don’t fully close the curtain, there is a small chink of light, that pores through. So I wanted to incorporate and contrast the darkness and the light, and create drama in the fact that we do not know what lies behind the curtain.
Originally, the idea was that opening the curtain would reveal a crisp, white, snowy day through the window. In the end, however, it turned out to be quite different! I really do not know how an innocent, pure idea like snow, became Alien vs. G.I. Jane! It took a very long time to actually start writing. However, once I had begun, it flowed, and it seemed to take a direction of its own accord. Being given a few elements to be included in the story, then, or indeed, creating your own elements, seems to be key in helping an author find their starting point.