What Happens Next?: Chapter One

Preface

I've been writing mainly dialogue based scripts for the last little while and have suddenly felt compelled to write a short story (note: likely sourced somewhere between petty jealousy and genuine admiration). Problem here is, the story I started I don't have an ending for. In fact, I don't have really any details thought out whatsoever. I just put pen to paper and started writing (not even typing, real writing!). I organized some notes from my phone, looked out the window and just started going. And now I've gone; I've finished what I think is a nice, brief chapter one (I'm naming it: "Chapter One.") Now, I could end up forgetting about this entirely in a few weeks time and never come back to it. But, I also think it would be fun to crowd source the rest of the story. After you read it, tell me what happens next: either the first sentence of chapter two; or the last sentence of chapter two; or the title of chapter two; or the conflict, or new character, or setting of chapter two; something I will take and write a chapter around. Then we continue until the story is done, whether after 3 chapters, 30 chapters or however long I can remember to actually work on it. Could be fun, no?

Chapter One: "Chapter One." 

It was just another late September afternoon. There were clouds, but not many. Hanging in the pale blue sky between two towering birch, a solitary puff of cloud floated by. Framed by the leaves, this wisp of fluff looked like a cloud that was farted out from a much larger, denser cloud. Laying in the overgrown grass making this observation was Jack Wittlington (pronounced Wit-Ling-Tun, though he liked to tell people it was Whittle-ing-ton just so they would struggle to say it). He smirked a quiet smirk as the fart cloud began to disappear behind the shimmering leaves of the birch on his right. The breeze was strong, but warm, so Jack didn't mind.

Boredom plagued the young man but he was often able to find solace in the thick grass of this neglected hillside. The birches he thought of as friends for they had developed their own personalities - Rachel (on the right) seemed to have a much different sway than Lefty (on the left, before he decided to give the second a much more creative name), it was more aggressive and more violent. Jack loved early autumn, when the breeze was still warm, but the leaves had begun to change colour and if they caught the fading Sun, they twinkled like the sequins on a Child Beauty Pageant's Runner-Up. God, he hated those pageants. And now the fart cloud was gone and he was alone with the cerulean sky. Even the wind winded down and Rachel and Lefty ceased to dance. 

He was alone now. Bored and alone.

Jack summoned every muscle in his core to help him escape the comfort of the overgrown hillside and to stand up. Being alone didn't usually bother him, but when he realized the birds had stopped singing and the cicadas silenced their senile, raucous guitars, he grew uncomfortable.

"Well. This is uncomfortable," he said to no one, staring straight ahead, hoping for an echo he knew wouldn't come. Some part of him expected the slightest reverberation off the birches but no such whisper passed by. It was as if his words were spoken in an on-call elevator - padded walls to protect your furniture but mainly just absorbing sound. His tinnitis (from years of sitting in the back corner of class because of his cursed W last name, below the bell) had even dulled. The more he dwelled on the silence the more he started to wonder if he could hear his own blood flowing.

"Quite uncomfortable, indeed."

Closing his eyes, he inhaled slowly and forcefully so the whistle of his deviated septum screamed out into the early autumn air. He secretly wished a bird would mistake it for a mating call. Even a grackle swooping down to try to fuck his face out of no where would be better than this silence. I mean, not much better, but better nonetheless. He held his breath for a brief moment in case anything happened and then exhaled slowly, a major sixth below his inhale pitch (in case that was sexier for a different genus of bird). Still, still.

"Not sure your film was entirely accurate, Hitchcock," he blurted out as he looked around at the perfectly still landscape, "or your paintings either, Group of Seven."

Nervous as to what may happen, he slowly lifted a timid foot and placed it into the tall grass. He exhaled a brief sigh of relief when there was enough squish in the grass to warrant onomatopoeic description. He lifted a second foot, now less timid, and trudged forward along this grassy knoll. He stopped as he eventually reached a narrow footpath that he was used to kicking gravel along on his hikes toward the hill to see Rachel and Lefty. He gently lifted his left foot and placed it on the path before twisting it about in the gravel (he was always the best in his grade at the hokey-pokey). The stones and pebbles ground together and a wave of relief passed over him (but his ears first). 

"Oh thank God," he said to no one.

"I was starting to think it was quiet..." said someone.

Jack startled and turned to see nothing.

"...a little too quiet," continued someone, incredulously.

Jack stared down the path that quickly sunk beneath the horizon at the point it sharply descended down the hill, looking like it just fell off into nothingness like the flat-Earth of so many centuries ago.

"Well?" the voice continued (was it Wallace Shawn?), "are you going to move or what? This path ain't big enough for the both of us..." (No. It wasn't.)

Jack quickly turned to find the source of the noise. Still: no birds. Still: no wind. Still: still. Out of instinct and for no other reason (fear and also a bit of confusion, two fairly valid reasons) Jack stepped off the path and back onto the grass.

"Thank you," said the voice, curtly but with a hint of kindness.

"You're...welcome?" Jack pushed out.

A gentle, warm breeze whispered past him and stroked his cheek before dissipating. Again it was silent. Stretching his mind to its furthest reaches, Jack thought he could hear a lone cicada cackling in the distance. Then again, it could all just be in his head. He stepped back on to the path and began walking toward home, stepping into the horizon at the point the path sharply descended down the hill. 

"Right..."

Uncomfortable still, considering the potential insanity, Jack dragged his heels as he walked.

"...right."

***

So. Send me an e-mail through the website's "contact me", or comment on Twitter or Instagram, or at the bottom of the post and let me know what should happen in Chapter Two. I'll let the ideas compile for a week or two and then take a crack at it. Probably.

h.