I've recently reacquainted myself with my love of writing (note again I say I have no skill whatsoever, but it's still a hobby and something I enjoy and I'm all for exercising anything that makes you happy). With this recovered past time of mine, I have gone looking for inspiration to write things, and have come across a subreddit that I enjoy (I won't attempt to explain reddit to anyone here, either you know about reddit or don't. It is what it is). The subreddit is /r/WritingPrompts and the concept is that a user will create a writing prompt and people will pick a prompt and write a short story or something like that.
The one I picked was a contest that was being held by this subreddit that involves writing the first chapter of a novel, no major edits or anything like that. Just sit think up a topic and write the first chapter to a book.
Here is my entry (note the chapter had to be between 2000 to 5000 words... I opted to be on the shorter side).
was it me? Why did I even sign up for it
in the first place? I guess when you are
told that you have a one in ten million chance to be given superpowers you just
take it. But I really wish I
hadn’t. How did I get to this point in
My name is Chris, and I live
a fairly normal life. I have a boring
job at a software company, you’ve never heard of the company, but it’s probably
been watching you for years now. For the
most part I keep to myself, I walk down the streets with my ear-buds in,
engaging with no-one and just going about my life. That is of course until tomorrow… tomorrow
will change all of that.
My alarm screeches in my ear
indicating that it’s time to start the day.
I slap the snooze button and go back to sleep for the generous nine
minutes of time that my alarm clock affords me.
What would seem only like seconds later BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ
the alarm is screaming at me to wake up and
start the day. No damn you. I don’t want to get
up and do anything yet!
control to the alarm and turn it off, stumbling out of bed and walk my way to
the kitchen and the ever present, always needed, coffee pot. I begin the process of making coffee when BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ BOOOOM
a loud crash goes
off in my room. Ugh. I must have left my phone
on vibrate and near the end of the night stand.
I’ll deal with that later.
the coffee maker begins to percolate I do my usual morning ritual of a visit to
the bathroom, a quick wash of my face and then putting my glasses on (the most
important part of the ritual… well at least if I want to see).
On the way back to the coffee pot
I grab my phone and see what it was that caused my phone to vibrate right off
of the night stand.
“Come on down to 5th and Main for a chance to win!”
greeted my eyes as I unlocked my phone.
There is no number. Where did
this text even come from? I wonder what
is at 5th and Main street?
I thought to myself as I poured myself a cup of coffee, went into the
fridge and poured a little half and half into the coffee. Watching the swirls of light brown that dance
through the dark nightscape that is my coffee cup always makes me happy in the
morning. Taking my first sip of coffee I
bring up a map on my phone to determine what, if anything is at 5th
and Main street. Hmm… looks like nothing. Just a
big blank patch of green, well I guess maybe it’s a park? Odd.
I’ve never really been to this part of town… I wonder if I could skip
out on work and go?
BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ
the phone vibrated in my
hand, scaring me a little to where I almost lost a drop of coffee.
“Come on down to 5th and Main for a chance to win. 5pm at the tent. 1 in 10,000,000 chance to win big!”
Okay this is getting weird.
Still no number, just an “Unavailable”
up top. This seems way too much like a
scam, not something that I would ever consider doing. But at the same time I’ve been bored. In a rut of sorts. Maybe this would be just enough out of the
ordinary for me to get out of this rut and continue forward. Okay.
5th and Main Street is maybe 45 minutes from the office, I’ll
leave a little early and find good parking and see what this is all about. Also 1 in 10,000,000 that doesn’t seem like
I put my phone down,
finish the last sips of coffee and head towards the shower (another integral
part of my morning rituals).
I get out of the shower and begin
to towel myself off and walk into the closet to decide what I am wearing. Luckily for me it’s always pretty easy. A pair of Khaki pants and a black shirt with
the company I work for emblem emblazoned on it.
Having no need for choice when getting ready in the morning is a much
nicer option than having to decide something different every day and trying not
to repeat… or worse yet, trying to make an impression. Simple and easy I put on my normal uniform
and pick a pair of black dress shoes with a pair of multi-colored argyle socks
(not everything can be boring… right?).
I dress quickly and head back to
the kitchen for one more cup of coffee before I leave. The second cup always has more half and half
a two teaspoons of sugar. The first cup
is to wake me up, the second cup is to give me energy enough to actually leave
my flat. On the way out I grab my keys
and a plain grey hoodie and head out the door.
My morning routine followed to a T I’m happy and walk to the car and get
in and drive off to the office.
My office is fairly close to my
flat. I don’t much care for being stuck
in traffic (and I live in a city where traffic is a major concern) so my
morning commute is all of five minutes.
I park and walk into the office, saying “Hi” to the security guard,
whose name I still have yet to remember, I’m bad with names…
My desk is hidden in the back of
the office. I prefer this, it means that
nobody can really come by my desk and bother me with a bunch of questions or
things that I may have to fix. I like my
job, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that most days I’d prefer it if I didn’t
have to deal with anybody to get it done.
I pass by Bob and Jim two of my coworkers desks on the way to my desk.
“Hey Chris… did you get a weird
text this morning?” Bob asked.
“Weird. Yeah I did.
Did yours have a number associated with it?” I replied
“I’m actually thinking about
checking it out after work. I mean why
not?” I stated.
“Yeah… I’m torn. It just seems so sketchy, and even stranger
that we all got the same texts” Bob brought up.
“Meh. I’ll drive by it, if it looks really bad then
I’ll skip out and text you guys” I said as I walked off and back to my desk.
Work that day was uneventful, a
few fires that I had to put out and a few calls that I had to make for support
reasons. All in all it was a good day at
work, any day that I only have to talk to a few people is a good day, and this
day was one of those. Around 4:10 in the
afternoon I grabbed my grey hoodie and worked my way back to my car. On a typical day I’d be home by 4:15, but
today I opted to follow the instructions of the strange text and worked my way
down to 5th
and Main, in the middle of downtown.
I turned on a local talk
radio/news show for the drive downtown, you know the one, it’s a lot of talking
heads with really calming voices who tell you all about the wars in whatever
countries are currently in the midst of battle and interspaces fluff pieces
about pets or fashion in the middle as a palate cleanser after hearing about
far-away atrocities. One piece did catch
my ear though, it was a local interlude (where the local news caster comes on
to interrupt the national radio news host) and it was talking about the weird
texts. It appears that everyone in the
city had gotten a similar text to the one that I had received early that
morning. They too had no idea where the
text originated from or what was happening at 5th
and Main, in fact
one of their reporters was at 5th
and Main during the news story and
there was nothing there, nor were there any signs of a tent or whatever the
text said be there.
Once the local news story was
over the national news picked back up with a story about the text as well. Oh it
looks like we are going to be on the news, I love it when our city is in the
national spotlight, we live in such a huge city and nobody knows about us!
“It seems that the same text was
sent out to every cellphone number in all of the major cities of the United
States, all of them talking about a chance to win citing a 5th
street in each town and some major intersection that occurs with it” the radio
announcer said. “Reports from each site
indicate that nothing is currently there”.
So it’s not just us? It’s
everyone in the United States who is getting this same text and all of them are
on a 5th street? That’s
crazy. This things just gets weirder and
weirder as more reports come in. Now I
feel like I have to go.
Traffic was a beast getting into
downtown that day. It would appear that
since everyone got the text it looks like a good portion of the cities populace
were headed that way. I exited the
freeway and took a few surface streets that I knew as a side route (at least a
popular map/traffic app on my phone told me about this route… I’ve never
actually taken it before). The traffic
caused me to get to 4th
and Main around 4:55, a little later than I
wanted but still enough time to get out there and investigate. Oddly enough despite all of the traffic I had
no problems parking at a local garage on 4th
street, a block from
where the text told everyone to go.
I get out of the car and begin
the walk to 5th
street where it intersects with Main, there are tons
of people on the street all of us heading in the same direction. Not a single one of us has any idea why we
are going to this intersection or what any of us may win. Some people are comparing the texts that they
received and they were identical. A person
asked me about the texts and I just told them that I know about as much as they
no… nothing. News helicopters hovered
overhead trying to make out what was happening and news vans littered the
streets trying to do the same thing.
Still nothing showed up at the intersection.
I made it to 5th
Main and there was a massive crowd waiting to see what was going to happen, I
slowly worked my way up the front (I can sidle through a crowd pretty well, and
still be relatively unseen), or at least what I thought was the front. There was nothing at 5th
yet. I checked my phone and blinked back
the time, 4:59:30.
Thirty seconds until 5. Where is this tent that the texts were saying
was supposed to be here?
I really wish I knew what was going on. This suspense is killing me.
It’s almost 5. Why is there
nothing here except the other people who wanted to check this out after they go
5:00PM on the dot a single small white tent appeared out of nowhere. A man who appeared to be in his late 40s with
peppered hair and a long white lab coat was in the tent.
“Welcome everyone. I appreciate all of you who have come to find
out what the contest is all about.
Please before I explain anything I must insist on no photography, please
put your cellphones and cameras, if you have them, away. This contest is meant for you to live in the
moment and not live via a tiny screen!” the man started with a gravelly deep
voice. “I know you are all wondering why
you are here and what this contest is.
Why the odds are 1 in 10,000,000, and what possibly it could mean to win
Yes. Finally some answers
. I put my cellphone away and listen in closer
to what the man in the lab coat is saying.
“You all now have a chance. All of you here are in the contest. All of the people in the other cities with my
colleagues are in the contest. We thank
all of you for this.” The man
explained. “On to the crux of the
contest. One of you, or one of your peers
in another city will win a special invitation back to our labs. We are InGene and we’ve made a vaccine that
will give one of you superpowers”.
“We are giving away the chance
for you to become a superhero”.