First Campaign Challenge: The Door Swung Open

| Monday, September 5, 2011
Today is the first Campaigner Challenge for Rach's Platform-Building Campaign. Exciting!

The challenge: write a short story (or poem) in 200 words or less, opening with the words "The door swung open." For an additional challenge, you can close with the words "the door swung shut" and/or make your story EXACTLY 200 words.

Definitely challenging, but also a lot of fun. My entry follows. If you enjoy it, you can go read entries by other participants all week. They'll be linked in this entry on Rach's blog. (For the record, I'm #69 on the Linky list).

Viva la challenge!


***

The door swung open.

Sunlight made the drops leftover from the storm glisten gold. She breathed in the wet stone and flowering vines of the village. In the distance, the sea stretched beyond the boats until she couldn’t see anything but sky.

It was beautiful.

She wasn’t fooled.

Beneath the sweet rain and greenery lay something else. Something rotten; mechanical. The only sound was the distant clicking of the clock tower.

Her fingers wrapped around the lightweight metal of her pistol. She held it out of view behind the doorframe. It would be better if they thought her weak, unarmed. It would be best to stay holed up until their batteries wore down, but that wasn’t an option. Her water supply was gone.

She stepped outside, ignoring the bite of broken flagstones on her bare feet. Quick, now. A cracked pipe still leaking fresh water was hidden fifty yards down the street. She’d be there and back before they could react.

The faintest slick of oiled pistons sighed behind her.

No. Too late.

Slow as suffering, she turned her head and stared into the thing’s glowing green eyes.

As the mainframe began to pixilate and decay, the door swung shut.

56 comments:

{ Summer Ross } at: September 5, 2011 at 12:49 PM said...

Intriguing piece. Thanks for sharing!

{ jasonbeineke } at: September 5, 2011 at 1:03 PM said...

Whoa! I think I've had nightmares like that. Great, you've made me go back to my psychoanalyst!! :( Great piece, though ;) Here's mine http://wp.me/p1z81R-18

{ kirstenlopresti } at: September 5, 2011 at 1:14 PM said...

Wow! The suspense is killing me. What happens?

{ bridgetstraub.com } at: September 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM said...

Good job. I'm enjoying getting to read what we've all written. I'm #72

{ Theresa Milstein } at: September 5, 2011 at 1:40 PM said...

Oh dear, she didn't make it did she? I hope some miracle happens because I was really rooting for her.

{ A.E. Martin } at: September 5, 2011 at 2:00 PM said...

I really liked your descriptions, really set the scene, this was very intriguing.

{ Sonia Lal } at: September 5, 2011 at 2:41 PM said...

Okay your comment thing made me laugh (I am constantly fighting with my hair).

The story is full of suspense! Love the descriptions. Hope she makes it.

{ prerna pickett } at: September 5, 2011 at 2:41 PM said...

Nice, love the descriptions, I could picture everything.

{ Sangu } at: September 5, 2011 at 3:17 PM said...

Ooooh very nice. I really liked this!

{ GKJeyasingham } at: September 5, 2011 at 3:24 PM said...

Aggh. Too suspenseful. Must know what happens!

{ Old Kitty } at: September 5, 2011 at 3:32 PM said...

Oh my stars!! Yay!! Loved the buildup and tension!!! Wow!!! What a story!! Thank you! Take care
x

{ Jessica Love } at: September 5, 2011 at 3:51 PM said...

Oooh, creepy! I love it! :-D

{ Suzie F. } at: September 5, 2011 at 3:59 PM said...

I'm not a campaigner (this time) but I am a follower. You really set the scene and drew me into your story. Perhaps this could be the beginning of a new project. Loved it!

{ Emy Shin } at: September 5, 2011 at 4:13 PM said...

This is so, so intriguing! I can't help but mentally set this in TTH's world as I read. :)

{ Maria } at: September 5, 2011 at 4:25 PM said...

Hi, Really good scene setting here. ;)

{ Alleged Author } at: September 5, 2011 at 4:39 PM said...

Bummer for her! I'm still hoping she'll be able pull through...

{ Lori M. Lee } at: September 5, 2011 at 6:04 PM said...

Veeeery intriguing. I'd love to find out what happens next *_*

{ lindy } at: September 5, 2011 at 9:16 PM said...

"The faintest slick of oiled pistons sighed behind her." --Adore this line!

{ Katy } at: September 5, 2011 at 9:43 PM said...

Ooh, this is absolutely fascinating! I love your style--simple and beautiful. I'd totally read on if this were the beginning of a novel. Great job!

Also, your blog header is gorgeous. :)

{ Jen } at: September 5, 2011 at 10:50 PM said...

This is creepy. I love creepy! Fantastic job. It makes me wish it was much longer!

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: September 5, 2011 at 10:53 PM said...

Thank you so much for reading, everyone! I'm loving each and every single one of these comments. *warm fuzzies* :)

As for what happens next... well, that's for you to decide. At least for now ;)

{ 1000th.monkey } at: September 5, 2011 at 11:16 PM said...

Wow, was not expecting that twist! I loved the line about breathing in wet stone.

{ Sommer Leigh } at: September 6, 2011 at 5:43 AM said...

Your writing is beautiful :-) Also, this is the SECOND challenge entry I've read in the past twenty minutes that reminded me of a video game. Well done.

{ anonymeet } at: September 6, 2011 at 7:06 AM said...

Very nice piece! Very Matrix-style-what's-real . . .

{ Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina } at: September 6, 2011 at 8:27 AM said...

Great atmosphere! Your writing sparkles. I can visualize the setting so well due to your word painting. Nice job!

{ D.J. Kirkby } at: September 6, 2011 at 10:53 AM said...

Wow, very intriguing....

{ Miss Cole } at: September 6, 2011 at 11:06 AM said...

I love the concept of something nasty lurking under the surface. Great piece!

{ Margo Lerwill } at: September 6, 2011 at 11:59 AM said...

I've said this before of your flash pieces--such incredible snippets of gorgeous, evocative language. I think my favorite in this one is the sigh of the oiled pistons.

{ Jessica Therrien } at: September 6, 2011 at 2:51 PM said...

Hey Stephanie! Thanks for visiting my blog and reading my story. I loved yours...I think it deserves a "like" on Rachael's site. Good luck!

{ Michelle Merrill } at: September 6, 2011 at 3:08 PM said...

Sweet! I love the human/machine interaction. Great detail and story layering :)

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: September 6, 2011 at 3:42 PM said...

Thank you all! These wonderful comments are making me very happy-face.

Sommer - A video game! I could see that ;)

{ David Powers King } at: September 6, 2011 at 4:04 PM said...

Wow! I'm a sucker for stories like this. You had me at "Something rotten; mechanical." Great entry, Steph! :)

{ Tara Tyler } at: September 6, 2011 at 4:16 PM said...

coolness!
love sci fi and robots =)

{ Kari Marie } at: September 6, 2011 at 5:26 PM said...

This is really cool! I love the description and the suspense. What happens????

{ Isis Rushdan } at: September 7, 2011 at 1:00 AM said...

You really sucked me in! This was great.

{ Ruth Josse } at: September 7, 2011 at 7:04 AM said...

Um...LOVE! You write beautifully:)

{ Barbara McDowell } at: September 7, 2011 at 1:07 PM said...

I like this a lot! Great descriptions and the mechanical feel works. My post is #219.

{ MyTricksterGod } at: September 7, 2011 at 1:17 PM said...

the ending surprised me. Being of the digital age, it doubly struck me as I could see the cpu phase out into a sizzling and slow crumble (despite your wording it as pixilating and decaying).
It is something that can appeal to people who are relatively enamored with digital fandom.

{ PaulaSJwriter } at: September 7, 2011 at 1:50 PM said...

Hi, SE. I'd be delighted to be friends. LOVED this piece. 'Slow as suffering' and all the rest. Really fine. Beautiful work. I'll be following you!

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: September 7, 2011 at 2:12 PM said...

Thanks for the follow, Paula! And thanks very much for the continued stream of comments. I'm glad people are digging this snippet :)

{ Mel Fowler } at: September 7, 2011 at 9:50 PM said...

That was great, it makes me wonder what is out there... why does she have a pistol... why is she hiding. Good Job!

{ Alica McKenna Johnson } at: September 8, 2011 at 9:11 AM said...

Very interesting

{ Amanda Milner } at: September 8, 2011 at 2:01 PM said...

Was pulled right into this scene! And then totally left hanging! ;) Lol! Very cool, I sure hope she makes it. 0.0

{ J } at: September 8, 2011 at 7:37 PM said...

Aw thanks, I like your hair too (your comment form told me I was pretty :P)! Also, I'm totally up for being friends. :) In other news, your piece was incredible. I love all the tension you built up, and your description was beautiful. Off to click the follow button!

{ Jody Moller } at: September 8, 2011 at 9:35 PM said...

HaHa, funny you should mention hair, I actually clicked your link on the linky because I thought your hair was cool (is that shallow of me? :)) I loved your story. The descriptions were beautiful and I loved the way they contrasted with the stark situation your protag was in - if only there were enough words for you to let us know what happened ;)

{ Doreen } at: September 8, 2011 at 10:32 PM said...

That was so good and different! Great job:)

{ Francesca Zappia } at: September 9, 2011 at 6:22 AM said...

Great job with this! I loved the imagery, especially in the first paragraph. You don't get that with sci-fi too much, so I really liked. it. :D

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: September 9, 2011 at 2:29 PM said...

Thanks, all! I love that I got nice comments spaced out over the entire week, that was awesome :)

{ Sandwiched Writer } at: September 9, 2011 at 2:42 PM said...

Nice, tight piece filled with sensory detail! Great job. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog to let me know about the second round.

{ lizakane } at: September 9, 2011 at 7:42 PM said...

Loved the visual of the piece! Awesome!

{ AveryMarsh } at: September 9, 2011 at 8:28 PM said...

Oh gosh, I could've swore I commented on this, telling you how much I loooooved it. Such a great feel from the descriptions to the voice to the action. Very cool.

{ Damyanti } at: September 10, 2011 at 4:49 AM said...

Slow as suffering, she turned her head...

That's poetry! Love this piece!

Mine is entry #279

In addition, would like to invite you to The Rule of Three Blogfest ---a month-long shared-world fiction extravaganza in October with some great prizes, and of course,fun with a whole host of other writers! Check it out.

{ Elizabeth Moss } at: September 10, 2011 at 4:39 PM said...

Hi Steph, my name's Elizabeth Moss and I'm judging some of the entries in this part of the campaign challenge.

I'm delighted to tell you that I loved your story and you'll be going through to Stage Two of the challenge. So congratulations!

What struck me immediately about your story was the poetic power of your prose, not just the language used but the form of the sentences and paragraphing, the way you present the story to the reader. I love ambition in a writer, and all these things struck me as very ambitious.

In fact, the only note of caution I would sound is to make sure, if going for a poetic prose, that you choose your words as accurately as possible - just as poets do.

For instance, I wasn't sure if 'slick' is being used here as a noise or as a physical description, but either way it didn't seem to go with 'sighed' as the sound made by it. Sighed is an air-noise, whereas slick has a liquid property to it. Same goes for 'something rotten' - it can't also be 'mechanical' if rotten, as only organic things are rotten.

There are so many of these slightly jarring or off-centre moments in this piece, it makes me wonder if you did it deliberately. I really like that idea too: discordant writing that trips the reader up and forces them to question the text can be very interesting if done well. Just make sure YOU know the answers, and it's not being done simply for effect.

Anyway, I wish you all the very best with the next stage of the challenge. Great writing!

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: September 11, 2011 at 10:50 PM said...

Thank you, everyone! :)

Elizabeth - Thank you so much for the lovely comment/analysis! I'm so excited to be moving forward. RE: your comments, yes, everything was definitely intentional ;) It was really interesting to read your interpretation!

{ Claire } at: September 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM said...

Really interesting and creative piece. I loved the pistons sighing.

{ K.T. Hanna } at: September 13, 2011 at 10:45 AM said...

Oh, I love this piece. I know the votes don't mean much, but you have mine :D

Post a Comment

Hi. You're so pretty. I like your hair. Let's be friends.

 

Copyright © 2010 maybe genius