Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.
H Trope: Attack of the Killer Whatever
Current Event: “In various Stephen King short stories, he has had people attacked by novelty chattering teeth, paintings, a toy monkey, evil toads... If it can be seen as even vaguely creepy by anybody in the Western world, chances are it's killed somebody in a Stephen King story.”
Liam Johnson held his Kindle, staring down at it.
Sophia Smith, sitting next to him, said, “What are you waiting for?”
The roar of voices in the lunch room was almost deafening. He didn’t hear her – or didn’t respond – until she nudged him.
When he looked over at her, there wasn’t any color in even HIS usually pasty face. His freckles, even now that he was fifteen, still stood out on his face like spaghetti sauce blotches. At least he’d got his hair cut super short over winter break, Sophia thought with approval. The red stuff at shoulder length had been almost too much to stand! He said, “The last time I read a new Stephen King book, I almost died.”
Sophia shook her head and took a bite of her taco salad then made a face. “The food didn’t get any better over break, I’ll tell you that much. Why can’t they just order out from Taco Bell?”
“You’re not listening to me!” Liam said.
“Sure I am – the last time you read this guy’s book, you almost pissed yourself.”
“I didn’t say that. I said I almost DIED.”
Shaking her head, she toasted him with another forkful of salad and said, “Whatever.”
He stood up abruptly, looking down at her with the strangest look then said, “I gotta go.”
“Go where? It’s the first day of a new semester. You don’t have any homework.” She sighed, he could be almost as dramatic as her friends. She grabbed his sleeve and pulled him down on his chair again. “OK – let’s start at the beginning.”
The cafeteria was jammed and someone had been moving in on Liam’s seat when she pulled him back. If it had been another freshman, she wouldn’t have bothered, but the look the guy was shooting at her was deadly. She grabbed her lunch tray without letting go of Liam and said, “This was making me sick, anyway.” She tossed it into the nearby garbage can and towing him after her, made her way to the stairwell.
The supervisor knew them both and waved them through. When the door shut behind them, muted to a dull roar, she said, “The last story this guy wrote almost killed you…” she paused.
He wouldn’t meet her eye, looking down at his ereader. Finally he lifted his chin and said, “Listen, I know it sounds crazy, but his stories...they’re somehow linked to me.”
“You mean like ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ linked to you?”
He make as if he were thinking, then shook his head, “Not that closely linked.” He pursed his lips, sucked the top one between his teeth then said, “I love reading…”
“Duh!” she said, slugging him softly on the shoulder. “I do, too.”
“Nah, you like your Ebony and Essence,” he held up one hand defensively, “Not that that’s bad! You’re like my only friend that reads as much as me, but,” he looked down again, “When I read a Stephen King book or story, I get sucked into it. I can’t explain it, exactly. It’s like the book is about me, but not about me. That’s why I don’t dare read his newest one...which I got for Christmas...which I can’t NOT read...which, if I do is gonna kill me. Like, for real...”
She grabbed his Kindle, cussing, and thumbed it on. The cover of the book showed a guy who looked like he was delivering mail in a tornado. In bold, red letters across the bottom – smaller than Stephen King’s name in bolder, redder letters across the top, was the word, MAIL…”
Names: ♀ ; ♂ Most common US names 2014