Plot is a vicious and unforgiving thing. It is both the most arduous and most unfortunately tangible thing about writing - so it's easy to want to hold on to it for dear life. I get bogged down in it when writing for screen. In these stories, I have feelings and ideas I want to express, and plot often falls to the wayside, mostly due to the short amount of time I dedicate to each piece. There simply isn't enough time for plot. Plot moves like a freight train, but it's a really, really long freight train.
Part two of a continuing story.
Naomi feels her way through the empty department store.
Nothing ahead of her but darkness. There are no sounds but the ones she makes with her fumbling.
She clutches a red jumper she never got to pay for.
Everyone is gone. She can’t see, but she can sense the glaring absence – she’s alone in the dark. As the lights flickered out, everyone disappeared. Their candles snuffed. The faint tremor of their silently whirring bodies, a feeling that ripples out through the air and comforts one another’s quiet souls, now gone. Hushed.
Her phone doesn’t work. It won’t switch on, not even to give a soft glow from its screen to help light the impenetrable, windowless night. It, too, scared away by the strange woman’s hollow laughter. Naomi tries the phone again – but she drops it. It tumbles from her reach and skids across slick tiled floor. She’ll never find it now. It will drown here.
So she moves forward, touching her way through tumbling clothes racks and sale signage.
An age passes in the quiet. Time wheels overhead.
Naomi is lost, and will never get home. She will wander through this commercial wasteland for eternity, a consumerist purgatory built by slaving cashiers and trolley boys.
It could be worse.
The silence is warm. Kind. Gives her brain respite; finally, a singular focus. For the first time in a long time, Naomi finds herself able to think about one thing only: Stepping forward. So she moves onward. Step. Step. Step.
Warm silence. Deep black. Nothingness.
Step. Step. Step.
And then, somewhere behind her.
Naomi hears the old woman, all around her, everywhere, and fear clamps around her neck like a vice. She starts to run.
She hurries forward, feet slapping on marble. She swipes wildly with her arms to clear a path, sending clothes displays to the floor. Coathangers clatter, glass fractures. Naomi runs, and runs, and falls.
Tumbles forward, over and over, spiralling downward over sharp edges that bite into her shoulders and knees. Banging again and again, repeated tiny falls, blurring into one.
She’s falling down the motionless escalator.
She can’t stop. Not of her own accord, anyway – eventually, the ground does the work for her. She hits the next floor down, hard, on her elbow. So she lays there, spreadeagled on the cool floor, limbs hot from the fall. She wheezes, tries to breathe more fully. Finds the soft red jumper, one size too big, still perched under her arm. Is grateful for it. Humbled by its innocuous presence. And she rests.
Closes her eyes. An even deeper darkness.
Naomi lets the sea at the back of her mind roll her effortlessly over. Rising and falling with the chop.
She had always hoped for a day like this.
Up and down. Swaying with the tide. Seawater tugging at her hair, foam slowly filling her nostrils.
Suddenly, a hand on her leg.
Naomi shudders as her eyelids are suddenly filled with hot, pulsing light.
The hand starts to slide upward. The floor is hard and flat again, the sensation of cool marble a sharp reminder.
The light shifts. Movement. Naomi resists the urge to scream as the hand begins to tighten on her leg.
She tries so hard not to open her eyes.
So very, very hard.
Words copyright Matt Vesely. Image by Tom Burke, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Driftwood.jpg