Some short stories come to nothing, barely getting off the ground but some you keep returning to because you really want to do something with it. I mentioned several years ago about a boy having strange dreams at inopportune moments and them actually being real events. This afternoon, I spent a few hours going over it again and edited it. I have cut out 1000 words of stuff I felt was unnecessary. It feels tighter and this is now the opening section.
The doors opened and they filtered into the assembly hall in silence, a stark contrast to the excited and nervous crowd they had been outside. Girls had shrieked and hugged each other, wishing each other the best of luck. The boys put on the bravado that sixteen year old boys do best and gave each other tips, testing each other out in this the last ditch attempt to make sure they knew it all.
Alastair had been silent, speaking only to his closest friends and they knew when to leave him alone. Most of his fellow pupils slapped him on the back and told him it would be a breeze for him. They were probably right but he didn’t like to tempt fate. He drank the rest of his water, threw away the cup and joined the queue. Mister Ritch – the Head of Geography at St. Paul’s School – stood on duty today. Alastair smiled and gave his teacher a polite nod. The silence grew as the crowd moved deeper into the exam hall. Alastair located his desk quickly and sat down. He stared at the blank side of the exam book, willing the questions to be in his favour. He couldn’t foresee many problems but he knew that a couple of rogue questions on his weakest topics might lower his average mark.
The doors closed with a dull thud and the whispering ceased immediately. Nobody else would be admitted entry to the hall now. The Invigilator started her well-rehearsed lines: No talking, no mobile phones, what to do if you need more paper, the procedure for toilet break, nobody will be allowed to leave in the last thirty minutes and then finally the words he had been waiting for, ‘By the clock at the back of the hall it is nine thirty-two a.m. The exam will finish at eleven thirty two. You may now begin. Good luck.’
He turned the paper over, filled out his personal details and finally cast his gaze upon question one:
a) Name and briefly describe the different types of tectonic plate boundary
He smiled. So far, so good and the only problem with that question for Alastair was keeping it brief. He swiftly moved on through the first question which was all about plate tectonics and quickly moved to question two.
a) Briefly describe the impact that the Earth’s moon has on its oceans
The word ‘oceans’ shimmered on the paper and he stared at it curiously. His head wasn’t swimming and the other words were fine. Was he about to pass out? If so, why was it only this word… this word… this word… his eyes were drawn back to the word, he couldn’t stop looking at it…
He looked up to call for help but the hall around him stopped, fell silent and then melted as though made of wet paint; it seeped downward toward the floor which now looked like an ocean. He tried to call out but his mouth would make no noise.
The room finally stopped running, disappeared and was replaced with something quite different. He was on a sailing ship.
A gentle wind touched his face and tickled a beard he didn’t have. He could hear the creaking of wood as it stretched and flexed; there was also the distinct smell of brine in the air and the sound of gentle waves lapping the hull. Before him, the sun rose in a blaze of vanilla and a variety of pinks. There was not a cloud in the sky and he was alone on the deck.
He turned toward the stern and began to walk along the deck; his feet clunked against solid timbers. Looking down he was surprised to notice that he wore knee-high brown leather boots and a long red and black overcoat and he was remarkably clean. He looked like a gentleman, a trader of the pirate era.
He didn’t know much about sailing ships but this one felt and looked like a galleon – large, sturdy and ocean-going. There were no cannons on the top deck but from what he knew of the era there would have been some method of defence, possibly on the lower decks. This must have been an explorer ship.
He felt his body move along the wooden deck toward a short flight of steps that would take him to the upper rear deck. He didn’t feel completely in control of his body, it was as though he shared it with somebody else.
From the port side he heard a shriek, a noise somewhere between a dolphin and a gull. It looked like a gull of some description; it swept along the length of the ship and disappeared off toward the sunrise.
He moved slowly up the steps, proceeded to the edge and felt his arms reach out and grab the rope…
…and suddenly he was back in the exam hall.
it may be some time before this comes to anything, but I feel I have made progress today 🙂