The brief: 200 word suspense…1st prsn, or 3rd restricted; no reveal
“Suspense can be thought of as generated by the deliberate withholding of information from a reader through the strategic use of point of view.” Spend some time writing a first person, or third-person restricted, narrative where you lead your reader on but refuse to divulge the full picture of what is actually going on.
The lights are off, inside the building and out in the car park. This place is so familiar I don’t need them. I tighten my grip on the handles of my bag, and feel to check I’ve left the desktop as clear after my rummaging as it’d been when I arrived.
One small chink of keys in my pocket is the only sound. My tread is silent as I cross the room. At the first door, as I place my hand on its handle I remember one hinge squeaks. I work a mouthful of spit, and dribble onto the one at waist height.
The handle makes no sound, the hinge is silent. I slip through and make sure the door doesn’t ‘clunk’ as it’s forced closed by the fitting above. Across the linoleum floor I feel the cold through my socks. The outer door opens without a sound. I slip my feet into my shoes waiting at the door sill. I get the keys from my right pocket, and lock the door again.
It’s cold, a frost. The night’s black, stars a bright contrast. Cold air stings my lungs, drowns the traffic noise. No-one will know. A sound alarm? Pff!
© Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2016
I chose this bach at the end of the beach road after watching for two nights and a day – no lights, no movement, no one living here. A perfect hiding place, its porch faced the headland away from neighbouring baches – just right for recuperation in seclusion from prying eyes. This first night, all I needed was sleep. I’d break the door lock in the morning, after the neighbour took his skiff out for fishing.
I sprawled on the floor. The cotton rug was too scratchy, so I slung it onto the narrow bench-seat. The wooden planks of the partially closed in verandah were cooler to lie on – soothing to aches, bruises, scratches and burns in the summer night’s heat. I started relaxing into sleep almost immediately.
A peculiar feeling, like an ever expanding cold tingle, stirred me wide awake. It crawled over me, my neck, shoulders, back… wrapping me in a creepy prickling sensation. I should have been alone, but I wasn’t. I listened through the blackness.
A snuffling noise. I rolled over and under the bench, pulling the rug back down over me. The click of nails on steps. Damn! The dog had followed me from the crash site!
There’s something about Douglas Archer…I can’t quite put my finger on anything in particular…it’s just— Things don’t add up. He wears a wedding ring on a cord around his neck, but his house— Have you been inside? Nothing lady-like, feminine. No photos of any woman at all. No frilly touches. How long’s he been here?
That’s eight years more than me, and I still don’t know him. Oh, we talk. At the tea rooms when we sit together over a scone and a shared pot. Always in green corduroys, even in summer. And that green… checky-type… flat cap. Doesn’t take it off, ever.
But I always get a funny feeling whenever I see him…not up close, but when he’s like, on the other side of the road, or way across the supermarket… It’s like – I’ve known him before. Curious that, cause he’s never mentioned any towns or villages I’ve been. Anyway, enough about “Ginger Head”. Glasses like owl eyes.
What’re you reading? Oh, I know that magazine. From Scotland? Yes, off you go. I’ll have a quick flick through it while you’re “occupied”.
Oo, Murderer’s Son Looking For Father. I remember that case – Archie McDougal. Old photograph…
Written as a 200-word homework piece, given the brief to provide background to a character, either Ruth McLean or Douglas Archer, and using the word “curious”, for the April meeting.
The latest 200-word homework piece is at the dedicated page here at my site.