Tuesday 20 November 2018

Opening Sentences

I was given the first sentence of this piece and asked to continue. It's a good exercise if you don't know what to write- just go with the flow... 
You could open any book and pick a sentence and see where it takes you.

The White Rabbit

The air was electric. Electric blue followed by a flash of pink. One of the kitchen light bulbs exploded into a shower of glass shards onto the floor. I tiptoed gingerly through the broken pieces.  I could smell rancid rubbish coming from a waste bin beneath the enamel sink. Beer, hash and a vague unpleasant odour that might have been vomit created a nauseating mix .The air was thick with the stench.

The grey haired man who suddenly appeared at my elbow tipped a cocktail glass to my lips again, the rim of it clashed against my teeth. A couple in the corner of the ill lit kitchen sniggered. The woman was wearing pink tights and a ballet costume. The man had a t-shirt that proclaimed him to be Strong Man. A dwarf sat on the fridge carefully measuring liquids from diverse bottles into a glass jug. Posters of Fossett’s circus were plastered on the walls. In one of them I recognised the grey haired man, his yellow teeth gleaming as he raised a white rabbit by the ears out of a top hat.

On a gleaming marble counter top ahead of me someone had carefully arranged six lines of white powder. A rough hand placed on the small of my back propelled me towards them. The conjuror’s face, a middle aged lined face with furrowed brows knitted tightly together, seemed to float in front of me. His gold fillings gleamed when he opened his mouth and leered. His hot breath smelt of whiskey.

I staggered towards the lines which now seemed to waver in and out of focus. I took another swig of the cocktail glass that was now in my hand. The lines mutated into Zigzags then into circles. I blinked and they reverted back to their original pattern.

“What do I do with them?”

The pressure of his hand on my back eased and I found myself enveloped in a tight grip that edged me towards the gleaming white substance.

“You eat it,” he whispered. “Dip your finger like so,” and he dipped a yellowish forefinger into the chalk white powder. “Then you lick it.” His purple, swollen tongue mimicked the motion. “Swallow. And wash it down with this.” In his right hand he conjured up a pink champagne glass bubbling at the rim. The magician stepped back as if his performance was complete. Then he disappeared behind a door that clanged shut.

Other faces began to hover and leer about me. Faces mutated from male to female and back. Someone began to chant and the chorus was taken up by the couple in the corner who rose to their feet and began clapping their hands slowly, rhythmically to the sound of the chant. The sound seemed to bounce and echo off the walls in a hollow way as sound does in a basement. My face was wet with sweat. I could taste salt on the corners of my lips. That and the sweet sickly taste of the concoction I had drunk with Ellie in the pub where we had met the conjuror and his cronies.

Ellie! The name of my best friend sounded an alarm in my head. Where was she now? The memory of my friend disappearing behind a closed door in this Victorian maze of a house suddenly came into focus. In my mind’s eye I saw a heavy metal door clang shut and then open again. Beyond it I watched Ellie in her new Abercrombie mini shirt and Topshop sequined t-shirt disappear on the arm of the magician.

Around me the pack of leering faces was still gathering.

“Where’s Ellie. Where is she?” I demanded.

“Where’s Ellie? Where is she?” the chorus repeated. The sea of open mouths ebbed and flowed. I stretched out my arm and scattered the white lines to the floor. There was a scurry of hands and arms groping to salvage the powdery substance that filled the air. Against the tide of bodies I pushed myself out of the kitchen and made towards a hallway, towards a metal grey door.

I leaned my shoulder to it and pushed. Nothing happened. I was met by a solid resistance. I heaved again. Still nothing wielded beneath the pressure of my full force. An array of dials glistened in a black metal panel beside the door frame. I pushed all of them. Somewhere miles away a bell rang. The heavy door began to groan. A high pitched metal noise followed by a heavy sound of something dragging. A dim lit corridor lined with doors on one side lay before me. Pot plants, giant ferns, dotted themselves along the length of the corridor at regular intervals. I hammered on the first door for what seemed like an eternity and then repeated this action at three more mute and closed doors. I called her name to blank white walls and metal grid windows placed high above my line of vision. Through them I could see the street, the feet of passers-by, the tyres of cars. We were in a basement. There was no escape.

“Sarah!” I heard my name whispered. I stopped dead and retraced my steps. The sound was repeated. It seemed to come from the street or from a vent above my head.

The great metal door through which I had entered the corridor screeched open. I dived behind one of the ferns. The heavy footsteps came closer. I heard the swish of trousers and smelt whiskey.

I could hear a clock ticking. Beads of sweat gathered at the nape of my neck and began to trickle, a slow stream that chilled my spine. Somewhere outside on the street a dog barked, a high pitched chilling howl. Then a cuckoo noise sounded from the clock. I jolted my elbow against the fern pot and a clatter of ceramic crashed onto the marble floor. I fell. The conjuror’s face hovered over me.

Behind him stood Ellie, her face white with shock.

The pub d├ęcor came suddenly into focus. In the snug of O’Rourke’s bar the tightrope walker’s heavily made up face, the dwarf in his check jacket and baggy trousers, the magician and Ellie were standing around me in a circle. The Strongman towered over everyone. In the background glasses clinked and animated cheers came from the plasma screen that transmitted the FA cup final.

“Sarah? Are you alright?”

“Don’t go with him, Ellie,” I managed to utter.

“Go where? What’s in this drink anyway? What have you given us?” She turned to the man who was now placing a rabbit on his head.

“She’s just experienced her worst fear, that’s all. She’ll be fine. Just fine. Your turn next.”  Then the conjuror placed the top hat on his head and disappeared through the saloon style doors of the pub followed by his troupe of players.

Somewhere in my head an electric bulb exploded into shards. Electric blue followed by a flash of pink and then everything went black.

1 comment: