But, before I give you this scenario, I should perhaps explain where these ideas came from. I was sat in the waiting room at the doctors (reading The Great Gatsby) when I randomly tuned in to what was being said on the radio. The first story was about a young woman who had died of head wounds, which the police were treating suspiciously. I zoned out again, until a second news story grabbed my attention. A 98-year-old man had died; he was a 39er (an infamous group who were taken as prisoners of war at the very beginning of WWII), and had been the longest serving British POW.
So, I wondered, what in the world connected these two stories? Did these two lives have anything to do with each other? Now, obviously, in reality I couldn’t write a story about these two exact people. So I simply chose these stories and evolved them into fictional characters and scenes. And thus, dear readers, I have come up with two openers for you…
A girl lies on the pavement, her head over the edge and resting on the old leaves and decaying Red Bull can in the gutter. She is plump, but not fat, and her hair is the kind of intense auburn you can only get from a bottle. Her nail polish (blue) is chipped, and she lies with her face tilted to the sky, eyes staring in wide-eyed horror – or is it amazement? – and her mouth hanging open slightly. One hand is near her head, whilst the other arm is flung out from herself. From her head, that not-real auburn head, dribbles blood. It’s not moving fast any more, and its dark colour against the leaves it crawls into is like thick tar. Across her blue-grey face flickers Christmas lights – blue, red, green, blue, red, green.
Now, imagine this:
An elderly man sits in his armchair. It’s a faded green armchair, with what once were tiny roses on it, but now look like pink spots. His hands rest on his knees, and his chin on his chest. His glasses have slipped down his nose. The room is warm, and filled with comfort. The television mutters and flickers in the background, reflecting against the window – a square of black. The room itself feels like it is just settling, like someone or something has just left, taking noise and life with it. The old man has died, quietly. He leaves behind a framed photograph of a tall, upright and dapper gentleman in an RAF uniform on the mantelpiece. The lights of his Christmas tree blink across his face – blue, red, green, blue, red, green.
What would you do with these openings? How did she die? How did their lives connect?
I can’t decide what I want to do with these pieces of story. I am delving deeper and deeper in to my horror writing (and giving myself nightmares as a result), and I don’t think I can see these fitting in to the WIP. Sometimes these things just sit and simmer and will present themselves for a more suitable piece of writing later. In the meantime – I’ll leave you with them.