The Gods Are Returning – A Short Story

I didn’t immediately start the journal documenting the nightly visits; but it wouldn’t have done any good anyway. At first, I was confident that the visitor was a character in a dream. Though, after an entire week of nightly visits, I had to accept that I was either completely insane or the visitor really was materializing at the foot of my bed to converse with me. Eventually I did start the journal, but despite my meticulous written accounts of our nightly discourse (I’m a journalist by trade) the evidence would always be expunged the next morning before I could show anyone. I know, I mean, I know that I’d documented my interactions with the visitor. Of this I am completely and unfalteringly confident. Why? Because I, and my editors, know how pedantic my first drafts can be and how frustratingly (for them) meticulous I am at finding the most apt and efficiently articulate words to express the brutish barking of raw thought that screams about the inside of my head. I read somewhere that they’re working on a machine that will decode and download the electrical sparks of pure thought to an external interface. It would be like if you found a song online that you really loved but then, before others could listen, you had to notate the piece onto sheet music by hand and then suddenly having the ability to bypass all of that effort and just plug in your mp3 player and directly downloading the song for playback instead. But anyway, we don’t yet have that tech for brains but it would be very helpful if I did. The way it is now, I have to personally write down my experiences with my nightly visitor. And like I said earlier, I KNOW that I’ve been writing them down but every morning I found the minutes, if you will, of the previous night are erased from the pages of my journal. Even the pen marks on latter pages from the frenzied pressure of my writing are mysteriously smoothed away as though I’d just bought the journal that day. I tried sneakily writing other non-visitor related journal entries into the journal alongside but those stay. They are still intact and unaltered save for the new spacing between entries. And this I find extremely uncomfortable, there are no spaces between entries where the redacted portions should lie. I did start writing them on note pads at work and then hiding them around the apartment, but when I would go back to check, they too were blank. It wasn’t like they were torn or burnt or stolen, they were still there, but all my writing had been dissolved from existence. I started dictating into my voice recorder a few nights ago but when I uploaded them to my laptop the files consisted of lengthy swells of the hiss and crackle of angry static. The visitor doesn’t appear when my girlfriend spends the night. For awhile, she stayed regularly but after three consecutive nights of silence, well relative silence, it made me anxious that I was possibly squandering an incredible opportunity. Even if it was only to discover that I am in fact completely fucking bat shit, off my rocker, straight jacket donned, mouth guard drooling, padded room destined, tinfoil headed insane! I really hope that’s not the case. He, well, I think it’s a he. He looks like a he but I don’t know, maybe he’s a shape shifter and this form is least traumatic for me like that being from Carl Sagan’s book Contact. But yah, he had never told me his name before last night and I’d written it down but this morning, of course, it no longer existed. I think it was something like Ananna or Naner or something. I remember picturing a Banana when he said it but he did say that the name he gave me was his true name but that others have called him many different things over the years. And from what he’s been telling me in his visits it been a pretty significant span of years over which he’s been visiting. < that sounded wrong. I would go back and reword that but fuck it, it’s going to be erased by tomorrow morning anyways, right? Why should I believe that tonight would be any different? So yah, fuck editing. About a week ago he told me that “the Gods are Returning” but that I shouldn’t be afraid. Most of the first visits were spent in terrified silence just staring at the figure in my dark bedroom and listening to him speak to me in an accent unlike anything I could ever articulately describe. Gradually and with timid apprehension, I began to shift the visitors monologue to dialogue. But some of the stuff he told me, Jesus. I mean, I totally understand, if it’s true, why he would erase all the pages. It was this Gods returning business that kinda freaked me out. Tonight I asked him about it again and he kept asking me questions instead. We watched another episode of Full House together. He shares my fascination (arguably a fixation) with the 90s. We actually watched most of the series together already. Has he been visiting me that long? Anyway, last night he actually brought two others and I wasn’t at all prepared for that. The one friend was also male, I guess, and looked like he could’ve been the visitor’s brother. But the other friend was breathtakingly gorgeous. I mean, how can I express this without sounding incredibly clichéd or superficial or whatever. People have been trying to describe the traits of the most “beautiful woman in the world” since there have been women in the world, but this . . . she can’t even be described in words. The three of them told me that this was the last night before the “Return of the Gods”. The beautiful woman expressed to me through a silent exchange that I could feel inside my head that I shouldn’t be afraid. They’re not coming for us. No citizens would be harmed. Their kind had been the former rulers of Earth after they’d colonized the planet, a sort of Planetary Mining operation, looking for mono-nucleic gold that their civilization used partly as a power source and as an ingredient for their secret to longevity. They were the builders of all the Pyramids and the other great Ancient Wonders attributed to early humans. Actually, and the deadpan way the other male visitor explained this to me still chills me even as I’m writing, he said that human beings were actually genetically created cheap labour by mixing their DNA with the an earlier hominid primate. The humans though vastly outnumbered their visiting rulers and an opportunistic ruler betrayed his fellow . . . oh fuck, they never told me what they were just that they were who created us I guess. Maybe I should’ve asked. But I was still reeling from the second male’s nonchalant reaction to having utterly destroyed my entire framework of reality. So yah, this opportunistic . . . one of them . . . decided to incite a human revolt against the visitors and offered them assistance under the condition that he and those visitors of his choosing would stay around the rule in their stead. The betrayer destroyed the hyperspace tunnel connecting Earth to their Home World and so his race was marooned on Earth after the Evil . . . FUCK I should’ve asked what they were called, anyway they were stranded here after the revolt. Outnumbered they hid themselves and their knowledge of the true history of Earth, for centuries popping up here and there when they’re needed and then promptly murdered by those in power. Who according to the three strangers were actually still the betrayer and those of his kind that had aligned themselves with him. All the leaders and the influential people are human beings, yes, but they are all in those positions because they have sworn an allegiance to the Betrayer. That part made a lot of sense in the moment but I don’t know. That’s a lot of people to keep quiet if you’ve conscripted people to appear like they’re controlling things but are actually the middle men. I feel like someone would’ve talked at some point . . . unless they don’t know any of this information and are just “following orders”. I don’t know. But there was more. They said that the Gods are almost here and that they are benevolent and will treat us with kindness and respect. I brought up that slave labour thing and they said it wasn’t slave labour, it was cheap labour. And apparently not the cheap labour we’re used to when the mental image pops into our heads. Apparently the continent of Africa is very different then we’re being led to believe and that if we looked more closely there we’d find more answers but we’re constantly being fed terrifying reasons why we should steer clear of a lot of Africa. But anyway, just before they left they explained the reason it took so long for the Gods to return. Since the hyperspace tunnel was destroyed they had to once again make the journey to Earth the conventional way before they could construct a new hyperspace tunnel to once again reconnect Earth with their home world. Kinda Star Gate-y and at the time I was accepting that as a confirmation that I was actually insane and in a Mental Institution day room somewhere watching an edited for TV version of Star Gate while the other patients around me drooled into straight jackets.

OH HOLY FUCK! Today’s early morning entry was not erased when I came to check! But, I also awoke to fins every piece of electronic equipment in the entire apartment inert and silent. I wonder … if the last journal entry is still here then that means that maybe this one won’t disappear either. I remember something else! I remember the names they gave me before they left. The visitor finally told me his name. He said most people called him Thoth but that his real name was Nannar. Kinda like Banana I guess. Not quite. The guy he came with was named Utu and the [I’m not even going to try and describe how beautiful she was] woman was named Inanna. Holy Fuck!! It didn’t get erased. Now I just have to remember all the other crazy shit he told me during our visits.

research source for my Short Story idea:

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10 Ways to Create a Plot Twist

Via T.N Tobias

Every story is more exciting with a twist. As a writer, though, it can be difficult to find that right scenario, that right moment and character to turn on its head and send the story veering into unpredictable new directions. It’s scary too. Wandering too far away from the tried and true summons more of the self-doubt that fictionists already seem to be full up on.

But, as with anything, there are templates to the twist or even ways to make your linear plot seem to have a twist simply by withholding information. Neat trick, huh? So here are ten general ways to introduce a plot twist, one of which is sure to fit into any manuscript. Be forewarned, giving examples of plot twists involves heavy spoilers. While I’ve tried to pick examples that are old enough and popular enough to be widely known, you’re mileage may vary.

  1. In Medias Res – In Latin, this means “into the middle of things” and it is a technique that drops the audience into the action as it’s occurring without the benefit of back story or motivation. Think Reservoir Dogs. We show up at the end of the heist not knowing any of what took place. That scarcity of information means every interaction is a chance for the story to break off in a new direction. Tarantino used this to build conflict because we in the audience do not know where allegiances lie or even what’s gone wrong with the job in the first place.  In medias res can take a fairly straight-forward narrative and turn it into a weave of twisted plotting simply by moving the starting line.
  2. Chekhov’s Gun – The term Chekhov’s Gun refers to author Anton Chekhov’s assertion that “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” With that quote Checkhov combined several writing tips into a very simple statement. Don’t dwell on frivolous detail, foreshadow your outcomes, and hide your revelations in plain site.  A good example of this is the rock hammer from The Shawshank Redemption. Andy receives it for seemingly innocent purposes but it ends up being key to the plot.  The twist relied on that bit of foreshadowing to provide a third option to the question of whether Andy was dead or alive in his cell.
  3. Unreliable Narrator – When the point of view character influences the narrative by filtering information or manipulating the understanding of events from the preceding story, that character becomes an unreliable narrator. A perfect example of this is The Usual Suspects in which the story is told to investigators by Verbal who leads them to the wrong conclusions. Another is Fight Club, whose narrator is so unreliable, even he doesn’t know it until late in the story. The twist, of course, comes when we in the audience get to see things as they actually are, rather than the manifestations of the narrator.
  4. Anagnorisis – This most common twist involves revealing the hidden nature of a character or object. Think Luke Skywalker’s parentage, Charles Kane’s sled, or when Neo wakes up in The Matrix. All of these twists rely on a reveal of information that completely changes the story up to and from that point.  Neo can’t understand the world as he used to before he learned what the matrix was, nor could Luke hide from the conflict created between the evil in his family and his mission to destroy the empire. This twist is perhaps also the easiest to deploy as all it requires is for the author to withhold the vital information until the climax.
  5. The Least Likely Villian – Another commonly used twist is to conceal the villain throughout the story and in the end reveal that it was someone known the the protagonist all along, someone above suspicion. Watchmen uses this twist, revealing Adrian to be the mastermind behind the killings and, ultimately, a plan to fake an alien invasion.  Typically this twist is combined with a red-herring, a person of interest pursued by the good guys but is really just a misdirection.
  6. Non-Linear Timeline – Similar to in medias res but a more extreme example, non-linear timelines can lend surprise to otherwise straightforward plot elements, sometimes even reversing the entire timeline so that resolutions precede their conflicts. Pulp Fiction makes use of a jumbled timeline, telling multiple stories while beginning and ending at the same point in time.
  7. Ambiguous Ending – When curtain falls or the last page is turned, does the audience really know what’s happened? What will happen? Leaving the story open ended lets the reader infer a meaning to the events in the story that can constitute a twist or a straight forward interpretation.  See the series finale of The Sopranos. Does Tony live? Does the family carry on with its business as before? Or does he die violently either there in front of his children or at some later time?  The twist is that we don’t know and we have to imply.  This can work well, as in the close of Inception,or create controversy, like the aforementioned Sopranos.
  8. Not Over Yet – When the action winds down and our characters are taking a breather in the dénouement, the forces of evil spin up again to let the audience know that while this story is over, the war is far from won.  Most recently seen in The Crazies when our heroes escape only to walk right back into the same trap.
  9. Hero to Villain – When after the ultimate battle the hero emerges victorious but changed into the very thing he was fighting.  This is a twist most often associated with horror stories. The filmed version of 30 Days of Night has the hero turning into a vampire in order to defeat the invading hoard. In Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick himself becomes leader of the necromongers after killing the Grand Marshall.
  10. Deus Ex Machina – From the Latin “god from the machine”. This twist comes when an unsolvable problem is miraculously resolved by an un-foreshadowed intervention. Unless used for comedic affect, this strategy is frowned upon.  A useful implementation of the technique can be found in Monty Python and The Holy Grailwhen, while being chased by an animated monster, the animator has a heart attack and they are miraculously saved.

Be careful when deploying a plot twist. Time it wrong and the reader will be prepared and unimpressed.  Take too many liberties and your readers won’t trust you to tell the story but if you don’t mix things up a bit, they’ll be asleep from boredom before you can get them to the end.  Twists are the same as the many other fine lines writers must walk and when you get it right, the result is great fiction.

Smoke & Mirrors: Episode 2 (Radio Drama)

SMOKE AND MIRRORS

“Episode 2”

CAST

SEAN WESTON Rookie Cop. (Age 29)

BRUCE MEERS Veteran Cop. (Age 58)

LOWELL Low-Level Cop. (Age 34)

Music: “Scooby Snacks” Fun Loving Criminals.

Sound: Driving in Police Car, Police sirens, Cell phone buzzing on dashboard, Car pulls to stop, Crime scene ambience, Paper shuffling.

Episode 2

SCENE ONE: INT. CAR – DAY
(Sean, Bruce, Lowell)

1. SOUND: Sounds of driving in a police car; on their way to the robbery. Static and random transitioning between radio stations until “Scooby Snacks” is playing on the radio.

2. SEAN: Oh, I love this song.

3. BRUCE: Don’t touch the fuckin’ radio. (Pause) So, this is a shitty way to pop your cherry, isn’t it kiddo?

4. SEAN: Hey, Fuck you. I’m almost thirty?

5. BRUCE: So? You’re my fuckin’ kid’s age.

6. SOUND: The siren sounds as they run through a red light.

7. BRUCE: How are you finding Santa Fe?

8. SEAN: Well, I won’t need my parka anymore.

9. BRUCE: Yeah, you’re from one of the Dakotas, right?

10. SEAN: Yep, Cavalier, North Dakota.

1. BRUCE: Like the car?

2. SEAN: Like the car.

3. BRUCE: Came down to Santa Fe for some excitement?

4. SEAN: (LAUGHS) Nah, this is just where they transferred me. I needed a larger paycheck. Brooke and I have a 4 year old and another one due in August.

5. BRUCE: Sorry to hear that.

6. SEAN: You don’t like kids?

7. BRUCE: None that I’ve met so far.

8. SEAN: Come on, you’ve gotta like your own kids.

9. BRUCE: Kid. And maybe I would have if I ever got to see her. After Susan left me for that department store manager she’d been fucking at work, I didn’t see Wendy until she was in her teens. And by that time Susan had poisoned her enough for her to want absolutely nothing to do with me.

10. SEAN: Sorry to hear that. (PAUSE) You never remarried?

11.BRUCE: (LAUGHS)Sean, you idealist fuck.

1. SOUND: CELL PHONE BUZZING ON THE DASHBOARD

2. SEAN: 9367 (PAUSE) Who’s that? A lady friend?

3. BRUCE: Aren’t you a nosy fucker.

4. SOUND: PICKING UP THE CELLPHONE FROM THE DASHBOARD AND PUTTING IT IN HIS POCKET.

5. BRUCE: Alright, so dispatch said some have been hospitalized for smoke inhalation and a couple people were trampled when shit went down. Two are dead at the scene, including a 5 year old girl.

6. SEAN: Jesus.

7. SOUND: CAR pulls to a stop. Doors open. Car stops and car doors open and the sound of a post robbery can be heard. There’s cops holding back people from coming too close to the scene. (AD LIB Cries of worry: “My wife’s in there!”) Sounds of people doing police work.

8. LOWELL: (DISTANT; COMING CLOSER) About fucking time, Bruce.

1. BRUCE: Sorry, Lowell. Rookie was slowing me down.

2. LOWELL: Sure (PAUSE) So, this is what we know. This was a bank robbery, shit went down, shots were fired, smoke canister went off an everyone panics. Three people were trampled and taken to hospital. Two people are dead. Looks like one of the dead guys was in on it. No ID, no plastic, no nothing. I mean other than the guns and smoke canisters.

3. SOUND: FLAHSBULBS GOING OFF As they walk from the car into the bank. Opening door. Atmosphere sounds change from outdoor to indoor.

4. SEAN: The other person (PAUSE) Bruce was telling me it was a little girl.

5. LOWELL: (SIGHS) Stray bullet apparently. She was standing by the clown.

6. BRUCE: Wait, there was a clown?

7. LOWELL: Yah, there was some kind of clown, entertaining at the bank today. He’s one of the only people who saw anything. We’ve got the Clown, the uh, (PAUSE)

1. SOUND: PAPER SHUFFLING

2. LOWELL: Annette, the bank teller, and the little girl’s father. They’re the only people who saw anything before the smoke canisters went off. We have them separated in various rooms inside the bank whenever you’re ready.

3. SEAN: Who should we talk to first?

4. BRUCE: Not that father, that’s for sure.

5. SEAN: So the clown or the bank teller?

6. BRUCE: Rookie’s choice.

7. SEAN: Let’s do the Clown.

8. LOWELL: Good luck.

9. SEAN: What do you mean?

10. LOWELL: (LAUGHS) You’ll see.

11. BRUCE: Ready for your first interview in the big city?

9. MUSIC: TRANSITION MUSIC (SCOOBY SNACKS)

Novel Publication – CreComm Creative Writing Assignment

Author Matt Duggan talked about working on a manuscript for two years before his editor “put a bullet in it” and he started over again… that would suck.

As some one who has spent years on writing a manuscript, this is an author’s worst nightmare.  Maybe that’s why I keep “revising” my novels and haven’t sent them out to Publishing Companies.  To hear that something I’ve put so much effort and time into needed to be scrapped… that would be devastating. 

Maybe it’s cause I hate rejection, or maybe I’m a control freak, but I want my finished product to be something that I have complete creative control of.  My style may not be what is commercially viable, but does one want to strive to be commercially viable over being artistically viable?  There are some really crappy novels out there that are commercially viable (ahem, the certain protagonist-who-sparkles-in-the-daylight variety) and I mean, if your aim is to be a rich author I hear that vampires are big right now; but for myself I want to create something that someone will read and say: “that novel affected me!”

I spoke with Amanda Hope, because she did exactly what I’m hoping to do, self-publish.  I sat down with her last week and asked her a slew of questions that she was nice enough to spend her hour break answering.

She went with Art Bookbindery located by the RRC Notre Dame campus.  The smallest batches they do are of 50 books.  Amanda told me that they do they layout for you.  You can choose fonts and pictures and they have a fabulous designer, Yvonne, who put everything together for Amanda’s book “Pieces.”

It’s done in roughly 3 weeks.  It was $1200 for 150 copies with a simple layout (colour cover, black and white inside)  50% of the cost is due up front and the other 50% is due on delivery of the completed books.

This is definitely the way I’m going to go.  Thank you Amanda for all of your help with this, and I can’t wait to read your book!

Everyone should come down to her Book Launch at the Cre8ery across the street from the RRC Princess Street campus (125 Adelaide Street) on March 20th @ 7pm.  And make sure you buy a book to support her!  Only $15!!!

Revised Creative Writing Script

Changed up my Creative Writing Script.  Should make more sense, be (hopefully) less cliched and more intense.  Let me know what you think.

FADE IN:

INT. CORPORTATE OFFICE BUILDING — NIGHT

KARA, 28, rummages around in the dark office holding a FLASHLIGHT. OWEN, 29, enters the room and stands in the doorway. Kara doesn’t notice him, until he shines his FLASHLIGHT on her.

OWEN
What are you doing?

KARA
Holy shit! Owen, is that you?  You scared me.

OWEN
What are you doing?

KARA
I … uh …

OWEN
It’s 2am.  What are you doing here?

Kara moves towards Owen and tries to wrap her arms around him but he pushes her away.

OWEN
Kara.

KARA
Just looking for a file I can’t for the life of me find.

OWEN
In the dark? With a flashlight? What are you looking for?

KARA
What are you doing back at the office this late?

Owen turns on the LIGHT.  The whole room is trashed.  Manila folders are strewn about the room and all of the drawers are emptied.  A FILING CABINET behind Kara has all its drawers ajar and the files are lying around it on the ground.

OWEN
How did you open the filing cabinet?

KARA
I picked the lock.

OWEN
Why? What file were you looking for?

Kara takes out a GUN an aims it at Owen.

KARA
I know you know where it is.

OWEN
Where what is?

KARA
Really? You’re going to do this when I’m pointing a gun at you?

Owen stares at Kara.  She CLICKS the hammer back.

OWEN
It isn’t here.

KARA
Where is it?

OWEN
So this is what it was always about.  Chicago, Minneapolis, it was all about this?

KARA
Come on. It was fun but it was business.  It was always just business.

OWEN
It wasn’t to me.

KARA
You’re sweet.  Naive, but sweet.

OWEN
You don’t have to do this.

KARA
Yes I do.

The side door opens and a CLEANING WOMAN wearing headphones and pushing a cart with cleaning supplies ENTERS.  You can hear muted MUSIC through the headphones.  Kara looks over at the Cleaning Woman and there’s a moment where the cleaning woman looks up, notices Owen and Kara and then notices the gun that Kara is holding and drops the cleaning supplies in her hand. Owen takes out his own GUN tucked into the back of his pants and SHOOTS both Kara and the Cleaning Woman.  Owen moves over to close Kara’s open EYES.

OWEN
No you didn’t.

Owen looks over at the Cleaning Person.

OWEN
Thank you, Miss! I owe you one.

Owen takes out his CELLPHONE and dials a number.

OWEN
Yah, I need a cleaner at the Crestmark Office Building on Seventy-Five Dorchester, Office Three-One-Two.
(beat)
Yah, two of ‘em.

Looks down at Kara’s limp body as it leaks blood into the carpet.

OWEN
No you didn’t.

FADE OUT:

Boxing Match Script – Creative Writing Assignment

*I acknowledge that the formatting isn’t right.  For some reason WordPress doesn’t recognize tabs, etc. 😦 Boo-urns!

FADE IN:

INT. OFFICE BUILDING — NIGHT

KARA, 28, rummages around in the dark office holding a FLASHLIGHT. OWEN, 29, enters the room and stands in the doorway. Kara doesn’t notice him, until he shines his FLASHLIGHT on her.

OWEN
What are you doing?

KARA
Holy shit! Owen, is that you?  You scared me.

OWEN
What are you doing?

KARA
I … uh …

OWEN
It’s 2am.  What are you doing here?

Kara moves towards Owen and tries to seductively wrap her arms around him but he pushes her away.

OWEN
(sternly)
Kara.

KARA
Just looking for a file I can’t for the life of me find.

(laughs light-heartedly)

OWEN
In the dark? With a flashlight? What are you looking for?

KARA
What are you doing back at the office this late?

Owen turns on the LIGHT.  The whole room is trashed.  Manila folders are strewn about the room and all of the drawers are emptied.  A FILING CABINET behind Kara has all its drawers ajar and the files are laying around it on the ground.

OWEN
How did you open the filing cabinet?

KARA
I picked the lock.

OWEN
Why? What file were you looking for?

Kara takes out a GUN an aims it at Owen.

KARA
I know you know where it is.

OWEN
Where what is?

KARA
Really? You going to do this when I’m pointing a gun at you?

OWEN
It isn’t here.

KARA
Where is it?

OWEN
So this is what it was always about.  Chicago, Minneapolis, it was all about this?

KARA
Come on. It was fun but it was business.  It was always just business.

OWEN
It wasn’t to me.

KARA
You’re sweet.  Naive, but sweet.

OWEN
You don’t have to do this.

KARA
Yes I do.

CLICKS back the hammer of the GUN and aims it at Owen.  The side door opens and a CLEANING PERSON pushing a kart with cleaning supplies ENTERS.  Kara looks over at the Cleaning Person and Owen takes out his own GUN tucked into the back of his pants and SHOOTS both Kara and the Cleaning Person.  Owen moves over to close Kara’s open EYES.

OWEN
No you didn’t.

Owen looks over at the Cleaning Person.

OWEN
Thanks, buddy! I owe you one.

Owen takes out his CELLPHONE and dials a number.

OWEN
Yah, I need a cleaner at the Crestmark Office Building on Seventy-Five Dorchester, Office Three-One-Two.
(beat)
Yah, two of ‘em.

Looks down at Kara’s limp body as it leaks blood into the carpet.

OWEN
(sigh)
No you didn’t.

FADE OUT:

The Modeling Job – Creative Writing Short Story

A feeling of defeat and general malaise flooded over me as I stared at the results on the computer screen. 

Sales Associate.

Merchandiser.                                                                                                                             

Dishwasher.

There were no good jobs available and the ones that were required a specialized degree of some kind.  I’d always wanted to be a Graphic Designer, but I had to have two years experience as well as a diploma from a reputable Art School; neither of which I had. 

I typed the word Arts into the site’s search engine.

There were only four results for my area.

An English/Literary Arts Teacher for an Elementary school; no Education Degree.

Senior Marketing and Administrations Manager; wouldn’t even know what I’d need for that

Copy Writer for an Entertainment company; no degree and no experience.

And finally Director of Internal Audits with a large Public Insurance Company; no way

I wasn’t even sure how that would apply to the Arts.

I don’t know exactly why, but I went back to the job search website and entered Model into the search engine.
                It’s not like I’m conceited or anything, but I don’t think I’m entirely unattractive.  However, my ex-boyfriend told me I wasn’t pretty enough to be a model.  He said my blonde hair was too stringy, and that my hips were too wide and my breasts weren’t large enough.
                Fucking asshole . . .
                Thinking of Nathan’s comments made me want to do it even more.
                I could do it.
               
I scrolled down the list of options.  Some of them seemed rather sketchy but . . . thinking of starting up at another shitty, shift-work, Monday to Sunday job . . .
                No, I won’t.
                I felt a bright flush rush over me as I clicked on the link.

Blonde Athletic Female Model Needed For Downtown Photo Shoot (18-24)

It seemed legit.  There was a website associated with it.  It didn’t look terrible; but it wasn’t amazing.  And I guess anyone can really start up a website, so that didn’t mean anything.
                This is stupid.
                I pushed myself away from the computer and my wheeled chair coasted away as I tried to decide what I should do.

                                *                                             *                                             *

I clutched my bag tightly. 
                I had my ID, some makeup for touch-ups, and a few extra bucks, but not much else.  I had my cell phone, but it was essentially useless cause I hadn’t been able to afford more minutes for weeks.
                Walking down to the studios address I felt the silliness of the situation cascade over me. 
                I’m not a model, I shook my head, what am I doing?
                I stopped walking.
                No, I stood upright and jutted my small chest out slightly, you’re beautiful and intelligent and . . . you’re beautiful.
                I realized that people we staring at me.
                I resumed walking.
                The posting said that I needed to be at the studio at 8:30pm.  I didn’t know why they wanted me there so late.  Maybe that was the only time they could fit me in.  Maybe . . .
                I was starting to feel really apprehensive about this whole situation. 
                Maybe I should just go home.
                A gorgeous blonde woman in a tight fitting pantsuit stepped out of the building to my left and moved gracefully down the front steps and passed me, without so much as a glance. 
                Was she my competition? I wondered, scanning the building for the number.  How could I compete with that?
                The green monster welled up inside me.  I saw the woman’s dark, voluptuous lips pouting exaggeratedly as she strutted past.  I was captivated by the way she peacocked her hips from side to side, her firm breasts gently swaying to and fro hypnotically.
                I realized that I’d forgotten what I was doing.  I looked down at the notepad in my hand and saw the numbers.  Yes, I was looking for the building number, wasn’t I?
                 435 St. Josephs Street. 
                The building’s faded, tan-coloured bricks sported an aged mural of an early 1900s business.  I could make out something that said:

 LECTR    SUP LI
                                    – lim  ed­-

 
                Is this is the place?  I swallowed hard.  If she came out of here, at least I know it’s gotta be somewhat legit.
                I entered the building and the cracked plaster walls screamed out to me with an urgency I could feel in my teeth.  There was something extremely wrong about this.
                “Are you here for the photo shoot?”
                I turned to see a woman about my height, and a similar build, smiling at me.
                “I’m Jenny,” She said, still grinning in an almost comedic fashion.
                She seemed nice enough, but . . .
                I introduced myself and shook her hand. 
                “We’re all down here,” Jenny gripped my arm with a surprisingly tight grip and led me down the hall, past an area where the drywall was completely knocked out revealing the skeletal framework of the aging building.
                “We’re doing repairs,” Jenny said, before I could comment. “We just purchased a portion of the first floor here, and we’re trying to fix it up.”
                She was beaming from one ear to the other. 
                No one could ever genuinely be that happy.
                “It’s just through here,” Jenny pushed a heavy, metal door open and ushered me into the room.
                It was an enormous room.  The floor was dirty with matted colonies of dust bunnies rolling about the rotted, graying, hardwood floors.  There was a group of extremely attractive women standing in a tight group at the far end of the room, staring me down.
                More competition?
                “Don’t mind them,” Jenny said.  “They’re just sitting in.”
                They’re all apprentice photographers?  That didn’t make any sense.
                “This is Henry,” Jenny said, pointing to a heavy set, balding man in his 40s.  His shirt was a little too tight for his body, but I couldn’t imagine that they made shirts much bigger than that anyway.
                “You’re the photographer?” I shot my hand out to shake his, but he just stared at it and grunted dismissively.
                “No, uh, he’s your partner.”
                “My what?” I realized I said it quite loudly and may it may have sounded rude so I brought myself back a bit.  But it was just the way she said partner . . . it sounded really sexual.  I definitely wasn’t down for any backroom casting couch shit.
                “No no,” Jenny laughed, “not like that.”
                She led me to the stage at the far end of the room.  There were three chunky objects on stage, hidden underneath dusty red velvet.  Jenny jumped up on stage and pulled off the nearest velvet cloth to reveal a kind of chair.  It almost looked like an electric chair, complete with the metal helmet attached to the back of the chair.
                “Um,” I swallowed again, “what’s that?”
                “Props,” She said, “merely props.”
                I wondered if booking it was still a possibility.
                “We just need you up here-“
                “You want me to sit in that?” I took a step back.
                “Henry has one too,” Jenny said.  “It’s just for the photo shoot.”
                “But what do you want me to-“
                “Just sit here,” She said.  “That’s all.  Just sit.”
                Cautiously, I neared the object that looked to be an electric chair.
                Henry was already uncovering his matching chair.
                “So is this for a magazine or-“
                Jenny interrupted me, “How are things over there, Henry?”
                He just grunted again.
                “He’s not a big talker is he?” I whispered to Jenny, hoping to dull the tension.
                She just smiled her goofy grin.
                Jenny pulled the straps around my wrist, tightly; extremely tightly.
                “Does it need to be this tight?”
                “We don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
                My eyes grew wide, “Um, actually I’m not really comfortable with this.  Can we uh, can I come back some other time?  I just realized that I double booked myself and-“
                She hit me across the head and I felt the bright pain rip through my temple and rush down my spine and trickle out my fingertips.  My whole world went blurry for a few moments.  I didn’t even yell out.  I was too surprised by the fact that sweet, innocent looking Jenny had punched me in the head. 
                Before I could regain my wits, Jenny was stuffing a piece of dusty red cloth into my mouth.  It tasted the way a Museum smells; it made me want to vomit.  I heard the unmistakable sound of duct tape ripping away from its roll.  I tried to fight as she began taping my head back against the headrest, but she struck me again.
                Henry grunted something that may have been a chuckle.
                Jenny made sure that my legs, arms and small chest were secured to the chair, and the metal hat dangling from the top of the chair was fastened to my head before removing the cloth off the third object.  I couldn’t turn my head enough to see what it was, but I could hear a series of mechanical pops and clicks and the whirr of an engine starting up.
                I was trying to shout but the dirty red rag in my mouth made sure I wasn’t heard.
                Henry continued to grunt his sick laugh.
                The group of attractive women moved in closer.  They were all smiling.
                I was beginning to feel woozy.
                Was it the cloth in my mouth?
                Was it the fact that Jenny had punched me in the head?
                Was it the fear that I-

                The machine behind me got louder and I was finding it difficult to think.  There was a feeling at the back of my head, something like feeling of a drain in a hot tub.  The one that sucks the water out and if you put your foot too close it-
                What the fuck! I am suddenly aware of the randomness of my thoughts.  I am duct taped to a chair against my will in some fucking, condemned building with a psycho woman, a group of weird model sluts and a fat man who looks like a pedophile.  I don’t have my cell phone, and it wouldn’t do any good if I had it anyway.
                The feeling of suction continues.  It feels as though my thoughts are being ripped out of my head.  The pain is crawling mercilessly throughout my whole body.  I try to scream behind the disgusting, red velvet cloth but I can’t hear anything over the throbbing hum of the machine behind my chair.
                I close my eyes and hope that whatever they’re doing will end soon.
                Abruptly, it does.
                “There,” Jenny says, sweetly.  I can hear the distinctive tearing sound as she rips the tape off. “How do you feel?”
                “Amazing.”
                The voice is immediately familiar.
                It’s my voice.
                I open my eyes and I vomit all over my, no, his lap.  I, or rather, he collapses off the chair and onto the dirty stage.
                “What the fuck is going on?”  I hear the voice that’s coming out of me and it sounds . . . no, it’s not me.  It’s him.
                Somehow, I’m him.
                I peer down at my stubby fingers, and the belly protruding from the extra extra large shirt.  I scream and everyone in the room laughs.  They all move in to surround me . . . er . . . him.
                “What the fuck is going on?”  The sound of his dark, raspy voice frightens me.
                “Thank you very much, Miss.” My voice says to me.
                I look up and see my own eyes staring down at me.  My own head, my own hair, my . . . he has everything.
                “What the fuck is going on?”  I’m sobbing madly.  I don’t have enough energy to even sit myself up.
                “Henry, oh sorry,” Jenny catches herself, “what should we call you now?”
                I hear my voice answer, “I like Jessica.”
                Hearing the man say my name in my own voice causes me to vomit again.
                There is an unmistakable click as my body cocks the gun and aims it at his head.