TK
03-20-2008, 02:30 AM
Been a while since I turned out a story. This is a rough draft. It's gross. Read it at your own risk.

“This parking lot is a barren wasteland,” Reggie said. She had stopped short at the curb and was looking forlornly at a blank parking spot. If she could just fill that one chunk of asphalt, the whole world would spring into new and vibrant life and there would never be another lonely suburban night as long as she lived.

“We’ll have to traverse it anyway,” Verity said. Her tone was that of someone who is babysitting a second grade intellectual and is not getting paid enough. She started the long trek across the concrete desert, not checking to see if Reggie was coming.

Reggie didn’t come. She sat down on the curb and contemplated the empty parking space. It would have been a perfect shot for a movie. (Reggie is pretty in a soft way, and she dresses simply and doesn’t do much with her hair. This makes it very beautiful when she shares a moment with something like a parking space.)

Verity, meanwhile, had already entered the mouth of capitalism, which is a large chain store called Shop Mart. Both Reggie and Verity frequently refer to it as an abomination, but it is open until two A.M., and nothing else within walking distance of their neighborhood possesses that quality. Therefore, it is the only place in which they can pester strangers for video tape interviews after midnight.

Verity stepped through the mouth of capitalism and started to scan the store.

“Hi, how you doing,” said the employee stationed by the door. His job was to stand there and greet people, and also to make sure they were not stealing from the man.

“Well, on a scale of one to ten, I’d say about a six. Maybe six and a half,” said Verity. “It’s the middle of summer and it always gets too humid to really enjoy being outside around this time of year, even after midnight. And frankly I’m tired and I don’t feel like putting up with my friend’s weird mystic shit tonight. But I can’t complain too much, because I’m now inside this fine establishment enjoying its air conditioning, and my friend seems to have elected to stay outside and contemplate a parking space instead of joining me in here. All this, and I’m still in a relatively good mood because I’m wearing a brand new outfit that I really like. Thanks for asking.”

Verity was wearing a pretty cute new outfit, which consisted of a jean skirt she’d already stuck a patch to (the patch was a very threatening skull wearing a pink bow), and a sleeveless, white collared shirt underneath a black tank-top. It went well with her hair, which was also black and white. There are many things one can say about Verity, including that she is a little too proud and that she often does not give people a fair chance, and perhaps even that she is unnecessarily fond of tormenting those weaker than her—but one thing we cannot say about her is that she does not aesthetically mirror the dualistic nature of the universe.

“You’re welcome,” said the man, who looked pretty distressed at having been conversed with.

Verity let him alone, as there were bigger fish to fry. Besides, one of the rules is you never try to interview an employee, as you’re liable to get kicked out. (The exception to this rule is if you happen to be out of town, or if, for whatever reason, you are at a business establishment to which you have no intention of returning, like say your high school.) She started down the grocery aisle, in search of a proper candidate for an interview.

Unfortunately, the pickings were slim. The first person Verity took note of was a couple of very overweight people who looked like an adult mother and son duo, combing the grocery aisles for whatever items their ravenous appetites might demand. Useless for the purpose of interviewing.

The next option wasn’t much better—an older fellow, with a birdlike face and sparse stringy hair, looking intently at something in the electronics section. Interviewing an old curmudgeon like that is too risky. Sometimes you get good results, but more often than not they simply don’t understand what you’re doing and you get stuck deciding whether to try to explain to them for fifteen minutes only to have them refuse, or to be rude and just walk away before they get it.

The third candidate was one Verity started to consider: a relatively nerdy-looking fellow in a white polo shirt, scanning the DVD racks. If you’re lucky, and you push the right way, this type of person can go on for a very long interview about some completely insane topic, like crystal skulls or why Michael Bay should be executed. For best results, be an attractive girl. Some young men have actually considered sex changes to this end.

Verity decided she was probably not going to find anything better, so she pulled out her phone and called Reggie.

“You’re so impatient,” Reggie said when she picked up.

“Whatever, come in here. I think I found a guy to interview.”

“I’ll be there in a sec. I’m riding Sky Thumper.” (Sky Thumper is a horse ride near the store’s entrance that is designed for children. You put some change in, and it goes up and down. The horse is pink and has little fluffy wings on its side. It is Reggie’s favorite thing about Shop Mart.)

Verity rolled her eyes and sighed. “Well hurry up. He’ll get away.”

“Is he cute?”

“No! Get the fuck over here.”

“You never pick cute ones. I should have stayed in the parking lot. It needs me. More than Sky Thumper, even.”

“I’m hanging up.”

And Verity did just that. After she hung up, Reggie said into her telephone to no one: “I love Sky Thumper.”



Rather than let her target escape, Verity decided she’d approach him even without her winglady. She sidled through the DVD aisles, trying to look like she was perusing them. Finally she stopped next to the young man she was stalking, and snuck a glance at the movie he was holding. She didn’t recognize it, but it had a picture of a very determined looking man and a lightning bolt. The title was probably something like “The Dark Days” or “Caterpillar Fortress.”

“Excuse me,” she said, leaning in. “What is that movie you’re holding?”

“Oh,” said the young man. He looked very unsettled. “It’s—”

“Hey, what’s your name?” asked Verity.

“Uh, Mark.”

“Great. I’m Verity. Mark, I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a video interview for my friend and me.”

“A what?”

“A video interview. It’s a process where we ask you some questions, and videotape your response to them.”

“What for?” asked Mark. He really looked quite nervous. “Is this for a school project, or something?”

Verity laughed. “You’re great, Mark,” she said. “You’ll make an excellent subject. I just have to find my friend.”

“I don’t know,” said Mark, putting his DVD back. “I really think—”

“Oh, there she is!” Verity pointed way down the aisle, to where Reggie was steadily, if distractedly approaching, sliding her hand along the edge of the aisle and staring at the ceiling.

“Great timing,” said Verity. “Reggie, I’d like you to meet Mark. Mark just agreed to do an interview for us. Mark, this is Reggie.”

“Why do you have a man’s name?” asked Mark.

“Let’s not do him,” said Reggie.

“No, it’s okay. Mark, let’s get this started, alright?” She pulled her video camera out of her bag.

“Now, hold on a minute,” Mark demanded, starting to look a bit put out. “I told you, I don’t think I want to do this stupid interview. You won’t even tell me—you won’t even tell me what it’s for. For all I know you’re a couple of psychos who are going to stalk me or something.”

Verity laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous, Mark,” she said. “Why would anybody want to stalk you?”

At that moment, an employee walked up to them. He was a tall blonde fellow with glasses and a stern expression that seemed to suggest he took his job very seriously.

“Excuse me,” he said, “but you cannot remove the products from their displays.”

Verity looked at her camera, then over at the aisle to her left, which was full of video camera displays.

“Oh,” she said, smiling sweetly. “No, you see, this is my camera. I just brought it in with me.”

Mark took the opportunity to escape.

“Why would you be bringing a video camera into my store?” asked the employee.

“Look, uh—” Verity glanced at the man’s name tag, which read “Steve”—“Steve, I can carry my own damn video camera around anywhere I want. It’s mine. We’ll just be leaving now.”

“Hold it,” said Steve. “I’m going to need to check that camera against our inventory so that I know we’re not missing one.”

Verity crossed her arms and adopted a dangerous expression. “Look, all you have to do is go over there and check to see if all the display cameras are in their proper places, which they are. Cut the bullshit.”

“You can give me that camera so I can go check it, or you can never come in here again.”

“Fine,” said Verity. “I don’t need to patronize your stupid—”

“Actually,” said Reggie, “I think that will be fine. Don’t you?”

Verity looked at her in astonishment. “What?”

“Let’s not get banned from the mouth of capitalism,” said Reggie.

Verity stared at her suspiciously for a moment, and then shrugged. “Alright,” she said, “you’re right. Here.” She pulled her camera back out of her bag and handed it to Steve. “Do whatever you need to and bring it back exactly how you found it.”

Steve took the camera and turned around, presumably heading for that mysterious location known as “the back” in retail establishments.

“Well, we’ve let Mark get away now,” said Verity.

“He is probably happy,” said Reggie. “I imagine him frolicking freely in his natural habitat.”

“Whatever. I swear sometimes you exist just to piss me off.”

“That is because we are a representation of the dualistic nature of reality. I just happen to have gotten the good side.” But then she appraised Verity’s black and white outfit and her black and white hair, and scratched her head. “Actually, nevermind. You’re a representation of the dualistic nature of reality. I’m the inexplicable.”

Verity glared at her. “Look, right now, my camera, my most precious possession, is being manhandled by some corporate drone named Steve. And it’s all because I somehow let you convince me that we need to be able to come back into this wretched place again in the future. Don’t aggravate me. I’m ready to explode.”

Reggie poked her.

“Here,” said Steve. He was behind them, holding out what appeared to be, for all intents and purposes, Verity’s camera—but I’m going to tell you right now, mostly to spoil the surprise, that it was not.

Verity snatched the device and quickly began to examine it. “Alright,” she said, even as she tried to decide which dings might possibly have been caused by Steve in the past two minutes. “Are you happy now?”

“Quite satisfied. Please do not bring that device back into the store.”

“Oh, you won’t have to worry about that,” said Verity. She turned around and started to stomp off.

“I hope you have a pleasant evening,” said Reggie. She gave Steve a tremendous smile, but he was already grimly going back to work.

Reggie caught up to Verity in the men’s clothing section. “I think I had a transcendental moment back there,” she said happily.

“What, with Steve? You seem like you have a thing for him.”

“Of course I don’t,” said Reggie. “You know perfectly well that the ability to love was stolen from me. I just mean when we were talking about our representational roles in reality. I think there’s something to the idea that I am the inexplicable.”

“Can we please focus on doing an interview first, and then maybe you could tell me about your weird religious shit?”

“Oh, come on. You’re not even in the right mood to do an interview anymore. Whoever you encounter you’re just going to scare away by acting like a bitch.”

“And who’s fault is that? Maybe if you hadn’t been acting like such an airheaded cunt all evening I’d be in a slightly better fucking mood.” She turned around and started to examine some suit jackets on a rack in front of her.

“Those would look awful on you,” said Reggie. Verity ignored her and stared at the jackets.

Reggie shrugged and turned to a nearby shelf of hats, which she immediately started to try on, one by one. After a minute or two of this, her phone began to ring. She removed it from her pocket and was surprised to see who it was that was giving her a buzz.

“Verity,” she called, “I think we need to go.”

Verity turned to her and put her hands on her hips. “What, did you have another transcendental moment?” she asked.

“No,” said Reggie, holding up her cell phone. “Danny’s calling me.”



“I don’t fucking believe this,” Verity muttered as the two girls strolled out of the mouth of capitalism and back into reality. “That dipshit calls you after two months of ignoring you completely, and you still have to come running.”

“Not exactly,” said Reggie. “He has something of mine. I want it back.”

“Why didn’t you just answer the phone and ask him for it?”

“Because I need to get it back from him in person.”

“What is it?”

“Just something I want.”

“Fine, be secretive.” Verity pulled a cigarette out of her purse and started to light it, but her match kept going out.

Reggie opened the driver’s side door to her car and got in. Verity stood outside, struggling with the match. She was trying to be annoying—Reggie had a no smoking rule in her car, so Verity was just going to stand around and insist on finishing a cigarette before they left. Reggie had been reading a lot of eastern philosophy lately, though, and she simply let go of whatever annoyance she may have felt.

“Use the lighter in my car,” she said.

“Okay, thanks.” Verity got in the car and reached for the lighter.

Reggie started the ignition.

“Hey,” said Verity. “I haven’t even started—”

“Just roll the window down. I don’t have time to wait.”

Verity looked over at her friend, suddenly concerned for the first time that night. “What the hell is this all about?” she asked. “You were never this eager to see Danny even when you were crazy about him.”

“Look, please understand,” said Reggie as she started to back her car out of its parking space. “This is something I really don’t want to talk about. I know it seems ridiculous, but… there’s things about Danny I just can’t explain. I’ve got to do this, alright? Can you please just support me?”

“Alright, alright,” said Verity. “But I’m going to get sort of pissed if we don’t get some good footage tonight.”

“We will. We can probably find someone to interview at Randal’s.”

“We’re going to Randal’s? Why didn’t you say so?”

“Where the hell else would you find Danny Screwball at night?”

“Fair enough, I suppose.”

The suburbs passed by out the window as the car made its way towards Randal’s. Verity took her video camera out of her purse and turned it on, making sure it was ready to go.




Reggie pulled up to Randal’s and put the car in park, but didn’t turn it off. “I need you to do something for me,” she said.

“What now?” asked Verity.

“Get in the driver’s seat and be ready to go as soon as I hop in.”

“What the hell? You need me to be the getaway driver?”

“Yes. Please just trust me and do as I ask.”

“You are so weird.”

“Fine, I’m weird. Will you please just do this for me?”

“Alright, alright.”

“Thanks.”

Reggie got out of the car, and Verity slid over to the driver’s seat, watching intently as her friend walked across the parking lot towards the club. As usual, there was a large mass of kids standing around outside. Danny and his friends were standing off to the left of the door, and Reggie was steadily moving toward them.

All Verity could see happen from inside the car was that Reggie talked to Danny for a few minutes, and the conversation was heated. Both of them seemed somewhat upset, and Danny was waving his arms around emphatically, while Reggie, though firm, hardly made a sign of aggression.
Eventually, they turned and walked inside the building, Danny’s pals all following them inside. Verity shrugged and slid down in the seat, trying to make herself comfortable and alert at the same time.

Unfortunately, a scruffy guy in a trench coat and fedora, who had watched the girls arrive from across the parking lot, had other ideas. Verity noticed him walking towards the car intently and locked the doors, muttering a curse under her breath. When the man finally got close enough, he knocked on the passenger side window a couple times. Verity did her best to ignore him, but he knocked again, and kept doing so every few seconds. She could feel the heat of his gaze coming through the window and hitting the side of her face and her neck. Finally, unable to stand it anymore, she turned and opened the window just the slightest crack.

“What the fuck do you want?” she snapped.

“I want to help,” the man said.

“Well fuck off. I didn’t ask for your help.”

“I need to help your friend.”

“Fuck you. She’s a big girl. Go away.”

“No,” said the man. “She is a very small girl. Look, I care about Reggie as much as you do and I would like to speak to you concerning her safety, which I can guarantee is in jeopardy right now. She is in danger of becoming explicable.”

“What?”

“I know this may sound strange, but if you’ll simply get out of the car for a moment, I will explain.”

Verity looked over at the mass of kids next to the club, and back at the stranger outside the car door. Then she looked down at her bag, with the camera in it that she thought was her camera. “I’ll get out and we can talk, but only on two conditions,” she said.

“What are those?”

“First, I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“Fine.”

“And second, I get to video tape it.”

“Okay.”

Verity was a little suspicious of the man’s willingness to be video taped by a stranger, but she wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to get an interview with such an unusual person. She took the camera out of her bag and stepped out of the car.

“Alright,” she said. “Stay over there.” She pointed the camera at him and hit record, viewing him on the camera’s tiny screen from across the hood of the car.

“Reggie needs your help,” said the man. “She doesn’t realize what she’s getting into.”

“Okay, first, I’m going to need your name,” Verity said pleasantly.

“This is not one of your stupid interviews. Your friend’s life is in danger. I suggest you pay attention to me.”

“Still going to need your name.”

“Jerome.”

That name was a catalyst. Verity knew it from Reggie. “How did you find us?” she asked.

“That’s not important. There are many things at my disposal that you will not understand. I have already come to you once tonight at the Shop Mart. You did not know it was me. I disguised myself as an employee named Steve.”

“What? What the fuck? How do you know about that?”

“Because it was me. I had to prepare you for what is going to happen tonight. I have replaced your camera with a very special one. It can save your friend and return to her the thing she is trying to regain. You must believe me.”
“You’re a fucking freak,” said Verity. “Go away before I mace you.” To emphasize her point, she pulled a can of mace out of her bag and held it up in front of the camera so that if she were to spray some, it would be on tape.
“Very well,” said Jerome. “I guess you will not believe me.” He turned around and began to walk away across the parking lot. Verity and her camera watched him go until he left the parking lot and began to walk down the side of the road. When she was satisfied he was gone, she breathed in relief, and shut the camera off.




“We’ve very little time left,” said Jerome. He and Verity were bolting down the stairs that led to the basement of Randal’s, a space ordinarily used for live music performances, but on some nights, like this one, for much darker and much stranger activities.

“I still don’t understand what you need my camera for,” said Verity. “Why would we need to record this?”

“Because, like I told you, it’s not your camera. It is special. In fact, it’s how I got you to come with me.”

“I was wondering why the fuck I agreed to do this.”

The two burst into the basement. Verity’s stomach shrank into a knot with the sight before her eyes: Reggie was kneeling on the floor, a stream of blood pouring from her nose, bruises visible on her arms. Danny was standing in front of her holding a knife out in front of him, and his cronies were standing around the spectacle in a menacing circle.

“What the fuck?” Verity shouted.

“Who the fuck le them down here?” Danny asked.

Reggie looked up weakly at Verity and Jerome. There was expression in her eyes, but it was beyond comprehension.

“We’re here to help,” said Jerome. “I have a deal for you.”

“What?” asked Danny.

“I’d like to make a video of the proceedings.” He looked straight at Reggie. “I will need one moment to discuss this briefly with Reggie and Verity. If we all agree upon it I will turn the tape over to you. I just need to do the recording.”

Danny’s eyes narrowed, and he scratched his head. “Reggie, you know this fuck?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Reggie.

“Why the fuck does he want to record this?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well who the fuck is he?”

“Someone I loved once. Like you.”

Danny snorted. “You’ve got shitty taste in boyfriends,” he said. “Alright, fucko, you’ve got a deal. You can come talk to her. We’ll back off, but you get exactly one minute, that’s it.”

“It’s a deal,” said Jerome.

“Wait, okay, what is going on here?” Verity asked. “What are we doing? What the fuck are you going to record with my camera?”

Jerome looked her straight in the eye, and said, “Let Reggie decide.”

“If I don’t like the sound of this, I’m calling the cops,” said Verity. Jerome simply turned and walked over to Reggie, and Verity reluctantly followed. The two crouched down on the floor in front of her. Her face was red not just with blood but from tears. She looked panic-stricken.

“Oh, sweetheart,” said Verity. “Why, why, why did you have to do this?”

“I thought I was stronger,” said Reggie.

“Reggie,” said Jerome. “I can return to you what you came here to get. This is a special camera. It performs the opposite of a normal camera’s function.”

“More,” said Reggie.

“A normal camera’s function is to duplicate reality. If reality is zero, a camera creates positive one. This camera, instead, creates negative one, effectively duplicating reality in the opposite direction of that which it has recorded.”

Reggie nodded. “I understand,” she said. She turned to Verity and took her by the shoulders. “Verity, my darling, my loved one. This is going to be the hardest thing you will ever have to watch. Please trust me. I don’t want to do it, but it’s the only way now.”

Verity's eyes were drowning in tears. “I don’t understand,” she said. “I don’t understand any of this.”

“Trust me. It will be over soon.”

“I love you,” said Verity. She clasped her friend’s face.

“I love you too,” said Reggie, and she clasped the hand upon her cheek.

“Alright, time’s more than up,” said Danny. “Let’s go. I don’t have all night.”

Jerome and Reggie nodded at one another, and Jerome gently pulled Verity away. Her makeup was running down her face in her tears as he guided her to the side of the room.

“If necessary, simply turn your back and plug your ears,” said Jerome. He turned on the camera. Everyone backed away to the edges of the room except Danny and Reggie. As he approached her, Verity fell apart, and her sobs broke Reggie’s heart as the dark work began.




The night seemed cooler and less humid as the girls emerged from Randal’s. Verity’s face was frozen in the kind of excessively blank stare that one adopts when detached from reality.

Reggie’s spirits had never been higher. She walked with her face up and her hands laid happily across her groin. “It’s back,” she said with a smile. She stopped underneath the nearest street lamp, and sat on the pavement, basking in its glow. “I am complete again.”

Verity, for the first time since her experience in the basement, smiled in spite of herself. Her friend’s joy was so infectious, she almost believed in her heart what her mind knew to be true: that what occurred no longer had occurred, and that though it was a scar she would wear forever, it was but a small price to pay for what her friend had regained.

She sat down beside Reggie and, for the first time, allowed herself to try to enjoy the same spiritual wholeness her friend seemed to gain when under a street lamp at night. Then, she opened her bag and pulled out the camera, the camera whose secret she now fully comprehended.

She laughed in a sinister fashion. “Mine,” she said. “All mine.”

Reggie leaned over on her shoulder and sighed. “Imagine the interviews,” she said.

The world will never be the same.

Sobye
03-20-2008, 11:16 AM
That was downright fantastic. You remind me of Jeff Noon in some of the parts. I'm not a critic, so you'll have to rely upon others to point out whatever needs to be changed. However,


“Very well,” said Jerome. “I guess you will not believe me.” He turned around and began to walk away across the parking lot. Verity and her camera watched him go until he left the parking lot and began to walk down the side of the road. When she was satisfied he was gone, she breathed in relief, and shut the camera off.




“We’ve very little time left,” said Jerome. He and Verity were bolting down the stairs that led to the basement of Randal’s, a space ordinarily used for live music performances, but on some nights, like this one, for much darker and much stranger activities.


I'm curious as to what happened in between these paragraphs. You did say it was just a draft, though, so I dunno if you're going to fill in the blanks or if there is something to be read between the lines. I also fail to see what was gross about the story.

EDIT: LOL nevermind I'm stupid

something amusingly random
03-20-2008, 11:26 AM
WOW^^

Solaris
03-20-2008, 07:36 PM
Is more going to be added to this?

I usually don't like reading what people write online or anything but I was just stuck on reading this entire story just wondering what's going to happen next.
Good job, TK :)

Miss Misa
03-20-2008, 08:18 PM
Cool story!

TK
03-21-2008, 03:16 AM
Is more going to be added to this?

not exactly, but the possibility of the characters showing up again in another story is pretty substantial. Almost all my stories take place in the same fictional town, so recurring characters are not unheard of. Especially if I like them, and Reggie's one of my favorites.

Solaris
03-21-2008, 03:22 AM
Well, I'll definantly read whatever you write next.
It kinda motivates me to write my own story but I don't want to attempt it; I don't want to upset myself by failing miserably at it or just getting frustrated while writing it.


And I really like Verity's character a lot. She has this spunk about her, kinda reminds me of a friend of mine.

MossY
03-30-2008, 10:53 PM
TK, I read this when you posted it and never bothered commenting, but I'll do so now.

I know you say it's a rougher than rough draft, but it reads pretty polished and I don't see any room for anything but minor tweaks. The two central characters have their personalities well established also. Overall it's well written and enjoyable.

My only well criticism is the way you jump abruptly to leave the reader to fill in the blanks. I don't really like that and though I suppose I can understand it's utility in the second case since they are using a fAnTaSy CaMeRa, I think the first jump could be filled in. It's a purely stylistic criticism though and like I said, it's an enjoyable story which is the priority.

execrable gumwrapper
03-31-2008, 05:08 AM
Call me dumb, but I don't follow that ending.

Nice read though.

Sobye
03-31-2008, 05:54 PM
Think about it, noskill.

Sobye
06-24-2008, 06:09 PM
*snip*

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