Saturday, August 22, 2009

The nurse left work at five o'clock.

Here's my submission to NPR's latest "three minute fiction" contest (click the link in the post title).

The nurse left work at five o'clock. Mike stared at the last sentence, the cursor blinking steadily on his laptop screen. He'd come up with the nurse because none of his other characters seemed to be doing anything. They were all just sitting around drinking at a bar, like an interminable Hemingway novel, but in this case, the sun would never rise on them.
Mike rubbed his face with his hands and stretched, letting out a mighty yawn that would have shaken the windows if such things were possible. He got up, padded over to the kitchen, poured himself a drink, and began, finally, to feel clear-headed.
Who was this nurse? And what did he have to do with the vampires drinking at the bar, or the mysterious shadowy creatures that lurked...he shook his head. The story had gotten way out of hand. He'd been watching far too much HBO, and that had seeped into his writing like blood seeps into a carpet.
Mike sat back down at his computer. The nurse left work at five o'clock. Of course! It was so simple! Mike finished the story, his pale fingers blazing over the keyboard, his violet eyes glinting with a feverish excitement. The head vampire fell in love with the nurse, they had vampire babies, and there was a whole slew of complicated moral implications that nobody, neither human nor vampire, really wanted to deal with. But Mike would make them deal with those implications, because as Author, he had the Power. He very nearly whooped with joy as the complex threads of narrative wove themselves together into a tapestry of blood and gore and love and hate and sex and violence that Mike was convinced would absolutely redefine the vampire romance genre. Those pretty Twilight boys and their swooning teenage harem wouldn't know what hit them.
And that nurse character, who he had come up with on a whim, in the middle of the story, had turned out to be the linchpin of the whole thing. Mike typed the magical words “The End” and hit “Save.” His word processing program quit suddenly and he was staring at his desktop. Gone? Frantically, he clicked open his word processing program again and found, thankfully, that his story was intact. He must've just bumped a key after saving it.
This new technology, he thought to himself with a toothy grin, I'll never get used to it. He remembered writing by candlelight with a quill. But that was many, many years ago. He got up from his chair, swirling the dark red liquid in his glass, walked over to the window, and looked out at the sleeping city.