by Clinton Hill
I started this one with a “Story Starter”, wanting to see how far I could get. I was sick for about 5 out of the 7 days, so it’s not as long as I would have liked. Maybe I’ll finish it one day.
The starter was this: “They crinkled their noses, wondering what could make the room smell like this.”
They crinkled their noses, wondering what could make the room smell like this. Tom “Ash” Ashby, Clarice “Kay-Nine” Doberman, and Jack “Smitty” Smithson all sat in an imperfect triangle around a slow burning fire. The flames were dying down, from the initial blaze that Kay-Nine had gotten by throwing old books that they found into the kindling and it was only getting colder.
“I didn’t sign up for this Ash.” Smitty shivered out. His lips were turning slightly blue. He was a scrawny boy, no meat on his bones at all. If the chill were to take anyone, it’d be Smitty – or at least Smitty first.
The girl rubbed her hands close to dying fire and pulled her parka tight around the neck. “If we don’t get some more stuff on the fire, we’re going to die Ash.” She leveled her gaze with him. “Why did we take this stupid bet any way? Or a better question, why couldn’t we have taken it in the summer?”
The truth was, Ash was a sucker for cliches. He grew up reading R.L. Stine and Stephen King, and knew all about the ‘Spend the night in the abandoned house’ dare. He had been preparing for it his whole life. Years and years of needling through horror stories had him prepared for anything that this old house could throw at him, at least he thought that it did. Kay-Nine wiped at her running nose with a stiff knuckle.
“I’m getting out of here. If you two idiots want to die today, that’s your prerogative.” She grumbled as she moved to stand.
“Wait.” Ash protested. “We can do this. We just need more stuff to throw on the fire. Find some chairs or something.” He said with a dismissive wave of his hand. Kay-Nine grumbled and bent down to scoop up her flashlight. She turned it on with a push of the mechanism and shone a cone of dim light toward one of the doors – the one on her left.
“All right, but if I happen to die here and you don’t, I’m going to haunt you till the day you die,” With that huff, she headed into the adjacent room and her cone of light dimmed into nothingness.
“We’re going to freeze to death, Ash.” Smitty spoke up through chattering teeth. “Why can’t we just slip out and say we did it?”
“We’re not going to freeze. Kay is bringing us back some stuff to burn. If we slip out, they might find out and then they’ll never let us in. Or worse.” Ash replied. Smitty grumbled and pushed his hands as close to the pathetic flames as he could. He knew that Ash was right.
After about ten minutes of Ash having to listen to Smitty’s teeth clattering, Kay-Nine returned to the room with some splinters of wood that she carried in a bundle in her strong arms.
“I found a table.” She murmured out from behind the scraps. She dumped them out onto the stone floor. “Had to beat on it for 5 minutes before it’d give way.” She then leaned down and took a couple of scraps, gently positioning them on the fire so that they would catch next. The trio stared in anticipation as the flames licked gently and teasingly against the new arrival. A trace of smoke rose once or twice, but the flames were just too small to catch.
“We-we’re going to need some ki-kindling.” Smitty stuttered out. Ash reached for a hand-length piece of wood and tried to break it, to no avail. He sighed and stood up. “I’ll go find something. There’s probably some more timeless classics somewhere.” He extended a hand toward Kay-Nine, which she looked dumbly at for a minute. Finally it clicked and she handed over her flashlight. Ash nodded and wandered off in the opposite direction than Kay-Nine had, entering the door that was right behind him. It clasped shut with a ‘click’.