31 DaysDay 10: INTERROGATION {the prompt follows at the end of this post}

{start}

Dumb Luck

“Max, it’s cold out here. Are you sure he’s coming?”

“He’ll be here,” Max said.

Zora stomped her feet against the ground to drive home how cold she was. “I’m giving him five more minutes,” she said.

Max looked around the abandoned playground willing Thomas to show up already.

“So, just the two of us?” Zora asked. “I thought you were supposed to talk to Jack.” It had been a test and Max knew it and resented the fact, though he didn’t say anything about it to Zora.

“I did,” he said.

“And?” Zora pressed.

“He’s not here, is he?”

“The question is why.” Zora wrapped her arms tighter around her fleece jacket and wished she’d worn a hat. “You told him where we’d be, right?”

“I told him,” Max said.

“Huh.” Zora shrugged. “Okay.”

“What?” Max asked.

“He should be here,” Zora said and shrugged again.

“So, where is he?” Jack’s voice broke the silence that had settled between Zora and Max.

“He’ll be here,” Zora said. “Took your sweet time as usual.”

Zora and Jack were in the same training class for the third year running and were neck and neck for the top spot this year. Max was a year behind, but Thomas was his roommate and they needed Max if they were going to get Thomas here, away from the Colony. Because of their rank, Zora and Jack had more freedom than Max and Thomas, but Zora had made it clear to Max that he couldn’t afford to mess this up, not when was Jack was counting on him.

She didn’t care that he knew she was testing him. That was part of her what she had to do right now. She needed to prove herself more than equal to Jack. All of their futures depended on it. She stomped her feet against the frozen ground and looked at Max. But before she had the chance to say anything else to him a figure broke through the tree line at the edge of the playground.

“Here he comes,” Zora said.

“I’ll take the lead,” Jack said.

“Why you?” Zora asked.

“I outrank you,” he said.

“By one one-hundredth of a point,” she said.

“I’ve got it,” Max told them and walked to meet Thomas. “Hey, man, what took you so long?”

Thomas narrowed his eyes, looking past Max toward Zora and Jack. “What is this?”

Max glanced back over his shoulder. “Look, just be cool.”

“What’s going on, Max?” Thomas stopped walking and folded his arms across his chest.

“Jack and Zora are here. They –”

Zora approached them. “What’s up, boys?”

“What do you want, Zora?” Thomas asked.

“Same thing we all want, Thomas,” Zora replied. “You, me, Max, Jack. We all want the same thing.”

“She mean that much to you?” Thomas said to Max.

“That has nothing to do with it,” Max said.

“I’m out of here,” Thomas said and turned to leave when a loud cracking sound split the air around them. When they turned around Jack was leveling a pistol at Thomas.

“We need to talk,” Jack said, his voice low and even. “Have a seat.” He gestured toward the broken-down merry-go-round. Thomas stood where he was for a few long moments, looking at each of them, his hands balled into tight fists by his side. But he made his way slowly to the structure and took a seat without a word. “Let’s cut to the chase,” Jack said. “You know why we’re here, so let’s just get to it.”

“Fine,” Thomas said, not looking at Jack.

“Fine,” Jack said.

“Look, Thomas, we don’t have to make this some long, drawn out thing, you know?” Zora sat down next to him and Jack clenched his teeth so hard Max could see the vein in his neck. Zora was one of the few people who not only could challenge Jack but succeed at it. It was one of the reasons Max respected her.

“What do you want, Zora?” Thomas said, still staring straight ahead.

“The Sectors are getting restless and there’s talk of revolution and that makes a lot of people nervous,” Zora said.

“You have contacts in every sector and it’s common knowledge that they’re funneling information to you,” Jack said.

“Rumors started by a handful of jerks,” Thomas said.

“Is Max a jerk, Thomas?” Zora said quietly.

Max looked over Thomas’ head at the swings in the distance. He tried to remember if he’d ever swung on them or if he’d ever spun around on the merry-go-round Thomas now sat on.

“How do you explain your actions during the skirmish in the Square, then, huh?” Jack leaned in close to Thomas and Thomas just stared beyond him. “How was it that you and Max were hidden by the fountain when things got out of control?”

Thomas looked up at Max. “Dumb luck, I guess,” he said.

Jack struck Thomas across the face, splitting his lip and causing Max to rush forward. “How’s that for dumb luck?” Jack asked him. Zora stood up and held up a hand to Jack, positioning herself between him and Thomas.

“We have mutual interests, Thomas,” she said. “Your family is still in the Sectors. We can help them…” she paused and Thomas looked up at her. “… if you help us,” she added.

{stop}

{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 30 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing.}

Writing Prompt: INTERROGATION – set up a situation in which a character is being interrogated by two or three other people. Don’t make this a formal military or police interrogation. Make it something both informal and yet highly stylized – an intervention of some sort, or a job interview gone a little haywire. The key is to think of conversation or dialogue as being part of a larger ritual. Most conversation is ritualized anyway, but you should work up a situation with codes of ethics – even if they’re highly informal – built into it. {Exercise 68 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley. Note, this is an affiliate link}

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5 thoughts on “Dumb Luck

  1. I agree with Mr. Mike. I’m just fascinated by how you can just sit down and come up with such compelling stuff day after day. You’re pretty incredible!

  2. One day in the future I will be able to sit down and write whatever comes up in my mind just like you. I just can’t believe this stuff just pops up in your head. Great as usual!

    1. Thanks, my friend. I’m sure you know how much encouragement helps the writing process, so I appreciate your taking time to read and leave encouragement here. It really helps me on the journey.

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