This is going to sound a little nuts, I confess. And, I really don’t know how it will go, to be honest. All the same, we wanted to do something unique. We wanted to do something that other sites aren’t (to our knowledge) doing.
What could we do to break the mold?
What could we do to get you more involved?
Suddenly, it hit me: We can start an ongoing tale, open for anyone to contribute a paragraph to.
And then another cool idea hit me: We could get someone close to HNR, someone whose work we all generally respect to a great degree, involved. Hell, maybe they could even launch the story with the opening paragraph.
Hunter Shea – a man I consider a stellar ambassador of the genre, a friend and a genuinely gifted and true talent. That’s who.
So, I approached Hunter about the idea, and he liked it. He liked it enough to ensure he’d not only get the story started, he’d also throw out some slick autographed copies of They Rise and Tortures of the Damned (two amazing novels, might I say) to a few of the shining contributors.
I wouldn’t necessarily call this a contest. Sure, excellent writers stand to walk away with some cool goodies, but I can’t really identify this experiment as a contest. Think of it more as an artistic building block; A chance to improve your own writing skills and directly compare them to others.
Yeah… this is certainly more of an artistic building block than anything else. But it should be a load of fun, and who knows – we may just find ourselves with an insanely cool short story to share with the public… perhaps even a novella. We’ll see how the embrace goes from our loyal HNR readers.
So, here’s what you’ll do, if you’re interested in getting involved and adding to the story:
You’ll read Hunter’s opening paragraph below. Then the first person to add to the story will write a paragraph (or a small exchange of dialogue, if we’re at a point in the story in which it’s called for) that directly follows Hunter’s paragraph. You’ll write that paragraph in the comments section and we’ll edit this original post and add your paragraph. Then, the next to contribute will pick up where the second paragraph left off, expanding the story. Again, we’ll edit the original post, and we’ll keep that trend alive until we’re working at establishing a cohesive story. So remember, the paragraph you write will always be a direct follow-up to the most recent paragraph submitted.
When will giveaways go out? Likely once we’re relatively deep into the tale, but if Hunter, or myself, sees something that really impresses us, we’ll reach out to you to obtain your shipping info and you’ll find yourself gifted a little something special.
Right now we have no limits to the story. No length limits, no content limits. We just want to build an intriguing, exciting and cohesive story – and we want everyone to have a chance to shine.
It’s an atypical idea, as far as HNR practices go, but we’re confident that this can be a really cool idea that ultimately culminates in a wicked good story.
We’re going to now show you Hunter Shea’s opening paragraph. Keep the story going. Comment with your follow up paragraph, and just to be sure we can always easily contact you, leave your email address and your full name, as you’d like to see it credited in the story, in your original response. If you’re a little hesitant to leave your email behind for the masses to see, start a new email specifically for this, or use an alternate email that you’re not too concerned with sharing. But make sure you leave behind a clear-cut means of contact. We don’t want anyone who contributes to miss the chance to pick up some cool stuff (and for the record, I’ll throw some nice books, DVDs and Blu-rays in the mix as well)!
Onto the story… LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Hunter Shea, Paragraph One:
The thing that surprised Randy the most was the color of Martina’s exposed brain. Sure, he’d seen his share of them on TV and movies, and even one preserved in a clear jar in science class back in high school. Those brains had been white, or at least off white. But they had been dead brains. People talked a lot about gray matter. Randy had assumed a living, pulsing brain would be closer to that. Maybe not a battleship gray, but definitely not like this. The brain quivering in Martina’s convertible skull had its share of white and light gray ropy squiggles. There were also twisty bits of red and folds of black. Was that cancer? Black couldn’t be good. Then again, neither was having your brain out for a breath of cold, night air.
Paula Limbaugh, Paragraph Two:
Randy wasn’t sure how long he could keep Martina in this state, but hey at least this one was still alive. Those last two were duds from the get-go. Maybe he should google it, HaHa, wouldn’t that be a hoot! Okay, back to serious business… got the girl, she’s still alive, now what? Randy was already thinking of what else he could open up. Perhaps he could pick her brain and Martina will have some ideas, that is if she would just wake up. Hmm,he wondered what a beating heart would look like.
Theotherjamesherbert, Paragraph Three:
He used the linoleum knife to slit the front of her long-sleeved t-shirt and stared at her exposed chest, watching the rise and fall of her breathing. Who was he kidding? To get to the heart without killing her he would need a retractor to keep her ribs spread. He’d brought along assorted knives, pliers, shears, drill, and a small blowtorch, all stowed within the canvass bag, but no thoracic retractor. Too bad. He stared longingly at Martina’s unmarked sternum, at the exact spot he wanted to cut.
“My eyes are up here,” Martina said.
Russell Vaneekhoven, Paragraph Four:
The linoleum knife slipped out of his hand, the cheap plastic handle making a muted thump against her sternum. Randy’s head twitched up to stare at her face, but her lips couldn’t have moved beneath the duct tape, could they? Her eyelids were closed, fluttering softly. A single tear had formed at the corner, merging with a drop of blood to streak down her cheek.
“My eyes are up here” came a whispered voice from the air above her head.
Nina D’Arcangela, Paragraph Five:
WTF? For a moment, Randy was sure he was hallucinating, but a whispered giggle that tickled his ear convinced him otherwise. He didn’t know whether he should grab the scrapper and end Martina, or run from the room screaming. Both options seemed not only viable, but a shit-load smarter than standing around like an idiot doing nothing. But why run, this was what he’d been waiting for, wasn’t it? He wanted to understand what made a human tick, he’d cut the others open and was disappointed when they died on his table. Would it really make sense to run from his first chance at success?
“Hello?” Randy intoned with as much bravado as he could muster.
Aspen DeLainey, Paragraph Six:
“Hello? That’s all you can come up with? What’s the matter, big boy. Afraid of a little extra-cranial communication?” Martina giggled. Her brain jiggled just a little.
alicejblack, Paragraph Seven:
Her head cocked to the side and she regarded him with her pale blue eyes, not judging but sad. Yet there was still a question she wanted to ask and it came in that soft willowy whisper. “Why did you do it Randy?” A pang of something close to guilt rushed through him and speared his chest. There was no good way to answer that, no good explanation for killing the woman he’d been on a single date with yet she deserved one. He opened his mouth.
Erik Smith, Paragraph Eight:
Nothing came out, but a sigh. What could he say, really? That he chose her because she was special? That was a lie. She had just been convenient. That he simply had an insatiable curiosity? Not quite. He could open his heart, much like he had opened her skull, and tell her about his dying sister. About his compulsion to save her. About his need to understand how the human body worked, so that he could fix the only person who truly mattered to him. He sighed again. Shaking his head, hoping to rid himself of her voice, he reached into his bag, for another tool.
Norm hendricks, Paragraph Eight (alternate):
Meow. His mouth dropped open and the sound that filled the lab was: meow. Mr. Danders had wandered in through his cat door that barely veiled the herbal smells from the south garden. “I…” But he the cat interrupted by meowing again as though it had brought news of alien invasion. “Hey!” Randy said. “Shoo!” But Mr. Danders wouldn’t shoo, instead the unfixed tom leaped onto the surgical tray by the girl’s shoulder, scattering tools to the cement floor with a timbral precociousness that aroused Martina’s attention. “A cat?” She asked. “Is that a cat? I speak cat, you know.” Then she wailed at Mr. Danders who echoed, no, bettered the girl’s feline siren sound such that Randy was caught in a chorus of caterwauling as surpassed the best yowlings a pride of queen cats might produce under the light of a blood moon. “Stop that!” Rudy screamed.
Christopher Jake Lowder, Paragraph Nine:
“I…I don’t know…”, Randy muttered, his lip starting to quiver and his eyes beginning to water. Why did he do this? Why would he want to cut open an innocent girl? What did she ever do to…
“How can you NOT remember what this…this WHORE did to you?”
Another voice? Above his own cranium? Another voice talking to him? It was a voice unlike his own, yet it was not inside his skull. The voice from Martina’s head gasped, and her face contorted in fear.
Doris Dickens Kissack, Paragraph 10:
Foam was emerging from the corners of her mouth. Randys heart raced with excitement as he licked his lips.” Steady hands now “, he told himself. Randy rubbed his forehead and a grin emerged leaking a giggle.
ST King, Paragraph 11:
And by the time he finishes with Martina, her voice had went away completely.
Russell Vaneekhoven, Paragraph 12:
Randy jammed the blood-speckled tools into his duffel bag and scratched the itching on his head. The bag’s zipper had long ago given up the ghost so he had cut holes in each side and used worn shoelaces to suture the bag closed. Randy looked about his mobil “lab”; a late 70s Ford Econoline van that had been coverted into a low budget ambulance at some point duribg its checkered past. He crawled up through the maroon window drapes that separated the driver’s cab from the back and scratched his head again. Randy used the rear view mirror to look at the dessicated skin and hair attached to the top of his skull. A line of glue encircled his crown roughly the size and shape of a hand. It valiantly struggled to hold down the top of his head, but it was losing the battle to the leprous mass of blue-black matter which seeped out of the gaps in the glue and which grew inexorably larger each day.
Doris Kissack, Paragraph 13:
Morning had brought a errie heavey morning mist. Mr Dander was sitting atop the window sill watching as Randy trotted across the backyard. A large shovel was in his gloved hand. Mud upon his boots were evident Randy had been busy. Mr Dander meowed and flinched as the back door creaked open.