So, I’m crazy.
(According to my mother, since I think I am, I must not be. Cold comfort, but I digress.)
A writer friend of mine, Nicole Kurtz, approached me and asked what I was doing for Women in Horror Month this year. I hadn’t decided anything at the time and she suggested a collaboration. I agreed.
Then came the time to decide on the project. We both wanted to write something horror centered, but different from any other work we’d done. Not thinking it would fly, I suggested doing something in the old school Choose Your Own Adventure style. And Nicole thought it was a great idea.
Not long after that, I came across an article of how difficult these types of books are to write. Then I looked at my list of projects that need to be finished in 2015 and I worried I’d taken on too much. Add on top of that the dreaded second person point of view—it’s frowned upon by publishers now, certainly not popular like it used to be—most of these stories take and I wanted to recant. Run! Run away!
I thought a good idea might be to involve the Twitter-verse with helping Nicole and I with our ideas on where to take the story. During 2015, we’ll be posting flash fiction on our blogs and giving readers a choice of which path they’d take if they were in the main protagonist’s situation.
Graveyard shift Sisters has posted our project idea on their site, along with one of our banners. Here’s the other:
As Black female speculative fiction writers, Nicole and I are in a minority. There is an idea in the field of horror that woman—especially women of color—don’t enjoy horror. In our circles, that isn’t true. We wanted to give a voice to women that enjoy reading horror: What do you want to read? We’re looking to involve you in a storyline to give us an idea of what female readers of horror are looking for in a tale.
To give you an idea of what we mean, here’s a short flash piece I wrote:
You walk down the deserted basement hallway toward the last room on the left, your confident strides from earlier in the day things of memory. B302. Labored, ragged breathing emanates from under the heavy steel door and your hand trembles on the knob as you turn it.
The lamp on the bedside table is covered with a scarf and it colors everything in the dank room with a pale amber hue. With a subtle sniff, you determine the odor of decay emanated from the hospital bed in the far corner.
“Welcome to my humble home, Doctor.” The woman in the bed sneers, her words a seductive hiss. The woman’s papery skin looks moist, her greying hair is lank and greasy, but her eyes are vividly green and wild. You notice she is secured to the bed with wide leather straps across her arms and legs. The way she is bound briefly reminds you of a mummy.
“Good evening, Ms. Costa,” you reply, doing your best to keep your voice steady in spite of the disgust you feel. “I’m Doctor Abrams and I—”
“I know who you are.” Foul-smelling watery discharge seeps from her nose and mouth, but she makes no move.
You check the readings on the beeping monitors along the wall, an unusually long distance from the bed. “I need to check your vitals, Ms. Costa.”
“It’s ‘Miss’ Costa. And call me Marilyn. I’d like for us to be on a first name basis. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
“I’d prefer to keep our relationship professional.”
“Because of my condition?” The woman’s bone-white hands search the bedcovers blindly. Soon a whirring sound severs the quiet and the bed raises her to a sitting position. She watches you closely.
“We’ve run a number of tests and they’ve all come back conclusive,” you tell her.
“I’m pregnant.” Her laughter is hoarse, as though she’s been screaming for hours.
“Miss Costa, this is serious.”
Marilyn laughed without mirth. “Oh, I’d say my case is most definitely serious. I’d go so far as to say it’s a permanent condition, not a terminal one. Terminal means you’ll be released from your suffering at some point.”
“Advances are made every day. There might be—”
“Give me a break, Doctor. We both know that curing me isn’t on the American Medical Association’s list of priorities. Seems they’re more concerned with keeping eighty year-old men with full heads of hair and their willies pointing north.”
Your assignment here is to take a blood sample from Marilyn. Do you:
- Treat her as you would any other patient and tell her your intent?
- Try to get the sample without warning her beforehand?
- Come back when you think she’s asleep?
- Try to drug her and get the sample?
What would you choose in this situation? Or would you do something else? Each choice will lead down a different path. (Some will lead you in a circle. Others to a dead end.)