The purpose of these writing exercises is to take a prompt a week for ten weeks and allow myself ten minutes to expand on it. All the prompts are taken from my writing prompt eBook: Prompt Me.
To check out my list of ten prompts, and maybe have a go yourself, follow this link. Go with the flow, take the prompt literally, or just allow elements to inspire a totally different story. It is up to you.
What would you do if you were woken by a ringing phone in your coffin?
I wake from a deep, dream-filled sleep, the type of sleep you only have when your on the brink of exhaustion or really really drunk. I know I wasn’t drunk, so I must have been shattered. Working sixty-five hours in a week at both the tea rooms and cleaning the school is dragging me down.
It is the shrill tone from my phone that has punctured my slumber. I can feel the weight of it in my hand, and my hand has cramped up into a claw from gripping it. I attempt to lift the phone to my ear, but my hand hits something hard directly above me. Panic grips at my stomach. I thought I was at home in bed- I lift my free hand and that, too, hits the solid mass. Wiggling my head, turns into thrashing as I realise I’m in a tight, confined space. I can’t raise my knees or lift my arms. Where the hell am I?
The phone rings on. Turning it in my palm, so the light from the screen illuminates the space around me, I realise I’m inside a box… a coffin. Bile rises into my throat, and all of a sudden my lungs feel deprived of air. Do not panic, Jules, panicking uses up air. I don’t know where I learnt that, but I’m glad I did. Why am I in a coffin? Am I dead?
Still the phone rings on. Using my thumb to slide the icon button, I pray I can hit speaker phone without looking. The ringing stops, and a male voice I don’t recognise speaks.
“Jules…Jules, answer me.”
“Help me,” I choke.
The voice sighs loudly as if he has been holding his breath to hear my voice. “You’re okay, Sweetheart. Just hang on for a little longer.”
“I’m trapped,” I sob, although it comes out more like a squeak.
“It’ll be over soon, Jules.”
The voice is soothing, and something stirs in the back of mind. The way he said sweetheart felt familiar. Do I know him? My mind is a hazey mess.
“Jules, you still there?” says the voice again.
“Yes,” I sob.
“Good girl. How is your head feeling?”
I hadn’t thought about it until now, but my head is pounding. “Sore,” I tell the voice.
“It’ll pass, Sweetheart. We’re nearly there now.”
Nearly there, that rings a bell. Someone has said that to me before… he has said that to me before. “Do I know you,” I say, struggling against my dry throat.
There is silence. “Do you not remember the last sixteen weeks?”
Why does he sound so sad? Sixteen weeks? The past three weeks I have been working, eating, and sleeping. That is the sum of it. “Work,” I croak. “I was at work last night.”
Silence again. “That’s okay, Jules. Sometimes they don’t remember… it’s okay.”
He sounds so sad, the sadness in his voice almost seeps through the phone and into my bones. “You’re upset. I’m sorry,” I say. It is instinctual to me. I apologise all the time- even if I’m not in the wrong, but I know I have hurt this man.
“It’s not your fault, Sweetheart. We’re nearly there, okay? Not long now.”
Everytime he speaks it’s like icicles slicing my heart. I can’t clear the blur of my thoughts. If I try to think of anything other than my memories of work, a grey cloud mists over my mind. God, my head hurts.
Focussing on my breathing and my surroundings, I notice a dull rumbling sound. Slight vibrations shake the coffin, and I know I’m in the back of a freight lorry. How do I know that? Where did the memory of that come from? This is what is supposed to happen, I know it, but I do not know why I know it.
There is a hiss of air brakes, and the rumbling and vibrations start to slow and fade. A loud noise of metal on metal fills the space outside of the coffin, and daylight seeps through tiny holes at the head of the box. I never thought I’d be so happy to see daylight, even though the light is agony for my eyes.
There is banging and movement, and the sound of talking, although, I can’t make out the words. Wails and crying cause me to scrunch my eyes. What is happening out there? My coffin jolts violently, and I bite my lip to stop from screaming out. The taste of blood on my tongue sparks something in the grey mind mist; it starts to clear as if the memory of the metallic taste is diluting whatever it is that is blocking my memories. The last sixteen weeks flash through my mind in a heartbeat. His face… his face fills my minds eye, and a sob of relief catches in my throat.
The coffin lid is ripped open, accompanied by the sound of splintering wood, and blinding light dazzles me. I sit bolt upright, desperate to escape the feeling of claustrophobia, and shield my eyes with my forearm.
“Jules?” asks a shaky voice. I remove my arms and see his beautiful, worried, hurting face. “Hey, Jules, my name is-“
“Robbie,” I cry, throwing myself at him.
He drags me from the coffin, squeezing the air out of my lungs with his embrace. His breath on my neck as he snuggles into me is warm and welcome. “Thank Christ,” he says quietly.
I pull back slightly to examine his grey eyes and shaggy black hair. I run my hand over my own head, feeling the prickle of stubble, and the number branded into my scalp
“You’re one of us, now,” Robbie says, tapping at his own scalp.
Looking around the lorry, I see the other members of Robbie’s team opening coffins and helping women and men from their confinement. All of us look the same- white scrubs, bald heads, and a hazey glint in our eyes.
“You’re okay, everyone,” Robbie says, addressing the mass of people. “In fact, you are technically better than okay… you’re immortal.”
There is a whoop from the team members, and Sal slaps me on the back. “Good to see you, Jules. I can’t believe you pulled this off. This is the biggest break out to date. The coffins were ingenius.”
As I watch the men and women being helped from the lorry, a sense of pride swells in my chest. These people have been imprisoned for at least a year as a result of government clinical trials into immortality. Every innocent person was scheduled to suffer a terrible fate. The only way to kill an immortal is to remove all the organs and burn them before they can regenerate.
“You were so brave,” Robbie says, brushing his lips against mine.
“Well, I couldn’t be the only mortal on the team, could I? Now, you’re stuck with me for ever.”
Content belongs to KJ.Chapman