Welcome to Hot Potato!
8 writers over 16 weeks writing 1 short story
Here’s the third fortnightly instalment of our collaborative short story, this time featuring potato/writer CJ SULLIVAN who is taking Gail’s ‘middle’ and continuing the story however she likes….
Here’s CJ’s contribution:
Chloe travelled the abandoned carnival grounds with tentative steps. With petite feet, she pranced around empty plastic bottles, untouched by time. She didn’t want to curse herself by making contact with the bottles. It was bad luck. Plastic-making was now forbidden; only reusing existing plastic was allowed. Plastic had been one of the reasons for the Great Exodus.
Her daddy had told her many times the dangers of harming the world, from injuring trees to killing animals for sport, not to mention creating waste. So much plastic garbage filled the land and oceans now that the growing number of humans had no choice but to escape to the stars. The small camps of people who stayed behind did the best they could to reuse what was there, to fix what had gone so wrong, but there was just so much of it.
As she walked further into the carnival, Chloe’s eyes lit up. She imagined what this magical place might have been like with electricity coursing through it. Often she and her father came upon places that no longer functioned—places like this. Sometimes he would tell her how machinery used to work, and sometimes he would remain silent, almost sorrowful with his eyes so distant. During Daddy’s quiet moments, she didn’t want to make him angry with silly little girl questions. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t still curious.
Passing the round ride with the tent and the horses, she traced the fancy painted word CAROUSEL on the side of it with her fingers. Dust collected on her hands, and she wiped it on her shoe. How did this ride used to work? She imagined the wooden and metal horses, their paint now chipped, had gone around in a circle. Yes, she could see the track just barely now under a film of dirt. How fast had the ride gone? Did the children laugh? Did they have a wonderful time in the Age of Electricity? Were the horses beautiful then, their paint vibrant and fresh?
Then she heard it: a sigh.
She jumped. Covering her mouth so as not to shout, she froze. Her heart pounded in her chest. The noise she’d heard—it had sounded almost human. Almost, but not quite. And it had come from behind the carousel, over there by the small building with the sign that said ARCADE.
All but tip-toeing, she crept toward the building. A movement to her right made her jump again. Another rush of adrenaline coursed down her arms. Be brave, she thought. Be brave!
She took one more step, and an ugly gray rat ran from beneath the carousel. Gross!
Had it been the rat she’d heard before? She was sure it had been something else. Something that sounded like—
She heard it again: a humanoid sigh that carried a feminine tone, but underneath lay something metallic. It was coming from inside of the arcade; she was sure of it now. Carefully, she peered into the little building and gasped.
On the floor beside one of the dusty, defunct games lay what looked like a woman. Only this woman, who was curled in the foetal position, wasn’t a real woman. She had her back to Chloe. Her head was missing a patch of hair. There, instead of a skull made of bone, were wires, flashing with spurts of blue light, stretching across a plate of metal.
She took another step closer and reached out her hand, readying herself to touch this strange robotic girl, to somehow rouse her from her slumber.
“Chloe, wait!” her father cried from behind her.
CJ is a native Texan who appreciates both the quiet simplicity of the state’s countryside and the exciting color of its major cities. When she’s not lost in the world of her angels (See her novel Wing’s of the Divided), she reads every genre of literature, watches and re-watches cult classic movies and obsessively de-clutters and redecorates her house. You can visit her blog to read book-related, personal and generally creative posts here:
You can also find CJ on Twitter: @cjsullivan53
CJ’s text was passed to potato AK Anderson on Friday. The next instalment of our short story will be on Monday 24th June. It will be great to see where AK goes with what CJ has just laid before us!
FYI: The writer’s are progressively taking up the structure of beginning, middle and end. The writers can take the story where ever they like.