Another possible chapter 1 for a fantasy/fiction/sci-fi book I’ve been working on. For the next couple of weeks, the posts in this section will mostly just be brainstorm chapters or excerpts for potential books. Feedback would be very much appreciated, as I’m having a lot of trouble coming up with and committing to a plot line and leading characters.
“Blue. Sometimes gold. I wish there was like a blueish-gold color, but like one that wouldn’t look like the vomit of a smurf and the Golden snitch from Harry Potter’s lovechild. But so, yeah-blue.”
A loud, singular beep sounded followed by a shrill, robotic woman’s voice.
“If you are satisfied with this message, say ‘yes.’ If you would like to hear this message again, please say, ‘no.”’
Lily looked around the tiny, pumpkin-colored room. The walls were bright and naked, with nothing to protect their modesty except a small, silver square with little holes on it, housing the computerized lady voice asking her to say yes or no.
“Um, no? Wh-where am I?” she said, trembling from the cold air surrounding her. And it wasn’t just a cool Autumn day cold, oh no. She could see her breath bouncing off the orange spackle it was so cold. The voice returned with the same monotonous, dragging tone.
“Thank you. Please remain patient and calm. An advisor will be with you shortly. Thank you. And have a nice day.”
Although she had just heard it, clear as day, Lily didn’t quite believe that the automated woman actually wanted her to have a nice day. There was nothing outright scary or wrong with the room she found herself standing in, with no memory of how she got there. But there was something unsettling about it. Then she realized it. It wasn’t the lack of decor or artwork on the walls. Or the absence of any window or natural light. There was no door. Spinning around slowly, looking at the six identical slabs of orange, she thought to herself, how can there be no door? How did I get in here? And wait, where is here? Who is this advisor? And what in the world could I need an advisor for? I knew I shouldn’t have gone to the party. Oh my god, the party. Jimmy. What if he did this to me? What if he put something in my drink and now I’m in his uncle’s basement or something somewhere stupidly standing here, awaiting my way premature and gruesome death!
“Keep it together, Lily,” she said to herself in a quick, hushed voice.
Then she heard a low static-y, humming noise, almost like when you go to a channel on the TV that doesn’t work and it shows that screen with the multi-colored thick bars running down it. A voice came out of the little metal box again, but this voice was higher, and had a fuller fluidity, sounding less like R2D2’s sister and more like an actual human woman.
“Lillian Charles, our apologies for the wait and obscurity. Your advisor will be with you shortly. We know you must be hungry, so please help yourself to the complimentary meal provided in front of you.”
Underneath the speaking box, a thin, rectangular, orange slab slowly protruded from the wall. Lily took a few steps toward the peculiar-looking hidden tray and leaned down to take a closer look at what appeared to be a detached pencil eraser, the only difference being the scintillating red color. Just as Lily was about to think the thought, what the hell is that, the box woman spoke again, but this time in a less endearing, friendly tone. It wasn’t cold or harsh, but had a tinge of impatience.
“You are supposed to eat it, my dear. I promise it won’t hurt you. Quite the opposite, in fact. Think of it as a vitamin.” Lily was hesitant, but simultaneously felt strangely apathetic, an adjective that wasn’t even in her vocabulary. She didn’t have many problems in her nineteen years on the Earth, but if anyone who knew her were to list a few, they would probably tell you Lily cared too much about everything. She devoted half her week volunteering at an animal shelter and the other half working at a nursing home. Picked up from her perpetually nervous mother, Lily too was a chronic worrier. To the point where it was almost comical. And always irrational. She was a believer of the 2012 apocalypse. When she was seven, she literally wouldn’t leave her room the entire day, one particular Tuesday, because it happened to be the thirteenth and it happened to be a Friday. She was that person who would had a swollen lymph node on her neck, looked it up online, and in two minutes, was completely convinced she had and would soon die of cancer.
So, this indifference to pick up the little red pill was surprising to her. She took the pill between her thumb and her pointer finger and brought it close enough to her light, hazel eyes to see an engraved marking carved into the top. It almost looked like an “S”, but it was backwards and had swirls on either end, intersecting itself. It reminded Lily of her little brother, who just last week had shown her a project he was working on in school, focusing on Ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics. The voice returned again, scaring Lily, almost causing her to drop the pill.
“You must take it before your advisor arrives, my dear. And Veronica will be in to see you any moment now. Have a nice after–” The voice paused and sounded shakey, sounding almost as if she had said something she wasn’t supposed to, “noon…have a nice afternoon, dear.” Lily could hear a faint voice in the background. It sounded like a man’s voice, but she couldn’t even tell that for sure it was so quiet. She could hear the woman’s voice clearly, however.
“I apologize, sir. I-I know” she stammered, “it will not h-happen again, sir. Oh, damn it.” The mumbling and woman’s voice both disappeared. Lily looked down at the little red pill with the hieroglyphic-esque writing and decided taking it would probably be the least strangest thing to happen to her today. So with that, her forearm lifted up towards her opening mouth and she swallowed it.
Almost instantaneously, there was a soft, short ding. Lily turned around to see a rectangular section of the wall starting to slowly slide to the right. Similar to how the tray presented itself, but this time horizontally. An extremely bright, white light poured in through the opening and the first thing Lily saw were the tall, black stilettos shining through their luminous surroundings. As the blinding light cleared from Lily’s retinas, she could now clearly see a woman in a white lab coat walking towards her. The woman’s hair was tightly fastened in a brunette bun, not a single strand out of place. Her lips were painted a deep red, almost maroon, and when she moved her mouth into the shape of a smile, her teeth looked as lustrous as the light behind her. Anyone with a pulse would tell you this woman was breathtakingly beautiful, but there was something offputting about her. There was something that made her different than the women you would see in a makeup commercial or plastered on a fifty-foot billboard. And that was just it. She was tall. Not quite fifty feet, but at least six and a half. She was uncomfortably tall. And the high-pitched words that spilled from her lips contradicted her powerful stature, making Lily feel even more inexplicably uneasy.
“Hello, Lillian. I see her you prefer to be called Lily. Is that correct?”
Lily’s eyes met the woman’s and she noticed specks of gold in her iris, with an iridescence unlike anything she had ever seen before.
“Um, y-yes. No one’s called me Lillian since I was little. But where am–”
“Alright, then. Lily it is,” the woman said as she scribbled swiftly on her silver pad. “I am sure you have countless questions, Lily. And I will be happy to answer them for you. But first, I need you to answer a few for me. Can you do that, Lily?”
There was something so condescending about the woman’s tone. Despite her radiating beauty and subtle, yet effervescent charm, when the woman spoke it raised the hairs on the back of Lily’s neck. When she spoke, not only was she literally looking down at Lily, but it felt as if she was talking down to her as well. As if she was meeting with a therapist for the first time, answering countless questions about her interests, woes and daily tribulations. Her eyes sparkled with anticipation, but Lily could tell her forced smile was masking a soul more sinister than the woman so flawlessly presented in front of her.
Hesitant, but curious, Lily slowly nodded and forced her face into the same phony grin she saw standing in front of her.
“Oh, perfection!” she said with her voice squeaking as she emphasized the word, giving it a dramatic flair.
“Let’s start off with some simple ones, shall we? What is your full name?” The woman’s eyes looked up from her pad. They were warm and comforting, and somehow, concurrently harsh and fear-provoking. Lily didn’t trust this woman and she couldn’t even tell you why. But she was raised right and was taught to answer a question when asked.
“My name is Lily Jane Thomas.”
“Great. How old are you, Lily?”
“I-I just turned nineteen. I’m nineteen,” she said shakily.
“Wonderful. Now Lily, what is the last thing you remember?” The woman’s eyebrows squeezed together as her lips pursed, creating what seemed to be the closest thing the woman could pass as a look of curiosity. But like her smile, it was looked almost painfully forced, as if it was completely going against her nature to have any real emotions or normal expressions.
Lily thought about the last thing she remembered before opening her eyes to the orange walls and little, metal box. The last thing she remembered was sitting on the swing on the porch of her house. She lived in a quiet neighborhood in the suburb of Pleasantville, a quaint city about an hour North of the bustling streets of the Big Apple. She remembered writing in her journal about the earlier moments of her day, as she did every night. The last thing she recalls writing was expressing her sadness for her uncle, who had passed away a few weeks prior. And then she woke up in the strange windowless room.
“I was s-sitting on my porch swing wr-writing in my journal.” The woman’s attempt at an endearing expression vanished with haste, as her features shifted into a perplexed state.
“Hm…interesting,” she said, melodically tapping her sapphire blue pen against the pad. “I’m sorry, this is quite strange. Our records are never wrong, and they are showing something different as your l–”, she paused abruptly. “Well, I’m sure it’s just a mixup made by The Department. Not to worry.” She clicked the tip of her pen, contracting the tip back inside its metal tube, and pressed the pad against her thigh. She took a few steps closer to Lily, the clacking of her heels permeating through the room. She leaned in and once again presented that spurious smile.
“Lily, do you know where you are? Do you know why you’re here?” Lily looked into the deep, dark eyes of the woman, and once again, she couldn’t put her finger on it, but they frightened her.
“N-no, ma’am. Am I b-being held hostage? I d-don’t remember how I got here.”
The woman chuckled in amusement, the high pitch of her prickly cackle reminding Lily’s neck hairs to stand at attention once again.
“No, my dear. You are not being held hostage. However, I do apologize. I seem to have forgotten my manners. My name is Penny Princeton and I will be your permanent advisor. If you have any questions during your stay with us, I will be more than happy to oblige.”
The woman had a grin on her face now that, although more genuine-looking, was almost as chilling and disturbing as the words that would soon come out of her mouth.
“Advisor for wh-” The woman whipped her head around.
“My dear. Didn’t your mother ever teach you that it is rude to interrupt?” she said with a tone that finally matched the stiffness of her body language.
“Lily, you do not have to worry about being held prisoner or killed…” she said with a slight chuckle. “…because, Lily, my dear, you are already dead.”