The two stories below are from today’s class: each seminar member wrote one sentence, one after the other, and the final result got a quick and minimal polish. One of these stories is considerably better than the other, I think; although I leave it to you to decide which is which. The first story is 180 words long, and is called ‘The Terrible Magic Spider’.
His name was Adam; he had been blind since the age of twelve. He was spending the evening of his twentieth birthday in the bath. He felt something crawling down his arm. A spider—it bit him and paralysed him and he was stuck in the bath. And then the doorbell rang. But all he could do was smell his lavender-scented candles. The water around him was cooling rapidly, but he couldn’t move to take the plug out. The doorbell rang again. He attempted to scream, but the poison had spread to his larynx. In a last effort to escape from the bath he concentrated all his power in moving his toe. He was shrinking. Suddenly eight legs unsheathed from his sides. He could see with eight eyes. He spun a web from his thorax. Clicking his fangs together he eyed-up a fly. The numbing paralysis was replaced by a new sense of agility. His mother knocked on the bathroom door. Thinking he was an average spider, she bunged him down the plughole and he tumbled to a merciless death.
The second story is 250-words long and is called ‘Bath.’
He had been blind since the age of twelve, and now he was spending the evening of his twentieth birthday in the bath. Steam inhabited the room. He breathed it in, cloying moist air. His legs were out of the water, and he was resting his feet on the shoulders of the bath. He had been able to lie flat in the bath a long time ago, when he’d still been able to see the bubbles. Now he could only feel the bubbles fizzing gently on his skin. It had been a hard day; slowly he slid down until he was fully submerged and a stream of air escaped his lips. Drips and drops fell from the tap, like it had something to cry about. The water was warm. He could still hear the radio in the kitchen, its music muffled. Elvis Presley’s voice smeared and clumped.
There was a knock on the bathroom door.
I’ll move in a moment, he thought. I’ll get out in a moment.
It was all very tiresome. His mother was cooking his favorite meal, but he wanted nothing more than to sit in his room and listen to an audiobook. He hated the kitchen. A pan shuddering on the hob with its freight of boiling water. He resurfaced, sat upright. His mother was knocking on the door again. He could no longer smell the lavender. The scented candles must have gone out. He must be sitting in darkness.