Writing from Prompt

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EricRP
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Writing from Prompt

Post by EricRP » Tue May 29, 2018 2:26 pm

I wrote this opening two chapters of fiction after getting a randomly generated first line that read - 'Had the old man's dog really been poisoned?'

Chapter 1

“Had the old man’s dog really been poisoned?”
No. It got better. Josh was sick of hearing about the pointless lives of his fellow commuters; he took the No. 66 bus each morning into Northampton where he worked as a recruitment consultant for Doward & Sons. He swiped away his emails on his i-Pad and slid it into the front pocket of his rucksack. Honestly! Poisoned dogs? It was as if folk had to invent quirky little plotlines to enliven their tawdry suburban existences. He slipped in one earphone and nodded purposefully to the Chronicles of Riddick Soundtrack.

“Custard Pie for tea tonight!” Cackled a portly fellow on the seat in front. In truth, Josh only thought this was what the man shouted though the more he thought about it, the less likely it seemed.

Upon reaching his stop, the Josh-a-tron (as his line manager had insisted upon calling him) felt the familiar buzz of his mobile phone in his jeans pocket and wondered who might be calling. He gritted his teeth to find it was just a reminder he’d set on his phone to “Have a great Day xxx” in the mistaken belief his future self would find it amusing. It had now gone off every morning since the beginning of October. Today was the seventh. The High Street was busy; coats tugged under chins and heads tilted forwards purposefully as each civilian forged onward on their various journeys. A pigeon hopped up onto the kerb just in time for the bus to move off again into the traffic.

It was Friday. Dress-down day so he’d thrown on a bright T-Shirt and his old, battered skate shoes with every intention of finishing his callbacks from yesterday and filing the report he had due for Monday. The carpet in Reception was a darker shade on the left side of the desk than it was on the right and it annoyed him a tiny amount. Today, he treated himself to a packet of Polo Mints from the vending machine and a Café Latte that tasted of dust and failure.

There was a room upstairs where a man taught Kung-Fu but nobody was ever allowed to speak about it.

“Wa-hey! Here he is!” bellowed a huge voice when Josh appeared at the office door. “The Big-Man! The Josh-a-tron!” It was Eddie, the boss. Eddie seemed to really like Josh but in that patronising ‘I’ll take you under my sweaty wing so I look nice yet am subtly reminding everyone I’m better than you’ way. You know? Yeah.

“Morning Mr Davies. I’ll hopefully have that report done by close-of-play.” He couldn’t think of anything non-work-related he wanted to say to Eddie Davies so kept it professional. Eddie was still in his faded blue suit, cartoon tie and a variation of the white with pastel-coloured pinstripe shirt he always wore; evidently too important to indulge in ‘dress-down-day’.
“Ha ha! Excellent Joshy my boy! I hope you’re not trying to curry favour with the boss eh?” His fat watery eyes wrinkled in mirth at the umpteenth pun on Josh’s name (his surname was Rogan- like Rogan Josh. The curry).

“Heh heh… good one sir.” He smiled, teeth gritted.
“Plesiosaurs.” Came a voice from behind him. He wheeled around.
“Sorry?” It was Janet, a temp worker who’d actually been with them since March.
“Huh? Nothing…” She seemed distracted, straining her beetle-eyes at her monitor.
“Plesiosaurs?” Josh repeated tonelessly. Janet didn’t hear him.
He hated Janet.

Suddenly, a fat freak waddled into the office, banana sandwich in one hand, his other culminating in a hook. It was the kung-fu guy from upstairs! He was wearing a bubble-wrap helmet and an expression of such earnestness that the world forgot to turn for a half second.
“It is urgent that I speak with you.” He pleaded and (as apparently nobody else had noticed the peculiar fellow’s entrance) Josh nodded and followed the character outside into the corridor. There was a picture on the opposite wall of a bright orange goldfish and Josh remembered one visitor who had actually believed the picture was a real fishtank. That didn’t seem important right now, though. He tucked the unopened Polo mints into his pocket and shrugged at the gentleman.
“So, What’s up?” he tried to do that raised-eyebrow look of mock concern thing but ended up looking like one of those creepy porcelain dolls with the glass eyes that stare into your very soul. Kung-Fu guy didn’t notice.
“I need a job.” He wrung the banana sandwich against his thigh with his one good hand. There was an imploring desperation in his voice that made Josh feel sick but he bit his lip and said,
“Well, you’re in the right place…”
“I beg your pardon?”
Josh unbit his lip and repeated, “I said you’re in the right place.”
“Oh! I see… I thought you said I was a urine-face.”
“Oh… no.”
“Okay.”
A long silence passed. Josh sipped his latte. Outside pedestrians were treated to a rare glimpse of an urban squirrel ascending a poplar tree by some guttering but it was all over in seconds.
“I thought you taugh…” The glare he got from Kung Fu guy told him that to go on would mean certain death so he said, instead;
“I think you should come and fill out an application form and CV.”
Banana dribbled onto the carpet tiles and a single tear trickled from Kung Fu guy’s left eye.
Name: Burt Kwok
Age: 49
Skills: Actor, gardener, entrepreneur, cabaret singer, wardrobe maker
[WORK STUFF]
Willing to do: Anything for a dollar
Dreams: International stardom
Will you do KFC? Yes
“Um, does your… does your hand, affect you?” Josh pressed sensitively.
“Which one?” frowned Burt.
“Nevermind. I’ll send this on to KFC this morning.”
Burt hugged Josh so vigorously that he felt glad to be alive. “Oh, you haven’t written your addre…” He looked up but the man had disappeared.
“I exist on the breath of the wind” came Burt’s whispery voice and Josh felt somewhat calmer.
Josh popped the first Polo into his mouth and couldn’t quite shake the faint taste of bananas.

Chapter 2

Josh forwarded the CV onto the KFC on the big retail park by the football ground; they did new staff inductions every other Saturday. Josh actually hadn’t had fried chicken in weeks, now he thought about it. He didn’t drive and apart from commuting to work, he preferred to leave public transport well enough alone. Some sunshine weakly shone outside but it was hardly noteworthy. He entered the offices again and resolved to make a real go of these call-backs before lunchtime. Some of the guys were heading across the road to The Yeoman for lunch; they’d order their “2 mains for £6” fayre around 11 and have it waiting for them upon arrival at 12:40ish.
“Nah, I’m not bothered this week!” Josh shrugged, the thought of packet-prepped Cumberland sausage & mash just making his tongue feel dry at the notion.
“Aw come on Josh! It’s Friday!” crooned Kelly from HR. Kelly was fairly nice most of the time but he didn’t care enough to change his mind. “It’s fish & chips at the canteen downstairs today, that’ll do me and I can get this report done this afternoon. I’ll just fall asleep if I have a pint; I’m knackered!” He had rambled along automatically and was impressed at how convincing his excuse sounded.
“OK Jobsworth!” jibed Jan. Jan looked like a Scotch Egg had come to life; a rough, disgusting blob. She couldn’t eat anything off the pub menu anyway, having become ‘vegan’ over Easter.
The office was quieter in the absence of everybody else and Josh preferred it. “I prefer this” he thought to himself. Not that he was entirely alone; he had the string of receptionists, Personal Assistants and prospective clients to speak with on the telephone. He found that the majority of the people he needed to speak with had gone for lunch too, though and cursed his lack of foresight. Admitting defeat, he returned to tapping out his report. He’d got another 200 words closer to completion by the time his colleagues rolled in bawdily.
“How was the fish and chips, Josh?” laughed Kelly.
“…fish and chips…?” mouthed Josh silently. To his horror, he had worked through lunch and the canteen would be closed now. He grinned nervously at the pretty HR consultant and lied. “It was alright, thanks… How was the pub?” He felt he ought to ask this but he hadn’t cared less about anything in his entire life.
“Oh y’know?” She said more words made of consonants and syllables but Josh literally wasn’t listening; he had to eat and eat fast. By the time he crammed twelve Polo mints at once into his dry mouth, Kelly had returned to her own office and cloud had thickened in the mid-autumn air. As the blinds were down, Josh didn’t notice. He tried to focus but ‘Mambo No5’ came on the radio and it became impossible. He felt his heart-rate quicken and began to feel claustrophobic.

“Hang-gliding” came Janet’s voice off to his right.
“I’m sorry?” He queried.
“Doesn’t matter.” She frowned and he bit his knuckles in frustration. This was all too much. He thought about the bizarre account of a poisoned dog he heard on the bus that morning and briefly pictured a dead Labrador with Janet’s face. The vision just made the mints repeat on him though and he raced to the vending machine for another coffee.
Josh smiled as he sipped the froth but his joy turned to despair as he remembered he didn’t like the coffee from work. He tried to remember the last time he felt happy and he wished everyone’s head was just a giant potato smile. That would make everything simpler. When Josh was seven, he drew a face on a potato and cried when his mother peeled it for Sunday lunch. He gritted his teeth at the memory and considered deleting Mum’s number from his phone.
Moments later, he’d regathered himself though and spent the next hour completing his report whilst ignoring the incessant rumblings of his empty stomach. The call backs passed relatively swiftly and he even met a couple of new clients who were happy enough to temp in office/clerical roles. By the time he nearly doubled over in crippling hunger, it was ten to four in the afternoon.
“Any big plans for the weekend Josh?” He winced at a human voice using his name but recognised the well-meaning and generally warm sentiments of Kelly which wasn’t quite so bad, all things considered. He could feel her smile on the back of his neck before he turned around to reply.
“Uh, nah nothing really. Probably just chill out or whatever.” He offered, again just treating small talk as pointless daily contact best negotiated as blandly and briefly as possible. She was leaning against the plywood wall, her hands cushioned behind her as her lips twisted in a smile that was half coy and half mischievous- yet playful; predominantly playful.
“Not going for a drink tonight then? With the boys? It’s the weekend y’know!” She teased but there was an interest in her inquiry Josh found entirely new. She looked away when he met her eye.
“I hadn’t even really thought about it to be honest. I don’t really do Northampton Town Centre- not driving and that. Taxis cost a bomb an…”
“We could go for a drink!” Kelly blurted, suddenly. Josh felt sensible to the sensation of his mouth hanging slightly open and Kelly followed up before he could begin to consider what he’d heard. “Not with that lot, like… I mean, me and you. If you want?” She was smiling but Josh felt the heavy throb of heat radiating from her cheeks and something told him that he’d better answer straight away or the situation would transition from surprising to awkward and he couldn’t think of anything worse in the world.
“Uh… yeah! I mean, can do… Alright. I mean…”
“Cool. Pick you up at seven! It’s still Moulton, right?”
She’d intercepted his final defence of not being able to drive and he just threw back a smile of his own.
“Yeah. Parade Bank. Just off the One-Way system.” His eyes were still wide with surprise and he felt like one of those cartoon characters whose eyebrows are raised so high they’re hovering half a metre above his head. Had she just pulled his address from the staff server?
“See you then, Josh.” She beamed.
He scanned the clock. It was 3:54pm.

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Annasiel
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Re: Writing from Prompt

Post by Annasiel » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:13 pm

More!
Swollen with a mantra that I've stolen from a thief.

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