Day 26 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write a story with a heavy focus on patterns.
Erin: Rachel always does the same thing every day: wakes up, goes to the bathroom, eats a bowl of cereal, washes her face, brushes her teeth, does her makeup, changes her clothing, starts a cup of coffee, makes lunch, puts on shoes, pours coffee into travel mug, leaves house, opens garage, leaves driveway, takes same rout as always to work… only not today.
Today there is construction, and Rachel’s well-oiled machine is derailed. She drives 5 miles per hour faster than normal to get to work. Because she does not know there is a cop that parks on the corner of 5th and Lombard she is pulled over. Being 34 minutes late to work she runs into the building and straight for the elevator. As she slams the 12 button another tardy employee she has never seen before gets in. His name is Dax.
They say breaking a pattern is detrimental and it is. Dax is the catalyst to removing all regularity from Rachel’s life. After today, she won’t know if she will have her cereal in the morning, because Dax might just want to stay in bed a little longer. She might skip washing her face in order to catch up on the news with him. She might even stop on level two every once in a while, to sneak to the back cubical and surprise mister unpredictable himself.
Shannon: Within a year my hometown had become known as the town of patterns. We were a place in the middle of nowhere, just looking for a little attention to keep ourselves from disappearing.
People colored their fences, they colored their steps, and they even colored patterns on their birdhouses. I wanted to hate every aspect of neighbors choosing to conform just to fit in with the new trend, but when I walked through the town after the changes I realized I was wrong. The regular world was the conformity. This was a rebellion.
The houses were filled with color, and each different personality that lived inside them. Even though we were trying to become some kind of spectacle, the people were changing too. They were talking more, and smiling more. I didn’t understand it right away. I thought they were just outside more, and had more time to talk, but then I came up with a theory. I decided the real cause was due to the fact they were free to be a little crazy. They weren’t hiding their favorite colors and designs anymore. They were displaying them right there on the front porch, because no one could judge them. They were free to be exactly who they were, and it was beautiful.
Write yesterday, write today, write tomorrow, and repeat until physically or mentally impossible.
She took the creaky stairs two at a time, counting aloud as she landed on each shiny wooden step, to the first floor. Before Cassie stood the front door, intricately square stained glass window, with its three locks bolted shut. All the tiny chips were perfectly square, set in perfectly straight lines, and had been crafted to a pattern she had created.
To her left the dining room door was closed off from this side. Cassie had to walk through her simple home clockwise based off the location of her room. On the right the open living room was bathed in bright morning sunshine and sparkling clean.
Tapping on the stair rail she stood relaxing in the precision of her bookshelves; every single volume was impeccably straight in the squared shelf and arranged alphabetically by author’s last name. Cassie reorganized the shelf every week according to whatever pattern would make her feel most comfortable; this week was simple and only took her two hours to perfect. Some weeks she could spend an entire day sorting through the three hundred and thirty three tomes; those were relatively unproductive days.
When she walked past the tall cherry red flower pot, garnet photo frames and red console table under the stairs she paused to knock on the solid wooden surface three times. Turning back to the center of the room Cassie admired the ruby couch, maroon rug and matching crimson chairs. Past them outside the window sat a red robin, two bushy copper squirrels and a grey mourning dove about her birdbath.
She started to turn back to the room as the squirrels bounded off, leaving the birds to quarrel over the bath water. Everything outside the window scared Cassie, but she enjoyed viewing it from the safety of her calm little house. As soon as they flew away she turned back to the room, admiring the warmth.
In the next room, the slight kitchen, she poured three cups of water into her fluorescent orange kettle to boil. Choosing the third ceramic cup in line in her cupboard, without doors to impede the reorganizing process, Cassie dropped a teabag into the mug. When she glanced around the small room, with its amber wallpaper and teak cabinets, she felt at home.
With the kettle’s high pitched squeal she poured a hot cup of tea and waited. After exactly three minutes Cassie wrenched the bag from the water and placed it in her teabag dish. She knocked on the counter three times before walking through to the dining room.
Glorious brilliant sunshine streamed through the wispy lemon curtains; the light bouncing around off the saffron walls. Setting her white teacup down on the sunflower embroidered tablecloth Cassie settled into a pale chair; this room was large enough to seat ten but rarely saw more than one. She sat sipping her mild tea for thirty minutes; even though she was finished the warm liquid after twenty-seven.
Sighing lightly she picked up the alabaster teacup, knocked on the bleached doorframe and opened the door leading to the foyer. The light flowing through Cassie’s door was in red, yellow and blue blocks. When she walked past the faux orange tree, smiling photos and uncluttered console table she knocked again on the wooden surface before heading back into the kitchen.
She washed the mug swiftly and set it aside to dry, wiping her hands on the umber hand towel. Back through the dining room Cassie walked, pausing before she left the kitchen to knock three times on the counter. In the dining room she also knocked on the doorframe, admiring the light coming through the window.
Finding herself in the foyer, at exactly 9:33, she made her way back up the stairs to perform her usual morning schedule. As Cassie took the stairs, two at a time, she counted backward. At the top of the stairs, taking a calming breath, she turned left to head into the bathroom.
Painted mint green the bathroom was calming for her. Cassie stepped past the mossy door and stood before the lime-tinted mirror. There were stress pimples across her fair temple.
Shutting the door she completed her regular routine in thirty three minutes flat; that wasn’t an estimate. When Cassie opened the door again she was ready to take on the day after her meditation and she knocked on the mirror three times; she couldn’t survive without having a few excessively relaxing minutes completely alone. She ghosted to the spare room; it was used mostly as her quiet space.
With the door painted a deep indigo, the walls a sky blue and the curtains waves of navy the room was peaceful. Padding into the center of the carpeted room Cassie sat down gently, crossed her pale legs and straightened her back. For the next thirty three minutes she didn’t say a word, didn’t move an extremity and didn’t think about reality.
When she was finished she got deliberately to her feet, stretching her stiff muscles. Turning to leave the room Cassie knocked on the stark white light switch, the fan shutting off. The door shut behind her as she walked left to the royal alcove, where her comfortable purple armchair stood alone.
Almost walking past the chair, knowing she couldn’t bring herself to alter her routine, she knocked on the supple leather three times. As her hand sunk pleasantly into the fabric, Cassie sighing in content, she looked at the time. She knew she needed to leave the house in seventeen minutes, or she would have to another hour, so she quickly stepped into her bedroom.
Once inside she packed her purse with the essentials hastily. Cassie slipped on her jeans and an oversized sweater to avoid any unwanted staring. The bubble gum pink walls were energizing as she knocked three times on her dresser.
Grabbing her bag and scooting out into the hallway she spent a moment steadying herself for the stairs; they could be a stressful experience for her. But when Cassie started hopping on every second step she was content enough to count in her head; as long as she had the numbers right she seemed alright. Briskly she checked her watch and counted down the seconds with her hand on the top locking mechanism; she needed to wait until she had six seconds until 11:33 to start opening the door.
As the six-second mark dawned she unlocked the three locks, opened the door and stepped outside just as 11:33 beeped. Sighing with relief Cassie calmly locked the three locks, checked the handle and stepped to the edge of the porch. She counted the one, two and three steps to the ground as she stepped on them.
Glancing back at her house she took a few steps backward, thinking about how perfect it was for her. Cassie turned and walked to the road without another glance back, she put her mind to the tasks at hand. Everything outside the house was so much more complicated, so much less perfect.
Detective Middleton answered his apartment phone line. “I think I’ve found a link” He looked at the massive corkboard wall of strings and pins shaped like an upside-down tree. He spoke in an exited whisper, his gravely voice barely cracking with excitement. “Yes, a link. No, no no no, no Just, just listen to me. Okay?” Taking a yellow notepad out of a drawer behind him, he scribbled down his rampant thoughts. “Do you remember that first night with Mr.Peckerson? That unlucky fella got charred?” Middleton took a pin from a glass jar and jabbed the yellow post-it note on the corkboard wall. Beside the note was the photo of Mr.Peckerson’s incinerated corpse. “Well, I have something that can link him to other deaths.” He read the yellow post-it note. “All of the victims were contracted by Lapaum Corp. All of them!” He followed the red string wire to the next set of victims: Jessica Lantern, Rayion Wallflower, Jorge Walter, and Nick Tommy.
One of them was found in a back ally he remembered, another in broad daylight on the streets.
“They worked on a private contract to develop a telecom beam for – No, I have not been smoking. I know what that does to my lungs.” His fingers drummed rhythmically on the sprawling wall of connections. “They all died precisely at 12:30 PM. Three of the bodies we recovered had a burn mark on the back of their neck.” He paused. “Or what was left of their neck – Shut up and listen kid! I need you to go find that reporter that went missing.” He darted over to the far side of the homemade diagram. “He was investigating allegations of fraud within Trinity Logistics when he disappeared. I think he might have stumbled upon something related to us by accident.” He followed another line to a photo of an apartment building in flames. “That reporter recently talked to the freelance guy before he went off the radar.” He tapped the photo to emphasize the point to himself. “He wanted to hide from something – Yes, crazy. I know Jordan. But what kind of arsonist has military grade C4?!”
The door bell rang.
“H-hold on…someone is here. Hey…I don’t think I can get back to ya. Can you…hello?” The sound of white noise replied from the other end of the phone. “Oh no…Oh no…” He took from his drawer his Crowning.51ml. handgun and carefully shuffled into the main hallway of his apartment. The living room window was cracked open. He ran back into his room and opened his laptop. No internet. “Crap.”
The door bell tolled once more.
“Crap!” He cursed softly. He pulled from his drawer a USB stick and dragged his collected digital notes onto the USB. Then, he crawled under his bed and pulled open a loose floorboard, and snuck the USB underneath just so it’s square head was peaking out. Taking his gun out, he ghosted back to the hallway with trained practice and scanned down the hall. Carefully, he step out into the open living room.
A fiery beam shot through the window as he screamed soundlessly into a blaze of ash and smoke.
Created to Write:
One stroke up.
Two strokes down.
One stroke up.
Two strokes down.
“What are you doing?”
“GAH!” Finn drops the brush. “Pencils, Jacey! I was in the zone!”
Jacey stares at him a second, “Did…” she snorts, “Did you just swear using an art tool?”
Finn low-key glares at her, “What do you want, Jacey?”
Jacey overcomes her humor, “I was wondering what you were painting?”
Finn turns back to the wall. “I’m…” he picks up his paint brush. “I’m… I’m trying to remember.”
“Remember… what?” Jacey asks.
“How I got my powers,” Finn states, “They told me I could be a… an Inhuman. But…”
Jacey looks at the painting as he continues to create strokes. “It looks like a mass of gray.”
“I know. I’m going from memory. It doesn’t make sense. I feel like it’s supposed to be around me, not just in front of me.”
“Were you encased in it?” Jacey asks, almost mesmerized by his paint brush motions.
“…I guess so.” Finn answers. There’s silence, then he steps back. “That’s what I saw. There was more around me, but…” He doesn’t know how to animate it, but then his face lights up. “There’s another thing I remember. Similar colors, but…” he goes to another section of wall. He starts to paint again, this time with faster, smaller strokes. Jacey watches silently, changing into a small cat as she waits.
When Finn is done, he puts the brushes down. He puts his hand on the still drying paint. The whole thing comes to life, pulled off the wall. It looks like the remains of whatever he was encased in, rubble of gray with impressions of his feet in the bottom of the empty shell.
“…That’s… That’s like what they showed us,” Jacey says.
Finn looks at her.
“Finn, you’re an inhuman.”