Tuesday, March 29, 2011

IndieInk Writing Challenge: "In The Room"

This week's IndieInk Writing Challenge was presented to me by lovely Lilu, who asked me to watch this and "write a horror piece with a single element from the clip. Anything that caught your eye." My own challenge will be responded to over here.

This is not an easy thing for me. I am not a horror person- I find life is plenty scary enough. Anything beyond an action sequence in a suspense movie gives me the willies. (Strangely, I have very little problem with gore in a Jason Bourne or James Bond film. But if the protagonist is more normal, as they are in many horror films (as far as I know), I can't take it for some reason. I used to read Stephen King, like a lot of teenagers, but I sort of drifted away from him. (The last thing of his I read was an excerpt that Esquire magazine printed.) )

But I watched the clip, which is a little gruesome. It's kind of hard to follow- being, of necessity, a clip, a smaller part of a larger whole, you don't know who the people are and what their relationships and antagonisms are. But I watched it. As seems to be the norm for me with these Challenges, one idea grabbed me almost immediately and wouldn't let go. In the beginning of the clip, the younger woman is in a room that looks somewhat like a police station's interrogation room. (Or, at least, what they look like on television. I have never been inside a police interrogation room.) (So far.) That's what wound up grabbing me, and, for good or ill, here it is.

The room was a square, about 20 feet on each side. Nobody ever measured it, but if you asked anyone who had been in there, they would say it was about 20 feet on each side. The floor was plain cement, without the same tan tile with that weird marbling pattern that the rest of the building had. The walls were more cement, painted a uniform gray, leading up to a tan ceiling made of soundproof tile and a single light bulb, trapped behind an iron cage. There were no windows, and a single door, which slammed shut with the finality of a tomb whenever anyone left. The lock clicked as the door shut, reminding whoever was left in there that they weren't going to leave until the people in charge decided they would.

There was a very slight slope to the room. One barely noticed it until you walked around the perimeter and started to feel the slight downward slant, the room terminating in one corner with a solid metal grate on the floor. It was a curious property of the room until you realized that the slant, and the grate that allowed liquid to pass, but not solids, allowed the room to be hosed down if necessary. In the center of the room was a table, with a few lightweight plastic chairs around the room. When you went into the room, you could be on the moon, or on a battleship in the Aegean Sea, or 2 miles underground- part of the effectiveness of the room was the feeling you got that you were far from anyone who knew or cared about where you were.

The room had been host to all of the liquids a human body could produce, from excretory to reproductive and everywhere in between. In darker times, people were encouraged to admit their guilt through the violent application of club to temple, or forehead to tabletop, spurting jets of blood that would be rinsed away into the sewers. A woman had actually gone into labor in the room, giving birth right there on the unforgiving hard floor when her insistence that she needed medical attention was ignored for the last time. Drunks and addicts had let their bowels and bladders go here, either in insensate gloom or haughty defiance.

The room had heard confessions of all kinds- embezzlers, car thieves, fraudsters and cheats and runaway fathers and mothers and children. People had admitted to every manner of coupling- fathers with daughters, mothers with sons, uncles with nephews, teachers with students- as well as every variety of killing. The dead eyed stare of the young killer, just out for the contents of a wallet or a cash register, or the manic, wide eyed jabber of the serial rapist, striking because the voices told him to. The accountant with wire rimmed glasses and a careful, precise accent who recounted skimming millions from the charity he monitored. The new mother, her red rimmed eyes wide as she insists to them she had no idea how her new baby ended up at the bottom of a full bathtub. The wife who couldn't take it anymore, the husband who couldn't stand the contemptful glare of a once beloved companion, the child who didn't want to spend one more night terrified of the opening of the bedroom door.

The room had heard lies- fantastic stories of rooms full of people who would swear someone was where they were not, bartenders and boyfriends who could prove that they couldn't have been where the act had occurred. Escorts who would say they were with the suspect, say without question knew where he was that night. Stories about masked men who forced them to do unspeakable things, kidnapped cousins or blackmailed spouses forcing people to do what they didn't wish to do. The room had heard truth, too- cases of mistaken identity that went unbelieved until it was too late. The room had been witness to every manner of human perversion- rotten thoughts, black acts, unnatural drives, hideous cruelty. The room revealed nothing, said nothing, told nothing- for all the acts, private and public, small and large, that had occurred or been described within its walls, it bore silent, gray witness, the chamber that held its secrets forever.


  1. I watched the first few minutes of this clip and had to stop because it was totally creeping me out (I am very much NOT a horror-genre person). Interestingly enough, the room and the camera you mention were the thing that stayed with me.

    The idea of a silent, unseen presence witnessing all the horror, tragedy, and evil of which one is capable and not reaching out beyond that glass - that was the most terrifying bit of it all. Your piece captured this sentiment perfectly!

  2. I, too, am not at all a horror-genre person. The gratuitous gore gives me a physical reaction, even though I know it's all fake! I thought I'd be able to handle it, but I had to stop watching at about the 6:20 mark. Gack.

    Anyway, you did a fantastic job with your description of the room. I could definitely see all those horrible things happening in that place, even before I watched the video.

  3. I loved this very much ^__^ I apologize for the gore, I just love seeing how people react to things and what actually stays with them. I am very much a horror person when it comes to writing but movies... eh, depends on my mood. Great job! *thumbs and toes up cause thumbs wouldn't be enough*

  4. yikes. your writing is strong and insistent all on its own.

  5. Holy description of the room! This was a great response...

  6. Love where you took this. A room as a silent witness. I watched the whole clip. I like watching movies that give me goosebumps.

    I'm more poetic on my own blog, but my books are paranormal suspense, borderline horror. If you witness horror, have felt pain, and sorrow (which this type of genre brings out); you can appreciate compassion, love, and hope. (Hugs)Indigo


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