Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chapter 3 - Dark Alley

June 5th, 2008
Ryan's Apartment - Harrison Street

Seven red, five orange, and two blue Freeze Pops later, Ryan still felt overheated. He'd returned to his apartment and the single, aging window air conditioner did little to combat the sweltering heat and humidity. Curse this mass of curly hair, he thought as he sat on his bed, facing his box fan. Everything today feels so oppressed by the heat, like the world is moving slower. Everybody's getting testy and impatient, too. The humidity made his curls get frizzy and the fan blew them every which way, which was a tolerable annoyance given the ambient temperature.

He tried to pass the time by surfing the internet. Nobody's updated their blog, and I've read all my webcomics. "Geez," he said to aloud to no one "is Facebook really the most interesting website that's updated today?" He was about to find something else to do when he received an instant message:

GregS: Hey buddy. Gametime?


RyanG: Damnit. Well played, sir. What are you doing?

GregS: Just got off work. You?

RyanG: Absolutely nothing. I was about ready to do next week's homework out of pure boredom.
RyanG: Wait, I thought you were off today?

GregS: My boss called in sick. Said he had to stay home because his daughter woke up really sick today, and he doesn't know what's wrong with her.

RyanG: Bummer. Way to pick up the slack.

GregS: Wanna come over and rock out? Watch House reruns?

RyanG: Sounds great. Can you come pick me up?

GregS: No can do. Chad's borrowing my car because his is in the shop.

RyanG: No problem. I can take the trolley over, and it should be cool enough tonight to walk back. Be there in a bit, depending on when the trolley gets here.

GregS has signed off.

Ryan packed up a few video game essentials into his bookbag before putting on his flip-flops and heading outside. It was a short walk to the trolley station across from the Wood St. parking garage, but with the sun starting to dip lower in the sky casting long shadows, and the stuffy heat, the walk was eerily quiet.

I know there's usually less activity during the summer, but today seems especially dead Ryan thought as he waited for the trolley. He pulled his mp3 player out of his bookbag, not quite sure what songs he'd last loaded onto it. The first album was Avenged Sevenfold's City of Evil, which he felt was an abnormally hardcore soundtrack to something as mundane as hailing a trolley, better suited to doing something awesome.

Eventually the 5:30 route stopped by, and after squeezing past dozens of students not wanting to walk in the heat (he didn't blame them) Ryan rode past the shopping center, and down Chauncey Hill. A quick tug of the stop cord, and the trolley paused to let him out directly in front of the Wabash Landing movie theatre. This was was the closest he was going to get to Greg's apartment by way of public transport.

Ryan walked across the nearly empty parking lot in front of the Neon Cactus, knowing full well the walk back home would be treacherous - Thirsty Thursdays would mean huge crowds of inebriated students stumbling around. He walked around the far end of the strip mall to Greg's apartment in the complex behind.

Greg greeted him at the door with a cold can of Mt. Dew and a guitar. They started playing Guitar Hero III right away, 5-starring their favorite songs. They'd played the game so many times that for them it was less about beating the high score, and more about what they termed "style points". They tried to keep an unbroken string of notes while playing behind their backs, playing back to back, and liberal use of windmill and duckwalking through guitar duels until their fingers were aching.

After several hours of bothering the neighbors with a constant barrage of noise, they gave in to hunger. They ordered pizza and waited for the delivery while watching season two of Prison Break. Greg had seen it already, but didn't mind a seeing it again as Ryan caught up.

After a few episodes, with a decent walk still to go, Ryan said goodbye. He was much more comfortable outside now that the sun had gone down, though it was eerily quiet (except for a few scattered yells from drunks). Attempting to avoid the bar scene as much as possible, he stayed on the far side of the Cactus parking lot and walked along the bank of the Wabash. Passing the ice-skating rink on his way to the landing and Rt. 26, he felt a shiver along his spine.

He shrugged it off as just the cooler night air giving him a chill, but he did not notice the shadowy figure stalking him...

Current Word Count: 4,216


  1. Man, I sure hope every chapter ends with "little did he know..." ;)

    You should post your word count with each entry. I'm curious to see how far along you are, but I'm not about to do that massive bit of copying and pasting myself.

  2. Thanks for catching that. I did not mean to end it the same way (though my new chapter ending is only a slight variation).

    Also, ask and ye shall receive. The official website's word counter program isn't up yet, so I've got a master word doc backup copy that I use to keep track of my word count. I have added word counts at the end of each post.

  3. "the single aging window air conditioner" -- single, aging -- because a series of adjectives requires commas.

    "It was a short one block walk to the trolley station across from the Wood St." -- perhaps another series of adjectives.

    "A quick tug of the stop cord and the trolley paused to let him out directly in front of the Wabash Landing movie theatre" -- cord, and -- because 'and' starts a new thought even though the preceding is not a complete sentence (technically both sides of a sentence 'conjuncted' together should be complete, but I like what you have with the incomplete first half. -- British spelling of theatre? intentional?

    "they gave into hunger" -- gave in to-- because one 'gives in' 'to a thing' and does not give a something into. (What a weird explanation.)

    "ice skating rink"-- ice-skating -- makes more sense to me.

    I'm interested. Your detail might be excessive (what with the trolley's stop cord, the specific songs on the mp3 player), but I understand a desire for realism as well as a large word-count.

    As Always,

  4. Kyle - thank you as always for the detailed thoughts, especially "why" it needs a changin'.

    I prefer the spelling that way, so I suppose yes, intentional.

    I feel that I'm simply trying to walk the reader through my actions, step-by-step without missing too much in the way of explanation. Sort of like our improv emphasis from a few weeks back, about not skipping sequential directions. Also, I tend to focus (myself, Ryan Author) on details, and the album itself was supposed to be a little joke about the approaching zombpocalpyse. Other details, like the author of Pranav's discount textbook are in this same vein.