**A note to my regular readers: you might be wondering what the hell this is. Please go to the very bottom of the post where I explain what’s going on.**
Speak Easy #131: The Chamber
He only did one thing well: terrorize people.
Greg Oiler stood in front of the book display at the grocery store, looking at the nearly empty rack holding his latest edition of The Chamber. He counted how many copies were left, and then did the same for the other books on sale. Good, he thought. That’s very good.
A bestselling horror writer whose books (eleven at last count) sold by hundreds of thousands every time they came out, critics applauded Greg’s inventive and terrifying tales about everything from headless horses to ghosts and goblins. When people asked him what kind of writing he did, Greg would say he was like Stephen King, “but scarier.” Men usually laughed at that, having assumed he wrote romances like Nicholas Sparks. Women would move a little closer and ask him to tell them more about his dark side.
Despite all of the claps on the back and midnight kisses, Greg knew he wasn’t considered a real writer; writers who churn out commercially successful horror novels never are. That was why he had left the world of ghosts and goblins behind in his latest books. He wanted to show the world that he didn’t have to rely on fantasy to create a suspenseful story. He wanted to be more raw, more real, and to deal with issues larger than how to defeat his latest mythical menace. His latest book was part of a new series called “The Chamber,” about a serial killer who kidnapped and tortured women. It wasn’t new ground by any means, but he did it well and never seemed to run out of new ideas, much to his publisher’s relief.
What few knew was that after the release of his ninth book, Greg became burned out. The process of continually topping whichever book he just wrote wore him down. He became depressed, or “quite ill” as his agent called it. But in the midst of that darkness came the idea for The Chamber, and Greg was renewed. He felt an excitement and passion for his work that he had not felt in years. In fact, it was during this trip to the grocery store that he figured out what was going to happen next to one of his characters. Inspiration was everywhere these days.
He felt a tap on his shoulder. “Excuse me, but are you the guy who wrote that book?” A woman with a faint blush in her cheeks had stopped her cart behind him.
Greg turned and dipped his head with the studied humility of a successful man. “Yes,” he said, smiling. “I am.”
“Oh,” she said. “Well, let me tell you that I couldn’t sleep for a week after I read that one. I didn’t think that a book could horrify me that much. It was really great.”
“Thank you, I think,” Greg said with a chuckle.
She lightly slapped him on the arm, “Oh no, I meant that in a good way. I love to be scared.”
“And I love to scare you,” said Greg.
A few minutes later, Greg left the store with his shopping bags in hand and the woman’s phone number in his pocket. He would call her next week; by then he will have ended things with Tabitha. As he settled into the driver’s seat, he sighed with satisfaction.
When he got home, Greg placed his grocery bags on the kitchen island. He stood still for minute, closed his eyes, and smiled. He reached into one of the bags and pulled out orange juice, bagels, and kitty litter. He put the orange juice in the fridge and went back to his bags. Out of the other bag, he pulled a package of metal skewers and a lighter. Greg smiled — $15 for the pack, but they were perfect.
He put the skewers and the lighter in one hand and walked down the hall. Stopping at the door to the basement, he raised his other hand to smooth his hair. He opened the door and called down, “Tabitha? I’m back.” A muffled cry and the clang of metal on metal rose out of the darkness. Greg pulled the cord that lit the stairway and slowly made his way down the stairs, pulling the plastic wrap off the skewers as he went.
“Guess what? I have a new idea.”
** Hi there. Well, I am trying to continue to grow as a writer by challenging myself. So I have entered the Speakeasy, which is a sister site to Yeah Write. At the Speakeasy, they give you different prompts and you have to write a piece of fiction or poetry inspired by that prompt. And then you need to post it. Which is why it is here.
This week, the first sentence of our piece needed to be, “He only did one thing well.” Our other inspiration was the art at the top. So here is my attempt. Please feel free to skip these. In fact, I encourage you to skip them because I am still learning the fiction thing and it’s going to get pretty ugly around here.