This was a piece of instant writing (20 minutes, start to finish) at our March writers’ group workshop on short stories. Ever find yourself stumped for a prompt and everything seems just a bit too bland? Try something like http://randomwordgenerator.com/ where you can select a series of completely random adjectives and nouns, stick them together to make something apparently nonsensical, and then write about what that might actually be. You can use it literally or as a metaphor. And it may get you thinking outside of your usual constraints. If you want to see the list we were working to please click here!
I made my choice and grasped at the first thing that came into my head. Twenty minutes isn’t long to ponder all of the ins & outs you know…
The Sticky Rain
I couldn’t see where he’d gone and that worried me. Being tailed by a KGB agent in a foreign city was not my idea of expected duties under my job description, but working in even the lowest levels of Her Majesty’s Government had an element of ‘carry on regardless, for Queen and Country’.
The Viennese streetlights created tiny puddles of security and terrifying oceans of uncertainty.
I hesitated briefly between lamp-posts, wary of being illuminated once more but also scared of being surprised by the shadows.
I wish I’d stayed on the main road.
I was now regretting having tried to lose my tail. We all know that Cold War overseas government work is an elaborate dance (we know that they know that we know that they know… and so on). There are rules and expectations. And now I, a stupid junior administrator, had started a dance of my own, with different steps to different music.
But my main reason for regretting my choice was the fact that I was lost.
I’d only been in Vienna for three weeks and I’d taken turns that should have led me to the American Embassy where I was due to deliver a letter. Instead, I was in the middle of a less-than-salubrious part of the city, where cigarette ends glowed menacingly from shrouded doorways.
I swallowed nervously and carried on towards the next lamp post.
A shadowy figure emerged from the opposite side of the road and kept pace on the other pavement and I became aware of footsteps behind me. I lengthened my stride and tried to stop my heart from hammering out of my pigeon chest. The footsteps behind me quickened and the man on the other side of the street stepped onto the road.
I felt a blow on the back of my head and I collapsed into a doorway. My mouth was too dry to yell, my fear paralysing me. A blade glinted in the feeble streetlight and I shut my eyes.
There was a scuffling sound and the gasp of man. I felt rain falling on the back of my hand and I opened my eyes. A silhoutted figure in front of me clutched at his throat as more rain fell on to me. I rubbed my hands. It was a strangely sticky rain. The figure collapsed to his knees and now I saw another person stepping backwards into the road.
He tipped his broad brimmed hat towards me and in heavily accented English said, “Take it easy, comrade.”