Author Topic: 1st chapter - 2100 words  (Read 94 times)

Offline TomMullettUK

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1st chapter - 2100 words
« on: June 25, 2018, 03:11:40 PM »
Hi all,

First chapter below for one of two main characters in a story I'm working on.

All feedback welcome

Tim Underhill

Tim is a single man in London who has only ever had 1 girlfriend.

Girls are a language he doesn't understand and as a result, is terrible at interacting with them, no matter how much he may want to.

His story is one of an obsessive attempt to find love - whether it be via an app or in person - met with complete and utter failure.
The more he tries, the more he feels pressure and the worse he gets at interacting with women.
It plagues him, he searches desperately for the "right way" to get with someone as if there is some magic button or formula.
His friends try to help him but to no avail and the longer it goes on, the more paranoid Tim gets that his friends are mocking him... and the more paranoid and dark his behaviour becomes.

Just when Tim is at his most vulnerable a beautiful girl with an iPad approaches him in the street and asks if he'd like to take part in a survey to potentially appear on a brand new online reality TV show....

Chapter 1


‘Day 1000’ ended in sheer embarrassment for Tim Underhill. It was as if the universe took pleasure in the unrelenting shame he’d carried from the second his eyes had opened earlier that morning. In many ways, there was very little to separate Day 1000 from Day 999, Day 998 or any other of the 24 hour cycles that preceded it, but there was something about that number; something so complete that the very thought of it had haunted Tim for the past 3 months.

“This can’t actually go on forever” thought Tim around the time of Day 430. But by now, such optimism had all but evaporated. What should have been the easiest of tasks felt like a mountain whose peak was forever hidden above the clouds; always out of reach no matter how hard he climbed.

What made it worse was that everyone else seemed to know the answer. As easy as 4+4. That’s how it appeared from the outside, but no - not for Tim. 4+4 always meant something else; something confusing and ultimately misleading.

Day 1000 had arrived and Tim was left with no choice but to face it. It was a day that needed to pass and pass quickly, without drama. Unfortunately for Tim, this was not be, instead the final of hours of Day 1000 would come influence him in a way not even his closest friends could have ever predicted...

Having braved a few moments of icy late night breeze, Tim shuffled into the entrance hall of Borough underground station. There was a mist of calm not often found in the capital. Only the gentle wur of the escalators broke the lonely silence.

After tapping his card on the gate’s electronic reader, Tim made his way on the escalators. The path ahead of him was clear; not a soul to obstruct his descent to the platform yet Tim’s heavy frame remained fixed to the spot. Stepping forward was pointless at this stage.

For a brief moment Tim allowed his mind to drift, imaging a surprise party awaiting him at home; his tiny apartment packed with friends and family, all ready to ‘congratulate’ him on reaching the 1000 day milestone. It was one of countless scenarios Tim had concocted during the day. Whether it helped him feel better was debatable but it certainly couldn’t make things any worse.

“This is Borough. Please mind the gap between the train and the platform. This is a Northern Line train to Morden”. The familiar instructions echoed down the southbound platform as the train pulled into the station.

A gust of warm air swept up the discarded newspapers that lay strewn across the floor. For a moment they swirled majestically as if taking part in some kind of litter based ballet and then fell back to the floor, ready to be forgotten once more.

Just as the train was pulling to a halt, Tim felt the presence of a person just a few feet beside him. His glance to the right was met by the smile of a short, slender girl with crinkled brown hair. This was a face he’d seen before, but where he could not place.

Tim boarded the empty carriage and sat down in the middle of the row of seats. The girl, just a few steps behind, followed suit and sat directly opposite.

“Of all the places to sit” thought Tim, eager for an easy ride home.

The train pulled away from the platform and after a scatter of awkward glances back and forth, the girl broke the silence.

“Why so late?” asked the girl, her voice brimming with confidence.

“Why so?... What?” replied Tim, startled by the directness of the question.

“You usually head home much earlier than this. I’ve been on the same packed rush hour platform as you tonnes of times. Why so late tonight?” she asked.

Tim looked back at the girl for a moment before answering. Her modestly freckled face appeared fresh but a gentle waft of Gin & Tonic offered a hint as to why she might be talking to him quite like this.

“Umm. Oh. Oh right. Well, I had to catch up on some accounting stuff. I was sick just after Christmas and fell behind. This was the only way to get back on top of things.” he answered, running his hand over his neatly combed black hair.

As the train continued to wind its way through the pitch black tunnels, a loud screeching sound filled the carriage and the window at the far end began to rattle.

To combat the rise in volume, the girl sprang up and sat down in the empty seat next to Tim, narrowly avoiding treading on his shoes. This was quite unexpected, a flutter of nervousness ripple inside his stomach.

“Where do you live then?” she asked, turning to look at Tim.

Her eyes were a curious mix of green and yellow. They resonated kindness and warmth. Such beauty was undeniable.

“Oval. Just a few roads from the stadium” he replied timidly, struggling to maintain eye contact.

“Oh nice!” she replied with a zip of excitement.

“Me too. But I’m in the other direction. Just off the main road to Clapham” she continued.

Tim’s mind froze. Not a single response arose from his thoughts. His eyes flickered nervously to the floor.

The train once again screeched as it prepared to stop at the next station. This time the sound was so piercing and uncomfortable, both Tim and the girl winced sharply.

“This is Elephant & Castle. Please mind the gap between the train and the platform. This is a Northern Line train to Morden”. The tannoy crackled as it finished the announcement, clearly in need of repair.

The opening of the train doors brought a rush of teenage girls into the far section of the carriage. They took their seats, laughing and teasing each other about a subject that was somewhat difficult to decipher.

“So are you from London then?” asked the girl, raising her voice above the din as the train began to move.

“Umm. Err. No. I’m from a small town just outside of Brighton. I moved up here for uni and then ended up staying for work” replied Tim.

“Ah cool. Which university?” she asked, smiling to reveal her crooked teeth; far from perfect, there was something rather charming about the imperfection.

“University of West London. It’s a terrible uni but it was actually pretty decent for my course” said Tim, relaxing into the conversation.

“No way!” she exclaimed.

“I went there! Wait. Hold old are you?” she asked, scanning her eyes up and down Tim’s body.

This question had always unsettled Tim. He was by no means an ugly man but his large cheek bones, heavy frame and pitted skin often led to people to believe he was older than he was.

Once at a party, this had been confirmed by the brother of friend he’d spent the night talking to.

“Are you taking the piss? I honestly had you down for late thirties” he had exclaimed loud enough for two girls next to him to take interest in the conversation.

“Hard luck mate. Face for radio, I guess” he continued through broken laughter.

From that moment, Tim always made sure to shave before leaving the house in the morning.

“26, I’ll be 27 in June” replied Tim, awaiting further enquiry.

“Ak ok. I must have been in the year below you or something” she said, inspiring a cool breeze of relief.

“How funny though, clearly we’re meant to be” she continued with a playful wink of her left eye.

Words had never been so potent. Tim’s mind went into overdrive. In what could have been no more than a few seconds, Tim had imagined everything from their first date, introduction to friends and family, even a quick flash of a holiday in a hot tropical location.

“We’ll have to meet up sometime” she continued, unphased by his lack of response.

No sooner had the words left her mouth than a pulse raced through Tim’s body. A raging storm of lust was being summoned against his will, pounding against the fibres of his black trousers, ready to unload a thousand days of rejection.

“Yes, when?” spluttered Tim, desperate to maintain a sense of normality.

The train shuddered abruptly whilst turning a sharp bend, offering Tim the chance to slide his left arm further down his thigh without risk of detection.

“Well, I know usually you have to book appointments with people weeks in advance in this city, but there’s a…..”

Her words tailed off into the depths of Tim’s imagination, replaced by her silhouette fused to his body; heavy sighs; his teeth gently biting beneath her jaw; her hand clasping against his back, driving her nails into his skin….

“The next station is Oval”, the words jolted Tim back into the carriage and once again, the train began to screech.

“Right, come on then” she said whilst adjusting her woolen coat.

A flood of panic engulfed Tim’s mind as he forced his hand further against his trousers, pinching his inner thigh.

Smartly dressed in a light grey suit, an elderly man of Pakistani decent stood ready to board the train as it pulled into the platform. Just how old was unclear but only a few black hairs remained in his thick, wiry beard.

“Come on. Let’s go. You can walk me home” said the girl as she stood to move towards the opening doors.

“I……”

Grabbing at his right hand she pulled Tim up towards her and with this, the mischief of the universe was unveiled.

Tim leant forward abruptly in a fruitless last-ditch attempt to mask his shame. The girl’s eyes fell immediately onto the smooth lump that appeared to be reaching out in her direction. Her eyes widened, mouth opened and for the briefest of moments she stood frozen to the grubby floor of the Northern Line train.

Further down the carriage, one of the teenage girls had spotted the comotion and began to howl with amusement, pointing to the disaster slowly retracting between Tim’s legs.

“No blocked way! My man’s fully loaded tonight” one of the girls cherped, slapping the shoulder of her friend to the left.

The train doors beeped loudly preparing to close. Snapping back to reality, the girl made a quick burst to exit, brushing her shoulder into the elderly man who now stood in her way. The train doors slammed shut just as she was ready to descend.

In a world devoid of mercy, the train pulled away with the girl’s head fixed against the glass of the train doors. Not once did turn to look back into the carriage.

The elderly man, disgruntled by the lack of consideration, sat down 4 seats away from Tim, muttering under his breath.

“Bloody bitch” he grumbled.

Tim stared down at the floor, begging the world to shatter into a thousand pieces. An all too familiar feeling stirred deep within him; a hollow existence plagued by isolation and self-doubt had transformed into a theatre of cruelty in which he now played the lead role.

“This is life” he thought, his heart had never felt so heavy.

As the train progressed towards Stockwell station, the taunting from the other end of the carriage had begun to subside but Tim didn’t dare adjust his position. He remained perfectly still, overwhelmed by shame and embarrassment.

Allowing the girl to exit, Tim waited for the final beeps before leaving the carriage and making his way along the platform. Further ahead, the girl shuffled hastily round the corner on to the opposite platform and out of sight.

Rather than risk a second encounter, Tim exited the station at Stockwell and walked the mile or so journey home, oblivious to the modest sprinkling of snow falling through the night sky.

“Fuck. I don’t even know her name” thought Tim, his mind spiralling as he approached the shabby green door of his 1 bedroom apartment.

The girl was out of his life as quickly as she entered, and it was this that troubled him most; how such an occurrence, timed to perfection could take place with a complete stranger that would disappear in an instance.

Tim had never believed in fate until this moment.

Once inside the apartment and safe from the pain of the outside world, Tim dropped his sleek H&M winter coat onto the sofa, made his way over to the fridge and pulled out the half empty bottle of milk stood alone on the bottom shelf. He sniffed the bottle before pouring just to be sure the day didn’t have any more tricks up its sleeve.

“Well, at least the milk gods aren’t after me” he joked to himself whilst sipping the final drops.

Tim closed his eyes at 23:47. Just a matter of minutes remained of Day 1000, a day that had started with misery and ended with abstract cruelty. By all accounts it was a day to forget, not that he ever would.



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Offline oodiemohar

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Re: 1st chapter - 2100 words
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2018, 10:11:58 PM »
Just by scrolling to the bottom and reading the last line, I can tell you to show, not tell. What you are stating is redundant. The audience should be able to pick up on this by context alone.
Watch Moral Orel Season 3, (specifically the downward spiral of a character named Clay) and you will see what I mean.
If Avatar The Last Airbender can do it, then so can you.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxGwLE5dmOg&list=PLh4FNvQTUDAX1RLvIB8qamGq4JTvSFq3U&index=6