Category Archives: Experimental Fiction- Long Pieces

Experimental fiction works of 800+ words.

Dissonance

Dissonance

A Brief Character Study of Two Characters

Subject: Sam Smith

Age: 25

  1. Sam Smith graduated from Syracuse University.
    1. Sam Smith double majored in bioengineering and chemical engineering with a focus on engineering new pharmaceutical drugs.
    2. After graduation, he interned with the British pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKlyne.
    3. He was later awarded a full-time position as a research assistant and over the next two years he worked his way up to laboratory manager in their New York research facility.

     

  1. Sam Smith has a problem.
    1. Sam Smith attended Syracuse on a partial scholarship but is still up to his frontal lobe in debt from student loans.
    2. He developed a nervous tic whenever he received the university’s collection letters in the mail.
    3. He started seeing a psychiatrist to deal with his anxiety issues.

i.      His psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants after hearing about his childhood.

  1. III.  Sam Smith did not have a normal childhood.
    1. Sam Smith’s father physically and verbally abused him, often calling him a worthless piece of shit while punching him in the ribs.
    2. Sam Smith’s mother was mentally and emotionally absent due to the loss of their second child, a daughter.
    3. His father continued to abuse him through puberty which resulted in stunted physical development due to a set of ribs which didn’t heal properly.
    4. He excelled in science fairs which his parents never attended.
    5. Despite his later successes, he was still susceptible to bouts of depression and would have succeeded in suicide had Veronica not befriended him.

Subject: Veronica Lane

Age: 25

  1. Veronica Lane graduated from New York community college.
    1. Veronica Lane majored in art and philosophy by taking night classes.
    2. During the day, she works as a barista at Tweaker’s Coffeeshop where her neighbor, Sam Smith, often comes for his caffeine fix before work.
    3. She and Sam exchange pleasantries and Ramen noodle recipes and make plans to have movie nights at each other’s apartments.
  1. Veronica Lane has a problem.
    1. Despite steady employment, she can still barely pay the rent on her apartment.
    2. She has an addiction to online shopping and her closets are filled with purchases from Amazon and Etsy.
    3. She compulsively shops because it was the only way she could bond with her mother when she was younger.
    4. Since her mother passed away six months ago, Veronica’s online shopping has gotten worse and is causing her to max out her one credit card on a pair bohemian chic sunglasses.
  1. III.  Veronica Lane is having trouble coming up with a solution to her problem.
    1. Her options include:

i.      Moving out of her apartment and back in with her father.

ii.      Becoming a prostitute.

  1. IV.  Veronica Lane has a problem with both of her potential solutions.
    1. She does not like the idea of living with her father since he abandoned her mother when she was 8 years old.

i.      Her estranged father went on to have a successful career as a gambler until he hit an unlucky streak and his bookie broke his knees.

  1. She does not like the idea of becoming a prostitute.
  1. Veronica Lane is sick of pondering potential solutions.
    1. She hears Sam puttering around his apartment and goes to see what he is doing.

Interaction: Sam and Veronica

  1. Sam hears someone knocking on his apartment door.
    1. He disrobes from his hazmat suit and kicks it back into his bedroom where he is working on an experiment.
    2. “I’m coming,” he calls as he opens his windows to rid his apartment of the acrid smell. He sprays air freshener down the hallway and hurries to answer the door.
  1. Sam opens the door to find Veronica standing there.
    1. “Hey V, I thought we were watching movies at your place tonight,” he says, hoping she doesn’t notice the stench of his latest experiment.

III. Veronica notices the stench but has long since given up trying to convince Sam to leave his work at the office.

  1. Her nose wrinkles involuntarily and refuses to become accustomed to the smell.
  2. “We are later,” she says, “I was just tired of sitting over there by myself.”

IV. Sam notices her familiar tone of disappointment. He’s heard it before when she’s gorged her paycheck on dresses and custom-made purses.

  1. “What’s wrong?” he asks as he prepares himself for her onslaught of monetary woes.
  1. Veronica tells him about her problems with making rent.
    1. “I splurged on accessories this time,” she confesses, “but aren’t these bracelets gorgeous?”
    2. She displays the handcrafted Italian silver bracelets dangling from her wrists.
    3. Sam is distracted as he tries to remember silver’s atomic weight off the top of his head but manages to agree that they are nice bracelets.
    4. “It absolutely sucks being so broke all the time,” she laments, “and this Ramen diet is getting old.”

VI. Sam snaps back to attention when she mentions being broke.

  1. “If this latest experiment is a success, then I may be able to help you out,” he says, “after I pay back my loans, of course.”
  2. She inquires if the latest experiment is what’s making his apartment reek.
  3. “Yes, actually,” he says, “it’s an unfortunate side effect.”
  4. She asks what the experiment is.
  5. “It’s a compound that could revolutionize the drug market,” he answers. He’s unsure, in spite of their history as friends, that he can trust her with the exact nature of this compound.

VII. Veronica’s interest is piqued.

  1. “What does it do?” she asks.
  2. Sam hedges some more, telling her that it’s a chemical that has a very high profit-margin turn around and that he’s trying to create a version that’s limited in its negative side effects for humans.
  3. He throws around a few more vague terms before she gets frustrated and tries another tactic.
  4. “So can I see it?” she asks.

VIII. Sam considers it.

  1. “It’s pretty dangerous,” he says, “You’d have to wear a protective suit.”
  2. She adds that he’s made her do that for minor experiments that he’s brought home as well.
  3. “This is different,” he adds, “Any contact with bodily fluids would make this compound a serious biological hazard. It would explode and kill us, V.”

IX. She agrees to suit up and follows Sam to his room.

  1. Glancing at the beakers and dancing chemicals, she tries to guess what the mystery compound is.
  2. “Is it some kind of antihistamine or antibiotic?” she asks.
  3. He answers no and says that it provides the user with an abundance of energy.
  4. She accepts this and asks, “So how are you going to make money off of it?”
  1. Sam tells her that it has a high market value in a variety of forms.
    1. “It’s quite the lucrative business,” he adds, “Even amateurs can manage to create this compound through things they can get from a grocery store.”
    2. She looks at him with a glimmer of understanding now.
    3. “So this could be your ticket out of here then,” she says as she examines the beakers more closely.
    4. “Yeah,” he replies, “do you want to try some?”

XI. Veronica believes she’s misheard him and asks him what he means.

  1. Sam replies that it’s just an energy compound and offers her a tray of a powdery substance.
  2. “Sam, I know that it’s meth,” she says as she turns to face him.
  3. He reaches around her neck with his free hand and grabs her shoulder. He lifts the tray closer to her face.
  4. “Try it,” he says, “You’ll like it.”
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Man, Woman, Patches

Man
I grope for my phone under the covers to see what time it is. 3:17 a.m. is illuminated before my face and inwardly I moan. I have to be up in three hours for work.
Patches
Man is awake. Must see why.

Man
I hear our new dog, Patches, rushing down the hallway to hop on the bed. In an attempt to discourage this behavior I yell, “Go lie down. Now.”

Patches
Loud noises. Stop. Man made noises. Decide to go back to living room. Have to shit.

Man
As the jingling of dog tags recede, I lay back down hoping to get some rest. The rest of the house is cold and the only chance I have to fall back asleep is to stay in bed and not fully gain consciousness. I’m sure Patches is fine. He’s probably just bored. Maybe he heard me wake up and wanted to check on me.

Patches
Eat more food. Really have to shit now. Going to tell Man.

Man
Of course it’s too good to be true. “No. Go to bed,” I yell. Patches obeys for the moment and returns to the front of the house.

Patches
Must shit now. Sniff around kitchen. Find good smelling place. Shit. Piss next to it. Man made more noises. Must go see now.

Man
I see Patches poke his multi-colored head around the door. His ears flop and his tongue lags as saliva drips onto our hardwood floors. His expression reminds me of those late night commercials for the starving third world kids, kind of sadly hopeful that maybe you’ll be the person that can help them. Knowing that I’m encouraging something my wife strictly forbade, I whisper his name and pat the bed next to me. He complies, overjoyed, and hops up to snuggle next to me. His splays his body across my chest and brushes his cold nose against my wife. She groans and rolls over, away from us. He looks at me like he’s done something magnificent. He’s a lot heavier than I expected so I scoot him over so that he’s lying by my side instead of on top of me. He harrumphs and sticks his nose in my armpit. I lean my head towards my wife and fall asleep.

Patches
Man summoned me so now I keep watch while he sleeps. I was protecting his chest. Then I sniffed the woman and she made noise and moved and now I protect man’s side. I sniff his smelly spot so I know what is not him.
Woman
I had the dream again. I hate reliving those moments. The fighting with you, Julio, over my self-medication so I can sleep at night, the offensive brightness of the hospital lights, being a prisoner to that godawful hospital table where they pulled my lifeless babe from my body, even the beautiful night where we danced on the sand when I told you I was pregnant. It all hurts. Even when I fall asleep, it’s there, every emotion as raw as the first time I experienced it.
There’s no escape, not even from myself.
I shudder and look over at you and at Patches who has snuck into bed against my wishes. Dogs were never allowed on the bed at my mother’s home. They would shed all over the blankets and Patches with his fur would show up no matter what color I changed the bed spread to.
You awaken at look over at me, concerned.
“Sandra, are you okay?” you ask, “Did you have the dream again?”
“It’s nothing, dear. I’m fine,” I lie.
We both roll in opposite directions and go back to sleep.
You cuddle the dog and I cradle my empty abdomen.

Man
As I run through the hallway to get ready for work, the smell hits me. I slow to a walk and peer into the kitchen. Patches’ excrement greets me. Patches, who was following behind me, stops short and begins to whimper.

Patches
Man is stiff. I’m afraid of what’s in the kitchen.

Man
“Why did you do this? Bad dog! Bad dog, Patches!” I yell as he cowers. In a moment of frustration I stomp my foot at him, which makes him yelp and run back to the bedroom. I run after him so I can drag him back to the kitchen and correct him. I find him hiding under the bed, tucked away so I cannot reach him. I can only stare into his fear filled eyes. He knows he’s done wrong. I retreat to the kitchen to clean his mess before Sandra wakes up.

Woman
I’ve been faking sleep through the whole ordeal. I pity Patches and am relieved you left him alone. I’m almost tempted to pull him out from under the bed and let him hide under the blankets with me. Almost.
Patches
I am a Bad Dog.
Woman
After you leave, I coax Patches out from under our bed. He crawls like a penitent on his belly and licks my hand with the doggy equivalent of remorse. He’ll never really know remorse though. He’s no human. He’s embarrassed probably, because he got yelled at.
Julio brought him home to cheer me up after I lost the baby. Through the fog of depression, even I could see the dog looked ridiculous. Wild, shaggy patches of brown, white, black, and a copper red decorated the dog’s fat body. His squat legs, bushy tail, and elongated nose only exaggerated the effect.
For the most part, he was Julio’s dog. I’d smiled when I’d first seen him, but that was the extent of our relationship. Thoughts of the child I no longer had kept me bedridden with misery and in no mood to take care of a dog.
Times like today though, when Julio lost his patience with the dog and seemed as frustrated with life as I was, I felt like I could finally relate to my husband and maybe find a spot in my sore heart for this goofy mongrel.

Man
When I come home that evening, Sandra is watching some reality T.V. show in the den with Patches resting by her feet. This is the first time I’d seen her out of our bedroom since she lost the baby. A thermometer sits beside her on the couch.

“I’ve been checking it daily since the,” she can’t finish the sentence.

“How’s it been?” I ask, having no idea what to say.

“Pretty regular,” she says.

“Well that’s,” I try to say before she cuts me off.

“Look, I’m willing to try again if you are,” she says, “I’m scared but,”

“It’s okay,” I finish for her, “And yes, I do if you do. I’m,”

“Scared too, but we need this,” she finishes for me and adds, “We need to try.”

A brief moment of silence follows.

“What made you change your mind?” I ask.

She makes a noncommittal shrug towards Patches. He looks up at me, a little less sad than when I left him this morning. Then she pulls him up on our white microfiber couch and starts scratching the top of his head.