This was written as part of the final project for a lit class on science fiction. It’s a story about human-wide psychic powers, elevators, and Elisha Otis being a liar.
People called Larry Reynolds kind. A tall man with rust red hair and green eyes, Larry had been working at the Creston Homeless Shelter for about three years. He was in the diner across the street from the shelter, sharing a meal with Charlie.
Charles Steppson, Charlie to his friends, was an odd man who ate at the shelter frequently, but rarely stayed. Over the last few months, Larry had gotten to know Charlie. When he asked why he was so rarely at the shelter, Charlie would laugh, saying: “it’s way too nice outside in spring to sleep inside. Maybe once summer hits, I’ll come in. But until then, I’ll let people who need those beds have ‘em.”
Charlie didn’t take the charitable beds much, but he was smart enough to never turn down a free meal. He was being treated to lunch at the diner across the street, courtesy of Larry. The grub was hardly five-star cuisine, but it was better than the shelter’s food.
Larry was in the middle of the greasiest burger he had even had when Charlie said something that worried him.
“We’re all psychic, you know.”
We were given a prompt to reinvision a work of literature as a board game’s rules. I chose Lord of the Flies. This piece is a good example of how even my work that seems more serious tends to develop a tone that could be construed either as dark content or darkly humorous content. On top of that, I think it demonstrates an (admittedly, very basic) understanding of translating plot to game mechanics. How effective that is is debatable though, as we never tested our rules as written.
LORD OF THE FLIES
A board game for ages 6-12
This piece is another humor one. Even my “serious” work tends toward having a humorous edge, as approaching the world with at least a bit of irreverence has been my way of looking at things for a long time now. The segmented chronology was in response to a writing prompt, but if you’d prefer to imagine it as the influence of me watching too much 24 as a teenager, feel free to substitute that background.
Additionally, this is another example of the “cops as props” principle mentioned in the description for “This Is Too Far.”
My name is Alistair Jones, and I’m going to die today.
It’s odd how often criminals end up in my stories, since I’m pretty straight-laced. As I’ve worded it to myself before: criminals are characters, cops are props. Which, frankly, sounds a little too pithy to my ears to be a thought that’s original to me. Anyway, I chalk it up to exposure to Coen Brothers movies, given I think my best criminal stories tend to exude a similar vibe. I hadn’t seen Fargo before I wrote this story, but I was a bit surprised to find how neatly a scene in that film parallels the finale of this story.
“This is too far, Matt. This’ll never work.”
This piece, which I got to present at the 2013 Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society Convention in Portland, Oregon, is one of my favorite things I ever wrote in college. It’s a smaller slice of a larger Choose Your Own Adventure story. Beyond being an excellent example of how I write, I think it’s also very illustrative of my sense of humor. Additionally, the format makes it easy to explore a basic multiple-plotline story structure, including a handful of jokes that only become the running gags they are through multiple “playthroughs.” The version presented here has been edited slightly from the version presented in Portland for language.
In a twist that’ll make any aspiring genre-buster weep, this choose your own adventure happens to have a fantasy setting. You find yourself standing before the castle of Lord Minwroth, Evil Wizard. The drawbridge is down, which really is a stroke of luck in your quest to rescue the princess. You overcome your instincts shouting that “this is obviously a trap” through the necessity of the plot gently nudging you forward, and enter into the grand entrance hall. The wall behind you is covered in large stained glass windows decorated with scenes of Minwroth conquering. You mentally note this as tacky, but for now you scan the room and determine that there are two ways out of it: the stairs down into the dungeons, and the stairs up into the DREAD TOWER OF MINWROTH.
To GO TO THE DUNGEONS go to section 11
To GO TO THE DREAD TOWER ON MINWROTH go to section 3