Suspense: A Deliberately Awful Story

When I started this site, I had in mind to do a regular post (perhaps once a month) where I would set myself the challenge of writing a story using various random stimuli, such as plot generators, story dice or random images. If you’re a regular follower of this site, you’ll notice that I clearly have not made the regular habit of this I intended to. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve never done it and today’s short story came about as a result of a random creativity prompt provided to me by the Android app, Writer Unblocked:

In 1000 words or less, write what happens when a B-movie director gets stuck between floors in an elevator.

When I got this prompt, I couldn’t help but think that it actually sounded a bit like a B-movie about a B-movie director so naturally I thought it would be a bit of a wheeze to write it in screenplay format (or at least, as close to screenplay as I could get it; I’ve never actually written a screenplay before and WordPress has rather messed up my formatting) and give it the paper thin plot, terrible dialogue and half-naked robo-bodybuilder you would expect to find in a B-movie. My tongue was, as you might expect, firmly embedded in my cheek when I wrote this. So without further ado, I give you…

SUSPENSE

by

A. Ferguson

FADE IN:

EXT. FALLBRIDGE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS – EARLY EVENING

Modern and stylish university building, surrounded by leafy green trees and basking in a brilliant sunset.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. LECTURE THEATRE – EARLY EVENING

No one is present in the lecture theatre, save for JOHN, an ageing bachelor, lecturer in English literature and b-movie enthusiast. In his spare time, he has even directed a few budget films. He is tidying up various papers, preparing to leave. The door opens to reveal SUSAN; a bright, vibrant young woman who must be intelligent because she goes to university. Sweet as chocolate strawberries dipped in sugar.

SUSAN

(embarrassed)

Oh, hello professor!

JOHN

Susan? What can I do for you?

PETER becomes visible loitering behind the open door; a cocksure lad with an elaborate hairstyle and various accessories. A walking fashion statement. At that moment he is being uncharacteristically shy. He is SUSAN’s boyfriend.

SUSAN

I was just looking for… um… my purse. I wondered if I left it here.

JOHN

Of course you were. Hello Peter!

PETER

Hello, professor.

JOHN

Well Susan, I’ve had lectures all day and nobody’s handed it in. Did you try the office downstairs?

SUSAN

Oh, how silly of me! I’ll try there now.

SUSAN leaves hastily just as JOHN finishes packing away the last of his things and follows them into the–

CORRIDER

The elevator door is just beginning to close. JOHN runs towards it.

JOHN

Hold the lift!

He manages at the last moment to slide into the —

ELEVATOR

PETER and SUSAN are there already along with RACHEL, a brilliant student of robotics. She is wearing a white coat and glasses, because she’s a scientist obviously. PETER and SUSAN are already talking with her when JOHN gets on the elevator. JOHN presses the elevator button and the doors close. The lift moves down.

RACHEL

The PN-STKN Unit is also connected to the internet, giving it full access to the sum total of human knowledge. There’s still a few kinks to work out in its software, but at least my part’s done! Once it’s on, it’ll be almost indistinguishable from a real man.

PETER

(winking)

I bet it doesn’t do everything a real guy can.

RACHEL

Not quite. He’s very gentlemanly.

SUSAN and RACHEL laugh. PETER is humiliated.

JOHN

(V.O.)

Robotic men… that’s silly, you only get those in movies. Heck, the one we had in ‘The Grim Robot’ sounded more plausible than this girl’s science project.

Suddenly the lift shudders. The lights flicker and go out.

SUSAN

What was that?!

JOHN

Nothing. Lift’s probably just stuck.

SUSAN

(suddenly panicking)

I don’t like small spaces!

PETER holds SUSAN protectively.

PETER

It’s fine, we’ll be out in no time. Won’t we professor?

JOHN

Of course we will.

JOHN begins thumbing the emergency button. Nothing happens. He tries repeatedly, scowling.

PETER

Maybe you need to hold it?

JOHN holds the button and speaks into the speaker on the wall.

JOHN

Hello? Can anyone hear me?

There is an almighty bang from above. The lift begins to sway. Another almighty bang, as if something heavy has landed on the roof of the lift. SUSAN screams. A large, dark grey fist bursts through the ceiling. SUSAN screams again.

JOHN

What the – ?!

RACHEL

It’s the PN-STKN Unit! It wasn’t due to be activated until next week!

PETER

Well, it’s definitely active now… and it’s coming for us!

The fist punches through the ceiling again, making the hole bigger.

PN-STKN (O.S.)

Humans are inferior! You must be destroyed!

SUSAN screams. Two dark grey hands begin to pry the hole in the ceiling open even further.

JOHN

Quickly, how do we shut it down?

RACHEL

You can’t, not if it’s gone active! I built it to be like a real man, only better! There’s no off switch!

PN-STKN (O.S.)

Humans are inferior! You must be destroyed!

JOHN

If only there was a bunch of jumped-up kids here, they’d know what to do!

The hole in the ceiling is now wide enough for us to see PN-STKN; a dark grey man with obscenely large muscles wearing nothing but black briefs and a black leather waistcoat. His hair is black and slicked back. He happens to have a large circular saw in one hand, held close to the elevator cable.

PN-STKN

Humans… Stand clear of the doors.

JOHN produces a gun from out of nowhere and shoots frantically but its bullets have no effect.

PN-STKN

Your weapons are inferior.

PN-STKN shoots lasers from its eyes and vapourises SUSAN.

RACHEL

I am your creator! Stop what you’re doing!

PN-STKN

Negative.

The saw begins cutting through the cable with a shrill whine.

PN-STKN (CONT’D)

Going down.

PETER

(tearfully)

He killed Susan! Why did you have to kill her?! She was no threat to you!

PN-STKN

Your emotion makes you inferior. You must die.

JOHN

(suddenly inspired)

No! No, it doesn’t! It makes us superior!

PN-STKN

Negative.

JOHN

I can prove it!

RACHEL

Professor, what are you doing?

PN-STKN hesitates. The saw stops spinning.

PN-STKN

Proceed.

JOHN

Ok… you shot Susan, not Peter; yet Peter suffers.

PN-STKN

Peter is illogical.

PETER

No, I’m not! I’m sad because… because I loved her man! And now she’s dead! It’s totally logical! There’s nothing more logical!

PN-STKN

Love makes you weak. Weakness makes you inferior.

JOHN

You have access to the whole internet don’t you? Well Google this! ‘Tis is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’! Better, you see? Love is better than no love!

PN-STKN

Illogical. Love is weakness… yet is better?!!

PN-STKN’s head explodes.

JOHN

This lift’s full.

RACHEL

Well done professor!

PETER

You did it! Next time, though, I’m taking the stairs!

They laugh. The lift continues moving and the lights return.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. LIFT SHAFT BOTTOM.

Smoldering robot parts litter the floor. A single disembodied hand begins to move!

FADE OUT.

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