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…
EXT. FALLBRIDGE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS – EARLY EVENING
Modern and stylish university building, surrounded by leafy green trees and basking in a brilliant sunset.
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.
Oh, hello professor!
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.
I was just looking for… um… my purse. I wondered if I left it here.
Of course you were. Hello Peter!
Well Susan, I’ve had lectures all day and nobody’s handed it in. Did you try the office downstairs?
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–
The elevator door is just beginning to close. JOHN runs towards it.
Hold the lift!
He manages at the last moment to slide into the —
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.
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.
I bet it doesn’t do everything a real guy can.
Not quite. He’s very gentlemanly.
SUSAN and RACHEL laugh. PETER is humiliated.
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.
What was that?!
Nothing. Lift’s probably just stuck.
I don’t like small spaces!
PETER holds SUSAN protectively.
It’s fine, we’ll be out in no time. Won’t we professor?
Of course we will.
JOHN begins thumbing the emergency button. Nothing happens. He tries repeatedly, scowling.
Maybe you need to hold it?
JOHN holds the button and speaks into the speaker on the wall.
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.
What the – ?!
It’s the PN-STKN Unit! It wasn’t due to be activated until next week!
Well, it’s definitely active now… and it’s coming for us!
The fist punches through the ceiling again, making the hole bigger.
Humans are inferior! You must be destroyed!
SUSAN screams. Two dark grey hands begin to pry the hole in the ceiling open even further.
Quickly, how do we shut it down?
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!
Humans are inferior! You must be destroyed!
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.
Humans… Stand clear of the doors.
JOHN produces a gun from out of nowhere and shoots frantically but its bullets have no effect.
Your weapons are inferior.
PN-STKN shoots lasers from its eyes and vapourises SUSAN.
I am your creator! Stop what you’re doing!
The saw begins cutting through the cable with a shrill whine.
He killed Susan! Why did you have to kill her?! She was no threat to you!
Your emotion makes you inferior. You must die.
No! No, it doesn’t! It makes us superior!
I can prove it!
Professor, what are you doing?
PN-STKN hesitates. The saw stops spinning.
Ok… you shot Susan, not Peter; yet Peter suffers.
Peter is illogical.
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!
Love makes you weak. Weakness makes you inferior.
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!
Illogical. Love is weakness… yet is better?!!
PN-STKN’s head explodes.
This lift’s full.
Well done professor!
You did it! Next time, though, I’m taking the stairs!
They laugh. The lift continues moving and the lights return.
INT. LIFT SHAFT BOTTOM.
Smoldering robot parts litter the floor. A single disembodied hand begins to move!
Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!
Unfortunately, I am unable to take on any more author interviews or solicited book reviews at this time.
You can check out our previous interviews here:
- Sharleen Nelson, author of The Time Tourists 
- D. Wallace Peach, author of the Shattered Sea duology 
- Jacob Klop, author of Crooked Souls
- H.L. Walsh, author of From Men and Angels 
- G.M. Nair, author of Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire
- Georgia Springate, author of Beyond
- S.E. Morgan, author of From Waterloo to Water Street
- Megan Pighetti, author of Fairy-Tailed Wish 
- Nancet Marques, author of Chino and the Boy Scouts [VIDEO]