Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Campaigner Challenge 1

The first campaigner challenge is here. In Rachael's own words:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

Here's my attempt. I've gone for the extra challenge of the beginning and end phrase and exactly 200 words. I'm not great at flash fiction yet, but I relish the chance to practice. Also, please don't judge me on the title :-)

I'm number 147, if you would like to vote :-)

Prisoner of the Mind

The door swung open. For a second he stared at it, too frightened to move. Then excitement overcame fear and he scurried across the cell. Peering into the corridor, he saw it was empty, and the door at the end – the one that led to freedom – was open too.

On the verge of running, he paused, uncertain. What if it was a trap? What if they were hiding, waiting to see what he would do? Maybe they just wanted another excuse to beat him. His smile was smug, he was too smart for them. He wouldn't play their game.

He shuffled back to the far corner of his cell, waiting. For them. An hour later, although he didn't know it was an hour, there was a shout from the far end of the corridor.
"Which idiot left the outer door open?"
Then another voice. "Jesus Christ! The auto mechanism' s malfunctioned, we've lost him."

Running footsteps then, approaching the cell. A head poked in.
"Panic over, he's still here. Idiot probably didn't even notice it was open."
He smiled to himself. They thought he was a fool, but he was too smart for them. The head withdrew, the door swung shut.


  1. Very cool... I really enjoyed it...

  2. Oh bless! Poor thing didn't get his chance to escape. Fear is such a powerful inhibitor. Great piece.

  3. Always talented! Great piece and I love that you went the extra mile with the word count! GO YOU! You're taking this challenge by storm!

  4. Oh, love it! There's a lesson in there somewhere... ;)

  5. Nice job - I love the way the keepers think the MC was too dumb to notice the door was open! They're gonna get a surprise... ;-)

  6. There's a lot more to this story, isn't there? Well done.

  7. Tricky one that prisoner :) I like it!

  8. Nice job Sarah. It's interesting how those four little words have inspired an entire range of imaginings from the authors. I like how your story leaves me guessing. Was the guy really nuts, or did he know something that actually made staying the right decision? Not knowing for sure is part of the entertainment value.

  9. Very cool--I like how you can't tell who is in the cell--man or beast? Criminal or wrongly imprisoned? Sane or not? Great job!

  10. Interesting--I love the insight into the prisoner's warped psychology.

    I wanted to let you know that I've given you an award over at my blog, because I've been enjoying *your* blog very much. Thanks for a fun read this morning!

  11. Awesome! This is very good and I couldn't help but laugh at the end. I kind of feel bad for him, but I have to laugh too. Great job.

  12. Love it! We must be of the same mind, because mine has a cell in it as well. :)

  13. Love this! Great job! I loved the end. Made me smile. :)

  14. Wow!!

    This was cool!! Thanks for dropping by my blog!! Another Author !!

    Wanted my mail id??
    here it is:

  15. I really liked the end. I love when I don't know what's coming.

  16. Wow! This is actually similar to a short story I wrote a LONG time ago. Talk about deja vu. Awesome entry, Sarah! Me like!

  17. As a result of this "movement" I've seen this story on multiple blogs already. All hail the collective power of bloggers;)

  18. Interesting. I like it when a piece of fiction makes me think about it.

  19. A cell! Sinister! I now want to know what happens next... and I've tagged you at my blog :-)

  20. Nice! Just who is the fool, I wonder. ;-)

  21. Awesome take with the door image! The story within the first and last sentence really made me feel like I was there inside with him and also trying to get inside his mind. I love that double usage of inside the cell and inside his mind. Very cool :)

  22. Oh no! I felt kind of bad for the guy:( If only he would have gone...

  23. What a fascinating story! Thrilling and psychological, and I'm still thinking about it. Loved the ending. Those 200 words packed quite a punch.

  24. Sarah, this is brilliant. Now why oh why didn't he run? Denise

  25. wow, really cool, very imaginative !

  26. ha! he so could've escaped.... shaking my head!!!
    nicely done :)

  27. Way for the MC to pull one over on them! Good job!

  28. I like the premise. There was a study done with fleas some years ago where they put a glass top on a tank full of fleas. At first, the fleas would jump as high as they could and bounce off the glass cover. After some amount of time, the fleas would learn not to jump into the glass. At that point, they could remove the glass cover, and none of the fleas would jump out of the tank.

    I think the story would have been even better if the reader had been left to wonder if, maybe, your character really had pulled one over on his prisoners. Maybe that wouldn't work for 200 words, though.

  29. I loved this piece, Sarah. It tells me so much with few words.

    Have a great week.

  30. Great story. I like how you used the door as a focus of the piece, rather than just an element. Well done.

  31. Great story. how many times do we hesitate when something seem just too easy. Mine is #72

  32. Oh it is so sad when madness takes over! Great story ;)

  33. Oh gosh, the poor guy is totally out of his wits. It's so terrible, and quite morbid, but I do love seeing how fear and such can break a person.

    Great job!

  34. Great piece of writing! When I go through that part from the challenge I will be sure to check like on it! But right now I am still making the rounds from the beginning Bloggers group in the Campaign and wanted to say you're doing a good job with the blog!

  35. Oh great challenge, and the story is great! Well done.

  36. Great story, great execution. 200 words is just right for that story. Well done.

  37. I liked this- it had just the right amount of intensity and I liked the voice! Great job for 200 words. I'm really enjoying all of these entries!

  38. Christine - A good reaction. Thank you :-)

    E. Arroyo - Thank you!

    Tania - I love being thought of as 'cool'. (Well, my writing at least.) :-)

    Madeleine - 'Paralysed with fear' is only a cliche because it's true :-)

    Jen - Thanks so much. I really appreciate the compliment :-)

    Linda - Indeed. Somewhere... :-)

    Christine - Many thanks.

    Crystal - Possibly...If only I had a few more words to decide :-)

    Alynza - Thank you!

    Matthew - Aye. I feel sorry for him, even though I don't know who - or what - he is :-)

    Angelina - I think there might be. For a ten minute exercise, he sure is hanging around.

    Jen - Thank you :-)

    Daniel - Even I didn't know when I wrote it. I'm starting to think I might have an idea though...

    Julie - Your comment was the one that really got me thinking about him. Thank you.

    Cheryl - Thank you so much for the award. I hope to pay it forward next week.

    Abby - Laughing is fine! Who is playing who, exactly?

  39. Julie CB - I'll look forward to reading yours.

    Chantele - I'm glad, thank you.

    AllMyPosts - Thank you, and you're very welcome.

    Kelley - Interesting is good, thank you :-)

    Jenny - Thanks, and me too.

    D.J. Kirkby - Coming from you, I'm thrilled. Thanks.

    David - Maybe we're psychic twins :-) Thanks for the lovely compliment.

    Mark - I love how the same start has spawned so many different ideas.

    Randy - I'm really pleased if I've made someone think, because I love that too.

    Jamie - Aww, thanks for the lovely words.

    Claudia - Thank you. I'm quite tempted to continue sometime, just for fun.

    Bish - Thank you!

    Rosalind - Thanks for the tag. I'll work on it for next week :-)

    Tara - Ah! Therein lies the question, (translated: I'm not quite sure yet!).

    K - Thank you. I was aiming for the whole 'prisoner of the mind' thing, hence the rather lame title :-)

    Deana - Of course, what's outside might be worse...

  40. Phil - Thank you so much. I love it if I can make people think.

    L'Aussie - Why, indeed? Is he really smart, or just very stupid?

    Jilda - Thank you very much!

    Cristina - Sometimes fear of success is even greater than fear of failure :-)

    Alleged Author - I hope he did. I'm not quite sure yet :-)

    Andrew - I love that flea study. Behaviour really interests me.

    I think you're right, and if I had more words, I might be less blatant. Maybe :-)

    Medeia - Thanks a lot. You too :-)

    Jamie M - Welcome to you, and thank you. I just started with the door and worked outwards :-)

    Bridget - Too often I think. I've just had a look at your blog and you've got a new follower :-)

    Heather - It is, isn't it? Thank you.

    Jamila - Indeed, from a purely fictional point of view, it's quite fascinating.

    Samantha - Welcome to you, and thank you. I'm looking forward to getting to know you.

    Teresa - Thank you. I really enjoyed trying this.

    Annalisa - It's a lovely length, but I'll admit to being tempted to expand...

    CQG - Thank you. There are some great stories out there, aren't there?

  41. Really liked this. I think what's interesting is it could go off in so many different directions, and it gets the reader thinking. Is the guy an idiot for not running away, or is there more to it? Because the word count is so tight it means people are free to draw their own conclusions - definitely scope there for a longer piece though.

  42. Interesting! There's much unsaid about the character--was he right or wrong not to run? Was it all a game, or did he really miss his chance?

    Great piece! And I love the title you gave it. :)

  43. I found myself chuckling at the end too. Then stopped. This guy could be so many things! And we all let ourselves get stuck that way, don't we. Nicely done.

  44. I've read a few of these, and they're all different and great in their own way - but what I really like about yours in particular is that I can see this being the beginning to a book. It makes me want to read more! Who is this guy? Where is he? Love it.

  45. Very good. I notice you can vote as many times as you like for as many different stories as you want. Which is great because they are all so good. On that note, I'm # 27.

  46. Very nice. Everything built toward a satisfying ending. Don't often see that.

  47. Aw, I feel kind of bad he missed his chance. Great piece, Sarah!

  48. Brilliant. :) Even though I feel bad for the little guy, I had to smile by the end.

  49. Awesome, Sarah! It was so good I read it twice. :)

    I love how many questions your story poses. It makes a nice conversation piece, imo.

  50. great story, says a lot about how we live in a very small, neat package. Nice one.

    Moody Writing

  51. Great entry, Sarah. Definitely leaves you thinking. I wonder what would've happened if he ran? :-)

  52. Oh no. He missed his chance! I love the insight into the prisoners mind.

  53. Helen - You're right, sometimes it's better to let the reader's imagination fill in the blanks!

    Golden Eagle - Thank you for saying that about the title :-)

    Paula SJwriter - You're right, we're all sometimes afraid of things that look 'too easy'.

    Liz - You never know, it could be the next one I work on :-)

    Super Happy Jen - I love your name! I'll be reading your entry over the weekend :-)

    Ken - Thank you, and welcome to you!

    Ruth J - Thanks Ruth. I might let him out in the future :-)

    Alica - I think so, maybe :-)

    Avery - I love that you called him the 'little guy' :-)

    F.E. Sewell - Wow, that's a real compliment. Thank you.

    Mood - Thanks, and good point.

    Cally - Blue skies and sunshine all the way. Or not :-)

    CherylAnne - He certainly did, although he'll probably never know!

    1000th Monkey - Thank you, and welcome.

  54. What! I wanted him to get definitely made me want to keep reading. Great story :)

  55. Sorry :-) But I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  56. Sarah ~

    I love this piece! I hope you move on in the challenge! And the title is so fitting. What a great take on those four opening words. Well done! ~ Nadja

  57. Nadja - Thank you. I'm glad you liked the title as I was very unsure about it :-)

  58. This is really thought-provoking and I'd love to know what happens next. Well done, Sarah.

  59. Yay Sarah! This was brilliant! I do feel kinda bad for the guy, but maybe his imprisonment will get better now that he's realized he's so clever. :P

  60. Good story, and I want to know more about this guy - that's a good sign, I think!
    -- Kate, fellow Beginning Blogger campaigner

  61. Something tells me your MC isn't as smart as he thinks he is??? Poor thing, he could have got out!

  62. Rebecca - Thanks. I'm sort of playing with an idea for it :-)

    J- Hah! You think like I do ;-)

    Kate - Welcome to you, and always a good sign :-)

    Rachel - Aye, sad but true :-)

  63. Now see here Sarah! You've won a full critique of your whole ms! So get cracking! Tell 1000thmonkey to wait!


  64. Denise - I've been in touch with her, and I've got my very first real (albeit flexible) deadline!

    I'm so excited :-)

  65. I actually thought this was a bit sad. Luckily, he didn't see the wretchedness of it. And I like the title. It's perfect. :)

  66. Oh, I definitely had 'sad' in mind when I wrote this! I'm actually really proud of this one, thanks for taking the time to come back and read it!


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