… And we’re back at it again!
With over forty responses on our first Poem Collaboration at the Little Writing Workshop of Horrors, it seems clear that there should be even more opportunities and events to share our literary work with each other, and to discover a certain connectivity that we often seek in writing. The purpose may vary, but we write either for ourselves or for others, the connectivity being this social experience to collaborate, and to put on our mud boots and get ourselves in the mud of writing.
Maybe that wasn’t the best analogy…
But, let’s get right down into it, shall we? Due to the overwhelming responses on the poem collaborative project, collaborative projects on the Little Writing Workshop of Horrors will now strive to be a feature in this horror house, using different ideas or suggestions from all of you.
This time, the goal is to create a group story. This idea was directly inspired by Her Writing Haven who hosted a story collaboration before on her blog. Admittedly, this isn’t something I had thought about a lot, but the idea of it intrigued me so.
Here’s how this will work:
In the comments, after reading the story, let me know if you would like to work on chapter two.
But, there’s a catch! First come, first serve.
The first to ask to partake in writing chapter two gets the baton to write the chapter and then submit it through the Google Forms document I have provided. I will then read it over (and provide edits if needed—for spelling or grammar), and if it follows the rules, it is accepted. A day after you have submitted chapter two to me through the form, it will be posted and I will be looking for a different participant for chapter three. And so on.
For the participant who will write the chapter, they have three days from the starting point of which they asked to participate to write the chapter and send it back to me. If I don’t hear back from them and it is beyond the three day limit, I will be on the look out for another participant to write the chapter instead.
This is not ideal, understandably, to put a time constraint on writing but it minimizes the amount of waiting and it allows the story to expand with new, fresh ideas from different writers in a timely considerate manner.
I understand that this may be a tad confusing, so if you need any clarification on this section, I’d be more than happy to provide it in the comments.
Once you have submitted your entry, though, you cannot submit again for a different chapter.
The story collaboration begins today. It will end all together sometime in July or August, perhaps earlier or later, depending on the amount of responses or how well received this is. I will write an early notice if the collaboration is nearing the end, so everyone can have the opportunity to jump in. The minimum amount of words I will allow is 500. The maximum is 5,500 (that way, you can cover a lot).
Ground rules: Very fun, I know. What I will accept includes explicit language and swears (to an extent). This will obviously be a mature literary piece, but please no erotica or sex scenes. This is a story… Let’s just focus on the plot, okay? Okay.
I will not accept anything religious, outwardly political, hateful, slurs, or anything that is demeaning, threatening or harmful in its content. Listen, if you like horror, write it! The gory, the better. You like dystopias? Write it! You like sci-fi and horror? Knock yourself out, but please nothing that is against a particular group, or anything that demeans a certain group of people that would be considered racist, homophobic, sexist, religious discrimination or prejudice. I will not accept your piece at all if that is such the case.
You can submit your entry here. Take a stab at it, get out of that lofty comfort zone that we all love too much, and go for it. There’s nothing to lose.
As said, the end-result will be posted sometime in July or August. I will format the post similar to the poem collaboration where I will include your name/pen name, a link to your blog (if you have one), and your contribution/chapter. The story is titled “In My Eyes.”
Enjoy and have fun! Let’s see what your wicked minds can do.
Note: I will be re-posting this to attract different readers and writers of different time zones internationally. If you reblog this and I re-publish the post, the link will lead to an error message. This was recently brought to my attention and I apologize for that. The way to fix this would be to update the link on your end.
Chapter One by Lucy
Author acknowledgment: I know next to nothing about hacking or databases.
Summary: When Charles investigates a top level official in Europe as ordered by his company, Air Proxy, a research and investigative company on the distribution of memory chips, the night doesn’t go as planned.
You find them. Then exploit them.
Stephen Richards is a wealthy man on a high operation desk in Central Europe. He oversees cracks and flaws in the system, then patches them up on his team to manufacture ripped off memory devices to sell to radical governments; the money is then subsidized in water-downed accounts where it’s passed on to local mobs in the area.
These devices he rips off are the crux of most’s existence, their very own mortality.
He likes to think he has the biggest dick on the planet. Really, he is just a large dick in a sea of provisional suppliers, workers, and engineers.
He is a supposed family man but regularly cheats on his wife. He used to be a doctor in America, but fled in fear from malpractice lawsuits, as he killed a patient, inoculating them with a feeding tube through their stomach—which they eventually succumbed to internal bleeding after being poked in the wrong artery.
He changed his name from Edward Greco to what he goes by now. He goes out every Tuesday night at the local pub and drinks in self-sorrow, idly watching the news linger from a spokesperson to some football game broadcasting on the small channels. The barstool next to him is empty, and I play with my coat pockets before sitting down next to him.
He barely looks at me, but talks out of the side of his mouth annoyed. “Yes? May I help you with something?”
Winged above him is some architecture with white and red damask folds and layers. The mahogany table sticks out like a beet, but standing in his shadow, I order a glass of water and turn back to him. “I see you’ve come here a lot.”
He stares at me. “You’ve been watching me?”
“I’m a frequent visitor here. I always like to get away, go to someplace where I can be alone. Where I can be myself. It’s better like that anyway.”
He nods in agreement. Silence blossoms, and when I get my glass, I push it around before taking a gulp. “Mr. Richards—”
“How do you know my name?” He cuts in. “I presume if you know my last name then…” He doesn’t finish his sentence.
“I’m one of your employees. The customer support department.”
He guffaws heavily. “That is literal hell.” He finishes his drink and doesn’t spare me another look.
Amazing how he also doesn’t care for me to elaborate further. He looks into his dark yellow drink, soon mulling it around in his mouth as he places his overcoat on the back of his chair. He leans slightly back, eyes a tad dreaming and misty solemn.
“Do you ever miss going home?”
“You know…” He reflected. “How much do you have to go through when you can’t take it anymore? Your home is not your home anymore. It’s a fucking cold space…” He swells his cheeks a bit, looking grimly red, as I could imagine him thinking back to the mistakes throughout his life.
“You deal, man. You find ways to cope. You try not to think about it.”
He turned his head quietly. I saw his hands fiddle with the small glass on the black table.
“I should avoid it then.”
“Yeah, avoid it.”
His neck flushed a tad red; he resembled a lost, grazing animal in the wilderness. Behind us, the bar was filling in; the dark spaces occupied with an inadequate distance to truly indicate how I feel. Isolated. The starry night snuffs through the window, and I look at my watch precisely.
Stephen Richards was a pathetic man.
He does not stick his nose high for the fuckers he works for. The “low-brows” like us, the techies, the programmers, we don’t have a reputation like him in high power. He’s able to delve into his shit without any repercussions because of two things:
His status in society.
And how he is viewed by others.
We see it all the time. No one would believe me if right here tonight I contact the ADK news media center by myself alone, and blow the details of Greco’s life—his connections to the Italian mob, how he steals our processing memory chip implant devices, fixes the glitches, and then wires them around to subversive organizations like the Delano 618, and to mobsters and gangs.
He doesn’t report the glitches as he should. He signs off them giving North America the faulty equipment, while he’s stockpiling them all around Europe.
The common goal is to manufacture a processing plant to collect and condense group data. This means individual thoughts, processes, and patterns all routed in the memory chip. This includes interactions that are recorded, then used as blackmail when someone hacks into the equipment using a rootkit, a type of malware, to crack into these systems to steal their information.
Governments try to suppress this information, but it’s disseminated around to organizations like mine that I work for.
“I have to use the bathroom,” Richards slightly slurs, bringing me out from my sloth-state thoughts. “Would you like to come?”
I nod silently and follow. It’s better there than here, anyway.
“Don’t mind me,” He says as he starts letting it all out in the urinal. I shuffle awkwardly, waiting a couple of minutes. “I shouldn’t have had that beer.”
I look away from him as he zips up his fly on his thick, denim pants.
“You see,” He pats me on the shoulder without washing his hands, “you see how far you can come to be like me… An empire of data, the co-owner of at least five industries with thirty percent say.”
“Sounds like shit, to be honest.”
“The thirty percent say. You don’t have much control, do you?”
“No. Do you really?”
“Dr. Greco.” He stares at me speechless. “You control empires of data and sell the data that is spawned on the memory chip to other organizations that can then hack into them. You don’t know jack from shit–you’re a pawn in the big sea of game players that you don’t even know where the chain ends…” I pause, considering. “Do you?”
“Excuse me?” His face twists repulsed and white with shock. “H-how do you know me?” He instead asks. “You don’t–”
“I know you through different means. I’ve traced you back to so much corruption—it all started when your father escaped to America. When you grew up, you went to a small, town-based college, majoring in marketing and business administrations. You dropped out, but as soon as Apple started to produce their memory chips, you somehow ranked to the top.
“That bothered me. More than you’ll ever know. So, do you know how I found more information?”
His cognitive function looked slowly to be shutting down, eyes shifting over lazily. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought something came out of his pants too. He swallowed amidst the dark air in the chrome room, the circular vents orbiting onto our path.
“By your accounts. You started having an increased amount of funds labeled under an air propulsion company while completing an internship at a Wyoming University, and of course I thought that couldn’t be right. Your account was… around six figures. So, I looked further. And, I eventually found the link that put it together.
“One of your professors, Theodore Elliot, created a technology company, producing the first of these make-shift memory chips after Apple. These were at a reduced price, but just like you—the same method. Get a flying man over at Apple’s development department, eye out the vulnerabilities, approve them, then correct them over here.”
“I do not know what you’re talking about,” Edward slightly sobered up, shifting his dark blue glasses back onto his face. “I think you’re blackmailing me.”
“Do you want me to delve in more of your prior history? It is quite boring, to be honest. Really nothing there. You teamed up with him, and when he mysteriously died after being thrown off a roof (miraculously labeled as a suicide, which is more absurd than quantum mechanics to me—don’t get me started), you stepped up as co-founder with the board, where you then went on to live the luxurious comfort you have today, helping co-found the industries you ‘apparently’ run.”
His throat bobbed up and down, as his eyes welled with tears. “What do you want from me?”
“You’re going to come back with me to my company and admit to all the illicit things you’ve done. We know everything. We know your dealings. We know about your infidelity. We know when you first peed your pants, we know the last thing you’ve eaten yesterday. You see, through our empire, we know all about you.
“If you do not come with me, this will get out to the police anonymously. I don’t have that power but my superiors do. If you don’t come with me… Your real name will be released to the press, you will be arrested on murder charges for killing that patient in Brooklyn, and all of your accounts will be dumped and emptied. Your whole family will die on the streets, perhaps from starvation, and your children will be forced to foster-care.”
There was a pregnant pause.
“At least do it for your kids, Edward,” I manage. “Think of them for once.”
Edward swallows, looks into the mirror—his face a phantom pale. He looks back at me, eyes swimming in fear and mistrust. I had control over him.
“Okay,” is all he says. “Let’s go.”
I open my eyes and wake.
Last night, I took Edward to my headquarters at Air Proxy where he was questioned and contained for a few hours. We collected the data, and today, the higher-ups were to be in touch with his company’s legal team to talk about what would happen onward. It would first be with him resigning from the company, and handing us over half the shares and profits so we can expand those resources to recover the missing files and data from the memory chips that were sold illegally or deleted.
We would then destroy the methods of instruction on how to create the illegal MC’s in that specific company, confiscating the information, therefore shutting these types of corporations down.
With the memory chips, they are little recording devices. They record everything, including dreams. They are a government’s wet dream to collect because it can provide auxiliary information about certain users of the chip. It’s optional to have it ingrained in your skull, but most of the population—the regular population—has it.
I sit back in my chair silently as I read the headlines of the Times to see in plain text, “OPTIK-GATE.” I click on the article which opened fully– “OPTIK-GATE data: Various companies with MC’s (Memory Chips) being deleted from databases. Co-founder, Stephen Richards found dead.”
“What the fuck…” I murmured. I tried to distract myself by taking deep breaths. I didn’t think this was real. This was like a nightmare that I had yet to awake from. I felt drifting in the in-between just like before falling asleep.
This wasn’t right—what had happened. Greco was not a major target, believe it or not. He had no major debts, and while in the public eye, he was too much of a patsy to be desired or sought out after for his power. His power was an illusion he chased, even the subversive, dark organizations know that, which is why the Delano 618 never stabbed him in the back. They wouldn’t kill him. Surely.
This seemed to be calculated. Something was going on, a very cold secret between the databases of the world, this shadowy world.