This collaboration project will be centered around creating a group novel. Now, this project may go on for a lengthy period of time. Hiatuses are to be expected, which is why I will be reposting chapters to gather interest. This is also a note of caution that if you reblog such post, the link will have expired and you will need to update it.
This will be similar to our story collaboration (this is a link to the final chapter but it has each chapter listed for one to indulge themselves in reading if they are interested), so if you are familiar with that, then this might pique your interest. If unfamiliar, that is okay! I will explain everything and I will be more than happy to clarify anything in the comments.
Here are the guidelines and rules if you are interested in participating in this project:
- Leave a comment expressing direct interest in writing or claiming a chapter. First come, first serve. Ye who claimith shall receiveith the chapter first (I promise no more butchering of Shakespearian talk). You must comment your interest in writing a chapter. If you, however, send in a chapter without expressing interest beforehand, the submission will not be accepted, unfortunately.
- The participant who claims the chapter has seven days when it’s their turn to write the chapter and subsequently send it back to me. If accepted, I will provide edits if needed and the chapter will be up the day after it was submitted.
- If I don’t hear back from you regarding the chapter, however, and it is beyond the one week limit, I will be searching for someone else to write it.
- Please do not submit to the form without commenting your interest in writing a chapter.
- Authors can write multiple chapters—no constraints or limits on how many they do. However, there is a general courtesy to not claim one chapter after the next. This is to allow other authors a chance to participate and as well get their own claims in for future chapters. When it’s your turn, I will remind you in the thread where you’ve claimed the particular chapter.
- There is no deadline for this story. When I feel it’s near the end, I will release a notice on here to get the final few chapters in.
- The minimum word count I will accept is 500. The maximum word count I will accept is somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 words.
- If no one seems to claim an upcoming chapter, then I will jump in to write again.
- I will not accept anything religious, outwardly political, hateful, pornographic, slurs, or anything that is demeaning, threatening or harmful in its content. 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 if that is such the case.
- An exploration of social issues is fine. It should not alienate or debase the audience, though, in your writing.
- I will as well include your name/pen name and a link to your website (if you have one) with your contribution to the novel collaboration. The novel is titled “Identify.”
It begins right here, right now. You can submit your continuation here after reading chapter one below. I hope you enjoy this collaboration. Happy writing!
Chapter One (Psyche) by Lucy
Story Synopsis: When Tom washes ashore on an island, he has partial amnesia and can’t recollect what happened. He meets a mysterious woman who offers him what seems to be a way out from the confined island country that is occupied with failed experiments and testing subjects.
The grandeur of the island was wreathed with glazes of water on the foreshore. The wind comes and goes like a deep sleep, the pouring of fog swaying like shattered glass in the distance. The dark isthmus twists on the interstices of sand from the flow of the water.
I splash the water on my face, searching for respite in the cool air. My teeth chatter in the breeze, and I am withholding tears from my eyes as the wind, at one point suspends, progresses faster onto my pale skin. I am naked. The circular white edges of the sand trap themselves onto my feet as I crawl, and I stir out of memory how I washed ashore on here.
Overcast, the wisps of crashing wind passes through me heavily, and momentarily, I feel warmth, a possessed warmth draping over me like a blanket. I closed my eyes and chose a spot in partial darkness to lie down on; my eyes were frosted over, and I lied still until I felt my body removed from the edge of the isthmus.
“Haven’t seen you before,” said a man frowning, wearing some sludgy muck on his face as I woke up beside him in the room. He turned over on his bed, staring at me almost infinitely. “Are you new?”
“I, I think I washed up on shore here,” I shook. “I—I don’t know where I am or even how I got here—What’s that thing on your face?”
“What?” He mumbled. I felt myself rise with fear, only lingering my gaze on what his face has morphed into; it looked burnt off and charred, but with white like the glint of teeth in the sun.
“Your face,” I repeated. “What’s up with it?”
“Mind your own business,” he tried keeping his voice calm, “or I’ll fuck up yours.”
“Look,” I lowered my voice, leaning over to him, “I’m not looking for any trouble. I just want to know where I am at.”
He chuckled, and only seemed to be in a cold sweat, looking me up and down. “I don’t even know where I’m at half of the time. My guess is as good as yours, man.”
“And how long have you lived here?”
“I…” He nearly closed his eyes, muttering only slightly to the floor. His breath wavered. “I don’t know. I just know what’s different depending on the new arrivals here.”
The crisp air hangs in the room. I turn over again in silence, feeling the cold clamminess of the rattling window beside my bed. It felt like a season of death as I drifted off to sleep.
I wake in a dark strain. I am alone in a singular room now, the window revealing a bleary, blank landscape sheathed with marble stone layering, with very few branches poking the outer-glass. I resist the urge to pull myself up, but I stare with wide eyes at the ceiling.
I shivered as the shadows swept through the ceiling from the window. I roll over in my bed, the red garments pulling at my skin, as I view the ocean’s undulated waves from the window.
Somewhat, dizzy, I managed to fall back asleep to the unbridled sound of the wind outside.
I stumble out into the cool wisps of the island. I left that cold, empty room when I realized the door was unlocked. I was in a fully-stocked house; looked lived-in, and I still couldn’t process who took me off from the shoreline.
I suppress the yellow illuminance of light that glowers above the leaves—some sort of steep pole bent that is carrying it—that brushes by the thrush of warmth, and in small steps, I wander through the disturbing corners of greenery and frosted tree limbs hanging overhead. The sky is an ice-blue.
I see passerby’s covering their faces with their brittle-like limbs over their eyes, those glassy eyes I’ve managed to capture. They look haunting and sick. As the wind howled, the ghostly isthmus trembled slightly as I continue to look on at these hideous creatures—these creatures of humanity—and in a sick, sick game I keep watch for how many more I spot staring at me as if I was a monster.
I tug at my face, feeling the warmth of my skin. It turned pale then red. It was normal. I stopped breathing. Everyone is watching me. The hardened muck was on their faces—you couldn’t even see their beady eyes—only what anchors them onto their bodies, their necks, which were an ill color, forbidding me to look on anymore.
I try to look into their blazed, absolute faces. Hardened. Like stone. Those black-lit depths that were eyes stare back at me, further inching towards my face; I turn around facing a gathering crowd hell-bent on the newcomer. The stranger with a face.
Ahead of me, lights suspend as everyone is serried. I feel a sharp pain in my eye as I continue to stare.
The dim outline of light exits, now ceasing, as I continue to stand.
“Are you calling me?”
The woman turns around, concealing her face. There stands an ivory drip like a skull, fitting with the dusk dimly overlook from the covering of trees, on her face. Studded with an icy-black patch of dirt, the trailing of feet march up, drawing deeper and deeper. They all follow and crowd me, unsheathing the nothing from their eyes like a corpse.
I’m grabbed by the back, pulled against bodies and bodies, arms molesting all over my back and head, indicating the absence of life through their clammy, cold hands. I try to follow, slip in through the infinitesimal spaces of the crowd, and a finger tries to penetrate my eye. I stagger, losing the trail, and I am consumed by the fury of the crowd looking down at me disdainfully.
The shadowy figures stand, until I could hear some faint music in the background (it’s in my head, it’s in my head is what I keep thinking), and then an arm grabbing me by the back of my besmirched coat. I turn my head to see the woman. She beckons me.
We’re able to push through the roar of the occupants, grinding on the underfoot of marsh and dirt. We turn a corner. Bolted out from the trees, we head to a frantic landscape that is quite interrupted with brownish tall trees, overgrown greenery on each side, and a measure of salty wind into our faces. Hurriedly, she pulls out a Ruger pistol.
“Now,” says she, licking her lips, as she jams the magazine in with an eight-round of bullets, “you’re going to shoot those fuckers down if you see them, alright?”
I snap my head up and sink back, “What?”
“Dude. Wake the fuck up—” she hands me the loaded pistol, “and shoot them if you see them from behind.”
“Why—I’m so confused—Why can’t you do it?”
She peers at me, giving me a proffered smile. “You’re more accurate with it than I am. Don’t you remember?”
“Remember? I have never shot one in years! I don’t think I ever used this brand.” I look up, speechless, as having been explained this wry, rich thought that came at me like a warning. “Why are you asking me this?”
“You’re so fucked up,” she says silently to herself. I resigned myself to that, and in minutes, we descend quickly holding onto each of our possessions—me, the pistol, her a torn leather satchel on the shoulder. She turns every so often to make sure we’re not followed, and leading to the back of a building, she snaps something open from her travel-bag and hands it to me.
I peer at it with fright. She tells me it will dissolve in my hand to cover my pulse. The warm pavement in-folds and I feel the layers of my hand tremble.
The complex whispers absolute vigilance, it is dark as the shadows of dusk obscured by a glass panel. Secured in place is a door by the atrium, as we crawl to the abandoned front desk; I eyed an old copy of The Times that looked torn and burnt on the floor. I drag a bit as she rummages through the drawers, flickering through the grainy desk until it almost seems habitual. She looks back up at me, coldly nods, closing the drawers kicking the hollow vanity on the manipulated ocean-white of the table. I follow.
Looking at her unfinished cigarette that was in her hand, “You got more of those?” I asked.
“Get your own, dude,” she blows into my face.
I shake my head and begin to pace the room. “What are we doing here? What is this?”
“Well, wait… I think I do have another pack in my bag…”
“Where are we?”
“Do you want it or not?”
I stare at her. My face twitches, and occasionally, I see the detritus of porcelain dotting off the wall like dark mold. “Where are we? You need to tell me this.”
“If you shut the fuck up and stop asking me that, you’ll get the cigarette, dude. Just hold your dog shit for a minute, alright?”
It’s not a comfortable silence; a tableau of images course through like a dark wash of blood and glassy eyes gating me. I don’t understand the complexity of what I see now, and shaking, I start to shiver on the floor, feeling mounted towards the absolute of death—starved as in a midwinter complexion.
She crouches down with me, surveying my eyes. I feel like I was bleeding out, and before I could get a word, she gently puts the cigarette on my lips, tells me to puff. I cough. My legs feel swayed, my ribs jammed, and compacted. Most of all, I felt trapped in a faint chill that squeezes my eyes opened and closed.
“Take the cig, Tom, and give it a kiss for me.”
“…What the fuck?” My vision wavers. I’m shaking—I don’t know anymore, I don’t know. “Am I dying?”
“You shouldn’t be—Keep holding onto that. If you drop it, I’m not giving you another one.”
“What’s happening to me?”
“It’s the medicine I gave you to ‘stop’ your pulse.”
Dreamily, she looks on and removes a pair of keys from her pocket. She smiles, the rims of her eyes are dark like an addict. “You’re going places, Tom. Places you won’t expect.”
She jams the key into the door, hastily grabbing me by the wrist as I limp on further into an exhibition of closed doors and an elongated hallway like some sort of cell. I feel a sudden thirst that keeps me awake. I want to stand in the wan dark, but I can’t, only twisting in agony of what seems as distant as death to be replicated as some sort of quiet coma-like state. I feel like a dead man walking.
The pallet senses of linoleum and blood hinder me in the darkness. She opens a door and leaves me alone to the sheer depth of the hallway. There’s a faint hovering light with trickling glare, and turning, there ascends an urban chill from the mounted vent. She emerges and I sink into my emptying mind—feeling gushed as if someone pressed the trigger against my head.
She’s rolling a hospital bed with a lightened cloak near me.
“You must forgive me. This one smells like mothballs.” She grabs me by the back, helping me sit down on the bed, and abruptly, looks thoughtful. “Once we do this, you’ll be guided out of the building into a condemned area where they dispose of cadavers.”
Speechless, I meet her at her gaze level. “Why are you doing this?”
She, dazed, stares at me, particularly into my skull that nearly infiltrates my thoughts. “You’re such a half-wit. Now lie down and play dead.”
“You’re going to be examined and prodded a little. They won’t do anything to you now. You’re not desirable to them anymore.”
“The people who run this island society, fuck head. Are you brain dead now?”
“Where are we?”
She blankly stares at me and slowly speaks, “The main complex. I got access weeks ago.”
“I feel like I’m in hell.”
“They won’t identify you, but they’ve been looking for you for a while…” I shrug my shoulders back and try to listen to her intently but a handful of darkness reaches into my eyes, in-folds my head like layered tissue, and I shut my eyelids into the cypress of blue and mauve bewildered coloring. I try to dismiss them but they enclose me, spreading further until I see a hunched, thick light, and a frame of a one-story house.
It’s immersive, but it is gone as soon as I acknowledge it. I turn over and try to open my eyes, but they feel sunken in and heavy from utter exhaustion. In my sight prevails bristled white, and the eyes of watchmen with veils.
In the winter creak, I feel suffused into a faint ditch, my limbs subsiding over themselves. Heavy. I open my eyes a little to see two people with… with regular faces. One was of a tall man with a domed, nearly clear head; the other was a small looking woman by the bank of the waters, red hair and she was shifting in her place from what I can tell. When they speak, I remain unmoving and shut my eyes.
“He has been killed?”
“Regrettably, so it seems, from Lana’s assessment.”
“That I couldn’t kill him myself. People like him, Alexie, should be confined and then tortured.”
“My God. What has he done? Do you know him?”
“Of him, I can say. I know their type, and he’s one of the ones we use on the island for our ‘fixing the leaks’ program.”
“I’ve heard of that, I think. What do they do, exactly?”
“Just as regrettably, I cannot tell you anything about it. Now go, you don’t want to keep the N.O.R. waiting…” There was a pause. “Oh, Alexie! I know so much about you. I’m so glad we’ve recruited you.” Rising, he stares tightly at the young woman, and gratefully, she pulls away to the other side of the building.
I open my eyes a little more, my heart feeling like it was pounding when it wasn’t. Instead of leaving, he watches on after her as the door shuts, and moments later, leaves. My eyes half-closed, I am divested of my clothes, and am subjected to a blackened sheet that wraps around my body like some sort of long stalk; the yellow sands run deep into my skin, and on the side of the willows, there is a pierced wedge in front of the recumbent bushes smoothened on the bark. There is an ash pile up ahead.
A stilted river courses through. The place is lifeless. I hurried out of the sloping garment, and behind me, in the clearing, I see loosely some shadows that pool beyond the scoop of branches nearly barricading the little stretch of land, and looking further, it was a ranch. The sun glared as I draped myself with the remainder of the sheet (feels like wolf-skin), and headed that way over. Some light continued to break down on my skin, crossing on the sand, flamed with the reed valley. The little wind came and went back into my face; the recumbent leaves cracked as I stepped on them, and the thrashing of birds whimpering startled me.
From the far, far distance, the range had a solid door with a broken latch. The outside occupied a brush of land, loaded with crops, gardens, and plants. There were some shelves, buckets, and shovels littered around, and by one of the windows, there were some rusty wind-chimes that would most likely rush here and there.
“Wake up, asshole!”
I lied still instead in a valley, and a boot brushed by my face. I looked up to where I thought I saw the ranch, but it was no longer there. It never existed.
I must have collapsed from exhaustion.
“What the fuck was that about?” The woman ripped off a white mask and coat into the golden fields. As I got up, she pushed me by the chest. She looked ready to hit me, but I saw no hand whip in my face. I stepped away, the yellow whiskers of the sun glaring in my eyes causing me to wince, and she looks at me, teeming with anger, but then squinted her eyes. “Don’t you know what you did?”
“What did I do?”
“You messed everything up. I was supposed to collect you to get access to different parts of the building, fuck face. You were supposed to stay there, and where do I find you? Out of the occupation zone! What if they discovered you here and killed you?”
I scowled. “You had me at one point.”
“Yeah. I did. I needed it approved that you were dead, and then I could have collected your body after they disposed of it.”
“And what is the entire point of this? What is this? And—and, who are you?”
She stares at me hard. “What the fuck are you saying?”
“You’re a fucking stranger! You’re dragging me around like a rag doll when I’m just, I’m so ill, and so god damned tired. Just who are you?”
“No,” she whimpered. “No, no, no.”
“You,” her voice wavered; she swallowed. “You don’t remember me?”
She sat down on a rock, unhurriedly, and removed the latex gloves from her hands, discarding it on the pallid grass.
“I’m your sister, Tom.”
“Sister? I was an only child.”
“No, you weren’t. I can’t believe this. I really can’t. What is the last thing you remember from here?”
“I… I washed up on the shore here, and someone collected me.”
“Shit, shit, shit,” she kept saying, rubbing her hands throughout her hair, messing it up, and then there came a faint sound from her throat. She rubbed her temples, turning away from me. “What the fuck were you doing out there?”
“You were probably on some boat when they found you,” she decided after some thought. “What were you doing? I need you to think hard on this one.”
“I don’t know! What is it that you want me to say?”
“Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it!”
“What is this island? Why are we here?”
“Olerkrov Island,” she said too promptly. “They have different programs for their victims to test run. If they break out of their constructed loop, they are hunted after by the collection team. We both broke out—I, earlier than you. This loop consists of interacting or soon morphing into those fucked up creatures we saw earlier.”
“With the faces?”
“Yeah. Once you’re out of the loop, you’re no longer desirable and they try to dispose of you quickly as they found you. We both pretended at first to still be indoctrinated from their mechanical experiments, but we were on the radar as soon as we bought a ranch to start stocking up for disaster.
“We were preparing for this for a couple of years. The Island had its doubts, which is why we were constantly watched by the N.O.R. group. The Noble Organizer Redux which reports back to the Island society about our activities.”
“So, we broke out of the loop, how did we do that?”
There was a hazy silence as she mulled it over, but she slumped her shoulders in defeat.
“Fuck, if I know. I consider it a fortune that they didn’t send their army to blow our brains out at this point.”
The haze of twilight grows in a fitful sea of disruption. I cannot distinguish this reality as real, but it is as we load our belongings up in the rented car. As Lauren runs her hands through the trunk of the car checking everything, I watch the light become dimmer into the ward of shadows. Suspended, I feel warmth draped over me and I feel the scatter of texture on the ranch’s walls, the wood hoisting some cracks.
I go back inside and head to what seemed like my room. It’s not much, I can say. Some photos are blackened out on the table vanity by the green mirror that look disturbingly… off with the aesthetics of the house. I hear someone expel a sigh from behind. I turn.
“How can you miss something you don’t even remember?”
“I’m just… looking. It’s strange, Lauren, isn’t it? How do you think I got amnesia?”
“Probably brain damage from the water? Perhaps you drowned.”
“Yeah. I guess. No one told me anything. I just woke up here in two different rooms.”
Lauren murmurs a bit to herself, lips somewhat twitching. I look at her to clarify, but her hands touch the air, and moments later, I find myself alone again.