The Traveling Story – Season 3 – Episode 1
It’s here! It’s finally here! The third season of THE TRAVELING STORY! And what a fun line-up of authors we have for you this time around!
Read on to find out more about The Traveling Story and to read this season’s first episode, written by yours truly!
What is the Traveling Story?
5 Authors. 5 Days. 1 Story.
Each season of The Traveling Story will feature 5 well-known authors collaborating on one original, kick-ass story
Follow the story as it’s revealed on each author’s blog over the course of a week!
How Does it Work?
There are only three rules for The Traveling Story:
1) No brainstorming, outlining, or discussion of plot ahead of time. The first author writes the first episode of ANY kind of story they want and the next author takes the story WHEREVER they want to go! The last author ends the story however they see fit!
2) An author cannot make changes to any previous episode. Each author has total creative control over their OWN episode only, but it has to continue where the last episode leaves off.
3) HAVE FUN! The Traveling Story is meant to be fun for the writers but especially for the readers!
Season 3 Authors:
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FOLLOW THE STORY AS IT TRAVELS:
Episode 1 – May 19 – Jessica Brody
Episode 2 – May 20 – Marie Lu
Episode 3 – May 21 – Robin Benway
Episode 4 – May 22 – Megan Miranda
Episode 5 – May 23 – Kevin Emerson
Season 3, Episode 1
by Jessica Brody
The man was aware of the putrid stench in the air. He was also aware that he was the source of it. But at this very moment, bodily odor was the last of his concerns. He would bathe when it was all over.
There were a lot of things he would do when it was all over.
With one hand he scraped the bottom of the tin can with his fork and maneuvered the three remaining Spaghetti-O’s into his mouth, while the other hand continued to tap furiously against the keyboard.
He was so damn close, he could feel it.
The phone rang. He didn’t even flinch. He tossed the empty can over his shoulder, grateful to be able to use both hands again. His eyes were red-rimmed and his vision was blurry from staring at the screen for the past one hundred and forty-three hours, but he couldn’t stop now. Not when only a few more keystrokes stood between him and his place in the history.
Nonsense filled the screen at a lightning-fast pace.
Nonsense to anyone else, that is.
To him, those letters and symbols were beauty. To him, they were art. His piece de resistance.
Behind him lay the side effects of his masterpiece: Stacks of unopened bills with menacing red “OVERDUE” notices stamped into them, used soda bottles that now doubled as urinals, and empty tin cans representing every food group from syrupy peaches, to mystery meat, to sweetened condensed milk.
Somewhere in the chaos, his phone lit up, alerting him of yet another voice mail that would go unanswered. The screen flashed once and then a message appeared.
Where the hell are you? Answer your damn phone! We’re pulling the plug. Do you understand? Abort mission. Abort. Abort. Abort.
A long pause followed, during which only the sound of the man’s fingers slamming the keyboard could be heard. And then another message.
For Christ’s sake. PICK UP THE PHONE!
The man kept typing, stopping only long enough to scratch at his face which had started to itch two days ago thanks to the coarse tufts of hair springing up around his chin. His fingernails came back caked in something crusty and red.
Or just remnants from his dinner?
It didn’t matter. Because he hardly noticed. He just kept on typing, blinking rapidly to try to chase the fog from his eyes.
He reached for the coffee cup next to him and downed what was left. Cold dregs. He grimaced at the taste but immediately could feel the caffeine fueling him. Pushing him on.
His phone lit up again.
I’m sending someone over. You better be there.
Exactly twenty-two minutes later, the man threw his hands up in the air and let out a girly squeal.
“Done!” he announced to the empty room.
He shot up from his chair and danced a little jig, carefully maneuvering around the litter on the floor. To any bystander, this celebration would have seemed sad. Maybe even downright pathetic. A grown man with unwashed hair and a scraggly beard prancing around his one-room studio apartment like a lunatic.
Fortunately there was no one around to make such judgments and so the man carried on.
He’d never quite been the celebrating type. But this was reason to break the rules. No one in the history of the planet had done what he’d just done.
Now he just needed to run a quick configuration test and the world would be a very different place.
He leaned over the back of his chair and launched the analysis, watching the status bar slowly creep its way from 0% complete to 4% complete to 11% complete.
He knew he should do something other than stand here and watch digital green pigment appear on his screen. Wash his face, perhaps? Go to the bathroom—the real one. Maybe even brush his teeth? But he couldn’t help himself. He had to witness this with his own eyes.
This was his life’s work. He wasn’t about to abandon it in the final moments. All for the promise of minty breath.
It was when the test was 67% complete that he heard the pounding on the door. His head spun, the rapid rotation nearly knocking him off his feet. He didn’t move. He just waited. And listened.
“Mr. Almondine?” a deep voice came through the wood. “The agency sent us. Open the door.”
His body collapsed on itself and he shriveled up like a little boy being scolded by an abusive parent.
He looked at the screen and silently willed the test to run faster.
”Come on, come on, come on,” he urged in a hoarse whisper.
“Did you receive the messages? The agency has ordered an abort mission.”
His eyes snapped to the door again.
They can’t do that. They can’t shut him down. Not after everything he’s accomplished. Not after he’s come so close.
He peered at the screen.
He was 18% away from leaving behind a legacy larger than life. 18% away from having his name printed in history books from here until the end of time.
He scrambled to sit back down in his chair—his home for the past week. But in his eagerness and haste, he over-rotated the spinning seat and his butt landed on the floor instead. The noise would have been minimal had he not disturbed a week’s worth of empty meal receptacles.
The crash was deafening.
There was a brief silence and then the pounding was suddenly back. More persistent.
“Mr. Almondine! We know you’re in there! Open this door immediately or we will break it down!”
His heart slammed against his chest repeatedly as he clamored up into the chair and wheeled it closer to the desk. He could feel cold sweat dripping down his neck.
No, he vowed, watching the status bar reach 90%.
He would not let them destroy his dream.
The people outside his door were growing impatient. Yelling and banging and banging and yelling.
The sound of gunfire made him jump and a second later, the heavy wooden door came flying toward him. No longer hinged. No longer barricading them out. He ducked as it sailed over his head and crashed against the wall.
Two men stormed toward him. They looked pissed off. He hooked his ankles around the base of the chair, determined to see this thing through to the bitter end.
“Abort it!” One of the men screamed into his face. His breath was warm and stale, but still an improvement over his own unfortunate mouth odor.
Glorious blue flashed across the screen.
Test successful. No errors found.
He heard the sound of a gun being cocked and then pressure against his left temple.
“Shut it down, NOW!”
His shaking hand reached for the mouse, navigating it toward a large, red button marked “Abort.”
The silence in the room was angry and thick. Like you could run your fingers through it and come back with residue on your skin.
No, he thought again. They will not take this from me.
With a quick flick of his wrist, the man shot the mouse pointer to the right and clicked on the green button marked “Initiate.”
There was no going back now. It was done. He breathed out a sigh of relief. Just as the bullet lodged itself into his brain.
The story continues on Marie Lu’s blog!
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