Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thrilling Words On Writing Thrillers...

BB the Clone and the terrible secret – Judge's Report by Michele Powles

With clone tanks, Mentos and coke bombs, the ghost of Captain Blackbrain, a dog who is in love with clones, water dynamite and a lot of blood, guts and even brain-eating, there was a great range of stories this week. Awesome work! There were certainly plenty to choose from and it made picking a winner very hard.

A quick tip is to make sure you read instructions carefully – just like when you’re doing a test at school! A few of you missed that 67XY3BB (BB for short) was a clone rather than a human resident of Paradise Island. Remember too that this week’s genre (type of story) was thriller. Unfortunately that meant stories that were fantastic but missed these ingredients didn’t take top prize.

Best opening goes to Caroline Moratti – “ Mr Tim Cruise frowned over his morning glass of sparkling water and his freshly delivered newspaper. "Mercurium prices are dropping," he darkly mumbled to his wife, who was standing very still in the corner, with a blank look on her face.

Honourable mention has to go to Mikayla Carter and Chloe Hicken for their idea of projecting a fake castle, what a cool concept. Miriam Leonhardt for her clone’s extra long ears, Alex Dougan's United Nations dish-washing traps, Erica’s sparkly Tinkerbell eyes, Rebecca Skelton’s ghost of Susie Smith-Williams, and Hannah Berry’s wonderful descriptions of the baby clone incubator. But this week’s winner is ten year old Matthew Illing. Well done! Good job on getting inside BB’s head in first person and keeping the tension up for the Thriller genre.

For next week remember to check that your punctuation and tense are consistent (that you use the same time period all the way through your story) and that you don’t rush the ending. And of course remember to use the character, setting and genre set out by the FABO2 writers. Great job everyone who entered and we look forward to reading your entries next week.

BB the Burger Clone and the Dream Virus

by Michele Powles

The vibrating was new. So was the humming sound. For fifteen years, clone 67XY3BB had looked at the smooth walls of his station and noticed nothing except their blank white sheen. That they now moved and hummed should be noted and passed on to his supervisor. He didn’t move. Not for the first time he wished someone else shared his station so he could check this was real.

“Whatchu waiting for BB?" The voice came from nowhere and everywhere. “They’re gunna catch you if we don’t do this thing soon.”

BB held his breath but no one burst through the door.

The voice gave a little chuckle. “That’s the way, good to be on alert. It won’t be long now. I hope you’re ready.” Then there was silence.

The walls stilled and the quiet grew till BB was sure he could hear the rapid thurrrrump of his heart beat. He let his breath sigh out. “Just dreaming,” he muttered. Turning back to his workbook he checked again that the ingredients were in the right order and ready for assembly.

“Burger buns, check. Salad, cheese and beetroot, check. Tofu peanut patties, check.” His muttering was against the rules; he’d lose merit points and they might even put him on report if the Incubator Supervisor clone caught him at it, but with everything that had been happening lately he needed reassurance that things were normal. Or at least normal-ish.

It had all begun innocently enough. A word had appeared in his brain. Dreams. He’d looked through his workbook to be told what to do about it.

Nothing.

He’d gone to his supervisor for advice. But when he’d opened his mouth to speak a voice had whispered through his mind. “No. Say nothing.”

Eyes bulging BB had snapped his mouth shut, laid his daily report on the white counter and shuffled out of the room in the correct manner.

Back at his station he whizzed through his burger building tasks, all the time expecting a pair of Incubator Enforcers to break down his door and drag him off for reprogramming.

“They can’t hear me. Just don’t react and you’ll be fine.” The voice was low, silky and smooth like the tofu BB blended in his vegetarian burger pattie mix.

“Who are you?” BB hissed at the quiet empty walls of his station.

“I’m a figment of your imagination,” said the voice.

“A what?”

“Damn, that’s right, you lot got stripped of imagination. Must be awful.” The voice sighed. “Have a look at this.”

A picture of a tall building sprang into BB’s mind. Its surface sparkled and glinted, reflecting some wondrous warm light that BB had never seen before. Inside its windows he could see people walking about, talking to each other, their faces twisted into strange shapes. “What’s wrong with their faces,” he asked.

“Wrong?” The voice paused a moment, then burst into a strange sound, something joyful and light. “Bahahahaha,” went the voice. “They’re smiling, that’s all. Their faces aren’t wrong, they’re how yours should be.”

“Smiling.” BB tried out the word but it sat strangely on his tongue. “And what was that noise you made just now?”

“Oh dear, we have a long way to go with you don’t we. I was laughing. Laughing!” And the voice made the strange sound again.

BB tried to make the laughing sound. “Bohohohoheheha.”

“Hmmm. Well you can’t really expect to get it right first time. But don’t worry, you’ll get it. You’ll get everything. The sun on your face, a share of the Mercurium mine, it’s all going to be yours. Better go, someone’s coming. Laters.”

After the chatter in his head, the silence felt big and heavy to BB. Worse, he hadn’t been able to ask what he was supposed to do next. Or what Dreams were made of. But he didn’t have a chance to think about it too much as the Incubator Inspector walked into his station and held out his hand to test BB’s burgers, all twenty five different flavours.

Since that first meeting the voice had put hundreds of new words into BB’s brain. Some of them had been long and curly, words that twisted BB’s tongue when he tried to get them out but which sounded bright and round and beautiful when the voice spoke them. Other words had been short and spiky and BB knew even without it being explained that these were words that meant bad news.

Over weeks and months the voice filled BB with new knowledge and BB began to be able to paint his own pictures in his mind, to imagine, and to dream.

“So you understand the importance of all this?”

A chill crept over BB’s skin. The voice wouldn’t let him forget it. “What if I can’t do it?” he said. “What if you’ve got the wrong clone?”

“Impossible. I wouldn’t be here if you weren’t the one. The virus would have created me in someone else instead.”

“But I’ve only got a week to go until I graduate. Soon I’ll be Outside on FABO2. They’re making me chief burger boy for Mr. Presley.”

“Exactly.”

The chill grew till BB was sure there was a living thing crawling over his skin. Something that crept up his back, coiled its fingers through his hair and wouldn’t let go. “How will you tell me when it’s the right time?”

“You will know.” As usual the voice disappeared before BB could ask it anything else.

And now the walls had started vibrating and there was a humming that hadn’t been there before.

The sunshine was just as the voice had promised it would be. After all these years cooped up in the Incubator, BB couldn’t quite believe that just beyond his workstation the world of FABO2 had been waiting. “Oh my.” The ocean surrounding Paradise Island hushed in and out, its surface flecked with glitter.

“Everyone report to their new supervisors. You know your roles. Do not soil the good name of The Incubator.” BB’s old supervisor turned away and was swallowed by the smooth white walls of the Incubator Pod.

Five other graduates stood with BB but their faces were blank. None of them showed that they even noticed the sun or the ocean or the clean unfiltered and salty air.

BB opened his mouth to say something but realised that just talking to the other clones was pointless.

The word formed as if it had been painted in front of him. Dream. Of course. Now that he was out here it was obvious what he was supposed to do. BB shut his eyes and let the thought of dreaming flood him. He undid the lock that had been placed around his imagination at birth and let the unrealised hopes and ideas and wishes of a million billion Incubator clones fill him up to bursting. They twinkled there a moment, ready. Then he set them free.

Across Paradise Island the fat lazy Residents looked up from their dinners and tennis games and televisions. Their world seemed suddenly empty. No one came when they called.

Across Paradise Island the clones began to smile.

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