I wrote 50,000 words in a month.
Here, have a sample of my novel.
Chapter 4: First Night and Second Day
Ever try to sleep on a solid plank of wood with no pillow, no sheets on top of you or under you, and below-freezing temperatures? (Not to mention a draft and a persistent smell of vomit?) That’s what it was like. Add in that the occupants of the cell next to us (or above us, there wasn’t much of a way to tell) were snoring like bears.
I’m not sure I slept at all that first night. Carson of course had no trouble sleeping, he was on the top bunk above me. At least he wasn’t snoring. I just laid in bed, getting increasingly uncomfortable as I felt the hours slide over me. A cricket started chirping after perhaps 2 hours of this.
I got out of bed (knowing I wasn’t going to be sleeping anyway anytime soon) and looked for the cricket. I found it in the corner, next to the wall. For some reason this wall smelled strongly of urine. I looked a little closer, squinting to see in the dark. And I saw that the wall had been re-plastered not long ago. It showed little to no signs of wear or aging. However, it still smelled like urine and my eyes were starting to hurt from trying to see in the dark. I fumbled my way back into bed. Or lack of bed.
I started, in my sleep-deprived state (I had slept perhaps four hours from the day of the trial until now) to laugh at my joke that I had come up with. My murmuring laughter woke up Carson. “What are you laughing about? You should be asleep.”
“Lack of bed.” For whatever reason, I found hearing myself say it out loud to be even funnier than the thought. I snorted audibly.
“What the heck are you talking about?”
“It’s funny because wood.”
“You really need some sleep. So sleep.”
I did my best to cooperate. And I stared at the bottom of Carson’s bunk. I could see faint etchings carved into the bottom of it. I couldn’t make them out in the dark though. I closed my eyes again. This time, I almost drifted to sleep before I was awakened by the feeling of cold little feet running up my back. I sprang up in that sort of way people spring up when they look at the clock from bed and see that it’s already 11:00, and the mouse who had been exploring my upper back was flung off and landed somewhere else in the cell with a small squeaking noise. Where it landed, I also heard a small clattering noise. I got up again to see what the clattering was.
I walked over just in time to see the mouse scurry out of the cell. There was just enough light for me to be able to tell that the clattering noise was caused by a small pencil. I picked it up and looked at it closer. It looked like it was about half the length a normal pencil would be, perhaps it was ground down to its current length from over-use. It had a point on it, so it could be written with.
I took the little pencil back to my not-a-bed (I nearly laughed at my joke again, but I restrained myself so I wouldn’t wake up Carson. I wouldn’t want to see him angry) and I started to draw on the wall with it. The combination of not being able to see what I was doing and being heavily sleep-deprived made the result of my drawing hilarious. I continued to draw until what I could see began to swerve in and out of the perceptible reality as though there was a persistent fog everywhere. At that point I laid down and closed my eyes and I’m almost certain I fell asleep, if only for a couple of minutes. Then, a piercing bell rang out, and Carson hopped down from his bed, landing on what I just now noticed were fairly short feet.
He turned quickly and saw me in bed. “Josh. Get up, quick. They’re doi- Oh damn. What did you do?”
“The wall. You wrote all over the damn wall. What are you thinking?”
“I don’t even remember writi-“
“Forget it, it doesn’t matter, we’ll work our way around it. For now, stand up by the bars, they’re doing inspection.”
“Yeah, they need to make sure none of us are dying or getting sickly-looking. If government workers come in here and see that we’re being maligned, or taken advantage of, the prison could get shut down. We may be criminals but we still have rights.”
We stood up, right next to the bars. The guards didn’t seem to be entering the cells, so my drawings on the wall would more than likely go unnoticed for the time being.
The guards shined a penlight into, first, our left eyes, and then our right eyes. They looked us up and down for a little while before muttering “pass,” as one of them jotted something down on a clip board. They moved on down the corridor doing the same thing at all of the cells.
“Okay. We’re good.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Nothing, man. Absolutely nothing. That’s what people do in jails.”
“What time is it?”
“Who cares? You got some sort of appointment to get to?”
“Relax. So… what did you write? We can wipe it off the wall after or something.”
“I don’t even know. I was wicked tired when I wrote that.”
“Let me read what it says… Do you remember what you wrote at least?”
“I’m going to read it.” Carson walked over to the wall where I had apparently scrawled a lengthy message. I wasn’t even kidding when I said I didn’t remember writing it.
“ ’I watch the faceless, nameless masses stride before me, in a masked parade, a preordained charade of happiness. Doing only what they are told to do and never acting for themselves. Speaking as a crowd, with nothing to say. They believe, truly, that they are free. Can it be that I am one of them? Or am I truly who I think I am?’ … Dude, this is awesome!”
“I don’t remember any of this. I mean I don’t remember writing any of this.”
“It keeps going, should I read more of it?”
“Yeah, I want to see where I went with that.”
“Okay, it goes on: ‘I refuse to walk the path set before me, leading from beginning to end, in a near straight line. I go to school, I work, I go to college, I work even more, I get married, I work some more, I have kids, I die. This isn’t what I want my life to be. My life should be this. I am born, I take my first steps, I begin to run, I meet with friends, we talk about our lives, I make the world a better place, I climb mountains, I swim oceans, I fall in love, I write her poetry when we’re happy, and I hold her when we’re sad. I want to make a fork in the road and follow it where I choose. I want to be remembered for destroying the barrier between living and thinking. I want to lift the veil blinding us from our true purposes. We are more than cogs in a system, we are human and we will be heard.’ This is nuts. Were you high or something when you wrote this?”
“I’ve never been high.”
“There’s even more. Should I keep going?”
“I can’t believe I wrote that… Keep going!”
“Numb from the flashing lights and blaring horns of the everyday we sit expressionless as the whole of reality flies by us, unable to perceive the subtle nuances of what it is to be alive. We are no better than machines unless we can express our ideas. And I plan to do so. I plan to open the minds of every one of these cogs in the machine the world has become. We’re always doing, acting, working, but does anyone ever take a moment to ask why? I’ve heard stories, I have. Stories about a wonderful past where people were people and machines were machines. There was no confusing the two. People wrote songs and danced in the streets. But as time went by, it all turned a solemn shade of grey as people spent more time listening to the ideas of those proclaimed the great thinkers and less time thinking for themselves. It was all but a matter of time before it boiled down to the point where, for whatever reason, people were content to have old ideas told to them, and respond to them with other old ideas, walking over the same plot of land, never once daring to venture out into the vast world of the imagination.
‘Like sailing a ship with no wind, we sit below decks, believing ourselves to be moving at great speed, while the blind captain at the wheel thinks the little gust from his desk fan to be the ocean breeze sliding by. This is a ship with no rudders, and no bearing. The guests are content to drink themselves into a stupor with a cocktail of lies, superstition, and stereotype. I think it’s time we sober up, break planks from the deck, and start paddling. The shore of a colorful, artistic society is in view: the glorious past when it was not a crime punishable by death to have one or two things wrong with you, the world where you were given the chance to redeem yourself through good deeds or great talent. I know we can bring it back. The creative force within us is still there. The river of ingenuity still exists, it has simply ceased to flow and has not yet dried up.’ You wrote all this?”
“Like I’ve been saying, I don’t remember a thing.”
“That’s where it ends.”
“I guess that’s when I fell asleep or something.”
“Do you agree with what you wrote, at least?”
“Well, yeah. I guess that was my subconscious lashing out.”
“I just thought of something.” Carson’s eyes lit up like moons as he said this.
“What?” I was made slightly nervous by this, Carson seemed like the type who always had absolutely absurd ideas and schemes.
“Well, when we get out, let’s do that.”
“Do what?” I knew what he was referring to, of course, but I was still half-asleep.
“Free them. Free everybody from the monotony. You’re right, you know. People are too damn lazy. It’s time they wake up.”