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E - Everyone

A Dark and Most Unpleasant Place.

by SofieR


She woke with a start, gasping for air as if emerging from a long trip underwater. Everything was all wrong, this much was immediately clear. Her body felt heavy and was overcome by a vague, all encompassing ache. Her chest was too tight to take in a full breath. Most concerning of all; she could not recognize the room she suddenly found herself in.

She felt around for something familiar, some sort of anchor, but she could not find one. Just the familiar jingle of the heart-shaped locket she wore on a bracelet around her right wrist, a gift from her grandmother. She was in near complete darkness- save for the soft light coming from a large clock which was counting down from twenty minutes in flashing red numbers. It sat on a small table next to a book of matches and a candle. Groggily, she lit a match and ignited the flame. Once her immediate surroundings were finally made clear she let out a desperate scream. Bound to her chest by a painfully tight vest were three large, red explosive containers.

Frantically, she looked at the vest then back at the clock. Panic began to set in. She pulled and pulled at the vest until the skin on her palms began to peel and bleed. The vest, however, remained intact.

“Maria!” a familiar voice called suddenly from somewhere indiscernible. “Maria, sweetheart, you need the key!”

It was her mother’s voice, muffled as if coming through a fog, but her mother’s voice nonetheless. She couldn’t make out if it was real, or if she had begun to imagine things, perhaps imagined this entire scene.

“You need the key!” the voice said again.

“Where are you?”

“There’s no time,” her Mother said. “We’re playing his game now. But we’re all here and we can all see you. Look up.”

She lifted the candle towards the ceiling to find a small camera lens. The voice was real!

“Listen carefully,” her mother went on. “The vest is held together by a lock by your lower back. We need to find the key to it, and quickly. You don’t have much time left.”

Maria glanced at the clock. It now read fifteen minutes.

“You need to search the room,” a different voice was speaking this time. Her fiance, Andrew.

“Look around the room,” he went on. “He said there are keys hidden throughout the room, one of them will undo the vest.”

“He? Who is he? Who is doing this?”

“There’s no time for that,” her mother spoke this time. “Find the keys. Hurry!”

And so, quite clumsily, Maria began a frantic search underneath the bed, behind the table and on her person. In the end she found three small keys; one silver, one metal and one bronze.

“Which one is it?” Maria asked.

“You have to pick one,” her mother explained. “But be careful.”

“Careful? Why?”

“Because one of those keys undoes the vest…”

“Yes?”

“...And the other one will detonate it.”

Maria froze, her eyes fixating on the three keys. She glanced at the clock again. Five minutes left.

“What do I do?” she said, more to herself than anyone else. “What do I do? Which one do I pick?”

“Pick the metal one," Andrew suggested.

“No, pick the bronze one!” her mother said.

“Forget that,” a new voice entered the scene. Her father’s. “The silver is clearly the one…”

“I think it’s the bronze one,” A new voice entered.

“Personally, I would choose metal…”

One by one, new but recognizable voices would enter the scene. Voices she recognized from work. Voices she recognized from church, from the store down the street and from the coffee shop. Neighbor’s voices and teacher’s voices and the voice of her childhood friend. Voices she respected and others not so much. All the voices came together and crescendoed to a deafening tumult - an uproar so loud it may as well have been silence.

Maria looked at the clock, now counting down from thirty-six seconds. thirty-five, thirty-four…

Of all the opinions, she decided she trusted her mother’s the most. She grabbed the bronze key and felt around her lower back for the lock that bound the vest to her chest. She found it, then inserted the key. Ignoring the voices above her still arguing, she closed her eyes and turned the key.

Everything went to black.

Later, the crew tasked with dragging what was left of Maria out of the room searched and searched for evidence, proof, signs, anything to make sense of what had taken place. One of them noticed something shining in the rubble on the ground, like a sprinkle of glitter on a grey cloud. They bent down to unearth the object and found the locket that was around the victim’s wrist, rattling as if something heavy and weighty was hidden inside. He opened it and out fell a sparkling gold key, new and somehow untouched by the destruction.

What a tragedy, he thought, that she had been wearing the key all along. 


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Points: 66
Reviews: 3

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Wed May 27, 2020 3:23 pm
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Chaton15 wrote a review...



I was utterly shocked by reading this, but it's such an accurate portrayal of how awful anxiety is. It was a total twist at the end; I was first expecting her to choose the right key, and manage to save herself, but she didn't... And then we find out not only had she chosen the wrong key, she had been WEARING the correct one all along! O_O It's terribly sad, but accurate to think about what this looks like in real life. I don't know if this was your intent, but it made me think of people with anxiety looking for the escape key, and wrongly choosing suicide, when the 'right key' turned out to be with them all along-- which, in real life, could be close friends and family all right there, being 'there' for them.

The ending was definitely tragic, and makes me sad to think about, but this was well-written, and definitely the most intriguing portrayal of anxiety I've seen. The other comparisons I've seen are said to be like a person is drowning in water, unable to get to the surface, screaming there in the water where no one above the surface can hear them. :(

Still. Amazing job at creating this! :)




SofieR says...


Thanks so much for reading! :)



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9 Reviews


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Fri May 22, 2020 6:17 pm
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quitecontrary wrote a review...



What a twist ending! Your description of anxiety as a short story is really creative, and I loved how suspenseful you made the story. I’ve just got a few small tips for improvement:
1. “Her chest (was/felt) too tight to take in a full breath.” I think you need to add in another word there to help your sentence flow.
2. “Pick the metal one,’ Andrew suggested. — Quote instead of apostrophe
3. “Maria looked at the clock, now counting down from Thirty-six seconds. thirty-five, thirty-four…” — You might need to capitalize thirty-five or add a comma instead of a period.
4. “Still listening to the voices above her still arguing, she closed her eyes and turned the key.”
— Here you repeat the word “still” twice in the same sentence.
5. This last one might not need improvement, but in your second to last paragraph you mention that the crew was looking for anything to make sense of what had happened. Then, your last sentence suggests that the person holding the locket knew what happened. This is just a little inconsistency, but when I first read it I thought that person was the “He” that Andrew references. I don’t know if that’s what you were going for, but you might want to check up on that.
Definitely my favorite passage was the one when you talked about all the voices telling Maria what to do. It really struck home for me, and I loved your ending metaphor:
“All the voices came together and crescendoed to a deafening tumult - an uproar so loud it may as well have been silence.”
Thanks for reading my review!




SofieR says...


Thanks so much for the review!



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Fri May 22, 2020 4:48 pm
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sulagna wrote a review...



hi SofieR,
The start of the story made me read it...


"She woke with a start, gasping for air as if emerging from a long trip underwater. Everything was all wrong, this much was immediately clear. Her body felt heavy and was overcome by a vague, all encompassing, dull ache. Her chest too tight to take in a full breath. Most concerning of all; she could not recognise the room she suddenly found herself in."



So,at the start you described it perfectly. That how she was,what was her state and etc.

The fact was really very unique and I liked that she picked the bronze one which was suggested by her mother.
I did not find any negative points....

So,,
Keep writing!
From Sulagna




SofieR says...


Thank you so much for the review! :)



sulagna says...


Welcome...Dont forget to read on my new story




Seeing is believing, but feeling is the truth.
— Thomas Fuller