Thursday, September 8, 2016

Vignettes by Me, on Themes Picked Randomly: Day Eight

Theme 856: Recent Dreams

Following are scenes from a fragment of a mysterious cult film called “Marginalia.” The film is both incomplete and ever-expanding, as new VHS tapes with hitherto unseen footage, some of dubious authenticity, keep appearing in unlikely locations around the world. Some believe that the film’s footage is a product of an experimental process wherein the film maker, an individual known only as “Thurmer,” is able to translate images from his own dreams directly onto celluloid. The fragment described here is a secondary, alternative narrative set in the early 1900s that runs parallel, in a somewhat ambiguous fashion, to the main narrative of the film set in present day.

1.   The main character, a nondescript man (who may or may not be played by Thurmer himself) known only as “the Participant,” disembarks from a steam train in a small southwestern town. The year is 1903. The town is mostly deserted, almost a ghost town, and is everywhere covered with yellow dust. The Participant is anxious, as if he is afraid he is being pursued, but we see no one else get off the train after him.

2.     The Participant soon steps into an inn off the main street, looking for somewhere to stay. The innkeeper, an ancient and very thin woman, is the only person in the place. The inn seems to fall apart as she speaks, as it is revealed to be infested with enormous, ravenous termites that fall from the ceiling with heavy thuds, sometimes rolling off the innkeeper’s bonnet or falling from her unkempt hair. The innkeeper explains that she can no longer put anyone up at the inn, things are too far gone, but she tells the Participant that there is a large manse several leagues beyond where a man of the Participant’s description has long been expected. Intrigued, the Participant leaves and makes his way out of the town to the manse.

3.      [Redacted until further notice]

Explanatory Postscript: When I say “picked randomly,” I mean picked from a Master List that I’ve compiled of 999 themes intended to serve as creative writing prompts (from the following sources: 501 Writing Prompts; 25 Creative Writing Prompts; Examples of Themes; List of Themes; 365 Creative Writing Prompts; 100 Themes Challenge Writing Prompts; List of Journal Ideas; and Top 10 Types of Story Themes). To pick a theme at random, I roll three ten-sided dice (the first for the hundreds place digit, the second for the tens, and the third for the singles) and find the theme under the number I have rolled. If I hit a theme I have already written on, I roll again. If I ever roll 000, I make up a theme. The Master List is a secret, so don’t ask for it.

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