This collaboration project will be centered around creating a group novel. Now, this project may go on for a lengthy period of time. Hiatuses are to be expected, which is why I will be reposting chapters to gather interest. This is also a note of caution that if you reblog such post, the link will have expired and you will need to update it.
This will be similar to our story collaboration (this is a link to the final chapter but it has each chapter listed for one to indulge themselves in reading if they are interested), so if you are familiar with that, then this might pique your interest. If unfamiliar, that is okay! I will explain everything and I will be more than happy to clarify anything in the comments.
Here are the guidelines and rules if you are interested in participating in this project:
- Leave a comment expressing direct interest in writing or claiming a chapter. First come, first serve. Ye who claimith shall receiveith the chapter first (I promise no more butchering of Shakespearian talk). You must comment your interest in writing a chapter. If you, however, send in a chapter without expressing interest beforehand, the submission will not be accepted, unfortunately.
- The participant who claims the chapter has seven days when it’s their turn to write the chapter and subsequently send it back to me. If accepted, I will provide edits if needed and the chapter will be up the day after it was submitted.
- If I don’t hear back from you regarding the chapter, however, and it is beyond the one week limit, I will be searching for someone else to write it.
- Please do not submit to the form without commenting your interest in writing a chapter.
- Authors can write multiple chapters—no constraints or limits on how many they do. However, there is a general courtesy to not claim one chapter after the next. This is to allow other authors a chance to participate and as well get their own claims in for future chapters. When it’s your turn, I will remind you in the thread where you’ve claimed the particular chapter.
- There is no deadline for this story. When I feel it’s near the end, I will release a notice on here to get the final few chapters in.
- The minimum word count I will accept is 500. The maximum word count I will accept is somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 words.
- If no one seems to claim an upcoming chapter, then I will jump in to write again.
- I will not accept anything religious, outwardly political, hateful, pornographic, slurs, or anything that is demeaning, threatening or harmful in its content. Please nothing that is against a particular group, or anything that demeans a certain group of people that would be considered racist, homophobic, sexist, religious discrimination or prejudice. I will not accept your piece if that is such the case.
- An exploration of social issues is fine. It should not alienate or debase the audience, though, in your writing.
- I will as well include your name/pen name and a link to your website (if you have one) with your contribution to the novel collaboration. The novel is titled “Identify.”
You can submit your continuation here after reading the current chapters. I hope you enjoy this collaboration. Happy writing!
Chapter One (Psyche) by Lucy
Story Synopsis: When Tom washes ashore on an island, he has partial amnesia and can’t recollect what happened. He meets a mysterious woman who offers him what seems to be a way out from the confined island country that is occupied with failed experiments and testing subjects.
The grandeur of the island was wreathed with glazes of water on the foreshore. Wind pushed through like a deep sleep, pouring with fog that swayed like shattered glass; all as the dark isthmus twisted on the interstices of sand from the flow of the water.
Tom splashed the water onto his face, searching for respite in the cool air. His teeth chattered in the breeze, and he was withholding tears from his eyes as the wind progressed faster onto his pale skin. He was naked. The circular white edges of sand trapped themselves onto his feet as he crawled. Tom stirred out of memory how he washed ashore, resigning it as a lost cause.
Overcast, the wisps of wind crashed through heavily, and momentarily, he felt warmth, a possessed warmth draping over like a blanket. He closed his eyes, chose a spot in partial darkness and lied down; eyes frosted over, he was still until he felt his body lifted from the edge of the isthmus.
“Haven’t seen you before,” said a man frowning, wearing some sludgy muck on his face as Tom woke up beside him in the room. The man turned over on his bed, staring at Tom almost infinitely. “Are you new?”
“I, I think I washed up on shore here,” Tom shook. “I—I don’t know where I am or even how I got here—What’s that thing on your face?”
“What?” He mumbled. Tom felt himself rise with fear, only lingering his gaze on what the man’s face had morphed into; it looked burnt off and charred, but with white like the glint of teeth in the sun.
“Your face,” Tom repeated. “What’s up with it?”
“Mind your own business,” he tried keeping his voice calm, “or I’ll fuck up yours.”
“Look,” Tom lowered his voice, leaning over slightly, “I’m not looking for any trouble. I just want to know where I am at.”
The man chuckled; seemed to be in a cold sweat, looking Tom up and down. “I don’t even know where I’m at half of the time. My guess is as good as yours, man.”
“And how long have you lived here?”
“I…” He nearly closed his eyes, muttering only slightly to the floor. His breath wavered. “I don’t know. I just know what’s different depending on the new arrivals here.”
The crisp air hangs in the room. Tom turned over again in silence, feeling the cold clamminess of the rattling window beside the bed. It felt like a season of death as he drifted off to sleep.
Tom woke in a dark strain. He was alone in a singular room now; the window revealed a bleary, blank landscape sheathed with marble stone. Very few branches poked the outer-glass. He resisted the urge to pull himself up, but he stared with wide eyes at the ceiling.
Tom shivered as the shadows swept through. He rolled over in the bed, the red garments tugging at his skin as he viewed the ocean’s undulated waves from the window.
Somewhat dizzy, he managed to fall back asleep to the unbridled sound of the wind outside.
He got dressed and stumbled outside into the cool wisps of the island when he realized the lodging place was unlocked. It was a fully-stocked house; looked lived-in, and yet, he still couldn’t process who took him from the shoreline.
Tom suppressed the yellow illuminance of light that glowered above the leaves—some sort of steep pole bent that was carrying it—that brushed by the thrush of warmth. In small steps, he wandered through the disturbing corners of greenery and frosted tree limbs hanging overhead. The sky was an ice-blue.
He saw passerby’s covering their faces with brittle-like limbs over their eyes, those glassy eyes he managed to capture in luminescence. They looked haunting and sick. As the wind howled, the ghostly sands trembled slightly as he looked on at these hideous creatures—these creatures of humanity. In a sick, sick game Tom kept watch for how many more he could spot staring at him as if he was a monster.
He tugged at his face, feeling the warmth of his skin. It turned pale then red. It was normal. He stopped breathing. Everyone was watching him. The hardened muck that was on their faces—you couldn’t even see their beady eyes, only what anchored them onto their bodies, their necks, which were an ill color—forbade him from looking any further on what was behind the mask.
But, he still tried to look in their blazed, absolute faces. Hardened. Like stone. Those black-lit depths that were eyes stared back, further inching toward him; he turned, facing a gathering crowd hell-bent on the newcomer. The stranger with a face.
Ahead of Tom, lights suspended as everyone was serried. He could feel a sharp pain in his eye as he continued to stare.
The dim outline of light exited, as he continued to stand.
“Are you calling me?”
The woman turned, concealing her face. There stood an ivory drip like a skull, fitting with the dusk overlooked from the covering of trees, on her face. Studded with an icy-black patch of dirt, the trailing of feet march up, drawing deeper and deeper. They all crowded him, unsheathing the nothing from their eyes like a corpse.
He was grabbed by the back, pulled against bodies and bodies, arms molesting all over his ribs and head, indicating the absence of life through their clammy, cold hands. He tried to follow the woman, slip in through the infinitesimal spaces of the crowd; a finger tried to penetrate his eye. Tom staggered, losing the trail, consumed by the fury of the crowd looking on disdainfully.
The shadowy figures stood, until Tom could hear some faint music in the background (it’s in my head, it’s in my head is what he kept thinking), and then an arm grabbing him by the back of his besmirched coat. He turned his head to see the woman. She beckoned him.
They’re able to push through the roar of the occupants, grinding on the underfoot of marsh and dirt. Bolted out from the trees, they went to a frantic landscape that was interrupted with brownish tall trees, overgrown greenery on each side, and a measure of salty wind into their faces. Hurriedly, the stranger pulled out a Ruger pistol.
“Now,” said she, licking her lips as she jammed the magazine in with an eight-round of bullets, “you’re going to shoot those fuckers down if you see them, alright?”
Tom snapped his head up and sunk back, “What?”
“Dude. Wake the fuck up—” she passed him the loaded pistol, “and shoot them if you see them from behind.”
“Why—I’m so confused—Why can’t you do it?”
She peered over, giving him a proffered smile. “You’re more accurate with it than I am. Don’t you remember?”
“Remember? I have never shot one in years! I don’t think I ever used this brand.” Tom looked up, speechless. “Why are you asking me this?”
“You’re so fucked up,” she said silently to herself. Tom resigned himself to that, and in minutes, they descended quickly holding onto each of their possessions—him, the pistol, and her, a torn leather satchel on the shoulder. She checked every so often from behind to ensure they were not being followed, and leading them both to the back of a building, she snapped something open from her travel-bag, handing it over to Tom.
He peered at it with fright. She said something of how it will dissolve in his hand to cover his pulse; the warm pavement in-folds on him and he could feel the layers of his hands tremble.
The complex whispered absolute vigilance; it was dark as the shadows of dusk were obscured by a large glass panel. Secured in place was a door by the atrium as they neared to the abandoned front desk; Tom eyed an old copy of The Times that looked torn and burnt on the floor. He dragged a bit behind, as she rummaged through the drawers, flickering through the grainy desk until it almost seemed habitual. She looked back up at Tom, coldly nodded, closing the drawers. She kicked the hollow vanity on the manipulated ocean-white of the table.
Looking at her unfinished cigarette that was in her hand, “You got more of those?” Tom asked.
“Get your own, dude,” she blew into his face.
He shook his head and began to pace the room. “What are we doing here? What is this?”
“Well, wait… I think I do have another pack in my bag…”
“Where are we?”
“Do you want it or not?”
He stared at her. Face twitching, he could see the detritus of porcelain dotting off the wall like dark mold. “Where are we? You need to tell me this.”
“If you shut the fuck up and stop asking me that, you’ll get the cigarette, dude. Just hold your dog shit for a minute, alright?”
It’s not a comfortable silence; a tableau of images coursed through him like a dark wash of blood and glassy eyes gating towards him. He didn’t understand the complexity of what he saw, and shaking, he started to shiver on the floor, feeling mounted towards the absolute of death.
She crouched down with him, surveying his eyes. He felt he was bleeding out, and before he could get a word in, she gently put the cigarette on his lips, told him to puff. He coughed. His legs swayed, his ribs jammed and compacted. Most of all, he felt trapped in a faint chill that squeezed his eyes open and closed.
“Take the cig, Tom, and give it a kiss for me.”
“…What the fuck?” His vision wavered. I’m shaking—I don’t know anymore, I don’t know. “Am I dying?”
“You shouldn’t be—Keep holding onto that. If you drop it, I’m not giving you another one.”
“What’s happening to me?”
“It’s the medicine I gave you to ‘stop’ your pulse.”
Dreamily, she looked on and removed a pair of keys from her pocket. She smiled, the rims of her eyes dark like an addict. “You’re going places, Tom. Places you won’t expect.”
She jammed the key into the door, hastily grabbing Tom by the wrist as he limped on further into an exhibition of closed doors and an elongated hallway. He was thirsty, and that, considerably, was the only thing that kept him awake. He wanted to stand in the wan dark, but failed, only twisting in agony of what seemed as distant as death to soon be in a quiet coma-like state. Like a dead man walking.
The pallet senses of linoleum and blood hindered in the darkness. She opened a door and left him alone to the sheer depth of the hallway. There was a faint hovering light with a trickling glare, and turning ascended an urban chill from the mounted vent. She emerged with a hospital bed as he sunk into his emptying mind—feeling gushed as if someone pressed the trigger against his head.
“You must forgive me. This one smells like mothballs.” She helped him sit down on the bed, covered him up with a sheet, and abruptly looked poignant. “Once we do this, you’ll be guided out of the building into a condemned area where they dispose of cadavers.”
Speechless, he met her at her gaze level. “Why are you doing this?”
She, dazed, stared right back, particularly into his skull. “You’re such a half-wit. Now lie down and play dead.”
“You’re going to be examined and prodded a little. They won’t do anything to you now if they think you’re dead. And if they think you’re dead, they will think I’m dead too.”
“The people who run this island society, fuck head. Are you brain dead now?”
“Where are we?”
She slowly spoke, “One of the old complexes. I got access weeks ago.”
“I feel like I’m in hell.”
“They won’t try to identify you, I think, but they’ve been looking for us for a while…”
Tom shrugged his shoulders back, tried to listen to her intently but a handful of darkness reached over and in-folded his head like layered tissue; he shut his eyelids into the cypress of blue and mauve coloring. He attempted to dismiss them but it enclosed him, spreading further until he saw a hunched, thick light, and a frame of a one-story house.
It’s immersive, but it was gone as soon as he acknowledged it. He turned over and tried to open his eyes again, but they felt sunken in and heavy from utter exhaustion. In his sight prevailed white with the eyes of watchmen with veils.
In the winter creak, suffused into a faint ditch, Tom’s limbs were subsiding over themselves. Heavy. He opened his eyes a little to see two people with… with regular faces.
One was of a tall man with a domed, nearly clear head; the other was a small looking woman by the bank of the waters, red hair and she was shifting in her place. When they conversed, he went back to playing dead.
“He has been killed?”
“Regrettably, so it seems, from Lana’s assessment.”
“That I couldn’t kill him myself. People like him, Alexie, should be confined and then tortured.”
“My God. What has he done? Do you know him?”
“Of him, I can say. I know their type, and he’s one of the ones we use on the island for our ‘fixing the leaks’ program.”
“I’ve heard of that… I think. What do they do, exactly?”
“Just as regrettably, I cannot tell you anything about it. Now go, you don’t want to keep the N.O.R. waiting…” There was a pause. “Oh, Alexie! I know so much about you. I’m so glad we’ve recruited you.” Rising, he stared tightly at the young woman, and gratefully, she pulled away to the other side of the building.
Tom opened his eyes a little more, heart feeling like it was pounding when it wasn’t. Instead of leaving, the tall man watched on after Alexie as the door shut, and moments later, he left.
Tom was divested of clothes and subjected to a blackened sheet that wrapped around his body like a long stalk; the yellow sands ran onto his skin, and on the side of the willows, there was a pierced wedge in front of the recumbent bushes that smoothened on the bark. An ash pile was up ahead.
A stilted river coursed through. The place, lifeless. Tom hurried out of the sloping garment, and in the clearing, shadows pooled beyond the tree branches nearly barricading the little stretch of land—there was a ranch up ahead. The sun glared as Tom draped himself with the remainder of the sheet (felt like wolf-skin), and headed that way over. Some light continued to break down upon him, crossing on the sand, flamed with the reed valley. The little wind came and went back into his face; the recumbent leaves cracked as he stepped on them, the thrashing of bird whimpers were discordant.
From the far, far distance, the range had a solid door with a broken latch. The outside occupied a brush of land, loaded with crops, gardens, and plants. There were some shelves, buckets, and shovels littered around, and by one of the windows, some rusty wind-chimes that would most likely rush here and there.
“Wake up, asshole!”
He lied still instead in a valley, as a boot brushed by his face. Tom looked up to where he thought the ranch was, but it was not there. It never existed.
“What the fuck was that about?” The woman ripped off a white mask and coat into the golden fields. As he got up, she pushed him back down by the chest. He stepped away from her, slowly rising; the yellow whiskers of the sun glaring, causing him to wince, and she looked at him, teeming with anger. “Don’t you know what you did?”
“What did I do?”
“You messed everything up. I was supposed to collect you to get access to different parts of the building, fuck face. You were supposed to stay there, and where do I find you? Out of the occupation zone! What if they discovered you here and killed you?”
He scowled. “You had me at one point.”
“Yeah. I did. I needed it approved that you were dead, and then I could have collected your body after they disposed of it.”
“And what is the entire point of this? What is this? And—and, who are you?”
She stared at him hard. “What the fuck are you saying?”
“You’re a fucking stranger! You’re dragging me around like a rag doll when I’m just, I’m so ill, and so goddamn tired. Just who are you?”
“No,” she whimpered. “No, no, no.”
“You,” her voice wavered; she swallowed. “You don’t remember me?”
She sat down on a rock, unhurriedly, and removed the latex gloves from her hands, discarding it on the pallid grass.
“I’m your sister, Tom.”
“Sister? I was an only child.”
“No, you weren’t. I can’t believe this. I really can’t. What is the last thing you remember from here?”
“I… I washed up on the shore, and someone collected me.”
“Shit, shit, shit,” she kept saying, rubbing her hands throughout her hair, messing it up. She rubbed her temples, turning away from him. “What the fuck were you doing out there?”
“You were probably on some boat when they found you,” she decided after some thought. “What were you doing? I need you to think hard on this one.”
“I don’t know! What is it that you want me to say?”
“Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it!”
“What is this island? Why are we here?”
“Olerkrov Island,” she said too promptly. “They have different programs for their victims to test run. If they break out of their constructed loop, they are hunted after by the collection team. We both broke out—I, earlier than you. This loop consists of interacting or soon morphing into those fucked up creatures we saw earlier.”
“With the faces?”
“Yeah. Once you’re out of the loop, you’re no longer desirable and they try to dispose of you quickly as they found you. We both pretended at first to still be indoctrinated from their mechanical experiments, but we were on the radar as soon as we bought a ranch to start stocking up for disaster.
“We were preparing for this for a couple of years. The island had its doubts, which is why we were constantly watched by the N.O.R. group. The Noble Organizer Redux which reports back to the island society fucks about our activities.”
“So, we broke out of the loop, how did we do that?”
There was a hazy silence as she mulled it over, but she slumped her shoulders in defeat. “Fuck, if I know. I consider it a fortune that they didn’t send their army to blow our brains out at this point.”
The haze of twilight grew in a fitful sea of disruption. He could not distinguish this reality as real, but it was as they loaded their belongings up in the rented car. As Lauren ran her hands through the trunk of the car checking everything was in place, Tom watched the light dim into the ward of shadows. Suspended, he felt warmth with the scatter of texture on the ranch’s outdoor walls; the wood had hoisted some cracks.
He went back inside to what seemed like his bedroom. It’s not much, he thought. Some photos were blackened out on the table vanity by the green mirror that looked disturbingly… off with the aesthetics of the house. Tom soon heard someone expel a sigh from behind.
“How can you miss something you don’t even remember?”
“I’m just… looking. It’s strange, Lauren, isn’t it? How do you think I got amnesia?”
“Probably brain damage from the water? Perhaps you drowned.”
“Yeah. I guess. No one told me anything. I just woke up here in two different places—rooms.”
Lauren murmured a bit to herself, lips somewhat twitching. He looked at her to clarify, but her hands touched the air, and moments later, Tom found himself alone again.