While on a flight to England recently, I discovered Rory’s Story Cubes in the Duty Free catalogue. The 9 cubes, embossed with images on all six sides, originate in Northern Ireland. The company suggests that we think in images, and thus stories are opened up to us by rolling the cubes. Intrigued with the idea of using such tools in my class room or to aid with incidents of writer’s block, I purchased a set. There are a number of ways to use the cubes, for solo or cooperative story telling, for inspiration or for competive story games. I can see using them in creative writing classes, and also in drama class. I am just beginning to play with them, but here’s an effort at a flash fiction (470 words) based on the following cube roll:
Once upon a time…
It was a dream. I knew it, but it didn’t make it less real, or less terrifying. Whether or not I was, in fact, safe in my bed, the panic still engulfed me and I fought for wakefulness without success. I was trapped there, inside my dream. Aware, but helpless.
There were footsteps echoing around me. At first, it was just one person’s heavy tread, and I struggled to open a window that appeared as I wished to investigate, but then the treads changed and they echoed all around me, as if an unseen army was tromping through my bedroom.
I quivered in fear, coming to a terrifying awareness that whether or not I dreaming, I was not at all asleep. I was fully awake, and the noise was real. I was in danger.
In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a parachutist descends to the island to send a message from the grown ups. The message is lost, and the hope that his arrival may have brought becomes brutish superstition instead. That’s how I felt as the boot steps echoed, and a supersticious dread of zombie armies, heck, real armies, filled me.
Hope knocked on the door at that moment. “Hey! Anyone in there?”
“Yes!” I bellowed. “I’m here! Can you get me out?”
There was a fussing about with the lock and then a muttered curse.
“I cut my hand trying to jimmy the lock. I’m bleeding all over the place here.”
I waited, with growing impatience at the noises emitted from the lock set, until there was a click, and an outburst of satisfaction from the other side of the door.
I grabbed the knob and the door fell open, revealing the stone walls beyond and an amazing apparition.
“Who are you?” I finally asked, recovering a bit from the dazzle of light beaming off her glowing form.
“I am, um,” she shook her head a moment before changing her mind. “No. Who are you?”
“I’m a prisoner. I’ve been locked in this room inside this pyramid for… well. I don’t know how long. Who are you? How did you get in?”
“I live here. I mean, I live in a house near here. I heard a noise. I came to investigate.”
“You’re not in a pyramid,” she added thoughtfully. “You’re in my head.”
“I can’t be.”
She nodded sagely. “Of course you can be. You are.”
“Can you get me out? Out of the pyramid, I mean.”
“I told you, you’re in my head.”
“Yes, yes. But if you think me out of the pyramid, perhaps I won’t feel like I’m in one?”
“Oh. That’s an idea. Are you expecting to get out of my head, as well?”
I shrugged. “Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime…?”