Visiting in the Jane Austen Room (F2K): Optional Prompt

So, one of the interesting things about the F2K course is that we can try out the optional writing prompts from classrooms other than our own. This round, there’s probably about 10 classrooms and each of them had a different optional prompt for week 1. I’ve only started to venture in the other rooms to leave feedback and also to try out their prompts. The Jane Austen classroom was the first one I visited and their prompt reads as follows –

Start your story with the following sentence – The lights went out and the room was pitch black.

My first thought was a surprise party or something eerie because the immediate instinct when the room goes pitch black for most people is fear. But I thought that that was such a predictable response and realised that instead of fear, I should write a story about someone who is annoyed that the room went pitch black and that’s how Jack and his unusual situation came about. This is kinda scifi maybe?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

The lights went out and the room was pitch black.

“Great, just great.” Jack said to himself with a sigh. And he waited for what he knew would happen next.

His body started heating up, beads of sweat forming. The fair hairs on his arms and legs lifted slightly. A soft light started to emanate from his skin. He closed his eyes, bent his head and steeled himself, putting his hands on the wall in front of him and waited for the process to culminate. It could take 2 minutes. It used to be an hour.

Over the next few minutes, the light became more intense and he became a glow-in-the-dark figure. At the end, sweat was streaming down his face and chest and he was breathing heavily as if he had run a marathon. His legs trembled and he slid down the wall, his head in his hands. He fought to keep the tears from leaving too. He was damn tired of this.

After precisely 5 minutes, he heard footsteps heading his way…tap..tap…tap. They stopped in front of him and he heard a woman clearing her throat. “Ahem. Jack?”

“Ask your questions and go.” He didn’t even bother looking up.

“I’m just doing my job. You don’t have to be curt,” she sighed and immediately regret filled him.

“I’m sorry. It was rough this time,” he hoped that’d pass as an apology.

“Okay,” she replied, sighing again. “Lets get started. Tell me from the beginning from when the lights went out what you felt physically. I’ll check your responses with our recording to get a time estimation of your physical responses. Proceed.” She was all business-like now, pen in her hand, hovering over her clipboard, ready to note down his statements.

As Jack recounted what happened to him to the researcher, he thought back to the advertisement he answered in the papers 3 months ago asking for volunteers for a medical study. Volunteers would be compensated $100,000 payable immediately. He jumped on it straight away. He had a huge student loan to pay off and he needed a new ride. Maybe a Harley.

He was one of 10 volunteers selected and immediately, scientists informed them that as part of the study, each of them would be injected with a serum containing DNA extracted from various marine species. The study was to find out which of the serum had real-world application. Jack was injected with DNA from a jelly fish which enabled it to display phosphorescence.

Jack was among one of the 6 survivors after they’d been injected. The other 4 had displayed an extreme allergic reaction after the injection, foaming at the mouth, had seizures then heart failure. He almost bailed. But the money was just too much to ignore.

And that’s how he became a damn light bulb.

(word count 470)
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