The fuliginous air hung low over the odd city. She wondered if she accidentally took the wrong train. She pulled her phone out to call the office.
The street smelled like rubber. A man sat on the curb playing an out of tune mandolin, an upturned sombrero at his feet.
She faltered, pressed her chapped lips together. She had taken the same train everyday for the last 15 years. Yesterday, she was asked to organize the retirement party for a coworker. She was always the one asked to do such menial things.
A syncopation of sounds drifted lazily around her: the mandolin, cats meowing, the whirring of bicycle wheels over pavement. She never felt comfortable in new places, but she felt at home here.
Whatever this magic prison has to offer, she thought, dropping her phone into the old man’s hat, I’m game.
This was a difficult story for a few reasons:
1) I wrestled with three prompts: “magic prison,” “the odd city,” and “an inanimate object with feelings” before dropping the last one completely. The original piece included all three but was drastically too long, so something had to go. I also worked in dictionary.com’s word of the day: fuliginous (sooty; smoky) so I wasn’t completely copping out, and because the word is fun to say.
2) With my previous stories, I tried to keep the word limit in mind as I was writing, so cutting down was (somewhat) easier. With this story, I just wrote as much as I could with the prompts (It was set in Saint-Laurent, there was a man in full Elizabethan friar garb blowing bubbles, the sombrero could speak!) so I had a really hard time cutting down a much larger (and more interesting) piece to fit my word limit. And it was definitely more time consuming.
But I also really enjoyed writing this one because I listened to Refused’s “New Noise” beforehand (hence my aptly named title), which gave me the fuck yeah energy that informs the story.