Welcome to another instalment of Random Fiction with Drew, in which I share rough, unfinished pieces of stories with you.
Archibald reached out and twisted the doorknob open,wincing slightly at the pain it brought to his hands, twisted as they were with arthritis. The door opened to reveal a set of stairs, gloomy and forsaken looking, utilitarian grey paint covering wooden steps, rough handrail sicking out of the wall. There were no aesthetic touches here, only functionality, stairs leading down into an equally bland basement. It was a big open room, unfinished ceiling and walls exposing wooden beams, enclosing the space like a rib cage, or a clutching hand.
Archie shuffled forward to one end of the room where an old film projector stood on a dusty metal stand. The lens was pointed towards a white sheet that was hanging from rusting nails, making a crude screen. He fumbled with a roll of ancient looking 16 millimeter film,trying to carefully thread it through the projector’s sprockets, lining it up as best he could. He took a rag and wiped carefully at the lens, and flicked the power button on.
The projector sprang to life, filling the room with the unmistakable click clack sound of the film racing through the machine. Light struck the sheet, and resolved into the image of a beautiful young woman, a woman obviously from another era. Her short dark hair was cut into a flapper era bob, and she was dressed to match her hair,in a beaded dress and hat. She was lounging in a garden, the rose bushes behind her would have been beautiful, if not for the fact that they, like her, were captured in black and white. She looked out of the screen, as though trying to find someone.
“I know you are there, Archie, step forward so I can see you,” she said.
Archie shuffled out from behind the glare of the projector, smoothing his hair as he did so.
“Hello Mary,” he said, still shy after all of these years.
“Your looking even older than usual, Archie. How long has it been?” Her image flicked and danced as a splice ran through its twisted path.
“Seven years Mary. Seven years.”
“So what do I owe this honour? Why did you bring me out of retirement like this?”
“Because, Mary, I think I might have figured out a way to get you out of there, if you want. You could have a life again.”
“What makes you think I don’t enjoy this life, the life you trapped me in so long ago?”
“The choice is yours.”
Mary thought carefully for a moment, and opened her mouth to respond. Before she could do so the film ran out, and her image was replaced with a pure white square of light, making Archie wince against its brightness. The end of the film clattered against the projector as it spun in a futile circle.
Archie flicked off the power, stopping the spin.
So, what do you think? How did Archie trap Mary on the film? Will she want to get out after such a long time? Is she really happy there?