Sweat fell from the curly-q hairs sprouting out of Lawrence's chest. Like dew dripping from brambles. I had to shake myself to keep from staring.
"What did you say?"
"I said that's it. It's over. Kaput. The deal's not happening."
"What do you mean it's not happening." A few other people populated the sauna. A pair of older gentlemen whispering to one another. A large, middle-aged man who seemed intent on pushing the natural limitations of a towel and what could hide. Though he sat alone, his wide stance and outstretched arms indicated otherwise. We were all his neighbors here, whether we wished to be or not. A thin, inconspicuous man sat alone. The last to join us, he looked as though the very notion of a sauna insulted and terrified him. When he finally sat down, it seemed as though he had chosen his seat based on the fact that it was equidistant from everyone else in the room.
"I mean it's not happening. What's the matter with you, two months on stage and you can't hear anymore?"
"Three months. And I heard you fine, I just don't understand."
"Look, kid, it's not that hard. The label is pulling their support."
The middle-aged guy's eyes slide toward me, a precursor to the sneer that later accompanied it. I lowered my voice and, against my better judgement, scooted closer to Larry.
"Who knows why companies do the things they do. Some computer ran the numbers and they came up red."
"I'm selling out shows from now until Christmas."
"Kid, kid, kid. It's not about selling out, or not selling out. Sometimes things just don't work out."
"But isn't it a little strange? They signed me. They came after me. I was selling fine on my own. Recording and mixing my own stuff. Why would they go through all that just to drop me?"
Larry had been leaning back, his head resting on the step behind him. Every word he'd spoken at been to the ceiling as much as it had been to me. But after the last question he finally sat up, like a couch regaining its form, and looked over at me.
"Do I really need to do the whole spiel again?"
A shrill cry from across the room. I turned to look, dumbfounded by what it could be. Had someone burned himself? Slipped? Steam filled the room, muddying my view. The middle-aged man had stopped his lounging and was sliding down the seat towards us. His eyes were glued to the other end of the room.
The thin man. I could just make out his silhouette in the sauna's fog. His towel had fallen to the ground and his body was crooked, bent over in pain as another wretched cry tore loose from his throat.
Steam seemed to billow around him and something in my mind clicked. It was him. He was the reason for all the increase in fog. But I struggled to put it all together. My mind kept turning over like a broken motor, unable to catch and ignite.
As the man continued writhe in pain, his screams grew in intensity and depth. Where once there had been a shrill, high-pitched scream there was now a ferocious bellow. Pain still formed the backbone of the cries, but beneath it was a growing rage. Far more intentional and conscious than the mindless cries.
Staring into the mist, I had to rub my eyes. The form that had been so well-defined a moment ago had lost its shape. The rail thin, almost frail man was gone, replaced by an amorphous shadow too big to be a man. I wondered if the steam had grown so thick that it was no longer possible to distinguish one shape from another. And then it moved.
Human feet a wrapped in skin. When they walk into a sauna, they make a slapping sound when they make contact with the wet floor. When the shape-that-used-to-be-the-thin-man moved, it didn't make a slapping sound at all.
"Leave me alone!" The middle-aged man had scooted himself all the way to my and Larry's side of the sauna. Our shoulders were nearly touching when he screamed. His face was pure horror. "I said--oh my god!" Hands slapping the steps behind him, the man turned to try and escape by seeking higher ground, but his body moved faster than his mind and his feet slipped comically on the moist floor. Once, twice, three times his feet scrambled, hoping to find purchase, before gravity took over and he fell hard against the steps. I watched as his chin smacked hard against the tiles, the force of the blow snapping his jaws shut. His teeth cracked against one another.
A sudden urge to vomit overtook me and the room began to spin. Turning, I reached out to grab Larry but he was gone. The pitter-patter of nude feet told me he was well out of the sauna along with the two older men who had been sitting on the other side of the room.
A terrible snarl snapped my attention back to the dark cloud moving inexorably toward me. The mists parted around the hulking mass and as the fearsome monster began to take shape, the smell of hot death, carrion decay hit my face. Along with the smell of damp fur.
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Event An important deal falls through
Location A spa
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Character A proud pop star
Letter Use the letter E
Words Reach 300 words
Event A shrill cry echoes in the mist
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Sentence "Leave me alone!"
Words Reach 800 words
An account lets you keep track of your saved stories and unlocks additional perks if you claimed the full app.Login with Google Login with Twitter View saved stories Log out