I’m a member of a local writers group. We meet up every Tuesday and set all kinds of tasks and challenges for each other. This page is dedicated to the polished up stories I produce in this group. One story, A Thousand Words to the End of the World, can be found on my main page.
These stories are developed via prompts, games or various challenges set each week.
Marina sat quietly in the lobby of the record company she was recently assigned to, watching the people going about their various duties. The mid day sun was blazing through the tall open plan windows making the large room nearly uncomfortably warm and she was fanning herself with one of the magazines from the small table beside her. She looked at the clock and watched as the second hand reached the twelve marking the hour since she arrived. The chair was growing uncomfortable and the boredom was weighing heavier with every passing minute. She opened the messages on her phone and read the txt from the company director again, ‘a matter of great importance concerning your new song,’ it said. She scoffed as she put the phone back in her bag muttering to herself.
As she continued to wait she noticed how some people were looking at her. Since becoming famous she was used to being recognised and often enjoyed meeting her fans whilst out and about. They’d look at her with puzzlement at first until they realise she’s who they think she is, then with great excitement and admiration. But here, the look was different. As this was a record company the staff was used to seeing famous people all the time, yet she saw the strange glances they were giving her like she was some kind of weirdo. In the time she’d been waiting she fully expected to have signed a few autographs and chatted with at least several fans, yet she sat undisturbed with no one attempting to approach her.
Another ten minutes passed and she couldn’t stay sat any longer. She approached the reception desk. “Excuse me,” she said, “How much longer am I to be kept waiting?” and was immediately interrupted.
“Marina,” came a man’s voice. Donald the company executive came to greet her. As he walked up she briefly noticed a slight look of worry on his smiling face. “Sorry for the wait,” he said, shaking her hand.
“What’s going on?”
“Let’s talk in my office.” The rest of the conversation was idle chatter as he escorted her to his room. Along the way she couldn’t shake the feeling there was something she ought to be worried about. He invited her to sit in the big black chair where many famous bums had been placed over the years, some of whom she idolised. He began with a brief rundown of her career thus far, much of it a story of runaway success. “Don,” she said, “cut the crap and get to the point. Why am I here today?”
He hesitated, took a deep breath, and chose his words carefully. “You don’t read reviews, right?”
“You don’t bother with newspapers or news.”
“Then you don’t know what’s become of your last single?”
“I don’t care. Its making me live comfortably that all I need to know.”
“You see the problem is,” he stalled, resting his elbows on the table and fidgeting with his hands.
“Yes,” she prompted.
“its, been banned.”
“Banned? From what, air play?”
“Radio, tv, and sales.”
“Well to begin with, it’s been a great success, made both of us a ton of money and become a global hit, but for all the wrong reasons.”
“Will you please just spit it out!”
“It’s not a chart topping hit, so to speak, it reached No 2 in the charts a few weeks ago but they’re preventing it from the No 1 spot.”
“Well, it’s a bit tricky to explain really.”
“Then try! I put my heart and soul into that song if its worthy of No 1 then why block it!”
“Er, how can I explain this without hurting your professional pride and feelings.”
“Just fucking tell me!”
“Ok, it’s become an anthem for people who want to end their lives.”
She raised her eyebrows to coax more from him. “It’s become a popular song for people, mainly young people, to commit suicide. The lyrics are so melancholic and poetic they’re being used as suicide notes.”
She sat silent trying to take it in. “So, what are you saying?”
“We need you to create another song, the opposite of this one.”
“We’re being sued by hundreds of families across the world. We’re on the verge of collapse and you, being the creator of the song are in danger of being lynched, both physically and professionally.”
“So what now, terminate my contract? Drop me and replace me is that it?”
“No no no, we don’t want to lose you, heaven forbid. You’ve been one of the greatest assets this company’s ever signed. We just need you to come up with a new song or at least alter the lyrics to-”
“No.” She said.
“I’m not changing or replacing a damn word!”
“Marina, we can’t-”
“I’ve written a song that’s so moving it reaches people on a deep emotion level.”
“My happy song will go down in infamy. Name someone else who’s achieved this with any of their songs.”
“Your happy song is killing people.”
“I don’t care! It’s my baby and it stays as it is.”
“Get my song to No 1 or else bad things are gonna happen.”
He frowned, “You’re not going to another company are you? The contract is binding,-”
“Fuck the contract! That’s the least of my worries. Just get my song to the top where it belongs.”
“Marina will you please listen! You don’t understand how serious this is. We cannot allow this song to remain in the charts it’s too dangerous. Already it’s credited with over seventy suicides the world over and lord knows how many more will follow. We as a company cannot be seen as being responsible for a song that’s killing people. Now we have a plan to avoid the legal backlash we’re facing, we need a new song and next week you’ll attend a press call to issue an apology for,-”
“Apology!” she spat. He put his hands up. “Marina, there’s a lot of angry people after us and you. We need to protect our interests or else we may be forced to terminate your contract.”
“That contract is nothing but a piece of paper. I answer to a much higher authority than this company.”
He paused. “Are you already signed up with another company?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes. But don’t worry, the contract I signed will look after both of us IF you put my song where it belongs.”
“That song is destroying lives!”
“Yes. He said it would.”
“The Devil.” He was speechless. “If you have a complaint,” she continued, “I suggest you take it up with him. If you dare.” She got up and left.