Writing exercise 10: Ideas for a story (first draft)

[This exercise involved writing a story – or part of it – using all the elements we learnt from previous exercises. Subject matter was determined by switching on the radio and building a story around the first thing that was mentioned. I’m tempted to use this as part of the NaNoWriMo writings, just to see where bringing two very different characters together would take me]

Black holes. The research was undeniable. They were not, as had been asserted for so long, the figment of a demented physicist’s imagination, but rather a concrete discovery – nay, a reality. He had the mathematics to prove it.

He pored over his scribbles. To the untrained eye and uneducated mind, the seemingly random jumble of mathematical symbols and notation looked like a fusion of a doctor’s illegible prescription and sheet music. To him, they were poetry. What could be more poetic than the death of a star? A dying star was said to collapse in on itself and, instead of fading quietly, it formed a black hole that devoured any light in its surroundings. It was at once awe-inspiring, terrifying and breathtakingly beautiful.

His rectangular glasses balanced precariously on the bridge of his nose, like a child playing on the edge of a pavement, defying gravity with every wobbly step. The light of the lamp added to the frayed white glare of the papers before him and cast long shadows on his sparsely populated desktop. Biting his lip lightly, he leaned an elbow on the desk, supporting the weight of his head against it. His other hand absentmindedly played with a pencil in its possession, turning it over and over and over between long, pianist’s fingers until it seemed he was tangling and untangling the fabric of space and time around it.

Was this proof enough? He wondered as he checked the notes for inconsistencies. What’s more, would it be possible to actually possible to build the detector he had described?

A mug of neglected tea grew cold beside him. Fully aware of his clumsiness (and the bad luck that followed him as closely as his shadow), he’d planted it firmly out of his reach, such that he couldn’t possibly spill it on his notes. Then again, anything was possible. In his world of quantum theory, the maths and mechanics of the ordinary natural world didn’t apply. For all he knew, the mug might even tip itself over without any external force exerted on it, spewing its contents over his unique set of notes. He shuddered at the thought.

As he read through the beautiful mathematics for the ninth (or was it the tenth?) time, a yawn issued forth from his lips. He blinked curiously, sat back in his chair and stretched out his lean body. Crick, crack… ah, that felt good to his cramped muscles and bones.

How long had he been in that position? What was the time?

His sea blue eyes torpidly glanced at his watch then widened in shock. Time for bed. Tomorrow saw an early start – he needed time to prepare himself to present these findings to the committee. Standing up too quickly, he nearly tripped as his left leg betrayed him by going numb.

Damn you, leg, he swore more colourfully in his head. His hand snaked back to the desk to flick off the lamp, then returned to the arm of his chair as he lowered himself back down.

Hopefully, this ‘false start’ was not an omen of things to come.

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