This is a creative writing experiment, shamelessly stolen from the Chopin Manuscript: a serialized story where each author writes a different chapter. The members of this blog are each writing their own chapter, and we’re calling ours the “Cakepan Manuscript”. This is our second story.
For this story we used a random plot generator, which gave us: “The story starts when your protagonist gets lost. Another character is an anesthesist who is researching something terrible.” You can start reading at Chapter One, and each week we will post a new chapter until we reach the thrilling conclusion!
We hope you enjoy!
Chapter Two: Puzzle Pieces
“Damn. What do they want with me? How do I get the hell out of here?” Russ pressed his head to the window and let out a sob.
Russ walked into his small bathroom. Everything was spaced far apart to accommodate wheelchairs or multiple attendants. Also cold and hard so anything unpleasant could be easily sanitized away. He hated it.
He looked into the mirror, and a familiar stranger looked back. He knew all the wrinkles on his face, and his name, but big pieces of himself were gone. No, more like the pieces were there, just all jumbled up. Like a jigsaw puzzle dumped out of the box.
He tugged at his face, mugging into the mirror, hoping to knock a few more pieces into place. Nothing.
He heard the door open out in his room and peeked out. He expected Nurse Ratched’s assistant but instead a slender young woman in jeans and a t-shirt was already in the room, and a slightly paunchy, grim looking fellow trailed in. Both looked surprised at the empty room.
Russ knew them. He thought he was happy to see them, but couldn’t put his finger quite on why. A piece snapped into place and he stepped out into the room.
“Dad!” the woman exclaimed, rushing over to him. She looked as if she might hug him, but stopped short when he flinched. “Are you okay?”
“Russ!” said the paunchy man. “Had us concerned there. Thought you checked out or something.” The paunchy man didn’t seem any less concerned as he shut the door behind him.
Russ shook his head. “I’m sorry, I’m still having some trouble remembering things. I’m not even sure…” he trailed off, suddenly unsure what to say.
The woman looked at him a little sadly. She had huge, blue eyes, and they never wavered when she looked at something, never flitted around the room like most people’s. Russ liked that. Her name was Maureen, he remembered.
Maureen put her hand on his arm. “It’s okay, Dad. We’re here to take you home. It’ll be okay.” She smiled.
The man nodded, but didn’t say anything. Maureen looked at him. “Tony, the bag?”
Tony gave a small jump. “Oh, right, sorry!” He held out a plastic bag towards Russ. “We brought these. Figured you’d be dressed, you know, like that.”
Russ took the bag, the outline of shoes straining clearly through the bag’s edge.
“Thanks,” he said, trying to smile. “Um… I’ll be right back.” Russ backed into the bathroom, not wanting to expose his butt to anyone else today, and closed the door. As he changed he heard Maureen and Tony whispering to each other. Arguing? He couldn’t be sure.
The clothes fit him well, khaki pants and a soft yellow Polo, but he couldn’t remember ever wearing them before. He felt through the pockets, hoping to find a wallet, but they were empty.
Maureen was alone when Russ emerged. “Tony went to get the elevator,” she explained. “We’re running late.”
“Late for what?” Russ asked, but she didn’t reply. She stuck her head out into the hallway, looked around, then walked away quickly. Russ frowned, but followed.
No one seemed to notice them as they rode the elevator down the ground floor, and while Tony fidgeted neither he nor Maureen said anything on the way down. Russ kept studying them both. Something nagged at him, still not quite right. He almost had it…
The elevator binged open on the ground floor and Maureen took Russ’ hand to lead him out. He resisted, but she smiled and pulled at his hand. “The parking garage is right down here. We brought my car,” she explained. He followed her.
Tony’s phone chirped and he looked at the screen. “Dammit,” he muttered. “We need to hurry,” he added, tucking his phone back into his pants.
They reached the connecting door into parking garage when Russ stopped, dislodging Maureen’s hand.
Tony groaned and licked his lips. “Come ON,” he said. “We don’t have time for this!”
“What is it?” Maureen asked, pulling at Russ’ hand again.
Russ nodded to himself. “You’re not my daughter,” he said, stepping back. Maureen frowned.
“I knew it,” exclaimed Tony, throwing up his hands in frustration.
“I know you, but you’re not my daughter. Someone put you up to this, didn’t they?” Russ asked, backing up a little more. He was back in the hospital hallway now.
Maureen reached for Russ’ hand but he snatched it away.
“Look, you need to come with us, okay? You need to trust me,” she said, her voice firm.
Tony looked past them, down the hallway, and his eyes grew large with alarm. “We’ve got to go! Now!”
Russ didn’t want to stay, but was unsure of so much today he couldn’t let go of the one thing he was getting control of. “Who sent you? Who told you to pretend to be my daughter?” he asked.
Maureen looked at him squarely with those big, blue, unwavering eyes of hers.
“You did,” she said.
(Continued in Chapter Three)