One of the best ways to develop character is through object placement. What kind of stuff would you find in your character’s bedroom? You can tell a whole lot about people by the things they surround themselves with.
The Prompt- Write about a character who has a fish tank, but fills it with something unusual or frightening. How did they get it? What is inside of it? What happens if you stick your fingers in?
Melanie always felt a bit odd going to the Fishbowl to do her homework. In the dank, warm basement room filled with computers and surrounded by glass, she always felt like there were eyes on her. Watching her check her e-mail. Watching her write her essays. Watching her waste time playing solitaire. She was just imagining it, of course, but she couldn’t shake the feeling. It was like being the subject of a The Police song. Every breath you take, every space you make, I am watching you… Yet here she was, her spine a-tingle, because her laptop had crashed, and her Victorian English essay was due in ten hours. Procrastination, and even trips to Best Buy, were no longer allowed. It was time to work.
* * * * *
She was perfect. Even watching her open up a Word document, those graceful fingers deftly maneuvering over the keyboard, was a beauty to behold.
His green eyes devoured her every movement – subtle movements, since she was stationed in front of a computer screen, writing an essay. She typed furiously, leant her cheek upon her hand, flipped long brown hair over her shoulder, and typed some more. Referenced some books. Checked her e-mail.
Was there anything he wouldn’t enjoy watching her do?
He supposed there was only one way to know for certain.
* * * * *
When the grumbling of her stomach became too loud and painful to ignore, Melanie decided to take a break. Images of greasy concoctions, available within the span of a few blocks, danced through her mind. (Clement Clarke Moore would not approve.) She was beneath the naked, grasping branches of an oak tree when it happened. Pain of a different sort affected her stomach as strong fingers dug into the soft flesh of her waist, pulling her back roughly. A hand over her mouth, holding a wet, damp rag. Melanie reached for the moon peeking through the tree branches above her, a muffled sound escaping her as the world turned black.
* * * * *
She was cold, and her limbs were heavy. Reaching her hands out to search for the blanket she must have thrown off while sleeping, Melanie found she was… lying on concrete? Her eyes shot open.
She sat up on a concrete floor to see… glass. Surrounding her. She was in a rectangular box of glass, like a still-living Snow White in a glass coffin made by dwarves who got the specifications wrong. She reached out towards the ghostly Melanie visible before her, leaving hand smudges on the cool glass.
Focusing outside of the glass box, she quickly spied a camera. Awesome.
“Hello?” she called out, her voice wavering, sounding small in the cavernous, empty basement. “Hello?! Is anyone there?”
Clumping footsteps sounded on the stairs. “You must be hungry,” a deep voice said. The clumping produced a bearded, middle-aged man, holding a pizza.
Melanie’s stomach grumbled. “No, I’m fine,” she said. “But I kind of need to leave. I have an English paper to finish!”
The man frowned. “I’m afraid I can’t allow that.”
Of course not. Well, she had had to try, right?
“What do you mean? I can’t fail English. My father’s an English professor; he’ll kill me! This paper is worth 40% of my grade.”
“Oh, I’ll let you finish your paper. I just can’t let you out.”
Melanie blinked a few times. Nope. Still didn’t make sense. “Pardon?”
“But first, you should really eat. You’re much too thin.” The man climbed a ladder, placing the pizza in a hitherto unnoticed pulley system, which he then proceeded to carefully lower down to her. She removed the food, briefly wondering if a hunger strike could lead to her release.
“You don’t get out if you stop eating. But I will get you a laptop in an hour so you can work on your paper.” The man sat down on a folding chair, looking at her intently.
“Who are you?” Melanie asked.
“Just an admirer,” he replied. His eyes stared at her, too-focused and unwavering, and she grabbed a slice of pizza to have something else on which to focus.