12 April 2014 - 11:10 am

Altered Perspectives: Challenge #1

Picture a sprawling city. It can be any kind of city, from any era: wood and tiles; brick and mortar; glass and steel; plastic and neon. It’s a thriving city, healthy enough to have a bustling warehouse district, though it’s not as busy as it used to be. Parts of it are starting to fall into disuse.

Perhaps industry is starting to move elsewhere, or businesses have found better facilities in other parts of the city, or someone is buying it up to convert it to a different use. Either way, the warehouse district has started to age in patches, creating areas with a rundown feel to them. Trucks or wagons don’t rumble down those streets like they used to. Foremen’s voices don’t ring out over the fences so much. The streets are starting to fall into poor repair as the city isn’t investing time or money in them lately.

In this district, focus on a single building. It was once a busy factory, but it hasn’t been used for that purpose for a while now. Once upon a time, new things were made inside it, packaged up, and shipped off somewhere else. Consider that time, when things were all go here.

What was made in this factory? Was it a complicated process, like building pieces of technology, or something simpler, like bottling drinks or weaving fabric? Were its wares made by hand or machine? Was it powered by anything? Did a lot of people work here, or just a few overseers, or no people at all? What kind of vehicles used to pull up to the big doors to take the goods away?

The sign on the door is faded now, but what did it used to say? If there was a logo, what was it?

What caused this factory to be closed down? Was the real reason the same as the public announcements? Who was the last to leave and lock the doors behind them?

Now, a few years have passed since the industry in this factory was wound down and its doors closed for the last time. Dust has settled and spiders have spun impressive webs.

What is left inside? When it was closed down, was it gutted? Has any of the equipment been left here to age along with the building? Machinery, chairs, looms, tables, a lone broom? Build a picture of what this place looks like inside and out. Is it still hale and whole? Has the weather been kind to it?

What kinds of creatures might have moved inside and made themselves at home? Focus on one type of non-human creature in particular. Are they native to the area or imported? What do they eat, and what effect do they have on the building? Do they live individually or as a group? How many generations have lived inside this old factory?

A person is now approaching this abandoned factory. Perhaps they have a key; perhaps they do not. Either way, they mean to enter the building; they have a purpose here. Picture this person in your head. What do they look like? When they pause to glance up at the building, what expression are they wearing?

Tell us the story of this visitation, from the perspective of one of the creatures who calls the factory home.

Next up: Challenge #2

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  1. Marlee says:

    The mangy orange cat hissed at the rat before it, spittle flying, teeth bared, back arched, the cat swiped with razor sharp claws. The rat scurried away before the claws hit. The cat, annoyed at losing his prey for his impressive show of dominance stalked off, tail high in the air, manner proud despite his empty stomach. He had not eaten in the past two days.
    He strode confidently towards the window, sitting down on the ledge as he started the long and arduous task of cleaning himself. His fur was dirty beyond anything but a massive bath with an entire bottle of shampoo could fix, but he didn’t care. He was still the proudest cat in the factory. From outside could be seen his proud figure, licking his paw in the window, looking out over his domain. Beneath him on the door to the factory he called home was an old sign, faded from age.
    The sign, barely legible from the years of neglect, could just be seen reading S INE. As such most passers by simply called it the Sine factory. Many a night had passed with a drunken man stumbling past, wondering why the factory for sines had an old worn out sign. This attempt at humorous observation had prompted as many world-weary sighs as it had laughs. The cat, of course, being unable to read the sign, cared not for what it said, or for the drunken people stumbling past, on their way home from one of the raves that were usually hosted in some of the other old factories. His was the only one no one touched, and he preferred it that way.
    No people screaming, and shouting. No idiots spilling their disgusting alcohol over his domain. The cat didn’t care what they did in other factories, as long as his was left alone. With grace that persisted despite his complaining tummy, the cat jumped down from the ledge to go back into the main part of the factory. Once upon a time machines had whirred here. Now they were silent. Cats of all sorts and colours had made their homes in the machines. Long ago had they all devoured the tasty treats that had been left behind for them.
    The cat didn’t care for the machines today, though. Today was the day. It happened once a week, and all the cats in the factory were getting anxious as they realised that it was today. Some of them, better fed than others, pushed their way through the mobs towards the doors leading down. The orange cat had none of that. A flash of claws, a hissing voice, and they parted like butter. The cat made his way proudly down the staircase.
    Another cat behind him saw her chance. The tabby lunged forward, her teeth bared, preparing to nip his foot, but the orange cat proved his dominance. With a speed that was astounding for the fact he was half-starved the orange cat spun around before the other cat’s teeth could make contact. His claw swiped and the tabby whimpered, on the ground. The eye she had been scratched in would lose sight before long. Soon she would be one of the starving cats, the last to be fed. It was unlikely she would last the winter.
    The orange cat, his prowess yet again proven, stalked down the bottom floor of the factory, his tail high as he sat down on the base of the stairs. This was the routine. The best fed cats were right behind him. Behind them the cats who could not feed themselves. And then the young were last, high up.
    The time was drawing near. Footsteps started echoing in the alley outside. The holes in the front of the factory brought the sound into the building, where it echoed further in the emptiness, bouncing off of the desks that used to sit there, as well as bouncing around the otherwise empty walls.
    The scratch of the key turning in the lock alerted even those cats at the back that it was time. The door opened, and a man walked in. His clothes used to attract the cats to him, when he first started coming, but they had soon learned that that didn’t work. Behind him came two little girls. The cats waited patiently. They knew how this worked, and they knew pushing forward now would only hinder their chances to be fed.
    “Daddy, look, he’s the first again.” One of the girls commented. They stood in the doorway, the light from the alley stark behind them, and they appeared as shadows in the doorway, their features hidden from even the cats superior eyesight. For a moment, at least.
    The man walked forward, swinging a sack over his shoulder. He dropped it on the floor, and fish spilled out. Some of the cats behind the orange cat tried to push forward but his paw swiped out, and they flinched, stepping back into place. The orange cat had long ago proven his worth, and for the most part none of the other cats dared cross him.
    “I told you, sweetheart, that he was the best.” The man said, kneeling down to get all the fish out of the sack. “Come on. Bring your sacks up here.” He said. Behind the orange cat the rest were starting to get impatient. Tails were waving, as frustrated felines waited for what they wanted now. But the threat of the orange cats claws and speed was more than enough to keep them in check.
    The two girls moved forwards, and dropped their sacks on the floor, spilling more fish out across the linoleum. Some of the kittens in the back started up a chorus of meows. The man turned around, leaving his two daughters alone in the room with a hundred half-starved wild cats, to return a minute later with two more sacks.
    This process was repeated until ten more sacks of fish had been emptied into a pile on the floor. The man and his two daughters stepped back, and that was when the cats moved. The orange cat moved first. He stepped forward, pausing only a moment to hiss to the others behind him, a warning to stay where they are until he had finished. He started eating one of the fish. When he was no longer hungry, he walked over to the humans, standing beside the doorway, almost out of sight.
    At his unspoken command the rest of the cats moved forward. The starving cats fought briefly amongst each other for the best pieces of fish that the better fed cats hadn’t already demanded.
    One of the girls screamed, as a spider lowered himself from the ceiling onto her shoulder. She swatted the spider away, and cowered into her father’s embrace. The cat sat down before them, his tail twitching slightly as he waited, ever patient, before the humans.
    “Do you think he’s…” The girl who hadn’t been freaked out by a spider asked. Their father shook his head.
    “No, he’s still wild. But we can keep coming back to visit and feed him. It looks like he hasn’t eaten since we were last here.” The man’s observation was almost true. The cat had last fed two days ago, on a few of the particularly large spiders that had been hovering around in his corner of the storey they kept for themselves. He was an older cat now. While still fast, with his dangerous claws, and his sharp teeth, he was better than the other cats. But for the most part he left the other animals alone. For he knew the humans would always come.
    The other cats were sceptical. While they always came down on the stairs with him, each time they wondered if this would be the week that they didn’t show up. But the orange cat knew they would always come. They had once been his humans, after all. And in many ways, they still were.

    April 14th, 2014 at 9:27 am

  2. Mel says:

    Love it! Those poor kittens. I’d come and throw fish at them, too.

    April 15th, 2014 at 12:33 pm