Blog Chain

Absolute Write April Blog Chain

I participate in an online forum for writers called Absolute Write. It’s a wonderful community for writers in all stages of the process. I’ve only been there about 6 weeks but already it has been an invaluable resource.

This month I decided to hop on the blog chain. Fellow AWer orion_mk3 came up with a fun prompt for this month’s challenge.

Part I: Describe one of your characters in 50 words

Part II: Have that character interview you (a twist on the usual character interview)

It was a fun challenge and I have to say it was educational for me. My character brought a few things to light I wasn’t entirely aware of yet. Great exercise. Thanks, orion_mk3.

Part I: Describing Charlotte Cora aka Aunt Char:

Charlotte has a storybook name, but she is far from dainty. She’s been preparing for the outbreak for years: building walls, planting crops, preserving food. Short of words and time, she’s lost the desire to be cordial. It makes her sound crazy but someday everyone will know she was right.

Part II: Character Interview:

When I called Charlotte about this interview (yes, I had to call her), she informed me she didn’t have time to come see me. She was too busy working. She did invite me to come down to her property and check it out. She said she’d be happy to ask me a few questions while I was there. She also mentioned something about considering it a place to stay in the future and how plenty of shares were available. I’m not really sure what she meant by that. My husband was excited though, “Time share presentations always have free stuff.” Anyhow, my transcript of the event follows:

I arrive at the property in the morning and a security guard shows me where I need to go.

“Over there?” I ask the guy. He’s big. Has a gun. Note to self: don’t get on that guy’s bad side. I’m not sure why they need such an imposing security guard here, but I just smile at him.

He nods, and then points. He’s not big on words, I guess.

I walk in the direction he sent me, past squat buildings with shallow slanted roofs. They look sort of like airplane hangars, except I don’t see any runways. I wonder what is kept behind the retracting metal doors. Eventually I see her in the garden. At least, I think it’s her. Charlotte. She owns this place. She’s shorter than I imagined she’d be. Her voice on the phone sounded six feet tall. I think I’ve got her by a few inches at 5’7”. She sees me. I wave as I approach.

“What are ya just standin’ there for? Grab a spade. Get to work. We’ve got tomatoes to transplant.” She says. She acts as if I’m late, but a glance at my watch shows me I’m not.

“Oh. Um. Sure. I…” I’m shocked, I thought this was a tour. I’m not really dressed for gardening.

“Listen, everyone here works. I don’t have time to just stand here askin’ questions, talk while we work.” She hands me a flat of seedlings and we kneel down. We work the soil, spacing the plants to allow for proper growth.

“This is a lot of plants,” I say, nothing else coming to mind. Charlotte works with ferocity as if getting the tomato seedlings in the ground is a race against time.

“We’ve got a lot of mouths to feed. More are on the way. When the tomatoes are done, we’ve got peppers to do.” She pierces the ground again with her spade. “So, did y’all come down here together?”

“Who?” I ask, not really sure what she means.

“You and the teenagers, my niece and nephew. They got here today too. Did y’all come down from Chicago together?”

“Oh, no. I came by myself; sounds like we live in the same area though. If I had known, I would have asked them to carpool.” I chuckle at my own wit.

She doesn’t laugh, just looks me up and down.

“You came alone, huh? I’m surprised you made it. Impressive, I guess.”

“Thanks…I think. So, do you ever wonder if this is all a bit much?” I say, pointing to the concrete walls circling the property. They are reinforced with steel in certain places. “I thought I was coming to check out a time-share. This place is more of a fortress.”

“I thought I was the one askin’ the questions,” she says. “Best to be prepared, wouldn’t you say?”

“You know, I do. I say that to my husband all the time. Every grocery trip ends up in a talk about how much we really need. But, you know, I just hate to run out of things. It’s better to be prepared. Plus, with young kids, you can’t always just run to the store when you need something.”

She jerks her head up and really glares at me. “You have kids?”

“Yeah. Three of them.”

“And you left them to come here?”

“Well, they’re with my husband. This is a business trip of sorts, right? I’ll go back in a day or two.”

“You better hope they’re still the people they were when you left them.” She gets up and deposits her empty tray on top of a stack. Then she grabs another set of seedlings. I follow behind her, not wanting to look like a slacker.

“Was anyone sick when you left?” She asks, “Runny noses? Coughs? Fevers?”

“You heard me say I’ve got kids, right? Someone always has a runny nose. Comes with the territory.” Just then my own nose starts to feel drippy. I pretend it itches in an effort to wipe it without her notice. Gross, but my hands are already filthy from the dirt. I’m sure it’s a subconscious thing, I felt fine when I got here.

She grabs the tray of plants from my hands. “Listen. I think you better get back home. If you can make it back, that is. On your way out, get yourself a flu shot in the infirmary. It’s probably all you can do at this point.”

An infirmary? Really? She certainly has prepared for anything. “Flu shot? Listen, I appreciate it, but I never get those things.” I tell her.

“You’ll want this one. Trust me.” At that she turns on her heel and walks away from me. Apparently this conversation is officially over, so much for niceties. “Goodbye. Nice to meet you. Hope to see you back here. Can’t wait to meet your kids.”  Who says the people are more polite down south?

Be sure to read the entries from the other participants. There are some strong characters out there.

orion_mk3 –
Yoghurtelf –
COchick –
Steam&Ink –
xcomplex –
aimeelaine –
auburnassassin –
Della Odell –
Juniper –
Proach –
allmyposts –
LadyMage –
dolores haze –


33 thoughts on “Absolute Write April Blog Chain

  1. “The outbreak,” eh? Do I sense zombies in her short-term future?

    Nicely done. I can almost see that serving as a prologue–narrator or skeptical journalist meets survivalist before the zombie apocalypse!

  2. I loved this! You create such a vivid picture of the “paranoid prepper” (or IS she paranoid?!). I get the background feeling of tension, even though you wrote this in a light tone. Great stuff 🙂

    • Thanks, Charlotte.

      It’s probably too bad that this Charlotte won’t get her “I told you so” moment. By then I suspect all the doubters won’t really be themselves anymore.

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  10. wow. the setting is very vivid and I don’t trust this woman at all. She’s creepy. You definitely made me want to read more of your story. Well done!

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  12. A zombie apocalypse starting with a runny nose? That scares me to no end. She seems almost too confident in her belief. She didn’t start it, did she?
    Great character!

    • Thanks, Dale. Yes, scary, indeed. Most “flus” start out that way. I think you’ll be OK though…until your fever spikes anyway…you’re not feeling too warm, are you?

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