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Dying to Get Out: Experimental Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on November 07, 2016
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Chris has written more than 100 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Memorial

A Memorial built in 1961 to commemorate the fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
A Memorial built in 1961 to commemorate the fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. | Source

What is Experimental Fiction?

Most experienced readers of fiction have conscious or unconscious expectations when they pick up a story, whether it is a novel, novella, short story or short short story (flash fiction). We expect to find a familiar genre or blend of genres. We anticipate a clear beginning, growing conflict, resolution and a clear ending. We look for a character we can empathize with.

We also have expectations about how the story is told. We want to know which character is speaking during a lengthy dialogue, especially when more than two people are involved in the conversation.

We enter this story in which two men are outside at night, waiting for someone to come rescue them from whatever situation they are in. The rendezvous has been planned, but there are doubts, fears and expectations.

I have left out any reference to who is speaking. That is what I mean by dialogue only. The helpful words, he said, do not appear anywhere. Neither have I given hints in narration about the identity of the speaker. In fact, there is no narration. There is only the dialogue between two men.

It is up to me as the writer to make clear the setting, characters and plot, and I must do so without narration, using only the words spoken by these men. It is also up to me to give unique voices to the two men so that the dialogue sounds natural.

I want this story to take you to that place and give you the sensation that you are invisible, sitting next to these two characters, listening to their conversation.

Dying to Get Out

“What time is it?”

“I don’t know, why?”

“We have been hiding here by this damned fence all night it seems.”

“I don’t think they’re coming.”

“But they said they would.”

“People say stuff like that to shut you up.”

“But what will we do if they do not come?”

“What else? We stay in the ghetto.”

“Shh. Someone is coming.”

“It’s not them.”

“How do you know.”

“Our contacts aren't streetwalkers.”

“They promised to show us the way out.”

“I don't trust them. What do they gain by helping us?"

"Maybe they just think its the right thing to do."

"Nobody thinks that way anymore."

"We could offer them money."

"Have you got any money? I don't."

"No, I do not have money."

"They could double cross us. We don't know anything about them."

"You think they might turn us in to the Germans?"

"They could be waiting on the other side of the gate right now with the Gestapo."

"I had not thought of that."

"It could go either way. It's a gamble."

“If they do not show up and help us, I will not be able to go on.”

“Meaning what?”

“Never mind.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I cannot live here another day.”

“The ghetto isn’t so bad.”

“The ghetto is hell.”

“The ghetto is our only home.”

“I will never call this place my home.”

“Shh, someone’s coming.”

“It is not them.”

“How do you know?”

“Our contacts were not wearing swastikas.”

"Let's get out of here before they see us."

"What if I try to climb the fence?

They’ll shoot you."

"Do you think so?"

"Yes."

"Goodbye my friend."

The End

Poll: Dialogue in the Story

Did you clearly understand who was speaking during the dialogue between these two men?

See results

Warsaw Ghetto

Source

Poll: Did You Understand the Story

Did you get a clear understanding of the setting, characters and plot in this story?

See results

Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-Occupied Europe

There are numerous accounts of Jews escaping the ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe. Life in these communities was unbearable. Human waste was collected and thrown into the streets. Because of the poor sanitation and over crowding, disease spread and killed many. The threat of being rounded up and taken to one of the extermination camps was a constant concern. A successful escape was the only solution. One such escape occurred at the Jewish community of Mir in present day, Belarus. Photos of the people of Mir from 1934-1938.

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    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 19 months ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Eldon, Thank you for once again reading and commenting on one of my stories. I appreciate the input very much. Vonnegut's instruction is on the money. Learning to make every word count is a skill that takes a lot of attention. This "story" was my way of honing that skill.

      Primo Levi, If This is a Man......I will look for it. Thanks for the tip.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile image

      Eldon Arsenaux 19 months ago from Cooley, Texas

      I remember reading a tip (and I think it was from Kurt Vonnegut) that every line you write should present character or create action. This did a splendid job of both.

      Wondering if you've read any Holocaust Literature. If not, I recommend reading Primo Levi's If This is a Man.

      -E.G.A.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 19 months ago from New Zealand

      Thanks for replying, after reading your comment I will move on and put more thought to writing your challenge, "Five Steps to Writing a Solid Flash Fiction Story".

      Have a great day.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 19 months ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Elsie, this was more of an experiment that resulted in a story I like a lot. This is not something that anyone would publish, I am sure. It was more something to challenge my dialogue writing skills. If I don't communicate place, characters, plot etc through narration, then my dialogue has to communicate that instead. So I wouldn't spend much time with this particular format. Thanks for reading though.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 19 months ago from New Zealand

      Interesting reading.

      I haven't thought much about writing like this but you have certainly caught my attention.

      I like Flash Fiction, still reading and thinking about how I'm going to go about it.

      Think I will do more reading about this type of writing as I'm not fully understanding it.

      Thanks for introducing me to it, still thinking about your new challenge.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 23 months ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      wingedcentaur, my son and I were camping in Montana when I wrote this. He suggested a "free write" and I suggested that the only prompt be, dialogue only. This came from that effort, but has been through countless rewrites. I appreciate you thoughts here and the votes as well.

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 23 months ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      I see that you can write powerfully about just about anything you set you hand to, cam8510. Its hard to find further comment; but, of course, I rated this story 'up', 'awesome,' and 'interesting.'

      Later!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 23 months ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Deb, from the viewpoint of the freedom we enjoy, it's difficult to even imagine the lives these people endured. Maybe he made it over the fence. Who knows? Thanks for reading.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 23 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sometimes death is the better option. These were hard, cold facts, stated by a mind clearly connected to the times. Excellent!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Sara, I appreciate your assessment of the story. I haven't read any other dialogue only writings. I suppose they exist somewhere. The value of this to me was in the challenge of communicating a story through dialogue. I believe the process helped me with my other stories as well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Sara Sarwar Riaz profile image

      Sara Sarwar Riaz 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

      A tale of unfathomable consternation told so effortlessly by simple dialogue between two preys of those unfortunate times. A very unique and skillful approach.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Frank, you are correct. This little story leaves the characters nameless, which is frowned upon in fiction writing . I appreciate you seeing the benefit of it in this story, though. It certainly would not work in a longer piece or one where interaction occurred with someone other than the two men. I appreciate your insight. Thanks.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Venkatachari M, This story began as a free writing exercise with my son while we were camping for a weekend. We just sat by the campfire and wrote. Our only guideline was to write a story with only dialogue. I've worked on this story over a year and a half period and this is its present form. Thanks for reading and I appreciate your comments.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Catherine, Thanks for your comments. Capturing all the elements of a story was, of course, my goal. I'm glad you feel it was accomplished. Nice to have you visit my hub.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      interesting approach.. just dialogue would never work.. but it did here only because it gave the two no identity which meant that they could have been the mouthpiece for the many who planned or talked about escape... and some willing to be shot instead of living everyday in the ghetto good job my friend :)

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting story. It gives some glimpses of the life of people during those wars and disturbances. Very good narration of the situation through dialogues. Voted up and interesting.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Good writing, Chris! I agree w/ the other commenters here that you have captured all of the important elements of this story through dialogue alone. That's a writer's discipline that's hard to do effectively. You make it look easy:)

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      TheHoleStory, Thank you for your comment. I went right over and read goody7s account of Dachau. Truly a horrible place. I appreciate you directing me to it.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Ruby, thanks for stopping by and reading and thank you so much for the kind compliment.

    • TheHoleStory profile image

      TheHoleStory 2 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia

      This was indeed a very bad time Chris in our history, and we should never forget these dark days. If you don't mind here's another hub that paints a portrait on these horrible times - https://hubpages.com/travel/A-horrible-place-with-...

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Cam I like the way you told this story. You didn't need to describe the ghetto everyone knows. The dialogue between the two men told the story so well. Your creative writing knows no boundaries! Up and shared..

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Mary, Thanks for stopping by to read this story. It's one of my favorites simply because it to so much time and work to get it into this shape. I appreciate your kind words.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      This simple dialogue brings us right to the ghetto and we can feel the fear and desperation of these two men. This was fascinating Chris.

      Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Randy, good to see you. This is definitely the hard way to write a story. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      A good way to practice one's dialogue, not only for FF, but for longer tales also, Chris. Enjoyed! :)

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Eric, thanks for reading, and I appreciate knowing the emotion came through.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Ann, thanks for reading this little experiment in short fiction writing. Getting all the necessary elements to a story with nothing but dialogue is a challenge. I'm glad you could feel the tension as I had intended. Thanks for reading and giving me your feedback.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Shauna, I'm glad you liked this story. I've had it around for a while, but it needed some tweaking. I'm glad it seems to be working out. Thanks for your feedback.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      What a great way to tell a story. I could feel the despair.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Sadly, many did die to get to out. We can try to imagine what it was like but there's no way to feel it unless you've been there - terrible.

      I felt the tension in the dialogue, the 'shall we/shan't we' of the situation.

      Ann

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Not only is the story riveting, but the way in which you chose to tell it paints a picture without the use of descriptions or metaphors. Great job, Chris!

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