Monday, 4 June 2012

...A Series of Coincidences.

A Series of Coincidences.

She said we're going to die.”
No she didn't”
Yes she did. She said “Jake and Ettal you two are going to die. I am going to be the one who kills you. Unless you can tell me the end of this riddle.”
What? She never said that!”
Yes she did! We couldn't understand her because it was in Finnish.”
But we don't speak Finnish!”
Exactly! Remember when that old dude said we should take Finnish lessons because one day it would save our lives and we said sure, okay and he said he was a teacher and would give us lessons for free and to be at his house for six and he gave us his address and we didn't turn up because we thought he was a perve and wanted to touch our junk and shit and oh man I feel light headed...”

I'm okay, no really I am. Stop looking at me like that Ettal, your eyes have gone all wide again, just like the last time...”
I'm sorry Jake but do you know what this is?”
No, what?”
Oh no, no, no, no, no...”
Okay calm down, stand still, stop waving your arms around Jake you look like a lunatic.”
I can't help it Ett. I don't know if I can handle another coincidence, it's been so long since the last one and that was...that was...I can't do it again Ett.”
Yes you can. All we have to do is find that old dude and we have to learn Finnish, like now!”
Right, your right Ett.”
I know.”
Okay so where did we leave that address?”
Think Ettal!”
Jeans, blue, Tuesday – Tuesday's jeans!”
Let's go, your house, RUN!”

* * *

I...KNOW! Just...stop...talking...and...keep...running...”

* * *

What happened on Tuesday?”
I woke up, stretched, yawned and stretched. I then stood up, stretched, yawned and stretched. After I looked around my room...”
Err sorry, okay, whenever I take my jeans off I throw them over there, in that pile of semi- dirty clothes by the window and so it should be there.”
Dive Ettal!” Am I bleeding?”
No, now dig in, we have to find those jeans!”
Right. These are Mondays, Saturdays, Fridays, Wednesdays...Jake, their not here.”
Their not here. My mum must have been doing a sniff test again and Tuesdays jeans should have been in the really dirty pile but I threw them in the semi-dirty pile because I thought I could get at least one more week out of them.”
Jake, get off your knees. It's not that bad.”
I just don't want to die, you heard what she said.”
Well us flapping our arms about and making noises like a demented whale isn't going to help us not die now is it?”
No. It just feels so hopeless”
Stop sobbing and get up, it's not hopeless. All we have to do is check if my mums gone to her laundrette yet.”
The high street of course.”
Of course!”

* * *


* * *

Can you see her?”
I can't see through the glass, it's all steamy.”
We're going to have to go in. Ready?”
I'm never ready Jake.”
Deep breath.”

Okay, so she usually uses machine number seven, it's her favourite one – look for it.”

There, over there Ett, on the other side of the shop talking to the lady with the blue frizzy hair.”
Mrs Anderson. Time to manoeuvre yourself Jake”

Excuse me, pardon me...sorry I just need, gonna squeeze through here...”
Ettal! Manners!”
Sorry. Guess I got a bit carried away.”

Mrs Blatt!”
Mum, stop the machines!”

“What? Ettal, Jake? What are you both on about?”

Jeans, in the semi- dirty pile...”
But they weren't semi-dirty...”
They were properly dirty...”
And they have a piece of paper in the back left pocket...”
A very important piece of paper...”
That could potentially save our lives!”

“You two aren't making an ounce of sense. I have not picked up any jeans from your room today. Maybe you've misplaced them.”


“Jake get off the floor.”

Yeah Jake get off the floor.”
But you don't understand Ettal, without those jeans, without that piece of paper she's going to...AHHH! There she is! Window! WINDOW!”

“What the hell are you two doing? Ettal Blatt get out of that laundry basket immediately! Jacob Jones if you do not let go of Mrs Anderson I will be forced to call your mother! You two are behaving like wild animals, now out! Out of my shop and go behave like normal children.”

No, Mrs Blatt, please, you don't understand, this is a matter of life and death!”

“I will show you what a matter of life and death looks like Jacob Jones. You have five seconds to extract yourself from around Mrs Andersons waist and out of my shop!”

Mrs Blatt...”
Come on Jake, quick, she's got crazy eyes.”
We're going!”

* * *

You're mums intense Jake.”
Tell me about it.”
How long will it take before I get the feeling back in my ears?”
A couple of hours – tops”
She got a good grip on them though.”
Yeah I call it the iron claw.”
Wait...Ett, where did creepy Finnish woman go?”
Oh man...I don't know...”

“Jake ja Ettal...”

“sinulla on kaksi tuntia. Jos et voi kertoa minulle vuoden arvoitus minä tapan sinut.”

What did she say? Jake? Let go off my legs you weirdo.”
Sorry Ett. Survival instinct. I haven't got a clue what she just said, but I think I need to go home and change my jeans.”

* * *

I'm glad we took the bus this time.”
Yeah, I don't think I could run in my condition.”

* * *

Okay change your jeans and lets get going.”
I'll be fifteen minutes.”
What? Why?”
I need to shower Ett.”

* * *

Just for the record that was not fifteen minutes..”
I know but I was feeling really dirty.”
Wait a sec, those are my jeans!”
No their not!”
Yes, those are my Tuesday jeans!”
No Ettal these are mine.”
Fine but just check the back left pocket.”
Oh wow...”
Yeah these are your jeans Ett and I think I just found what we've been looking for...”
Open it then Jake!”
Okay, okay, hands are too sweaty, you do it.”
It is it Jake, we've found it!”
Sweet mercy, we're saved!”
Call the number Jake.”
No you do it.”
Why me?”
Because your name comes first – alphabetically, duh.”
Fine. You got me on a technicality, you happy?”
Pass me the phone then.”

Come on dial faster.”
Okay, it's ringing...”

I think I may need to change my jeans again...”
Don't you even think about it Jake, I swear I'll...hello? Hi, is this, wait, what's the name again – Jake, come on, what's the name? Well it's your handwriting!”
“Hello? Who is this?”

Sorry sir, my names Ettal Blatt and I don't know if you remember but you told me and my friend Jakob Jones...”
What, why are you telling him my name?”

“Ettal and Jake? I remember the two of you. You were about to be pursued by a tall , blonde Finnish woman who was going to kill you if you didn't tell her the end of the riddle.”

Yes! That's us!”
He remembers us Jake.”
Well what's he going to do about it? He needs to teach us Finnish, tell him he needs to teach us Finnish Ettal.”
Err yeah, so about teaching us Finnish...?”

“Get here in an hour.”

But she said we only had two hours half an hour ago.”

“Then you better get moving. I'm on Elmsfleet Street. Number twelve. I'll be waiting...”

But, hello? Dammit.”
What? What did he say?”
We have to get to him within the hour but he's at least forty five minutes away and that's if we were driving – do you know how to drive Jake? DO YOU?!”
Calm down Ett, we'll make it. Stop tugging at your hair like that. Remember what happened the last time you did that?”
Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me Jake.”
Anytime. So now that we're both calm, lets get to that creepy old dudes house.”
By any means necessary.”

* * *


* * *

Knock harder Ett, he could be deaf.”
How hard do you want me to knock Jake? I'm practically ripping the top coat off the door.”
HELLLLLOOOOO? MR ERRR, MR...what's his name again Ett?”
I don't know Jake and stop shouting, you're drawing attention to us.”

“Whose there?”

It's err Jake and Ettal sir, we spoke on the phone.”

“Oh yes, the two boys being chased by a Finn. Hahahaha.”

I don't think this is a good idea Jake...”
Shut up Ett, you may want to die but I don't.”

“Hold on, let me undo these locks...”

Could you hurry please sir, we only have half an hour to go and I don't know how hard Finnish is to learn but I doubt either of us could...oh!”

“Hello boys.”

I think I need to change my jeans again Ett.”
Stop it Jake.”

“Come in boys. As you said before time is precious, we need to press on.”

Ett, he looks like...”
I know but he may not be...”

“Come on boys, don't dawdle, we have work to do.”

* * *

I'm scared Jake.”
You were the one that said it was fine, now don't start freaking out please.”
I can't help it, it's this room. Why does he have to have so many portraits of himself? I feel like I'm being watched...”

“So, what were her exact words?”

Well sir, that's the problem. We don't know because it was in...Finnish...Ett stop looking at him like that.”

“Hmm. I know this woman well. I also know a lot of Finnish riddles and she wouldn't have giving you one if you hadn't pissed her off.”

You know her?”
How? How do you know her? WHAT IS THIS?”
Ett, calm down...”
No Jake, I want answers, stop laughing you creepy git. I want to go home Jake.”

“You can't leave. If you do she will kill you.”

Shit, shit, shit, shit...”
Sit down Ett. SIT! Now mister...err what exactly is your name?”

“My name is of no concern...”

Yeah like that's not creepy serial killer talk...”
Fine Jake!”
Thank you. Um so err sir, I think the riddle had something to do We were arguing over who could down their can of lemonade faster and Ettal accidentally snorted some of his all over her.”
Technically Jake, technically it wasn't my fault. If you weren't making that face...”

“Ha! Well the most common riddle ends like this...”

* * *

Okay, so do you remember the exact words?”
Yeah I think so Jake. Sorry about what happened back there...I sort of lost my cool...”
Sort of? You were a freaking nut ball in a squirrel house.”
You have an unhealthy attachment to squirrel analogy. But I'm sorry.”
All forgiven. Now we have two minutes. He said she was coming here, so prepare yourself Ett.”
I'm ready Jake.”
Oh monkeys, there she is!”


I think I need a new pair of jeans...Does she have to carry a bazooka? It's not like she'll miss us if we're wrong...”
Calm it Ett...umm...olet kana?”
NO! NO JAKE! That's just making her angry.”
Err what did he say again?”
She's raising the bazooka, I don't want to die like this Jake.”
OK ETT. I've got it...mies etsii vettä, mutta löytää illusio.”

“onnekas arvaus. Te saatte elää sillä nyt.”

She's leaving. You've done it! Yes! Sweet freedom!”
That was so close Ett. Now what did that old dude say about Sunday?...”


  1. The question is do I like this and the answer is no. Another more interesting question is, do I think it has potential? The answer for that is most definitely yes, yes, yes! So good an idea that it is worth stating three times! I think your dialogue and trust in different ways a character can speak (no matter how light-hearted the tale) will grow and grow if you use this form as regularly as you intend:
    This is feverish. I have concerns but must first applaud you for tackling something radically different from Joe. You’ve set yourself the higher bar of handling more than one character’s thoughts – O.K – the actions of more than one character anyway! You’re doing this using only speech? I have theories as to why and some are more flattering than others. Patience, all shall be revealed.

    I like this: “I can't help it, it's this room. Why does he have to have so many portraits of himself? I feel like I'm being watched...”

    Vanity, more than a hint of omnipotence…another face of chaos anyone, or have I revealed once again that I see Spiderfingers in everything? Oh dear.

    Let’s talk about the speed of the narrative shall we?

    The pace is insanely fast paced, so quick that it quite literally threatens to leave me going ‘What? When? Who? Why?’ And there is an innate desire (quite a clear one) to illustrate who is talking to whom and that indicates the very necessary awareness that you are hosting a quest for us your audience. Cool. Here are some of the ways you could (should you feel compelled to) involve us more.

    Your two leads are totally reliant on speech to communicate their journey to us so the starting point being the Finnish persons riddle ought to be shared much more directly. I don’t know what the riddle is so I don’t get to play a part in trying to guess the answer. It doesn’t matter that I probably won’t be able to except that this is a story and I want to be involved. That’s dem the rules missus.

    Or in leaving out the riddle do you intend to evoke more mystery surrounding it? I typed this into my search engine: onnekas arvaus. Te saatte elää sillä nyt

    …I would like to backslap you for writing something that got me using Fionnish Google!

  2. You started by breaking that rule well by rambling the premise to us:

    “Exactly! Remember when that old dude said we should take Finnish lessons because one day it would save our lives and we said sure, okay and he said he was a teacher and would give us lessons for free and to be at his house for six and he gave us his address and we didn't turn up because we thought he was a perve and wanted to touch our junk and shit and oh man I feel light headed...”

    There is much to be gained by having either Jake (but most probably Ettal) probing the magical realism, the ‘why factor’ regarding the coincidence. This of course would re-inform me as to why these people are rushing about. Have you read Waiting For Godot? This story reads like a script rather than prose. About that:

    Why no description? I like the novelty of making my own images in my head but then only through the speech will we know where we are and frustratingly, I had to read bits through a few times to gather my co-ordinates. Worryingly, towards the middle, I didn’t bother. Which was stupid really because I was subconsciously prideful that I could work it out from speech to come.

    Either you’ve left the description out because:
    a) You hear dialogue first and foremost when you write and initially perceive your work as a play/T.V scene
    b) You wanted to test if you could write without description because its easier and requires less work
    c) You decided to write eschewing the convention because you intended to see if you could tell a good story using just voices – a noble test of your abilities
    d) You intend to work in layers – this month dialogue, next month adding description?

    I would say also that your characters refer to each other by name far too much. This was excusable to some degree because we learn that they are children who tend to unintentionally patronise each other but because they are too well spoken (I honestly don’t know if children ought to talk like so – it is not in anyway natural) I kept forgetting their age. Intrigued to know your thoughts on that one. Instead of having them address each other you could have them speak very differently? This would allow us to stay within the tale a little more and not constantly ask who is addressing who. I think you fear us getting lost in their conversations so much that them naming each other was your tool to stop this from happening, yes?

    The idea is fun and execution aside (for now), I’m in favour of you continuing using this method as it will make your dialogue not only more believable but more economical in terms of whereabouts and whereagoings. In fact, the reason why I might be tempted to do a piece like this would be to follow my own advice!

    There is more that can be said regarding punctuation and grammar (the grammar isn't too bad actually) but I will merely remind you that:

    Their and there, your and you're...sort it out luv! x

  3. I wanted to write something challenging and i found leaving out description very challenging! I wanted to know if it worked - guess not! So answer c? lol. But really it's something I've been thinking about for a while. It was really difficult to not add in a he said, she said, hence the constant use of names. I had Ashley's voice in my head screaming "stop writing their names!!"

    It is quick and I think that's down to the speech. I played around with them being a lot older - think late teens, stoner types - but it didn't work so I brought it back down and wanted their world to be complete fantasy.

    Left out the riddle on purpose - you get the answer though! Glad it made you google it - that was the intention.

    Yeah I've read "Waiting for Godot" and I thought it sounded like a script but even a script has some form of description in it. A dialogue driven peice is hard on the reader, you have to make up a lot of the picture yourself and I agree it must be hard to care for them, even a little but do you think adding description will lessen or aid their story? Will it make you care more about why exactly they care so much about the coincidence that it's got them running around town like mad folk?

    I do however like the idea of them having two different ways of speaking - you've got me thinking.

    It's the possesive and non possesive noun/verb/whatevers that gets me all in a tizzy - I blame my schooling!

  4. As John said, I think this form of writing has a lot of potential, and if it were me, I'd want to constrain it even more, perhaps by limiting it to only the voices of the two boys. If you were to do this, the narrative might be better suited to a retrospective form of speech - perhaps the two boys are relaying their adventures to a third party - like a reporter or another friend. Using the past tense in this way would mean that you would be able to focus more on the telling of the story. Also, because the characters themselves are relaying the events, you have more scope to include description and also play around with the idea of unreliable narrators. You would also be able to play around with the two speakers feeding off one another, disagreeing with one another and egging each other on to tell the story, which would add an interesting dynamic to it. Just a suggestion for how I think you could improve the piece, but I realise it might not be in keeping with your original aims.

    I also found it very difficult, both to differentiate between the two main voices, and to determine the ages of our protagonists. Writing young characters is notoriously tricky, so really think about what age group your characters fall into and how you can represent this by the way they speak. Using only dialogue is difficult, because you have to convey all the character traits and personality of your characters through the way that they speak. A great example of this is the The Catcher in the Rye. Holden's voice permeates every inch of his narration of that book, and you should think of every line of dialogue as a chance to express something about your characters.

    I'm a big fan of reading monologues, so I know that a well-crafted piece of speech can be incredibly satisfying, and duologues are equally pleasing. Your story has potential but you need to look at strengthening the narrative behind the dialogue, in order to improve the pacing of the piece. It might be worth considering writing the story in a conventional sense first, then reducing it to dialogue, to enable you to really look at the context behind the speech.

    Hope that helps. It's a great idea, and I'm really pleased to see that you're pushing yourself creatively, so don't be discouraged by the constructive criticism. When just want to see your ideas executed in the best possible way. :)

    1. Well I like it. ( A hell of a lot more that JOE, sorry to say, that was struggle).

      It was fast and fun, and you captured the exaggeration and frenetic nature of children. Perhaps this is why I liked it so much, I am a mother and can fill in the absent discription with the faial expressions and postures of my own son.

      However, I feel you need to watch the language somethings they boys come out with are just to grown up, and come out a bit too try-hard at being funny (something that cropped up a bit in JOE). Here it is even more apparent becuase they are children, kids tend to mix up the word order and emphasis, breaking the common rules.

      Whilst children are fenetic, and in a situationgame such as this you have to be careful that it is not you who has childish pacing. You have to balance out the boys perspectives, the fast pace with a lull (perhas an enforced one given the context-a form of naughty step with the mother, waiting for the bus or more speech description of the traslators house whilst he pokes in the kitchen-something to break the pace and enforce the idea that even if these kids are runing rampant they are surrounded by the imposition of adults.)

      The boys felt/sounded like they were one character split into two for the sake of your convention rather than two distinct voices. Which, of course, is the maor pitfall of soley relying upon speech.

      Personally I found the trouser situation distasteful. Did he wet himself, or the other? This needs to be made clearer, if he has wet himself it is slightly more understandable but still a bit off. But I respect your desicion to have it in there-but just keep it to the actual intance, you repeat it too much.

      I really like the fact that you allude to other adventures they boys have had, this really is the biggest (and bestest) chara development, that also lends mre credability to the story.

      I feel like the adults need fleshing out more. Yes the boys treat them depending upon own they fit in with their game, but what the actually say should contrast this more. The mother is better in this regard. (but also examplifies how the boys speech is too sophisticated, they sound very similar).

      Why on earth does the fiinish woman have a bazooka? This is presented to literally, and is jarring. Description, of cours could clear this up, but you do not have that (which is brave, and I like it, and it DOES work here). So you need to have them notice hwta she is holding and have it evolve into a baoka, or have its presence questioned rather than stated.

      Feel like im missing a trick with the finnish (and thus in the same position as the boys). What does it say? And do you know finnish? Tried to translate but it took too long. Im guessing it is just an apology? And I agree with John, you definately need to set up the riddle earlier-it just sort of pops up.

      And LOL Stop writing their names!!