illustrations by konrad kraus and roy dismas
preliminary: write down, or record, as quickly as possible (taking no more than 2 minutes) the names of the 20 most famous people you can think of. this will be the "list"
a dark night
an empty road
an automobile (suggestions - a 1935 duesenberg, a 1939 packard, a 1927 pierce arrow, a 1928 rolls royce phantom )
4 people in the automobile (the first 4 people from the list - number 1 is the driver, number 2 is in the front passenger seat)
they drive along.
there is silence or conversation
it is or is not raining or snowing
a hitchhiker appears (number 5 on the list)
the auto stops and picks up the hitchhiker
or, passes him/her by
or, stops, but declines to pick him/her up
if the hitchhiker gets in the car,
the driver engages the hitchhiker in conversation
or, silence ensues
or, the hitchhiker makes an improper suggestion to one of the passengers
or, a passenger makes a disparaging remark to the hitchhiker
in which case, the hitchhiker ignores the disparaging remark
or, a brief scuffle ensues
if the hitchhiker is left behind,
the hitchhiker laughs, weeps, shouts curses at the disappearing auto,
the auto proceeds with its 4 or 5 passengers
if it's raining or snowing, the rain or snow increases
if it is not snowing or raining, the temperature drops
the 3 or 4 passengers either
pass a bottle around and have a jolly time
or curse the driver for losing his/her way
things proceed in this way
the road gets narrower and the night gets darker
someone says "i think i see something ahead"
someone else replies - "at last!" or "we were just starting to have fun"
suddenly a building appears - an old dark house, an abandoned barn, an abandoned hotel, or an abandoned roadside diner
the driver says "i think we should push on" and is or is not shouted down and overruled by the passengers
a fight/heated argument does or does not break out
they stop and enter the building
or move on into the night
further down the same road
same conditions apply (dark, cold/rain/snow)
another vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. suggestions - a 1930 packard roadster, a 1932 dodge club victoria , a 1932 desoto sedan, a 1934 chrysler sedan.
there are 5 passengers - numbers 6 through 10 on the list. number 6 is the driver
the passengers are college students on their way to the big game
or communist organizers
or high school teachers on a bird watching vacation
or bank robbers
the driver is clearly the boss of the others , or a despised and abused tool
the other 4 passengers are quiet, or giving the driver a hard time, or passing a bottle around and making merry, or singing to keep their spirits up
if the passengers are making noise, the driver demands/asks that they pipe down,
and they do or do not
at this point they approach the other vehicle (if it did not stop at the abandoned building)
or approach the abandoned building (if the other passengers are already there)
end of chapter 1
vehicle 1 honks horn, waves to vehicle 2 to stop
vehicle 2 stops or passes by
if vehicle 2 stops
driver of vehicle 1 says "say, we saw an abandoned building a mile back"
and driver of vehicle 2 says "dang it, we better all take shelter there"
or, passenger in vehicle 2 whispers in driver's ear, and he says "we think
we'll just keep on, thank you folks very much"
in which case the river of vehicle 1 says "you may be right - there is nothing good to be had back there" and continues on
or, vehicle 1 reverses and both head back in the direction of the abandoned building
and all 9 or 10 passengers get out and look at the building
which is or is not obscured in the snow or rain and fog
or, the 4 or 5 passengers of vehicle 1 get out, and vehicle 2 keeps going
in which case the occupants of vehicle 1 speculate on the motives of vehicle 2
and the occupants of vehicle 2 express relief or regret at leaving vehicle 1 behind
or, the passengers of vehicle 2, having left vehicle1 behind, get out
the passengers ( numbering 4,5, 9 or 10) who remain advance
toward the building
one of them says, "i think i see something"
and another says "yes, i think i see something too"
or "i don't see anything'"
or "maybe we better get out of here"
the driver of vehicle 1 (or 2) says "we don't have any choice"
and advances toward the building, followed by
all, some, or none of the other passengers
if all follow , somebody says, "i think i heard something"
and they all stop, or some stop and some continue, or all continue
if all stop, the noise from the building is now heard distinctly
and they listen intently, and one of them says "what's that? it's unearthly"
or some or all of them panic, and raise a hideous commotion
or one of them says, "we can get as drunk in the car as in the building"
and they all agree,
or another one of them says, "there might be something in there to build a fire with"
if some stop and some enter the building,
those who stop return to the vehicle or vehicles and
all drink and sing, or all weep and pray
or some combination thereof
while those who enter the building hear another sound, louder now.....
if both vehicles continue on their original paths and neither stops at the building
or if vehicle 2 stops and vehicle 1 continues
if there is snow or rain it becomes impossible for vehicle 1 to go on....