FAWC 1: Comfort ZonebyRedMonkeyButt©
(Moderator's Note: This story is a submission to the first Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge (FAWC). The true author of this story is kept anonymous, but will be revealed on June 22nd, 2013, in the comments section following this story. Each of the stories in this challenge is centered on the common theme of the main character being an author who then experiences the erotic and/or unusual events he or she writes about. There are no prizes given in this challenge; this is simply a friendly competition.)
(Author's Note: This story consists of non-human, erotic horror, and non-consensual elements. If these do not appeal to you, feel free to hit the back button and not read any further.
For those that do read on, please leave your comments in the appropriate field. The long stretches of italics are parts of the story she's writing.
* * * *
Jenna rose out of the chair in front of her desk and bent forward, stretching her back and legs out from the stiffness caused by sitting in the same position for hours. She was tired and vaguely hungry after spending the day playing in the worlds that lived in her mind and on her computer screen. Have I eaten today? She wondered as she left the small loft office and walked into the kitchen.
The fridge light was bright in the dark room, but she couldn't find anything to eat. Closing the door, she leaned her head against the cool metal and lowered her standards. When she opened the fridge again, she grabbed the leftover spaghetti she had cooked the last time she remembered to cook. It wasn't so bad when it was hot out of the microwave, but she knew this would be the last time she could eat it without getting botulism or something.
She finished the pasta and put her bowl in the sink before heading out to the back porch to watch the rain. Usually, this practice would help kick-start her imagination. The story had stalled at thirty-five thousand words, and she couldn't shake the thought that maybe it just wasn't meant to go in the direction she wanted it to. At first, the words had flowed easily from her fingertips. Then they started to slow until now when they were completely still.
It was times like this when she would normally call one of the people in her writing group and go out drinking or do something that had nothing to do with writing. Today, however, was the day that most of them were out of town for a convention and the ones left were those who never seemed to have time for distracting another author.
So, she sat on her porch and watched it rain before pulling out her phone to text Dax. He wouldn't be able to distract her, but he would be more than willing to help her through the block. Somehow, Dax always knew what to say to get her muse working again. It wasn't long before her phone buzzed with his response, informing her that he'd be there within the hour and jokingly complaining about how far out of town she lived.
* * * *
"So," Dax said as he walked up the steps. "What's wrong this time? Cat got your tongue, so to speak?"
"It stalled at thirty-five thousand this time."
He whistled when she told him the word count. She supposed she had never asked for his help when she had already gotten so far into a story. "Normally when you're that far in I only have to come out here to remind you that sleeping and eating are essential to your health. Why did it stop?"
"I don't know. I've never had one just fight like this when I'm this far in. The writers in my group that I would have called for a distraction are all out of town at that convention. You're normally my last resort, but I texted you first this time."
"Hmm, okay," he reached for the handle on the screen door. "I'll just run up and see what I can do to help." He was through the door and pounding up the stairs to the loft before she could even get out of her chair.
"Dax!" She could hear him rolling around in her office chair as she went up the stairs. "It's already up on the screen. Don't you dare look through anything else!"
His head popped around the edge of the stairs just as she reached the top, the evil smile telling her he had been about to do just that. "Would I do that?" His big innocent eyes did not match the smile, and she glared at him.
"Of course you would. It's what you do."
He held up his left hand in a parody of swearing, "I promise not to read anything but the fouled story. Now, go away." He waved her off as he turned back to the computer. Jenna must have hesitated too long because he turned in the chair and gave her a gentle shove in the direction of the stairs. "Go. I'm not going to read it with you standing over me the whole time. You'll try to answer all of my questions or explain things like you normally do, and I can't read like that. I have my notebook to write stuff down," he held it up. "So go away. I've got this."
She walked back downstairs and flopped on the couch. He did this every time he came over to help her get past a block, but his methods almost always worked. The questions he would sometimes ask would get her thinking and that would get her writing again. She sighed as she dozed on the couch, hoping he would be able to pull this one out of his hat as well.
* * * *
It took him only two hours to read through the story and take his notes, but he let her sleep for nearly five hours before waking her. "I know you haven't been sleeping while the story was flowing. You needed that more than you needed to write."
"Bullshit," Jenna muttered as she rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. "I'm under a deadline with that one. It has to be off to the editor in a month, and I'm only a third of the way through my first draft."
"That's what you get for procrastinating. Maybe this one didn't need the last-minute treatment you usually give your deadline stories. It read rushed because of it."
She glared at him. She always left her deadlines until the last minute, giving herself no more than two months to write it and proofread before sending it to her editor. This one should have been cut and dried, but it wasn't.
He held his hands up, "Hey, I know how you work. The last three that have stalled have done so because you didn't give them enough time. I'm just saying that maybe your style is changing and you need to move the last minute back a month or two."
They sat for another couple hours while he asked questions about the plot and the characters, pointing out areas that could have been expanded and areas that should have been left to the reader's imagination. When they finished, he was yawning and she pointed him in the direction of the bedroom. Jenna, on the other hand, had enough notes to get her past the fifty thousand word threshold if she worked right now. She grabbed a bowl in the kitchen and filled it with dry cereal before heading back to the computer and sitting down to work.
* * * *
It was dawn when Dax stumbled up into the loft, groaning when he saw her still slapping away at the keyboard.
"Did you go to bed at all?" he asked as he sank down into the extra chair.
"I took a nap while you read."
"I let you sleep for five hours, that's not enough to refuel your mind for an all-nighter."
"But I couldn't just let it sit here. I fixed the parts you pointed out and added several scenes, but it's still sticking in some parts. I don't know if this one will finish on time even with your help."
"How far did you get?"
"Another twenty-thousand words, six additional scenes, and two more characters that had to come in for those scenes to be plausible."
"Well, you hit the fifty thousand mark," she knew he was trying to help, but it wasn't working this time.
"Yes, but that much should have opened it wide for me. Instead, I hit fifty thousand like a brick wall. The characters are fighting instead of whispering sweet nothings into my imagination. I don't know what to do."
"Go take another nap while I reread it. I think I may know what it is, though."
"All of the characters are human. You don't usually leave your big straight human deadlines to the last minute because they fight you every step of the way."
Jenna shrugged and trudged off to the bedroom off the loft and didn't even bother to shut the door behind her as she made a beeline for the bed and fell into it. Dax would help like he always did. She was counting on it.
Dax woke her up in time for lunch, and she was drawn to the kitchen by the smells of real food wafting up the stairs. She found him spooning rice into a bowl and knew there was some kind of Cajun food to be had.
"Ah, ah," he said over his shoulder as she sat at the table. "Get up and help yourself. There's blackened catfish, rice, etouffee and hushpuppies. I don't mind cooking it, but I'm not dishing it out for you."
Jenna got up and fixed herself a bowl of the rice and etouffee with a catfish filet on the top. She grabbed the whole basket of hushpuppies and put them on the table between them as they ate. Every time she tried to ask him about the story, he would cut her off and tell her to eat.
When they were finished and the dishes had been put in the sink, he led her back up to the loft and sat her in front of the computer with all of his notes. Then he sat down and turned her chair so she was facing him, "This isn't your normal story. What did the editor ask you for?"
"She said to write something new and different that could be put out between my running series publications. I didn't leave this one to the last minute on purpose this time. It took me this long just to come up with an idea that didn't revolve around my other worlds."
"You've spent a lot of time writing three series that are so tangled and intertwined with each other that I doubt you could see a new world clearly. She was right to challenge you, but you should have asked for a longer deadline."
"She's been my editor for ten years and not once has she given me a longer deadline."
"You've never asked her for an extension because your other stories have always flowed freely. It was only when you started stepping outside your comfort zone that you needed help. One of these days, I may not be here to help you. Email her for an extension and then we'll talk about what I think you need to do with this story."
He wouldn't let her avoid the email, but hovered over her shoulder until she sent the damn thing. She knew he was right, though. Jenna had never asked her editor for an extension on a deadline. He was correct about why, as well. As soon as she hit send, though, she turned and waited for him to hold up his end of the deal.
"Alrighty," he cracked his knuckles as though he was the one who would be typing for hours. "Your other stories have a couple things in common with your big series. First, they all involve something not entirely human," he ticked the list off on his fingers as he spoke. "Second, they all involve some kind of sexual tension. This one has neither of those things. Your characters are strictly human, and there hasn't been as much as a hand-holding scene through the entire thing. It's so far out of your comfort zone that you've made your characters prudish."
"She wanted new and different," Jenna pointed to the screen with its blinking cursor. "This is new and different for me."
"Yes, but it's also dry. Where's the fire? You have several stories that don't deliver on the promise of sex, but the promise is still there. This is also the only thing I've ever seen from you that doesn't have some paranormal element to it. I think this is what's killing the story for you. It's a great exercise and has taken you out of your comfort zone, but it's killing your muse.
"I think you've had enough of this nonsense and now you need to start over. Bring this plot into your comfort zone and it will still be new and different, but with a familiarity that will help you finish it."
"What do you mean, 'bring it into my comfort zone'?"
"This guy," he pointed to his notes and a whole section on one of the supporting characters. "Give him his own story, but make it sexy and make him a werewolf. That's different because you don't write about werewolves. At least not that I've seen."
"You want me to start writing a whole new story based around a secondary character who is a werewolf?"
"Yes," he nodded. "I think it will open up the story for you in ways that your subconscious blocked earlier. Also, if you start now I promise not to stop you until midnight."
That was enough of a challenge for her, and Jenna turned back to the keyboard.
* * * *
Jarrod walked into the bar and went straight to a booth in the back. The corner was darker than the rest of the building and he seemed to pull the shadows around him like a cloak. From this spot, he was able to watch the patrons come and go without being pointed out as a creep.
The bartender was busy making margaritas for the three drunken women who were barely contained in their dresses in front of him. There was a group of guys watching the girls, but he didn't think they were together. The men were too nervous as they laughed and shoved one of their buddies toward the bar and the three women. Human mating rituals boggled him. Why be nervous? Why not just claim the bitch and move on? He shook his head and looked at the other tables.
One couple had just walked in and taken up one of the other more secluded booths. After the cocktail waitress brought their drinks they got down to business and ignored everyone else. The woman was short and curvy, just his type with blond hair and a perfect ass that she showed off when she put her knees on the bench and really leaned into the male.
He sniffed the air, ignoring the scents of alcohol and cheap cologne until he found the two he was looking for. She smelled clean and ripe for the taking, and the male was just as turned on if the musk he was putting off was any indication. He could practically taste their arousal from across the bar, and it had him hard in seconds. Suddenly, the women at the bar weren't looking too bad.
He tried to concentrate on them, their breasts all but exposed in their low cut dresses. But they fell flat when compared to the woman in the booth. Their hips were narrow and their breasts were small and high. They were society's picture of the perfect woman, but they turned him off almost immediately. Those women would be easy targets and by their scents he could tell he wouldn't be the first of the night.
His attention went back to the couple in the booth and he let out a low growl. The man's hand was inside the woman's skirt and her back was arching off the seat. The smell of sex was obvious to him, but no one else seemed to have noticed them in their corner. A couple of the buttons on her blouse had been undone, revealing the sheer lace bra that held her substantial breasts. The scene was hot and it had his beast wanting to get out. It was all he could do to stuff his desire back down to a tolerable level as he watched the couple in the corner.
* * * *
Jenna leaned back in the chair and stretched her arms over her head. The last few hours had passed in the blink of an eye, but Dax was right. She had gone so far outside her comfy little box that she had been suffocating her characters. The clock on the screen said it was five minutes to midnight and, sure enough, she could hear Dax moving around in the bedroom downstairs.
She was halfway down the stairs when he came into view in a pair of jeans and a nice polo shirt, carrying something on a hanger that she had buried in the back of her closet a couple years ago.
He smiled as he held the clingy read dress out to her, "Take a shower, do something with your hair other than pulling it back into a ponytail, and put this on. You've been up here for almost twelve hours, and we're going to go out so you will relax."
"I don't really want to go out," she started to say, but he stopped her.
"I know you don't. You want to stay here and write some more," he pushed the dress into her hands. "That computer will be here when we get back. I haven't been able to take you out and get you slightly drunk in a long time, and it will help your writing later. So come on."
Sighing, she did as she was told and went into the bathroom upstairs to take a shower. When she stepped out of the shower and wiped the mirror clean, she stared at herself in the reflection. Jenna had never thought she was particularly good looking, but that red dress had made her feel sexy. She had tried it on, but never worn it out. She wasn't sure how she felt about wearing it for Dax.
Standing there staring at herself, she resolved to just go out and have fun. The towel dropped revealing her ample breasts, small waist, and wide hips. A boyfriend had once called her 'thick,' and it had taken her a few weeks to agree with him. Her thighs and ass were larger than the ideal for someone her height, but they led into a slim, trim waist. Her breasts were larger than average, but still managed to be perky. She had blond hair that was usually worn in a ponytail and was lucky if it was brushed. But that wouldn't do the dress any justice, so she picked up a bottle of light hold gel and squeezed a good amount into her palm before rubbing it between her hands.
The gel would help hold her hair's natural curly wave when it dried without making it crunchy. It was the only hairstyle she knew other than a ponytail, but the effect seemed to be dramatic enough when she bothered to do it. The dirty blond strands fell in soft curls to the top of her ass, and she knew she would have to get it trimmed soon. Normally, she would just let her hair air dry, but that could take hours. After putting in the gel she pulled her hair dryer from beneath the sink and used it with the aid of a round brush to jump start her hair drying.
When her hair was no longer dripping wet, she toweled off the rest of the way and walked back out into her bedroom. The dress was still spread on the bed where she had left it, and she took it off the hanger. It was a crimson satin and spandex blend with beading at the neckline that matched the color perfectly and added a bit of sparkle to the garment. She stepped into it and pulled it up, marveling at how something could have come off the rack and fit her curves so well. The halter top lifted her breasts just enough that she didn't need a bra, and the zipper on the side tightened everything up until it looked as though she had poured the dress on.
She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror hanging on the back of her door and that feeling of being sexy came back to her in a rush. The dress, her hair, all of it came together in a rare combination that let her know she was hot. A last minute decision as she slipped into some black heels made her leave off any panties. Thongs were uncomfortable and even bikini-cut panties would show lines. The dress was just long enough that she wouldn't flash anybody if she was careful.
Dax was waiting on the couch in the living room when she walked down the stairs, and his mouth fell open when he saw her. "Wow. I don't remember the last time I've seen you out of sweats and tank tops, and I've never seen you in this dress."
"I've never worn this dress," she said, blushing at his reaction.
They walked out of the house and he opened the passenger door to his Mustang for her before walking around and getting into the driver's seat. The black leather sighed against the material of the dress as she got in and she gasped when the engine started with a roar that she could feel through the seat. Dax expertly steered the car down her long driveway, and she wondered that he hadn't complained about the caliche dust on his paint job. When they were out on the highway, she looked over at him, "So, where are we going?"