Winter chills

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To Trudi
From Scott

Hi Trudi
You may not remember me but we were introduced at Shona’s party. There wasn’t time to say hi or anything because Shona’s surprise present interrupted everything just then! Anyway, I hope you don’t mind me contacting you out of the blue but I thought nothing ventured, nothing gained. Hope you don’t mind.

Cheers, Scott

To Scott
From Trudi

So, hi Scott
Sorry I don’t remember you from the party, things were a little bit lively. Not sure why you’re contacting me, where’d you get my email?

Trudi

Hi Trudi
Sorry, didn’t mean to spook you. I got your email off Shona’s newsletter where she’d cc’d everybody. It’s just that I heard you’d gone to do History at Leicester Uni at more or less the same time as me, and I didn’t remember our paths crossing. I was in the same year as Natalie and her gang but I guess you must have been the year ahead or behind. Anyway, no worries, I’m not stalking you or anything, just wanted to compare notes if that was OK.
Anyway, I’ll back off if you’d rather not chat.

All the best, Scott

Hi Scott
You were in Natalie’s year? Wow, she was something else, wasn’t she, what’s she doing now, you any idea? Sorry I was a bit suspicious, you hear so much about weirdoes contacting you out of the blue. Did you know Jeremy too? I had a bit of a thing for him but he didn’t come back for his third year and we kinda lost contact, but then I was with Kevin for two years before finals. And you? What are you doing?

Trudi

Hi Trudi
That’s weird, Jeremy was at school with me! But when we went to Leicester we kind of made new friends. I know he suddenly swapped courses to do French, but then I lost contact too. He must have done his year abroad then, you know his mum was Swiss so perhaps he skipped a year. Me, I’m in some boring job, I’m not sure you really want to know, do you? Just really wanted to chat to someone about uni, life, the universe, anything rather than office politics. But that’s OK, just happy to get this off my chest. Don’t worry if you don’t want to chat.

Scott

Scott, don’t be a misery! I remember, you must be the guy that had the tee saying Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost! Look, where are you, are you close to town? Do you want to meet up for coffee somewhere?  I often meet friends in Caffe Nero behind the Exchange, when’s good for you? You don’t need to wear a flower in your buttonhole but for goodness sake don’t wear that t-shirt or I’ll pretend I don’t know you!

Trudi x

* * *

So, this is how the emails between Scott and Trudi could have panned out.  But they could so easily have taken a very different direction, couldn’t they?

To Trudi
From Scott

Hi Trudi
You may not remember me but we were introduced at Shona’s party. There wasn’t time to say hi or anything because Shona’s surprise present interrupted everything just then! Anyway, I hope you don’t mind me contacting you out of the blue but I thought nothing ventured, nothing gained. Hope you don’t mind.

Cheers, Scott

To Scott
From Trudi

So, hi Scott
Sorry I don’t remember you from the party, things were a little bit lively. Not sure why you’re contacting me, where’d you get my email?

Trudi

Hi Trudi
It’s OK, I got your email off Shona’s newsletter where she’d cc’d everybody. I thought that as we never got to chat at the party we could at least do it by email. As you’ve got a history degree and I’m a metal detectorist it seems we’ve got a lot in common! I’ve found a lot of Civil War stuff – you know, musket balls, horse fittings, fragments of spurs and so on – and since you specialised in 17th century politics you might be able to help me with dating the finds. Mind you, it’s hush-hush where I’ve been detecting, but if we collaborate on this I might just let you into the secret!

Speak to you soon, Scott

Scott
Listen, I’m not happy that you seem to know a bit about me and I know nothing really about you. I spoke to Shona and she has no idea who you are or how it was you were at the party. I’m afraid I’m not interested in metal detecting as my research was in Constitutional History. I’m sure you’re a nice guy but please don’t contact me again.

Trudi

Hi Trudi
Look, I’m sure we can sort this one out, Trudi, I’m not the kind of person you think I am. Why don’t we meet up? You could tell me about 17th century Constitutional History and I could show you my detecting finds, you’ll find they’re more varied than you might think. Why don’t we meet up at Caffe Nero, behind the Exchange? I know that’s where you usually meet your friends. Or why don’t I come round to your place? That’s only around the corner from the café, isn’t it, and I could show you much more of my collection than in a café.

Hope to hear from you soon, Scott

I’ve just realised who you are, you’re that guy with the Megadeth t-shirt, everyone called you The Boffin. You’re creeping me out, so don’t email me again. Just delete my details.

Don’t be so uppity, Trudi, I know you’re really friendly, everyone says so. Tell you what, I’ll just come round now, shall I? I can see you’re in, your car’s parked at the front and your light’s on. I’ve got my collection with me, as it happens. I’ll just finish this and then I’ll knock three times so you know it’s me. Speak to you soon.

Assignment done last year for a Creative Writing module on genre writing: perhaps you can guess which genre this was emulating …

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24 thoughts on “Winter chills

    1. I was about to post the same when I say Steve’s comment. I agree; it’s very creepy but oh so good! It’s a story that will linger all day.

      Can’t wait to read more.

      1. Thank you very much, Sari — I suspect not up to the standard of your favourite, Stephen King, at his best but I’ll accept “a story that will linger all day”!

  1. ‘Let me show you my finds’ is possibly one of the creepiest chat up lines anyone could come out with – makes you worry what else he has in his ‘collection’ other than musket balls!
    A creepy short like this opens up all sorts of questions – is he really just a metal detectorist, or does he mean to do her harm? Will she barracade herself in and call the police or have at him with a pair of curling tongs?
    Really interesting how you’ve managed to take the story in two directions and just through the use of emails.
    I hope the short story module goes well – looking forward to reading some more 🙂

    1. I thought the ‘finds’ invitation might be an apt variation on the classic “Would you like to see my etchings?” line, but a lot more menacing! The bifurcating endings were part of our original genre writing task, to produce two email exchanges suitable for romance and thriller audiences respectively; where either scenario was heading wasn’t something I’d considered then. But thanks for the approbation, Lynn! More to come, hopefully.

          1. Ah, yes. Soppy, I know, but I found Sliding Doors a little bit heartbreaking. You follow one Gwyneth Paltrow all through the film, watch her fall in love etc, only for her to kark it at the end. Was I the only person screaming as we saw the ‘other’ Gwyn meet the ‘other’ John Hannah – ‘no, that’s not the right one! You’ve gone and killed the right one!’ 🙂

            1. I admit, I did the ‘manly’ equivalent of screaming — that compound of under-the-breath groan, sigh of disappointment and nose-wrinkling that counts as a critique, you know, the one along the lines of “You made me watch a whole film, invest in characters and suspend disbelief for this?

            2. Ha! Yep, I know that noise. I guess you have to admire them for killing her off – not the usual happy ending, is it? Only a semi happy ending. Though even I would balk at a rom-com ending in a blood bath where all the protagonists lie dead or dying. 🙂

    1. Glad you liked it, Col! Optional endings have been around longer than we think, I suspect. John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman (both book and film) offered them, as did the Fighting Fantasy books of the 70s where you rolled a die to decide which page you continued your story on. And of course video games allow each player different choices as he or she tries to reach their goal before GAME OVER announces they’ve lost another life …

      1. I had forgotten the Fowles example.
        I got fascinated by computer games in the days just past dos, and then lost interest. My fanatically gaming now-in-college grandson in UK couldn’t convert me.

  2. An interesting take on the failure of communication — a risk whether in electronic or face-to-face form. Makes me long for a return to past practice of relying on family and old friends for all introductions.

    1. I can see the attraction in that practice, but you hear so many scare stories about strange step-siblings and uncles with inappropriate behaviours and arranged marriages that even families can be suspect; and there can still be issues around work colleagues despite laws to root out harassment and so on. Life itself is rarely without risk, even wrapped up in a cocoon of protection. My story was designed to play on anxieties, but they’re not anxieties I’d wish on anyone in real life!

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