[P1] The Mediterranean Song*

The Page One Project / June 16, 2017


alarm clock with quoteThe clock was already going to tell him he’d lost the spot, wasn’t it? He hated the thing, it was small, beeping, and insistent. It had no personality, but Michael hated it as if it had told him his mother was dead.

His mother was dead, actually, but the alarm couldn’t know that. It knew nothing except the time, and the time was Too Late.

He reached over the stained mattress and felt along the floor until he found the cheap digital clock. He’d bought it at the pawn shop while trying not to think of what poor bastard was so down on their luck that they got value from pawning a piece of shit clock. He had punched SNOOZE three times and was now ready to yank the cord from the wall. His hangover assailed him from behind his eyes and somewhere in the back of his throat. Something had to die, and it was going to be that wretched clock.

The sound stopped right before his hand fell on the clock. He blinked slowly, unable to process. Then it started again, and he grabbed the clock and threw it.

It gave no resistance at all, trailing its cord behind it. He’d already yanked it out of the wall.
He searched for the source of the noise, which continued to blare like a siren. His phone. It was underneath his clothes from last night. He squinted at it, and a dim memory appeared from the night before. He’d been drinking with other musicians and had laughed and changed his conductor’s ringtone to be the most obnoxious siren his phone could provide. It had seemed funny.

The ringing stopped abruptly, and then the phone began to ping as texts rolled in. They had different levels of profanity and threats, but they all said essentially the same thing:

Where the hell are you?

We’re practicing The Mediterranean Song today and we can’t do it without you.


What happens next? That’s up to you.

Read more about The Page One Project here.

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The Page One Project by Mur Lafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Links are affiliate.

* Title supplied by Paul Byford – thanks, Paul!

[P1] The Gentlemen’s Cemetery

The Page One Project / June 9, 2017


Image Desc: Dapper man with story quote They told me that all of society’s walls – class, racism, sexism – they fall after death. When I pressed for details, no one could give me a good answer. Holy men and women don’t like it when you press for details. They fall because reasons. They shatter because our bodies are the only things that indicate our working class, our brown skin, our sexual preference, our genders, and now they are gone?

They were wrong about so much. It was hard enough being dead without having to unwrap all of the lies the churches (and atheists) shoveled into us. There was no bright light. I haven’t found any family members or friends. I have not ascended to heaven, fallen to hell, or had a desire to haunt anyone. I don’t even know if I’d call myself a ghost. I don’t feel like a monster.

Wait, I did find one friend: Harry, my friend from childhood, but since we both died in our forties we didn’t have a lot to talk about. The conversation went something like, “Harry? From Mrs. Draughn’s fifth grade class?”

“Holy shit, it’s you! How, uh, well, did you have a good life?”

“Not too bad. Ended too soon. You know.”

“Yeah.”

“…well, see you.”

You do learn dead etiquette pretty damn fast; no one cares how you died, and it’s considered pretty rude to talk about. I stopped offering the information pretty fast.

I lost a big sense of self after I died. I wandered a lot. I think most of us did. You can go anywhere, but you lose a lot of desire to spy on the living. In fact, I think that old play Our Town was probably the most accurate view of the afterlife.

I had little desires but to wander, until the day I wandered into the Gentlemen’s Graveyard and immediately was cast out.

That gave me something to want.


What happens next? That’s up to you.

Read more about The Page One Project here.

Creative Commons License
The Page One Project by Mur Lafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Links are affiliate.

[P1] The Daughters’ Pact

The Page One Project / June 1, 2017


“Dead at school or alive in the woods,” Darla had said. But she had wanted to meet at night, and Serena’s closest experience with nature had been her mother’s window flower box.

Right before she was ready to panic, give up, and pull out the forbidden phone, Serena spied a light flickering through the trees. She breathed a sigh as she finally found her bearings. She hurried toward it, trying not to make a lot of noise to attract the wrong kind of attention, but trying to make enough noise to avoid sneaking up on the others.

Jasmine stood by the fire, holding her hands over it and staring at it. A stuffed backpack sat at her feet, leaning slightly against her calf. Her tight braids hung around her face, and only her eyes were visible.

Darla gathered more tinder for the fire, looking up at Serena when she arrived, acknowledging her with a nod, and then getting back to work. Her limp was less pronounced in the woods. Why had Serena never noticed that before?

HD sat leaning against a log, her hair short and dirty, face twisted as if pained. Her hand clenched on the sack on her lap: a fraying vinyl bag that said Carolina Mudcats. Its thin straps, no wider than thick yarn, drooped over her legs, and Serena wondered how much it hurt to carry it.

HD’s eyes flicked to her as she joined them. “You’re late,” she said. “Did you bring them?”

Serena nodded. “All I could find, anyway.” She dropped her leather backpack on the ground and opened it. Trying to hide her distaste, she reached in and grabbed the bundle of bloody rags, drawing them slowly out.

Darla watched her, transfixed. “Do we really have to do this? If my mother ever finds out-”

“Sure, your mother is what we have to worry about here,” HD interrupted. She rubbed her face, leaving a smear of dirt. “Your mother is the least of our worries.”


What happens next? That’s up to you.

Read more about The Page One Project here.

Creative Commons License
The Page One Project by Mur Lafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Links are affiliate.

[P1] Announcing The Page One Project

The Page One Project Logo
A few years ago I was blogging a creativity exercise I called The News from Poughkeepsie. I would post a daily writing prompt, character sketch, MacGuffin, setting, etc that people could use in their own writing. I did it to push my own creativity, as well as prove that ideas are cheap, and anyone who held onto their precious jewels of ideas for fear of them being stolen was only hurting themselves.

Today I’ve decided to go one better. I’m launching The Page One Project, a weekly gift to you. 250 – 500 words of the beginning of a story, and you can do with it what you will*. Continue the story. Edit the heck out of it and make it a poem. Use it as inspiration for your webcomic. Make it the beginning of a bestselling trilogy. Quote it in interpretive dance. I don’t care.

ALL you have to do is mention the work began as part of The Page One project and include my name. That’s it.

Today, launch day, it’s free to everyone. After this, Patreon supporters will get the pages before everyone else, but they will eventually all be posted here.

This is the most free use of a Creative Commons License I’ve ever done, and it’s exciting. The official license is the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (don’t worry, it’s a human readable link below, not fifteen pages of EULA.) If you have any questions, please check that page before you ping me, it really is plainly spelled out.

Page One for June 1, 2017, The Daughters’ Pact, is coming later today!

* Incidentally, so can I!

Creative Commons License
The Page One Project by Mur Lafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.