Today’s prompt was tough. Every Friday we are supposed to take a premise from a well known novel and make a new story. This is hard for me because I always picture the original storyline. Eventually I came up with something though. Enjoy!
Right On Time
Mr. Billingsworth hated to be late. Possibly even more he hated being early. Right on time was the most satisfactory choice. He always showed up to work on time, without fail throughout the entire thirty years he’d worked for the railroad.
Team members were not allowed to be late or too early. There were clocks over everyone’s workstation, in each bathroom and the break room. If he could be right on time every day for three decades his employees could do the same. Each person would be allowed second, third and even fourth chances for mistakes in every other aspect of their work, but there was zero tolerance for tardiness. He installed five time clocks, one for each of his subordinates to ensure it and stood hawk-like over them to make sure his men logged in right on the hour and not a second too soon.
When his team was tasked with implementing the scheduling program for the new driverless trains built in his city his love of timing wove its way through everything they built. Mr. Billingsworth tested and retested every aspect to ensure it was perfect. If a train arrived too early then people could miss it, risking being late for their job, which was unthinkable. If it was too late than the city’s workers would be penalized for tardiness or even fired. He refused to have either scenario hanging over his head.
After the new trains had run for a few months Mr. Billingsworth started riding one to work. He had the utmost confidence they wouldn’t let him down. On the third day of this as he waited for his train the newspaper he was reading slipped from his hands onto the tracks. Alarmed he checked his pocket watch. It read 7:57. Since he had a full three minutes he stepped forward and picked up the paper. When he realized the train, which had arrived prematurely was about to hit him he felt no fear, only anger that it was early. Perhaps he shouldn’t have allowed those extra chances for his employee’s mistakes.
As his spirit left his body and floated up he held on to his ire until he found himself standing before the pearly gates.
St. Peter smiled at him. “Ah Mr. Billingsworth, you’re right on time.”
Write a story that revolves around a character with a ‘fatal flaw’ who, as a result, commits a fatal error that has a tragic result. Use a frame story to reinforce the flaw.
(Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley)
I was convinced I wouldn’t come up with a thing. I couldn’t decide on a flaw. I had no character in mind and Frankenstein was taking over all my thoughts. So I started thinking about people I know and their ‘fatal flaws’, myself included. I really do hate to be late, passionately. To the point where it can be a problem. I’m always early, probably too early. Somehow with those thoughts Mr. Billingsworth was born.
Sidenote: I said that name to my husband and asked him what he thought the character would be like. He said he pictured a monocle and a hat, basically the monopoly guy. Add a pocket watch and that’s Mr. Billingsworth exactly!
Rough draft 380 words
Photo by Ryan McGuire