Thursday, February 14, 2013

Room 219

On BookRix, there are frequently contests.  I've participated in nearly each one since joining the community.  Before Christmas, the Vigilant One Champion contest was announced.  Anyone can enter, the story must be complete and no less than 5000 words, and each member can only have one entry.  The title of champion comes with a $500 cash prize!  Enticing!

Since December, I've struggled to get inspired for this contest.  The only judge is BookRix member vigilantone and he's funding the winnings personally.  He's the only person I have to impress and something about that made me excited.  The more I think about it, though, it's not really a good thing.

The point of me sharing this with you is because of the story I finally entered into the contest and posted to my profile on BookRix.  The story is called Room 219 and I consider it a controversial book.

More explanation is needed.  I started writing this story in October of last year, but had to step away from the idea after the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting.  Can you see where this is going?  I had developed an idea while sitting in my biology class about a week into the semester.  I had been hearing a distant noise in the hallway as my professor was lecturing.  It appeared to me that I was the only student in the class bothered by the sound, one I was having trouble identifying.  The storyteller in me ran with this.  I started imagining all the possible sources of the noise until I landed on one and thus, the foundation of my story was born.

It wasn't two days later I was doing research for the short.  I was watching YouTube documentaries, interviews, and archived news broadcasts, and consulted wikipedia/google to find out the kinds of details I didn't find in the videos.  After I heard out about the Aurora shooting, I found it to be a freaky coincidence and felt it would be 'too soon' to publish Room 219 so I stopped my research and the writing process.

Then Sandy Hook happened.

*inhale deeply*

The events at Columbine and Virginia Tech were tragic and senseless.  I struggled, through my research, to comprehend the state of mind of those shooters, the turmoil and hardship they had to've lived through to push them that far.  It's something I will never understand, no matter how many facts I see.  It's a place mentally I can never take myself.  That much I've accepted.  What happened at Sandy Hook...I can't even being to wrap my mind around it.

My hands are shaking as I type.

I have never before been so emotionally disturbed by an event.  You can say the fact that I'm a mother now has affected my reaction to the shooting.  Whatever the case, I was deeply moved the day of the shooting and I still am.

There was a point in the day, a few short hours after I'd learned of the shooting, when I was flipping through photos on CNN.  I saw a photo I will never forget.  A woman, standing next to her car in a grassy ditch.  She was on her cell phone and had just heard word that her someone she loved had died in the shooting.  The look on her face was indescribable and haunting.  So much despair; like the last tiny thread of hope she was dangling onto was severed.

That was it for me.

I close the internet, I stayed away from the news, I kept my eyes off the papers.  I still find it hard today to see the faces of the victims.  I've read books on serial killers and mass murders.  I've written about rape and torture.  I love horror and gore movies.  I can stomach that kind of stuff.  I'm that kind of person.  Sandy Hook is on a different level and I just can't stomach it and I refuse to try.

So since Sandy Hook, the idea for Room 219 no longer seemed in the least bit appealing to me, yet, the Vigilant Contest still taunted me.  When I exhausted a number of different story ideas, I revisited what I'd initially written for Room 219 and I finished the story.  What drove me to write it, I'm not exactly sure.

After reading over what I had written, and I think I've read it five or six times since completing it two days ago, I fought with myself, whether or not I could use it; bring myself to publish it on BookRix.  There had to be people out there just like me who couldn't stand the thought of another shooting, especially since there have two in my recollection since Sandy Hook. 

The only explanation I have for the creation and completion of the story is this: Room 219 is a story of redemption.  There's a hero.  The shooters (there are 3 in my story) are all stopped by one of the students who retaliates against them, and they're all stopped without deadly force.  Columbine, the shooters commit suicide.  Virginia Tech, the shooter commits suicide.  Sandy Hook, the shooter commits suicide.  Room 219, the shooters meet the long arm of the law before they meet a self-induced bullet.

Though the story I've written is completely fiction, I still feel the slightest bit of closure knowing that the made-up shooters in my story are getting what they deserve and couldn't take the coward's way out.  Though there was still death, there was closure.

For those of you who can muster it, above is the link to Room 219.  This story is not meant to offend or make a mockery.  It's started out as a playful idea and grew into a sort of healing device.

Until next time,
- Jess

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Jess.
    Indeed the shootings in Aurora and Sandy Hook took something out of us all, and to have gone back to a story begun before these tragedies must have taken a great deal of courage in a way. I haven't yet gotten to Room 219 in the long list of entries, but two things: I will, and best of luck in Jacob's contest!