Last week a writer friend of mine challenged me to write 10 pieces of flash fiction in 10 days, with each piece being the opening hook of a story. The opening scene of a story is where you either win or lose. Readers quickly choose whether or not to keep reading based on the first few paragraphs. As a result, the hook is one of the most important parts of your entire novel.
I’ve decided to share these short pieces. Leave a comment to let me know if you were hooked or not.
One Chance Bus
The constant drumming of raindrops almost covered the hissing of the buses tires. It was a gray day in Lagos. The storm had started before sunrise, and showed no signs of stopping. Already the roads were flooding, the coke bottles and KFC boxes clogging their narrow drains.
Oluwe jumped backward as the yellow bus slid to a stop beside him. The door clattered open and the bus driver peered out at him from under a drooping black cap.
“Oshodi-Oke, one chance!” He shouted at the line of people standing on the side of the road.
Oluwe grabbed the side of the door, jabbed his elbow into a woman’s shoulder, pushing her back onto the curb with the rest of the crowd, and swung up into the bus.
A few drops of rain splashed into his face and ran down the back of his shirt, raising gooseflesh on his arms.
An angry cry sounded behind him, but he ignored it. He wiped raindrops out of his eyes with the back of his hand.
“Fifteen naira.” The bus driver pointed at a perspex box mounted to his dashboard and Oluwe dropped a trio of five-naira coins into the box.
“At the back,” the bus driver said as he ground the gear lever into place and the bus lurched away from the curb.
Cold eyes followed him as Oluwe made his way down the middle of the swaying bus. A woman with a lean, hard face glared at him. She had a dark purple scar that ran from the corner of her mouth to her ear. She had an upside-down cross tattooed on her neck. Oluwe smiled at her, trying to break the tension, and she bared her teeth at him.
When he reached the empty seat in the last row of the bus, he lowered himself into it with a sigh. When he was in school all the popular boys had always sat in the back row, as far away from the teachers as possible. Oluwe had never been invited to sit in the back with them.
“It’s wet out today,” the man next to Oluwe said.
“Must be a monsoon.” Oluwe smiled at his companion. “And on a Monday too.”
“Yes, but at least the dams will fill up.” The man scratched at his collar, dragging the purple cotton down and exposing the top of a tattoo. An upside down cross.
Oluwe stared at it for a moment, then tore his eyes away. A spark of fear ignited in his belly. It wasn’t that unusual for people to have tattoos anymore. But he’d heard the stories of people getting onto a bus full of thieves and getting mugged and beaten up. But those were just urban legends, nothing like that really happened in 2014.
He looked at the other passengers sitting close to him. No tattoo on the woman in front of him. Nothing on the man next to her.
There! On the man two rows ahead. The same tattoo.
Oluwe’s skin prickled with gooseflesh again.
That’s all there is in One Chance Bus for now. If you’d like to find out more about what happens to Oluwe and the bus full of strange cultists, please leave a comment here or on Facebook. Thank you for reading!