Sideways: An Excerpt
By. J. Sloane

The room:  white, smooth, dead

Take one:

It starts in a room.  A white room.  A room so white that it might be a void.  Except for a door, a table, four cameras, and three people.

The door is unique to this room.  Located on the far side, to the left, the frame is about half the width of a normal door frame, people entering the room have to turn and slide along the wall sideways, exposing themselves to the door. 

This door is made of an unidentifiable achromatic metal.   The edges are scalpel sharp.  (I'm sure) more than one employee has lost a limb trying to get past the bloody thing. 

The table seems to have been carved from a block of marble.  There are no joints, the entire thing is smooth and lustrous.

Take two:

Entrance half the size of a regular doorway, slides shut, like a guillotine.

The walls, floor, and ceiling polished to a heavy gloss.

Far underground.

The woman was thin and severe, her face all angles.

The man was middle aged, grey hair, paunchy.  He was familiar.  I'd seen him give a lecture.

Take three:

The room was about 25' by 25' and all white.  [It was almost as if they'd enclosed a void.]  The one entrance worked on a complex biometric identification system and was set up like a guillotine, waiting to bisect those foolish enough to fuck around.

The table was made of flawless white marble, polished to a high gloss.

The woman was thin and severe, her face all angles, her fine blond hair pulled into a tight ponytail.

The man was short and doughy with a heavy monobrow and sweat stains under his sleeves.

The man was fairly tall and athletic.  Intimidating.  He might have been intimidating but for a weak chin and prominent Adam's apple. 

Take four:

He got too close to her.

In room.  Man and woman want info about girl.  Say they have her in other room. 
Take five:

I first met her in Boston, at a club called the Middle East.  I'd had a long, miserable day.  A job had gone completely sideways.  She caught my eye as soon as I hit the door.  She had long dark hair and frosty blue eyes.  He face was slightly flushed and her skin...

She was pale with frosty, shimmering blue eyes and dark hair that fell over one side of her face.

She was pale with dark hair that fell over one side of her face.  The hair couldn't hide her shimmering blue eyes.  I think she may have flushed a little when she caught me staring.  I turned away and headed straight for the bar.

Take six:

[In the room from takes 1-3]

The woman had pale skin, cold blue eyes, and fine blond hair.  The hair was pulled into a tight ponytail.  She wore a tailored black jacket, a black skirt, and severe white blouse.  Her lips were frosted with light pink lipstick.  Every movement was precise and controlled.

The man was familiar.  He often appeared on current affairs programmes as a "security consultant."  And he always spewed a line of bullshit. 

He was much bigger than he appeared on TV.  He looked to be pushing forty and had the build of an ex-football player.  He might have been intimidating if it weren't for two things: An extremely weak chin and a prominent Adam's apple.  Together they gave him the look of a trained seal who'd swallowed a ball.

He made the most of his ridiculous appearance.  It kept people off guard.

Still, I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing as he stalked around the room.

He said, "We have her you know.  And we'll get what we want eventually."

"I doubt it."

He made a face.

"She's playing you. 

I looked at the woman.  She looked back impassively.

I looked at the woman again, "Why is this fuck still here?  They can’t seriously think I'd talk to this asshole."

He stopped dead.  His face contorted and turned reddish blue.


"You heard me."

"You stupid little cocksucker."

He came up behind me and smashed my face into the table.  The marble came up hard and cold and everything went black.

When I came to, the woman was yelling and my mouth was full of blood.

The places where my blood had pooled and spattered had turned the table top [surface] into a piece of abstract art.

I slumped forward.  Up close, each splatter looked like a Rorschach blot [and they were all an aspect of her body - her thigh, her face, her nose, her lips...]  Each blot looked like a couple; fucking, fighting, killing.

I wrenched myself back.  My head started to clear.  The seal was barking, "He should be more cooperative now."

I spat a mouthful of blood at him.  It made a sloppy, stringy arc across the table and hit him square in the face.

"Jesus fucking Christ.  You stupid bastard.  I'm going to fucking kill you."

He reached for my throat. 

She’d had enough, "That's it.  Get out."


"You heard me.  This is bad enough as it is.  Look at yourself for fuck's sake.  Get cleaned up."

His face went purple and he broke into a sweat.  He still hadn't wiped my blood from his face.

"Out.  He is fucking playing you.  Get a drink or...fuck, just get out of my goddamned sight."

She sat directly across from me.  He eyes had changed from blue to amber.  A smile played at the corner of her mouth.

"Was that necessary?"

"Yes, he's a hack asshole, he always has been, and now he's lost his edge.  You know this."

[Her nipples were erect and playing at the fabric of the blouse.]

She became slightly less severe. 

"This girl, where did you meet her?"


She made a face.

"You know why I was in Boston, and you know what happened in Boston."

She sighed.

"Tell me about her."

"You don't have a file?"

"I want to hear it from you."