Write a scene where one person has a secret and is afraid of being found out.


Sci-Fi Seanachaí
Aug 15, 2021
Just posting this as an exercise from another thread by @Dragonlady about writing false Beliefs/ Misunderstandings, which was kindly suggested by @Mon0Zer0 :

You could have a scene exercise with one or more characters. For each character you ask the following questions (adapted from David Mamet):

1. What do they need?
2. What happens if they don't get it?
3. Why now?

Have the character or characters try and get what they need but something is preventing them. Think of obstacles that could stop them. In a scene with misunderstandings another person could be an obstacle.

Or - you could write a scene where one person has a secret and is afraid of being found out. Or where one person wants something from someone else but can't just ask them outright.
Gonna try kick it off with 'write a scene where one person has a secret and is afraid of being found out':

The lads are on to me, I know it. 'Why would I want to rob a piano anyway?'

'What piano?, what are you talking about?'

'Uh, nothing, erm., did ya see the rovers game?' Phew, that's put them off the scent.

'Yeah, it was a bit of class -what's this about a piano?'

Fuppin Gerry McLoughlin, the nosy flute. Always prying into other people's business. Better do something to change the subject.

'Hah, I figured there wouldn't be a knife left in any of the butcher shops this evening -what are ya accusing me of, hah -what makes ya thing I want a piano anyway?' Good thinking, that'll distract them.

'What are ya going on about John?'

'What I'm going on about is you being a backstabber McLoughlin.'

Why is everyone looking at me? How could they know. Nah, I'm being paranoid -there's no way anyone could know.

'Lads, it's a good job I'm not paranoid because ye're all staring at me.' To hell with this, I'm just gonna have to kill them.
You inspired me, @AnRoinnUltra. Was supposed to be a quick one but I got totally carried away! I SO should have saved this for a challenge!

The chirruping gaggle surrounded the office television. On the screen, war hero Walton Longshanks’ proud bronze bust stood vandalised, his immaculate flowing locks dyed purple, his dignified army fatigues daubed with rainbow colours, and his iconic riding crop turned blood red by a thick paint that streamed all the way down his leg and granite pedestal to a symbolically gruesome puddle on the flagstones beneath the statue.

News of his 'alleged' beating of several ethnic minority servants had only come to light yesterday. Social outrage had never been so quick out of the starting blocks.

Office opinion was as diverse as the gender, colour, and upbringing of the staff themselves; proud nationalists, fiercely defensive of Longshanks’ legacy; skinny latte liberals baying for the man to be 'cancelled'; middlegrounders, keen for the truth to be unearthed and made public, but only to the extent that Longshanks’ copybook be suitably blotted rather than run through the shredder.

Conspicuous by his absence from the conversation was ‘Snazzy Sam’, aka Solomon N’ketta, the cleanest and best-dressed member of the crew. As an outspoken gay man of African parentage, he was probably the polar opposite of the national identity Longshanks’ had fought to protect. This morning, he had surprisingly little to say, however.

“Whattup, Sammy?” asked Bree, the receptionist, peering into Solomon’s cubicle, straining the invisible tether to her lift-facing desk.

“Hi Bree… morning,” mumbled Solomon.

“What’s up with you today?”

“Oh, just feeling a bit under the weather. Tired, really. Didn’t sleep very well. I wasn’t out or anything, I just took ages to get to sleep, so much running through my mind… work… love life… world peace, you know how it is. Do you get that sometimes? I get that all the time. Well, not all the time, but sometimes. But I’m always focused for work. I’ll just go to bed early tonight…” Solomon grinned. “Erm, how are you?”

Bree goggled at him. “I’m fine.” And her gaze wandered down his immaculately panted legs. “Your shoes weren’t up to coming in today?”

Solomon glared at his lurid socks. “Oh yeah, sorry. I… stepped in dog… you know.”

Bree’s eyes wandered to the cubicle’s darkest corner, and the loafers peeking out from behind Solomon’s wastepaper basket. “Dog… carcass?”

Solomon followed her gaze to the decidedly red soles of his beloved Pennys, which he stared at for a good few seconds, mouthing any number of possible responses. “I know… Next door, they… The dog loves… gazpacho soup. Yeah, they feed him gazpacho soup all the time. So weird. And his… poops are… yeah, red, and…” Solomon swallowed hard, before his face crumpled into a wince. “I think you’re right, I should go home if I’m not well.”

Solomon quickly bagged his shoes and dashed to the elevator. Bree stopped him before he could step into the lift.

“Take these,” she said, handing him a pair of worn shoes. “They’re Dave’s – I was going to take them to the cobblers but… given the sun’s come up now, you’ll need something a little less incriminating to go home in. They’re probably a size too big but, they’ll do.”

Solomon took the shoes, and backed into the elevator, eyes wide. “Th…thanks.”

“It’s okay.” Bree winked at him as the lift doors closed. “Longshanks was a pompous arse!”
Timothy Glue stood rather than sat in his decompression room, while a man stood rather than sat outside of the door of his room. The man was saying something about neurotypical clairevoyance and Timothy glimmered from it a biting skepticism about the psychokinetic fascination of the mind. Timothy’s a smart boy, wears khakis and a wifebeater. He never married, but he gravitated toward asexualism- preferring instead to get his kicks from the release of stimulus of an assortment of endeavors. Including, cricket, backgammon, hurdy gurdy, portuguese, checkers, whittling, diving, darts, non-euclidean maths, automotive engineering, canning, cribbage, fermenting and bottling. You could say he’s autistic, a real genuine savant, and no real interest in people except, emphatically, people from Portugal. Yet, not the rich community that thrives there today- but the historical accountings of inquisiting catholic monarchs from the 14th centennial.

So he really couldn’t care less what the man was discoursing about. Despite a marginal interest in psychoanalytics, well, at least, the ideas of the earlier alienists, it didn’t really matter to him. It was humanist, and he, rather, was an abstractionist. What do I care about the goings-on of crazy people? For every man, woman, beast, and politick discarded him long ago.

“Kid, I’ll tell you something about me, and I know you won’t tell anybody, because of who you are. For that matter, you might not even hear what I have to say. But… kid, listen. Reason with me here, you scratch my back, etcetera.”

The man, meanwhile, was vulgar and crude. Big barrel chested, masculine, plump and a tobacco chewer. In all the world, he was really Timothy’s only friend. If he up and left one day, Tim wouldn’t notice. That’s why the man befriended the young and indifferent savant, and Tim doesn’t mind the man’s company if it doesn’t interfere with his strictly regimented schedule. The man frequently takes him out for a spell of cricket and darts and diving, when it strikes Timothy’s musing. Now, then, confide your secret, whatever your name is. Ralph? Abe? Clarence?

“Tim. The thing is, the thing is. I might have been lying to you. Yes, I, Al Clonny, lied to you. I came here to tell you the truth. I am a complete fraud, Timmy. It’s like this… I… wait, wait, let me get a chair. We don’t need to be standing for this. Let’s sit. Okay, there. Sit, yes. Listen, kiddo, I am not who you think I am. I am special forces sid, that’s savant intelligence division, and I would like you to listen to what I have to say. What we’re doing at work is top secret, so you mustn’t tell anybody, okay? We’re training savants just like you in the very typical and usual manner, with zootropical and holozoic chemicals. Our interest in this of course, is advancing rapidly. You might ask what our goal is. It’s pretty standard I guess, all the science fiction novels talk about it, but the difference is we’re really doing it. And I want you to be a part of it, kid, you would be a prime subject for our experiments. Particularly for you, we envision altering your body so that it’s thermal-nuclear, and maybe throw in an aqualung! Think about the diving you might be able to do with that. Don’t shake your head, kid, just think about it. We could make you a superhero. Do you like superheroes, boy?”

“Not really, no. I’m gonna tell on you. I’m going to write an article in the newspaper, and-“

“Noone will believe you.”
Do they know? No. They can’t know. There’s no way they can possibly know. Cameras are not mind readers.

Stepping through the terminal doors I adopt the same posture as everyone else. Shoulders slumped. Head raised. Scanning left to right till I find the departures board then, loose mouthed, wait for my flight number to appear on the board. I already know which desk to go to, but I have to appear like everybody else. They can’t know the organisation has somebody on the inside.

The terminal feels dead. A thousand fans blowing but still the air has that clammy feeling where sweat sticks to your skin. Darn it! Even my pores are traitors.

Will they pick up on that? They’ve got all kinds of facial recognition and gait analysis and temperature doodads for that exact purpose. I saw a stream about it. They detect traffickers by looking out for subtle physical cues. Body language. Nervousness. Intoxication. Heart rate. The AI’s assign each a probability. All those little tics add up. You hit the tipping point and BAM! security’s on you faster than green grass through a goose.

I check my watch. Too early. Should have left home later but the wait was killing me. What if I’d hit traffic on the interstate? If I’d have missed the flight, I woulda been a dead man. Just my luck to pick the one day she was clear as a bell.

Is that right? Are bells clear? Maybe if you rub them. Maybe if they’re made of gold or silver or… glass? Do they make bells out of glass? They could do. Take a wineglass, turn it upside down. Cut the stem off but make the whole thing bigger. Clapper out of soft felt so it don’t break. Chunnnng. That’s the sound it’d make. Like hitting the hood of a car underwater. Chunnnng.

I’ve been standing too long. I should really sit down. Normal people sit down. I make my way to the seating area opposite the desks. I’m lucky. There’s a space next to some old folks. They look like they’re from Iowa or Nebraska or somewhere with corn fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. Green sheaves that turn gold at the ass end of summer. Big skies and bigger sunsets.

I can’t do it. They’re going to want to talk to me and I just can’t handle conversation right now. I want to pace but I can’t. Instead I lean against an advertising hoarding. Beavis, Rentacar with a buff man in a swish neon suit, all square jaw and smug smile, leaning against the car door of his new Edison-Model ZZ. I don’t know why he’s so smug. It’s only a rental.

Breathe deep. Not too deep. Don’t want to hyperventilate. Be here now. Green sign. White floor. Yellow desk. Wheels on linoleum. The clickety-clack of mechanical boards updating. Then I see it. Mars Jezero Crater. Desk A-six opening.

Holograms on the reception desk glitch into life. Impossibly attractive women of indeterminate ethnicity. Even their skin colour is hard to make out as it sparkles translucent in the air.

The air companies haven’t quite mastered hologram technology yet so the receptionist’s eyes don’t properly focus on you. They look through you just as you look through them. Stereo cameras mounted in the desk ceiling act as their eyes, staring down at you with the cold, indifference of a computer.

“Are you okay, sir?” It says in that perfectly neutral mid-western accent.

“What?” I reply.

“I said, how are you, sir?” General American I think they call it.

“Oh, I’m good. I’m good. Excited, you know. It’s my first time…” I laugh nervously but the impression I have of myself is that I’m braying histrionically. I can’t seem to gauge what level is normal. “...in space!” I turn to check the reactions of my fellow passengers standing in line but a row of disinterested faces meets me.

The receptionist doesn’t seem to know what to say to that. It stands there and blinks and in the background a routine is telling it to move onto the next stage of the script. To an outsider it must seem like a conversation between two entities stuck at the lowest point of the uncanny valley.

“Anything to check in?”

“Just the one bag.” I place the tan overnight bag onto the scales before a robotic arm attaches a sticker to the label. It’s not much for an eighteen month trip, but then my real payload is up top, embedded deep in my skull, in the connections between my neurons. It’s playing havoc with my sense of self.

It’s been a few moments since anyone said anything. The receptionist speaks again, “Your passport, sir?”

“Ah, yes. Yes, of course.”

I rummage through the detritus of my pockets and a thought hits me. What if I’d left it at home? In my haste to end the waiting at home I just upped and left it on the… but here it was, in the place I always put it, the inner pocket of my suit jacket.

I place it on the barcode scanner and a phantom copy appears in the receptionist’s hand. It checks it, looks up to check me, then back to the ghostly passport. My image seems distorted. It doesn’t look like me.

“Is there something wrong?” I ask. The receptionist continues to cycle through the routine of checking me then the passport. After a while, it flickers then the cycle is broken.

It looks up and smiles the traditional broad, insincere smile of the American service industry, “Thank you, sir.”

The passport releases and I replace it back into my suit jacket.

“I’m sorry we cannot validate etickets today, our systems are down.” It says,“Please accept a paper copy. A donation has been made to the Las Plagas municipal re-planting fund to offset its brown-use value. Have a pleasant journey and thank you for flying Interglobal.”

After check in I head for the toilets to freshen up. Hit the faucet and splash water all over my face, It feels so cool against my skin. I examine myself in the mirror. The face is the same as the one in the passport but it seems so unlike my own. Almost alien. I wonder who this person really was and how the organisation got the body. I wonder if they’ll recognise me on Mars and if I’ll be able to prove I am who I think I am.
This is something that I wrote a while ago. I'm afraid that it might not be very good even in context.

Caldwell took a sip from his drink. “I don’t suppose I could get you to turn your talents to one of my problems.”

Sarah gazed at him. “I’m willing to listen.”

Caldwell explained that Sub-Chancellor Mendel was plotting something involving an alliance with the other human settlements. While Caldwell was concerned about remaining Head Chancellor if Mendel’s plan involved going against him, it was clear that he was genuinely worried about keeping Letestadt strong enough to stand on its own.

“This city has decent defensive capabilities, but I don’t think you’ve had to test them against anything but vampires,” Sarah said. “What do you have against vempari magic or Hylden technology?”

Caldwell narrowed his eyes. “Why do you want to know?”

Sarah shrugged. “From what I can see, all humans have going for them is raw tenacity and that works better in large numbers. Mixed communities also provide inroads to peaceful relationships with the other races. Power struggles aside, I do agree with reaching out to your neighbors.”

“So, you won’t help me.” Caldwell finished his drink. “I suppose that I should be grateful that there’s nothing magical about your persuasion skills. You’ve given me good advice over the years, but in this case you are wrong.”

Sarah pretended for a moment that his criticism troubled her because she did need to compose herself about the insinuation that he knew the truth. After a brief brush against his mind to confirm that it was coincidental, she telepathically reached out to Chixiksi and he reminded her that the man had the right to go to hell in his own manner.

“It’s for the best that I stay out of your internal affairs. You knew my opinion about children being hurt, but it was still wrong of me to lose my temper over an orphan,” Sarah said. “I’ll ask for advice about helping you with Mendel, but I must warn you that everyone I trust for that is displeased with you.”

“Because of the orphan?” Caldwell asked.

Sarah pursed her lips. “They are unhappy about that, but you also threatened Catullus. Keturah is still furious that you even considered trying to harm her son. I suggest making some gesture of apology.”

Caldwell frowned. “Is she likely to threaten my sons in return?”

“She’s not like that, and I managed to calm her a little,” Sarah said. “Keturah is simply at the end of her patience and it is not a good idea to anger sorcerers.”

“I will consider your advice,” Caldwell said.
“What exactly is going on here? Will you just tell me, OK?”

10PM and the wedding bash was in full swing, Guns and Roses blasting through the sound system and thousands of fairy lights blotting out the stars of a clear summer night in rural Hampshire. Kieran finally tracked Sally down behind the marquee next to the empty beer casks. She was crying but he was freaked out, and the tears just made him angry.

“See, I believed you when you said your folks were dead, and your sister was in Australia and couldn’t afford to fly. But I was talking to your Aunt Grace and it was like she barely knew who you were. Your cousins keep calling each other by the wrong names and getting embarrassed. Your Uncle Silas was hitting on Jude, who’s supposed to be his daughter, for crying out loud! It’s not like I can look them up on Facebook, ‘cos you think it’s ‘Government mind control’. Are /any/ of these people really your relatives? And what’s this ‘no photos’ nonsense all about?”

“Look, it’s not easy for me, all right?” Sally snapped. “I just wanted a big wedding with all my family around me, but you can’t have that when you’re in Witness Protection. You have no idea what I’ve been through, or what those people are capable of. And I hoped I’d never have to tell you.”
He had been sitting in the meeting for two hours. He knew it was inside him and he couldn't let it out. The climate police had nicked him once, two years back, at his sister's wedding. His cousin, the little goody two shoes minx, had grassed him up to the authorities.
He had gone behind the reception tent thinking he was safe but she had heard him through the thin canvas, and immediately filed a report on her stasiphone.
He received a 50 credit fine for exceeding his allowed methane footprint for the year and was also put on a corrective low legume diet regime.

Now there was another one waiting. Pressure building by the minute.
He should have known better. Last night he had helped himself to a second dish of lentil stew.
"I can control it," he thought to himself. But then they called this damned meeting. He had had to present his report on the solvent release risk from drying biro ink.
"...Therefore I recommend a complete transition to digital signatures." he concluded. The stress now probably apparent on his face.
The committee seemed satisfied and the meeting was closed.

He rushed to the washroom and shut himself in the cubicle but he wasn't fast enough, others came in. Even if he 'released' silently they would know. God this was all so embarrassing.
Then he suddenly remembered a tale his grandfather had told him from his schooldays back in the 20th century.
Getting out his lighter he lit it and holding it in the appropriate area let go at last. There was jet like roar for about two seconds and it was accomplished. No methane and No odour. Brilliant!
He was just feeling pleased with his inventiveness when the alarm system and went off- yayayayaya, and the pa system announced
"Excess carbon in cubicle 3"
With a resigned expression he pulled up his trousers and awaited the arrival of the climate police.
Fresh onto the screen, though I've been thinking about a scene like this for a while before the prompt. I realize that it's from the perspective of the person who the secret is being kept from. Archimedes is a vampire and has time-powers, Sarah has mental powers and interferes with predestination. Tanyanika also has mental powers.


Archimedes was slightly disoriented when he awoke. He did not remember falling asleep, but his inner sense of time let him know that it was the middle of the night. His sire was sitting in a chair beside his bed. As much as Archimedes hated caring about another person, he also felt delight at his presence.

Archimedes opened his eyes and turned toward Ozker worriedly. “What happened? Is it the state of change?”

Ozker snorted. “I think you’re still too young for that. Don’t worry about what happened.”

Archimedes wanted to trust his sire, but it was his duty to worry about things. He tried to draw on his power to view the past and see what he was doing before, but he winced as he felt a warning twinge of a stunning spell.

“Don’t,” Ozker said. “You don’t want to know. You asked for that.”

“It was Sarah, wasn’t it?” Archimedes asked.

“Who else?” Ozker asked.

Archimedes knew that his aunt’s handiwork could be clumsy. Prodding at the seals around his memories was unpleasant, there was a promise of pain beyond them, but now that he was aware of the mystery he couldn’t help himself. It was like trying to keep his tongue away from a mouth sore. “Where is she?”

Ozker shifted uncomfortably before answering. “We felt it best that she handle it.”

Archimedes’ attempts to look into the future were a failure. He normally couldn’t predict what Sarah would do, but he should have been able to see what would happen if she didn’t get involved. He realized that he’d had trouble focusing for several days and he was slow to notice that his attention was slipping. He only collapsed when he tried to use his time-windows instead of gazing directly with his own ability. “Which of her annoying talents called for her involvement?”

“Tanyanika might have been able to solve the problem, but you know how she is about discretion,” Ozker said. “The whole Circle would have known your secret. Sarah will make you forget this when you return, so sleep.”

Archimedes felt his eyes drift close without him willing them to. He had never been commanded by his sire before today and was ill-equipped to fight it, but he stopped trying because he realized that Ozker was trying to help him. Before sleep overtook him, he felt a pang of guilt for placing a burden on his sire that he was unwilling to bear himself.

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