Third Shift


  Third Shift began as a project I used to pass my time as I worked at my local Wal-Mart during the late stocking shift. Every night there was a different adventure it seemed. The turnover rate for employees was very high so I had the opportunity to hear a lot of different stories from many different people. This combined with my own imagination seemed too perfect an idea to pass up on. Also, with a fictional Wal-Mart being the main location, it practically writes itself.


  Structured similarly to movies like “Employee of the Month” and “Waiting”, Third Shift attempts to capture the weird happenings of colleagues during the holiday season at a superstore.  The main character starts out working as a cashier during the day and is having troubles getting to work on time. If unable to start correcting this, he will be moved to third shift. As the movies name implies, he fails to make it on time and he gets pushed to third. Why is this a punishment? I guess because without it, a lot of the plot devices would not work. So, movie logic?


  As Black Friday looms, the whole store is in high gear and the brunt of the work is being pushed to the late night stocking crew. Moving out old stock and rearranging the floor to accommodate new, things start getting hectic while everyone attempts to juggle their new job duties as well as the increase in customer traffic. With this increase, strange characters become more common as well. There would be recognizable faces, actors cameo as themselves or playing one of their iconic roles(think Jay and Silent Bob standing out front).


  The main character, Sam, lives with an old friend of his, and his friends daughter. This daughter is incredibly smart, far more so than her father or the main character and is not afraid to voice it. She watches the morning news before she goes to school, makes her own breakfast, and forms very mature ideologies based upon what she sees and hears. Even though she is only 12-14ish, the cast basically ignores that she is far more intelligent than those around her and just brush off what she says as ignorance with a “How could you possibly understand” kind of attitude. Her limited interactions with random patrons outside of the main cast really allows her character to shine. As the main story happens around Christmas, one of the other workers asks her if she has been a good girl and what she would have Santa bring her. Enraged that she should believe in Santa, she goes on a tirade about how she was insulted and begins to berate the very idea. She vows to one day overthrow her government as well, so of course that has to happen.


  The antagonist is the stores GM. He has a serious problem with Sam’s work ethic and instead of just firing him, makes a game out of finding new ways to make his time at work miserable.  There have been a few ideas thrown around about him being part of an underground coupon ring where he has all of his elderly door greeters sitting around a table making counterfeit coupons.


  Most of the ideas that are going into this at the moment are very scattered, and in no way near completed. This is posing a pretty big problem in the writing process as every time I start to make headway in one area, I get pulled backward into another. Luckily, I do have a very good friend helping me on this one. He has agreed to take on the project with myself to clarify some of the jokes and make a cleaner cut story arc. He gets the job of listening to my inconsistent rambling and give his thought on the jokes and character interaction.


  The further into the story we go, the more it seems that “Third Shift” could do better as a mini-series instead of a feature length movie. There are just so many gags to add in and to properly follow the story arc, the standard hour and a half just might not cut it. It would have to be condensed and a lot of the important themes would be cut out. Instead of being a wonderfully structured look into a brilliant cast and setting, it could end up faltering into a heap. The aim here is not so much to be commercially successful, but to leave a lasting impact and to pay proper homage to to the comedic writers that have inspired the idea behind Third Shift.


  Up next, a look into “Amser”. Currently a side project about an immortal time traveler, “Amser” is a collection of short stories that follow my main character who shares the same name as the title as he interviews people from different time periods, mostly other characters from my other stories, and gathers their outlook on life.
John Rohlf


I have been writing as a hobby for a few years now, starting my first short story back in 2009. It started out very different from what it has become. What was once a story of a teenager finding himself at the mercy of a curse, eventually turned into two separate ideas. One becoming what is now Vessel, the other has been put on the back burner for the time being, but to me, it is the most exciting of the two. BUT, we are here to talk about Vessel, so…


The idea stemmed from the thought of someone being tortured by an unseen force and how exciting and terrifying that could be. It is my hope that not knowing why this character is being harassed and not knowing what this being is hopefully creates an exciting and engaging experience for the reader.


 I have run into a few peculiar issues while trying to write for these two vastly different characters, but that’s what makes writing so enjoyable. It is a welcomed challenge to get inside of someone else’s head, even though that person is really just an extension of you.


Now, A little bit about the characters. The man being harassed is currently named ‘Blake’. Although I am not entirely sold on the name, it has not changed in a few years so it looks like that is what his name will be regardless. At the beginning, he wakes inside a room with nothing more than a journal in his coat pocket and many names written upon the walls around him. Blake does not have very long to compose himself before Shrowd begins testing the limits of his mental state.


“I am unsure of what to believe. Everything that I see or hear seems to be nothing more than a hallucination. Even now my sight deceives me. The ink from my words disappear into the pages as soon as I lift the pen only to return once I quit writing. But I must never stop.”


 Since Blake has no memory, everyone of them he is forced to relive are witnessed in a “clean” state. With no past to justify his actions, he doesn’t understand why he chose to do the things he sees, and with no control over his actions, he is unable to stop what is happening. What worries him most, is that he actually enjoys it while it happens.

As the story develops and the reader falls deeper into the story, Blake’s past life, the reason Shrowd (the being that is tormenting Blake) is there, will be revealed in a series of memories that Shrowd pulls out of his mind, each becoming increasingly more vivid as they near the present.


The only problem I have with Shrowd’s name is the spelling. I want to spell it differently than normal, but I feel as if this could distract the reader and pull them out of the story every time they read over it.


 He is meant to be an incredibly snarky character, one that is very blunt in his accusations and very forward in his delivery of opinion but not so abrasive that the audience hates him. Shrowd is very much a cynic, a reflection similar to my own thoughts, except his outlook on the human race is much worse and he uses every opportunity to show his disdain.


 “This is how you remember humanity, blindlessly going about life without a single care for those around them. I have to agree with you, such a feeble existence, never exposing themselves to anything new.”, Shrowd responded with disgust and a scowl.,  “Pathetic creatures.”


 Shrowd has been around since long before humans ever appeared on earth, so he has been able to watch them. Generation after generation, they would grow old and die while he is forced to continue existing. There is certainly a feeling of envy he feels over their mortality, and he can be very emotional about it.


“Who are you that are given this gift and fear it? You throw away your life trying to outrun it. Why will you not simply accept it? The one thing I can not have, the greatest gift I could EVER receive, and you hide from it?”


Soon, I will be revisiting Vessel,but if you have any questions about the progress of it as a whole, or any other questions really, feel free to send me a message asking, I will try to answer them all in a future blog post. I am trying to keep certain aspects of the story vague, but I also want to give everyone enough information to get you on board. I hope I have found a nice balance.


Once again, thank you to all of my readers. Your continued support is greatly appreciated and I can not wait for you to see more from Vessel. My next Blog will focus on “Third Shift”, a screenplay of a comedy set inside a Superstore during the night stocking shift.


John Rohlf