I guess I’ll take the weekends off for the month, unless I have time on one of the other weekends. I like the premise here and may try to clean it up and submit it somewhere, or eventually expand it to a full novel/novella.

The Ugly Duckling Story Structure
Continuing our look at story structure, today I have a structure based on the story of the ugly duckling.
The prompt
Write a story based on the Ugly Duckling structure

How To Write An Ugly Duckling Structure Story
Write a story based on the ugly duckling structure, with a life-changing moment or realization or event that comes in the middle.

<— Write Below This Line —>

It’s another day in paradise. That’s what we tell each other anyhow. Every day when we step out of our rooms to face the day we tell each other it’s another day in paradise. None of us know when it started. Truth is, we don’t know much of anything.
I know this life. Getting up, saying it’s another day in paradise. Going to the small room to eat, going to the big room to ride. Back to the small room to eat, and back to my room to sleep. I don’t know anything more. I don’t know how many days in paradise there have been. I don’t know what happened to the person a little while ago who stopped coming to the small room to eat. I don’t know what there is to not know.
I want to know. I want to know why we say it’s another day in paradise. I want to know why we ride in the big room whenever we are awake. I want to know how many days we’ve been riding. I want to know why I cannot go to a different room. I want to know what happens when we stop coming to the small room.
I want to, but I can’t. When I open my mouth to ask someone the only thing I say is that it’s another day in paradise. When I try to stop riding I cannot. When I try to go to a different room after we eat I find myself in my room. I can’t know. Instead I return to my room after another day in paradise.
Something isn’t right today. The door is open. It never opens until after I am ready for the day. Today it is open and I just woke up. Every day I wake up, get up, get ready, and the door opens. I haven’t gotten up yet. I am awake, the door is open, but I am not getting up. Something is definitely wrong.
I start to get up and feel my ear sticking to the pillow. I turn my head and see red. My pillow isn’t supposed to be red. I look around. The room looks right, except the pillow. And the door. I get ready.
The water is red when I wash my head. My right ear. It hurts a little, on the inside. Putting my clothes on feels strange. They don’t fall gracefully into place. I struggle to get them fastened. This is not right.
I step outside to say it’s another day in paradise. Nobody is there. The hall is empty. The doors are all open. I go to a different room. It works. I can go to a different room. I know it’s a different room. The pillow isn’t red. The number above the sink is different. I go to another room, another. Room after room all with different numbers and white pillows. I don’t say it’s another day in paradise. I don’t say anything.
I go to the small room. It is almost empty. There is a plate of food in my spot. I open my mouth to speak, but don’t know what to say. I look around again and still see nobody. I go to my plate and eat my food. After I eat the plate sinks as always. I look around again, then go to the big room.
Here they all are. All the other people are riding. The noise is deafening. This is wrong. There has never been noise before. I cover my ears without thinking and the sound becomes bearable. I look around. My ride is empty. Nobody looks at me as I go to look at it. I sit, but I cannot ride. As soon as I take my hand off my ears the sound hurts. It takes hands and feet to ride. I go stand by another person. I bump them, but they keep riding.
I notice a door on the far side of the room. It opens when I walk up to it. When it closes behind me I can take my hands off my ears. I know what to say now.
“Hello?” The sound of my own voice shocks me. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t speaking in unison with everyone else. “Hello?!” I look around and see nobody. I see nothing but a hallway in front of me.
Click. Click, click, click. Click click click click click. Clickclickclickclickclick.
Lights appear in the hallway. They start by me and extend to a bright spot in the distance. I follow them. I can’t help myself, I need to know.
At the end is another door that opens for me. Inside is a chair.
“Please sit.”
I didn’t see anyone. “Hello?” This is not right.
“Please sit.”
I sit down. “It’s another day in paradise?”
“Hehehe. That won’t work for you anymore. Let’s see here…”
In front of me part of the wall fades, words and numbers forming in it’s place.
“Looks like you’ve been in there 3 years, 7 months, and 22 days. One of our shortest times.”
3 years, 7 months, and 22 days. I know how long. “My, my pillow was red. The door was open and my pillow was red.”
“Yes yes, that’s what you tell us when you come out. It’s not your fault. The implants have a failure rate just like everything else we make and remembering tends to tax them to an early failure.”
“The other pillows weren’t red. They were white.”
“I see. Had you looked at the other pillows before?”
“No. When I thought about going to another room before I always ended up back in mine.”
“Yes and no. The implant told the room who you were and gave it the right number. We find that tends to stop the decline more often than overriding your steps. Makes corralling the displaced unit a pain in the ass though.”
The rooms changed. I was able to go to another room. “I just wanted to know.”
“That’s interesting. Usually when someone ends up here they feel wronged. They think we made a mistake so strongly it overrides the implant. Often they’re right.”
Others have come here. “The ones that stop coming to the small room. They come here?”
“You got it. The lighting in the gen room covers their exit quite well, but they come here.”
“Gen room?”
“You call it the big room. It’s a generator.”
Generator. We ride in the generator. “I know now. I know why we ride. “The generator is paradise?”
Muffled voices. “What? Paradise? No, the facility is owned by Paradise Power. The generator is just a generator, and far from paradise.”
“Far from paradise?”
“Yeah. Look. Your case is going to be examined. If everything checks out you’ll be set free. If not you’ll restart your sentence. In your case that’s, let’s see, 50 years.”
“My case? Sentence?”
Muffled voices. “Yeah. Look, buddy. Something is different here. The implants usually fail due to strong feelings of innocence and remembering why you are where you are. You don’t know what’s going on at all?”
The voice sounded distressed. “I wanted to know. I know now, I can go ride again.” I just wanted to help the voice. “All I ever wanted was to know.”
A door opened to the right.
“Look. Go through the door on the right. I promise everything will be figured out. Either you’ll get to ride again, or you’ll know more than you could ever imagine.”
I stood up and looked around. I saw the words and numbers. I looked at the door. I know now. I know enough now. I walked back down the hallway.

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