When The Gods Wish To Punish is the sweet story of Sandra, a teenager who loves her boyfriend Dean so much that she wishes her parents would leave them alone, and they can be together forever. Her wish is granted. She, and the residents who are at home in the middle of a workday, are stuck. They can't leave. They can't even think about leaving.
Dean, the other half of the sweet romance, is a heroin addict and kind of a douche. What follows is mayhem, torture, pet eating, and lots and lots of time.
But at heart it's a sweet story (for a given definition of sweet).
The genesis of this novella is twofold:
First, I wanted to write something outside the Isaac's Story series, which is going to run 15 books and take a long time to write. The idea was to do a series of stand-alone novels, like Twilight Zone episodes, to cleanse my palate and keep me entertained between series novels.
Instead I found I would either have to increase the word count on my little palate cleanser to a fairly large novel, or accept that it was a series of novellas. I chose the latter.
Second, Buffy. Of Vampire Slayer fame.
An episode called Older and Far Away had Dawn (Buffy's magic kinda-sister) wish for everyone to stop leaving her (or something) and so everyone was stuck in the house. They wrapped it all up and there were no consequences at the end.
I thought at the time and I've thought since: What would happen if they couldn't get out for a month? A year? Ever? Joss Whedon could crap a better a story than I'll ever write, but he couldn't explore what would happen if the wish was granted and was never un-granted. (He could now, of course, because he owns the box office)
I can explore it, however ham-fistedly.
My original ending would have taken place around 2030 or so (roughly when Clearly I Remember is set), but I had a problem. Some of the people I had planned to exist in my little cursed world were probably going to give up and kill themselves. Or get really angry (Dean) and kill others. There was no way to let the clock run down on my lovely ending (a quiet, sad moment when a maintenance robot finally remembers that the thirteenth floor exists and goes up to clean it. Upon finding Sandra's diary it decides to keep it as a souvenir, before cleaning up the mess and erasing the lives of the thirteenth floor. I know, it isn't as good, but I like sad endings sometimes).
So even death couldn't let them escape, and that opens up a world of possibilities. Go read the book and see where they ended up and how they got there. Go, now. Read it, I'll wait.
You done? See, I told you it was a sweet story. A love story, really (with stabbing, electrocuting, impaling, etc.). Girl loves boy. Boy loves girl, but is a douche. Girl gets over boy. Boy gets douchier and things escalate. Girl finally gets rid of boy.
That's how a sweet love story works, isn't it?