Saturday, December 1, 2012

"The Last 1000 Words of a Novel" - Flash Fiction

This is a flash fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig over at

                "Tell me what I want to know," he said finally. "And you know damn well what that is."
                The Hunter fidgeted slightly. Then, raising his chin up, drawing weight onto his bulky shoulders, he said, "Fuck what you want to know."
                George felt the outline of the knife in his pocket, just to make sure it was still there. "Tell me, you bastard," he snarled.
                The Hunter simply stared at him. It was hard to say whether there was anger or confusion in his eyes, as if he was really thinking it over.
                "Too late," George said under his breath, but not before he brought the knife up to The Hunter's neck and--
                The Hunter swerved it from his wrist suddenly in a motion too fast for his eyes to capture, and in a blur of images turned so that George's back was to him, and The Hunter drew his forearm around his neck, the cold touch of steel sending a shiver down his back. Kicking The Hunter's shin with the back of his shoe, he grabbed violently at the knife and struggled to wrest it into his grasp. The Hunter wailed out, and threw a fist into George's face that momentarily blinded him and sent the knife spinning off to the side. George swore and flung his body to the knife, when he heard a shout come from behind one of the large white marble pillars that held up the building.
                "I thought you were dead," said the man, slowly coming into view.
                In an instant George recognized the voice, and all the strength in his arms suddenly went out as his heart dropped like an anvil.
                "Yes, cut the surprise. It's me," said Michael. He was the man behind all of this. But George couldn't figure out why, and his mind wrestled with putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. But there were some missing.
                "How...?" was all that he could say.
                "It's quite easy, really. But oh George, it's so sad that you didn't listen to me. Tragic, really. Didn't I tell you to trust no one?"
                "But... you."
                "Think about it. Did I not tell you, before I sent you off on your mission, that you would be involved in one of the biggest operations carried out for years? I don't think it ever came to you the immense magnitude of it."
                "I still don't understand. Why you? What could you get out of this?"       
                "Ah, well that's the simple part. The Hunter here sent one of his--terrifying, I must say--men to my office, offering a truce. The terms were a little to skimpy for my taste, but I could see reward off in the distance, a bit far-fetched, yes, but I was halfway through the tunnel and the light was getting closer. I felt this--have you ever felt anything like it?--nagging feeling in my gut, like half anxiety half ambition. It's a stomach thing, buried deep in there. It's so intense that you can't eat, that you can't think about anything else. And you think of the reward--oh, the time I spent daydreaming..." For a moment he stopped, as if to do precisely what he was describing. His eyes, grey as ever, looked suddenly like a stranger's, and all George felt in that moment was sad.
                Not even disappointment or betrayal, not then. Only sadness. Betrayal was merely the action, the movement that set everything off, but it was not what he felt now. Betrayal wasn't something you could feel. Betrayal is meaningless if there is no output or medium through which you translate it into a pseudo-tangible feeling. And the output now was sadness, sadness for the friendship with this man he had thought he had, destroyed so abruptly, so insensibly. And it was a hopeless sadness, so deeply penetrating and utterly bleak that it seemed to spread to every inch of his body like pitch-dark, dense, thick oil. It left him impotent in its wake.
                "Yes," Michael continued, "and I grabbed hold of the opportunity. But can you guess the obstacle in my path that prevented me from getting my reward? Can you guess who that was?" Not waiting for an answer, he went on, "Yes, it was you. You, who still thought that it was your mission, your duty to get rid of The Hunter and his posse of barbarians," he put extra emphasis on the word duty, as it if was something completely stupid and childish, something that only the helpless and deluded strive for.
                "Well why didn't you just kill me then?" George spat. "That would've made everything a hell of a lot easier for you. You lying bastard, why didn't you just kill me!"
                "Can't you at least figure that one out? Why would I subject myself to a torrent of investigations that would eventually lead to me, when I could make it look as if you got yourself killed on your own? And that's where The Hunter here came in."
                No, George thought. This would not be his coup de grace. He would not die here, not now. He sprang up.
                And Michael fell down.
                It came without thought or warning, and George jumped backward when he heard the gunshot, thinking it was aimed at him.
                But it was Michael who fell. The bullet went straight through the back of his head, and killed him instantly.
                Another gunshot, and The Hunter, who had been standing there by the side in case George tried anything, fell too.
                For a moment he thought he would be next. They had killed (whoever they were) two already, why not him? He quickly scanned his surroundings to look for a hiding place, and saw one behind a large pillar in front of him. He almost began toward it but his head was still intact, at least as far as he could tell. And as he looked around for his savior, he spotted Emily emerging from the darkness.
                And he smiled.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


By the time that I sensed hope starting to fade, unwillingly, from the twins’ faces, the grief hung in the air like an almost tangible presence. It had been three days since the disappearance of the cat, and the “search parties” started diminishing in number, but they were growing more frantic when out in the fields. The loss was fresh in their big brown eyes, painfully remindful of the reason for which they grieved. I hadn’t even known the cat had meant so much to them, had been so indispensable to their happiness. I played back memories in my head, then, and almost punished myself at the realization of the truth, seeing all those moments that I hadn’t quite registered properly, in which they would come home and run immediately for the cat, calling its name in a now poignant display of affection, and love. Kids are resilient, I kept telling myself, they’ll bounce right back--but that didn’t absolve me of the knowledge that I was doing so little to help. It’s just a lack of motivation, I thought. That’s all this is. Or do I simply not care? If truth be told, I was leaning more toward the latter.
        Not that I was averse to the cat; not at all. It was a perfectly fine pet; I’d just never grown particularly close to it, and not at all when compared with the twins.
        I was becoming increasingly mindful of the situation at hand, however. And not the “cat’s gone, must find it, bring it back, be happy,” situation, but the “cat’s gone, probably dead,” one, the real one. There was no chance of my saying that to the twins, so I turned my attention to Anne, the cause of all this gratuitous strife. She was, as always, hiding her real emotions. And instead of acting like she perfectly well knew that what she did had been a terrible thing, like she knew atonement was in order, which she should have, she opted for quiet, almost ignorant indifference--which, to me, was nearly an insult in itself. Not at me, of course, but at the twins. I felt badly for them--perhaps even a little too badly, and felt she needed to make some kind of effort toward absolution. It was the least she could do.
        “You know what you did, right?” I said to her one morning.
        “What?” she queried, and I noticed she lowered her head slightly.
        She could not have picked a worse answer. “Oh, drop it. All of this is your fault. Did you even know there was a reason for our constant stressing not to leave the door open?”
        “Well, of course you did. We’ve been saying it all the time, to remind not only you, but everyone else that there’s always the possibility of the cat escaping. And look where we are.”
        And as I had expected, she answered by murmuring excuses, as if they would make her feel better. “I was only mopping the floor. And for a second I left to get the shoes that were washing, so they could dry. I thought I had closed the door.”
        “Do you think that now?” I said.
        She didn’t respond.
        “Do you?”
        “No, look--I thought I did.”
        “Honestly, at least say you’re sorry.”
        All of this I was telling her not for my own peace of mind, but for the twins’ sake. I didn’t even care that the cat was gone. In a way, I was relieved. But I still felt for the twins, even though I was making no effort to try to consol them. It was enough that I had a constant nagging guilt, for no good reason. None of this was my fault. I also felt a strange duty to enforce house rules; and right here was perfect proof that negligence would lead nowhere but calamity.
        Reverting back to a more normal tone of voice, I said, “Have you guys gone out yet today? It’s already mid-afternoon.”
        “No, we haven’t. I’ve been working, and there’s no time for it,” she said.
        “I think this is more important than anything else you’re doing”--and there was that annoying sense of responsibility again, despite the fact that I already knew the truth. So why was I pushing so much for futile efforts?
        “It’s dead, I’ll bet,” I said suddenly.
        An emotion, fear, finally peeked out from her barricade of deception, and it was clear on her face. I felt a strange sense of satisfaction at that fact.
        “Well, I still have hope,” she said, defiantly, as if she knew the real truth.
        “Your hope is useless, just so you know.”
        She didn’t respond.
        At that moment the twins walked into the room.
        “What are you two doing in here?” I asked them.
        “Nothing,” Daniel answered.
        “Nothing,” Colin repeated.
        Both their heads hung low, the telltale signs of recent crying written all over their countenances. With their shoulders sagging on top of that, they looked a sad bunch. I almost didn’t have the heart to say, “And well, what’s with that? Why aren’t you two outside looking for your lost cat?” My inability to express the real emotion behind my words made me sound mean, rather than simply trying to motivate them to go outside; granted, I didn’t have the greatest method of motivation, but it was all I had. And so it came as no surprise that they misinterpreted my meaning, and instead took it to offense. They ran.
        It angered me, though, that they went about the house crying, sulking all day, instead of trying to fix the problem in the first place. Despite the circumstances, their lack of discipline, and to put it bluntly, flat-out hypocrisy and indolence, did little to increase my sympathy for them. In fact, right at that moment, I felt like scolding them; but I resisted the temptation. I knew it wouldn’t do any good, especially in a time like this, when they closed their ears to everything but words of pity and sympathy. It was frustrating, more so than one would think in a situation like this, to see their unwillingness to help; their expecting everyone else to do the work for them. And it was for their own benefit, not anyone else’s.
        Still, they refused to go outside, the motives for which they also refused to disclose.
        Thus went on the next few days, save for the odd burst of lamentation and sorrow; until the third day, when I saw Anne walk in through the door with an unusually painful expression on her face. I knew what it meant.
        And it was no surprise.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Random Vignette

    He looked down at the table as if waiting for an answer to leap up at him without further troubles. The palm of his hand was resting on his right temple, and he looked down at the paper in front of him, tired. Then he sat back and looked up at the ceiling as if the early hour was weighing him down. He was working on a paper that had been handed out days before; and it was due next period. He was stressing out, and he could barely keep his emotions bottled up inside, but he suppressed that feeling. He was quiet like a brick wall with oceans of contents inside, and right now the waves were crashing furiously.
    “Do your homework right after it gets handed out,” his father had always nagged him. He had never listened and had always procrastinated to the last minute; not unheard of amongst teenagers, but he couldn’t help it. The thought of his father stung him. He brushed the memory aside and continued working on his paper. It’s due next class, it’s due next class, he thought. The thought of it resonated inside his head. He could not think clearly with such pressure pressed upon his shoulders, and until then he had been incredibly naïve about his homework. It wasn’t entirely his fault, though. His older brother had set a bad example for him. He decided that he would change once and for all; a moral epiphany, a sudden catharsis, and a stress that always seemed to keep coming back being his three obtrusive motivations.
    Right when he was starting to actually begin working, the bell rang. He was done for. He stood up and straightened down his jacket, his shoulders up high, tense and rigid. What would his father have said? And suddenly the paper didn’t seem so important anymore.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Story - Continued #2

Martin was still sleeping by the time the bus reached his house’s door. He heard the inevitable honk of the horn, the angry shouts of teenagers inside the yellow vehicle, and his eyes flew open. He was going to be late for school--again. Immediately he got up and started to get ready, shuffling through mounds of clothes in his closet. He picked out the first things he saw: a blue shirt, camouflage shorts, red shoes, and long, green socks, throwing them on as he did so. Then he heard the unavoidable and disheartening low rumble of the bus growling out of the street. He sat himself on the edge of his low bed. Another day that he would be late for school--he was as inadvertent with both his time management and his responsibilities as his father had been when he had abandoned his family. This had happened when Martin had been a small child, no older than seven years old, and it had carved a hole in his heart. He didn’t care any longer, though. It was no use grieving over something that had happened years ago, and either way, he had never seen much of his father anyway. He’d never been home, leaving Martin, his mother, and his sister to live alone.
    He spaced out for a few moments and then jumped up. He was too lazy to take a shower and he headed downstairs, where his mother was just now preparing breakfast. He wasn’t the only one who slept in. Strange, he thought. His mother was never late to anything, and she was always adamant about the importance of organization and watchfulness. “You never know what might be lying just around the corner, ready to pounce,” she’d say.
    He sprung down the stairs, taking two at a time and nearly tripping when he got to the bottom landing. He turned left and headed for the kitchen, the smell of warm, creamy pancakes wafting through the air. His mother was sitting down on one of the chairs facing the opposite wall, waiting to turn over the pancakes. Martin knew that by now they’d probably be burnt. It was almost routine to burn pancakes in his home, almost like a family tradition.
    She didn’t hear him approaching.
    “Morning, Mom,” Martin said.
    “What? Oh--hi. How are you?” She asked.
    “I’m fine, but the bus left without me again. I slept in and didn’t what time it was. How come you didn’t wake me up?”
    “Sorry sweetie, I had slept in as well. It won’t happen again, I promise. Okay?”
    “Okay.” But he knew that it would indeed happen again. Ah, well.
    She looked exhausted and had dark bags under her eyes. She was staring at nothing in particular, apparently lost in thought and unaware of her surroundings. Martin asked, “Everything okay, Mom?”
    “Yes, Martin, I’m fine. You don’t need to worry about me,” she snapped all of a sudden. Martin looked taken aback and he took his seat on one of the chairs surrounding the small, white table.
    “All right Mom, I was just asking. No need to get all prickly,” he paused and took a look around the kitchen. “Where’s Emily?” He asked, noting her absence.
    “Oh, I don’t know, Martin. She’s a grown lady now, no need to worry about her either. What’s with you today?” She said angrily.
    Martin looked at her, confused, and said, “What’s wrong with you?” He wondered what she was so angry about. He tried recalling what they had been about doing last night but couldn’t remember seeing her at home. Weird, he thought. “You know what, never mind. I think I’d better leave. Don’t want to miss out on an entire class again.”
    “Go, then. The car’s not working so you’re going to need to walk.”
    He stood up and quickly grabbed one of the pancakes that were cooking. It was hot and it burned his hands. He cursed and walked towards the front door, scoffing down the pancake as he did so.
    Once he opened it he looked around at his surroundings. Everything around him was pearly white, covered in a sheet of fluffy, white snow. It was winter time again, and he loved it. He loved the snow and he loved taking long walks, trudging through the cold environment. He told himself that he needed to go to school but, by fault of his naïve immaturity and pervasive laziness he was willingly forced to go the other way. He headed for the woods, his favorite place to be in when it was winter.
    He pushed through the snow that entered his shoes through the small openings and melted as he took each step, crunching the snow beneath him. The snow was about a foot high and there had been a snow storm the previous night, although it hadn’t lasted for very long. It was freezing and the moisture clung to his pants as he walked through. A frigid, piercing, cold pain wrapped itself around his shins as it always did when it was winter. The feeling was sharply painful but over time he’d adjusted to the cold and as he unfocused his mind, his thoughts wandered and the cold became a given, almost imperceptible to his mind. He looked around at the houses and the forest. The roofs were covered in snow, clumps of it plopping down onto the houses’ gardens, making a soft noise as it made impact with the sheathed grass.
    Martin loved the serenity of winter, the breathless silence as the wind flew past in cold gusts and froze his cheeks. The calm of the air and the unbroken peace as he walked past helped clear his mind and he took a deep, long breath.
    The road cut off into a dead end a few yards ahead of where Martin was standing, leading into the dark woods. Inside there was some snow strewn about in uneven patterns, giving clear way to a dirt and leaf-filled path. Martin peered inside and looked back at his house. He made his decision and stepped into the dense undergrowth. He trudged through piles of leaves and hopped over veins of tree roots that snaked through the ground. Small animals made noises as he approached, some scuttling away and others chirping in the frosty cold. The trees had given shelter to the forest the previous night and little snow had sneaked its way inside the woods. As he continued walking through he spotted a small pond to his right, almost frozen with chips of ice covering most of the water. For a moment he was tempted to stick his fingers inside it and see how cold it was, but he turned the idea over once more and decided otherwise.
    Far off in the distance, as the trees slowly became more spread apart and less abundant, he could barely make out a subtle inclination that very sloped steadily upwards, the top of the crest hidden behind the tall leaves. He set off thither.
    Slowly he came closer to his destination until he could finally make out the zenith of the rugged hillside. There were large boulders spread loosely around the hill. The sun shone down on his face, blocking his view and causing him to see colors after looking away. He waited a few moments and steadied himself. Slowly, without looking up at the sun, he began his ascent towards the top of the hill, after which he would sit there and look out at the neighborhood and surrounding houses, a perfect view rendered possible by the high top. He had done so before and he could stay there for long hours, watching the birds fly by or the sun drift out of sight, orange and melancholic in the sky, peaceful and resonating a calm effect. Martin loved coming here, and sometimes he would bring his friends with him, soon having to leave due to their short attention spans. Although he greatly enjoyed being with his friends, he preferred spending his time alone on this desolate yet accessible hillside.
    The small mountain was covered in snow and Martin was struggling to get to the top. Oftentimes he had to stop and catch his breath, continuing his journey a minute later and stopping once again after another thirty seconds. The snow was already icy, causing him to slip and have to grab hold of one of the boulders that were closest to him. Small rocks jutted from beneath the earth, and with the augmented difficulty of both obstacles, he found himself constantly slipping stopping to rest for a few moments.
    Suddenly the soles of his feet gave away and he fell hard on the rough and snowy bottom of the hill. Before he had fallen his ankle had twisted, causing him to lose balance and slip. He groaned loudly and cursed under his breath. A blinding pain surged from his right ankle. He held it up with his hands, clasping it tightly and jerking his body back and forth to relieve himself from the pain. And then all of a sudden he found himself slipping even further, down the hillside at a steady speed. The bottom lay a long ways down and felt around wildly for something to grab on. He desperately clung to anything he could hold on to, but apart from the small rocks that did little to nothing to prevent his fast descent, there were no boulders in range to stop his fall. He felt his ankle twist even further multiple times and he cried out in pain, now frantically grabbing for anything. Snow flew into his eyes and mouth, causing him to lose his sight and cough from the water that entered his nostrils.
    Before he knew it the bottom of the hill was a few yards away, and by now he was diving head first into unknown hindrances. He flung his arms forwards so as to prevent anything from hitting him in the head, but it was no use, and he soon made vehement impact with one of the large boulders that lay ahead, quickly stopping the pain and turning everything around him to black.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Story - Continued

James finished packing up his things, shuffled through one of his drawers to find the keys to his car, headed for the front door of his apartment and went outside. Locking the door behind him, he turned right on his heels and headed down the hallway, after which he set off down the stairs of the building. His right leg was hurting him and he was not in the best of moods. He took steps two at a time, ignoring the pain, in a hurry to get to his candy shop and open it for the day. He’d slept too late in the morning and had had to skip his morning coffee. He was still drowsy as he got to his small car and turned the ignition on.
    The drive to his candy shop took five minutes, and upon arrival he quickly sifted through his set of keys, struggling to find the right one. Once he found the correct key he clicked the door open and walked inside. It was light outside, the sun shining fiercely overhead, and families were walking about, observing the stores in the outdoor mall as they passed by them. Many had small children jumping around in excitement and James waited expectantly for the families to begin strolling into his store to peek a look around.
    He walked behind the counter and sat on his stool. People continued walking by. Some couples, many families, the occasional lone stranger wandering the mall aimlessly. Finally someone noticed his shop and walked inside. He greeted them heartily.
    “Good morning to you!” He exclaimed to the pair of children that had walked inside his shop. They looked no more than ten years old, one boy and a girl. They looked at him briefly and proceeded to run around the modest candy shop in excitement. Their parents were trailing behind, looking James up and down. A forty-year-old man managing a candy shop always proved to be an odd sight for people. They continued staring at him as the children scrutinized every piece of candy ecstatically, moving along to the different assortments and displays. 
    “May I be of help to you?” He asked the parents, trying to be as polite as possible. His eyes followed the children who still were jogging around the store. They had yet to pick out a favorite candy. James enjoyed watching them as they made their decisions, shook their heads, debated to each other about which was the best candy, agreed to disagree, and continued meandering through the shop.
    “No, thank you,” they smiled. He knew those kinds of parents and of their clear over-protectiveness of their children. The father ran up behind the boy, picking him up in his arms and plopping him on his shoulders. The boy let out a rage of wild laughter. James smiled in spite of himself at the sight but quickly stopped when he caught the woman eyeing him uneasily. He walked behind the counter and sat down on his stool. He rested his hands on his chin.
    The children made their decision and brought the candies to the counter. James smiled. “Ah, yes, those are very good ones. Good choice,” he said amiably, typing in the price on his cash register. The children beamed. They waited anxiously as the man behind the counter checked in their candies, resisting the urge to grab and devour them right then and there. He avoided making eye contact with the parents. They were still gazing at him curiously, not knowing exactly what to make of him. He fumbled with the candies, dropped them in a plastic bag that had the logo of his candy shop on it and handed it to the children. They didn’t bother saying “thank you,” simply sprinted out the door, dragging their parents by the hands after they had paid the check.
    “Thank you for your purchase and have a very nice day!” He called out as they were leaving the store. They didn’t hear him. He sighed and sat back down on his stool.
    The day wore on. The blistering sun penetrated his windows and rendered the room agonizingly hot. He stared out hazily through the windows. The people in the sidewalks continued on through the day, shopping for their summer paraphernalia. No one noticed his shop. On a scorching summer’s day such as this one people didn’t bother to eat candies. They all flowed in the direction of either the food courts or the soda machines, shaded under the roofs. They sat there drinking their sodas and laughing, all deep in conversation.
    James felt lonely. He missed the days when he could enjoy a family day out by the lakes near his old neighborhood. His child smiling and leaping into the water, his wife sitting next to him and enjoying the day under the sun. Going out to a restaurant after coming home and drying up. Reading stories to Timmy as he slowly drowsed into a deep sleep.
    That had all vanished years ago, causing James’s life to become a swirling vortex of pain and suffering, never to end and having abolished completely his formerly idyllic life in which he had a happy family and a stable job. The divorce had been the root of James’s misery, soon to be augmented by a tragic loss that would make him believe life to be useless and a painful paradigm through which he had to trudge incessantly.
    Five years later, he had lost his former job after having his work habits go down the drain, opened up a candy shop and now resorted to selling candies to children every day. He loved kids and was happy every time a new one strolled into his shop, and they were the only reason that he still bothered to open up each day, even though it reminded him of the absolutely devastating event that had taken place years ago. He had improved over time, both in attitude and motivation, but the gaping hole in his heart still lived on, and he was forced to undergo the constant grievances in life with no remedy to lessen his pain.
    He closed up for the night. He had gotten few more customers, all families that he had gawked at. He started up his car and headed for home. He was exhausted and once he got to his apartment he flopped down on his bead, ignored the fact that his clothes were still on. He soon drifted off into the world of dreams, where his constant ache was not present.

    James was excited. After three long, dragging months, he would finally be able to see his child. He quickly got his keys and headed for his car. He revved up the engine, flying down the avenue towards his destination. After the divorce, he had scarcely ever seen little Timmy and he prized every second he could spend with the boy. He loved him more than anything in the world.
    Finally he arrived to his ex-wife’s house. She lived in a big home, accompanied by another man that she had soon married after the divorce. He hated her and could hardly tolerate the few moments he had to spend with her. He shut the door behind him and walked up the driveway. He knocked twice and waited. After waiting for a few minutes, a woman opened the door.
    “Hi. Where is he?” James said, trying as hard as he could to bottle up the brewing emotions he had for her.
    She stared for a minute and answered dully, “He’s upstairs. He’s packing up his things, he’ll been down in a second.”
    James didn’t want to have an awkward conversation and he restrained himself from opening up a discussion. He waited impatiently, anxious to see his son. They would do the same thing they did every time they saw each other: go to the zoo, go out to eat at a restaurant, and drive back home to stay up late and watch movies until the small hours of the morning. James was aware that it wasn’t healthy to lose sleep like that, but he treasured every moment that he had with his son and couldn’t help but accept his pleas to stay up for just a few more hours, and then a few more, and a couple more until the sun began to rise and they were so tired that they simply crashed on the couch. In those circumstances, they always ended up having lunch at three in the afternoon. Timmy loved staying up late. Tonight they would watch his favorite Disney movies. James couldn’t wait.
    At last, Timmy came running down the stairs. “Bye!” John, his ex-wife’s husband, yelled down the stairs at the boy. Timmy didn’t respond and flew up to his father’s arms. He smiled and dropped to the ground.
    “What took you so long?” He asked playfully.
    “Sorry little buddy, I had some work to catch up with,” James smiled back at him, “You ready to go to the zoo?”
    “Always!” He bellowed.
    “What do you want to see first? The bears?” He looked at Timmy and grinned, snarling as he said, “Or the lions?”
    Timmy giggled. He loved the lions, even though they scared him to bits. It would be a wonderful day.
    “Well, bye,” James said to her.
    There was no response as she slammed the door shut.   
    They went to the car and got in, Timmy in the passenger seat. They soared down the streets towards James’s apartment. They would go to the zoo by subway, only a three minute walk from his apartment.
    Once they arrived at his flat they pitched their coats and such to his couch, heading out the door immediately after. After the zoo they would go eat at a restaurant so they didn’t need to take any snacks. In any case, they always bought some candies at the zoo’s small grocery store that was situated by the entrance
    “You excited, Timmy?”
    He nodded happily. James couldn’t help but smile. He loved being with his child, as scarce and brief as those occasions were. The divorce had been rough. His son was the last thing left in the world that he cared about and he would do whatever possible to keep him happy.
    Soon they were walking down the steps to the subway. Timmy always loved going by train, another one of the reasons that they decided on this mode of transportation rather than by car. They hopped down the steps, walking quickly to get their tickets. The train would leave in about fifteen minutes. They wouldn’t waste any time and they boarded the train. There were few passengers inside, everyone still outside shuffling to get their tickets. Among the passengers were a woman searching for something inside her purse, a man with a hoodie and earphones on looking at the ground blankly, another child sobbing softly as his father threatened to punish him immediately as they got home, and a group of loud, rambunctious teenagers messing around. James ignored them and focused on his son. He sat down on one of the green seats, giving off a soft whoosh as he plopped down. James sat down next to him and they waited in silence for the train to take off, counting the minutes.
    Slowly and one by one the passengers advanced into the train. The train was still quite empty but more crowded than it had been before. Soon every seat was occupied and people saw the need to stand up and hold on to one of the poles stretching from the ceiling to the floor.
    James performed a perfunctory inspection the passengers on board. His eyes trailed from east to west, taking in the sight. He was curious and studied the people. Some played on their cell phones, others were listening to music, and others stared blankly at the windows and what lay in front of them.
    Suddenly a commotion at the far right side of the train broke out. One passenger had created a disturbance and several people moved away, uneasy. Then the real trouble broke out. A thief had stolen a lady’s purse and was heading for the door. He was moving passed people, pushing them aside to get to the entrance of the train. Some tried to stop him but he pushed passed, throwing them aside. One man fell to the floor. Women screamed and children backed away from the scene, terrified and wide-eyed. The man was only about a few meters away from James and his son when he decided to take action. James stood up and planted his feet firmly on the ground. Women continued to scream as the man approached, struggling to get passed the dense crowd. Soon he was right in front of James and he eyed him threateningly.
    “Get out of my way!” He yelled. Hands grabbed at him but he punched them aside, desperate to get away.
    James said nothing, simply stared at the man, determined to stand his ground. The thief tried to push passed but James shoved him back. The man continued bellowing obscenities when he saw the child sitting next to James, frightened, his fists clenched and at his chest. He barged forward in an attempt to get the child and he grabbed hold of him. Everything happened in one second. James surged forward, enraged, his fists ready to lash out at the thief. He wouldn’t let him take his child. He wouldn’t.
    With a quick movement of hands, the thief expertly drew from his jacket what looked to be a knife, glinting under the dim light of the train’s overhead bulbs. He picked the boy up and held him with his left hand across his throat, the other gripping the knife tightly, aiming at the boy.
    “Don’t move,” he said.
    Where were the hell were the guards? thought James. He looked about frantically, calling out for help but receiving no reply. Some passengers gasped. Others continued to back away and watch the scene cautiously. 
    “Dad!” Cried Timmy. He was sobbing uncontrollably. “Help me, please…” His voice trailed off as the fear caught up in his throat.
    “You shut up,” snarled the man. He squeezed his throat and the boy yelped.
    Then a group of armed guards were running down the steps, uniformed in black outfits. They sprinted towards the train, guns at the ready. There were about three of them, trying to get past the crowds of people still by the ticket stands. They yelled for them to move aside.
    The thief was still grabbing the child by the throat. The guards were too far away. They wouldn’t get to the vehicle in time. James rushed forward impulsively, reaching for Timmy. But he was too late. As he saw him reaching for the child, the thief quickly slid the knife into the boy’s chest. Tears were flowing down Timmy’s cheeks. Then he gasped and in one lone second, one ugly, revolting second, James’s world fell apart. The thief twisted the knife inside the boy’s chest. It was too late.
    It was too late.
    James felt his knees buckle. He fell under the weight of his own shock and he stayed there. He stayed there, on the floor, his fists flying through the air in rage and coming back down to hit the ground. He screamed. He screamed again. And again.
    Time seemed to seep out of his hands, a merciless goo that determined his fate. Movement around him slowed to a crawl. Out of the corner of his eye he was able to make out the guards racing for the thief that had run away. Then he lost control of his vision and everything around him crumbled apart. His little Timmy. His precious, innocent little Timmy. The only person he loved in the whole world. His reason for trudging on day after day, to be met by the same monotonous grief that had overcome him years ago. “Timmy…”

    The heat was making him drowsy. He was beginning to fall asleep when a group of teenagers walked in the store. He eyed them wearily.
    “Yes?” He inquired.
    They didn’t answer. There were three of them, one girl and two boys. The girl stayed at the door and stared at James. The other two went down both aisles of the store and took as many compartments of candy as they could. It all happened in less than ten seconds.
    “Hey! Stop!” It was no use. Soon they were out the door and vanished into the crowds of people. Some stopped to look at them and some moved away as they shuffled through. James looked down the concrete path. They were gone. He sighed,  angry. Without thinking about it, he locked the door behind him and he began walking. He left the outdoor mall and came to a stop in front of a road. Three blocks down and to his right was his destination. He strode down the sidewalks and not long after the subway was in sight. He was oblivious to his surroundings, determined to get to the train station yet not knowing why. His mind was blank, his movements were empty and lifeless.
    He felt the ground give way to a flight of stairs. He almost tripped but caught himself in time. He took a step down, and then another. He continued down until he was able to spot everything around him. The ticket stands were to his right, the entrance to the trains to his left. He headed towards the latter. He was surrounded by people of all kinds. Most of them were gibbering away with their friends or families. He was alone. He followed a group of adults that were heading for the trains. They took no note of him as he walked clandestinely and quietly behind them. They were talking about their jobs and about how annoying and infuriating it was to have to take their boss’s insults every day, but they had no choice because they had families to feed. The other ones nodded in agreement. They all looked solemn and concentrated on getting to wherever they were headed. Their motions were robotic. They walked quickly. Soon they were upon the entrance to the trains, and as one of the men squeezed through the small entrance, James was able to slide in behind him. There were few guards around. None of them noticed him slipping in without a ticket. The group of adults met once again and headed for the train. He trailed behind them but broke off, leaving them be. One of them turned around and caught James staring at him. He looked him in the eye for a few seconds and then turned back around, gathering with his group. They were all wearing suits and ties, some carrying briefcases. James slumped his shoulders and continued on.
    The doors hissed open before him. He walked inside and turned right. There were few people inside, most of the seats adjacent to the windows empty. He held on to one of the poles jutting out from the ceiling. He rested his right hand awkwardly against his thigh as his left held on to the pole. He was looked out one of the windows in front of him with his back facing the doors to the train. He had lost sight of the group of adults that he’d followed. He squinted, trying to spot them outside. They were nowhere in sight. The doors behind him slid open, letting a passenger in.
    James began turning his head when he felt a piercing blow to the back of his upper neck, and before he had the time to think about reacting, he was on the floor, unconscious.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Story - Intro

I haven't forgotten about my detective story, I've already finished it and will begin on the final draft probably in a few weeks. I began writing this one yesterday, and this is all I've got till now. The plot hasn't developed, at all, yet, but this is just an introduction to the life of one of the main characters that it's going to have. I haven't spell checked it or anything so forgive me if there are any errors in grammar, spelling, etc. Cheers...


    While he was slipping on his work uniform, David heard his phone ring. He picked it up from his bedside table and answered it. His best friend’s voice rang through, sounding sort of concerned.
    “Hey Dave, what’s up?” Piped Jack, his friend.
    “Nothing, getting ready for work. Why are you calling?” His voice carried a nervous and reserved tone, as it always did.
    “Just wanted to know if you were doing okay. Started seeing a pattern in all of your bruises and injuries. They always seem to be worsening after you come back from work. Those guys still rough on you?”
    “Yes,” He murmured.
    “I thought that had ended before you went off to college?”
    “It had, but only because it intimidated them to be around a guy who’s going off to college. Once I dropped out it came to them that I was just the same loser I’d always been, and the--as our boss calls it--rough-housing continued.”
    “And he doesn’t do anything about it?”
    “The only thing he cares about is that the day’s work gets done and the customers attended to. He could care less what goes on behind the counter.”   
    “Lounges around in his office, eh?”
    David didn’t respond.
    “I don’t get it, why do you still work at that dump anyway?”
    “I’m not good for anything. Why do you think I dropped out of college?”
    “Why don’t you get another job?” He asked, curious and puzzled.
    “No. Can’t be bothered. And you know I don’t care for interviews. Don’t like people getting into my life.” His sentences came in short intervals. He sounded hurried.
    “You let me into your life,” Jack said facetiously.
    “I didn’t so much let you in as I was forced under my will to go out and meet the new kid on the block. Yeah, and how was that pie my Mom made for you?”
    “Can’t remember a thing from our childhood. I can only remember having grown up and gotten used to your dry attitude. Anyway, good luck at your job.”
    “Thank you for wasting my time for no particular reason. Right then, I have to go to work.” He hung up the phone.
    He dreaded going to work but he knew that he had no choice. He’d been working at Burger King for three years before going off to college to study business administration. Turns out he wasn’t suited for the job and he dropped out soon after. Without any place to go, he rented a cheap flat and went back to working at that burger-frying dumpster.
    After brushing his teeth and looking at himself in the mirror, he scurried outside, closed the door, and went down to get his car. It actually wasn’t even his. His Mom had lent him her car after he dropped out of college. She felt sorry for him but asserted that if he were to survive in this world, he had to at least get a job and learn how to earn money. Thus, the same cycle he had gone through since he was seventeen ensued. Just my luck, he thought bitterly.
    He flew down the highway without realizing how fast he was going. He put in a Slayer record, turned up the volume, and proceeded to drive as fast as he could, unaware of and oblivious to his surroundings. Luckily, no cop had followed him. He turned up at the small parking lot next to Burger King, turned the key and walked outside, slamming the door before him. Another day, another nightmare.
    His work partners were nowhere inside. He walked up the steps and went in the restaurant. It was empty, save for his manager who’s door was closed. There was a soft humming sound coming from within his room. Sounded like music. David wished he had that job.
    He started turning on everything in the kitchen, warming them up to start the day. Then the door slammed open from the outside. It was Ben. He said nothing to David as he walked towards the kitchen. He looked at him, chuckled softly, and walked past him, elbowing him in the gut as he did so. David sucked it up. He’d gotten used to the pain.
    “I see you decided to come to work early today, huh, buddy?” Sneered Ben.
    David stayed silent. The tension grew between the pair.
    “Don’t think that just because you came here early you will be awarded the privilege of not being thrown around by your favorite people in the whole world. You’re helping us, David,” continued Ben, “You are our daily entertainment. And we immensely appreciate it.” He flashed a dark smile at him.   
    Still, David remained silent. He began to get to work. The first customers would be coming in soon, as with the rest of the people who work at Burger King.
    The second to come in, after Ben, was Molly. She was the only one who didn’t bully David around and he appreciated it. She was short, stubby, and usually said nothing throughout the day. She didn’t want to get in the middle of the fights. She smiled at David and began to get to work. Ben was sitting at the back of the kitchen, playing a game on his cell phone. He took no note of Molly’s entrance.
    After Molly was Arthur, who performed the same ritual as Ben, subsequently mimicked by the next person to walk in the door, Max. After him came in the rest of the group of workers, all of whom constantly terrorize David. He was used to it and, over the years, had figured out a way to tolerate it. It was simply to stay quiet, not make eye contact, ignore their remarks, and go on through the day as if nothing at all was bothering him. This only succeeded in aggravating his work partners even more, but he didn’t care. If it was able to make him survive throughout the day, that was all he needed.
    As he was serving up an order of fries, David was tripped by Ben and he fell harshly on the cold, filthy floor. He fell face first and the taste of blood filled his mouth. Everyone behind the counter, except Molly, laughed hysterically at the incident. They followed Ben like blind, ignorant sheep who need to be guided, or else they would become largely errant and without knowledge of what to do next. Molly simply stared at David. A hint of sympathy was showing on her chubby face. She tilted her head slightly the way people do when they feel sorry for someone.
    David looked away, got up, and walked briskly to the bathroom. Once he got there, he turned the tap and started rinsing off his face. He was used to this kind of thing, but he knew that he’d get in trouble with the manager after everyone blamed him for the costumer’s complaints. He didn’t like inconveniences and treated them accordingly. David would lose at least a week’s pay after this. He heaved a sigh and went back to work.
    The rest of the day continued on fairly uneventfully until David was asked to take out the trash to the dumpster. He obeyed his orders, picking up the large bags filled with trash and heading for the door at the back of the restaurant, behind which was a dark alley where there lay nothing more than a dumpster and the occasional stray, lurking cat who scavenged through the day’s waste.
    He walked down the steps and towards the green dumpster at the end of the alley. There were no sounds except for the quiet scuttle of a rat scurrying to get away from the approaching human being.
    It felt cold.
    He flung the bag behind his back. It hung there loosely, bouncing against the back of his legs as he strolled towards the dumpster. The sky was already dark, the lights of the city turning on slowly, one by one. There was a lamp hanging from the street adjacent to the alley, illuminating light away from it. The moon was hidden behind gray clouds up in the sky. Little light from the street lamp was able to scintillate the narrow passage and David struggled to see through the dark. He made his way through the blackness and reached the dumpster. He tossed the black bag over the dumpster, hitting its steel bottom with a loud thump.
    Suddenly he heard a noise from behind him. A door creaked open, clicking as it was shut softly. He couldn’t see who it was. He squinted through the darkness. A bright flashlight was turned on, blinding him momentarily. He looked away, listening to the several pairs of footsteps approach cautiously. They made no noise other than the soft sound of their shoes hitting gravel.
    David couldn’t move. His feet were glued to the ground, despite his efforts to try and make a run for it. He continued straining his eyes to see through the dark. The flashlight blinded his vision; he couldn’t see past it.
    The footsteps continued approaching, their owners giving off nothing but silence. David estimated that by now that they must be only a few meters away. He forced the words out of his mouth. “Who’s there?” He called out, frightened and shivering.
    There was no reply.
    Suddenly he felt a sharp pang of pain on his lower side. They had thrown an egg at him. Its contents dribbled down his pants. He ignored it, still concentrating on the bodies looming through the darkness, drawing nearer every second. Another egg was thrown, this time hitting his upper chest, barely missing his chin. He called out again, once more to be met only by the same dark, chilling silence.
    Suddenly they were upon him. A fist sliced through the air, meeting David on his right cheek. He grimaced, the pain growing more intense. The next punch landed on him only moments later. He fell to the ground, struggling to get up. Still he couldn’t make out the silhouettes but he had no doubts of who they belonged to. One of them jumped on him, elbowing him on his side. The pain was unbearable. They did not stop there, throwing more punches and bruising him everywhere. He fought frantically, trying to get up. They wouldn’t let him. They pinned his arms on the ground and proceeded to throw punches to the base of his stomach.
    A quick movement of light caught his eye. It was reflected off an iron surface that grew nearer through the dense atmosphere. A knife. The fists continued flying through the air, giving off soft sounds as they were met by flesh and bone. He cried out at every impact.
    He blacked out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Detective Story - Chapter Six - First Draft

Ward was pacing nervously. After he’d seen the yearbook, he had shown it to the superintendent and gone home shortly after. The superintendent had not known what to do, and had told Scott to remain calm. He was trying his best to stay calm, but until now the killer had left no trail, and it had been out of luck that Ward had remembered who Huffman was. He knew that his time was limited, and he had to act fast to catch the murderer. He dialed the superintendent’s number and waited for the phone to start ringing.
    “Yes, who is it?” Answered the colonel.
    “It’s Ward. Listen, I want to catch Huffman immediately. We need to find out where he is before he takes any more lives. Could you get on that?”
    “Already on it, actually. We’ve also sent in some evidence to get it checked for fingerprints. Still waiting for the results. I’ll keep you updated on that.”
    “Okay. Could you contact the people who handle national flights and check to see if he’s gone somewhere? Also, I want to get a surveillance team on Huffman’s apartment as soon as possible.”   
    “How many men do you want?”
    “Give me five, and I’ll be on the team as well.”
    “I’ll get on it.”
    The colonel called him later to inform him that the team would surround Huffman’s apartment the next morning. It would be a covert mission, as Ward had requested. He didn’t want Huffman to know they were on his trail.

    The next morning, Ward got up at eight and began to get ready. He was nervous, but he was hoping that they could catch Huffman that day. Perhaps he had just got out the day before and hadn’t come home until late at night. In any case, they’d be watching his apartment for a few days to check for any unusual activity.
     He met the team and ten, and he began to send out orders to the five men to watch the apartment from different places. There would be one man positioned on each corner surrounding the apartment. They would all be in different types of cars, so as to not draw any attention, and would each be equipped with a set of binoculars and a walkie-talkie. The last of the men would be positioned directly across the street from the apartment, accompanied by Ward. They had all been given orders to contact Ward immediately if they either noticed any unusual activity in or surrounding the building or if they saw Huffman. They had all been given a full description of the man and a picture to be able to distinguish him.
     Ward was in a car with a man named Robert Carter, whom was to accompany him as co-leader of the mission. They were both quiet for a long while, until boredom eventually caught up with them.
    “So who exactly is this man we’re looking for?” Asked Robert casually.
    “We, at least I, believe he is the murderer of a series of killings that have been popping up lately.”
    “Oh? And why is that?”
    “Well, I’ve known the man since high school, I’ve seen him live through hell and I’ve witnessed the countless beatings he’d had to endure all through high school, at the fault of my school’s jocks.”
    “So there was a connection between the murders? Or how did you come to this epiphany in the first place?
    “Yes, there was a connection. All of the victims had gone to my high school, and they’d all been either perpetrators of the cause of Huffman’s severe malaise and torture, or part of the herd which had ignited the fire in the first place.”
    “I’ve heard that story too many times. You know, high school isn’t as easy as some people seem to think. I’ve seen more than five handfuls of kids in my last years in high school go through hell, and I gotta tell you, it certainly didn’t look easy to have had to put up with that. Worst part is they never did anything about it, nor did the school.” He paused for a moment, and Scott caught a glimpse of empathy in Carter’s eyes. “And while all this is happening, only thing I’m wonderin’ is, where are those stupid parents anyway? I mean, sure, one’s gotta learn to defend oneself, but they also have parents for a reason.”
    “Sure,” said Ward blatantly.
    “Me, I’m lucky to have had a relatively peaceful high school career, with the occasional slur or misunderstanding once in a while, as to be expected--nothing more, though. I feel quite grateful, actually. Those victims seem to come out quite scarred more often than not. Proof? This case right here. Supposing, of course, that Huffman is, in fact, the real killer--and I’m not suggesting any doubt on my part either, but you know, I’m just sayin’.”
    Yes, you’re just sayin’, thought Ward. Quit sayin’ already.
    After rambling on for twenty more minutes, Carter finally stopped talking, at the relief of Scott. Yet, still no call from the other team members.
    “Hand me the binoculars,” Ward nodded to the binoculars resting on the backseat of the car.
    He fixed the zoom on them, to have a clear view of Huffman’s apartment, and looked through the lenses. There was no activity whatsoever coming from anywhere in the building. Huffman was obviously still not home, nor anywhere near the place. Ward was beginning to lose hope as quickly and briefly as it had come.
    “Still no sign of the man,” sighed Scott.
    “We’ll wait here all day if we have to, we’ll be on his tail soon enough,” said Robert.
    Ward didn’t respond. He didn’t care for needless chit-chat. Meanwhile, his head was churning over at the thought of not catching Huffman in time to save enough lives. He began to panic, and quickly his mind became a whirl of thoughts and worst-case-scenarios. Perhaps, he thought, I went completely wrong on this one. Maybe while I’m too busy worrying about when he’ll show up, he’s worrying about when he’ll get to kill me. Maybe he’s actually on my tail, and this is all just a game of cat and mouse. Except I’m the mouse. Suddenly, his phone rang. It was the superintendent.
    “Detective,” he stuttered, “I’ve got bad news.”

I'm not going to be posting any more chapters, as I'm nearing the end of the story and, well, I like to spite people. I'll be finishing the first draft soon, and I'll let it sit for a while before starting on the second (and hopefully final) draft. I'll post that one later when it's completely done and all polished up.