From The Fishbowl

Scribbles about stuff

Archive for the tag “short story”

Jam

He understood now why people waited.

As Tony’s toes sat a little over the void, he felt his body rock back and forth with the wind. He wanted to reach out and grab hold of something, but there was nothing but air to support him. He looked straight ahead, not daring to glimpse the road below, and thought of why he was doing this. Taking such a permanent step. He thought…

“Excuse me,” said a voice from behind him. It almost made Tony lose his footing right away. “Oh, I’m sorry,” the voice said again. “I didn’t mean to make you jump.” A beat. “Probably a poor choice of words…” Tony looked over his shoulder and saw the embodiment of the voice. It was a man, young, dressed in a sharp suit.

“A…are you the police?” said Tony.

“Oh my, no. Just someone who wants to help you. You certainly appear to be in dire need of some assistance.”

“I don’t need anyone’s help,” said Tony. He was much more confident now that the initial shock of no longer being alone had faded. “Just let me die in peace.”

“Peace? You think jumping from a 30-storey building would be a peaceful death?” The man started walking towards the edge.

“Don’t come any further!”

“Why not? You’re not going to jump anyway.”

“I will if you come closer!”

“Nah,” said the man. He carried on walking, and sat down on the ledge next to Tony. “See? You’re still here, and I’m just sat here next to you. Lovely day, isn’t it? Would you like a jam sandwich?”

“I…what?” The man produced a small plastic bag from his pocket. Two triangular jam sandwiches were inside.

“I made them myself this morning. It’s so hard to find cafés that sell them. I’m not really keen on sandwich fillings that aren’t jam. I’m sure Pret or Subway would get a lot more business if they just made a few every day.”

“Who the hell are you?” said Tony.

“I’m Hank, and you didn’t answer my question.”

“What…no, I don’t want a bloody jam sandwich, OK?! Just leave me alone!”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You’re not meant to die, you see. Not today, anyway. I mean, it seems pretty clear to me that you’re not going to anyway, so I probably don’t need to be here, but, y’know, it’s good etiquette.” He took one of the triangles out of the bag and had a huge bite. “Mmm,” he said, with his mouth full. “That’s a good sandwich. Are you sure I can’t tempt you?”

Tony didn’t answer. The pair were silent for a moment. “So what brings you here?” said Hank.

“None of your business.”

“I know it isn’t. But I’m curious. I mean, a man doesn’t just wake up one morning and say to himself, ‘Y’know, I think I’m going to throw myself off a building today. That seems like a fun way to get my morning going.’”

“Do you think this is some sort of joke?!” said Tony.

“Not at all. I’m sure you’re deadly serious. I just…”

“No, I know what you’re doing. You’re stalling. Yeah. You saw me up here and phoned the police and you’re trying to stop me from jumping for just long enough until they arrive.”

Hank smiled. “This isn’t Lethal Weapon, my friend. Have you looked down? I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can assure you that there aren’t hundreds of rubberneckers staring into the sky while the assembled police force rapidly inflate a gigantic air cushion. Besides, I look nothing like Mel Gibson.”

Tony had had enough. He lifted his right foot and held it over the edge. There was a light breeze which made him wobble like a dashboard toy. “Ah-ah,” said Hank. “Don’t be silly.”

“Silly? SILLY?”

“Let me ask you one last question before you make your decision. If you still believe that an early death is your best option then I shall not stand in your way.” He took another bite of his sandwich as Tony put his foot back on the ledge. He was mildly pleased to do so.

“Good choice,” said Hank. “So. My question to you is: what do you think will happen when your head splatters against the tarmac?”

“Well…I’ll die.”

“Bravo, Captain Obvious. Beyond that.”

“I…I don’t know. Heaven, I suppose. I think I’ve been a good person.”

“Catholics believe suicide is a sin, you know.”

“I’m Anglican.”

“But what if the Catholics are right?”

“Then…I’ll go to Hell.”

“Uh-huh. And your family. What will happen to them?”

“They…you…what the hell are you doing?” Tears started to stream down Tony’s face.

“I’m trying to save your life. What will your family do?”

“They’ll…be better. Better off without me.”

“And I’m sure you’ve convinced yourself of that. But it seems to me that you’re making a lot of leaps of faith before you take your very literal leap of faith.

“I…stop screwing with me!”

“I’m not screwing with you. I’m just telling you the truth. This is what’ll happen to your family. They’ll be devastated. Your wife will be sucked so hard into the black hole of depression that she may never be able to crawl her way out of it. Your children will be taken into care, forced to grow up with people who will never understand their suffering. They’ll forever resent their father for being a selfish son of a bitch who’d rather take his own life than clean up his act and sort his life out. Your son will grow up to be a carbon copy of you. In the space of thirty storeys, you can corrupt him. And you? Well, you’ll just be lying in a hole in the ground with your face rotting off and being eaten from the inside out by bugs smaller than a pinhead, never able to accomplish any of the great things that a man can do with his short time on Earth.

“But if that all sounds better to you, then feel free to jump.”

Tony didn’t say anything, but whimpered softly. He lifted his left foot, but brought it behind his body, not in front. He stepped onto the roof and fell to his backside, crying so hard Hank thought his eyes might fall out. Hank swung his legs back from the ledge and went over to Tony. He crouched down to his level.

“It’ll be alright, I promise. You’re a good man with a great family. Like jam, you’re good alone. But you’re much better when you’re surrounded by the bread of love. Oh my, I’m so sorry for that truly dreadful metaphor. Flowery language has never been my strongest suit. But you get the gist.”

“Wh…wh…who…what…?”

“You don’t need the answer to that question. Here,” Hank put the bag containing the sandwiches on the ground. He’d eaten one of the triangles, but the other was still there. “Goodbye.”

Hank left Tony’s life forever.

AGAIN!

Hello.

A few months back, I launched Not Quite Normal, my first short story anthology. It’s done moderately well, probably about as well as I expected, but I don’t think it’s quite lived up to its potential yet. This morning, I had a radical idea which may or may not work.

On this coming Wednesday, 1/8/12, I will be launching a third and final version of Not Quite Normal to go along with the previously released full and free editions. This new version will be called the Abridged Edition. It will contain a new introduction, a new cover, and ten Not Quite Normal tales, as well as a discount code for the full edition. Four of the ten stories were previously exclusive to the full edition.

In essence, the Abridged Edition contains my ten favourite stories from Not Quite Normal and should therefore, I hope, be the ‘tightest’ edition. Its extent is approximately half that of the full Not Quite Normal. It will be available on Smashwords for 99 US cents from Wednesday, and on all other good eBook retailers soon after that, as well as probably some of the bad ones.

So, these are the editions of Not Quite Normal as of this week and their contents:

Full Edition:

19 short stories, plus bonus content for $1.99.

Abridged Edition:

10 short stories, plus a discount code for the Full Edition, for 99 cents.

Free Edition:

9 short stories, free of charge.

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done on Not Quite Normal, and I’ve had some positive feedback about it. If you haven’t yet checked out any of the editions, please do, it really does mean a lot to me. After Wednesday, though, I’m putting it to bed. I don’t want to be accused of constantly recycling the same content, so I will be devoted to my other projects from now on. But this is one last throw of the dice, one last option for potential buyers, and hopefully it’ll be a good one. Time will tell.

While I’m on the subject, until the Abridged Edition comes out (i.e. until tomorrow), you can still download the full version of Not Quite Normal from Smashwords for just 99 cents. Follow this link to buy – because of the Abridged Edition‘s release it’s unlikely I’ll be discounting the full edition for everyone for quite some time, so this is your best chance to get it on the cheap!

FILDI

Hello.

The next post on this blog – which will be up later tonight – will contain the first part of a story I’ve had brewing in my mind for nearly two years. This story is called The Galaxy and it’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever attempted. It’s only since the release of Not Quite Normal that I’ve had the confidence to put it into motion. So allow me to set the scene.

The Galaxy is set in a distant future where humanity has expanded into the stars and settled on three extra-solar planets, named Barrington, Barrington II and Eden. But even with this brave new dawn, old problems have not gone away. Drugs, gangs and piracy rule the skies and the planets below. Amidst this, a galactic police force attempts to maintain order, while those who seek only profit fight against imprisonment. And in an age of technological revolution, the next step in human evolution is always just around the corner…

The story is, in essence, a combination of science fiction and crime drama, filled with a cast of good, evil, and grey. To say much more would be to spoil it. I would be lying if I said I had every single intricate detail of the fictional universe planned out, but I have enough to get going. If I do not start now, I never will.

The next post contains a short prologue. That’ll be the first and only part of the story you’ll be seeing for a while – think of it as a trailer. But soon – hopefully in a month or so – I will be serialising the story. Hopefully I’ll have some sort of routine. The aim is to, eventually, have enough content in both The Galaxy and This Immortal Coil to be able to produce a piece of each story on Plastic Castle Magic each week. But I’m not going to promise anything right now. All I will say is that more is coming, and soon. And hopefully it’ll be good. But I guess that’s up to you to decide.

So then. Here goes nothing. Enjoy.

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