Thursday, March 02, 2023

Micro Fiction March Day 2


Time was pressing even more today than yesterday and, thanks to needing an early start, it proved impossible to get up early and write (I couldn't face the thought of writing at 4.30am). So, I wasn't able to get started on this until 8pm tonight. Fortunately, I had the story in my head all day, so it proved relatively easy to excavate (Stephen King makes this wonderful analogy about story ideas being like fossils that authors discover and then have to try and excavate as precisely as possible to translate into what can be read - it's always resonated with me). 

The most difficult part was keeping this to 300 words. I started writing; wrote a short intro with some scene setting. Word count check. 262 words. Bugger. Complete edit required. Darlings were not just killed, they were lined up and dealt with executioner style. But, in the end, I managed to get it done in exactly 300 words. Hope you enjoy, at least a little...

The Last Stop

Friday nights have recently followed the same routine. Drinks down the pub to warm up. More drinks at the club so I believe I can dance. Embarrass myself chatting up girls way out of my league. Exit club and eat spicy kebab. Catch the night bus. Fall asleep. Get woken up by Ralph at the end of the route. Home. Sleep. Remember very few details of any of the above next morning.

Half a kebab still in hand, grease and sauce spilling down my wrist, I staggered up the steps of the bus and waved my bus pass at Ralph. He stared blankly back at me, not his usual cheerful self.

The bus lurched away from the stop with me still standing in the aisle, and I navigated my way to the back seat like a man on a ship in heavy seas before falling into place on the red plastic seat and sliding along it to sit by the window.

I went to eat the second half of my kebab and realised that it was on the floor, halfway back up the aisle. It was difficult not to get emotional. I’d become quite attached to it in the short time we’d had together. Oh well, sleep it was. I put my head against the window and I was gone.

I awoke. It was cold. The bus was static and silent and we seemed to be in a forest. My brain tried to work out what was going on. Ralph was standing in the aisle.

“This isn’t the last stop,” I said.

Ralph’s face rippled in a way that faces really shouldn’t ripple.

“Oh”, he said, his face splitting into an impossibly wide smile that revealed a mouth full of teeth like black needles. “I think you’ll find it is.”


Ian said...

What a tragedy, I mean that kebab was probably still really edible. Also, Ralph was not feeling himself it seemed. Oh well.

On a side note, I really loved the man on a ship simile!

Oliver Davies said...

I did feel very bad about the kebab...

Andy Roberts said...

Beckwith was bored, as he often was. He slouched deeper into his chair in front of the bank of monitors, knobs, and levers, and wondered how he’d ever ended up here.

Nothing exciting ever happens on the obs deck, he thought to himself. Usually, nothing could lift him from this mood; Beckwith was capable of sulking to an Olympic standard.

He absent-mindedly flicked a switch back and forth as he rested his chin on his fist.

Meanwhile in Basingstoke, a street light on Chapman Drive flicked off and on in perfect unison.

The chirpy whistling coming from the kitchen roused Beckwith from his apathetic slump, and he made an effort to sit upright as Simons bounded into the room with two piping hot cups of tea.

“Popped an extra sugar in there for you,” Simons chirped. His beaming smile – indeed, his entire persona – was infectious. Beckwith cracked a smile, and slurped on his Tetley.

“Got a surprise for you today, lad,” said Simons, wheeling his chair up to the console.

Beckwith raised a curious eyebrow. “Surprise?”

“Look,” said Simons, flicking his head toward the bank of monitors. He deftly flicked a series of switches, tapped a myriad of buttons (including some of the forbidden buttons – imagine!), and slowly turned a large brass dial as steam hissed from the back of the console.

Beckwith’s eyes widened, as he sat bolt upright. “Are you kidding me?” he gasped.

“Nope,” said Simons. He smiled and pointed to The Big Red Button. The button that you only touched on pain of death - or worse. “Press it, lad. It’s not every day you get to stop time.”

“Do I get to turn it back on again, too?” said Beckwith excitedly.

“Not this time,” said Simons. The tone of his voice shifted, ominously. “Nobody does.”

Oliver Davies said...

Love the way you manage to create so much depth to the world in such a small number of words, Andy. I think I need to know more about Beckwith and Simons and what they're up to...