Thursday, 3 January 2013

Just One Day

Well, I finished my short story Just One Day (written as a little buffer as I try to get my head around the complicated plotting of Cuts Of Flesh). It works out at around 12,000 words, which I don't think is enough to justify putting on amazon (even at the cheapest price of 77p) even though I decided to knock up another cover (thanks to George Hodan for his amazing public domain images. You should all look at his site and appreciate! Other than using that platform though, I'm at a loss how to let people read it. I could put it on my main site but I have no idea if anyone actually goes there as I have no visit counter.
I may write a few more short stories in a similar theme and bundle them together but this will then cut into time I should spend on Cuts of Flesh (Kraken is about a third of the way through).
Until I decide, I'll just keep it lurking on my hard drive...

In other news, Harper Voyager have changed how they are dealing with the submissions they received when they opened their house to unsolicited manuscripts back in October (I submitted Heal The Sick, Raise The Dead). Instead of only the successful receiving an email, now everyone will, and the longer before you receive one the better it is as they are still considering you. Now I have gone from despondency at not hearing anything to a smattering of hope at not hearing anything...

Anyway, here's a bit of Just One Day, which may yet appear somewhere on my site... or not.

The moment of almost silence was like Heaven, with the buzz of the air-conditioning as the only interloper, creeping into his senses and dragging him awake. It was just one day, one more, then it would be over. How many times had he said that? As many days as the universe had stars, except his number rose incrementally as the universe's fell away. He was sickened by the familiarity of the thought and yet he could not stop it, scratching at an itch long ago turned to infection.

The air conditioning lowered in its tone and finally shut off to envelop him in silence interspersed with distant screams. It was his alarm clock, familiar and hated. He untangled himself from the sheets and swung his feet onto the floor, before reaching down and pulling up his one piece engineering suit, carefully checking that all of the zips were done up so that there was no way a hand could get a hold and haul it open. He'd made that mistake before. One time was enough.

A slow knocking on the door made him turn his head to look, but he wasn't ready, not yet. He'd give himself a few minutes first.

He wandered over to the bathroom cubicle across the brushed metal floor, taking the time to flip the holograph of his holiday with his brother down onto the side table next to his bed, shutting off its perpetually rotating 3D image. It was only a few weeks ago yet it seemed like an age. It was an age. Or it wasn't.

The cold water on his face didn't serve to wake him up as it once had, with the heavy inevitability of his future outweighing any boost it had once had. He still went through with it though, trying to laugh back at the cosmos that was laughing at him, trying to show his resilience when all he really wanted to do was... no, there was no point going down this route again, that way led to madness. He knew that from experience. He looked into the bathroom mirror at the hangdog expression that was etched into his craggy features. Low brow, uneven eyes, steam burned skin that twisted in a web over his cheek and mouth. A face not even a mother could love. He threw a towel over his head and rubbed rigorously, fantasizing once again that he could re-arrange his features if he was aggressive enough.

When he was dry he headed into his small kitchen area and grabbed his kitbag off a chair before opening the cupboards and scooping all of the ready eats into its recesses. Couldn't miss the last supper, it was the highlight of the day.

Next he headed over to his toolbox by the door. He opened it reverentially, even rubbing the side of the battered metal container as if it were a pet, before selecting the tools he would need: his two torches, the spot welder, the signature override, the precision multi-tool, the mobile system maintenance controller, and finally his heaviest wrench, an ugly paint-stained implement that was only used on the outer bulk heads before he had given it a new calling, and a new name... 'The Viking'. Well, that was last time anyway. Today... today it would be 'The Claymore'. He slipped all of the items except the wrench (he would always need it to hand) into his kitbag before closing it and swinging it up and onto his back, slipping both straps over his shoulders so it wouldn't get in the way.

Finally he stood up, hearing the thunderous knocking reverberating around his head as much as the room as he readied the wrench in his right hand. He checked his feet, making sure he was in the right position on the floor panels adjacent to the door, before raising his right arm, wrench held high. He turned his head away, not wanting to see the first horrific event again, not with all that were to come. Instead he focussed on the wall and the small patch of condensation that was surrounding the faulty coolant pipe that ran along the ceiling. He remembered the day that he had fixed that. It hadn't changed anything.

His left arm moved up, gently depressing the door release.

The door slid back quickly and he heard the usual howl of hunger, roaring through gnashing teeth, cold bloody lips, feeling the reverberation in the floor as the corpse stumbled towards him. He swung hard, fast, at exactly the right angle to cave in the thing's temple, seeing in his mind's eye the look on its face as its head flew sharply to the right as it crumpled against the door frame. He closed his eyes and stepped out into the corridor, still not willing to give any more attention to the dead body that he needed to. He preferred to remember him as he had once been, Supervisor Gael Alvarez, a man who had once declared his love for vintage noire films, his favourite being Double Indemnity. His favourite food had been steak, rare but not bloody. His wife was named Cecilia. He had been scared of heights.

All of these facts were lost, except in the engineer's memory. He turned and went down the corridor to the right, leaving the corpse, still cold - as cold as he had been for the last few hours since he had died from the vicious bite of another of the undead - but now, mercifully, at rest.



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