2022 minus 27: positive and exalted

Posted: 5 December 2021 in 2022 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

Housekeeping Note: I woke up this morning in a filthy mood and with my foot hurting; the latter hasn’t got anything to do with the former, but it didn’t help.

And so I’m doing an ‘in case of emergency,m break glass’ post today. There’ll hopefully be new content tomorrow.

But today you get another couple of ‘fiction from the vaults’ tales; these two, two of the last I wrote in the 150 day run from 2010.

(I’ve decided that for the remaining four weeks’ Tuesdays, I’m giving to grab some from the Twelve Days Of Fast Fiction I used to do. I may do them again this year; I’m still pondering the idea.)

I like surprising people with the stories. the first story was one that surprised even me when I wrote it. I’ve written crueler characters before; I’m not sure I’ve written crueler characters with as good a reason to cruel.

The second story? Well at the time, the challenger surprised me. I knew Wil Wheaton via a mutual friend. He liked this story enough to write the foreword for the second published collection of fast fictions tales. I should probably start mentioning them occasionally; they’re still available.

The second tale is a warning; I’m not sure the first is.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

I hope you enjoy them…

Title: “You’re Having My…”
Word: positive
Challenger: [Livejournal: AbbieSynth]
Length: 200 words exactly

The anger was expected, the harsh laughter was not.

I’d expected him to ask questions but instead there was an eruption of sheer fury. All attempts at civility, attempts I now knew had only ever been surface deep, had been abandoned and the astonishing level of his belief that he’d been betrayed flew at me.

I was absolutely positive that this was a genuine reaction but somehow there was an impression of studied response, as if he’d been expecting this and had rehearsed this previously.

“It’s my child you’ve stolen, you bastard,” my brother said with contempt. “That should be my child. She was my girlfriend.”

And now she was my wife.

He’d beaten her so badly the doctors had said she’d never be able to conceive. The long sentence surprised no-one.

I left the prison and walked slowly to the car where she waited. She never spoke his name and I had enough respect for her never to mention it.

It had been her idea, though. She knew it would hurt him more than any time spent in prison.

If only it had been true.

Later, that night, we cried… for the loss of something we’d never had.

© Lee Barnett, 2010

Title: A Long Way Down
Word: exalted
Challenger: Wil Wheaton
Length: 200 words exactly

I beat my first woman to death at twenty-three. She was forty-two, full of hate and prejudice, but that wasn’t why I killed her.

My brother… now he thinks I kill for the money. That’s a contemptible view: I worked hard to learn how to kill and I feel exalted by my success.

The woman was my fourth killing. Since then, I’ve killed many more, learning efficiency and brutality go hand in hand.

My father… is ashamed of me. He discovered I kill people but curiosity gave way to disgust when I was honest and enthusiastic about it.

Sixty-eight people. You were wondering, I could tell.

They all deserved it, you understand. They deserved it by costing the state too much. They died because they were… inconvenient.

As I strap on thick leather gloves provided by the prisons department and hit the old man in front of me, I wonder what it was like, executing people back before the electricity ran out. When the next punch lands, I wonder when others ceased to be proud.

We stood on top of the world… then we fell. And as he dies, I know everyone else is still falling.

Everyone else, except me.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 approaching.

I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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