Free Book Friday March 17: No Conversation but a free short story!
New Short Story: The Grim Reaper
What happens to a writer when his characters become bored?
I woke up with the feeling I was being watched. I was. And I knew them all. Brenda, the maid who committed the murder; Joe, the unlikely superhero; Nathan, super-spy; the two astronauts I left stranded on Talax-B; and every incidental character I had ever created.
They looked mad.
I rubbed my eyes. “Umm… morning?”
Brenda had her arms crossed and was shaking her head. “We’re bored.”
“Bored. You left us all out there with nothing to do.”
“Can’t you just go do stuff on your own?” I asked as I pushed myself upright.
They all began to laugh.
“You’re an idiot,” Nathan said as he pointed with his mangled hand.
“You’re selfish,” said the man in the paisley cape.
A helmeted figure loomed over me and said in a muffled voice, “You were just in it to sell books. You didn’t care about us at all.”
“That’s not true. I created you because I-”
I heard an angry voice from the back. “How much have you made on us?”
I thought about it. “About sixty bucks, I guess.”
A murmur floated up from the crowd.
“We are in limbo for sixty bucks?”
Another voice piped in, “You need to end us.”
I tucked a pillow behind my back. My grogginess was fading, and I realized that this wasn’t a dream. I addressed the madding crowd, “What? Kill you off?”
“Don’t be a barbarian,” Brenda scoffed. “Old age is fine for me.”
I looked over at the crowd. “You all want to end?”
I heard a chorus of agreement.
I reached over to my nightstand and grabbed the laptop. I opened it, and once it had booted up, I found each of the manuscripts and began to write.
Brenda, who had skillfully covered her tracks after she murdered her boss, aged gracefully and passed away in her sleep at the Willow Wisps Retirement Village. She spent her last days watching her stories on the telly, finally winning a game of eucher against that bitch, Francine, who always cheated until I wrote her not to. She died during a scrabble game with a pocket full of vowels.
Joe wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, so he saved the world by carrying an asteroid into the sun. “Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?” were his final words.
Nathan, who I never liked, died when his nemesis, Professor Falcon, poisoned his drink. Realizing I couldn’t leave the Professor in limbo either, he absentmindedly licked his fingers-his own, not Nathan’s.
The astronauts were getting impatient and kept pestering me, so their shoddily improvised biosphere mysteriously developed a slow leak.
I spent the rest of the day writing off all the other characters to their wishes. When I was done, I lit a cigarette and sat back, gazing around the now empty room.
There was a knock at my door. I went over and opened it to a sea of peop-no, characters-lined up at the steps and milling around on my manicured lawn.
A pirate with a parrot on his shoulder spoke first. “We heard that you can get us out of limbo.”
“Who told you that?” I asked.
Leon Stevens is a multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He published his first book of poetry, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020, followed by a book of original classical guitar compositions, Journeys, and a short story collection of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales called The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. His newest publications are the novella trilogy, The View from Here, which is a continuation of one of his short stories, and a new collection of poetry titled, A Wonder of Words.