I haven’t written much here lately because I’ve been busy with Unstressed Syllables. I have a new blog post out today, by the way. I’ve also been working on my second Grover Cleveland Novel and a little bit of editing.
Between all that, short stories have been on my mind recently. With the successful completion of my first draft of Spaceship Novella!, I’ve been looking for other stories to compact and write quickly. It gives me something to do when I’m burned out on my other writing tasks, and the brevity keeps me from letting it devour too much of my time.
Well, that’s the theory, anyway.
Short stories are becoming more popular with e-book publishing, but they still have a long way to go before they’re anywhere close to being read as prolifically as the novel. But until then, here’s a short story for your amusement.
Jude pressed his nose against the cool glass and watched as his breath covered it with fog. With the tip of his finger he etched a small question mark, then smeared the whole thing with the palm of his hand.
He turned his attention to the interior of the bus. The night was seeping in through the windows, and the artificial lights cast a sickly yellow glow over the rest of the passengers. They were all a sad bunch: tired, worn, apathetic, old, but Jude could smell the warm blood rushing through their veins.
He took a deep breath and licked his lips. Perhaps it was better to look out the window after all.
The bus ground to a halt, and Jude stood up. Now was as good a time as any to get off. The bitter wind hit him like a punch in the face; he drew the collar of his coat up and hunched into it.
He was near a bridge. It was fairly empty this time of night, and the sound of the water rushing beneath it was too similar to the rushing of blood for him not to be drawn to it. He walked out to the middle of the bridge and looked down. The waves were black.
He smelled her before she spoke, but he didn’t move, hoping she would just pass by–like so many people did.
“You’re not going to jump, are you?” she asked, half joking and half serious.
He turned slowly. She was young and healthy. She would taste good. “No. I’m afraid it would take something a little more…solid…to kill me.”
She gave a half smile, uncertain how to react. “But you were thinking about it, weren’t you?”
“Of course not!” She opened her mouth, offended at the suggestion. “I just…couldn’t sleep.”
Jude looked down at the water, then back at her. She had on heavy black eyeliner and blood-red lipstick. Her neck was covered by a knitted blue scarf.
“So…if you weren’t going to jump, what are you doing out here?” she asked.
“Looking for someone like you,” he said evenly.
She smiled. “Nice pick-up line. I’ll have to use it one day.”
“It wasn’t a pick-up line.” It felt very important that he make that clear to her. He looked around, but other than them, the bridge was empty. It was past midnight. “I want you to have something.”
“Um…” She took a step back.
He held up a reassuring hand; with the other he drew something out of his coat pocket. “Take it.”
She reached out hesitantly. It was a wooden chair leg, whittled down to a point on one end. “Thanks?”
“I want you to do me a favor.”
He could hear her heartbeat get faster, and her voice was barely a whisper. “What?”
“Next time you see me, don’t be afraid to use it.”
She gripped the weapon more tightly. There were suggestions of white paint around the curves in the middle.
When she looked up, he had already disappeared into the night.