With this little writing challenge I set myself a couple of weeks ago I reckon I have stumbled upon a trifecta of (potentially) good stories. It may take some time to get them done, especially at this busy time of year, but perhaps I will stick them under the tree and offer them up as Christmas gifts.
Admittedly, the stories took a while to get to where I wanted them to go, but I now have a clear direction for each of them and it’s just a case of joining the dots and finding the picture that they make.
My biggest hurdle will be once I present the final products, because I can see the narratives putting a few noses out of joint in my closed audience.
It’s fiction, people. Try to remember that.
Word count – 3,600
Battleground is a simple idea, as the best short stories often are. A hitman finds a mysterious package has been delivered to his apartment, and when he opens it he discovers it is filled with a platoon of toy soldiers who are out to kill him for the job he has just done.
It’s all action, all the way, and there is little room to catch your breath. There is next to no character development, and not much in the way of a backstory, but it really doesn’t matter, because it’s just so damn cool.
Battleground is the best story I have read from Night Shift so far. There would perhaps be an argument that at its brief length it reaches its conclusion far too quickly, but that is a minor quibble in an otherwise very strong entry for this anthology.
Last week The Fiancée© bought a new car. It had been a long time coming – she had put almost a hundred thousand miles on her Peugeot – and, although I don’t really need to be following in her footsteps… I’m a little jealous of her upgrade.
I’ve had my chariot for a decade, and while she doesn’t have nearly as many miles on her clock as her did, ten years is longer than any romantic relationship I’ve had, and my car has given me less bother than most of those too. I think perhaps that it is time to move on to a younger, more buxom model.
But let’s get through Christmas first.
The Fiancée© pulled a few strings and managed to get us on the guest list for John Bishop, who was performing last night… so there’s one reason to continue along this path with her.
It was a good show, even if his accent was a bit difficult to muddle through on occasion. He has a very relaxed presentation, and he sits down for most of his time on stage, so it just feels like one of your mates sitting in your living room.
There was a lot of Brexit stuff, but if that isn’t your bag most of the rest of the show was about marriage and relationships, including some priceless audience interaction that shows Bishop has the comedic chops to handle even the most awkward of situations.
My mum had a heart attack on Thursday night. She was travelling back home from London, and it happened just before the plane landed in Aberdeen. She’s had a stent put in, and she seems a lot better now, but she’s still in hospital for the next couple of days.
I was told it was a ‘mild’ one, but no matter what qualifier the doctors use to categorise it, it’s still a heart attack, and they are never going to be pleasant. It’s also scary to find a text at 5.30 in the morning from your mother detailing such.
My mum is a bit of a stresser. She worries about lots of things – most of which does not directly concern her and that she has no control over anyway.
She’ll be fine. She just needs to take it easy and focus on her own little corner of the universe for a change.
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Michael C Hall, Cleopatra Coleman
A surface-level synopsis of this movie may make you feel like this is ripping off The Terminator, but once you dig down you will find that this Netflix offering is a little more complex than that, and perhaps a tad more grounded as well.
Time travel in movies is an easy sell for me, but it can be a difficult concept to pull off successfully. Although it ties itself up in knots in the final quarter hour, and the reveal is a little hard to swallow, In the Shadow of the Moon earns its stripes by managing to sidestep many of the head-scratching problems a movie like this faces.
Recommended (but you will need to keep your brain switched on) ⇑
Word count – 4,700
Gray Matter is an early effort from Stephen King, and it feels like it. It’s about a fungus (of sorts) that seemingly develops from a can of beer and proceeds to become one with the guy drinking it. There is really not much more to it than that.
Gray Matter is one of those horror tales that has no explanation – something weird happens… but we never find out why. Now, whether that is because King was simply too lazy to come up with an answer, or he didn’t think it needed one, I don’t know. For the most part I have tried to steer away from writing that way, because it can be infuriating, and that is certainly the case here.
This is one of the poorer entries in Night Shift so far. It’s not clever by any stretch, and it’s fairy basic old-school horror. It is also very talky and reflective and doesn’t have all that much going on either, so… on to the next one.
Not Recommended ⇓