William Kitcher and
Nick ran along the windy trail, looking behind him. “Come on! Come on!”
Unsure of hearing any response, he continued down the trail to the cliff. Thunder roared, and he thought he heard a gunshot. He reached the cliff and turned around again. “Come on! Come on!”
Staggering down the trail came Caroline, her coat torn and flapping in the wind, blood running down her face.
Nick waved and she saw him. They ran along the edge of the cliff until they found a bite taken out of it, and they began to descend the cliff face. Grabbing hold of rocks as well as they could, they went down, finally reaching a small ledge. Looking about them, there seemed to be no escape.
“Are you kidding me?” said Nick.
There was no response except for the howling wind and the crashing surf below.
“Are you kidding me?!!!” he cried again.
There was no human response.
Nick looked up. “Hey you, the guy writing this!”
“Me?” I said.
“Yes, you, you idiot. How do you plan to get us out of this? We’re going down a cliff face. And there’s no way out. What happens now?”
I felt slightly embarrassed. “I hadn’t really thought that far ahead, to be honest.”
Nick looked at Caroline and then back at me. “You mean you don’t know what happens next?”
Caroline sighed with frustration. “Jeez, man, my head’s bleeding, and it’s damn cold out here, especially with a torn coat. Why is my head bleeding anyway?”
“I don’t know. I thought I’d come back to that.”
“And the gunshot?” asked Nick. “What was that about?”
“I thought I’d come back to that too…” I trailed off.
“Wow, you’re so disorganized.”
“I figured that if I couldn’t use it, I’d just go back and take it out.”
I was offended now. “It’s called spontaneity.”
“It’s called logorrhea,” said Caroline, unkindly.
I had no response to that, not knowing what “logorrhea” meant. The wind whipped around their bodies as they huddled together.
“Would you please cut out the sound effects?”
The wind subsided.
“‘Subsided’, really? You couldn’t have just said ‘stopped’. Did you even have to say anything?”
“Well, I…,” and that’s as far as I could get, having no more to say.
“Is this how you always write, just start to write something with no idea what’s going to happen next?”
“Well,” I stammered. “I’m sure by the time I get to the end of this, it’ll look like I knew what I was doing all along. Sometimes I write like this. Sometimes I first know what happens in the middle. Sometimes I know the ending first. Have you read my story ‘The Dawn’? In that one, I knew how it ended and I—”
“No, I haven’t read any of your stories! We’re fictional characters! And by the way, what’s with our names? Why did you name us after your niece and her husband?”
“Well, I needed to call you something— hey, wait a minute. How do you know I named you after my niece and her husband?”
That stumped them, as I didn’t know how they would know that. They said nothing and, because of that, I had nothing to say back to them.
We were stuck in a loop and I was unsure what was happening. Was I writing them? Were they writing themselves? Perhaps even only occasionally? Were they writing me? No, that seemed unlikely. And yet…
The three of us looked at each other for quite some time, perhaps weeks, I don’t remember.
No, it was only a couple of minutes. Which has now stretched into several minutes. And I made myself a cup of tea. And went outside for a smoke. And had a nap.
And I had my answer.
“Well, what are you going to do? Hmmm? What’s going on now?”
I remained silent, just to piss them off.
“Oh really. You’re just going to leave it up to us. You prick. OK. What happens if we go back up?”
“Guys with guns.”
“OK. Can we fly?”
“What’s at the bottom of the cliff?”
“What do you want there to be at the bottom of the cliff?”
“A nice comfy airbag?”
“How about just water and no rocks?”
Nick and Caroline launched themselves into the ocean, and began swimming.
* * *
The tea had become cold in the half-empty cup on the desk. The three people looked at the man slumped over his typewriter. The grandfather clock ticked morosely.
“No, officer, he was dead when we got here.”
The cop looked at the young couple. “Why are you two wet?”
BILL‘s stories have been published in America, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Eire, Great Britain, Holland, and India. He hopes to be published in Denmark and France, so that he has the first part of the alphabet covered.