I am lying on my back, staring up at the high domed ceiling of the auditorium. My glasses askew and breathing is really hard at the moment. My ears are ringing though there is the faint sound of screaming somewhere close but I don’t know how close. I lift my head to check myself that is when I find the source of the reason I am having trouble breathing. A still face of a woman is smiling at me who lays across my body. Her tan skin is dark around her terrible sunken eyes as if surrounded by blood. I feel cold, not entirely sure way, but I do. My old body is not as it once was as I lift my shoulders a mere two inches off the stage to see pass the body of the women on top of me. My eyes didn’t go any further than the woman’s back, I knew that she is dead, I had felt her fade. The reason for her being on top of me is a mystery I also understand why I feel cold. The woman has a gunshot wound right between her shoulder blades which is directly over my heart. I lay back as there are two more gunshots. In reflex I draw my legs up, trying to become small. That is when I discovered that the drawing up of my legs causes a sharp pain to sing out in my chest. Is it from the fact that the bullet had traveled through the woman and hit me? No, it is the trapped air in my chest and I can’t perform a deep enough breath to excrete the air. It reminds me of a deep hiccup one that you know will hurt when you allow it to come out. Shame settles in me as I try to squirm out from under the body on top of me, but can’t move so much as an inch my arms lay pinned to the stage with some invisible leather ties. It seems that I am to die here one way or the other. I would have preferred the shot to the chest as oppose to this. My body is refusing to use the strength I know it has to free us.
“Mr. King, are you okay?” Lloyd Middel appears in my line of sight.
Right then a great weight lifts off my chest. Coughing and choking I roll to me side in fear that I might vomit, feeling like a runner who has pushed himself too hard.
A hand rests on my shoulder as I cough relentlessly, “Mr. King, please, you must come with me.”
I feel a hand slide under my arm and I allow it to help me to my feet as the coughing finally stops. I feel a hand on my chest and look down. The bullet did hit me, and it is a lot less worse because of the woman. My legs quit working as if they are saying, ‘Why the fuck are you on us?’ My knees slam back to the stage.
“No, no.” Lloyd pleas as he grips me around the waist still trying to stand me up on my own two legs instead of laying me back down.
What frightens me is my body is reacting accordingly to being hurt but my mind is not. As if my mind is blocking the pain from interfering with my thoughts. Why? That is my question to that.
“Who did it?” My voice is not entirely my own; it is riddle in pain to which I could not feel, and am grateful for. The weakness in it makes my stomach turn. The wound is affecting me but my mind stays sharp.
“Don’t know yet.” Lloyd says his voice getting increasingly worrier every time he spoke.
We reach backstage and panicked looking face swarm my clear vision; the voice are more or less audible to my ears though I don’t need to exactly hear to know what they are saying. They are all expressing their concerns.
“Who was she?” I ask about the woman who had shielded me from the fatal shot.
All the mouths stop at once when one speaks clear enough to pass though the pain barrier of my mind, “Halia Newswick and the shooter, Tate Kellen.”
I slip into darkness with the name Kellen…
In 1989 I had barely escaped with my life after an encounter with a man named Kellen. I was exiting the Cradled Theater in Los Angeles where I attended a private screening of an adaption of my novel called ‘The Death Family Tree’. It was good and I was happy with the outcome. The weather was on that day was rainy; a fellow asked me if I needed a lift to my apartment where I was staying till the next day with the now movie complete. I opted against it, because my apartment was only three miles from the theater and as I was writing a book at the time, walks help make the storytelling flow fluently. I began to walk with my feet leading me along the path while my mind drifted to my current book at that time. I was only four blocks from the theater when a passed at alleyway an arm wrapped around my neck and with his other hand moved sharply out of my line of sight. A whimper had passed through my lips as a man buried a switchblade in me, right below my diaphragm, all the while whispering in my ear, “Now the monster dies in an alleyway alone.” He had then thrown me into the alley that had concealed him. My back bounced off a dumpster I came to rest on my stomach, my mind was incoherent for any thought. The alley ahead of me looked as though it stretched for miles. Every breath I took made a tiny sound would escape from my lips however I knew that what I had to do next was going to hurt. I needed to face the other way so I would have a chance to survive. That was when I heard hard footfalls on wet concrete then a hard hand gripped my shoulder. For a brief moment I thought it was him come back to finish me off. I, harshly flipped to my back and saw the face of young cop. He looked me over and was talking to me but my ears weren’t catching anything. I saw his hand with two fingers extend and disappear around the vicinity of my neck, no doubt to check if I had a pulse, though I could not feel his fingers against my neck.
I woke up in the hospital two days later. My wife of twenty years, Mia, was the first face I saw. Seeing the relief spread across her face made me smile and she bent from where she was next to the bed and kissed me on the forehead. When she pulled back I saw that she saw crying, I gave a sad smile, “Mia, I going to be ok.” I said this based on the fact that I was awake and could feel and hear; I figured it was drugs that were keeping the pain away. I had no idea of the extent of my injuries when I said that. I was lucky that no vital organs were damaged, but not as lucky as being found as quickly as I was. The man who stabbed me had run around the corner from the alley where he disposed of me, and ahead were two cops. He stood there with a knife and hand drenched in blood, he grabbed onto an unsuspecting passerby and held him at knife point. He went to slit his hostage’s throat but was shot in the head before he could finish. Then the cops follow the nearly washed away trail of blood to the alley were they found me.
I am not out as long this time, but I now feel the pain. I did not come to the in the hospital but in the ambulance on its way to the hospital.
“Mr. King, how are you doing?” the paramedic on my right asks.
I thought of a smart-ass comment, then thought again.
My voice cracks as I say, “Fine, just pain below my left shoulder.”
The paramedic nods as he is doing stuff. “Mr. King, the bullet is embedded in the soft tissue.”
“My wife.” I asks tiredly. She is at home in Virginia.
“She is being contacted.”
I feel like shit, and not because of the embedded bullet in the very edge of my chest on the left side. The reason I feel like shit is because of my wife, who will, if not already has, receives a call from the Mason police, explaining to her that her husband had been shot. I can see her drop the phone crying out in anguish. While another cop will contact the police in Dumfries, Virginia is informing them what has happened and requesting one to see to the upset woman. This will be the second time she is contact with heavy laden words, though this one is better than the one twenty-five years previous… well, for me, this one is bad. In the way that the woman, Halia, lost her life saving my life. I begin to try to make out why, but my thoughts seem distant and far too complex for even the sharpest mind.
“Can I sleep?” I ask the paramedic wearily.
The paramedic looks at me truly stunned by the question asked of him. I could stay awake if I needed to but I didn’t want to.
I awake with the bullet removed from my chest. Now I lay in a room with my wife standing at my bed side. She leans in and kisses me as I come to, when she pulls back I say in a strong voice, “I am sorry.”
I see the look of confusion spread across her face; I surely had no reason for apologizing, but that is just what I felt needed to be said.
As a smile replaces the confused look she speaks, “No matter, you are here and fine.”
Here, this word repeats in my mind. What about Halia? What of the fate of the shooter? Since I am here, surviving, there are some mind boggling things for me to understand and seek an answer of. Why?
Mia cresses my face tenderly, “Let it go for right now. Worry about getting better.”
I mutely nod because any words that I would say would not be truth.
I am out of the hospital and back home in under a week. The wound is healing nicely and there is not much pain, ever better. The time has now come for me to face questions not only my own but from fans and spectators. What lays ahead for Sheldon King? What of the book he was promoting? Will we ever see him in public again?
The last question is the only one that seems worth the actual time and thought on my part. It wasn’t till the detective that had been working the investigation came to me bearing some troublesome information. My entire outlook on things changed, and not in a good way for my mental state is now just as fragile as my body. The visit is brief and to the point though there never was an actually point to be had, he leaves some residue behind that I now had to make sense of. I didn’t want to but to keep my sanity I have to.
He leaves me with two physical objects: the first is a worn out copy of my book, Midnight, it had belonged to Halia. The second is a thick spiral notebook so titled, Tate’s Dark Tellings. Both of the books owners are dead with no one surviving them, but they are connected to me and the detective thought it best that they were destroyed by me if I so choose.
I am also told that Halia would have died a week later. If had not been for Tate, it would have been an aggressive brain tumor. I am not going to comment on that.
I will no doubt keep Halia’s copy of my book as a constant remember for me, if not for her I would be six feet under. I sit back admiring the worn cover; no doubt it was well read. This was my first novella that I had put out and as I look at the worn cover I can remember clearly the night I put this together.
I know it is cliché, but it was a stormy night when the idea for Midnight sparked. I was in my mid-thirties and sitting in my office, reading a book. When the power went out, I reached into the drawer of my desk and brought out a flashlight. Mia was asleep and had been for a few hours by that point. With the flashlight I roamed my dark house, jumping at the occasional loud clap of thunder and laughing about it. I had wandered into the kitchen and my light fell on the microwave where, as soon at the power would come on, 12:00 would be blinking on the display until I set it to correct time. Hmm, I thought, Midnight, the time of night when most are a sleep or some get struck with the midnight munchies or… I had roamed around a bit more, allowing my mind to work. That was when I came around the corner from the living room to the hallway, which at the same time a flash of lighting lit up out the window of the guest room, which was the last door on the right. The light cast quick shadows on to the floor of the hall. I was startled and with a childish smile, I walked toward the room. If that had been a movie, my character would been considered stupid. I was heading to the room that had obviously held the killer and I was only armed with a flashlight… killers strike at midnight. Yes. I had the title of the first story, the other three stories followed in turn. It took me only five weeks to write the four stories which is the fastest I have ever written stories. The odd thing about the stories was I had chosen to end them with a kind of cliffhanger. So my agent and editor found it odd that I wanted to leave them in short story format. “It is what the stories want.” I had said when asked. I knew that I had cut the tales short but they were complete and I was happy with them. I had added something to the book that I normally don’t add; a brief introduction. The reason I don’t add them was because I believe they hinder the story and most people don’t read them anyway. Nevertheless, I added one to only increase the scare value. All I put was, “’These following four stories are on the scary side, however should you want a truly terrifying experience wait for night to fall, then go in to your bedroom. Make sure to leave the door open. Take a flashlight and hide under the bed sheets then begin.’”
I was five when that happened to me. I was reading a book called Stories of the Dark. I was reading under the covers, with a flashlight and my door was open because that was a rule in my household. I was on the fifth story when I heard a loud thump that drew me out of the story and was filled with the overwhelming sensation of someone standing in my doorway. I was shaking so badly, afraid of what might be standing there when I took off the covers, that I ended up sleeping there. Wanting the light before I uncover myself.
I place the book on my shelf and as for Tate’s notebook, it makes me cold just looking at it and I can do without it. Except trashing it isn’t all that easy, as I had originally thought it might be. It sits on the edge of my desk with it angrily written title across the front.
How did Halia know? That is what is baffling me.
“Honey, it’s late. Are you coming to bed?” Mia asks from the open door of my writing room. When the door is shut is when I am left alone, it is not closed because I am not writing.
“Coming.” I say distractedly, knowing that time will be easily forgotten until I can make sense of this.
In bed that night, Mia laid against me, fast asleep. Sleep is far from me, as I am staring wide eyed in the ceiling, my mind running with questions. This is defiantly a first, me having questions that I need to answer and they are not connected to a book on my plate at this moment there is no plot. The questions are really now for my sanity, to keep it in tact. I feel Mia’s warm breath on my night shirt and that starts to relax me into sleep.
I wake up on floor and my shirt is drenched in sweat. My wife is staring at me wide eyed leaning over the bed. I stare equally wide eyed at her, it is still dark outside. I have no recollection to explain why I am on the floor and covered in sweat.
“What happened?” I ask.
Mia stares at me, “You were going on about why are you still alive.”
I sit up with my right arm resting on the bed and I stare at my feet. She then sets a hand on my arm and gently rubs.
Not even in the mass of questions that are built up in my head had that one come up. Now that one is all consuming, which I didn’t want.
“I am going to go work.” I say distantly and stand.
“It is the middle of the night.” Mia says to my back as I exit the room and head down stairs to my writing room. I’m not actually going to work, I am going down to think.
The first thing my eyes dart to when I flip on the light is the notebook, Tate’s Dark Tellings. I sit down heavily and take it up and thumb through not really looking at the words written inside, until I see something and I feel the blood stop cold in my veins. I swallow hard and flip back a few pages back to it. Maybe it is just my mind playing a trick on me, I think as I continue to back track. Just as I have convinced that it was my mind playing with me, I found where I had caught a glimpse of, confirming that it just wasn’t my mind, now wishing that I had dismissed it as my mind and trashed it.
SHELDON KING WILL DIE!!!!
From that moment it became this horrible book that I couldn’t put down. More disturbingly it is a book about my evilness and the various ways of me dying, according to this young man. Reading this also canceled out the possibility, in my mind, of Tate and Halia might have know each or cross paths. So how did Halia know?
What made me really stop and think on is Tate’s tirade about my ‘predatorily voice’ every time I read that my body would shiver. Predatorily voice? I didn’t think that explanation would ever be associated with my voice. When I read, it is in a loud, clear voice when I read the narration, I only change would my voice in accordant to the speaking character. I never got that deep and dark with my voice, granted I have a lot of dark stuff. I just don’t like the explanation of my voice. Tate’s calling me a monster is okay with me because so many people do, and yes, at some point it does get tiring. However, being called a monster by Tate isn’t the same as all the other people who consider me a monster. But being blamed for the depiction of, what I hope it is fictitious, of the murder of his mom and brother? Again my body shudders, “Fans will come, just smile.” That is what my agent, James Herdman, said after my first book sold so well. This one is off the fucking wall and I don’t think even James would say that it is normal, especially for the fact that Tate tried to kill me. Almost succeeding in doing it. Still, there is the question of why his father attacked me so many years ago. At the time he was survived by a son in Nebraska and estranged his wife and oldest son in London.
Wonder if I could get in touch with them, I think. But then I remember that there was no one surviving him. I then stare at the, maybe, not so fictitious depiction of the murders, my stomach tightens and I grab for my trash can in time to catch the vomit. After I am done, I set the can aside and lean back in the chair. My arm drapes over my eyes, ignoring the sour taste in my mouth as I fear to get up, for my legs might fail to hold me. What if it is true and my voice did cause Tate to murder? Who’s to say it is not affecting another? But how? I have never done an audio book to one of my books. I had never intended to do that anyway and if I was softening toward the idea I am not anymore. Interviews were rare throughout my years of being a writer, not really one to be out in public and I believe I can say that no one would blame me. I do make rare public appearance for my fans, not for basic publicity. Money had never been a priority to me. I would always write stories and put them out there for the hell of it. I also believe that characters and their story are just as real as you and I, and we writers, are their bridge to share their story.
Something in my mind sparks. I smile as I remove my arm from my eyes and straighten up in my chair. A character is defiantly speaking to me; the name of the character is Halia Newswick. I write in this sort of feverish trance and longhand, though my computer is in front of me and open to a blank document. I have to write this one out. My handwriting on the yellow sheets of legal paper, to an untrained eye, might look like lines with a few loops in the line every now and again. In my eyes it told the tale of a fan who looks up to her favorite author as a father figure because of her lack of her own father growing up. The first five pages come out like water over a spill way fast and smooth. I have no idea where the story is going, but I am guessing it might provide some answers.
I spent the entire day in my office, save for the painful runs to the bathroom to relieve my tight bladder, and only once grabbing a bag of chips to shut up my growling belly. It took me the full day to write out and type up an eleven page short story. Granted, it is unique in its own way but there are no answers to be found. Fiction, especially a piece written by your own self, is not the place to seek any answer to real questions. It was just me being desperate, nevertheless, I had Halia’s story as seen in my mind’s eyes, and I guess it is what it is. But I will never know for sure if the fiction is accurate or inaccurate; it is just a story.
At ten, sleep finally calls to me so I sludge up stairs and fall in to bed in my day old clothes. Mia cuddles close and I am instantly out.
Three hours later my eyes snap open and I am wide awake. I know what has woke me and it is another story. This one, however is accompanied by some extreme darkness of which I have never experience before with any story idea. It is frightening me, to what extent I haven’t a clue…yet. Even with the fear, the story has a strong enough pull on me to make me want to write it. Tate’s story it is and, man, this is going to take me longer to do, unlike Halia’s. Whether I am up for it or not, I am not going back to sleep. I lay there for a few moments hoping for sleep to come back to me, but when only the story continues to grow and it grew in darkness and sadness. Why did Tate hesitate to kill me in his writing? That is the ultimate push that gets me up and go find out why that was. Unlike Halia’s, which had been gentle and bittersweet, Tate’s is loud and full of anger. The story seems to be digging its way painful in my brain, I won’t forget the story, please, a little relief. My plea goes unanswered and the bad part is I could only write may be a paragraph before I have to stop to take a breather. I go out the kitchen to get some water. I’m dehydrated, I conclude as for the reason for my headache. I drink one glass before taking another one with me back to my office. Of course it didn’t help, I didn’t think it would, I just hoped that it would have. It is back to the argument between my mind and fingers for not being on the same page. I am caught helpless in the middle. This is the first time in my life that a story idea has, in a sense, taken over. I have written some dark stuff that had even me staying up in fear but this is just unsettling. Not just because I am whom the boy is against because I really do believe that he killed his family.
The door to my office is shut and the rule is don’t bother me when it is. Regardless of the rule that has been set for thirty years, Mia decides she is above it and enters my office.
“Hon, it is te-”
“What the fuck are you doing in here, Mia?” I growl cutting her off.
I hear her gasp in surprise as I turn around and see her standing wide eyed in the door way.
“Well?” I say through clenched teeth.
Mia just stares at me stupidly.
I slowly stand, “Answer me!”
I see for the first time true fear, fear of me, on my wife’s face. Though I see it, it has not yet hit me to stop. The fact that Mia is still present where she is not wanted enrages me. I reach her in a single step and firmly grab her by her left arm, which leaves her right hand free to raise and slap my hard across the face. That causes us to switch looks, she is looking at me sternly and I am looking surprised. I then grasp her right arm. “Stay the hell out!” I shove her out of my office; her back hits the wall taking her breath away as I slam the door.
I spin back around and I am myself again, my body is shaking. Letting out a cry, I sink to my knees, as if already knowing what question I am going to ask. I hear an echoing laugh in my head, evil and sly. Never in my life have I ever snapped like that, now I am trapped and scared. Scared of what I am working on and how I let it get under my skin. Scared that my wife won’t want anything to do with me, of her leaving me alone.
I could stop writing this story. I think of course that is easier said than done. I have abandoned stories, yes, all the time, but those ones either stop talking or just lost me and thinking of my readers, I abandon the story. I have never abandoned a story that is still talking and has a clear meaning, the thing about that is I have to finish this story to have the clear meaning. Which is, in itself, unusual for me because I normally have the ending in mind; it has to be unique so I will write the journey to the end.
I stand up and just stand in the middle of my office my mind so full yet it is blank. Am I truly the monster that Tate pegged me as? After the way I just treated my wife I am starting to believe it. Are these stories just here to drive me mad all because I am the cause of them? In my ignorance and weakness put out such stories with no thought of the repercussions they might have. All I do is fancy up bullshit, I chuckle at that thought as the ‘bullshit’ is nearly real to me. I am just being a hypocrite to make myself look good.
I look to the right of my desk where I have my own books on display; fifty-five all had seemed worth it up till now. People are dead and I turned on my wife and will remain out of the public eye for another twenty years, upsetting my fans with that.
I take in a deep breath and let it out slowly to settle my nerves and organize my thoughts. Then I sit back at my computer and continue writing.
The following two days are painfully ‘productive’ but then by my usual standards, not very productive at all as only two full pages have come out, I am sitting with my elbows on my desk and my face in my hands. Crying, laughing, I can’t decide which or perhaps it is a pathetic combination of both.
There comes a gently, cautious knock on my office door. “Come in.” I say with my face still in my hands. The door opens and fear washes over me, knowing it is Mia and knowing I have not seen her since my blow up or even tried to.
I throw my head up and quickly turn at the male voice. It is my friend and agent, James Herdman. I am surprised and worried at the same time to see him.
He shuts the door with one hand because in the other he is holding a green paper folder. He moves the chair that sits against the wall and sets it backwards in middle of the floor, looking at me with the father look of ‘we need to talk’.
I look away ashamed.
“Man, talk to me.” He insists, his arms folded on the back of the chair with the green paper folder in right hand dangling.
Where to beginning? I am being torment by a character. I am responsible for the death of several people. I am turning in to monster. I end up just shaking my head, not looking up at him.
“Here, I’ll start.” He speaks calmly and is now consulting whatever is in the folder, “I kind of had a feeling that you were going to be distraught by this whole ordeal. I did some research in hopes that I would find something to at least give you a grasp on why this happened.”
I look up, intrigued in what he might have found. He is holding the folder out to me, so I take it and read:
The results of control experiments regarding artists and their fans by The Bohemian Guild of America.
Disclaimer: Name of both the artistes and the participants are not named.
We took a writer, a musician and a film maker. From their main site we took five people who claim to be their number one fans and took five who claim to despise the artist in question. We then presented each group with a simple scenario, stating to the number one fans, “Would give your life for the artist?” and stating this to the haters, “Would you pull the trigger to end the life of the artist?”
The answer is one that we didn’t expect, only one from each group and for each artist. Would do what needed to be done if it was present to them.
This is indeed a bit troublesome but I understand why James showed me this, “So we all have an unsung protector and a killer.” I say with mixed emotions.
“Yes, however and luckily both of yours appeared at the same time.”
I just nod and hand the folder back. It still doesn’t answer how Halia knew?
James takes the folder back and drops it to the floor, “Now with that out there, let’s work together to get to the bottom of what is bothering you.”
“How did she know?” The words are out before I realize I am asking.
“Newswick…?” James pause as he has descended into thought, which is not something he likes, ‘Thinking is your business’ he always says to me. James is a ‘give it to me straight' type of guy. He then shrugs, “A hunch.” He answers.
I look at him, “A hunch, James, this is real life.” I say kicking up my right foot on to my left leg and leaning forward with my hands dangling.
James gives this half smile and lets out a chuckle, “You’re one to talk, just because of why you say you write.”
I am going to argue but stops for the fact I have no argument. I just look down staring at the floor though the little space created by my legs.
“I see your writing. What about?”
I turn my head and look at my screen for a moment before facing James again I speak in a low tone, “Currently, because I finish another one four days ago, Tate Kellen’s story.”
James shakes his head, “And the one you did four days ago?”
I speak as I drop my head, “Halia Newswick’s story.”
“Digging at a fresh wound, are we? For what?” James asks, raising his voice a bit, but not in anger.
I do not raise my voice, “I didn’t force it; they just came like any other idea of mine.”
James exhales, “But can we at least agree that your behavior is not the right one.”
I nod, fighting the rush of auger, “These characters are very lively, especially Tate.” I shudder.
“Sheldon, that is just it! They aren’t characters. They were living, breathing people not long ago. That is why you are being affected as you are. You have two choices; walk away from it right now or force them to be characters.”
I look at him in amazement. I had never thought of doing the opposite of how I have characters in my head.
“James, I need you to answer a question and be complete honest with me.”
James nods and steels himself.
“I am a monster?”
“Well, you do have a lot of twisted stuff out.”
I want to knock him from the chair, “Really? Not with the obvious shit, man. I mean truly.”
James looks at me and his smile fades, “I don’t know, why do you ask?”
I half turn to reach for the notebook titled Tate’s Dark Tellings and hand it to James. He looks at me, curious, and opens it. Not soon after he starts he is shaking his head, and sighing. To me that means one of two things; either he realizes that Tate was delusional, or he wouldn’t be able to believe that I would let it bother me. The second one seems like the one I am going to hear after he is done. If that will be the case my defense with be, ‘If he hadn’t tried to kill I wouldn’t think anything of the notebook.’ I believe that is fair.
James closes the notebook looking distraught, that’s clear but he also has another look, “You can’t honestly believe his description of how you are a monster, can you?”
“James, what else am I suppose to think? He damn near killed me!”
“I know but given the study that you just read, and also the fact that you never have recorded a reading of any of your books, dismisses this is one in five chance and delusion acts.”
I shake my head, still unable to grasp it, “It still doesn’t make sense, why? I mean both he and his dad got close to ending my life and just like, that I am to put it aside and carry on.”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“James, stop with the wise cracks.” I spat as I fold my arms and sit back.
“Man, I am being truthful. You should be living your life, not hiding in this house. You have Mia, who loves you and wants to do more with you outside the home, and you have your fans who have allowed you to go what you do. The least you can do is speak with them and hold signings to show that you appreciate them. Without them you are just Sheldon King. With them you are the King of storytelling.”
That did strike something inside of me, the feeling of shame washes over me. Halia pops into my head, now she was strong. If I do anything it will be in her honor. I look at James, “You are right. I am going to finish this story of mine and with the money; I am going to give back to my fans.”
James nods, “My job here is done.” He stands and goes to hand me the notebook. I push it back to him as I get to my feet, “You get rid of it.” I say as I hug him.
Together we walk out of the office and Mia is standing there. I sweep her off her feet, “I am sorry and promise that won’t happen again.”
She smiles, kisses me and clings to my neck.
Two months later I am on stage at Virginia collage, speaking to fans of the east coast and those who had traveled across the country. I tell them that I am fine and follow it with this, “I am here for a lot of reasons. But to save on time I will only give three; it is because of you guys.” I pause for the applause, “That is right, without you I am just me, but you guys make me a writer. The second thing is during the time following the Mason Incident I wrote a short story duet called, Two Knots in a Circle. As I am sure most of you have it with you and have read it.” I stop as the audience cheer, I smile, feeling complete. “These two stories are my take on two separate people and their lives. Which brings me to the third and most important reason; the first is titled A Hunch, which is the story of Halia Newswick. She was the one who threw herself between me and the bullet that might have killed me, if it weren’t for her causing it to misdirect. Someone like Halia is a rare breed indeed, and to honor her, with the money from this duet is going to the Brain Tumor foundation. I have been a coward all my life, which I am not anymore.” The audiences erupts into cheers again. “The second story is called The Cause, Tate Kellen's dark and tortured existence. Brought on by a jealous father who had grown to hate the very thought of me. They had both failed to kill me.” Although I could not see in to the audience I could sense the curios and wonder looks on their faces. I smile, going on, “These people, if you pay attention to the world outside of the books, are very real people, but I have fictionalized their stories.” My smile widens and I move back to the podium, “Now, Tate's story was more of my style of storytelling. Yes, but it was still missing something.” I grab a few sheets from the podium and hold them up, “This it another story, an alternate ending, if you will. Lights please! Copies of this alternate ending are being passed out. Take a moment and read it.”
On the from page that I hold is titled: A Loose Thread
Within the span of a few minutes. The auditorium is filled with horrific gasps, some people were choking on tears and others were pissed.
“Am I the master of storytelling or not!”