Friday, 10 February 2012

The Little Girl

They took a while to get there but, finally, my eyes are open. 
They’re taking even longer to focus.
Nothing new. 
Everything about me takes longer to work after a heavy night and, last night, was most definitely a heavy night. Probably one of the heaviest nights I’ve had for a long time. In fact...
This isn’t my bed.
“What the fu-” I muttered, as I cast my gaze around the room.
Not a hospital room.
Pink walls, a flowery duvet covering the double bed that I occupy with my sweaty body, another symptom of the heavy drinking that must have occurred, a pile of assorted teddy bears strewn across the otherwise tidy floor.
Definitely not a hospital room.
“Hello?” I feebly call out. Although I’m curious to see what I went home with, I’m not in a hurry to engage in a conversation with someone who I just don’t remember; waking up with strangers and having a conversation with them whilst trying desperately hard to piece together the previous night is never anything less than awkward.
Thankfully, my feeble call isn’t heard and no one comes. I’ll try again in a minute - just give my brain a little bit more time to adjust to the harshness of the morning.
Is it even morning? No clock on the wall. It could be any time. I doubt it’s later than the morning.
Maybe late morning?
Bacon and eggs would help me think clearer. Every sufferer of a hang-over should be prescribed bacon and eggs.
And French Toast.
Maybe a sausage?
As my mind focuses more on the food, than where I am, my stomach growls loudly as though it were telling me that I’m not going to get any food until I meet my host.
God, I hope she’s pretty.
“Hello?” I say. I wouldn’t have said it was a shout but it was definitely louder than my earlier feeble attempt.
I can hear footsteps from beyond the closed bedroom door.
“Hello?” I repeat. “That was some night!”
Slowly the bedroom door opens. I can’t see who is stood in the doorway, the door blocks me. I’d get up to greet them but my brain still feels fuzzy and I think I’d rather see them from the safety of the duvet - something to hide behind if they’re anything less than what I’m worth.
“Is your head hurting as much as mine?” I ask.
“Why’s your head hurting?” came a little voice.
“I can’t see you,” I said.
Slowly, as though unsure of whether they should come and see me, a young girl stepped into the room, from behind the door that blocked her from my sight.
Definitely awkward.
“Why’s your head hurting?” she repeated.
A teddy bear hung from her hand, by it’s foot where she held it - a teddy bear similar to the ones already on the bedroom floor.
“Hi,” I said, taken aback that, whoever I came home with, would allow their daughter into the room. 
Another quick look around the room.
The pink room.
Was this the little girl’s room?
“Hi,” I repeated, as I pulled the duvet up to hide any hint of nudity from the innocent girl’s sight.
“Hello,” she said; a voice so pure and innocent. She shouldn’t be seeing me.
“Is your mummy around?” I asked.
The little girl shook her head, “She had to go out.”
I felt naked under the duvet but, another glance around the room, I couldn’t see my clothes anywhere, “Do you know where?”
The little girl shrugged.
What did I come home with? Did this person really put me in her child’s bedroom? More to the point - did she really leave me, a relative stranger, in the house with her daughter?
Well done, me, you’ve really excelled yourself this time.
“Mummy said you should drink,” the little girl dropped the teddy bear on the floor, with the other bears, and walked from the room before coming back clutching a glass of water in her dainty hands. She crossed the room towards me, a look of sheer determination as she tried desperately hard not to spill any of the water. When she was close enough, I took hold of the glass as she carefully handed it over.
“Thank you. So where’s your mummy?”
“She had to go out. She’ll be back soon.”
I still couldn’t believe it, “Where’d she have to go? Did she leave me a message?”
“She said you can’t leave.”
I could leave if I wanted to. Part of me, though, was curious to see what I had gone home with? Certainly not a very good mother, that’s for sure.
“You should get some rest,” said the little girl - a look of genuine concern on her face. She didn’t wait for my reaction (which, by the by, was one of confusion to such a statement), she simply about turned and walked from the room, closing the door behind her.
I couldn’t be sure but I thought I heard a key turn in the bedroom door’s lock. 
Couldn’t be sure, though.
Alone at last, I took the opportunity to climb from the bed - whoa - unstable on my feet. Definitely too much alcohol last night.
Where are my clothes?
Normally, after a heavy night, especially one where I get lucky, I just get into where ever I end up and throw them on the floor - not last night, though.
Nothing on the floor.
I couldn’t very well leave the bedroom, not naked. Not with a little girl outside.
I looked toward the window, will the world outside give me any clues as to where I am? Slowly I stumble towards the closed curtains and throw them back to let in the brilliant sunshin- there’s no window? What the hell? The curtains simply hanging in front of the painted wall.
Well, this is just fucking brilliant.
I trip my way back to the bed and pull the duvet off before wrapping myself in it - hiding my awkward nudity. Turning my attention to the door, I try the handle.
Damn it.
“Little girl?” I call out, in the hope that she comes back and opens the door.
I listen out for her. I can’t hear anything. More importantly, I can’t hear her coming back. Perhaps she didn’t hear me. I call again, “Hey!” A rattle the door by the handle - maybe she’ll hear the door if she can’t hear my voice. Maybe.
Again, I stop and listen.
“HEY!” I shout as I rattle the door again. “HEEEEEEEEEY!”
I don’t care how little she is, enough is enough. As soon as the door opens, I’ll throw her out of the way and get the fuck out of here. I’m not sure what sort of weird set up they have going on here but - I’ve had enough.
In fact, when I get out of here - I’m never drinking again.
Well maybe not ‘never’.
“You should be in bed resting,” came a little voice from the other side.
She’s back!
“Can you open the door?” I ask in the most reasonable sounding voice I can muster up.
“I can’t. You need to be in bed resting.”
“I spilt my drink, though. I’m thirsty.”
“How about I climb back into bed and you fetch me another glass of water?”
“Hello?” I ask. Is she still there?
“Okay but get back into bed. You’re not supposed to be out of it.”
“Okay, thank you.”
I hear her footsteps walk down the hallway. Little shit. At first I was shocked that someone would leave me alone with their child - even though they didn’t know me. And now I’m just irritated by the audacity of this little girl to lock me in her room!
Ssh. Footsteps. She’s coming back.
“Are you in bed?”
I don’t answer her.
Wait for it.... wait for it....
I hear the key enter the door’s lock. That’s my cue! As soon as I hear the lock ‘click’ back, I pull the door open - causing the startled little girl to jump back and drop the glass of water she had fetched.
“Thank you,” I said as I picked her up and dropped her back into the bedroom - closing the door behind her. “See how you like it!” I locked the door and turned around to survey the hallway - a very long hallway.
The floor is concrete - painted a faint blue colour with pieces of paint having been chipped away. The walls - white - also with the paint chipped away in places. A decaying building. Who did I go home with?
Keeping the duvet close I start to make my way down the hallway; doors lining the walls the whole way down. My brain is still struggling from the previous night’s activities and this whole set-up isn’t helping me remember things.
Where the hell am I?
I reach the first door and curiousity is screaming at me - telling me to have a peak inside - after all, it might give some idea as to where I am.
I take a quick look around to make sure I’m still alone and then turn the handle. Locked. The second door I come across, in the hallway, is also locked.
A few more handles twisted; more locked doors.
Only one door left now.
Is there any point in even trying it? I do anyway.
Slowly, I take a peep inside.
* * * * *
My head is pounding; like I’ve been hit my a train. 
Where am I?
In a bed.
How’d I get here?
“Evening, sleepy-head!” she said.
I opened my eyes. A woman was stood above me, looking down at me - a smile on her face.
“And what were you doing out of bed?”
“W-Where...” my speech feels stuttered. It’s hard to talk. I feel groggy.
“Ssh! Probably best you don’t try and speak. The important thing is - you’re back in bed where you belong! We don’t need you talking now and making your belly wibble wobble all over the place... not whilst we’re operating!”
I try and lift my head to see what she’s talking about but it’s hard to move. It feels heavier than usual.
“Is this the kidney, mummy?”
The Little Girl’s voice. Came from further down the bed. I struggle again to lift my head and manage to raise it enough to see where the little girl is. She’s sat on my legs - why can’t I feel her? - a bloody scalpel in her hand. She’s pointing to something....
“Is it?” she asks again.
The woman, by my side peers down to what the little girl’s spare hand is pointing to, “I seriously doubt it, sweetie-pie, you haven’t cut in the right place for starters... No, see, that’s the appendix.”
I try and moan - what are they doing? Where am I? What’s happening....?
The woman continues, “You need to cut into the side, just below the ribs.....” the woman stops and turns back to me, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to greet you when you woke up earlier but I had to finish off with another patient - heart donor. Very nice chap, met him in the same club we met.... anyway, that’s by the by, you may want to go back to sleep for this...”
She pulls something out of her pocket - what is it?
A syringe.
She looks down at me and smiles, “Don’t worry, I’m sure you remember, this doesn’t hurt one bit.” She stops and looks back to the little girl, “Bless, she’s only seven years old but she insisted on doing this herself. It’s just a shame her knowledge of the human body isn’t up to par. Still, can’t fault her keen-ness to learn!” She jabs downwards but I don’t feel a thing. 
Everything just feels..... numb......
The woman gives me a wink, “We thank you for this and, if you survive, I’m sure little Chloe here will thank you too.”
She kisses me on the cheek but, again, I feel nothing - just a single tear roll from my tired eye.
Very tired eyes.
Eyelids heavy...


Thursday, 9 February 2012

A New Short Story I was playing with:

“I WILL LOVE YOU UNTIL THE END OF TIME!” he had once shouted from the rooftops. A grand gesture, she had always thought, but he didn’t need to shout it for, at the time, she was stood right next to him. She could understand the requirement of shouting had she been on street level and he had been on the roof but.... well, shouting when he was next to her just seemed a little pointless. Some could say, and some did say, that it could have been a little aggressive. But she didn’t see any aggressiveness in his behaviour - she knew he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Unless it was one of those really annoying flies that repeatedly buzz your head or keep coming back to your food, after you’ve swished them away for the umpteenth time - but they deserve to be swatted, she thought.
The whole grand gesture on the rooftops, however, just made his sudden disappearance all the more confusing. How could someone be shouting from the rooftops, about his undying love, one minute and - vanished the next.
Lauren wouldn’t let herself get upset, though. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. If he didn’t want to be with her, she thought, fine. She certainly wasn’t going to be the sort of girl that needed to beg a man to go out with her. 
At twenty-three years old, she knew time was on her side and she’d find someone else. She’d find someone better. Someone that respected her. Someone, at the very least, who would do the honourable thing and break up with her properly if they did suddenly decide they no longer wanted to see her.
She believed, and as a narrator I’m inclined to agree, she deserved that much as least.
Her mind spiraled between wondering where he disappeared to and what was wrong with her - after all, there must be something wrong with her to cause someone to suddenly disappear from her life without so much of a text!
Mind you, she thought, a text probably would have made the situation worse - texting someone, she continued to think, that you no longer wish to go out with them is probably one of the most cowardly relationship acts you can do in this modern age we live in.
But at least she would have known!
It was the not knowing that was making the whole ugly mess harder to get her head around. Last week he was all for buying her a ring and making it official but, two weeks into a relationship, she said to him it was probably a bit to soon for that and maybe they should just take things slower - continue enjoying themselves and see where they ended up. She worried that, with an engagement so soon, it could change things and she didn’t want that. She liked things just the way they were.
Maybe that was it.
Maybe he took what she had said completely wrong - maybe he thought she was turning him down and that’s why he left. Should she have just said ‘yes’ to the ring. After all, she could have worn the ring and told her family and friends it was a friendship ring - let him tell his family and friends whatever he wanted. Would it really have changed anything between them? Had she made the biggest mistake of her relatively short life?
She sat back on her bed, in her cosy little bedroom which had been her safe haven since he had disappeared, and looked down to her hand - trying to picture what sort of ring he would have chosen.
Of course, she had tried calling him. She’d left numerous voice mail messages - ranging from the curious ‘where are you’ to the more aggressive-in-tone messages once she had realised she had been abandoned. Ten calls in total. That’s not over the top. Ten calls over a couple of days doesn’t scream ‘desperation’. And neither did the forty-three text messages she had sent - again, ranging in their general mood - or the five texts she had saved to drafts, they didn’t scream ‘desperation’ either.
Perhaps one more call?
One more call for old time’s sake? After all, she had enjoyed where the relationship was heading. Even if he didn’t love her as much as he shouted, from the rooftop if you remember, maybe he could explain why the sudden change of heart.
Yes, one more call.
Eleven calls, over the space of a couple of days, doesn’t make her desperate either.
She reached to the bedside cabinet where he mobile phone sat and picked it up, before selecting ‘John’ from her contacts.
‘It’s ringing,’ she thought, ‘no turning back now.’
* * * * *
John’s phone flashed up another missed call.
Eleven in a couple of days.
“Someone’s popular,” said the mortician as he leaned over John’s body with a sharp blade. “Now, lets get you open and see what went wrong.”
It was the ‘not knowing’ that drove him wild.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Finally getting somewhere? Or is this fleeting?

In 2008, I think, I released my first book and, over the years (and years) I flogged a fair few. Seven titles later and some are selling relatively well (not brilliantly but at least they are selling) and others... well... not really selling. 

My vampire book, for example, sold.... well.... let's not even go there. In fact, hell, let us pretend I didn't even write it!

Occasionally reviews pop up online too (on more than .com) and it's great fun to see what people have to say but I think it's fair to say - I've always been a bigger author in my own head than I have in real life.

I just figured - believe it enough and others will soon follow suit and buy into the whole 'Matt Shaw is an author' gobbledegook. Build an online persona interesting (crazy) enough to draw people in so they're curious to see what I write about.

And it works.

Sort of.

Anyway, I've been releasing books since 2008 (as previously said, pay attention) and only now have they started to take off - in 2012 (isn't this when the World is meant to end too? Goddamit!) 

On 30/01/12, I released the final part of my trilogy to 'Happy Ever After' and thought I'd try something new - make the first part of the story free. I didn't think anything else of it - once changing the details on the Amazon Kindle site - until I checked the sales at the end of the 30th to see if my new book had sold any. It had sold 1.

'Happy Ever After', however, a couple of hundred in America. It had also sold a couple of hundred in the UK. I was ecstatic and phoned my mum (don't laugh) to share my news. As the evening went on it broke the 1,000 level (combined sales across the sites). By morning, I checked again due to being like an excited kid, another thousand... until, by the end of the fourth day - I had slightly over 10,000 downloads across the Amazon sites (but only one of those was from France.... the bastards.... they have no taste).


And that included 200 copies of the second and third book of the trilogy - which people had paid full price for (not that full price is a lot.... less than a couple of quid!) I never dreamed of shifting that many let alone in only 4 days (it had helped that I also made 5 of my other titles free too).

Watching the downloads change, on the report, every few minutes and seeing new reviews pop up really gave me a confidence boost with regards to what I write. Here I am, little old me.... sitting in my empty house, writing my stories and now.... over 10,000 people in the world have read my work. The reviews that crept online; some of the readers even loved my work.

This new experience, with kindle and experimenting with giving stuff away to introduce myself to the writing world, has taught me one thing.....

No matter how bleak things are, no matter how you think you're doing.... NEVER GIVE UP.

I'm an author until the day I die.