Hack - Chapter 1

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by meatmarket

Libraries: One Shots, Original Fiction

Published on / 1 Chapter(s) / 0 Review(s)

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A way I dealt with feeling that my writing was stilted, and that I was a hack writer at best.


The world was growing rather cold. I lost feeling in my fingers a few moments ago. Just a temporary situation, in a few moments, the feeling in my fingers will be hardly less than a footnote. Bleeding to death takes too long, too long to dwell on the bullshit that lead to this solution. Should have taken the pills. Fall asleep, never wake up.

Funniest part is that I don't feel any sense of release from things. I don't feel like I'm drifting away, I feel like I'm sinking. The worst part isn't the pain, or the fear of what comes after, its knowing that everyone will say I'm just ripping off Hemingway or Cobain, but making a half-ass hack job of it. Thats all I ever was, that's my fucking eulogy. A hack-job who never stood on his own two feet. A meteoric rise to mediocrity that ended like the Challenger mission. Ground control to Major Tom. To make it worse, I hear two would-be critics outside my window. The usual synopsis of my career: one good book, then a whole lot of blatant rip-offs. True enough. Even I had no problem admitting only my first effort was genuine. The rest were just time-cards I punched so I could get a check. I couldn't even look my agent in the eye after the third or fourth.

Seven books, six b-rated ripoffs. One opus that rocketed off the charts, made me momentarily bigger than King and Barker. One honest story. Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy sacrifices himself for girl to save her from the big, bad monster. The one thing I did right, and I trivialize it. No wonder I'm bleeding all over the floor.

I give a quick glance to the clock, a glance which turns into a stare. The damned thing stopped. Apparently, I couldn't even take care of a fucking clock. The good news was that I felt colder, it wouldn't be long, would it?

Closing my eyes, I started to count the seconds. Strangely, I managed to get into the three hundreds. Five minutes, and I still wasn't dead? Slowly, I opened my eyes, just praying it would all hurry up and end.

“He can't hear you, now.”

Immediately, I jumped, head darting about to look for the source. Finally, out of confusion, I looked up, and there it was. Defying gravity in a black suit. Style and a flair for the dramatic. A few months ago, I'd have appreciated it.

“So this is how you chose to end it, hm? My money would have been on shooting yourself. You always did seem to like repackaging what everyone before you did. Poor, misunderstood artist shoots himself in the face. The usual schlock. But no, you actually broke the mold for a last act, a last bit of hope that you weren't some hack. Shame you couldn't do an encore.”

There were no words. No replies, no witty banter. How could I defend myself from the truth, even if I wanted to? I just stared up at him, and he stared down at me from behind darkened glasses. Not even his long, white hair succumbed to gravity. Part of me held a child-like desire to do the same. The rest was stuck on how long I'd been bleeding to death.

“You had talent, kid, you honestly did. One book that could make even me shiver with fear and anticipation. That's fuckin' talent. What happened? You could have been the greatest, but instead you lived like a hermit, wrote schlock, and cashed the check.”

Slowly, I let my head slump, my chin hitting my chest. Not like I was going to waste my last breaths explaining, to someone that I was rather sure I made up in a near-death delirium, about what would amount to a bunch of whiny bullshit. Classic human hardships, and how I completely fucked them up. Besides, why would the man on the ceiling care?

“You lost your fire. You lost that spark that's supposed to turn into a blaze. All over one stupid, insignificant regret. Was it worth it?”

It took more energy than I expected to lift my head and stare at the ceiling-walker. Not once did he show a sign of emotion, staring down with an empty expression. I spat up at him, only to cringe when it landed on my face.

“You don't know what its like.”

Even what may have been my last words were ripoffs. I suppose, in my own mind, I was quitting while I was ahead. Never again to rip anyone off. Here I had made an ass of myself, yet all my physics-breaking friend could do was laugh. It took me a few moments to realize what it was, the sound seeming more like a death rattle. The only thing that tipped me off was the way he held his gut as he came down from the ceiling to kneel in front of me.

“Its too hard, I can't take it, life's not fair. You really have, I mean had, it really fucking nice. What is one regret in a mountain of human emotion? What's a drop of piss in the ocean?”

There was no defending myself, now. I sat there for an indeterminable amount of time, before looking to my arms. Both of my wrists had stopped bleeding, my flesh turning that odd shade of blue that television crime dramas can never seem to match. I was probably clinically dead, but there I sat with a strange man that walked down from my ceiling, apparently to berate me. Hell, not like I had any way to defend what I did. Even if I had, every time I wanted to start talking, he'd start up again.

“So I give you an option. A second chance. Oh, don't think I'm handing you the keys to the kingdom, kid. I take for what I give. I take your gift. I take your fire, like a backwards Prometheus. I take your ability to write, and I give you what you wanted all along. The choice you regret not making, I'll give you the life you would have had. One chance to fuck your life up again, or a chance to absolve that bit of regret and move on.”

I can't even describe the emotions that bolted through me as I looked slowly up from my wrists. Besides the thought that what he promised was impossible, I can't say I felt much of anything that I could recognize. However, he had been standing on the ceiling.

“All you gotta do is sign on the dotted line. Heh. A cliché. You can't even make an original deal with the devil, you pathetic hack!”

It took every bit of strength I had to raise a hand and hold it out. He was all too quick to oblige, a pen and clipboard appearing from behind his back. I wasn't about to question their origins. Hell, I wasn't about to question anything. I signed it right away, then laid back, closing my eyes.

The sun on my face woke me up. I was in bed, and for once I wasn't alone. Slowly, I began to smile, quite unsure when the last time I had done that was. Trying my best not to wake her, I slid out of bed, and moved to the desk. It must have been the beep of the computer that woke her, and she sat in bed, staring across the room at me.

“What're you doin' up?”

I chuckled a bit at the slurred words, shaking my head as I opened up a new document in my word processor. Immediately, my fingers started to work, almost as if independent beings. In moments, this story unfolded in front of me, and I began to laugh.

“Get back to bed, honey. I'm just telling an old acquaintance to fuck off.”

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