So, last Friday I warned you that I might be trying something a bit different with the website stories. Since I’m reliably producing a steady stream of fiction in November for NaNoWriMo, I have decided to move from the Friday Flash collective to the Tuesday Serial one.
And so, below is the first part of a four part story I’ll be posting through the month of November. Next part is next Tuesday. Enjoy.
By Nick Bryan
‘Dude, what time’s it meant to be coming past? Dude?’
No response. Alf waited five minutes, glaring at the corner that turned into their open plan kitchen, then shouted: ‘DUDE!!!’
‘Yeah, alright, one second.’ Ian didn’t sound impatient, merely preoccupied. ‘I’m just having a look at this thing.’
‘What thing?’ But he’d gone quiet again. ‘What thing?’
This time, screaming was not getting the job done. Swearing and gesturing about his flatmate’s selfishness, Alf hauled himself from the sofa with both hands.
He made it across the brown smoky haze of their living room in a couple of lumbering staggers. Considering the colour and the smell, you’d think the place would be a disgusting mess, but Alf and Ian were very pragmatic. When you spent so much time stoned, you didn’t want obstacles. You’d fuck your legs up constantly.
So it was an easy journey to the kitchen, which was full of fumes that were not steam. Ian was staring into a pan, sucking intermittently at his joint. Alf, happily assuming that was the source of the smoke, wandered over and followed his gaze.
And then, as he often did, panicked a little. ‘DUDE HOLY FUCKING SHIT.’
Inside the metallic saucepan, a bunch of carrots and broccoli had boiled dry, now cracking, crunching, blackening and becoming one with the base of the pan.
As Alf screamed and swatted at the dials, Ian sighed, picked up the nearby fire extinguisher and blasted the general area with foam. Since the thing had merely been placed on top of the hob, the sudden pressure sent it flying, clattering across the room, echoing down both their ear drums and making Alf yell all the louder.
Finally, it came to a stop, cracked vegetables flaking all over their floor and foam clogging up the works of their cooker. Miraculously, Alf’s manic flailing had switched off the gas, so they just stared. Their reverie was only interrupted by a pounding, crashing noise from through the wall, and a muffled yell of ‘Will you two shut up?’.
Finally, Ian said: ‘Well, I hope you’re happy. Old man Elson sounds fucking furious.’
‘Sorry, dude. Those were like zombie vegetables in there, though.’
‘Absolutely. Undead carrots. Smoke this and shut up, eh?’
His troubles suddenly forgotten, Alf nodded and bounced off to the living room, Ian trailing behind him.
‘So,’ flopping back on the sofa, Alf continued as if the zombie vegetable encounter had never happened, ‘what time is this thing coming past us?’
‘The satellite? Well,’ Ian picked up his laptop from the sofa and peered, trying not to drop ash into the keyboard, ‘I reckon it falls past in about half an hour, actually.’
‘Cooool. Out this side?’ And he pointed at the large window opposite the sofa, taking up a large portion of the flat’s wall.
‘That very one. It’ll be like watching TV. Really shit TV.’
And, with that, they sat and they smoked. And, as it sometimes did, time got away from them a bit. They didn’t exactly pass out, but a session of leaning back against the cushions, which seemed to be a brief loll of the neck, stretched away into minutes, or even hours.
And after he wasn’t sure how long, Alf was roused from his unconsciousness by a loud, sudden high-pitched scream. It wasn’t a voice he really recognised, it definitely wasn’t Ian, so he looked around, shrugged, assumed someone in the building was having a lot more sex than him and let his head loll back again. Probably the couple upstairs, probably not old man Elson.
Who cares, really?
An uncertain amount of time later, Ian got up as well. And he really went for it, too; not only did his head to stir from the sofa, he staggered across to the kitchen to get a drink, strange lights flashing in this eyes.
One of them, in fact, looked worryingly like a red stain spreading down his wall. He knew that ceiling wasn’t entirely impermeable; he’d been worried about the smoke escaping up there earlier, but he sighed, shook his head and went back to lie down. Alf was the one who always yelled, freaked out and panicked, not him. He was going to stay cool.
Couldn’t even remember what they’d been waiting for, to tell you the truth.
And so, heroically, Ian returned to the sofa, looked at it, then thought, actually, he could go to bed couldn’t he? His room was only a few steps away; he wasn’t contractually obliged to pass out in the living room just because Alf had. And to tell the truth, the other guy was snorting and drooling more than Ian was really comfortable with.
So those were the last things either of them remembered of that night. Nothing cohered again until early the next morning when Ian, groaning, levered himself up and returned to the living room and threw the glass of water (that he’d never bothered drinking) over Alf.
‘Oi. Wake up.’
Alf, of course, didn’t calmly stir. He coughed, gurgled and made a great show of almost choking to death. Ian, used to this panto by now, barely reacted. ‘What? What is it, dude? What?’
‘We missed the satellite, you moron. Got too baked, passed out, it shot on by.’
‘Shit.’ Alf paused. ‘Ah well. Was still a fun night.’
‘No, it wasn’t.’
Ian shook his head and returned to their bolt-on kitchen to take another stab at having a drink. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it as far as the tap. Because, it appeared, the red stain had not been a hallucination. In fact, the bloody drips had reached his floor and begun to congeal alongside a few flakes of heavily burnt broccoli.
‘Alf,’ he began, less forcefully than usual, ‘can you come have a look at something for me?’
Yes, blood streaming down the walls. An old-school cliffhanger, perhaps, but there it is. Copyright me 2011, please don’t steal, email me if you want to steal it in an authorised fashion, and read the next part… “Satellite Two”.