P. S. Hoffman's Writing Blog

An Unexpected Death - Short Fiction by P. S. Hoffman

I was this close to falling asleep, when my sheets were ripped away. I thought I was going to die of cold shock.

The cracking of naked knuckle bones broke the silence, and a long, white finger speared out of the dark. It stopped an inch from my nose.

"CHOOSE!" the voice tolled louder than an iron bell. I couldn't see the face behind the deep-cowled hood, but somehow I knew it was better that way. Frost fringed his hood, despite the mid-summer heat.

"Did you come to kill me?"

"CHOOSE!" the long, bony finger jabbed at me.

"Choose what?"

"OH, OOPS," the voice gonged, "FORGIVE ME, TIME IS A BIT WIBBLY FOR -" he cleared his throat. The sound was like stroking a rib cage with a drumstick, "CHOOSE: THE LIFE OF YOUR PET, OR THE LIFE OF A RANDOM STRANGER."

"Ginger? What would you want to kill her for?"

"THAT IS MY BUSINESS. CHOOSE!" he enunciated the command with a chilling gust of wind. It felt quite nice, really, especially since my ceiling fan was broken.

"Alright. I choose life for Ginger."

"BUT WHAT IF YOU KNOW THE STRANGER?"

"How can I know a stranger?"

"WELL- ER-" his cowl deepened, and that long bony finger scratched at the top of his head, "YOU KNOW, WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR FUTURE WIFE, OR SOMETHING."

"So I'm supposed to be afraid that you'll kill someone I've never met who I might fall in love with?"

"YES."

"I choose life for Ginger."

"OKAY. THE LIFE OF YOUR PET, OR TWO STRANGERS. AND ONE OF THEM WILL DEFINITELY HAVE BEEN VERY DEAR TO YOU."

"But they aren't right now?"

"NO. YOU HAVEN'T MET THEM YET."

"Life to Ginger," I yawned.

"ALRIGHT. ALRIGHT. WHAT ABOUT-"

It was my turn to point a finger at him, "Look, sir. I don't know who you are, or what you are, but I was about five minutes from falling asleep, until you came in. I've already answered your silly questions. Now please, leave me and my dog alone."

"AH," he clasped his hands together, bone interlocking with bone.

"What?"

"I'M SORRY."

"What?

"I ALREADY KILLED GINGER. ACCIDENTALLY."

"What?!" I sat up.

"WASN'T ENTIRELY MY FAULT. I WAS WALKING THROUGH YOUR GARDEN, AND SHE STARTED GNAWING ON MY ANKLE. WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO?"

"I don't know," anger swelled in my chest, "How about NOT kill my dog?"

"YOU KNOW, THIS WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM IF YOU HAD CHOSEN LIFE FOR A STRANGER. THAT'S RATHER SELFISH."

"You bastard!" I threw a pillow at him. I threw another. When I reached for a third, I felt the weight of a cold, bony hand clasp my arm. My heart stopped beating, and my whole body went limp.

"OOPS."

 

End


This week, I had a revelation while writing: I love it. It's not a massive chore to me anymore, and I'm no longer desperately clinging to upvotes like Leonardo DiCaprio in that calm, icy North Atlantic Ocean.

Okay, I still love my internet points dearly.

But the point is, I think I'm getting over this fear of writing that's gripped me for so long.

So, I want to challenge you, dear reader: if you've ever had this one story stuck in your head, or you've always fancied yourself a writer - do it. Do it, and have fun with it, and allow yourself to SUCK at it.

"The only person who can tell your story is you."

(It was either that quote, or "You don't have to be good to practice." I don't know, you decide.)

Comment below with a link to your latest story/blog post/writing whatever that you're proud of. I want to read it.

11 comments on “An Unexpected Death - Short Fiction by P. S. Hoffman”

    1. Well thank ya. The Death character in this was heavily inspired by Terry Pratchett's version of Death. I always liked the idea of Death being more or less human in nature.

  1. You know I loved this story so much and I was nodding along to the whole scene, enjoying the setting and the dialogue and am so very thrilled to share that I am at that exact point in my life. I love writing. That's it. I just love it. Nothing else matters. Not the likes or shares or comments or votes. Really. It's incredibly satisfying to write and everything else is incidental. No such thing as a coincidence. I am so glad I read this today. ?

    1. Whoa, that's great Shailaja - I'm really glad I'm not alone in this feeling. It means that I'm probably NOT crazy (either that, or we're both deluded together!)

      If you write long enough, you get into this really smooth flow - words just pour out, and the story moves along so easily. Every time you give yourself time to write, that flow becomes easier to ride. At least, that's how I'm finding it.

      Thank you for the comment! I'm so glad I could write something you liked.

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P. S. Hoffman
About P. S. Hoffman
P. S. Hoffman writes Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is obsessed with all things futuristic, primarily Artificial Intelligence and the transformation of societies. Here, he shows others how to sharpen their fiction-writing skills by dissecting the techniques used by the world's best authors.

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