Charlie poured his fifth glass of whiskey of the evening as he stared at his laptop screen, the blinking cursor a constant reminder that he wasn’t getting any further with his book. It had been so easy in the beginning, the words flowing onto the page like a grand dream.
“It was hack drivel,” his mind told him. “Your work sucks,” it added to drive the point home.
Clutching the glass of alcohol like it was his sanity, Charlie wiped his brow. “It’s not hack,” he said out loud. “It’s good!” he finished angrily.
His mind chuckled in a sarcastic tone sending waves of doubt through Charlie’s soul. With a click Charlie turned up the music he was listening to as he wrote. The repetitive techno beat sometimes helped him into a trance where the writing was easy. He also hoped it would drown out his damned voice. Downing the glass of whiskey Charlie slammed it down and put both hands on the keyboard.
His fingers began to move and the words came. Faster and faster the words appeared, one sentence then two. Charlie was half way into his third sentence when his mind cruelly cut off the flow. It was like turning off the water to a man in the desert and Charlie let out a groan of frustration. He could hear the dark laughter of his mind and see the whole story in his imagination behind it.
“You’re a joke,” his mind taunted. “Whatever made you think an uneducated red neck like you could write a book. How many have you ever even read?”
Charlie’s hands balled into fists on the keyboard and he slowly raised them to his forehead “Shut up,” he said tapping his fists against his forehead as if he could threaten the voice into silence. “It’s that damn homeless guy’s fault,” Charlie whispered.
Five days ago Charlie had seen a man slumped into an alley. Being a decent person Charlie had gone into the alley to check on the man. He remembered asking the guy if he was ok before seeing that he wasn’t. Several holes had been stabbed into the man’s head, the dried blood making it look like rubies in a crown. In his forehead was set an ice pick, the man’s own hand still on the handle. Charlie had called the police and done what he believed to be a good deed. But since then, every time he tried to write, he saw that dead homeless guy.
“Fuck em,” Charlie mumbled as he poured another glass of whiskey and downed it fast. Taking several deep breaths he put his hands back on his keyboard and stared at the screen. The voice roared with laughter as Charlie stared at the hated cursor blinking and blinking and blinking. “Shut up,” Charlie growled as he closed his eyes.
“Why?” his mind asked him still laughing “Don’t you see what a joke you are?”
“Shut up,” Charlie said again and started to tap his hand on his forehead in warning.
“You think I’m the only one going to be laughing once people try to choke down this piece of crap!” his mind screamed so loudly it made Charlie’s ears ring.
“Damn it to hell” Charlie said through gritted teeth as he brought his other fist up to join the first.
“You failed English in high school,” his mind pressed. “What kind of dumb ass fails English? You speak it!”
The sound of Charlie’s fists began to sound like a side of beef being beat. “I swear to God…” Charlie began but his mind cut him off.
“Such a pathetic little failure, you should just kill yourself!”
“Woah!” Charlie gasped as his eyes shot open. “Enough of that” he mumbled drunkenly as he pushed the bottle of whiskey to the far end of the table. Shaking his head and working his shoulders he reached up to close his laptop.
“What about your deadline?” the voice whispered. “You got six days and all you have is a steaming pile of shit.”
Charlie’s hand shook as he slowly sat back trying to fight the logic of his mind. If he missed his deadline he wouldn’t get paid, if he didn’t get paid he would be on the street. Charlie could feel his thoughts like a pressure on the back of his forehead.
“You think you’re going to get paid?” the pressure hissed. “They will throw it in your face before chapter one is finished.”
Charlie watched the cursor blink hypnotically. “Kill yourself… kill yourself… kill yourself,” it seemed to say as it blinked continuously. It was joined by the voice and his own self doubt, a constant never-ending cacophony of noise filling his every sense.
“Don’t test me,” Charlie warned himself as the din grew louder.
“Kill yourself… kill yourself… kill yourself,” they chanted more and more enthusiastically. The pressure on the back of his head grew to painful proportions as the voices chanted.
“I’ll show you…” Charlie affirmed loudly as he got up out of his chair.
With great purpose he stormed to his tool box and rummaged through it. Charlie threw tool after tool over his shoulder until, with a triumphant “Ah ha!” he pulled out his cordless drill. The high-pitched engine whined to life as Charlie pressed down the trigger.
“Do it!” the voice spat.
“Oh I will,” Charlie retorted to himself.
“Be a man for once in your life,” the voice goaded him as the others chanted for his demise. “Save yourself and your family the shame of finding out what a failure you are…” his mind snarled, “you pussy!”
Charlie felt his doubts fade with that last stinging realization. With a great roar he shoved the tip of the drill against his skull. Though the sound of his skull cracking was like thunder in his ears, Charlie felt very little pain. He pushed the drill until it touched his brain, and Charlie’s eyes shot open for the last time.
As the blood flowed into his eyes Charlie could see his story taking shape inside his now rose-colored world. Every character, every sub plot, every nuance described perfectly with the touch of a genius. With quick, excited breaths Charlie saw it all, from the very beginning of his tale to the very last syllable.
“It’s beautiful,” Charlie whispered with awe before falling over dead.
Doug sighed deeply as he began his night at the morgue. He hated the job but it was something to pay the bills until his screen play was finished. He pulled the blanket off the suicide case and scrunched up his face as he saw the drill bit sticking out of its forehead. Doug put his ear buds in and prepared to do the autopsy.
Instead of music, Doug listened to himself reading his screen play to help him keep focused on what was important. Pulling the drill bit out with the sound of a hand cracking an egg. Doug set it aside as he inspected the hole.
“Cause of death appears to be a drill bit to the frontal lobe,” Doug began into his recorder. With a gasp Doug pulled back, for just a second he thought he saw something move in the cranial hole. Composing himself once he saw nothing emerge, he continued his inspection.
As he focused on a part of his play he wasn’t sure of Doug heard a voice in his mind.
“What is this drivel?” his mind asked. “Is this some kind of joke?” it demanded of Doug.
Stopping his inspection, Doug thought for a second as the cold fingers of doubt climbed up his spine.
Joey Payne enjoys writing post-apocalyptic novels and horror short stories. His first release, a book set in a grim future world, entitled Love and Radiation (Book 1 of his Radiation Tales series) was published in October of 2012 and is currently available via Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle App Store. The second in the Radiation Tales Series—Death and Radiation—is expected out sometime in 2013. His latest published work, The Slow and The Dead, a horror short, appears in the 13 Stories Till Halloween 2012 edition.
Joey is a Georgia boy and lives with his wife and children in his beloved home state. He also loves river boating, fishing and collecting antique firearms, which he shoots often to help him concentrate.